Monday, October 8, 2012

Who Let That Child In My House?

As I sit down to write something for what feels like the 15th time in the last few weeks, one more thing (probably) destined to never be published*, Cha-Cha starts yelling at me from downstairs. Again. And if I weren't already in a crappola mood I'd be laughing because it's such a great example of the quagmire I currently find myself attempting to wade through.

It's back. That deep restlessness that creeps up on me randomly. Where 'randomly' means 'like clockwork'. And where 'creeps up' actually means 'finally got louder than everything else making all that noise in my head'.

Getting my ADHD diagnosis about 2 years ago was a huge game changer for me. I finally started to feel like a grown up. I finally understood why the simplest tasks that everyone else seemed to manage just fine were so impossible for me (even though I was often told I was too smart for my own good, which I assumed meant I was ahead of the game). I finally had the necessary lens to bring into focus my battle with depression. Most importantly, it helped me make sense of a life that felt like it had no center keeping it together.

It was all rainbows! And unicorns! And glitter! And dozens of really bad metaphors for what it feels like to be inside my crazy little brain!

Where 'rainbows and unicorns and glitter' means 'life pretty much went on as usuall'. And all the bad metaphors... well, actually those did happen, and if you were one of the people forced to listen to me ramble on about them - I am so sorry.

It turns out having a diagnosis, and even medicating, didn't magically make my troubles disappear (documented here, here, and here) - who could have guessed?! Of course I realized it wouldn't be that easy - no really, I knew it would be work. I just didn't realize it wouldn't be such hard work. So, you know, pity party at my house...

I sometimes feel like I only have 2 options: 1. ADHD isn't real and your life is a mess because you're just a fuck-up, and 2. ADHD is real and super cool and if you can't make the most of your difference, you're just a fuck up.

Surprisingly neither of these is terribly helpful. But they are both really depressing.

I did manage to find a fantastic site late last night while somewhat hopelessly skimming through websites looking for something that might offer me a bit of relief from the giant overwhelm (aka, every day life). Jeff Siegel at Jeff's A.D.D. Mind has the great tag line, "If ADD is a gift...can I return it for something else?" Which is totally how I'm feeling at the moment.

I plan on spending all that time-when-I-really-should-be-doing-something-else, reading through his entire website. So you can expect me to discuss what he's got going on over there in, say, a year or two?

It just occurred to me that I started this post talking about my youngest son. I guess it won't surprise you that despite how quickly you've read through this, that was a really long time ago for me.

I intended to make the point (wait - am I allowed to do that or should I just keep going with the random thing?) that things have been especially hard for me lately because on top of my own brain jumping around like a crazed monkey on crack, my attention is constantly being jerked around by outside influences. Like the 4 year old who apparently lives in this house too and insists on calling me mommy. 

*Oh, oh, oh! I'm publishing!

PS After writing my first draft of this post, I went back to Jeff's A.D.D. Mind for some more fortification and found this post, describing, much more eloquently than I managed, how I'm feeling.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Linkety Link Link Love

Yeah, yeah, I know. Way too long away and you're bored with reading about how sorry I am blah, blah, blah and yadda, yadda, yadda. So just to get myself back in the swing of things, here's just a taste of some of the things I've found on the Internet lately...

  1. Flank Biting and the Hate Read at helenjane got me thinking about self-harm. I never realized animals did this. Or rather I knew that some animals hurt themselves in certain situations but never thought about it being the same thing as say, cutting. Duh.
  2. Pinterest, Tumblr, and the Trouble With 'Curation' by Carina Chocano over at the NY Times (found via Gala Darling) got me all worked up and pissed off at the world for a few days. It's all about how putting together a coherent or inspirational visual collection is something better left to the 'real' artists and professionals. We plebeians are just creating an unrequitable* aching for something we'll never get. Note to all those who agree with Ms. Chocano: that yearning for something we can't quite define, that you claim is creating despair - its name is 'the human condition'. For examples please see the entire history of human civilization.
  3. Completely fell in love with the tag-line at the top of Tamarisk Saunders-Davies website (found via Hannah's Harvest). "When Life Hands You Lemons, Go Back And Ask For The Tequila & Salt," might be my new motto! At least until I start taking swigs out of the bottle, and Monkey Man says it's time to go home...
  4. Justine Musk once again finds a way through the chatter in my mind to the soft, painful stuff I waste so much time trying to avoid, in her article, the most badass thing you can do as a creative. Oh, I see much work to be done here before I can find the hope at the bottom of my own Pandora's box.
  5. I am a night owl in a house full of early risers so Writing In the Dark by Kathryn Schulz for New York Magazine was a bit like peeking into my own dark(ness) desires. I may have to stay up until the wee hours soon. But don't worry, I won't be going running.
*not a word but totally should be

Monday, July 30, 2012

What Do You Suck At? Burning Question Series

Because that's not in any way a loaded question for someone with severe depressive tendencies and self-talk so negative it could make a demon weep...

Yes, it's true, my first instinct is to answer with -


Yes, I know that's not true.


I've been thinking a lot lately about Danielle LaPorte's assertion that accepting our weaknesses allows us to move more fully into our strengths. This has echoed through some of my other recent reading about living with ADHD and in Barbara Sher's Refuse to Choose.

Serendipity, you say? What's that word mean again?
So What Do I Suck At?

Routines and schedules. Which totally explains why the school year can be physically draining for me even without the kids around. Anything that requires me to regularly pay attention to a clock sucks out my life force.

Doing what I'm told to do even when (or especially when?) I'm telling myself what to do. I really think my life would be easier if there weren't so many personalities inside my head vying for control.

Follow through. This is something I've talked about before. More than once.

I'm also terrible at not getting lost, keeping track of details, cleaning, being in large groups, being quiet, and doing pretty much anything if I don't get plenty of down time (or sleep).

Now if I can learn to accept these things, be OK with these things, maybe I can find the energy and courage to focus on developing the things I'm really quite good at.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Learning Optimism Skillz

One of my favorite sites, Brain Pickings, recently posted a review of the self-help classic, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Dr. Martin Seligman, founder of Positive Psychology (the review is right here). I read Dr. Seligman's Authentic Happiness years ago - I even registered at Seligman's University of Pennsylvania website where you can get access to a ton of awesome (and helpful) questionnaires. But I may need to add this book to my (ever growing) list.

I was especially attracted to the excerpt where Seligman outlines the differences between a Pleasant Life, an Engaged Life, and a Meaningful Life. All I wanted for the longest time was to have a Pleasant Life. Because, you know, like, depression sucks?

But I just realized I've managed to get that Pleasant Life, and I didn't even notice when it happened. Which is all kinds of fan-tab-u-lous. No complacency though, this is a war of creeping changes that can be easy to overlook until they've taken over. Not that I know that from experience.


In fact, things may even be better than that. I suspect I am already swimming in the shallow end of an Engaged Life.

Which is a terrible metaphor given that I am not a very good swimmer.

And I'd actually like to get to the Meaningful Life bit.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Quanta of Letting Go

I was visited again recently with dreams of the dead. Once a rare thing, it's becoming more common for me. A result of getting older and facing my own mortality perhaps. Or maybe just a result of getting older and knowing more people who are dead, my own small army of ghost friends and family.

I always imagined Letting Go was one big moment when you were finally done with 'it' (whatever 'it' might be). You let go of the plate, the glass, the vase, and it falls to the floor to shatter. You let go of the horse's reins, and the horse gets to decide what to do, where to go. You let go of a love, a relationship, and it's still hovering about like it needs something else from you, like it hasn't already taken all that you have.

You Let Go, and you Let Go, you and Let Go in a never ending series of small movements toward the future, forever drifting outward but still somehow always within reach. Like Grief, it's never something that's complete, finished, over with. The intensity just fades into the background of the pressing needs of your current life.

Until it decides to punch you in the gut long after you thought it no longer had that kind of power.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Some Link Love

Some of these are a little old by Internet standards (cuz I am constitutionally unable to be less than a week behind which is about a decade in Internet years), but that doesn't mean they aren't still totally awesome.

Creative badass, Justine Musk, shares Lessons from Chernobyl (Dear Justine, I think the people who thought you were crazy for wanting to take the trip are crazy - I've wanted to visit Chernobyl for years!).

I just discovered popperfont, which seems like a major oversight on my part. If you only read one thing on the site, make it An Introduction to the Scientific Method, by way of Chewbacca. Brilliant, funny science - just as it should be.

Check out How to Be an A-List Blogger: One Simple Step over at Unbridled Existence. Yes, even if you're not a blogger. It's a good reminder for everyone to make sure you know what success means for you.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Oops! I Did It Again...

Forgot that I was writing for this blog, that is. Not the first time.

Probably not the last.

In a neat little twist of Fate (oh, I claimed to be paying attention to those recently, didn't I?), I stumbled across the post Things I'm Afraid to Tell You, written last week by Ez at Creature Comforts. Her words touched such a sensitive nerve on the Internet, a veritable army of bloggers took up the theme and wrote their own confessionals in response (you should read through some of these when you have time - they're really good). And just when I was deciding what to write after my mini-hiatus...

I've been battling a strange little bout of depression. Strange in that it left me unable to write. Usually my depressive moods bring on a flood of (often terrible and always deeply self-pitying) words and an almost compulsive need to write. Because I forgot to take my meds on Wednesday, I woke up Thursday morning remembering four different and very complicated dreams along with a feverish need to write them all down. Putting pen to paper to record those visions was like castor oil for the soul. Because constipation jokes are awesome.

Things I'm Afraid to Tell You

When I first contemplated what I could possibly tell you that you didn't already know, it seemed I had nothing to share. I've told stories about my depression, forgetting my baby in the car, and strange growths on my girly parts. Frankly, I think I probably share things you'd rather not know.

I am comfortable sharing my embarrassments and failures. It's funny! It helps all of us embrace our own humanity! It effectively distracts the audience from seeing my deep insecurities about my own abilities!


I am afraid to tell you about my desires and ambitions because I doubt my ability to reach any of the goals I want to set for myself. I learned a long time ago that failure doesn't hurt as much when you can pretend you never wanted to succeed in the first place.

You may remember I recently titled myself the Queen of Deep Resolve and Crappy Follow Through. In case you're curious, that project has stalled too. Of course.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Death of Spontaneity

I am not a keeper of schedules, nor do I follow many routines. I know, you're shocked.

This was not a problem with small children. Oh, my babies had schedules all right. Schedules they created. And schedules they changed. Randomly. With no warning. I rolled with it.

Where "rolled with it" was often synonymous with "sobbed in despair about yet another night with no sleep".


This parenting style has its advantages. Quite used to disruptions in their days, my boys adapt happily to traveling or sleeping in unfamiliar places. Or snacking on a granola bar when dinner is late because Mommy forgot to go grocery shopping. Again.


I fear my carefree, spontaneous days may be coming to an end.

Preschool, after school activities, and more challenging academics for Quake are threatening to upset my bouncy little apple cart. It is with severe trepidation that I approach such chilling things as chore charts.

Any tips for surviving this?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Fashion Friday - Anthropologie Edition

I love Anthropologie. True, none of their clothes fit me, but I can't afford them anyway!

But neither of those things has to interfere with using the Anthropologie aesthetic to inspire myself. Recently I found myself frustrated with the outfits I was creating - they felt a bit safe and stale. So I started giving myself challenges. The first one was to create outfits using lots of Anthropologie's pieces, especially in ways that expanded my use of color. I'll let you decide if I was successful...

In other fashion news (but not only fashion), I just discovered Gala Darling. How is it possible that I didn't know about her earlier? Now my breakin'-out-of-the-box outfits have got a whole new level of inspiration. Of course my other soul-sister-but-she-doesn't-know-it-in-a-totally-not-stalkerish-way Susannah Conway "introduced" us.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New Project 8,027

Because there are truly few things I like more than starting another project I will probably never finish!

While moving a bookcase a few weeks ago, I was once again confronted with a pile of books that I usually keep stacked separately from the others - my personal self-help/get creative/figure out what it all means shelf. Oh, the sweet sweet guilt.

I always buy these titles with the deepest resolve to do the work, make the change. But just like everywhere else in my life, I get distracted. I read a chapter or two, do the exercises, maybe even pick up a new habit. And while I'm practising this new habit for a few weeks, I manage to forget to keep reading. Oops!

I am the Queen of Deep Resolve and Crappy Follow Through.

Every time I've noticed these books in the last few years* I've told myself that one day - one day! - I'm going to work my way through all of them just for kicks. And possibly in the hope of reaching enlightenment. But mostly for kicks.

That one day is here.

I'm starting with Barbara Sher's Refuse to Choose (something practical), Deepak Chopra's The Book of Secrets (something spiritual), and Liz Lamoreux's Inner Excavation (something more arty, plus I just got it for Christmas). Why are you looking at me like that? You mean you don't read 3 books at a time? 

I don't either. I'm actually reading 6 books right now. The other 3 don't have anything to do with my journey through the 7 levels of self-help though. Unless of course that bitch, Serendipity, decides to show up. As usual.

Only 18 more after these**!

It's OK, you can roll your eyes. I do it all the time...

*Yes, that's right, I said 'years'.

**These original 21 titles do not include the subset of writing books I've collected. I decided if I could get through the others, I might torture myself with those. One impossible mountain at a time, people!  

Monday, April 9, 2012

Remember When...Flipping Edition

This weekend Monkey Man left the TV on when he and boys left to go fishing. I didn't mind because Jack Hanna was coming on, and there were wombats involved. Wombats! Eeeee, the way the waddle on their short little legs! Wombats!

Then when I went upstairs to do my email/shower/start the laundry, I left it on too. Because I am a giant electricity hoarder. And when I came back downstairs there was an infomercial on about how to make money in the current real estate market, otherwise known as "The Best Way to Get Rich is Sell Other People Information on How They Might Get Rich."

It made me nostalgic for when everyone was all crazy about house 'flipping'. Oh, how I wish I could have been a part of that. Not because of the money, but because I love the idea of going into some bland house, replacing the flooring and the fixtures, putting on a coat of paint, and basically just making it look pretty and up-to-date.

I never felt like I could do much with my own house. We bought at the top of the market so any improvements felt, shall we say, "cost prohibitive". And now we're renting so it's sort of a non-issue. So I guess I'll just indulge in a little bit of remember when...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Things Other People Wrote

Feeling lazy today...OK, I thought I'd throw out a few links to stuff that's been making me happy or thoughtful or just insanely jealous lately. I'll let you figure out which link goes with which feeling.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Serendipity is a Bitch

Serendipity. Synchronicity. Coincidence.

I'm sure the skeptics would mock me mercilessly for believing that the Universe sends us messages to help us along our way when we need it. Their insistence that these sorts of things are incredibly common is probably right. Usually we just go about our business without really noticing. Kind of like how you never seem to notice a certain kind of car on the road until you start driving one - suddenly it feels like that car is everywhere.

What matters is attention.

You may remember that I've had time management on the brain for a few months. Then approximately 3,418 items on my to-do list failed to get done this week causing me much frustration. A few days ago I started a rough draft blog post inspired by Kate Swoboda's What Time Management And Diets Have In Common post. Then last night I read a few chapters in Barbara Sher's Refuse to Choose with all sorts of tidbits about how someone like me - the type of person with approximately 3.6 million interests* - can manage to get to all of them.**

And finally this morning I responded to all of that with a giant yawn.

Because in my relationship with the Universe, I am a teenager who is too cool to listen to her mom even when she knows her mom is right.

Fine. I'm listening. {insert giant eye roll here}



Because just like the annoying teacher who tells you to look up the word you asked him how to spell,*** the Universe likes to point you in the right direction and then watch you flop about trying to figure out the rest on your own. 

She can be such a bitch.

*Give or take an order of magnitude.

**Reading this book is part of a new quest I've started that I plan to tell you about in another post. Unless I forget.

***How can you look up how to spell word in a dictionary when you need to know how to spell a word to look it up in a dictionary? How?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Voodoo Doughnuts

Almost every list I've found of the things that must be done when in Portland, has included a visit to Voodoo Doughnuts. Not too surprising since they've been featured on a lot of national TV shows and in magazines from Food & Wine to Playboy. Which of course begs the question - what's so great about these doughnuts?

Maybe it's the urban legends that have built up around the no-longer-available-flavors-by-order-of-the-health-department, NyQuil glaze and vanilla Pepto crushed Tums. Maybe it's all the other funky (but not in the health-department-needs-to-get-involved way) flavors like the raised doughnuts covered in all your favorite cereals or the maple bar that comes complete with slices of bacon on top. Maybe it's the irreverent names like the Gay Bar (full of "luscious cream" no less) and the Maple Blazer Blunt, a perfect way to cure your munchies.

We've driven and walked by the original Voodoo location a few times, but there is always a line out the door. Seriously. And you know what one of my least favorite things to do is? Wait in a really long line with two children who can't stop whining about how they want doughnuts and when is it going to be our turn and why are you pretending you're not our mommy? Waaaaaaa! Seriously.

Then the magical oracle at our house - otherwise known as the Internet - informed me that there is another location! Well technically there are two other locations, but I'm not driving to Eugene for a doughnut. But I might go out of my way while driving through Eugene.

Early one Saturday morning after dropping Monkey Man off at the airport, I took the boys to Voodoo Doughnuts Too to see if we could get some of the doughnut magic without the line and the whining and the me pretending those two aren't my children. Of course getting there required me to drive in circles through an unfamiliar part of town while being teased mercilessly by the sweet scent of doughnuts somewhere nearby. Which led to me driving like such a doofus that I made a public apology to all the other Portland drivers on the road that morning.

And here is what we got for the effort...

Cha-Cha, the family baconinator, went for the bacon topped maple bar, I had a Raspberry Romeo, and Quake had a Voodoo Doll, complete with raspberry filling, pretzel "stake", and a horrified look on it's face. You may also see evidence in this photo of Quake's first doughnut, a Dubble Bubble, which I'm sure he ordered just to see if I'd gag.

I guess it's no surprise that the next time we had to make a morning trip to the airport the boys begged for another trip to Voodoo. This time there was cereal and M&Ms involved...

And I actually got a photo of the now much beloved favorite Voodoo Doll before it was half gone!

At least this one didn't look scared so much as just confused. And look! There was another Dubble Bubble! I hate it when they order things I'm not willing to eat the leftovers of. Now if I can just plan a trip there by myself so I can order a Cock-N-Balls without the need to explain it to their shrinks in 20 years...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I have so much to write about and nothing at all to say, but I felt the need to post to remind you (or maybe just me) that I am still here. The currents in my life (or maybe just the ones in my head) have been tossing me about lately; I am spending too much energy trying to find a calm spot to anchor and either laughing at myself or berating myself for supposing such a place even exists.

Maybe winter has finally caught me in her grip, although a long afternoon spent at the park in brilliant sunshine yesterday suggests this is not the cause of my discontent. Maybe the upheaval of the move is finally catching up with me. Maybe the magic of the latest drug combination is fading like all the others before it. Maybe this is just another turning inward, a resting point on the journey.

All these years, through all these struggles - it seems like I should understand my own moods better than I do.

I'm a bit behind in The Burning Question series, but I hope no one minds if I go back to add my answer to one that's been spinning in and out of my consciousness for the last two weeks.

What would you like to stop doing?

I want to stop indulging in shadow comforts when what I really need is true comfort. I want to stop fighting the flow - of life, of my moods, of the words that knock about in my head wanting out. I want to stop feeling guilty about giving up the things I no longer love to do. I want to stop putting up with 'good enough' - expect when 'good enough' is 'perfect'.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Letting My Thing Find Me

Finally got around to listening to an interview with Danielle LaPorte that's been sitting in my inbox for longer than I'd like to admit. It's part of Tanya Geisler's Thing Finding Thursday series (you can listen to it or read the transcript here) - something that appeals to me greatly even though I started telling myself that I've given up on finding My Thing. Of course I tell myself all sorts of ridiculous things.

As usual, Ms. LaPorte's words managed to be exactly what I needed to hear.

She suggests that you let Your Thing find you by letting go of the demands you have for Your Thing and focusing on working in the zone. I, for example, have always wished for My Thing to strike me like the proverbial lightening bolt and then pretty quickly lead me to making a million dollars without it ever feeling like work. Because when it comes to the big questions in life, I am apparently still 15 years old.

Actually when it comes to the little things in life I'm still pretty much 15 years old.

But the last two months I've been doing exactly what Ms. LaPorte suggests.

I've been following my creative urges and listening intently to my own internal rhythms. One week I made 7 pieces of art for the house just because I I felt the need to create (here are 4 of them). One Saturday I spent 12 hours making scrapbook pages, barely stopping long enough to eat. I recently stayed up late writing 4 pages of a story, the original idea for which came to me in a dream. And I've already admitted to be being obsessed with creating outfits for my Pinterest.

Are any of these (or all of them) My Thing? How can I possibly manage to make money from any of these things?

It doesn't matter.

Maybe one or all of these are My Thing. Maybe not. Maybe one or all of these things will somehow make me a million dollars - or at least a regular income. Maybe not.

It doesn't matter.

What does matter is that I'm doing work that I love. I am finding myself regularly in that zone where the work feels effortless, where time becomes meaningless, where who I am and what I'm doing become the same thing.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Scrapbook Pages

I wanted to share a couple of the scrap pages I did a few weeks ago. Don't be alarmed at the sight of my boys' faces. They do actually have normal faces. Most of the time.

None of my scrap stuff is original - I scrap lift all of them. I have the images I lifted taped to the back of each page, but I don't have the original publication information. If you recognize the layouts and have the information, please send it to me and I'll be happy to add it.

A friend has requested a quick lesson on the process I use for scrap booking. So in the next week or two I'll take some photos as I put some pages together and post it here.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

More Fashion

Just wanted to share a few virtual outfits I put together this past weekend. At least this way my obsession doesn't just disappear into a black hole. Otherwise known as the "back-up drive".

I've been trying to experiment more with color although if you saw all my files, you'd notice some obvious favorites. Kind of like the aquas and purples above.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What Boat Do You Need To Burn?

Once again Danielle LaPorte's Burning Question Series has sent me a little blogging gift. And just after I told a friend that I already had 2 blog posts written for the week! I must be on a roll. Which probably means you won't hear from me again until after summer.

Or maybe I just found the boat I need to burn.

Much of my life has been spent in the same cycle:

1. Drop a thread (forget the homework, miss a workout, don't do the dishes)
2. Drop three more threads (skip class all week, binge, don't do the dishes all week)
3. Drop all the threads (fail a few classes, gain 30 pounds, only eat take out)
4. Despair
5. Resolve to change everything and never fail again
6. Repeat entire sequence

As life grew more complicated, I found myself less and less able to keep from falling into step 4. So I made my world smaller with fewer threads to weave, fewer ways to fail, fewer reasons to despair. It wasn't what I really wanted for myself, but it kept me sane enough to be a decent mother - the only the thread I refused to drop.

Then my husband asked me how I might feel about moving to Portland.

My life got infinitely more complicated just a few weeks later. The last 9 months I've been holding my breath, waiting for any thread I drop to start my downward spiral. But it seems a strange thing happened on the way to Oregon. I've managed to swing between steps 1 and 2 without ever getting to step 3. And most recently I've found myself at step 5, completely skipping steps 3 and 4, trying to make good changes but doubting my ability to stick with any of them.

But things are different this time.

I am not attempting to overhaul my entire life in one week (or one month or even one year). I am adapting plans as I go. I am refusing to see one dropped thread as failure, refusing to see myself as a failure no matter how many threads I drop.

My world is started to expand again.

I am looking over my shoulder at the smaller space I was living in and thinking about how safe I felt there. It was comfortable, and I knew I could manage it. I wonder if I should keep it with me just in case. But it's time to say "thank you for being what I needed then," and burn it away.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Orange and Turquoise

So if you've been over to take a look at my Pinterest boards, you may have noticed that I've been doing quite a bit of fasion pinning lately. I admit it, I'm obsessed. Obsessed. I have no idea "what it means" or if it's going anywhere or if it's just another one of my passing fancies.

And I don't care.

Because it's fun! And it makes me happy!

My latest creation...

Turns out mixing bright colors and glitter make me happy too!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

More Crafty Fun

I mentioned 2 or 3 weeks ago that I'd been working like crazy on a bunch of craft projects. Then I showed you the boys' silhouettes and probably left you wondering what the heck I was talking about since that didn't seem to constitute much work. Or you might have completely forgotten about it.Totally understandable, says the woman who "forgot" to blog for 2 years. 

More back story than you probably need or want... I bought these curtains at least a year ago on a total whim. They matched nothing in our house. They weren't on sale. But they make me silly happy every time I come across them buried under a pile of other crap in the guest room closet.

Our house in West Linn has these lovely mouldings above all the windows - yippee architectural interest - that make curtains awkward - boo for my pretty curtains. So I hatched a brilliant plan to turn those pretty curtains into a duvet cover that I could use and see every. single. day.

So now you're totally expecting a photo of my new duvet cover. Which I haven't made yet.

What I do have is a photo of the material I bought to match the curtains so I could make a new jewelry organizer. I warned you there would be more back story than you needed...

I couldn't decide which one I liked best so I just bought a yard of each figuring I could make pillows with the leftovers. You know, after I get the duvet cover made.

Here's a shot of my old jewelry organization -

What you can't see in this shot is the pile of jewelry on the dresser because this was just not enough space. Now here's the new organizer -

Look at all that open space! Which disappeared as soon as I got more t-pins! But my mornings are so much more pleasant now. So pleasant I might be inspired to make that duvet cover after all...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

One Dumb Thing I Used To Believe

Have you heard of that thing where you let an idea burble around in your head for awhile and then suddenly you're making progress on that idea without even thinking too much about it? Turns out there might be something to that. Who knew? While going through my email this morning I find myself jumping at the chance to include myself in Danielle LaPorte's Burning Question Series, already composing an answer in my head and saving the button for my sidebar without even once thinking that I was not good enough to join in.

And the thought of complete strangers ending up here reading my little blog? Totally exciting and not scary at all!

OK, that's a lie. It completely scares the crap out of me.

But I'm doing it anyway! Because this is the fear that will lead me forward...

What's one dumb thing I used to believe?

I believed (for a dreadfully long time) that there was something irrevocably broken in me. I knew, intellectually, that I was incredibly privileged so my depression and my failure to fit in had to be symptoms of something truly disgusting and sick and craven. I believed I deserved the pain I lived with.

Now I know, in my heart as well as my head, that I have always been whole. When I was told that certain parts of me were unacceptable, it was the person judging me who had the problem, not me. Now I believe that accepting and loving all the pieces of my sometimes strange and sad self makes me stronger and happier than I've ever been.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Inspiration Found: Les Twins

I was inspired by yesterday's post from Jamie Ridler Studios. She shared a link to a video of the Les Twins dancing that put my mind a-swirling. Even though Jamie warns us that the dance starts off small, it took me a few moments to realize it had already started. Please take a moment to go watch.

It made me wonder about how we choose to draw the lines between dancing and not-dancing, between art and not-art. It's easy to be amazed by the big moves, the complicated moves, the moves that we can never imagine our own bodies to be capable of. But when a dancer makes a simple gesture I make a hundred times a day - a turn of the head, the lift of an arm - and it takes my breath away? I believe those are the moments of real magic. Those are the moments when the lines between dancing and not-dancing are erased, and we are allowed a tiny glimpse of the Art of our existence.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


My latest fashion creation I put together for Pinterest...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Craft Binge

I've been a busy little crafty bee lately! It's felt really wonderful, especially after struggling to accept my own inner stillness during the holidays. First I did the silouettes I've been talking about doing forever...

I was so excited to get them done! The hardest part was finding a photo of each of my boys. Turns out I take very few pictures of their side views.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Year With Myself - Week 2

I do not want to write this post. All week I watched myself avoid and avoid and avoid, fight an (almost) irresistible urge to jump ahead, skip this question. It can't be that important.

Unless resistance is a giant neon sign pointing to the very thing I need most.

I don't even have answers for the first set of questions. I have not found my soul's compass. Calling anything more into my life than I already have makes me feel selfish and ungrateful (every birthday and shooting star since high school has passed with only a wish for world peace). I have a singular inability to envision my own future 5 years or even 5 days from now, something that fills me with anxiety about how I'm going to manage to arrive when I have no way of recognizing my destination. And I only see myself as a goddess in the way that I see all women as goddesses, although I'm probably one of the lesser goddesses history has mostly forgotten.

This is the point where I decided I wouldn't do the Week 2 assignment. I was frustrated and sad to be asked to produce the very things I was hoping to have help finding.

I should have learned from Week 1 that there would be more. It was this assignment from Chapter 2 of the Full Adventure Kit:

"Take an old childhood photo of yourself and study it for a few minutes. What do you see in your childhood face? What do you feel?"
I've kept a childhood photo of myself on my dresser for a few years, an attempt to remind myself to cherish the little girl I was. I found it under a pile of books, reminding me of nothing except all the reading I keep promising myself I'll do.

I am a few months past my 9th birthday, posing on the front lawn on what must have been a warm spring day. It is Easter weekend, and I remember getting that large rabbit in my basket. I carry a purse and a stuffed rabbit - caught between childhood and my own desire to be grown up.

I see so much joy in this girl. She believes she is beautiful and smart and worthy of every adventure she craves.

And all I feel is a deep and aching sorrow, an unspeakable grief.

In only a few years that joy will begin to be etched away by self-loathing.

I know, in my head, that I am supposed to embrace all the bad things that will happen, all the bad things that did happen. Everything - the good, the bad, the indifferent - everything in my life has led me to this point. And since I love my life now, to wish for any different past is to wish it all away. Yet still.

Still I cannot stop myself from wishing something else for her.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tiger Tails

Recently I was sitting on the couch with Cha-Cha, hoping to enjoy a rainy winter day by doing little except cross-stitching and coffee drinking. Cha-Cha was spinning through Netflix on the X-Box (because I am such a good mom!), and I got all excited about a Siberian Tiger documentary he skimmed over. I jumped at the chance to watch it when he offered to turn it on. Because drinking coffee, doing needlework, and not having to watch a SpongeBob episode I’ve already seen so many times I can sing along? Priceless!

See, I have a thing for cats. Not in a crazy-neighbor-lady-with-a-suspiciously-large-number-of-them way…well, not yet at least.
There was amazing footage of the tigers in the wild, including a funny part where a young cub is retrieved from its den to be tagged while its (already tagged) mother is away. All seven pounds of that tiger cub were furious and letting the researchers know it! Which was funny in an oh-my-if-he-were-just-a-few-months-older-he’d-rip-out-all-their-throats way. Don’t worry about Momma Tiger (who had been named Olga by the researchers, and why does my mind deem that little gem worthy of memory but where I put my glasses or keys isn’t considered important enough?) – she would never know about the cross-species intrusion because the researchers had thoughtfully coated their gloves in tiger poo before doing their work. Ah, the glamour of science!

What really caught my eye was when one of the researchers had to give breathing assistance to a large male tiger that didn’t react well to the sedative. And, you might ask, how does one do such a thing for a tiger? Apparently one first holds shut the tiger’s jaw, a jaw approximately the size of the researcher’s head. Then one cups one’s hand around the tiger’s nose, gently places one’s mouth around said nose, and blows into the nostrils. One does not truly appreciate the size of a tiger’s nostrils until one sees someone perform such an act. One does not truly appreciate the dedication of scientists until one sees someone perform such an act.
They gave the tiger a little shot of reviver and scurried through the tagging process double time to ensure they finished before he woke up completely. And when the camera man gets a shot of the tiger’s tail twitching and his eye roving about while the researchers work quickly around him? That’s the moment I would have run back to the Jeep, sobbing in fear. Of course these researchers were dropped in by helicopter so it would have been a very long run. Or a very short one, this being tiger territory. I mean really, I can’t even handle a bear.

And apropos of nothing except tigers, an anecdote:
When I moved with my then-boyfriend to Phoenix in the mid 90’s, there was an animal park north of Scottsdale that was dedicated to large cats. It was a decidedly un-fancy affair, but the animals all had large spaces and the staff was obviously deeply dedicated to helping not only the cats at the park (many of whom had been abandoned, abused, or injured) but also educating the visitors about the plight of large cats worldwide. A little internet research shows that the Out of Africa Wildlife Park has since moved further north and expanded. No doubt because their original space is now populated by McMansions and upscale strip malls.

When I visited the park in their salad days, they had a show area with a shallow pool surrounded by (very tall) chain link fencing. The “show” consisted of tigers encouraged to engage in natural behaviors by park employees (there is video as well as photos of the current Tiger Splash here). The announcer stressed that the employees were not trainers, and the tigers were not trained performers, pointing out that having multiple humans in with the tigers mitigated the danger of attack by continuously distracting the tiger. In a multilevel approach to mitigating that danger, one also hopes the tigers were also well fed.
In keeping with the aesthetic and budget, the seating for the watchers of this show was a set of old, metal bleachers like I remember sitting on at baseball games in my brother’s Little League years. The awesomeness of getting to sit just a few feet from a chain-link fence separating people from tigers created one tiny problem though. Much like the annoying tabby from down the street that insists on urinating in your flower bed, tigers have a strong urge to mark their territory. This urge will be heightened by the presence of perceived interlopers, i.e. a large group of humans (or possibly tasty treats in tiger eyes) on the other side of the fence. Unlike that neighborhood tabby though, tigers – both male and female – are capable of lifting their tails and shooting a prodigious stream of urine directly behind them at alarmingly high velocity*. This created a unique job opportunity at the park.

At every show there were two people standing next to the fence on either side of the bleachers. Each carried a large, round, trashcan lid. When a tiger would saunter over and pace along the fence (deciding who to order for lunch perhaps?), one of these people would follow it just along the short arc of the bleachers. If, while the tiger was at this section of fence, he or she turned to present us with a view of the secret, under-tail, tiger parts, the trashcan lid would be strategically placed against the fence sparing us all a tiger pee soak. Everyone in the audience did the requisite, “Ew, yuck!” after the announcer explained the trashcan lid jockeys’ job. Then my boyfriend turned to me and said, “You would volunteer for that job just to get closer to the tigers, wouldn’t you?”
Yes. Yes, I would.

* I was lucky (?) enough to witness this phenomenon at Tucson’s Reid Park zoo once. A few children were standing at the plexiglass window, very excited about the tiger being so close. The children, not as knowledgable about tiger territory marking as I am, were completely unprepared for the fire hose of pee that came shooting out of tiger’s butt. I almost peed my own pants laughing while the children screamed. Does that make me a bad person?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Joining "A Year With Myself"

This is the 1st step.

Not really, of course, dramatic narrative aside. I have been on this path, or a path, for a very long time now, years of steps bringing me to this place. So it is Another Step, the Next Step, but maybe not just any step. Because this year I want to point myself toward that proverbial cliff, shut my eyes, and start running for the edge.

Just me and the sky and a wholly uncertain faith.

While my hands have been busy lately with a cross-stitch project or finger knitting or clicking away on Pinterest, my mind has been watching a vision dance about, some sort of journal or scrapbook about my journey with mental illness. Just imaging myself creatively embracing the very thing I have spent so much time and energy hiding makes my heart pound and my stomach churn. Even those words, 'mental illness' are something I instinctively want to deny.

So I'm thumbing through my piles of self-help/self-discovery books, digging through the Internet to find all the treasures floating about, and signing up to receive an email every week from
A Year With Myself. A few weeks late. Of course. It may end up being a few years with myself...

And after letting another week pass before finally reading through the Week One material, I find these questions from
Ms. Patti Digh...

"What spaces are you standing between? Now, and then? Here, and there? Whole, and broken?"

In a few weeks I will turn 40 - now, and then. Less then 6 months ago I moved from the Southwest to the Northwest - here, and there. Just over a year ago a got a new diagnosis, and with it, treatment that might finally be working - whole, and broken.

I don't think we were meant to take the assignment so literally, but I always was kiss ass.

But the
Instigators weren't done messing with me yet.
Jennifer Louden asks, "What gifts do the parts of me I don't like have to offer me? What gifts could the parts of me I'm afraid of have to offer me?"

My greatest fear is exposure. The shining of a bright and unblinking light on all the dark and musty places, the hidden spaces. Making myself available for snarky comments and petty (or not so petty) criticisms, or worse - indifference.

Because I am still broken.

And I am already whole.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

No Flights Out of Yuma

I thoroughly enjoyed our holiday in Arizona. We left Portland really early and had a long lay-over in LA, so we were pretty tired when got to Yuma Christmas Eve. But my mother-in-law took the boys to church, and Monkey Man and I managed to get all our presents wrapped before falling asleep amid the ribbons.

Now for a little bragging... I scored this Johnathon Adler book, this amazing journaling book which I've barely dipped into, three (!) of these fabulous scarves, and this manicure kit which I'm hoping to try out today (because we woke up to snow, and coffee and a manicure is my idea of a perfect way to spend a snow day). I also made over a dozen of these headbands for one of my nieces, and frankly, almost an entire day spent absorbed in craft project with no interruption from children is a little slice of heaven.

Maybe all that Christmas goodness should have been a warning...

Monkey Man had intended to take the boys to the sand dunes, but my step mother-in-law got sick (and is still not well, good thoughts are greatly appreciated) so the usual New Year's trip fell through. Monkey Man is not so good with the sitting around and being lazy thing. He got bored, called the airline, and switched our tickets so we could leave a day early.

Maybe I should have told him not to break his mother's heart...

It was getting late when got to the Yuma airport that Friday night; we wouldn't land in Portland until after midnight. We hoped the boys would sleep most of the way and hoped we might actually get some sleep since Monkey Man got us upgraded to first class. But when we tried to check in, the attendant told us the flight from Yuma was delayed 1.5 hours - we probably wouldn't make our connection in LA. I laughed a little at Monkey Man. All the drama of getting ready to leave a day early was all for naught. We rescheduled back to our original plans.

Maybe I shouldn't have laughed...

It was late again Saturday night - same flight, different day. My mother-in-law had put noise makers and shiny party hats in my backpack so we could celebrate the New Year even if we were 30,000 feet in the air. Yuma, perhaps it goes without saying, is a small airport. They don't put you through security until they're almost ready to load the plane. We got through security, bought a couple of waters from the vending machine, and made faces at my mother-in-law through the glass because she was waiting until the last moment to leave. And thank goodness she did because just as the bags were being loaded into the belly of the plane, the flight was canceled.

And there were no available seats to leave Yuma until Monday.

At this point it was already feeling like a Stephen King miniseries. But it wasn't over yet.

Because when we got to the airport on Monday morning, that flight was canceled too.

And there were no more available seats to leave Yuma until... Thursday.

I know I've read too many horror novels because I couldn't help thinking, "This is how it starts."

We did manage to leave Yuma on Monday, but it required my aunt-in-law borrowing my mother-in-law's truck to take us to San Diego where we all spent the night in a hotel so we could catch an early morning flight from there, and from San Diego we flew to Denver before finally getting back to Portland.

I can't remember ever being so happy to finally be home...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A January Muddle

Ack! Once again, things are happening like crazy, and I disappear from around here. I think it's all the ADD/Scanner thing - I can't prioritize the massive amount of stuff in my head and my life. In the last 9 days, I have written drafts for 6 posts (and I mean for realz, not just in my head!). But editing and cleaning up and actually posting? Not so much. Obviously.

So...maybe a little summary will smooth things over.

1. I am considering going "public" with this blog. This fills me with anxiety because I dread being judged harshly, bullied child that I was. And also because I've said some snarky things about people I love, which means I will need to clean up and possibly delete some posts (oh, look! more to-dos requiring prioritization!).

2. I signed up to take Cathy Zielske's Big Picture Scrapbooking class, Move More Eat Well 2012. I have managed to watch the first video and read the materials. And...yeah, that's it. The process is apparently requiring much internal work that I would rather - oh, look! Pinterest!

3. Over the holidays we got stuck in Yuma. If that sounds like a Stephen King novel just begging for a miniseries, it's because it was. It's a funny story, and I'd really like to share it with you.

4. I may or may not have given up on choosing a Word of the Year. Have no clue what I'm talking about? Then you obviously don't read as many blogs as I do! Check out the concept with Susannah Conway, Ali Edwards, or Christine Kane. Just imagine me - who can't pick a topic for a blog post, picking a single word to help shape an entire year, and I think you'll understand what the problem is.

5. I'm turning back the clock to 1996 and revisiting the very first self-help book I bought, The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management, on the recommendation of my very first therapist. Oh yes, I was a Franklin Groupie - have planner, will travel (those were the days before it was FranklinCovey). Those of you familiar with this sort of thing may have been tipped off by my use of the word 'prioritize' in today's 2nd sentence.

So all of that's been burbling around in my head while also dealing with maintenance appointments, massive amounts of laundry, a sick and/or bored 4 year old, Monkey Man going off to China 4 days after we got back from our holiday in Arizona, and the pillows worth of dog hair that's piling up in every corner of the house. And let's not forget taking down the Christmas decorations, trying to finish my craft project, Pinterest, and oh-my-gods-I-totally-need-a-nap-before-I-have-a-panic-attack!

How's your January going?