Wallpaper entitled "Hope"

From SpookyWallpapers

Friday, December 31, 2010


It's been over a month since I last posted, but things seem always to be so busy between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a great month for me, though, as I really was able to appreciate the season and enjoyed spending time with my family. It's been almost a decade since I've been able to say that.

I started this journal last year with the intention of trying to work through my emotional collapse. Steff recently said something about the need to study the effects of journal/blogging online. I hadn't thought of it until then, and I completely agree. Maybe I can be a guinea pig in the study! I do think that this was a big part of helping me work through my state of mind and was better for me than a handwritten journal. It was a big step for me to take since I tend to be very wary of sharing anything with anyone. I was also able to use my need to be creative which I found wasn't at all inspired otherwise. My creative spirit was as depleted as my emotions.

I realized that today is December 31, the last day of the year, and I'm inspired to make some New Year's resolutions, again for the first time in years.

1--Continue to post to this journal at least once per week to track my mental and emotional health.
2--Determine and then do the one thing I can do at this point either as a volunteer or an employee (part-time). I have to find a way to put meaning back in my life but not at the expense of my healing to date. I hope to do more as healing continues.

3--Take my slowdown in spending to a new low. I have enough of stuff for ten people. I don't need to purchase anything except personal items and books. I don't think I can limit it so strictly, though. Not at this point. So I don't want to resolve to stop buying the unnecessary stuff.

4--Continue to do the cleanup that began when we refinanced last year. I got it only halfway completed. I need to get my surroundings in order. It's part of my healing and will give me another thing to feel that I do have some control over my life.

5--In somewhat of a combination of resolutions #3 and #4, be creative again. I have accumulated a lot of materials to make things and need to use them or lose them. I know that creativity is something I need in my life, whether it is art or clothing, and I like to make both.

Best wishes for a happy and successful 2011!
Happy New Year!!

(Image is from the Etsy shop, Hudsonsholidays. Handmade New Year's flashcards that can be downloaded and printed. Good thing since I've waited until the last minute...)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gobble, Gobble...

Today is Thanksgiving Day, and all over the country people and families will be sitting down to a bountiful meal and offering up thanks for the blessings of their lives. Regardless of circumstances, we all have something for which to be thankful. As for me, I think every day will be Thanksgiving Day from now on.

Turkeys everywhere are probably thankful that that won't be the case for anyone else.

Happy Thanksgiving Day!
(Image used is from best-norman-rockwell-art.com)

Friday, November 19, 2010

There is a Gaelic proverb that says our reactions are but echoes of our past. I can see now that that is exactly how I've lived--reacting to the present based on my past. Can I change that? Can hope send its roots deep and allow me to react/interact while looking at the present or even to the future?

This state of calm has brought hope, more hope than I have had in a very long time. I will hold it, nurture it and cherish it.

image via stadpolitik.wordpress

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The calm after the storm...

For the last few months, I've been considering no longer posting to this journal. I felt like I had nothing new to say or address regarding my mental and emotional health. I started this journal in an effort to try to find ways to deal with the depression that has plagued me for over 25 years. I have had no success in talking with a therapist--I seem to be unable to open up with a "live" audience. There are things that I have shared with only a few trusted friends (who later betrayed my trust) and things that I've buried deep inside and never told anyone. This journal was to be my outlet for digging up and discussing those issues. Some entries took minutes to write. Others took days. They were written and rewritten and sometimes deleted. Most of them were written through tears. I often felt drained after finishing some of them. I usually spent hours looking for just the right image to express the sentiment of the entry, but that creative element was often what brought relief to an otherwise emotionally draining time. I haven't ever gone back and reread my entries. Not yet, anyway. I will, someday.

But now, I find myself at a turning point after 14 months of near isolation spent in introspection. Last night, I had something of a revelation, one of those sit-straight-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night kind of moments. I realized that I really feel different. Almost calm. I wouldn't say that I am at peace, more of a feeling of being comfortable or content. I thought, at first, that this sense of calm was emotional exhaustion. Now I realize it's that I've lost the overwhelming despair that I've been dealing with for the past year. Despair has made every moment of every day seem hopeless and meaningless, so much so that I will admit to often wanting to just quit trying to get better. Despair is like constantly having a dark cloud overhead that threatens to turn into a storm at any minute. It colors every thought, feeling and action.

So I've decided to continue with this journal but with a different purpose. Many thanks to those who have stuck with me and read my past entries, painful though they might have been. Thanks, too, for the encouragement and words of wisdom. What I hope to accomplish in staying the course here is to chronicle my continued healing, not peppered with despair and exhaustion, but with strength and hope born from a year of struggling through the storms. I'm working on making some changes to the site to reflect my new found self.

I can't wait to get started...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dancing the night away...

I saw "Billy Elliot" way back when it was released on--ahem--tape. It actually seems much longer, but it came out a bit over ten years ago. It has multi-layered meanings for me, and I watched it probably three times a day for a week. I originally got it because it was about dancing, and if only for that, it is amazing. Anyways, we went to see "Billy Elliot, The Musical" last night. It came here for its debut tour stop. I knew it was going to be good--it won the Tony for best musical--and it was "Billy Elliot," for crying out loud--but I really didn't have high expectations. I didn't think it could come close to touching me on an emotional level the way the movie did. And I was right. The production was fantastic, no doubt. The dancing was incredible. There were five different boys playing the part of Billy due to the rigors of the roll. The kid we saw could not have been better, but Jamie Bell holds a piece of my heart. I was a little surprised by how close the musical stayed true to the language of the movie. Down yere in tha sowth we dowt git much cussin in orwn shozs. Ah, wake up, y'all! I argued all the way home about how integral it was to the show. It was about miners in Ireland during a strike. Miners. Ireland. Duh. I drank a Guinness during the first half of the show in support of those miners.

So, I give it a thumbs up and highly recommend seeing it if it comes your way. Be ready to laugh. The scenes between Billy and Michael are hysterical. Be ready to be amazed by the dancing. But don't worry about bringing a Kleenex or three.

Monday, October 18, 2010

At last...

Hit a slump about ten days ago. Not a really bad one, but enough to keep me down-in-the-dumps and my brain in rehash-mode. I've thought through so many past events, step by painful step, and didn't resolve anything. As usual. Makes for a hard time sleeping, too, and when I have been able to sleep, I can't remember my dreams. I started writing down my dreams a few months back. I read somewhere that as we change and age, our dreams change as well. Mine have. Most of my dreams have always revolved around anxiety of some sort. Two of the most frequent involved falling or drowning. Lately, however, I'm either trying to find something or to get somewhere. I guess I don't need Freud here, huh? I know dreams are supposed to be the brain's way of siphoning through our experiences and emotions, resolving what is/isn't important and dumping the crap. It's funny how the mind works, though. When I think too much about stuff, I don't seem to dream, and my strangest dreams occur during my most normal times. Or whatever passes as normal for me.

On a completely unrelated note, my bonus for curtailing my spending habits is the purchase of a long-wanted piece from my favorite designer, Patricia of Artlab. I'm sure anyone who has followed her as long as I have already owns the Andromache shirt made of deconstructed tshirts. This incredible garment can be purchased from her shop at Etsy.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sail away, sail away, sail away...

Today is Columbus Day here in the good ole' US of A. The day is celebrated in both North and South America because Christopher Columbus (the "American" version of Cristoforo Colombo, his name in Italian) is usually given credit for having discovered the New World in 1492. However, the Vikings were really the first to do so. Norsemen from Scandinavia arrived here in the 10th century and began settlements in the northern part of the continent in what is now Canada. Less well known is the American holiday Leif Erikson Day, celebrated (such as it is) on October 9th and commemorating the day his ship arrived in New York Harbor bringing immigrants from Norway.

The USA is primarily a country of immigrants. Except for the descendants of the indigenous people who are now referred to as American Indians (Columbus thought he had landed in the East Indies), our ancestors either came here looking for a better way of life or were brought here. Sadly, for a country founded on freedom, we didn't offer that right to everyone in the earlier years.

Again, sadly, the freedoms we cherish as individuals often conflict with the freedom of the whole. We guarantee the freedom to worship but protest when we don't like the religious practices of another. We have the right to free speech but think we can force our words or beliefs on others. Freedom of the press often means not always hearing the whole story or maybe not even the truth. We vote on our leaders as a democracy, but then don't have, as individuals, a say in the actions of those leaders. The very makeup of our country--immigrants--guarantees that our country will always be diverse and often divided. The melting pot can be a hot pot of controversy.

Sometimes I wish I could be like Columbus and Erikson and discover a New World where everyone would live in freedom, peace and harmony.

(Image used is entitled "Santa Maria." The photograph is of the bow of the ship of the statue in Columbus Circle outside Union Station in Washington, DC. Visit the Etsy shop at Raceytay or the artist's blog ibrakeforbokeh.com for more beautiful pictures and information.)

When Columbus started out he didn't know where he was going, when he got there he didn't know where he was, and when he got back he didn't know where he had been.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Did I mention freakish?

When I discovered that Orphaned Land, the Israeli metal band I found on Steff's blog, was going to be in town, my younger brother was the first one I thought of asking to go with me. When we were growing up, he always had heavy metal albums playing with the volume up as loud as it would go. I remember thinking that the album covers would freak my mom out if she ever saw them.

My brother and his wife are like me--older in age but completely young at heart--and they're usually up for most anything. Whenever I'm with them, we laugh at almost everything, especially each other, so they are a lot of fun. They didn't think that they could go at first but ended up working it into their schedule. And last night was the night! I wasn't entirely comfortable going into a crowd, but the feeling passed. Plus, I was just plain uncomfortable due to a freakish accident (more on that in a moment). While the first band played, we gradually made our way forward through the crowd. By the time OL started playing, I was practically on the stage. They were so amazing! When they finished, they came out to the bar area to sell their merchandise. I got all of their autographs on the insert of my CD "The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR" and had my picture made with them. We started chatting with some other fans, and my sister-in-law Theresa took tons of pictures. We talked about our favorite songs, all got t-shirts and autographs. I could tell that I wasn't the only one crazy about OL. However, I probably should mention that while everyone else in the entire place was wearing black/goth/punk/vampire/something-I've-never-seen-before-with-fur, I was wearing a white shirt. Freakishly white. I felt freakish at first, too, and really, who could feel freakish among vampires and something wearing fur? Then I decided it just didn't matter. And it was a freakish accident because I'm always the one who wears black, so what was I thinking? Freakish. Theresa and I also decided we were the oldest two people there, but again, who cared? I got to drink Guinness and see Orphaned Land up close and personal! Not only are they all gorgeous, but they are ssooooo nice. Nothing like I expected nice. Almost shy. Well, that might have something to do with the fact that they don't all speak English well or maybe not at all. Truly beautiful people. I'm so glad I got to see and meet them.

Steff, I owe you.

(Image used is entitled "Le Petit Assassin" and can be purchased at Etsy shop naughtyandnice. The artist claims to have been "raised by wolves and fairies.")

Yeah, saw those last night. Freakish, huh?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I've been spending a lot of time lately paring down my list of online favs and bookmarks. As with everything else in my life, I tend to go overboard and want to hold onto every site that interests or inspires me. Unfortunately, I've made it difficult to find those few that I go to every day. As I was sorting through this maze, I stumbled upon a blog that features a woman who must have some Swedish or Norweigian ancestry because she decorates her space in white and primarily wears black and white. Her posts consist of two or three photos of herself in a drool-inducing outfit and a few well-chosen words. She wants no distraction or chaos. Apparently, her life is extremely well-ordered.

I want to live in her world.

(Image used is entitled "Serenity" and can be found at Etsy in the shop alifethroughthelens. The artist says that photography helps find the calm moment, to "slow down and look for details that I would otherwise miss." Ah, to find that myself. Oh, yes, see more of this artist at iseelifethroughalens.blogspot.com)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sapari li...

My favorite blogger, Steff of kOs, has once again provided me with what I'm considering might be the best band ever, along with causing me to reminisce about my favorite place ever! A few months ago, she introduced me to Eleveitie, a Celtic metal band. I was immediately in love with them and their sound. Now, I'm completely enthralled by the Israeli band Orphaned Land. By completely enthralled, I mean that not only have I ordered two Cd's but that until I get them I have been constantly playing their youtube videos. I didn't even do that with Eleveitie, and I thought they were beyond fabulous. So yeah. Con. Stant. Ly. I wonder if I can break either my computer or youtube. The number of views for these videos has seriously increased in the past week thanks to moi. Orphaned Land has combined metal with Middle Eastern instruments and sounds--I'm pretty sure I even heard what sounded like a shofar blast at one point. I really love the combined effect, plus they do an incredible job at putting ancient texts to music. Love, love, love them. And I just happen to love their country.

One of the things on my bucket list was checked off four years ago when I went on a 2-week journey through Israel. It will probably rank as the highlight of my life. I would go back in a heartbeat if I could. Israel is a country of contradictions and diversity, and it affects all the senses. There are lush, abundant gardens and dry, sparse deserts right alongside barbed wire fences and bunkers. Certain cities are a combination of ancient ruins and bombed buildings. Yet despite all of the obvious signs of conflict, Israel remains one of the most beautiful places on earth. I can't begin to explain how much this trip meant to me. I really was fortunate to be able to go there considering the politics of the area. At the time, I was involved in a study whose leader was able to plan a better tour than most because of our guide and his contacts. The lady in charge of the study had been to Israel earlier and met him, and together they arranged what might be the perfect tour. The guide was knowledgeable about the political situation and decided that our dates of travel were well-timed. We traveled the length and width of the country. We landed in Tel Aviv and headed north to Mount Hermon, right at the border with Lebanon. The Hezbollah would attack six weeks later. Yes, this trip could have been dangerous, and my hubby and family certainly thought so, but quite honestly I was never afraid. Our guide was a Palestinian Christian, so we even made it through several Palestinian checkpoints without incident. We did have to exit the bus and walk in a line set up like a ride at Disney. The main difference was the grated ceiling and the uzi toting guards watching us from above. We saw armed soldiers almost everywhere we went, and we did find ourselves in the midst of gunfire at one point. We ducked. As for the guide, he was considered to be one the best in the area, known to almost everyone, and he was a serious scholar of history and religion. He must have memorized everything he read because he could quote for hours and would give us the detailed history of whatever site we were getting ready to see. As for the places we toured, I can't begin to recount all of my thoughts and feelings. Okay, so I'll try, but take all the usual touristy spots and multiply by ten. Maybe twenty. It was really intense. I got re-baptized in the Jordan River, crossed the Sea of Galilee in a replica of an ancient boat and walked knee-deep in the Dead Sea and got caked with the clingy mud. I stood in the ruins of the city of Masada and felt the silence. I walked quietly uphill along the narrow Via Dolorosa amidst the chattering merchants in their market stalls. I climbed the exact steep steps to Caiaphas' house that Christ would have climbed as He was taken to the high priest. I prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the slope of the Mount of Beatitudes and at the Wailing Wall. My Jewish neighbor sent a "tefilah," or prayer, she had written on paper and rolled into a scroll for me to insert in a crack in the Wailing Wall, which of course I did. I knelt reverently before a small grotto in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem where Christianity had its beginning and stood quietly on Mount Meggido looking down on the plains where Armageddon, or the end, is prophesied. I grieved at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial, and wept at the candle-lit Children's Memorial with its endless, quiet recitation of names of the Jewish children who died in the Holocaust. I saw the oldest arched city gate in existence, which as a ruin still stands two stories high, in the ancient city of Ashkelon and shivered to think that I was standing where the Canaanites lived almost 4,000 years earlier. I visited Jericho, Qumran, Caesarea, Mount Carmel and Beit Shean and marveled at the old cities and the ruins. I saw Jews, Muslims and Christians together in one place. I ate some of the best food I've ever tasted. So how to top a trip to the Holy City? Why, with a tour of several Greek Islands, the city of Athens and the ancient city of Corinth and Ephesus in Turkey, of course! We had one free afternoon in Athens that wasn't planned to the absolute last second, and wouldn't you know it but that afternoon, the students had an organized riot and we got caught up in it! We did our best to stay out of the way, but there were several city blocks of students battling the heavily armed αστυνομία, or police, and tanks! We even got tear gassed, but we loved every second of it!

Phew. Just reliving this amazing trip was tiring. I think I slept for a week when we got back. I was jet-lagged and just plain exhausted from going full speed for 14 days. So now back to the subject that got all of this started! Orphaned Land is coming here!! I happened to check their tour schedule and saw that they will be right here in less than two weeks! Here within 20 miles of my house!! I am way passed excited, but guess what? I can't get anybody to go with me. I'll admit to having very few friends who would be interested in listening to a metal band, but then again, I'm not the biggest fan of old-style heavy metal, either. But since Steff opened my eyes (really, I should have said ears here, right?), I've learned that the genre has expanded to include folk metal, viking metal and symphonic metal. Come on, there's gotta be something for everybody in the list of subgenres, right?

So, tell me Steff, are you up for a trip to visit me if I can't persuade anyone else to go?

(Image used is from the newest release by Orphaned Land, "The Never Ending Way of OrwarriOR," a "concept album" with their "unique brand of exotic, heavy music." Their wish is for people to rise above their cultural and religious beliefs and be united by the universal language of music. This image actually combines Hebrew and Arabic lettering. The band had a calligraphy artist to create this for the album. Read more about them at www.orphaned-land.com. Watch and listen to their single, "Sapari," at www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUi1yf97paw. Steff's amazing blog is at www.musingsofbuffyleigh.blogspot.com .)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I am a warrior...

Good news on every front! Dad is doing great after his surgery from over a month ago. Mom's lab work on the mass removed from her breast was negative! Yay!! Maris recovered from the vertigo eight days after she got it. Woohoo!! Now she is trying to recover her strength. For the duration of the vertigo, she stayed in her "safe" place--the recliner--and didn't move unless we picked her up to take her out. Now she is actually trying to go up and down the steps on the deck and is jogging around the yard trying to keep up with the others!! She does have the head tilt the vet said she might get. Funny how that happens. My other half is just happy she is now willing to be back on her usual bed so he can have the recliner back! In other news, the cars are not in the shop, I am not having any more panic attacks and I got a thank-you note from my boss for doing the extra work! Also, since I went to my internist three months ago, I had blood work done to check on my progress. All of the high "bad" numbers were down below half of what they were, and the low numbers--primarily Vitamin D--was well above the "good" range!! I have even lost eight pounds. I wouldn't say that I can tell a huge difference, but I did manage to zip up and wear a pair of jeans that I haven't worn in almost a year when I went in for the appointment last week. Of course, slow and steady is the best way to lose, so eight lbs in three months isn't too bad. Last time I lost weight, it was soooo slow to start with and then it seemed like I was thinner overnight. Hopefully that will be the case now. Since hubby was diagnosed with diabetes this summer, we have really changed our eating habits, which is a good thing for us both.

Whew. Now that all of the craziness of the past six weeks is over, I'm working through emotional fatigue and the resulting physical fatigue. With the panic attacks and anxiety and the "tied-up-in-knots" feeling, my insides are exhausted. I'm basically feeling "flat" now--too tired to have any emotions. But I'll take that over the roller coaster ride any day! I'm pushing through to the other side.

Two weekends ago, I worked for my friend on the Saturday of her anniversary sale. It's always a zoo but can also be a lot of fun. And although I didn't start off the day so well, it ended up being good. Part of that was seeing people I haven't seen for a long time, one of whom was Linda. She lost her husband a little over a year ago, and I met her at last year's sale. She and I hit it off, and I was so happy to see that she looked good and has been working through her own issues. She told me that she has started journaling to help with the process, and she had recently decided that she was a warrior and was battling to become her best self. Sounds familiar, I said. I immediately pointed to the "braids" in my hair. I got my hair cut shorter about three weeks ago. It was the first time I've had anything done to my hair in a long time. I think the gal cut about six inches off. Anyway, I've been twisting some of it and letting it dry so that the braid-looking bunches wouldn't come apart. I guess I could actually braid it, but this is so much quicker! I've read that Scottish warriors often braided two plaits, one on each side, before going into battle, so that was what I was calling these--my warrior braids. I purposely did these on Saturday, and I also wore my "armor" jewelry--some spoons that one of the sellers on Etsy made for me. One is hammered and the other has small holes in the length of it. They both pretty much cover my fingers. I also have a finger-long twisted-fork ring and bracelet. I wore all of these together (too much??) when I went in on Saturday in an attempt to keep a visual as I worked. My job was to write up the sales, so it was easy to see them and remember that I could do it. I could make it. I would make it cause I am a warrior. It was so comforting to know that Linda and I were there for one another that day, that we could give each other a thumbs-up and feel good instead of anxious or sad. Another friend, Sandra, stayed several hours after the store closed to help me balance out the day. She also gave me a ride home and told me several times how much she had missed seeing me since last year. It felt good to know that so many people hadn't given up on me. Looking back on it, I'm glad that I didn't throw in the towel and stay home that day. I fought the battle and won the day.

Here's to winning the war...

(Image is a grant winning limited edition digital photo-montage print by artist Suzanne Gonsalez. It is entitled "Mayan Princess" and combines scanned fabric with vintage photographs. She sells her work on Etsy at her shop ravenwolf. More of her work can also be seen at ravenwolfgallery.com)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Back out of the saddle?

It started with the emails and phone calls about returning to work. I was anxious about going, but I went. Then Dad had surgery. I took the projects home from work so I didn't have to go to the office, but I was still feeling the stress of the deadline. Lost several nights' sleep. Found out Mom's mammogram showed an unidentifiable mass. Tried to work every day but got so anxious that I never got far. More sleepless nights. Feeling more stress. The transmission in my hubby's car blew up. Took it to the shop. Went a week without transportation since he was driving my car. Had to cancel several appointments. Boss is calling because he thought I would be back within a day or two and what's up with why the work isn't finished. A few mild panic attacks.

Stress gets worse. Mom's doctor scheduled her for surgery. On the day of Mom's surgery, Maris, my precious little angel baby, woke up and ate breakfast, then collapsed. We found out that she has a severe case of vertigo, but we thought she had had a stroke. For two hours that morning, I'm a complete wreck. I've never heard of dogs having vertigo, but according to the vet, it is rather common. I've never actually known a person who has had it, either; however, the symptoms are exactly the same--dizziness, nausea, vomiting, uncontrolled eye movements, difficulty standing or moving, etc. Maris spent the entire day at the vet's office. Find out that her recovery will take two to three weeks. That same afternoon, hubby had a doctor's appointment, I was supposed to deliver the work to the accountant, his car was ready to be picked up and Maris had to be picked up at the vet. Super stressed since I couldn't get the work delivered. I thought hubby was going to have a heart attack because of the cost of getting the car fixed as well as the vet bill. I was anxious because he was. He didn't sleep Thursday night. I spent all day Friday crying because Maris was in such a pitiful state. Had hubby deliver the work to the accountant. By Friday night I thought that I was going to have a heart attack.

Unfortunately, I had agreed several weeks ago to help my friend at her annual anniversary sale on Saturday. She owns a clothing boutique at which I used to work. The anniversary sale is a wild and crazy day with a mob of customers and long lines for both the dressing rooms and the checkout counter. I always run the cash register--I am one of the few who can run the register and credit card machine, write out the handwritten receipts and talk to customers all at the same time without making major errors. Of course I do make some, but I apparently I make fewer than others. Or maybe it's because no one else wants to run the register on that day. Who knows. Anyway, it is always a 12+ hour day what with the set up, sale, break down and closing/settling the register. Part of me wanted to call her on Friday and back out, but I knew I wouldn't and couldn't. Feeling so anxious I can't get to sleep. Very bad since I know how hard the next day is going to be.

Got up on Saturday at 5:45 to feed Maris by hand. Later, while getting ready for work, I had a tremendous panic attack, one so bad that I hyperventilated. I was supposed to be at the boutique by 8:30am, but hubby drove me there around 10:00. Thankfully, I was okay once I got behind the counter and focused on the work. By the end of the day, my brain had stopped working. Although I had made a few errors, I had marked the register tape so I could correct them. I think we balanced within a few dollars, which normally is not acceptable to me, but on a day like Saturday, I'll take it! My dear friend gave me a ride home much later in the evening. I finally ate my lunch (?!) and went to bed. Slept until late Sunday afternoon. I went back to bed at 9:00 that night and slept like the dead.

This morning, Maris has shown a little improvement, and I'm the one who is dizzy.

(Image used is entitled "Carousel in Central Park" and can be found at beautifuldarklight at Etsy.)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Scrapped for time...

I did finally make it in to work yesterday afternoon. It was a little bit unnerving at first because they hit me with about four different tasks when I walked in the door. I explained that I had to concentrate on the taxes and anything else would have to wait. They were very gracious and told me several times how much they appreciated my help. One of them even made a point to tell me that I was not to get stressed--the situation wasn't my fault. I was grateful that he said that. Once I got into the project, I had about three uninterrupted hours to punch in numbers. Not at all like how it was when I was working full time. My whiteboard always had over 50 things that were in process and needed to be completed yesterday, and I was always being asked to move from one to another as priorities were changed. I'm really more of a tunnel-vision type worker or like the tortoise rather than the hare. I'm one-task oriented and for me, slow and steady means I do a really good job on that task. Too many things to do at one time and nothing gets done well. Having to work like the hare raced is why I was soooo stressed. Jumping and bounding from one thing to another without finishing anything.

I'm getting bent out of shape just thinking about it.

(Image is an abstract metal wall hanging by artist David Armstrong. He suggests it can be birds and fish or the tortoise and hare. I just happen to love metal, especially scraps! I'm the one you might see stopped by the side of the road investigating a strange looking metal object to use in one of my own projects! This beauty can be purchased in Mr. Armstrong's fairly new Etsy shop strongarmstrong. See more of his work at www.birdsflyfree.com)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Bad, bad me. I didn't make it to work yesterday. I got showered and dressed and put on a few pieces of funky jewelry from a fav Etsy Seller. I even put on makeup, and that hasn't happened more than a handful of times in a year. Took my anxiety meds. Wrote yesterday's post. Listened to a frantic message from my boss.

Maybe I'm being stubborn, but I don't think so. I think I'm picking up their anxiety, and it's building on top of mine. Either way, getting to work ain't happened yet. I called this morning and told them I was trying again this afternoon. Trying. Again.

I mentioned that I got dressed for work and put on makeup, right? What I did forget to say was that I'm also taking my little pet monkey. He hangs out and eats bananas. And didn't we learn from Chiquita Banana that bananas have to ripen before eating? Ripen=progress=prepare. Hey, I'm preparing!

And here I thought being bananas was a bad thing.

(Image used is a print of an original collage that is mounted on a wood block. It is entitled "What's Wrong" and is available for purchase for the Etsy shop WicksomeMay.)

(The original Disney Studios commercial featuring Ms. Chiquita Banana has been out since the 40's. Do you remember the tune? Saying that I do really shows my age. See the entire minute-long video here www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFDOI24RRAE )

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

But not in my head...

After weeks of staying away from work, I'm getting ready to head that way today. I knew this day was coming, but I just didn't know whether or not I'd be able to handle it. September 15th is a tax deadline, so they are requesting my help ASAP. Tax deadlines would definitely be one of the things that could motivate me to get my butt into the office. Nothing else has managed to do it. I'm feeling apprehensive, and I hope that I will be emotionally able to work at the office. They said that I could take it home if I needed to, but I would like to work there since it would be so much easier than carting a boatload of paperwork back home. Plus, my laptop is set up for the printer at the office and not the one at home.

Got butterflies? Who me?

(The image used today is a portion of an original contemporary mixed media painting by artist Diane Ackers, and it can be purchased in her Etsy shop DianeAckers. I love her use of color as well as the serene expressions on the subjects' faces. For more information, visit her at http://dianeackers.blogspot.com/ )

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sticks and stones...

While I've been dealing with my skyrocketing blood pressure, my dad decided to join the fun. He and I both have problems with something that none of our doctors have ever diagnosed. He deals with more reflux/indigestion while I have nothing but the excruciating pain in my gut. Feels like I've got knives sticking in me from the front and back and lasts for ten or more hours. Both Dad and I have had test after test, both have gone to the ER, etc. without any luck. My problem started when I was in college. Back then, I'd go to the infirmary and they would give me a sedative. Nice. Wake up twelve hours later with no pain. Unfortunately, the real world isn't so accommodating. About 15 years ago, I had an ultrasound on my gallbladder, but it showed nothing conclusive. Six years or so later, I started a battery of tests that my doctor said he could do to eliminate causes one-by-one. First, an ultrasound on the gall bladder, next an upper GI test, then a laparoscopy to look at the esophagus and stomach lining. I don't know what would have come next. The first two didn't indicate any problem, but the laparoscopy revealed several ulcers, and my doctor decided these were probably the cause of all the pain. I told him how much I doubted that since for years I had been taking massive doses of Ibuprofen to kill the pain, which had likely caused the ulcers. He refused to keep working through the tests until the ulcers cleared up. I have to confess that I was fairly disgusted with him since he wouldn't listen to me, so I never went back. And of course, my pain continued. Since then, I have been eating massive amounts of peppermint candy after reading that it helps with digestion, particularly the muscles used in the process. I can usually get some relief from the pain, but it's often after four or five hours of sheer misery. I had given up on finding a cause and had self-diagnosed myself with IBS. Plus, I have cut so many foods from my diet. Now get this--drinking too much caffeine and/or eating fatty foods cause the most pain. Aha, you say. That sounds like a gallbladder problem. Uh-uh, I say. I've had at least two ultrasounds showing nothing wrong with my gallbladder. I had given up trying to get help. Until now.

My dad has had the problem for as long as I can remember, and like mine, his pain has increased over the years. Last week, he went to the ER for the second time in a month, and once again, after load of tests on almost every organ in his body, he left knowing no more than when he arrived. However, after running a high fever over the weekend, he went back to his doctor on Monday, still in quite a bit of pain, and his doc said to go back to the hospital, that he would call ahead and get my dad admitted. The doc recommended a surgeon who began the testing again. Thankfully, this guy was willing to look carefully at the gallbladder rather than pass it by for lack of info. He decided to do surgery very late on Tuesday. Turns out, Dad's gallbladder was inflamed with infection, swollen and full of gallstones so tiny that the doctor said it was like sifting through sand. The infection could have caused worse problems had it gone unnoticed. Yesterday, I asked one of his nurses why there weren't any better tests for the gallbladder. She explained that it was like looking into a deflated balloon--it's has a thin wall, but without the air, the wall isn't stretched enough to see inside. She also told me about a test that measured the activity of the gallbladder instead of the organ itself. She was surprised neither of us had even heard of it.

So I've decided to see if I can get that test done. If I could be rid of this plaguing pain, I would be willing to undergo surgery even though I said I would never have it again (I react violently to the anesthesia).

No telling what they'd find...

(Image is entitled "Hollyhock Seeds" and can be purchased from FoundDays at Etsy.)

PS--My dad is back at home and doing just fine! Thanks for asking.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Five, four, three, two, one...

Now that I am into a more reflective time of self-examination, I'm much more aware of how seemingly unrelated events cause the most revealing thoughts to pop into my brain. Oh, it may take a few days, but it happens. For example, while getting an acupuncture treatment two weeks ago, I was telling my chiropractor--aka my acupuncturist--that I felt hyped up and couldn't relax. I had been feeling like that for several weeks, and I was erroneously thinking it was just an elevated mood. Apparently, a recently increased dosage in one of my medications was sending my blood pressure into dangerous territory. I freaked out when I got my BP reading and read about the numbers, especially the word "crisis." Yikes. Spent that day and the next four--including a weekend, which is why I couldn't get in to see my internist sooner--being extremely cautious, including making the stupid decision to stop taking most of my medications. I've been fighting taking the Hormone Replacement drugs due to the increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, and most of the other meds have some mention of the same side effects. I debated going to the Emergency Room, but part of me thought that was overreacting. As it turns out, my decision was serendipitous. One of the other meds was the one that was causing the problem. My internist, whom I saw ASAP, lectured me in no uncertain terms that I might have caused a worse situation by quitting my meds cold-turkey and that I was very fortunate indeed and to call her no matter the time, day or night, if something like that ever happened again. Phew, she chewed me out! Once it was all over and I felt calmer, I suddenly remembered something the chiropractor said about my hyperactive, manic feeling--"You jump into everything feet first, full tilt and give it 150%. You don't hold anything back, and it wears you out to do that." Of course, he had no way of knowing that it was the meds causing the problem, but I've been a patient of his for the past two+ years, so he knows me fairly well. I started going to him when I needed treatment for a pinched nerve in my neck. I forget the correct medical term, but there isn't really a nerve being pinched, although that's exactly what it feels like. Anyway, I had always viewed my initial energetic ventures into jobs and projects as stemming from a caring attitude. I always want to do everything perfectly (as if!), and I really care about the people involved. I was surprised to think that the physical aspect could have had as much of an impact as the emotional one. I've always thought that the emotional stress caused the physical problems. Maybe the combined results of both is what always pulled me down into a pit. The most unfortunate outcome, regardless of the cause, is the way others reacted to my decline, not to mention my own guilt for not meeting my own expectations. For that reason, I've been reluctant over the past year to get involved with anyone on any level to keep from feeling the pain and hurt when I don't meet their expectations.

The thought that I could get involved in something without launching myself into it is my pop-upped thought of the week.

(Image is entitled "Rocket to the Moon" and is available from Etsy shop loriontdorr. Do you see it?)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Too much time, maybe?

Embrace change.
Change can be difficult.
Difficult times call for difficult measures.
Measures taken to an extreme.
Extreme means to an end.
End of life as we know it.
It doesn't have to be this way.
Way to go!
Go west, young man.
Man does not live by bread alone.
Alone in the dark.
Dark clouds raining down on me, drowning me, drowning...
Drowning is the third most common cause of accidental death.
Death of a Salesman.
Salesman of the Year.
Year after year I've tried to tell you.
You can't always get what you want.
Want is not the same thing as need.
Need to know.
Know how.
How can you mend a broken heart?
Heart of Glass.
Glass of wine, a good friend, the kind of therapy that money can't buy.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack, I don't care if I never get back.
Back to the wall.
Wall of Fame.
Fame--I'm gonna live forever.
Forever and a day.
Day by day...three things that I pray...
Pray, Eat, Love.
Love of money is the root of all evil.
Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.
Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could.
Could you speak up, please?
Please forgive me.
Me and You and a Dog named Boo.
Boo Hoo, I can't believe it's true.
True blue in everything we do.
Do you know the muffin man who lives on Drury Lane?
Lane with you in your embrace...

Obviously my brain took a break.

(Image is entitled "Thought Blockade" and is found at chicalookate at Etsy.)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

School's in, I'm out...

If not already obvious, here or in some other way, school is finally back in session!! When my other half is home, I never have any computer time. Maybe I shouldn't say never, but when I went online over the summer, more often than not he was here, and my time was very limited and not so private. The TV is usually on as well, and it's just too hard to listen to him commentate along with the sound in the background and try to make any kind of thoughtful entry. Thus, my three-in-a-row posts this week.

Today, I'm trying to talk myself into heading out to return some of those unnecessary purchases from two weeks ago. The monetary amount isn't large, but I'm determined to keep a lid on my spending habit. Having said that, yesterday I got a magazine in the mail, and H&M has an olive shirt/jacket that was shown. It's the color I've been after all summer. Having said that, it's a buy that I don't consider one of impulse, and it will be very wearable with the limited wardrobe I've been in for almost a year. And of course being H&M, the price isn't outrageous. When I called last night to check on the availability, they said they could hold it until closing tonight.

On a final note, since I had decided to venture out today, I called last night to see if my mom wanted to have lunch with me. Unfortunately she can't, but at least she seemed pleased that I asked. I haven't been the one to call for so long that she may have been stunned. Hopefully, she was sitting down.

I guess it is "possible, even for me, to change."

(Image is from Etsy shop lisachun and is entitled "Change." Yes, I did lift the text of her mixed media art, but it was so perfect! I have used another of her pieces in an earlier post. I love what her profile has to say:

Lisa Chun is a poet, photographer and mixed media artist..She is concerned with bringing the soul to the workplace, cultivating and maintaining an inner life which is the well that she believes art is drawn from, and endeavors to contribute to people's lives and wellbeing by being and teaching the principles of being true to oneself - even in the marketplace!

I may no longer have a workplace, but when it comes to one's soul and wellbeing as well as being true to oneself, I am a work-in-progress.)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Addiction, Part Deux...

So I've concluded that I'm a shopaholic because obtaining my fix is just too easy, and I can satisfy my creative urges more quickly by buying instead of making my own. It would seem that I've endowed a piece of cloth with human characteristics. Given life to a thing that is, granted, a basic need, but still just a nonsentient thing. I've expected these things to make a difference on the inside when they are nothing more than beautiful adornments for the outside. And really, do they give any meaning to life other than to satisfy the wearer? Now that I realize what I've been doing, I feel shallow and stupid. When I think about the problems and desperate needs of our world, I realize it makes me shallow (and probably stupid). Now, don't get me wrong, the appreciation and acquiring of fashion isn't a bad thing unless it gets out-of-line like mine has. Everyone has their interests, and anything can go from interest to habit to obsession when it impinges on the important things in life. I've always believed that things don't just happen--there is a reason for everything that happens in our lives. Maybe we chose our path or maybe it was chosen for us. Nevertheless, that path has a purpose. Hopefully, we choose to give it meaning and thus fulfill that purpose. So in pondering this addiction of mine, I can't say that the past year has been in vain. I might not have understood it. I might keep traveling the same path over and over. But in previous trips, I haven't had the luxury of this much time for self-examination. Now that I do, how can I ignore what I've learned? How can I not make the changes? Why haven't I made these changes earlier? And have I ever really made a difference anywhere?

Thinking is not nearly as much fun as shopping.

To be continued...

(Image used is "Untitled" by artist Lauren Gray. Her shop is TheHauntedHollowTree found at Etsy. She does delicately textured figurative work in muted tones. More can be found at her blog thehauntedhollowtree.blogspot.com)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hi, my name is Linda...**

Ah, the ways we choose to deal with problems that in turn become problems themselves. Hello, I am a severe shopaholic. No need to discuss the fact that I'm not working and don't need to get dressed up every day. No need to discuss the fact that I've always had ten times more clothing than I need or even wear. No need to discuss the fact that my credit card is maxed out. No need because my other half discusses these things with me quite often. Or more correctly, he lectures me. I know he's right. Sadly, I can't seem to help myself. Hence, the word shopaholic--my addiction. My usual retort relates to how I'm not addicted to anything like drugs or alcohol and isn't that a good thing. Afterwards, I go running to the computer to find something else to buy online. He lectures, I get anxious. Anxiety leads to feelings of sadness. Sadness makes me think I need something to make me feel better. Chi-ching. Not that this only recently happened. I've been doing it forever, which I guess means I've felt anxious and sad forever? Maybe, but not to the degree of the past year, although I think I have done most of the credit card damage during that time. My hubby also recently remarked that when I do leave the house these days I always shop. Hhhmmm, hadn't thought about it, but he's right again, drat the man. I guess I do it to help with my can't-leave-the-house phobia or to feel better while I'm out. The truly awful thing about the purchases I've made in the last six to ten months is that I haven't worn or used 90% of them. When we went to the theater recently, I wore a dress purchased right at a year ago. I have a huge amount of unique, awesome handmade clothing or accessories from Etsy or other online stores or recently acquired items from favorite nearby shops. A friend we met several weeks ago for breakfast asked if I was going to get back into creating and selling my own clothing since I wasn't working anymore. Well, I actually had thought that I would do that at the beginning of the year, but I can't seem to make it happen. I have pages and pages of design ideas complete with drawings and descriptions, and don't get me started on how much fabric and such are in the spare room. I recently came across a really awesome piece of clothing when I was doing the great refi cleaning, and I looked for a tag to see who had made it. I may have mentioned that I used to work in a fabulous boutique and purchased lots of unique things. Well, no label in this. I hung the vest on the outside of my closet door thinking that I would eventually remember where I had gotten it. I finally realized that I had made it. Duh. I love creating and would think that I would jump at the opportunity to do it. So what is my problem??? Don't know how many times I've asked myself that question over the last months. At first I thought that it was due to the fact that I was still recovering. Then I thought I was stalling because I am such a perfectionist. Can't get started because it would never be good enough, right? Finding that vest sends that argument out the window. So, what the heck is it? Well, I think I've figured it out. When I started making pieces 15 years ago, there were not many places to shop for the kind of look I liked. Now, there are a lot, especially online, and several more boutiques have opened here in town. I also know that if there is one thing I enjoy, it's the thrill of the hunt, the giddy pleasure of searching through the racks or pictures, choosing several over which to drool and then picking out the one that is "the piece I can't live without." And since the hunt has become easier than ever with so much more available, that next perfect thing is constantly in front of me. That's the problem in a nutshell--I'm not unhappy with my purchases, I just always find something else to purchase more often, something that is probably only slightly different from what I purchased last week. Searching for that elusive piece that will make my imperfect life perfect and I'll live happily ever after.

Is it any wonder why I have Alice and Dorothy in my head?

(Image is entitled "Searching For Fairy Tales" and can be found at thisyearsgirl, an Etsy shop with lots of beautiful and dreamy artwork by Melissa Nucera.)

**Please note that no offense is meant to the blogger(s) or Etsy shops that have tempted me beyond reason.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pump up the jam...

No, don't fall over. Although sitting is probably not going to allow for that anyway! A post that isn't two weeks later than the last. Will miracles never cease?

I really don't have anything to say today except that I have gone so long without saying much of anything to anyone, and now I can't seem to keep my mouth shut. I talked on the phone Sunday evening with a friend for--hold on--not one but two HOURS. What?? My other half asked me afterwards if she said anything. Ha-ha. I sent extremely babbling convos to several Etsy artist-friends. Then last night, we watched crazy You-Tube videos from 7:00 until midnight, and it was so much fun to dance and laugh. I never look at You-Tube unless someone has something that they recommend. (Steff, I'll never be able to thank you enough for the "le singe..." video. I laugh so hard every single time I watch it. Just the ticket for a dull day.*) Anyway, hubby is a PE teacher and coach plus a major sports fanatic, so Sports Illustrated is his main page online. They have several "daily" videos, most of which I never am interested in. However, this one was of two guys who literally--truly--climbed buildings like Spiderman and jumped from one building roof to the next, running at high speed and never slowing down. It was a stomach clenching video to watch, like watching a roller coaster ride from the front seat. I don't know how we went from there, but we got into wedding reception videos with crazy dancing. We ended up at "The Evolution of Dance" videos and various take-offs of it. I started dancing at the tender age of one or two and have been at it ever since. It's such a creative expression and feels like flying or something. No, Mom wouldn't let me take dancing lessons because "they will never be useful." Like those seven years of piano lessons have done anything for me. Her reasoning came from a background of poverty and traditional beliefs about what women should/could do. She believed that dancing was frivolous and a waste of time. I don't think she and my dad ever even danced. Ah, what a loss. She also squashed my future as a potter the minute I brought my first astounding creation home. Lessons? Absolutely not. When did playing with mud serve any purpose? She never caught on to my artistic abilities, not even when I danced her wall-size mirror off the wall and broke it. Hhhmmm, that's how I probably brought on a lifetime of bad luck! I danced constantly around the house. I was always in motion. I think I am dancing in all of the home movies Dad took. I was a cheerleader throughout junior and senior high school, back in the olden days when it was more "dancey" than aerobatic. I can't sit still when I hear most music. I love so many different styles of music and dance, but give me a good beat and I'm there. I've lived long enough to have heard lots of music genres and have loved them all. Give me country, hip-hop or the Stones--I can dance to anything. I love the productions "Stomp" and "Riverdance" and any ballet. I love the opera "Madame Butterfly." Love to watch ballroom dancing or listen to jazz. I was a huge MTV fan when they just played videos. Bonus--music plus dancing! I don't even recognize MTV anymore. I think I might win the award for owning the most movie soundtracks. Yes, "Dirty Dancing" is a favorite along with any Fred Astaire movie. The Soggy Bottom Boys of "O Brother Where Art Thou," "Drumline," "Billy Elliott," "Fiddler on the Roof" or "The Sound of Music;" the Beatles, Lady Antebellum, Pat Benatar, Usher, ELO--I'm all over the board. I've recently been introduced to the music of Eluveitie (again, thanks to Steff), and they have become a big favorite. As for dance, I finally took some ballet lessons after I graduated from college, and planned to continue onto creative dancing (didn't), and the last ten or more years have been, sadly, dance-less for the most part. We did take shag lessons for one of hubby's PE classes. Uh, ya know, dancing to beach music, not the other thing. (Beach music is the one genre I do not care for at all. Must be bad memories of fraternities.) Hubby teaches a lot of line dancing, too. As for me, I danced when dancing wasn't exactly choreographed. It just flowed. Whatever felt like moving moved. Now, it has been so influenced by Michael Jackson and the hip-hop guys. Don't get me wrong, I can do most of the "Thriller" and "Beat It" moves in my sleep, and I've added the "Soulja Boy" routine to my repertoire even though I'm not a big fan of the song. I love the dance moves, though. Music and dancing--moving and grooving. After last night, I'm thinking I need to add it back as part of my daily exercise routine. And I guess I did have something to say after all.

Good thing we don't have any mirrors in the TV room. I just hope I don't step on any tails...

(Image is entitled "Dancing with Dogs" and can be found at the shop cathydarling on Etsy. I already know that Berra loves to dance with me. Maris stays away but watches. I don't know what Guidry will do, but I'm betting Jeeter won't hesitate to join in.)

*The video of Eddie Izzard "Learning French" can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1sQkEfAdfY
Sorry, I still haven't learned how to put up a "link." I'm not even sure if that is what to call that which I haven't learned.
Steff's awesome blog, kaKofonie Of si(gh)lens, can be found at:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Dog days of summer...

Okay, I'll admit, I'm getting really bad at keeping up this journal. I've always been really bad at keeping a journal, but I have done much better online. That's probably because it's actually easier to write a few sentences, look at a few blogs, write a few more sentences, shop for awhile on Etsy, go back to writing...Well, you get the picture. However, I also think that it reflects the changes in my health--physical, emotional, and mental. I have really come a long way, baby! At one time, I was linked to the outside world only by means of my computer. Well, not counting my other half. It was the only way I felt comfortable connecting with anyone, and I have made some awesome connections because of it. I really had to make myself work to start getting back out. When I first stuck my toes out the front door back a few months ago to go back to work, I didn't think I could do it for more than a week. But one week turned into two, then three, and I seemed to be doing alright. It's been almost three weeks since I've gone back to work due to a difficult day filled with the very things that made me leave in the first place. I am hoping that I can get that one last day over and done with soon. I actually had a busy week last week, full of planned events, and this week has been a little crazy because it's the last week of vacation for my hubby. He goes back to teaching next week, and we will finally be back on a schedule, which I desperately need!! We will start back on our daily walks with our dogs. He has been doing most of the dog-walking without me lately and has had two people stop him for his "business card." They think he is a dog-walker! I guess seeing someone walk four dogs isn't the usual!

Speaking of the dogs, Berra (the oldest) is showing some signs of slowing down during our walks. He has begun to leave some slack in the leash by the time we get back into our neighborhood. We've got him on a double-lead with Guidry, so he can't get too far behind. Jeeter and Maris have separate leashes. Jeeter has been with us now four or five months--is that possible? He was five-months-old when we got him, and he is looking to be mostly Golden Retriever. We think he may have some pit bull in him based not only on several physical factors but also because he isn't the typical Golden personality. That's not to say that he is bad, but he definitely is not the all-loving, want-to-lie-at-your-feet-and-stare-into-your-eyes kind of dog that the others are. He fits in well, and the other dogs get along with him and he does one funny thing after another. Mostly, he talks about everything! More to the point, he comments about everything. And his comments are in a high-pitched puppy-speak! He chases airplanes across the yard and bugs on the patio and is a connoisseur of pine cones. He is a hoot! I seriously think he is ADD. Nothing, not even eating, can keep his attention for longer than five seconds. He finishes eating about half of his food, then is off to find out what the others are doing. What they are doing is watching him eat because they gobbled their food down already and want a chance to eat his! Breakfast and dinner are not boring here! Once Jeeter gets distracted, there is no going back. We tried several tricks to make him eat more but figure when he is hungry, he won't walk away! Back to the thought that he might be part pit bull. That's kind of a shame because it may be the reason why he was dropped off at a kill-shelter. Someone may have been looking for less Golden and more Pit, and he looked just like a Golden puppy. It's terrible to think about the way those dogs in particular are used as fighting dogs. Anyway, Jeeter may look and act slightly less Golden, but he is 100% Golden at heart! We love him as much as the others and wouldn't trade him for anything.

Well, if I step on anymore prickly bits of pine cone that didn't get swept up, I might start thinking about it.

(Image is a print that can be purchased from gibspix at Etsy and is entitled "Golden Retriever." The dog looks just like Guidry instead of Jeeter, but I'd recognize that pine cone anywhere.)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Playing Solitaire...

After spending so much time at home and seeing pretty much no one to speak of, I seem to have become the proverbial social butterfly this week. Not that I am happy to claim the title. My preference would be to remain the anonymous soul I've been for the last eight months. However, as luck would have it, my social calendar runneth over. Last night we went to dinner with a group of neighbors, then back to one of their homes for a round of Trivial Pursuit. We made up our own rules and played men against women. Need anyone ask who won?? We all moved into this newly developed neighborhood at the same time some twenty-odd years ago. We had cul-de-sac parties at which we all brought grills and hand-cranked ice cream makers. We did the moving party at Christmas, going from house to house. We went to movies and comedy clubs and restaurants together. We were all of a similar age, and several families had small children. I have watched these same children grow up, go through their own trials and waved them off as they were married or back as they divorced. This is no doubt one of the best bunch of individuals I know. They are truly great friends. Tonight, we have tickets to the play "Annie," and we will no doubt see several of my other half's acquaintances. The tickets were an end-of-year gift for him as he teaches the 14-year-old star of the play. It's bound to be a great event, but I don't know many of the parents who will be there, so I'm a bit on the anxious side about it. Finally, tomorrow we have a brunch scheduled with friends who moved to Virginia two years ago. I am already dreading this because this is one of the friends who hurt me very badly several years ago. She brought me into a Bible study, encouraged me to be in leadership and then was one of those who said nothing when I was asked to leave as the proverbial scapegoat. (Hmmm, onto that word proverbial today.) The leader of the study didn't like what an audit team had to recommend, and as the one who was asked to lead the audit, I was the one to get the boot. I've come to realize just how controlling the leader was, not to mention being quite the "queen bee" type. As for my friend, I haven't seen her since the "break-up" and will confess that I was hurt, then angry at her. For her to have been such a good friend, one whom I might say had been a bit of a mentor to me, I really would prefer not to see her and just forgo the brunch. I'm fairly certain that isn't an option. Too bad.

On the work front, I have avoided going back into the office for almost two weeks. I'm no longer able to manage my stress on any level, and when the tough got going, I bailed. I think I've recovered enough to pick it up again this weekend when I can work alone.

Because really, this socializing has seriously cut into my hermit lifestyle.

(Image is a collage found at AnangkaArts at Etsy and can be purchased in the form of a magnet or a greeting card. It is representative of the Tarot card "The Hermit" and goes by the same name.)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Size does matter...

As previously mentioned, I've been working part-part-time on a project for my previous employer, and it's been eating into my journal time. I've been going to the office several days per week, and I'm at the point that the work should be completed in another day or two. I don't know what, if anything, I'll do there once this is finished. They may need me for a few days per month, but we will see. As the weeks have gone by, the same things that caused me to leave have gradually started up again. I'm certainly not where I was six months ago, but this week has seen a bit of a setback for me. It just confirms that I need to stay away from highly emotional and stressful situations.

Speaking of stressful, I just read that a "plus-size" model was protesting her recently published photograph. It seems that the publisher had the picture airbrushed from a size 10 to a size 2. She said she was proud of her size and felt it was insulting to her for the photo to be changed. Funny, I was insulted to find out that a size 10 was considered a plus-size! When did that happen? I knew that the modelling business has been getting bad press for pushing the girls to be so thin that they aren't healthy, but I didn't realize that those standards were now being pushed on women in general. However, I have noticed as I've shopped online for the last year or more that designers do seem to be using less material. A size Large just ain't what it used to be.

I recently found a picture of myself taken about 5 months before I got married. Both my other half and I agreed that I look way, way, better now. We both thought I looked anorexic in the photo, but I remember never feeling thin enough. As I've aged, predictably, I've gained those few pounds per year. Anyone who has seen me within the last 10 or so years has said that I look great, maybe because I now have curves.

The good news from the fashion front is that curves are back in vogue! I just wish someone would tell that to all of those designers who think a size Large is equivalent to a size 8. Who would like to volunteer? Anyone?

(Image is a black and white gelatin silver print entitled "Hands." It can be purchased at Etsy from leanaphoto.)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Do or die...

Sadly, one of my dearest friends just had to be hospitalized after combining drugs and alcohol. Probably something I would have done way back when if I had had enough of any kind of serious drugs. I had no access to a gun, and the thought of slitting my wrists makes me queasy. I have a hard time having my finger pricked. However, I knew firsthand the kind of accident that could occur if I were to run my car headfirst into an oncoming 18-wheeler. I planned it, mapped it, found the perfect spot on the highway. Even did a few drive-throughs to make sure. Thankfully, I finally looked at the cab. Saw the driver. Realized that I was going to hurt someone other than myself. And I knew that it was no longer an option. Which kinda left me with no options.

I know now that had I been very seriously considering the act, I would have found a way. I'd like to think that it was because I didn't want to hurt anyone, but I doubt that I'm that noble. Maybe I was a coward, but I was enduring emotional pain that was so intense that I wasn't really living anyway. It's hard to think or talk about what I was going to do, but it was my truth at the time.

Or since I didn't carry through, was it really my truth?

"The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple."--Oscar Wilde

(Image shown is a portion of a necklace found at VenusFlytrapJewels at Etsy. It contains a charm with photos related to mental health as well as a small bottle of pills. In black and white, no less.)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Know a good locksmith?

I've been out of work for almost 10 months, and although some might not think it's true, I have had somewhat of a schedule. Well, not for the first three months, that is. That was when I was simply numb. No thinking, no feeling, no responding. There were a handful of significantly stressful and humiliating events during the last decade of my life for which I had not grieved. Add to that the fact that I found myself in the final stage of my feminine life without much warning. Finally, the numbness wore off, and I became a thinking, feeling, responding maniac. Too much grief and hurt needed to be released. Too much time that had been, perhaps, wasted. This journal was my recording of what I needed to work through, get through one way or another. It took the last five or so months to do just that. One day I should probably record some of the events. I'm sure my doctor would recommend it. To anyone who took the time to read, encourage or offer up a prayer for me, I can't express enough just how thankful I am. Big, big hugs all around. I am eternally grateful.

Now, I am at a point in this journey that I can look back and see how I've progressed, and I am so encouraged by where I find myself. I am actually answering the telephone and talking to people. Amazing! I don't think I've ever said, but long ago during my first bad incident, I developed a phobia about the phone, and I've never gotten over it. Now, not only have I talked to people, I've gone back to work with my former employer. Technically, I guess I'm no longer employed, but then again, I'm not very technical. I think this is more of a part-part-time job. A good start, no? The retail position offered earlier in the year is still available, and I have been in touch with the owner recently. Again, good.

I know myself well enough to know that there will be more ups and downs. However, I believe that I've learned enough now to keep those ups and downs to a very low frequency. Hopefully, no more serious roller coaster emotional upheavals and certainly not with any regularity. I know when I need to back off, I think. Now that we've refinanced and made it possible for me to stay at home if I need to (which was a miracle to accomplish), I feel much less pressured and stressed. I have options. Again, amazing. I put myself at the mercy of others for so long, I forgot how that felt.

Well, all of this said because I believe that I had a bit of a schedule to my days. I am someone who needs a schedule. Plus, it was quiet, and I needed that as much as anything. My other half is now in the last of his four-week vacation, and having him constantly around has played havoc with my pseudo-schedule and my peace of mind! I can't wait for next week to arrive! He's not a horrible person, but it took this long and difficult 10-month journey to make him realize where I was headed. Downhill, very fast. He has begun to realize that he has never given me any support during the decade of difficulties and that he was, in fact, actually one of my difficulties. Sadly, over time, the result was the loss of our closeness. We will never have a true marriage again. He has also finally acknowledged that truth and is, like me, trying to live as friends. It is one of the situations that gives me the most grief. I am a person who needs to give and receive love. Not having that kind of relationship may be my biggest loss of all.

But enough of that. I am tremendously encouraged and almost feel giddy with the progress! I have a peace now that I have not had for a very long time. I think I've managed to put some of the pieces back together. My heart feels lighter, my emotions are positive, I have options, and I am able to not only unlock the door to The Place in which I had taken refuge but to step out into the world.

The Place will probably always be there. I can visit, but maybe I should throw away the key...

(Image is an assemblage from AnAlteredAffair at Etsy and is entitled "A Lock on My Heart."

Friday, July 2, 2010

All work and no play...

Woohoo!! I did it! I made it to the end of the week without crashing.

I'm calling the girls. I feel a party coming on, and it doesn't involve tea...

(Image is entitled "Guinness ACEO" and is found at bethberg on Etsy.)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Stay calm, don't panic...

I know I've come a long way from where I was several months ago because this week I've gone back to work. Yep, me, back to help them with some reports that needed to be rechecked. They have been calling me for months, but I haven't had much success at it before now. I've been every day so far this week, and I'm going back today and probably tomorrow. I'm standing here beside of myself. Whoa, bad line--where did I hear it? Seriously, I am amazed that I've been able to do it. Just have to keep pushing.

The biggest thorn in my side right now is my other half. He has been out of school for three weeks, and he will be out again next week. TV on day and night, constantly on the computer. Heaven forbid if he ever retires. I will have to run away from home for sure.

I also have a friend who called me this week to let me know that she was setting up an Etsy store. She wanted me to help her with the technical aspects of listing. Me?? Obviously, she has no idea that I can barely logon without help. I'll be glad to do whatever I can, but I told her not to hold her breath. She is a fiber jewelry artist who uses vintage items in her creations. I've been wearing her pieces for 20 years. Beauties, each and every one.

Well, although I've been in a sad state of cracked and broken for awhile, it looks like I've returned, perhaps temporarily, to calm...

(Image is from Etsy artist livingferal and is a collage entitled "keep calm and carry on" "when you've nothing left to lose, and are past the point of no return...")

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

So shoot me...

Well, my family vacation was a bust. More on that later. The head doctor who has been treating me for about ten years retired recently. I have seen the doctor who she recommended one time, but I really didn't click with her. The old doc was low key, wore her medical jacket and did not ask me to talk. The new one looks like a glamour girl, all matchy-matchy with really red lipstick and said she couldn't help me if I didn't want to talk. Sheesh. I couldn't help it that I didn't want to talk. It was a bad day. What's the point in seeing her if she can't deal with my bad days? So, I'm in the process of trying to decide if I need to find a new doctor. The determining factor may be my insurance, which is surely the most stupid thing ever invented. Pay a boat-load of money for something that doesn't pay for mental health stuff. Sure, have a real illness like high blood pressure or diabetes and only pay a small co-payment. Period. Like $20. And yes, I do get my medications at substantial savings, but it's a shame that the insurance companies don't consider mental health an issue. Never mind that over half of the population is being treated for some kind of mental health problem. And I have mixed feelings about national health care. Another thing to address later. But really, I'm pretty frustrated right now with the whole system.

Wouldn't it be better to make it easier for people to be treated for their mental health than to wait until they go off the deep end and start shooting?

(Image used is by one of my favorite Etsy artists, Margaux of TheBlackSpotBooks. She makes the most amazing tiny, usable books, then creates jewelry with them. She also has some haunting photography. This is one of those, entitled "The Falling and The Gathering of the Leaves III." When she was a featured artist, I learned that she lives in a mid-1800s home that once belonged to a bootlegger; she "romps" around the world with her husband and son; she used to wake up before dawn and ask her brother "Do you want to make stuff?"; she and her husband mapped out a plan to live at sea (which she loves, by the way), and they dream of "making things whilst out in the water and visiting the world from the inside out." Wouldn't we all love to be in this woman's world?)

(PS--I couldn't bring myself to post an actual "gun" or "shooting" photo although there are many from which to choose. There's already way too much violence in the world to promote it.)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A good time was had by most...

I'm heading off to the beach tomorrow for our annual family vacation. Everyone else made it there on Monday. I tried to go earlier this week as well but couldn't do it. I had a difficult time with my family ten or eleven years ago. The result was that I was unable to see them or talk to them for over two years. I still have a lot of trouble with extended time together. I don't remember if I've ever given any of the details in this journal, but I won't go into them now.

If I do, I might change my mind and not go at all.

(Image used is entitled "Vacation" and is a photograph taken at the beach where I am going. It's by PaulettePhotography and is just one of the many pictures she's taken where she lives in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. She has a lot of amazing animal photos, too.)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Slowly but surely...

Okay, I don't know who I was kidding, but I really haven't been able to start everything in my "better health plan" this week. I've made several changes, but all of them? No way. I guess I'm going into it gradually since that's what my brain seems to be doing. Some things have been easy to change, and those are the ones I've started on. Why do I always save the hardest for last?? The good news is that I am trying! I lied when I told my doctor I could do it all this week, but she said I should be able to do it all this week. Who was she kidding?

I can only change a few pieces of me at a time...

(Image by OutsideTheBoxArt at Etsy entitled "Funky Face.")

Monday, May 31, 2010

Let it ring...

In gratitude to all men and women of any nation who have fought or who continue to fight for freedom.

In memory of those who gave their lives in the fight for freedom, as well as the many who were casualties of war.

In recognition of those who have lost a loved one in a war and those who wait for loved ones to come home from war.

Freedom comes at a great cost. We who live in freedom can never say thank you enough.

(Image is from the blog Something Sublime.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Time to stop running and start running...

Went to a new doctor today. I've had a family doctor for general stuff, but my ob/gyn had told me that I should see an internist. I never really knew that an internist was like a family doctor, only better. Someone who looks at the big picture, not just the pieces. My ob/gyn gave me a recommendation, and I took her advice. Turns out this doctor is really good. She was so nice and took extra time with me. That doesn't happen much these days. I have two pages of notes that she wrote to remind/tell me what I need to do. I already knew most of it--better diet, more exercise, etc., but she gave me some very specific instructions. My recent blood work indicated that my cholesterol was up from last time, which is why I went to this new doc in the first place. Even though I knew I needed to take better care of myself, I wasn't doing it. Now, I have someone to answer to, and that's a good motivator.

Plus, I'm ready to start making changes...

[Image used is entitled "Time is a Runaway." It is by RLDesign, who unfortunately doesn't have anything in her Etsy shop anymore. She had several listings, all of which used parts of dress forms. Her creations were wall-mounted sculptures. It may not be evident at first glance, but this is/may be a working clock. Look on the right breast to find the clock hands. It also says the following (read from upper left to below the clock to lower left): "They say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself." More good advice.]

Monday, May 24, 2010

Don't mess with me...

I can hardly believe that May is almost over. Most of April and May were taken over by everything related to refinancing. It really did take two months to complete the process. The initial contact to get the ball rolling was on March 25th, followed by the cleaning spree and then finally the fiasco of waiting on the bank to fix a 20 year-old error. Phew. Done. Over. Let's move on.

So now I'm back to reading a lot about hormones and menopause and about stress and how it affects aging and hormones. I think I may have said several times how confusing the whole menopausal phase is when no one talks about it. One author notes that it wasn't so very long ago that women were sent to sanatoriums because of the symptoms of nervousness, sleeplessness, irritability, and "a tendency to cause trouble"!! (Yeah, I would definitely be in a sanatorium.) To even speak of it was to risk being placed in a institution because if a woman knew about then it she must be experiencing it, and it was considered a dangerous time of life. (Dangerous to anyone around a menopausal woman, that is.) Thus, very little information was handed down. Hysteria was once considered a medical disorder diagnosed only in women. The word uterus derived from the Greek work for hysteria. Go figure. Plato discussed the problem of the "wandering uterus" creating havoc as it moved through the body. (I might buy that since I experience quite a bit of havoc inside.) However, by the mid-19th century, it was generally thought that hysteria "stemmed from sexual dissatisfaction," and several methods of treatment would result in "hysterical paroxysm," now better known as an orgasm. Huh. (Strangely, my doctor, a woman, has never mentioned this as a possible treatment for me.) Now get this. Treatment was tedious to physicians (who were always male) who tired of manual vaginal massage. Awww. (I think tedium must be the male equivalent of hysteria. Tedious males should have been put in institutions. Makes me wonder why their hands got so tired anyway.) It wasn't too long before massage devices were invented so those poor old doctors wouldn't get tedium. In the mid-19th century, a "hydrotherapy" device was available at bathing resorts. People used to go to these resorts to bathe in the waters, usually considered to having healing properties. Hugely popular. Now we know why. "By 1870, a clockwork-driven vibrator was available for physicians." (I wonder how long they set it for. Ten minutes? Two minutes?) "In 1873, the first electromechanical vibrator was used at an asylum in France for the treatment of hysteria." Catch that? Used at an "asylum"? Well, that is where we all were sent when we got hysterical. Thank goodness I didn't live back then. I probably would have been sent to the asylum when I was 12 and would have been placed in the hands of a doctor who treated his patients with vibrating electrodes attached at the temples. No paroxysms for me.

Seriously, all of this is just interesting to me when I think about how people view symptoms of stress and menopause now. I don't think much has changed except that we no longer are thrown into those sanatoriums. No, we are expected just to keep pushing ourselves harder and keep working a job while also doing all the work at home. We aren't supposed to think of ourselves, we should say yes to anything asked of us and feel deeply guilty should we ever consider saying no. If we are moody or irritable, just stuff it. And never, ever say that we're too tired. (The sanatorium is sounding better all the time.)

I'm also beginning to think there might have been something to Plato's ideas because something has definitely moved in to increase the size of my upper abdomen. It makes me feel like I am full all the time. Sitting makes me much more aware of it. I've always had a bit of a lower belly, but now the upper as well?

Makes me want to get into a hysterical fight with a tedious man.

(Image used is a pastel and pencil drawing entitled "Mood Swing" and is by orbisdeo at Etsy. The information on the histroy of hysteria was found at Wikipedia.)