Thursday, December 23, 2010

auld lange syne

old friends-not old as in a number- old as in a friend you have known all your life and no matter what they still accept you for who you are and for who you are not. years can go by and the moment you see them again it's like no time has passed...and you remember all the reasons why this person is your friend. so i raise a cup to you my friend

Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days of  auld lang syne?


For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet
For days of auld lang syne.


We twa hae ran about the braes,(hills)
And pu'd the gowans(daisies) fine,
But we've wander'd many a weary fit (miles)
Since days of auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl'd in the burn
Frae morning sun til dine,
But seas between us braid(broad) hae roar'd
Since days of auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint' stoup
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie's a hand o' thine,
And we'll tak a right guid-willie waught (friendly draught)
For auld lang syne!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

chaos, tension and a little fruitcake

that would describe my family. the one i was born into- the one with 9 siblings. individually i can handle each one pretty well and it can be a pleasant encounter. i can even take on certain sibs in pairs and it's good and entertaining. once you get more than three of us in a room tension builds. to be honest everyone has a certain amount of crazy in them. some just have more than others. don't get me wrong i love each and every one of my 7 remaining siblings. ( and no i did not kill two of them and if i had it would not be the two that have died) i know there are some great case studies out there about family dynamics and most major magazines have at least one article dedicated to holiday stress and family and coping.

the one thing that never gets addressed is tolerance and manners. so here is my christmas gift to the universe. feel free to spread the message and maybe we can have a less crazy christmas.

  1. do the dishes. when tensions are running high the best thing in the world is hot soapy dish water and it buys you some alone time.
  2. keep your mouth shut! if you can't say anything nice- don't say anything at all - even if you KNOW you are right and they are WRONG. this is not the time to settle and win arguments.
  3. behave. forget santa- your children are watching EVERYTHING and children learn by example. do you want them to turn out just like your least favorite relative?
  4. give me a hug/kiss should not be spoken. read universal body language- arms wide open mean yes you may hug/kiss me. if not your demands just piss people off.
  5. keep your opinion to yourself. or at least hold it until you are back in your own environment away from the family and then by all means express yourself.
  6. you can handle anything for a short amount of time. as long as you remember you can escape because you do have two legs. no one said you had to be the last one to leave. 5 hours is more than enough time to visit  before dinner, eat, help clean, and then say goodbye.
  7. embrace the uniqueness. this one is not as easy as it sounds but honestly when you are talking about your family to friends and you are looking back on things with those time and distance rose colored glasses you know that you are proud to say that each member of your family is unique and you might even be secretly proud of that - until you walk through the door that is. everyone is different and that includes you.
  8. please check all baggage at the door. remember that you are an adult now so please act like one and stop reverting to pre-adolescent behavior. if it was one of YOUR kids acting that way you'd be all over them in a second.
and finally- if the people in your family act true to form you can control at least your portion of the situation in the following ways:
 change your regular responses to aggravating family members

shrug off insults, challenges, and criticisms.

avoid past betrayals, mistakes, failures – both yours and others’.

don’t expect people to change (unless you change first).

Happy Holidays

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

what does it mean to be real?

excerpt from "The Velveteen Rabbit" by Margery Williams

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it. "What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.
"The Boy's Uncle made me Real," he said. "That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."

The Rabbit sighed. He thought it would be a long time before this magic called Real happened to him. He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad. He wished that he could become it without these uncomfortable things happening to him.

i have loved this book ever since i stumbled upon it in the children's library in 4th grade. i read it to my children when they were young and i will give copies of it to my grandchildren. each time i read this story i see something new. another layer...a new meaning....

how do you become real? through the love of others....and hope so simple.

it is in giving love that we receive the greatest gift

Thursday, December 9, 2010

i'm still here
can you see me?
would you even notice
if i turned and walked away?

if i just dissappeared
and left nothing- not even a memory
that you could hold

i'm screaming on the inside
holding everything in
and wishing i could
walk away
but i'm still here

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

miss cranky pants and the word NO

i am one of those people who get involved. and when i am involved in something i give it 100%. i can't say yes to something and then only give it a little bit of attention. i have been trying to resign from our local community theatre for the past few months. it's on the agenda but no one seems to want to discuss it. i am president of the board and have been for several years. i enjoy being involved with the theatre because i get to indulge in my need to express my self by designing sets and costumes. my area of expertise in theatre is making it all look fabulous. and i'm not going to lie- i do damn fine job of it! it would be great if that was all i had to do.

the past couple of productions have proved to me that it is time to step down. i have been a total bitch to be around and that is not good for anyone. so it's time to step down and step away from the stage. the only thing that keeps me in place is this- no one else wants to step in and take it on. so, if i walk away what happens and should i care? i do care because i've been involved in community theatre since i was 12 years old. AND I LOVE IT!

i just don't want to be in charge anymore. so what do i do? how do i find other people to get involved and take some of the responsibility off my shoulders? if that would happen i'd stay because i really do love it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.

 It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit." ~Albert Schweitzer

The one thing about living with a mental illness is how isolating it is. No one else can see what's really going on inside your head and there are days when you don't really want to know. I have days - too many of them- where my inner fire starts to die out, but, I am very, very good at hiding it.

I am thankful for those people in my life who rekindle my inner spirit. Most of them don't realize that is what they do for me.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

there is always room for one more

thanksgiving ranks higher on my holiday list than Christmas. why? thanksgiving doesn't depress me the way Christmas does, you see,  it's all about the kitchen table. when I was growing up the kitchen was the center of our home. it was the place where everyone gathered at least once a day. i listened to my parents discuss and debate. it's where i learned about politics, religion, current events, table manners and family history. important family events were first heard at the dinner table. we didn't have a lot when i was a kid. there were 10 of us around the table and from past dinner conversations that i can remember it was difficult at times to make sure there was enough to go around. in spite of that my parents also felt that no matter what there was always room for one more at our table and frequently there was an extra person at the table. conversation was not always polite and well modulated. sometimes it was loud and argumentative-boisterous and opinionated with lots of hand gestures.

This is not a picture of my actual family. My sister Jackie has
all the pictures. It's a sore subject- don't ask.

i remember once going to eat at a friends house and they didn't talk at the dinner table. they didn't share their day. they didn't discuss the latest news or politics or stories. i can't remember what i ate because the food wasn't flavored by wonderful conversation.

i still live in the house i grew up in. i bought it after my mother died. so now i am the one waiting for kids to come home from college. getting the kitchen ready for cooking and spending pretty much most of the next few days there. i will listen to my kids catch up since they haven't seen each other in awhile.

we will sit around the table tonight elbow deep in flour as we roll out cavatelli dough and make them by hand just like i did when i was the one home from college. the conversation will be loud punctuated with raucous laughter as the clever repartee flies. i will stir the sauce and baste the turkey. i know my parents will be with me as i gather my family- my children, husband, step children and anyone else that have been invited to the table and inside i will say a prayer of thanksgiving that i am surrounded by love and i will send love out to all those who do not have a table to sit at.

there is always room for one more at my table.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

too many words? or not enough?

i've been pretty quiet lately. i spend a lot of time by myself in the studio. just me and my thoughts. so i think. some people say i think too much- like that's a bad thing. so here i am alone with my thoughts and too many words in my head. that happens sometimes...there are so many words inside my head that i can't get them to come together and make any sense to anyone other than myself. it's frustrating at times because i KNOW that i need to say something i just can't get it to come together. when that happens i sit and create...

that's a good thing because i know i need to create in order to keep my depression in check.

it's a bad thing when i am quiet because i can find the quiet to be very seductive and i can slip into that pit i call depression.

life is just a balancing act and i am doing my best to walk the line

back before email and text messaging and fax machines i was a prolific letter writer. long distance phone calls were expensive. so i wrote letters. i have a packet of letters from my brother when he was in law school half away across the country that i cherish to this day. i carried around the letter he wrote to me when i graduated from high school for years and would take it out and read it when i needed the boost. i even kept the letters and notes written to me by a very dear friend until one day in a fit of cleaning house i threw those away. i regret that to this day. i have the letters my mother sent me when i went away to college.

a couple of months ago i was in Chicago and came across a packet of letters for sale in a thrift store written in the 40's. letters written between a young man and a young lady. reading them made me cry. they told the story of these two people who fell in love and created a life together...i regret not buying them

so i have too many words in my head. maybe i do because i don't write letters anymore. maybe the words need to be put down on paper and sent in the mail. maybe there really aren't enough words...written words

Thursday, November 4, 2010

does it lose its meaning

if you say it too much? this was the discussion we had around the table during art class yesterday with my high school kids. interesting group of kids- all very creative and each one brings something unique to the class. one student was complaining because his mom tells him the she loves him everyday. as soon as he said that another one piped up and said my mom does the same thing! it drives me nuts! I mean I KNOW she LOVES me! which brought the discussion around to the kids coming up with the general consensus that those words lose their meaning if you hear them over and over again.

i didn't say anything while they were talking- just listened. when there was a lull in the conversation i quietly told them a story...

Dad in Italy 1987

...when i was 29 my dad had a kidney transplant. he was in the hospital for close to three months. i couldn't see him everyday because it was a 180 mile round trip and it was winter and i had a young daughter at home. dad was feeling pretty good in early january and the sibs had a birthday party at the hospital for him. i chose not to go for reasons that escape me now. a week later he was back in intensive care so i made a mad dash back to the hospital to see him. things were not at all going well and he was delusional and kept pulling his oxygen tube out. i talked sharply to him and told him he needed to leave the tube alone because it was HELPING him! dad got so angry at me, he glared at me with the most hateful look and ordered me out of him room. i wasn't able to go back into his room that visit so i drove back home feeling heavy and hurt and angry.the next time i saw him was in the funeral home a week later. i didn't get to say i love you ...

... by the time i was finished things got pretty quiet ...and i continued....

"you see, parents think differently than kids do. we tell you that we love you over and over again because we know someday we'll be gone and you need to believe that there is someone who loves you- no matter what. boyfriends and girlfriends will come and go- you will say i love you to quite a few and mean it more for some than others. you'll meet that one person who you want to spend the rest of your life with and say i love you to them. and sometimes people change and they get divorced and well- you still have your mom and your dad who love you like no one else can love you and someday they will be gone and you would give ANYTHING to hear them say i love you just one more time."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

i see you

i think these three little words are as powerful as "i love you"...strike that- more powerful.

i see you

have you ever heard the words Namaskar or Namaste ? These two greetings from India are much more than "Hello" they mean i acknowledge the spark of the divine that is present inside you.  Hinduism believes that spirit is an all-pervading force that envelopes all beings and things. Like The Force in Star Wars. you can't see it but it is a living field of energy that spreads across the galaxy and connects with every living being. and i am sure you have been told more than once in certain situations "don't make eye contact" ....interesting

i see you

i acknowledge that you and i are the same. we are connected and parts of a bigger whole. i see you. i connect with you. i understand that you have a purpose in this world. i see you...and a connection is formed...even if we become separated a memory has been placed within me of you and we will always be a part of each other...thus- i see you... i see with my eyes and if the eyes are a mirror into the soul then "i see you" is indeed powerful stuff. 
watch Avatar - try and get through the scenes with the greedy militant corporate neanderthals and focus on the Na'vi and life on Pandora. it's very powerful. i wish the movie had been all about that. but that's just me and my natural thirst for knowledge i want to read the history of the Na'vi and their beliefs and stories...maybe some day someone will write a book about them. in the meantime i will watch this movie again and again because there are more layers to it then just what is on the surface.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The courage to be is the courage to accept oneself, in spite of being unacceptable. ~Paul Tillich

be-lieve (verb) to hold an opinion : THINK  

Amazing how words can mess with you. How you hear something once and you believe it for the rest of your life.  For years I believed I was less than I am. Why? Because someone once told me I'd never be as smart as one of my sisters. I believed I was doomed to be alone all my life because I was told many times that I was a good friend but not girlfriend material. ( Still wonder what that means) One guy even told me he'd date me if I had the girl down the street's face on my body. I even had a teacher once tell me that I wrote like a boy!
I was told I was too:                                        
messy (no I am sure Sr Regina used the word umkempt)

So I made many descisions based on these words I believed I was- like they were all bad or something. Not once in all those years did I ever say I was an artist. I would say someday I will be an artist but never that I was right in the moment.

If you hear a voice within you say "you cannot paint," then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. ~Vincent Van Gogh

So I have silenced the sound track that used to play in my head by being just me. I paint, I draw, I act, I sing and I create. I make messes and voice my opinion, I laugh too loud and I cry sometimes just because.
It's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you're not. ~Author Unknown

Friday, October 22, 2010

theory of creativity:x = (prozac) + (mental illness) Y?

i was sent a link to an article from wired. it's about some professors and scientists who have studied the correlation between being sad and creativity. i have never understood the long suffering artist type. you know- the ones who dress all in black and sit around looking angst and dramatic. that has never been my style. in fact in college i showed up to my life drawing class one morning and was greeted by 12 other art majors dressed in shades of black with unkempt hair and wrinkled clothes and promptly asked "who died?" i like bright colors and i rarely wear black- i think it makes me look washed out and fat. the best part about this article was the link to this article this article had me riveted to my screen.

i am a firm believer that KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!  up until this moment i thought my depression was due to a chemical imbalance in my brain. research is proving it to be something entirely different "Instead of seeing the disease as the result of a chemical imbalance, these researchers argue that the brain's cells are shrinking and dying....."The best way to think about depression is as a mild neurodegenerative disorder," says Ronald Duman, a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at Yale. "Your brain cells atrophy, just like in other diseases [such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's]. The only difference with depression is that it's reversible. The brain can recover."  this research came about because of Prozac.

i take Prozac. everyday. i used to be ashamed of it. people would laugh at anyone who took "happy pills" (if these are supposed to be happy pills then WHY am I still depressed???) prozac is a healing drug- that makes me happy!

if you took away my depression would i still be the creative person that i am?
because i live with depression i am always looking for an explanation for why this happened. not why me as much as why does it happen at all.

"...mental illness occurs when the stress mechanisms in the brain spiral out of control...once that happens, the brain begins to shut itself down, suppressing all but the most essential upkeep*. Not only do neurons stop growing, but the brain seems to stop creating new cells..."

so, if i am reading this right- depression is really atrophied brain cells instead of an altered emotional state. the building blocks of the brain -the neurons-start to crumble and over time this can cause certain brain structures to shrink. now i am not a neurologist but i am fairly certain that every millimeter of the brain is important and needs to be healthy in order for a person to function properly.

"... many scientists are now paying increased attention to the frequently neglected symptoms of people suffering from depression, which include problems with learning and memory and sensory deficits for smell and taste... the ways depression interferes with basic bodily processes, such as sleeping, sex drive, and weight control. Like the paralyzing sadness, which remains the most obvious manifestation of the mental illness, these symptoms are also byproducts of a brain that's literally withering away.
Depression is caused by problems with the most fundamental thing the brain does, which is process information," says Eero Castren, a neuroscientist at the University of Helsinki. "It's much more than just an inability to experience pleasure."

*  i describe this happening to me in my book "Outside the Lines" i had no idea there was scientific research and data to support what i was feeling.

i'm NOT crazy and i'm not sad- i'm depressed- that makes me smile.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

what mask shall we wear?

we all wear them. there's your public mask- this one is really thick with no chance of anyone seeing at all the person behind it. there's the mask you were around your friends- this one is a little more translucent- still can't see right through it but if you look hard enough you might catch a glimpse of the person behind it. there is even a mask for the people who are closest to you. this one has tiny cracks in it. this one is so delicate you have to be very careful not to break it. sometimes you wish it would break so everything you are hiding would just come spilling out. but then you have to deal with all that stuff and it's easier to not deal with it. so, you wear the mask.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

number blind

math is one of those areas of life that i have a very hard time with. it makes no sense to me. in math you are either right or wrong unless of course you are working with negative numbers an unknown variables and all that other hocus pocus math jumble in which case you are wrong until you can prove you are right but if don't prove it EXACTLY the way your teacher wants it you will be wrong AND you must show your didn't help that I had this math teacher in 6th grade who thought humiliating me in front of the entire class was good teaching - i equate math with stress and degredation

                              i grew up with math being explained to me like in the video. confusing huh?

i have a friend who is color blind
i can't imagine it-
once in awhile we'll be out somewhere and i'll say -
tell me what you see!?!
describe the colors to me
it's difficult
i wish i had a pair of glasses that i could put on
so i could see colors the way he sees colors
i guess it's sorta like the way i see numbers
when i look at numbers i SEE them
i KNOW they are numbers
i just can't seem to get them to make any sense
so maybe i can imagine it
he is color blind
and I guess that makes me - number blind

Friday, September 24, 2010

the sky is red and i can't throw a ball

Vicka Sunflowers

"artists can color the sky red because they know it's blue.  those of us who aren't artists must color things the way they really are or people might think we're stupid."  ~Jules Feiffer (cartoonist, novelist and playwright)

i spent my school years being different. so many times i was told how creative i was and then in the next breath was told to pick three colors and conform.  i wasn't a sports kid and i wasn't a cheerleader type. i was different. i read books- a lot of books. i carried one with me at all times and would often get in trouble for reading when i supposed to be paying attention.

i remember one moment with crystal clarity even though it happened 30 years ago. i was usually way ahead of my classmates in art so i would work on other projects while they were still messing around with the assigned piece. i was interested in fibers and weaving so i set out to teach myself to weave using a large hoop as my loom. one day as i was working on it in class a 'cheerleader' came up to me and looked down her pert freckled nose at me and asked me what i was doing- i told her i was weaving- she responded with a snort 'oh isn't that what they do at new hope village?' and walked away. i stopped doing extra projects in school and did them at home. in secret. where no one could make fun of me. it wasn't until years later that i realized she was one of those people who painted the sky blue because that's what color  it is "supposed" to be.

...i loved history, theatre,art and writing.  i wrote poetry and short stories, created costumes, drew a lot of pictures and attended numerous live performances by professionals and amateurs. i was as comfortable listening to "top 10" as well as NPR's "all things considered"...and spent 12 years hearing teachers tell me i was very smart BUT was NOT working to my full potential * my youngest child is in high school and last spring his favorite teacher told me the administration was phasing out creative writing because it is not practically applicable to today's graduates. what?!?

                         creative writing...

who are these people? what rock do they live under?

my son is a lot like me- except he is really into sports in a way i don't get. but sports aside he loves to write. he has a poem that was published in an anthology of poetry written by middle school kids across the country. not every poem submitted was published. his poem was about music and what it meant to him. i encourage his creativity and his writing. he plays soccer but he's not the best or the fastest and he gets discouraged because he really enjoys soccer.

my son is spending his high school years being different. it means that for him being home on the weekends happens quite a lot. he isn't interested in going out and partying so he often doesn't get called when his buddies are making plans. he's very involved in speech and drama. he's a natural born leader and he writes. a lot.

so it blew me away when this teacher told me about phasing out creative writing. if creative writing and proper writing skills are not taught in high school then when?

when my daughter was in 4th grade she wanted me to read a paragraph she had written for school. i read it and it was written well enough to hand in but for the misspellings. i started to point these out to her and she grabbed her paper back and said 'my teacher said spelling doesn't count' 

spelling doesn't count? when does it begin to count? what's the magical age you reach when all of a sudden spelling counts?

so if we don't make our kids spell correctly and we don't teach them creative writing skills where will our books come from in the future? if we don't nurture talents that encourage creativity and individualism then we are failing our children.

my son is taking creative writing his last 4 semesters of high school. he told me he doesn't care if it's the same information each semester, he is taking it to prove a point and he will argue with his advisor if she tells him he can't.  he wants to be a writer. how can he be a writer if he isn't being challenged to reach his full potential? *perhaps there is a connection here?

i am encouraging him to color his sky red ... and spelling does indeed count.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

summer is over

autumn blue

today is the autumnal equinox. the days have been getting shorter for a while now.  i really enjoy autumn. the changing colors of the leaves. the cool nights and sleeping with the windows open so you can get cozy beneath a quilt. and then there is autumn blue. that's a color i made up- it is the shade of blue the sky is on a sunny day in fall when the leaves are turning and it's crisp outside. i am not sure what makes that shade of blue- the contrast of the yellows and golds and reds or the temperature- but it is a glorious color.
sunny days in autumn gives me  an energy i don't get in any other season.  and even though it is overcast and there has been a constant mist in the air for the past several days it doesn't seem to make my depression worse. in fact i enjoy walking outside on a damp misty day - it reminds me of when i was younger and walking was my only mode of transportation. i would disappear for hours hanging out at the park or walking to a friends house or just walking through the fallen leaves and kicking them up. i wish fall lasted longer.

Monday, September 20, 2010

it's all a lie

i keep waiting for the world to discover that it's all a lie. i'm really not an artist. who do i think i am putting myself in the same category as Botticelli or Grant Wood. i can't draw like MC Escher and i can't paint like DaVinci. i published a book too but i'm no JK Rowling.

neurotic? yes. people around here tell me all the time- "Well, you're the expert..."

i'm not!

i'm just this person who has a bunch on knowledge inside her head cuz i like to learn and i read a lot.

i'm just this person who likes to make things with her hands.

i'm just this person who HAS to create or else she'd disappear.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

the bucket list-

have you seen this movie? The Bucket List is about two terminally ill men who escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die.

i think we spend so much time being so busy NOT living in the moment that we put off too much in the someday list...

....someday I'm going to....

and then someday gets here and we have run out of time.

so what's on your bucket list? what if you made it your "in the moment list" and tried to do at least one thing on your list in the next 3-6 months?

i know what i want to do before i die-and i mean right before i die-i want to be holding the hand of the one i love beneath the Aurora Borealis ...there are so many myths about this wonderful natural phenomenon the one i like best is this one from the Algonquin Indians. They believed that Nanahbozho the Creator, after he finished creating the earth, travelled to the far north, where he still builds great fires which reflect southward, to remind those he created of his lasting love...

Monday, September 13, 2010

...sometimes I think my head is so big because it is so full of dreams....

i saw "The Elephant Man" onstage years ago. that one line has been with me ever since because i am so full of dreams and ideas that at times i feel there isn't room for them all. sometimes i can get one of those ideas pinned down and actually do something with it. i beat myself up at other times because i can't seem to get any ideas out of my head and into my hands. is it part of being depressed? or is it just my real personality? some of my ideas are so out there i am not brave enough to do anything with them because i am afraid people will think i am really weird or scary.

have you ever seen that poster with the list of famous people with mental illness? It says people with mental illnesses enrich our lives vincent van gogh , charles dickens and leo tolstoy are on that list as are  beethoven and michelangelo...

so where do i fit in? i'm a tiny speck in a big universe with a head full of dreams trying to get them all out....

Thursday, September 9, 2010

i can understand...

...but i can't. big news around here the past week was a woman who went missing. she was found today and had apparently committed suicide. i know i have talked about depression and maybe even come across as a bit whiny at times.  i can't begin to know what her triggers were or even the thought process that went through her mind as she took her own life and left behind two teen aged daughters, a boyfriend and close family.. be honest i can put myself in her shoes because i have had thoughts of ending it before.

i am not a stranger to death. i have known death first hand and personally since i was 7 years old. my youngest sister died- that was the first funeral i attended. i observed my parents pain and sadness at the loss of their one month old child- my sister. by the time i was 29 years old i had attended 4 more funerals- my older brother, my grandfather, my grandmother and my father. by the time i was 40 the total had grown to 9- my husband's aunt who was like a second grandmother to my children, my mother in law, father in law and my own mother.  these people were all very close to me.

so it really doesn't matter- suicide, natural causes, accident or terminal illness. death is hardest on those left behind. and even when you're prepared for it you really aren't. and even though you had time to say goodbye you still feel lost and abandoned at times. the death of someone is not something you get over- you get through it. you can go for days, weeks, months at a time and be just fine and then something will happen- it might be a song you hear or a smell or the shade of blue the sky happens to be that day. you'll remember and think about the person who died and all that grief comes pouring out of you again. time heals the physical wounds and the scars will fade. the scars on your heart never completely heal because love never stops. love is the reason i'm still here. i love the people i would be leaving behind too much to cause them so much pain- their pain would be far greater than my pain -real or imagined.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


why is that when things seem to be going right i feel that something is wrong? i should be on top of the world right now, well not maybe to the pinnacle but pretty high up there. i have taken my struggling business and turned it around to where i am actually making money and i am doing what i love- teaching art to kids!

there are many times when i am my own worst enemy. i sabotage my success. Freud would have a field day with me on that one. i want to be successful and can even see myself successful ... take diet and exercise for an example. i am not happy with how much weight i have put on. i avoid mirrors and i dress to hide the weight. i know what i need to do i just can't do it. i have talked about this before and still i can't seem to find the right "thing" for me. i'm 49 years old and i plan on living to be 103 at least- i'd better get it figured out soon because middle age will be here in 2 and a half years....

so tonight, instead of reading in bed for awhile i am going to take my kindle and put the font size to this big and i will walk on that stupid treadmill  that i stub my toe on at least once a week  for at least 20 minutes. i'll let you know how it goes...and if it continues to go or if i sabatoge myself like i have done so many times before.....

ps. is it ok to walk barefoot on a treadmill? you see i really hate shoes

Monday, September 6, 2010 all makes sense now

growing up my mother was very taken with a painting by Edward Hopper. the title was "rooms by the sea"

i will admit when i was younger i didn't see the fascination for the painting, in fact i found it to be disturbing in a non threatening way. why is the ocean right outside the door? why does it look like there is nothing alive in this space? our public library had a program at the time where you could borrow framed pieces for your wall for a nominal fee. i think "rooms by the sea" spent more time on our living room wall than it did anywhere else. mom was so taken with the picture that my dad had a copy of it painted on canvas and framed for her for christmas one year. when mom died she left the painting to my brother.

 mom's been gone nine years now and i bought her house from her estate because i needed a home. right away i changed things so it wouldn't look like my mother's house. nothing huge because i was not a handy person and did not have the money being newly divorced but still i changed enough.

fast forward to a couple of weeks ago-my son and i were shopping together and he wandered over to the poster section.when i found him he was carrying this large print of "rooms by the sea". i was surprised by it. he told me we had to buy it because it belonged in the living room. you see it had always hung in the living room of nan's house and he loved the painting. he couldn't tell me why he liked it he just did and he really wanted me to buy it.

so i did. and it is hanging in the living room and it looks perfect. in fact it looks like i painted the living room just for that picture. now when i look at the piece i see a calm, quiet room with warm sunshine spilling in. i can imagine curling up on the red couch in the sun reading a book with the ocean outside my window to keep my company. it's a good place and i think now i understand why it spoke to her.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


august has a feeling all its own. it's not june with all the promise of endless summer and its not july with picnics and celebrations. august is hot and humid and just there. you look at august and can see the start of another school year on the same calender page. when it's august you are getting tired of watering the flowers and picking tomatoes and eating sweet corn has lost its special treat appeal. you know what's really depressing about august? the stores have halloween candy on the shelves already.......

Monday, July 26, 2010

if you could turn back time.....

if you could go back to one moment in your life and change it what would it be? you could go back and relive three weeks of your life- 21 days- would you change anything? would your life be only slightly different or monumentally so? and finally when you come back would you choose to remember the events? free will can make for some pretty interesting life paths. so would you?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

and once again we crash

mother nature has a sense of humor- it's called iowa- only i am not laughing. we endured a particularly nasty winter. spring will come and this will be a bad memory was our mantra to get us through it. and arrive spring did- for about two weeks. now we are back to cold, wind, rain and overcast skies. thanks mom. seriously- i don't think my mental health can take much more of it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

it's a roller coaster ride and you can't get off

the funny thing about depression is the highs and's been a pretty good few days for me. life isn't so gray and i've been able to really focus on some pretty good stuff. the meds are supposed to even things out but some times meds just can't block certain things. like the calander from moving forward and move it has because i looked at it and saw that tomorrow is April 16th and nine years ago i sat in the doctors office with my mother and heard him tell her she had cancer and they didn't know where it orginated from. three months later she was dead.

can we stop now? i'd like to get off...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

rhymes with orange

nothing rhymes with orange- that's why orange is such a weird word. it doesn't know where it fits in. it's a color it's a flavor it's a fruit. and you can't make up a silly song that rhymes with it and it's hard to use in poetry. if i say i am feeling blue or everything is rosy you know what i mean. i can feel peachy and there is the apple of my eye. there is black comedy and everyone wants to go green. brown rhymes with a lot of words and everyone wants to be in the pink but not thought of as yellow. but orange? today I feel like orange... 'nuff said.

Monday, April 5, 2010

dark days

I have a student who is pretty cool. He's different and a bit of a misfit but then I find that most of my art students are like that. I'm a misfit too! One day he wandered into the studio and I asked how hios day was going. He sat down and said I'm having a dark day. All I want to do it talk. So we did. I totally understand a 'dark day'. And it seems that depresison and being creative are connected. Talking helps when I am feeling dark.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

just wondering....

When I was a kid I practically lived otdoors. As soon as I could I'd be out the door and outside playing with my friends and stopping to eat was an annoyance more than anything. Our neighborhood was filled with kids and their was always a game of kick the can or pickle or steal the flag going on. If no one was out side yet you hung out in your drive way shooting hoops or bouncing a playground ball. It didn't take long before one or two kids joined you and next thing you knew you had a game of four square or horse going on.

Now I hardly ever spend time outside it seems. I walk to and from my car. When I get home afterwork I might sit out on the deck. We are supposed to have very nice weather this week. Sunny and warm- I'll be indoors working all day. Maybe that's part of my depression. Maybe the Europeans have it right- from noon to three we all lock our doors and go home, eat lunch, sit outside and relax or putz in the garden-soak up some vitamin D and fresh air then go back to work. Maybe there would be fewer depressed people.

~it's just a thought-

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

well it's Spring...

...we were all excited about March 21st. Spring is finally here! Living in the Midwest means that even though it is technically spring we can still get snow.
 And we did.
Get more snow.

It's all melted off now but it was enough to set me back some. We had a couple of 60 degree days and then BAM! last Friday it snowed all day. Today it's cold and windy and overcast. That's exactly how I feel inside too- cold, windy and overcast. I am finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning and trouble falling asleep at night. At the studio I don't feel like doing much of anything and all of my usual tricks aren't working. I will be headeing to the tanning bed later today hoping that some artifical Vitamin D helps. I really need southerly breezes, sunshine and green...and an entire to be outside to enjoy it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


So most of you have experienced the same sucky winter as I have. Way too much snow, rain and ice and not enough sun. I can take the bitter cold but I NEED the sunlight. Anyway- it's the 2nd of March and it occured to me- the first day of spring is in 19 days. This stupid depression thing I have is easier to live with when the sun is shining and even more so the warmer it gets.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I don't think me engines can take much more of it Captain!

I wish it was as simple as telling Scotty to "Eject the Core!" and then things would be alright. My husband has been in Seattle since Thursday and will be until Saturday. So I've been pretty much alone. Now don't get me wrong. I really do like my alone time. In fact I can be quite the homebody. But throw in this depressing weather, the snow and depression and it isn't a good combination. I know I should excercise but I can't get myself motivated to actually do it. I've thought about a personal trainer. Someone who could push me to just do it! What do you do to make yourself get up and move? I am open to suggestions.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Oh Mr Sun, Sun, Mr Golden Sun......

....please shine down on me!

Have you ever heard of SAD? Seasonal Affected Disorder- is also known as the winter blues. Some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. Add SAD to Clinical Depression and you have- ME! YAY! No seriously, late fall and winter are tough times for me. Really tough. It's a struggle to get out of bed most mornings. This winter has been really hard. We've had a severe winter with lots of snow, ice, rain and many consecutive days with no sunshine.
I have a couple of things I do to help me get through the winter besides just taking my meds. I switched the light at my work table to a full spectrum task light. While I am working on jewelry I am getting 5,000 lux of light and since my eyes are open while working- I find it hard to string beads with my eyes shut : ) - the light can reach all the way to the retinas at the back of my eyes. There are no damaging UV rays. When my SAD gets really bad I lay in a tanning a bed a couple of days a week. It's amazing the difference in my mood and energy level. My family can tell when I start light therapy. I am a much nicer person to be around. So I am off to the tanning bed because it is SNOWING again today and I just can't stand it anymore.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Depression hurts....

...and for that you can take- whatever the drug du-jour is. I hate those commercials. Yes depression hurts. In my case it manifests in physical pain in my joints, lower back and head.  Add that to the depression and it hurts. The best way I can think of to describe depression for me is this: it's like having a Dementor following me around ...sucking the happiness out of me and leaving only the worst memories and huge holes in my heart so I can't hold any happines inside of it.

People who aren't depressed don't understand. I try to explain but they still don't get it. I don't want to be this way but I am. On my good days I fight it with everything I have but some times the bad days outweigh the good ones. My SO once said to me why can't you be happy like me? I wish it were that easy. I wish I had a magic wand I could wave to make it go away. I take medication everyday for this depression. I hate the meds. I hate that the meds take away my ability to cry and to really feel. The meds numb my feelings. I know you are thinking that's good though right? That helps you cope but there are times when I really need to cry....

I have been fighting depression really hard lately. My meds aren't enough. Of course it doesn't help that this has been the winter from hell with tons of snow and freezing rain and no sun for 30+ days straight. My depression is much worse in the winter than any other time of the year but it never really goes away.

Monday, February 1, 2010

On the outside looking in

Have you ever felt like you were on the outside looking in?  I spent my college years wondering what the "big" secret was and why didn't I know it? It felt like everyone else around me knew what "IT" was except me.

I was too afriad to ask. I didn't want people to think I was stupid.
I'm not stupid.

alone (ə lōn”) apart from other persons or things  <----- that is exactly how I felt

Maybe they felt just as lost as I did. Maybe they all thought I knew what the big secret was all about and they were afriad of asking me because they didn't want to sound stupid. Or maybe I'm just crazy.

I was 21 when my doctor told me he thought I was depressed.I had been to him all summer for various symptoms and nothing got better - oh yeah- and I stopped reading and creating. Depression was the reason for the sleepless nights, lack of energy, vauge aches and pains and loss of interest in activites that I really enjoyed. Depression. That was something you felt because something bad happened and nothing bad had happened so how could I be depressed?

I was put on some medications that had horrible side effects and started talk therapy. If I heard "you need to reduce your stress" one more time I was going to SCREAM! Reduce stress- is that like cutting back on your calories intake? No one could tell me HOW I was supposed to reduce the stress. So here I was on the outside looking in again wondering what the big secret was.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

How can I be lonely when I am surrounded by all these people?

For years I thought there was something wrong with me...personally...I grew up in the middle of this large family. Ten kids and two parents and there I was in the middle of them all. No one ever sees you when you are in the middle unless you are loud, colorful, passionate, opinionated, sarcastic, independent and a little bit impatient.  I was invisible. At least it felt like it to me. Everyone else around me seemed to be really happy and a part of "IT" but I didn't. 

I started collecting stuff. Bits of pretty fabirc, yarn, glue, paper, scissors...and rhinestones...I LOVED sparkly things! Once I "borrowed" my mom's favorite earrings and made a pair of slippers for my doll. They were leopard print flannel and I sewed  her peridot green rhinestone earrings on the tops of the toes. My doll was stylin! Mom  not so much- I got in trouble for getting into her room and into her jewelry box without permission. But the slippers were SO COOL! 

My Mother used to tell me I was just like Grandma- a pack rat. That made me really, really mad. It was my dad's mom- the one she didn't like. I thought that meant Mom didn't like me either. I needed all that stuff. Because when I was making stuff with all the stuff I collected I was happy and I didn't feel so lonely. I could dissappear into this wonderful place inside my head. And into books.

I am still different- I don't think that will ever change. My personal statement is "Conform- Go Crazy- Or Become An Artist"  I tried to conform- but I couldn't do it. I wasn't quiet like Melanie or popular like Susan or brillantly smart like Frank and Cecelia or fix things like Steve...I collected things and made stuff.

Once I read these books by Rumer Godden. One was called "Miss Happiness and Miss Flower" I was so enchanted with this book and I could relate to Nona- the main character in the book. I spent a week creating my own Japanese garden. I could hardly wait to get home from school so I could work on my beautiful garden that I made inside a shirt box.

Being different meant not having a lot of friends. It's not easy to have friends when you are depressed. They don't understand and sometimes it's easier to be alone than to be with people. But that isn't healthy either.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

coloring outside the lines

In 2006 I published a book with this small independant publishing company Smiling Stone Soup.

 "Outside the Lines" is my journey - as daughter, sister, friend, lover, spouse and mom - through a world colored by clinical depression. it's a story of hoping and coping and learning to live with this illness with creativity, humor and compassion - and a lot of help from family, friends and, well, meds. I wrote and illustrated the book and it met with modest success. So I'm not here trying to sell the book. My purpose is to reach out and connect with people like me who live with depression everyday. Through all its ups and downs.
Depression sucks. It colors every aspect of your life. The drugs also suck. Sometimes the side effects are worse than the depression.  I know there are worse things I could have. A lot worse- but depression is the illness I have to live with.

Sometimes I think it would be better if I was the only one to have to deal with it. Silly me- I got married and had children. Now there are more people in my  life who have to deal with it too. That isn't easy. Trying to explain why you act the way you do at times when you really don't understand why you feel the way you do. Depression and mental illness is prevalent in my family- my  paternal grandmother was bi-polar as was my father. My mother was chemically depressed and my older brother was autistic. Genetics are wonderful aren't they.

On the plus side I'm an artist. People tell me all the time that creative people are predisposed for depression and mental illness. I'm in good company too- Claude Monet, Georgia O'Keefe, Jackson Pollack, Edvard Munch and Vincent Van Gogh. But knowing that doesn't make it any better. I wish there was some way to remove the stigma that is attached to mental illness. Ok- so here's one person trying to make a difference. Me. I am chemically depressed and will be the rest of my life.