Successes and Failures as of Late

Here I am at Day 20 of consecutive writing. Hooray! Next goal is 30 days. Some of the days have been scarce as I have been busy and honestly some days I just don’t have the motivation for much. As promised in the last post, I did complete my quilt top and here is a photo of it.

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It is called the Tifton Tiles Fat Quarter Quilt and it is made up of 9 different fat quarters cut into sections. The pattern can be found here. I have not made my quilt sandwich and begun quilting yet. So far, this is just a top.

I do wish I had balanced the darker purple a little more to the left, but other than that I was fairly happy with it. I did have a nicer layout of this quilt that day, but we had accidentally left the window open and the wind blew through and destroyed much of my layout, so I had to start over.

I liked the first layout better, but couldn’t remember it fabric for fabric, so I just had to piece it back together as best as I could. Believe me when I say that the second time around, that window was shut and I began sewing ASAP! On September 27th, I will begin my first quilting class to learn everything I need to know to make a quilt. Until then, the Tifton Tiles Quilt will be put aside.

I have not decided which quilt top I will make with the other 9 fat quarters I have in my possession. There are so many great patterns out there! I still have one table runner to finish up for a friend and I need to get to it. Fall is here on September 22, I believe, and she wanted fall fabrics.

I just have to post a photo I took of Iris while she was napping in my lap yesterday. She just made herself so darn comfy that I have to show this off. I turned the photo to black and white because I was wearing black and white and she is gray and cream and I thought it showed the contrast better than trying to do it in “color.”

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She always sleeps down the length of my legs an then she rolled and her back paws were straight up in the air. Such a cutie!

So the quilt top was a success and the consecutive writing was a success. What are the failures you ask? Well, I am not really writing creatively right now, even though I sort of want to, it is almost as if I have been away from it for so long that I am afraid of tryig to get back into it. I haven’t been reading either, and I would prefer to be doing one or the other.

Another failure is that my house is a mess. I really need to clean it. I had a hectic week and weekend last week so I was really looking forward to yesterday and today to catch up on housework. Yesterday I napped with Iris, today I slept again after dropping Hubby at work and now I am on the internet.

I had another hospitalization for mental health in July and I guess I am still reeling from that. I have to quit my full time job at the end of this month because I am in day treatment and my FMLA is running out. I plan to volunteer there for a bit to keep some structure in my days and finish up a couple of things I wanted to.

I am looking for part time but am hoping to find something that doesn’t require any or many weekends. I had thought about going back to the public library, but every other weekend work schedules stink, and I would prefer to avoid that. I have been spoiled. Maybe I should get in touch with the freelance company that presented to us at the writers’ guild in July. I might be able to write for them. It’s just the motivation that makes the difference. I will have to be self-motivated and right now that isn’t working out for me too well.

I will be taking a class on making a silhouette vest next week. If I am successful, I will post pics. Have a great week all!

 

 

 

 

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Oh What a Beautiful Morning

Woot! Working on Day 10 of my second attempt at 180 days of writing. It was just a matter of getting started again and setting small goals for myself. Next goal is 20 days.

Last night after work, Hubby and I drove out to Mom and Dad’s. Traffic in our home town was horrendous. Cars stalled in passing lanes, accidents in and out of construction zones, boat traffic trying to crawl down to the Lake of the Ozarks for the holiday weekend. It took hubby nearly an hour just to get home, and we live in a town of about 40,000. Fortunately our friend (we’ll call him Uncle Batman as his nieces and nephews do) beat him to the my office and took me home so I could start packing. I was mostly done by the time he got home.

We had a pleasant evening catching up with Mom and Dad, but the overnight was a bit rough. The puppies (pictured above) barked part of the night and then the rooster started crowing around 5 am. I just left Hubby. He managed to doze off after a cuddle in spite of Ernie’s constant crowing. I switched off the light and tiptoed down the stairs. Well, as much as one can tiptoe in a creaky old house I suppose.
So here I have sat since about six a.m. trying to type as fast on my phablet as I can on my hybrid laptop. The stylus helps me not make as many typos, but I still miss typing with fingers.

My parents sleep in more than they used to. 5:30 was once a normal wake up time. I thought Mom would certainly be up just because she heard me come down and she is typically a light sleeper. Yet it is now 6:30. Ernie has finally succeeded in coaxing a dim light onto the sky, and there is no sign of her. Meanwhile, my eyelids are still drooping with sleepiness and my stomach is begging for sustenance.

Today, our plan is to sew and maybe make cinnamon raisin or cinnamon cherry English muffins. I will probably need a nap in the middle of itall since I didn’t sleep as soundly and woke up early.

I just posted this photo on Facebook of early dawn here. Sometimes I forget how lucky I was to grow up in such a simply beautiful place. Farm life has its dangers, disappointments, and detriments,.but it is a unique coming of age existence as well. I joked with Hubby that Mom and Dad’s is like our own personal bed and breakfast and that city people pay good money to hear a rooster crow at dawn. I don’t think he believes me.

There is one feral yellow cat, probably a growing kitten from this spring, watching me to see if I have food. He is cautiously optimistic as he stares at me with yellow eyes. He is only about 6 feet away from me, but that is probably only because I am next to his food dish.
I used to spend a lot of time with feral kittens, bending them to my will of a somewhat domestic existence. Basically, I have always wanted to be able to pet and hug every cat I see.

Briefly, another kitty ran towards the yard from the barn, but she has an aversion to the paparazzi and promptly ran back to her haven upon catching sight of me.So, little kitty finally got breakfast as you can see from the photo.

Update: 10:00 a.m. I have been trying to lay out a quilt top this morning. I don’t care for the fabrics as much as I would like (someone else picked them out), but it will be good practice to sew this up before I go to my class later this month. Maybe someone will really like it and I can pawn it off on them and make something I actually care about.

Mom is making cherry English muffins today, so the house is saturated with the scent of freshly baked sweet bread with a hint of cinnamon. And they taste as good as they smell. Of course I have already had a sample! They taste as good as they sound. Her secret is to plump the dried fruit in a water bath before adding it to the dough. Perfection every time. It will be difficult for me to stay out of them all weekend.

Update 7:00 p.m. I nearly have my quilt top sewed together. I should have it finished by bedtime. Hopefully I will have time to post photos tomorrow. Have a great holiday all!

Thoughts on Mass Shootings and Mental Health

I don’t normally get political, but I don’t think this is a completely political issue, though I am certain people have already made it that way.

What happened in Orlando this weekend is deplorable. I don’t have to agree with every LGBT issue in politics in order to believe that killing is wrong. It is not a solution to what someone may see as a problem. Even the greatest Bible beater out there must agree that there is a commandment that says, “Thou shalt not kill.” I am not of a particular religious persuasion, but I do still have morals, and my moral compass says that killing is not a solution. It is not anyone’s right to take a human life for any reason other than self-defense, and I seriously don’t believe those people in the nightclub were attacking the lone gunman.

That being said, I do believe that people who take other lives in these mass shootings are not alright. I don’t know anything about the lone shooter at this point, but I believe there is an untreated, or perhaps mistreated or misdiagnosed mental illness in the brains of people who complete these sorts of crimes. The Aurora shooter was seeking on campus treatment before he went on his rampage. The Sandy Hook shooter also had a history of mental problems, as did the Columbine shooters. Even if someone seeks treatment, they unfortunately don’t feel comfortable disclosing everything to their care provider. I’ve seen this with suicidal friends. I had a friend die from depression and no one was aware of how dark his days had gotten, not even his health care providers. However, for someone to build up that much hatred towards their fellow man tells me something happened to them that wasn’t normal. Not everyone subscribes to this theory of mine, including my husband, but I can’t help but wonder how many people in our jail system need a hospital, not a prison.

I wish I knew what to do about it. I wish I knew how to heal the hurt of families everywhere who have lost someone to a mass shooting, those who been injured in a mass shooting, or anyone who has otherwise been traumatized by one. I wish I knew how to stop the shooters, to tell them this hate they hold inside is not healthy. I wish I knew how to prevent them from getting the weapons and plotting the demise of many.

There are people in power who can try to solve some of these issues if they weren’t so concerned about the NRA and other groups not backing them in the next election. They are more worried about their political positions than the people they serve. The people are ready for change, but the government is not. Several polls have shown that. But I don’t want to attack our government at this time.

This is a time when, if you pray, you should pray for peaceful solutions, for better mental healthcare for all who need it, for divine intervention, for individuals to look at themselves and figure out how they can work to make change for the better. As Ghandi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” I try to live by those words, even when it is difficult, even when I want to be right and want the other person to be wrong. I always try to recall these words.

You may be wondering, “What can I do?” Volunteer! Volunteer with a boys and girls club and be a positive influence on youth. Seek out your local National Alliance on Mental Health chapter or the National Institute of Mental Health and learn more about mental illness. Feed the hungry. Show kindness to all. Smile when you are in public. A smile can change a life. Make eye contact when able. Show your joy in any way you see fit. But help others. You never know–someone you help might have had the potential to harm others, and maybe your influence changed their day. We don’t know how we affect others, but little things make a big difference.

I have a mental illness. I do not want people to be afraid of me. I am treated. I am happy. But others aren’t as fortunate as I am, and they are angry and sad and anxious. This is why we must make mental health available to everyone. I have a friend who has no insurance and no job. He can’t get medications or treatment for his depression and anxiety. I worry about him daily. The treatment center he used to go to provides treatment on a sliding scale, but they told him he had to have an income to get treatment. I am not sure if he qualifies for disability, and I don’t know if he has the energy to fight 3 rejections before being accepted as most people have to. It is a rough road for him and I help him as much as I can. I wish I could pay for his medical care. I wish I could help him get his medicines, but there are limits to what my income can do. These are some of the issues people with mental illness face on a daily basis.

I implore all of you to grieve for Orlando, and look within your hearts to see what you can do to be the change you want to see in the world. We all have different talents and abilities. What are yours?

Old Spice

I wrote this piece today after a conversation with an older woman on the phone. She just tickled my fancy for some reason, so I had to write about her. I present, “Old Spice.” Oh, and yes, the name has been changed to protect the innocent.

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I picked up the phone and heard a much older woman on the other end of the line. Her name was Edith. She wanted to order books, she said. In the background I could hear the ticktock of a grandfather clock as the pendulum kept time with our conversation.

I opened the screen on my computer, ready to take her order. Ticktock, the clock said. She began to read numbers slowly and carefully so that I could keep time. 82161…84574…82111. I stopped her. I told her that last book was sexually explicit. I asked her if that was okay. Generally someone with sex excluded on their record will say no, but she had a different answer.

“Oh, honey, I am 92 years old. I’ve done and seen it all.” Ticktock.

I smiled broadly at her over the phone. You see, I love spicy old women, the ones who don’t let prudishness get in the way of living. The ones who are still living in spite of being over 90. I tried to picture her then. She had stark white hair, short and curly. Her glasses were soda bottle bottoms, cut by a fiery torch and fitted into pinkish plastic frames that looked too big for her face. I knew they must be thick because she had to have a vision problem to use our books.

She was sitting in a mauve armchair in the Queen Anne style with mahogany legs that were lightly carved into the shape of a dog’s leg and foot. They were smooth and untwisted, so unlike the hand that held the receiver to her ear. Over the back of the chair was a large, white doily, starched and perfectly positioned over the fabric so as to best show off its pattern.  On her lap was a dusty blue afghan that coordinated with the mauve of the chair. It was 90 degrees outside, and she was chilly.

Truly elderly women are always so put together. What will happen when my slovenly generation grows old? Ticktock. Our tattoos will stretch, sag and fade and our piercings will accentuate our wrinkles, not at all what a lady who is 90 should look like. Will I live to be 90? No one knows, but if I do, I want to be spicy and make younger women blush. I want to be just like Edith.

Your Chance to Speak Up

I need your secrets and techniques! The National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI) Jefferson City, MO chapter is graciously allowing me to speak on the topic of Writing to Heal on June 6th at their monthly meeting. The structure of their meetings is that they have a speaker that everyone sits in on for 45 minutes before dividing into groups of family members and consumers. So I will be speaking to both groups at the same time.

I feel that family members have almost as much to heal from as consumers do. Family members often take the brunt of an ill individual’s symptoms, as I know my husband does. He takes my anger, my sorrow, my fear, and my joy, sometimes all in the same day! I have emotionally abused him and manipulated him, especially in the earliest years of my illness while they were looking for the correct treatment. So when I advocate, I advocate for the whole family unit, not just the consumer.

I want to teach family members and consumers alike that they need to heal and can heal through writing. I used to communicate to my husband in writing because I couldn’t articulate my feelings verbally as he could. But there was a time when he needed a journal, too. Writing can be private or you can share it.

Here is your chance to speak up. What has helped you, family member or consumer, heal from particular episodes in your life? If it was writing related, share the nature of what prompted you to write. Did you use prompts? Did you free write? Did you do a bullet journal? Did you create art in your journal or doodle in the margins? Are you a family member or a consumer? Did you wish the other person(s) in your life journalled as well? Any information you can provide about your healing experiences, whether you are family or consumer, would be helpful. Do it in the spirit of Mental Health Awareness Month! Please and thank you!!!!

New Novel Percolating…

I have some ideas for a new novel. It will be a paranormal romance this time I think. My heroine is a witch from a natural world. My hero is human and ignorant of her kind. They may or may not meet at a Renaissance Faire–still working that out.

Yesterday I did some world building, and in this world there are four types of powers that witches and witchers (male witches) have. They are fire, electricity/lightning, poison, and wind. They can bottle their powers at a weaker strength for others to use when in a perilous situation. However, their powers are strongest when used directly by the witches’ spoken spells. They are natural botanists and herbalists. They are aware of the properties of most of the plants in their regions, if not in the world. They use the plant properties in mixtures to replicate their powers as closely as possible using ancient formulas passed down through generations of witches.

The main religion of this world is worship of the goddess Celeste. She is very similar to Gaia in that she is mother to the Earth and tends to favor druidic tendencies.   In some parts of the world, she is thought to be male.  Most mythologies in the world point to a being that is somewhat like her, so while theologians may argue over who is right and who is wrong and which is the correct god–they all have different names for her–witches believe that there is only one goddess who rules the planet and that almost everyone worships her in one way or another, whether they acknowledge that or not.

Anyway, that is some of what I jotted down yesterday while I was at a conference as an exhibitor and the attendees were in session. I am adapting some characters and story ideas that I first came up with months ago into this new world and belief system. As I said, I am still working out the details and these are just a few thoughts I had. But I like to show my process, so in this case, I had characters in mind and then started world building.

Today, as part of this process, I jotted down some notes on how I could adapt the existing characters, so I printed out the detailed sketches I had written of each one and wrote a little more about their powers and how the world around them reacts to them. So far, this only affects two of the characters–the heroine and her fey cat. But there will be more.

So I hope that inspires you to do a little world building of your own if you are thinking of writing a story in an alternate universe or time period. It is very simple–just start making up rules. What can and can’t happen and how people react to it, as well as what people know and don’t know. I have three handwritten pages of rules so far. See if you can keep up with me! Have a great Thursday, all!

 

Awareness

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. I am VERY aware of mental illness and the need for mental healthcare providers. Are you? May is also National Bipolar Month. The proper color of ribbon for mental health is green.

I attended a NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) meeting last evening. No mention was made of making people more aware of the need to truly see the people with mental illnesses in our community. This sort of surprised me given the nature of the the people at the meeting–they were all either ill themselves or family members of people  who had these illnesses. If NAMI isn’t aware of Awareness Month, then who is?

Don’t get me wrong; NAMI is a great advocate for individuals like myself and I am certain that on a higher scale, they are aware of May’s significance. However, I decided that I wanted to do my part to promote awareness by blogging about how important May is.

Being aware of what triggers episodes in friends and family and what the symptoms of mental illness are in the first place is so important for people to know. While my family acknowledges and supports my efforts to control my symptoms, they don’t want to see some of the same things in themselves.

I don’t think I am alone. The stigma that surrounds us still has a tight hold on some of our family and friends as well as some of our world at large. This is what we are fighting to break. This is what I am fighting to break by writing this blog.

We are not all bad people–in fact most of us are wonderful people who contribute to our society in various ways. But there are some of us who are so blinded by illness, who have gone without treatment, love and support for so long that they  do bad things. They make the news. We do not. We are not as interesting, and we continue to suffer from society’s hatred and mistrust in silence.

I am not silent. Ask my hubby. I talk all the time. But even I feel like I have to walk on eggshells around certain people I love when it comes to my illness. I can’t say anything too upsetting or too graphic or detailed because it might upset them. Might upset them? I am LIVING it.

All I am saying is be aware of mental illness this month and every month from here on out. Do something to educate yourself about it so you know how to react when a loved one tells you that something isn’t right. You could save the life of someone you love.