Stinking Thinking

Some of you may remember from my book, “Turning Blue to Blue: How God Used Art to Lift My Depression”, that I have watched and learned from some of the saddest reality shows. Well, I came upon another lesson recently.
The show follows morbidly obese people for a year after their weight loss surgery. In the season finale, a woman believed to be 800 pounds was featured. They were not able to weight her initially due to timing and health concerns.

Her background story was that she had been kidnapped and held at gunpoint by her boyfriend after trying to end their relationship. He managed to escape after killing 2 police officers who had come to rescue her. She continued to fear for her life and hid in her home for years. Food became her comfort. Now she is in her early 40s and wants to change her life.

Due to the severity of her situation, surgery is immediately performed on her. Usually the doctor asks patients to lose 50 or so pounds first to see how serious they are and what kind of family support they have. After surgery it is usually advised to get up and walk as soon as possible. But this patient refused to even try. She would tell the physical therapists at the hospital to come back later. She was busy on her laptop. That went on for several months. Eventually, the doctor sent her home. Despite family that seemed supportive, she continued to refuse to try to walk for 10 months. Finally, at a family member’s request, the doctor came to her home and coaxed her into allowing the paramedics to help her stand. They showed her standing twice in a row for about 5 seconds each. Afterwards she smiled and seemed so relieved. She said she hadn’t believed her legs could hold her. That’s why she wouldn’t try.

Now I realize this is “reality” TV. It was edited in such a way to make it a compelling story. It ended on a hopeful note that now she would continue the hard work to regain her mobility. However, the lesson for me was powerful.

I’ve been watching that show for years and have seen the miraculous physical and emotional breakthroughs patients have had in their first 12 months. But because this woman didn’t believe she could stand, she shut herself down from trying or even getting more help. Many of the patients see a therapist and I certainly think that would have been beneficial for her. So in effect, 11 months were wasted. At 600 – 800 lbs, every day is precious and proven professionals offering help is a godsend.

I thought about myself and some other people close to me. How long have we been refusing to “stand”, because we don’t believe we can, when all the while we have access to everything we need to not just walk but run? What we believe about ourselves and our situations is so powerful. We just can’t allow stinking thinking to hold us back any longer.

Everyday I’m working on freeing my mind. At some points in the day I may need to recite a scripture or sing myself a song. My meds continue to help and so does my art. Through inspirational words on my Facebook page, my writing workshop, my art workshops or talking with me one on one, I hope to encourage those I can touch to free themselves from self-doubt, self-hate, perfectionism, anger and fear.

An Apple A Day…

-apple-clipart-8An apple a day will keep anyone away if it is thrown at them hard enough. – unknown

There is a storage business that I pass everyday on the way home. It posts funny or clever sayings. Perhaps my humor has turned somewhat dark over the past couple years, but I find the above saying both funny and clever. It is obviously a turn on the American proverb, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” I’ve always taken the proverb in its fullest sense to mean that making a habit of doing a simple healthy thing will pay dividends. It also reminds me that we are what we eat.

There is a TV commercial on these days for a beer.  When folks at the bar are deciding what to drink, they are knocked down by an apple.  This appeals to the love of slapstick comedy in each of us. But I think it also reaches back into folklore with Sir Isaac Newton making a great discovery after being hit on the head by an apple. The fancied Newton experience has come to mean a boink on the head can make a concept very clear to one.

I got hit by an apple the other day. The actions of a friend really hurt my feelings. I shared that with her, but she didn’t really “get it.” It then became abundantly clear to me that I cared a lot more about her and her success than she realized and more than she did about me. Of course, at first I told myself I was overreacting. But then I decided I’m not the overreacting type. I’ve since adjusted my reality and expectations of the relationship. Reality can present itself as clearly as a knock on the head and just as painfully.

Three reasons why I’m not trying to sell you my art

3 ladiesYeah, so here are three reasons I’m not trying to sell you my art:

1) No one has ever sold me any art. I have enjoyed viewing and buying art for the last 12 years. I have purchased several pieces for enjoyment purposes. I was out browsing, usually for something else and a piece would catch my eye and my heart. I would buy it on the spot. Only once have I bought an “investment” piece.  But I didn’t buy it for the investment possibilities. Proof of that is I spent lavishly on the framing and the next person to own it won’t care at all, beyond that the LE was well protected.

2) Original art is not a 2014 car. No one needs to explain anything to you about my art when you are looking at it. The title might make you smile. The measurements might help you figure where you are gonna put it, but that information usually comes with/near the art. No one needs to convince you that the acrylic paint used is the coolest new color and your neighbors will be jealous. (Although they very well might be. Just sayin’.)

The story of how my art was birthed out of direct instruction from God to draw, and that without any training and little confidence in my abilities, I launched My Blue is Blue is encouraging or inspiring to some. It may cause you to take a second look at a piece. But it won’t make you buy it.

3) The folks who happily spend $49.99 on a two by three foot reproduction of abstract art are not my customers. I have nothing against those folks. Mass reproduction and distribution have made it very easy for everyone to afford eye catching pieces. I have nothing against the art or the companies that are churning the stuff out. I hope the artists are being properly compensated, but I suspect all those talented, unknown artists somewhere in China are not being paid fairly.

I’ve never wanted to run with the crowd. I never wanted art that I had seen or might see on someone else’s walls. And even though I didn’t know that for what I was willing to spend, I could have had original art, I chose unusual pieces that spoke to me as a woman and as a person of color. I chose pieces that made me smile or added to my sense of peace.

I’m an artist. That’s how I earn my living now. I paint almost daily as part of my continuing therapy. I have produced a lot of art. Almost all of it is for sale. If you see something that grabs you, don’t let price stand in the way. If you’d like something completely unique, I’d love to create it. However, I’m never gonna try to sell you something.

I was angry with God

At this point in my journey I’m all about being honest with myself first,  the Lord second and the world third. It’s not like I was ever big on lying to the world, but I’ve learned I couldn’t really be honest with them when  I wasn’t honest with myself. And really what point is there in lying to God? He already knows!

English: Angry woman.

English: Angry woman. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I was angry. I had come to believe that God had let me down when He should have been protecting me from emotional harm. Also, when I prayed earnestly for a particular situation to resolve itself as I wanted it to, He ignored me. Perhaps the real fuel was that I found myself in those situations as a new Christian. I hadn’t made it through the entire Bible yet. I didn’t know about praying in tongues. I didn’t have any good female Christian buddies yet. No one in my immediate family was walking with Christ. All I had was Him. And He let me down.

When this revelation came to me in therapy, I was embarrassed and immediately penitent. I realized how foolish I had been. I realized how ungrateful I had been. How could I ever know all that the Lord had protected me from? How could I take for granted that I was still breathing? I couldn’t!

On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?  -Romans 9:20

Romans 8:28 became real to me all over again. “All things work together for good for them that love the Lord…”

You may have asked or stated, “Why did you let my uncle do those things to me?”

“Why did He let my son be murdered?”

“I was a good husband. I deserved better, God.”

The reality of our lives is that some incredibly painful events and loses have taken place. As Christians, on  a certain level, we want to feel we will be protected from the hurts and losses. But really we know, or we come to know, that neither of those are true. As we mature in our understanding of the word and God’s nature we accept  that pain and loss is a significant part of this walk. We gain strength accepting that God’s grace is sufficient[i], that He has equipped us and that when we lack wisdom we can ask Him for it and we will receive it[ii].


[i] 2 Corinthians 12:9

[ii] James 1:5

all verses from the New American Standard Bible

 

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Time For Another Installment of “Really obvious things I just figured out.”

I’m sure you’ve heard the question, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” similar to that is, “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”Those questions can apply to various situations. In the past  I’ve had trouble answering those. But maybe now I’m moving into a space where I trust the Holy Spirit inside me enough to realized I can answer them, for certain situations at least.

Sunday, listening to my pastor, I knew I wanted to take a vow or a fast to show God my commitment to being self-disciplined, and hungry to hear and do His will. A side effect would be better health, which glorifies God since my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.              (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

I texted my husband that I didn’t know what the vow(fast) would be. However, before I could finish writing I realized I did know, but I was afraid of disappointing myself. As if pastor was reading my mind, he said “And if you fall off the wagon, get up and get back at it!”

Then I said to myself, “Don’t condemn yourself for a mistake, dear. Don’t limit yourself, afraid of a mistake that may happen (will happen). ”

Ok, a few deep breaths later, I asked what did I want my vow to be. The big, horrible answer was I will give up all types of meat, poultry and fish. At this point I believe I am vegetarian, not vegan. We’ll see.

(About five years ago, out of the blue, God asked me to become a vegetarian and I stuck with it for about two years. Back then I felt he wanted me to understand about addiction. I just wanted to be obedient. Just as mysteriously, He released me from that eating style. However, I had a sneaking suspicion I would commit to being vegetarian for life at some point. And now I am.)

Vegetables

Vegetables (Photo credit: Martin Cathrae)

Well, it’s not necessary for you to agree with my choice, but if you haven’t figured out how limiting being conflicted is in your life, please re-examine your motivations, behaviors and results. Two of the tell-tale signs that I didn’t recognize for years was being indecisive or taking too long to make a decision. Of course there is the old flip flopping back and forth too.
God is not a God of confusion and He has given us a sound mind. We may say we are confused or conflicted, but I would suggest that often we know the answer. We simply don’t want to accept it. We may say we are hesitant because we don’t want to hurt someone, or we don’t have all the facts or we haven’t heard from God.  Those may be true. But if fear, of failing or succeeding, is really what’s holding you back, recognize it, push it aside and hear what’s in your heart.

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Super Happy and the Every Day Struggle

“It’s been a long time. I shouldn’t have left you, without a strong rhyme to step to…” – Eric B. & Rakim

comet2Wow, life has been busy. Let’s jump right in.

I am super happy with my life. Almost every day is a struggle.
I love having an unstructured schedule. I can pretty much plan my day around my workout. I hit a gym about 3 times a week. My body has changed a lot. I’m not as frail looking as I was originally after the 40 lb weight loss. I’m developing definition in my arms. Watch out now!

Just about everyday I do something related to painting. Sometimes it’s studying techniques or products. Sometimes it’s looking for or organizing inspirational pieces. Sometimes it’s spending 8 hours on one piece or 8 hours on four.

Marketing the book is just as challenging as I expected.  But lots of folks have shown their support with purchases, leads and introductions. Actually, I’m having a little trouble keeping all the info organized and followed up on.

In spite of all this, almost everyday I find myself lonely, bored and or restless. I have to consciously use my positive coping techniques and self talk. The positive activities to cheer me include painting, getting outside, meeting friends and new people, prayer, exercise, aromatherapy, beverages with a lot of caffeine and sugar and thrift store shopping. Well, maybe those last two really shouldn’t count, huh?

Left to its own devices, my mind wanders off to various dark corners. I think the interesting part of it is, while it probably always did that, now I notice it and it bothers me! Yes, now that my head is clearer, I can see just what a mess I really am. Chuckle.

I’m kinda at a crossroad with my meds. My doctor and I tried to take me off one, but I began to really struggle. Now we need to figure the next dosage or combination of medications. I had dropped out of talk therapy for over a year. I can see it is time to go back and tackle a whole new set of issues.

I thought getting  well was a full-time job. Staying  well is a full-time job! I love my job.

“When I”m writing, I’m trapped between the lines
I escape when I finish the rhyme…
I got soul.” – Eric B. & Rakim I Know You Got Soul

On Avoiding the Wand

I finally figured out why I keep getting cavity searched when I fly. (Well not really, but you know what I mean.)

The last 3 or 4 times I’ve flown out of Dallas-Ft Worth airport, I’ve dutifully removed shoes, watch, placed my iPad in the bin, stood on the yellow footprints, arms up, and then heard security call for a female agent. I knew what that meant. She was coming for me, wand in hand and ready to pat me down, again. They even patted my hair. The Transportation Security Administration agents were always very professional and polite. I, however, was always suspicious and incredulous that I looked like a danger.

I stopped wearing baggy, cotton sweat pants and tops, which were part of my layered strategy to accommodate whatever temperatures I encountered during my travel.

Yesterday, in my no-iron blue oxford and khaki pants I bounced onto the footprints, sure that I would pass quickly move along to collecting my iPad and carry-on bag. To my surprise I heard the male agent say, “Switch.” Instantly a thin female agent took his place in front of me. My countenance dropped. She waved magically over and around me,  finding nothing harmful. Then she swabbed my palms! Good grief. I was passed off to an older agent who advised me it would take a moment for the swab results.

I said, “What did I do to deserve this?”

She replied casually, “Your necklace.”

original jewelry from aSI' Beads

original jewelry from aSI’ Beads

I’m sure my mouth dropped open at that point.  My necklace? Oh my goodness, I feel naked without earrings and always wear a tiny sentimental necklace. Yesterday I was also wearing a colorful chunky one. So my jewelry, which I somehow was unaware of the need to remove, was causing me to fail security and then opened me up to all kinds of attention to remove me as a threat.

Now, I don’t think any of the TSA security folks ever actually thought I was a threat. They were just following protocol, I assume. But how come no one ever told me to take off my jewelry? Was I helping them meet a quota for pat downs?! Well no more! Going forward I will not put on my jewelry till I get to my seat. They will have to find some other gypsy to frisk.

After I fly home tomorrow, I’ll let you know how it went.

Pretty AND Powerful

I was parking my Jeep on a short incline. Also, I wanted to be sure I was equidistant from each white strip on the pavement. Looking up and forward, my concentration was shattered. Off in the distance I saw a princess. Spotting princesses is almost as rare as mermaid sightings. I’ve seen a group of those too recently. However, it was just a picture so I didn’t get to talk to them. I threw my car into park and jumped out.

Now she was standing for others to see and comment on. Her dress was pale blue, flouncy. I could see the sparkles as I closed the distance between us. She had curly blonde hair, so cute. She didn’t have a wand or scepter or anything in her hands. Who was she? I can’t remember who wears blue.

Her mom was tucking her into the car, so I had to walk faster.” Hi there! Hi!”

Her mom turned toward me.

“I see you have a princess in your car”, I said.

“Oh, yes”, she said quietly. The princess poked her head out.

“Hi there!, I said to her. Which princess are you?”

She simply smiled.

I asked her mom, “Are you headed to a party?”

“No”, she said

“Oh, why so dressed up?”

“It’s ‘pick your fight day’. That’s all she was willing to wear.”

“Oh, how old is she?”

“3.”

“Ahh.”

I turned from mom and bent down to speak to the little one inside the car again. “Well, I’m so glad to have met a beautiful princess today. Bye sweetie.”

She smiled a wide grin for me. As I walked to my apartment, I knew there was a lesson in this scenario. I couldn’t wait to get to my computer and start to comb it out.

Ladies, do you have a dress or suit that when you put it on you feel pretty and powerful? When you wear it do folks take notice of your energy? Are they drawn near? Do they fall under your spell for a few minutes?

When I used to feel down or weak, I’d put on my old college sweatshirt. It is an XL, grey, frayed sleeves thing. It wasn’t pretty however, when I put it on I would gain temporary strength and boldness. But I was kinda hiding in it.

It’s ratty and way too big for me now. I think I need to exchange it for a “princess gown”. I need something that presents  the dreamer and optimist in me. (That’s what the princesses represented to me as a girl. Their stories ended happily, things worked out. I never really made the connection that a man was necessary for that to happen. Guess that’s because I was raised by a mom on her own.) I need something that allows my “magic” to sparkle. And it’s gotta fit properly!

Once we find our “gowns”, let’s wear them everyday. Let’s put up a fight when someone thinks we should take them off. Let’s recognize the sisterhood of those with “princess powers”.

Disney-Princess-Lineup-walt-disney-characters-20868733-729-214

What do you think?

Still Unraveling

The eleventh anniversary of my mother’s death was two weeks ago. Years back my brother planned a get together for he and I to commemorate the tenth. However, by the time it arrived our lives had changed so much: both married, having moved to states across the country from one another, my illness… The plan was no longer feasible when the time came.

I never really wanted to do the “commemorate the tenth” thing anyway.

My brother is an even deeper thinker than I and much more sentimental. I’m sure he knew I wouldn’t want to commemorate, and that is a big part of the reason he planned it. He likes to hold on to detailed memories and relive them in conversation. I am more connected to feelings about a time and enjoy quietly pondering the “why’s”.

As I pondered today, I affirmed to myself that I believe I understand my mother now. I understand the choice and strength to be alone rather than afraid, used and frustrated with a man. I understand the belief that your children are the most significant reflection of your life. I understand being suspicious of law enforcement and mainstream media.

Then I wondered would I feel that way if she were still here. Brown Loops #2

Our relationship was strained at times and at other times she was my confidante and cheerleader. I’ve changed so much in these years. I’d have to allow her to go through change and growth also. Perhaps our mother/daughter coded language still wouldn’t allow us to express our similarities of thought and circumstance. That would be too bad.

It is very comforting to believe I am unraveling the silk threads of my mother’s veil.  It is comforting, even if I’m wrong.

Setting up shop at the Starbucks

Well, the other day I had an incredibly productive writing session. I wrote three blog posts, posted one and began notes on a fourth (this one.)

I was at Starbucks, in a comfy, brown, leather chair, with my chai tea latte. I was there a little over two hours. My doctor didn’t want me drinking coffee and I haven’t had a Starbucks line item in the budget for a couple years. However, I have come to the realization that I, like so many other Americans, can not function efficiently without the extra help caffeine offers.

When I was working in finance, every now and then I’d hit the drive-thru for my chai.  So when it comes to sipping inside a Starbucks, I’m a novice. I always get the same thing, but since I was in no hurry, I decided to stand and study the menu. I moved up and ordered my usual – tall, chai tea latte with two extra pumps. Since I was the only order at the moment, he didn’t need to ask my name.

While machines whirled, I started to survey the scene for the best seat. There was a two seat table in the corner, but there was a guy with his laptop at the counter. I felt like I’d be too close to him and perhaps able to see his screen. Just then two ladies left an area with four leather chairs and two low tables. I slid into the farthest chair, facing the door. Soon I had my beverage and was clicking away on my iPad. 3 coffee cups

I noticed some of the people around me. There was a multi-level marketing guy talking with a new recruit. She seemed very sold on the health products for her personal consumption.  I noticed though, every time he asked about talking with other people,  she had reasons why that person wasn’t a good candidate for the supplies. He seemed patient, knowledgeable and committed.

Closer to five o’clock things picked up. A large gentleman came in and saw a buddy in line. He began to excitedly tell the smaller man how he had sold a car, his fourth. I wasn’t sure if he worked at a dealership or was some sort of a collector.

A woman walking up to order was called out to by a leather clad man seated near me. She turned, hearing her name and greeted him. He asked her professional help on a land deal he was in the middle of.

Then two adult females and two bouncy children came and sat in my other three chairs. They carried on their mundane conversation about children’s sports schedules and keeping up. Sprinkled in was admonishment to the little boy not to push the table into my shin or knock my cup over. Eventually they shuffled off to Karate class, leaving half a table of crumbs.

I learned that the local Starbucks is something like a very comfortable, small office building. Drinking coffee was secondary for just about everyone there. Business was being conducted between friends. Networking was being done between  acquaintances.  Like the receptionist in the office lobby, the baristas welcomed the workers in and sent them on their way with a smile.

I’m thinking about leasing some office space.