Sunday, March 1, 2015

The hammer fell, so I picked up the brush


Hey,

It's been a few weeks. So much for my goal of writing in my blog at least once a week. Bah! Humbug.

I did have good intentions. But as it happens, chance or fate played a card that I wasn't expecting. The card I was dealt, looked a lot like a hammer coming down on my index finger.

Before it happened, I was fixing the fence in my back yard. Our is quite old, but I thought I'd try and make the most out of the wood, and patch things together. I was fixing part of the fence, hammering some wood, but every nail I hammered into the wood bent. I was tired, and impatient, and sick of the nails bending every time I hammered them. So, growing more irritated by the second, I grabbed a nail that was thick and long, and sturdy, about half the length of a pencil. I had to steady the nail in order for it to stay put, so using my left hand I steadied, the nail and hammered down hard.

But the nail wasn't behaving. It wasn't going into the wood like it should. So I hammered harder, growing more clumsy. Still the nail stubbornly sat in its old position, neither going up nor down. Just stuck.

Determined to get the nail in, I steadied the nail with my left index finger and hammered as hard as I could.

Whack!

The hammer went down, but not on the nail. But on my finger with all the force I had in me. In that single instant, I felt first shock and then terrible pain shooting through my fingers, and strange ghost pains in my other little fingers. Can I just say at that moment, I thought I'd killed myself, chopped my own finger off, mashed it off in one blow, squishing it against the wood.



In a flurry, I threw the hammer onto the ground, and started waling. My mom who was in the garden at that time, came to my rescue.

But there's little help you can offer to someone who has mashed their finger, except sympathy. I don't think I've ever felt that much pain in my life. I know what you're thinking---lucky you.
I iced my finger, took a couple pain killers, and it still throbbed.

And I cried.

Yep. Moaned, and sniffled like a baby.

They say all your nerve endings are in your finger, and I believe it.

It didn't stop hurting and throbbing for a long time. My mom turned on a stupid movie to distract me. And that helped a bit.

I iced it the rest of the day, and into the night, freezing my other fingers in the process. It swelled up nice and purple, and went tingly numb. I wasn't sure if I broke it, sprained it, or just damaged the nerves. My sister made some comfrey, plantain salve, and I've been wrapping it up in a bandage and letting it rest. I figured there wasn't much point in going to the doctors, because they can't do much for broken fingers anyway.




That green stuff is my sisters awesome bone healing salve. 
So from that time until now, I haven't been typing for many moons. First I went through the feel sorry for myself stage. The stage where I discover all the things I can't do without my index finger.

How little we appreciate things until we can no longer use them.

I found out that it's very difficult to floss your teeth without the aid of your index finger, but with a little practice, you can do it with your other fingers.

Pulling up your britches is another trick.

Feeding hay to the goats, is very difficult, especially when you're trying to pull out hay from a ton bale.

Driving.

Typing.

Opening Jars.

Chopping veggies.

Lifting various objects.

Oh, and milking goats. Oh....your one hand gets very very tired. I usually switch hands when one gets tired.

Oh, and then I had been doing a heavy workout routine, but my finger was so tender, I didn't feel like swinging around that much. But gradually I figured out how to maneuver my hands so as not to jostle my finger too much.

After the feel sorry for myself stage, I went through, okay what can I do. It's my left finger, you're lucky stage. So I decided that I've neglected painting for quite a long time, so I've been painting, painting, painting. Painting wood, painting butterflies, painting on a moose horn, painting skies, painting tiles with inks. And it's been refreshing.

Enlightening. I've been so caught up in writing, an illustrating my books, that I've let my inner painter shrivel. I was kind of afraid of what my shriveled painter self might produce. That I might make something very ugly.  But I pushed through that fear and now I'm on my way to being a recovering oil painter.

It's nice. And weird how sometimes I can get so caught up doing one thing, I neglect the other. So here's a pledge to myself, to try and be more balanced.

Today is the first day in weeks I've really typed since I tried to hammer off the end of my finger. I'm still very clumsy. I can't bent it all the way. And it's still very tender and numb-ish feeling. This morning when I was feeding the chickens I caught my poor finger on an end of a wire, and tore the tip of my fingernail off.

Renewed pain.

But I'm here. And I'm writing, even if it's just a little. Giving my finger some physical therapy.



The fence I was fixing is still waiting for me to finish fixing it.

The nails are still where I left them. Soon, I'll be back hammering where I left off, but with a little renewed perspective and appreciation, thankful for my index finger and what it can do. Thankful for the nudge to use my inner artist to "paint fences," instead of just fix them. Or something like that.

You get what I'm trying to say? Right?



I still think I have a bit of hammer aversion though. Every time I see my sister pick one up, I close my eyes, and cringe and think of....well me smashing my finger.



Weird, huh?

Whoever thought of having post traumatic stress from hammering one's own finger.

I can't imagine having a real accident to recover from.

Maybe I should go to therapy. :)

Anyway, here's to all the under appreciated index fingers throughout the world. Sometimes that "index finger" gets neglected. And the sad thing is, only when you lose something do you begin to appreciate what you lost. I don't know why, but it's true. And we humans are pretty stupid. But that's the sad truth. 
Below are some of my creations I've been working on since my finger smash. Some are finished, some are still being worked on.  I've made the image sizes a bit small so people don't pirate them. I'm doing an etsy shop with prints of my artwork, along with my sister, and as soon as I get prints made I'll put a link on here if you'd like to buy copies of my work.





This guy isn't finished yet---there's still a lot of work to do on this one before I'm done.



My moose horn piece

These are done with  alcohol inks.

So. Here's to artists of all kinds picking up the paintbrush after a long sabbatical. Here's to anyone who's had a smashed finger and lived.

Here's to all artist writers, and creative everywhere who are forced to stop and do some introspection.

I'm not sure the point of this blog post, except maybe as a reminder that you won't have to smash you finger to remember to "paint" whatever its you like to paint. And perhaps give a shout out of encouragement to any blocked artists, who are afraid of starting where they left off, block writers, blocked creators, who may be afraid to "paint" whatever it is that they want to paint.



For some, it has been years, months, or decades since, they "painted" last.


Pick up the brush.

Set out the canvas.

Use the colors you have.

And paint.

Don't wait for your finger to be smashed to do so.

Don't wait for the perfect someday when...

Buck up, face your fears, and paint. Once you get over the initial fear, you remember how much fun it is.
You're probably a lot better at it than you give yourself credit.
My finger says enough typing. So I'll say cheerio for now.
Until my next post.
Take care.
Steph


Monday, February 2, 2015

Completly Bonkers! But so. All the best people are.



So, I'm sitting here, doing some introspection, I seriously do not know what to write about. Give me any subject to expound on, and I'll buckle down and see what words I can scrape together in my mind. 
But sit me down in front of a blank screen, and it seems I lead a very boring life. Suddenly all the interesting things I've done, or seen, or heard evaporate. Poof!

And then there's that awkward moment where I drum my fingers on the keyboard, and I look at the objects in my room, seeking inspiration from an empty wrapper, the light bulbs, or a vacant pistachio shell sitting on my desk that still tastes like salt.
Nope. No inspiration there. 
 I look out the window to the hazy sky, and stare at a bug that somehow got itself trapped between the windowpane. 
My eyes go next to the dead leaves hanging from the trees, then over to the cups of water by my computer, waiting for me to drink them. 
Then I gaze over to the quotes stuck with yellow tape to the sides of my computer screen. I read them, looking for inspiration.

"Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way,"---so says Ray Bradbury.

"You can't rush something you want to last forever," so says an unknown smart person.

"Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." So says E.L. Doctorow. 

  They are good quotes carefully placed by myself meant for moments like this, when I wonder what I shall write.
Fog. That is enough of a writing prompt.
Such a beautiful, strange, wet, wonderful thing.
Fog.
Thick, wonderful, moist clouds that hide the sun and sky.
Fog.
What is it that makes it so strange? So invisible, yet so fluid?
It is true, though, when writing or living, it is a lot like driving in the fog.
You can't see what it is that's coming next. But maybe we're not meant to. Maybe it's best that way. Maybe we like not knowing. Because in not knowing we find art, passion, meaning, and a story that unfolds.

I mean who would want to read story knowing exactly what the end would be? Where's the fun in that?
So I guess at the beginning of this year the second day of February, I'll drive in the fog. After all, the fog is quite mysterious, and  enchanting, if not mesmerizing and pesky at the same time. 
I remember the feeling of excitement, looking out the window first thing in the morning when I was a child, seeing the fog. In an effort to catch it, to be enfolded by it, I would run out into the field trying to catch the clouds. But whenever I got close to the clouds, they would vanish. And right where I stood was where the fog was not.
It was a strange phenomenon. I would look behind me, and see the fog obscuring the place I had just come from. Then I would look in front of me, and see that the field beyond was hidden by the clouds I could not catch.
 Both before, and behind were the clouds I sought, but could never fully hold, or keep, or touch.
But right where I was, there I could see. 
This is an analogy for my life. 
 The past fog. The future Fog. I do not want to live in either of these realities because they will cloud my view. The illusive clouds, the castles in the sky are not mine, and the more I try to catch them, the more they will escape my grasp.
Instead I will be glad of where I am, and where I have been, and where I will someday go.
Here, that is where I am.
Here is where I start. If I cannot catch the clouds, maybe I will walk among them, content with the view.
December is gone, passed away in dream, a haze. 
January too.
February, this is my reality.
The past, though foggy, drifts hovers, and calls out. But I can't do anything to change it.  The February my dad left my mom still haunts my mind. The cursed month.
It's weird, but I can't believe it's been about five years since that fateful day.
It passed like a dream. 
Now it is just fog.
It seems like yesterday. The feelings, the memories are still vivid, and raw in my mind. I've sat down to write about the whole experience several times, only to know I could never tell the story.
But I'm afraid that the fog will hide that too.
And part of it I still want to remember.
I've always tried to avoid writing about the subject. But it lingers in my mind wanting to be written about. Wanting air. I know I can never fully, truly write about it not in the way I want to.
But in light of all that has happened, I think it's time I tell, at least a small part of my experience, and let the cards fall where they may, if only someone out there might be helped.
I know the fog will come and cover it up soon enough.

Why am I afraid to even voice my feelings on the matter?
Mostly, because my family hasn't come to terms with it.
So what is this, "It" that I'm afraid to write about?
What is the word that, if spoken, brings heart palpitations and gasps to members of my family?
Okay. I'll say it. Not to label myself or my family. Or to box us up, and invalidate who I am, or any part of my family. But perhaps say it, if only to give air to the words unspoken, and the gag order that has gone on for five years.

The word?
Bipolar.
There it is.
I'll say it again. Bipolar.
Oh the evil nasty word. 
Are you trembling in your shoes?
Are you shivering in your seat?
*Shivers*
Oh the pain.
Oh the horror.
Oh the social stigma.
You better stop reading.
Woe is me!
Oh the blight of it.
How dare you say such a nasty word!
I'll say it again. Just for good measure. Just in cause you didn't understand.  Bipolar. And again, bipolar, bipolar bipolar!
What? You're still here?
You're still reading?
Dear me? Aren't you offended?
Bipolar?
If you are still reading. I'm glad. Thank you for that.
You don't know how good it feels to say it. And have it be said.
I shall sigh now. One long, loud, momentous sigh. 
"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"
Sigh, because it is a sigh that needs to be sighed. Sighed a thousand million times if need be. A sigh sighed over the misunderstood people of the world, and the problems that never fully get to be aired out so they can heal. 
So why are so many people afraid of such a word. Of bipolar?
What is it that causes us to shiver in our boots?
Let us go to google to find out it's meaning.
Bipolar.
Here's what Google's definition says about it.
Bi·po·lar--having or relating to two poles or extremities.

Not so bad sounding. It pretty much means two. Think of a happy face, and then a frowny face. 
Then think of an average person's smile and frown.
For someone who is bipolar, just tip the smile lines a bit higher than the average person, and then the frown lines lower than the average person, and there you have it. Bipolar.
 And if faced head on, it's something that is dealt with, and faced head on.
The sad thing is many UN-informed people out there are cluelessly not helping the stigma that goes with it. 
The word mental illness is another misunderstood word. 
Why is that? What are we so afraid of when it comes to understanding mental illness? 
I read somewhere on the internet that in the middle ages people who had mental illness were thought to have demons, so they would drill holes in the patients heads to let the devils out. Or better yet, they were boiled in water.
Very clever. Very smart. That'll fix the problem for sure. 

Aren't you so glad to be born in a modern era? We've have advanced our methods by leaps and bounds in our modern age....or not. Some of our modern-aged people even think that if you have a mental illness it's because you do, in fact, have demons possessing you. (True Story)
Some people think that mental illness is a character flaw, a sin that must be overcome, that the person inflicted must be doing something wrong to have such tendencies.
 For whatever the reason. There is a stigma attached to the whole mental illness thing. And believe me, especially in small towns, we are still in the middle-aged mindset.
Perhaps our fear of the whole thing is just a fear that once we say the word, we'll be boiled in hot water, and have holes drilled in our heads. Who knows?

Believe it or not, these small-minded views are plastered all over the internet, this strange way at looking at people who have problems with depression, bipolar, mania, and all the other problems that affect the mind run rampant. 

Hence the real reason for this blog post. 
Hence my ranting. 
Bipolar is not devil possession! Seriously people.
This is very toxic reasoning, if you can call it reasoning. It's toxic for those who need help. Toxic for the families who are dealing with loved ones with such illnesses. 

How would I know? Because bipolar is the reason why my dad left my mom after nearly forty years of marriage and nine kids later. I know he wasn't himself at the time, and that he was manic. And if he was thinking straight he would have never left. 
But he did.
And because of lack of knowledge, and our ignorance about bipolar, I believe my family ended up split in half, angry, and very confused. 

Our family hardly mentions the subject. It's like someone has died, and we've never really grieved or talked about it.
It's the pink elephant in the room that grows bigger every day. 

Instead of blaming the real culprit--- tiny neurotransmitters in our brain that don't fire, or fire too much.
 They're the culprits.
Not anything else. There's nothing else blame, really. Not my dad. Not my mom. Not anything.
Only being mortal, I guess. 
 But for some reason my family gets comfort in blaming.
 And so does my dad.
They find it easier to blame something else than believe than the truth.
So that is where most of my heartache comes from. Not what happened. 
But what didn't happen, when we needed their support the most.

Pride. I think is at the root of it. Or fear. I don't know which. 
Deep down we don't want to have something wrong with us. We don't want people looking down at us, or thinking any less of us.
But the truth is, I wouldn't. I would never think any less of you, if you were to tell me your flaws. 
In fact, I'd probably like you better. I think it takes a big person to be self aware, and face whatever it is they're afraid of. 

It doesn't make any sense really, not calling it what it is. It's like any problem you might have with your body, say my father's arm was broken. 
So you say, "Dad, I think your arm is broken. I can see the bone sticking out. I think we need to get you some help." 

But instead of looking down at his arm, and seeing for himself, he grows angry and accuses you of being a "liar." Says that it is not broken, and that we are horrid for saying he should get help for his poor arm.
 Then my siblings take on my father's cry of injustice.
And all the while, all we cared was for our dad to fix his broken arm. 

And that's pretty much the story of what happened. And to this day, I don't quite understand.

And that's the problem.
Ignorance.

So my main point in this post is to educate those who may not quite understand what bipolar is. So that you aren't caught off guard if something like this happens to you. 

So what is bipolar?
To be brief and to the point, its an illness. It's not something you choose. It's not a sin. It's not the devil possessing your body, though it may look like it to others, because the person affected with it suddenly changes moods so quickly.
To look at any mental illness you must look at it for what it is---an illness. It's no different than a broken arm, or a tumor, or a stomach ache, or a heart condition, or a thyroid problem. It is an illness that can be treated, managed, and helped. 
The trick is though, the person has to want to be helped. And that's a hard pill for a bipolar person to swallow.
Deep down, I think the reason why so many people have a hard time with mental illness is because it's one of the hardest diseases to understand---it's a disease that messes with your loved-one's mind.
Then it messes with yours because, if you have no idea what's going on, you really feel totally confused---helpless.
It's really scary, and hard to wrap your mind around because when it strikes, it's at the core of personality, trust, love, and relationships. It's hard in ways that don't make any sense and probably never will. It's so utterly unexplainable, that even now, I'm really having a hard time with it all. 

It may sound terrible, but I'm having a hard time with religion, even reading the Bible. Not because I don't believe it. But because when a person is bipolar, sometimes---not all the time, religion becomes their pet subject. Even if they aren't believers in God, they suddenly believe they are God, or they think they have special knowledge from him. If they're manic enough they sometimes see visions, hear voices, have vivid dreams, and say they have secret knowledge they somehow obtained. 
And when they are in this mode, they KNOW what they've seen is real.  
They sometimes even think you are the devil, or that the devil is after them. (Sometimes they have extreme paranoia, or feelings of awful guilt) They have feelings, vivid, strong, feelings both of joy, fear, hate, love, and everything in-between. Some go from very terrible depression, to feelings of euphoria where they think they can do superhuman things. When they are that manic they have this uncontrollable urge to act on their feelings even if those feelings aren't based on reality. It's all so weird. So frightening. Frightening to me in ways I cannot begin to say.
Frightening because, even if I don't want to believe it, my family has a disease that messes with the core of personality, religion, and spirituality. And that's a tough pill to swallow.
To know that missing a neurotransmitter, or a brain receptor, or a person lacking Dopamine or Serotonin can make a person more loving, or less loving, or that it can cause a person to feel connection, love, and compassion, or empathy, or lack of those emotions, is all so weird.
So so so.....weird.
It shakes my paradigm, and causes me to ask questions I'd never thought I'd ask.  It causes me to look at people totally differently than I did before.
When someone is losing their temper, I think, "gee, that person is missing Serotonin."
When someone is hyper spiritual-on the weird side, I think, "hummm, I wonder what chemical they are lacking?"
Terrible I know. It sounds so caustic, so humanist. But you wouldn't understand unless you've been in my shoes.
Knowing this has caused me to do some of my own personal introspection. To face my own fears. To look into myself, and study my own emotions.
To entertain the terrifying thought about myself---that I could be bipolar. It isn't a very pleasant thought at all.
My older sister has had epilepsy her whole life, which is closely linked with Bipolar. Also, I know OCD runs in my family, which is also linked with bipolar.

And so. I'm sitting here feeling, amused, terrified, and serene all at the same time. Maybe I'm manic. Who knows? I guess being self aware is far more comforting than the alternative---believing that all the emotions you may have are always real. I can call myself out on my own feelings that may be blown out of proportion, bipolar or not. I can laugh when I take myself too seriously.
Heaven knows I don't think I've ever seen hallucinations. But it terrifies me to think I could.

If you're a good friend, you'd tell me I was going off the deep end I would hope? I give you permission. 
 
I now know why I have major panic attacks, why I feel such terrible guilt for silly things that normal people would never even blink about.  I'm not trying to self diagnose. But It's good to be aware. Good to laugh about the bogyman, or the nightmares I may have and instead of thinking I'm a terrible person for having a bad dream.
            I'll tell you something, though, I think that in a family as large as mine, a little knowledge about bipolar, and little self awareness would have armed our family enough to keep it together instead of dividing us.
At the heart of the problem in my family is the fact that we're all too blind to realize that we may have a problem.
And the problem isn't my mom.
Or me.
Or God.
Or the devil.
Or my sister.
Or lack of communication.
Or anybody.
Mostly it's lack of understanding. About an illness that affects millions of people.

Someday soon. I like to think that, maybe, just maybe, our family can be united. Maybe, someday, we can all talk, laugh, and cry about it together. We can call, "it" for what it is.
Maybe we can all say the word bipolar without hate, or venom, or fear in our voices, but with understanding.
Maybe we can come to terms that this is who we are. We are equally a part of our father, and mother.

And then there's the fear that comes with knowing the truth---that we could be bipolar too. But so? That does not make us much different from the thousands of other people out there all dealing with their own type of crazy. If we know the foe that we're fighting, we can fight it together.  Whatever it is we may face, maybe we can face it together, and help each other cope.
Depression, or manic happy or whatever it is, it's okay. 
Just call it by it's rightful name. Don't give any more power to it than it deserves.
Don't try to diminish it, or make it bigger than it is. If someone is depressed it's not because they chose to be.  It's not really because of any outside reason at all---they're not sad because of you, me, or them, mostly it's just they probably need more sunlight, exercise, Serotonin and Dopamine.

I'm struck by the fact that I can no longer put people in boxes when viewed in this light.  The person with depression, those with weird moods, people with chronic anger, and even those who do nasty things, I see them with more compassion than I thought possible.
I still think they're stinkers. I still think everyone chooses to be who they are in the end. And I know that bad things do happen to make you depressed. But I also know that some things can't be helped by willing it away.
I'm struck with the realization that I can't blame any of my moods on my circumstances.
Though sometimes sad things do happen, and we may cry, or shout, or feel bad, embarrassed, ugly or inadequate.
There's more to happiness than meets the eye. It's been an interesting thing for to me to realize, more certainly than ever, that happiness comes mostly from the inside.
So does unhappiness. 
 "Darn again." 
I can't blame anything.
It's interesting to fully understand that no matter the amount of success we achieve, if we are missing a certain neurotransmitter, sunlight, or sleep, that feeling---happiness---will probably not be ours.

Maybe you are the exception. I wouldn't know.

Maybe our greatest happiness lies in a good wholesome meal, a good sleep, doing what we love, and good company.
And all those things we were told would make us happy---the new car, the attainment of fame, or fortune, or any of those lofty goals, no matter how worthy, will never fill the gap.
And then comes the weird thought---that a lot of people who are mean, nasty grumps, are more constipated, or deficient in certain vitamins or minerals than anything else. 

These are the strange thoughts I think these days.
Maybe they are bipolar thoughts. It's terrible, but now I question everything I think, or do these days, and wonder if it's because I'm manic, or bipolar, or just depressed. It kind of makes me feel odd. 
But there it is. A feeling. And for what it's worth, that feeling will probably pass, to be replaced all too soon with another one. 

But when all is said and done, when confronted with someone who is cantankerous, or over anxious, or hyper, or paranoid, I begin to see people with greater compassion than I thought possible.
Chronic anxiety, guilt, depression, or mania is not something you can pray away, or compulsively go around doing good to diminish. No amount of good deeds, or church going will solve it. Though I wish it could. And I do pray a lot about it.
 Deep down, I will trust that though I sometimes get confused, God is there. He has a reason for all of this. He understands even my doubts and my confusions.

The stigma of mental illness has to be overcome, broken down, and faced head on for what it is, an inherited disease, like cancer, or heart problems, or a headache that comes and goes.
And to be honest, the problem of bipolar should be viewed as simply as someone with a migraine. You take note of when they aren't feeling well, and you try not to make too much "noise" Or get out of their way, if they're being rude.
If the headache is bad enough, they should take a pill.
Just as a headache makes someone a little cranky, or out of focus--- bipolar, when viewed in the same way, is no different. 

Bipolar people aren't  stupid, or crazy, or evil. It might blur their vision for awhile, and cause them to hear, see, and feel very strongly whatever it is they are feeling. And sometimes those feelings can be blown out of proportion. So be as gentle and understanding with them as you would with someone who has a terrible headache.

So, that's my advice.
I'm learning. And I'm coming to terms with the fact, that perhaps, I may fit the stereotypical creative manic depressive.
I don't know whether to laugh or cry about it.
Maybe I'll do both. Ha, ha.

But honestly, because I want to be armed with knowledge, 
I've done enough research about bipolar and all that pertains to it to fill a dozen textbooks. I know what herbs help, and what types of foods don't. I've learned to recognize triggers, and I've learned that there are many different types of bipolar.
I've read so many accounts of bipolars weird hallucinations that I'm just grateful I and my family are as sane as we are. I know that the devil isn't after us, and bipolar people aren't possessed as many Christians seem to think.
Mental illness isn't devil possession. It's a chemical deficiency in the brain.
I'm not sure if drugs like lithium are the long term answer. I'm an herbalist at heart, and I do believe the body can heal itself of many ills. But I also know that if a simple pill can help to bring a person down from extreme mania, I would do it. I also know that living a calm lifestyle. Eating healthy, and getting enough sleep are key factors in the whole scheme of things.
So far I've come up with a list of things that bipolar people need to be aware of.
Those with bipolar and manic depression need to avoid
Caffeine,
Alcohol.
Foods that spike their blood sugar---which is pretty much any junk food. White flour, sugar etc.
We need to eat regular meals.
We need lots of Omega oils, like eggs, butter, fish, and fermented cod liver oil.
We need to recognize our triggers. Too much stress, or change of location or too much excitement can all be triggers. (Which is really not cool)
For mania (you know it's coming on if you can't sleep and you have rapid thoughts. Or being more reckless than normal.)
If I feel a little jittery, or can't sleep, I take a b-vitamin supplement or GABA Calm, and that helps even out my anxiety, and stabilize my mood.
Also for mania, exercise is huge. It helps you burn off the excess energy, and makes you feel better. You get all those happy endorphins. This I know helps me!
Also stay away from blue light (TV) screens at night so your sleep wake cycle isn't disturbed. Which is a joke because we are surrounded by screens everyday.
Make sure you get enough sleep. (This one is huge) So probably a night job is out. 
For those going into mania sleeping in a completely dark room helps.
I've read that for the depression side of bipolar you need lots of sunlight. And that you need to up your Serotonin, and Dopamine. 5Htp, and SAM-E are natural supplements and good sources of serotonin. But it sounds like they're mostly for the depression (grouchy) side of bipolar. So if you're not careful, too much serotonin could throw you into mania. I'm not sure why, but I'll have to do more research.
Popcorn is a good source of Serotonin.
Raw cashews are another good source (make sure you soak the cashews in water, then dry them so you get all the nutrition out of them you can)
St. Johns Wart is also helpful to some people---for depression.
I know personally what's worked for making me feel more at peace, and calming my nerves is Passion Flower, melatonin, a B complex, fermented cod liver oil, eating my raw egg shakes, avoiding anything that messes up my gut and absorption of vitamins, like GMOS, and MSG, and exercise, eating regular meals, listening to hypnosis mp3s, getting enough sleep, and learning when to step back from too much stress.
Some people say there's no cure to bipolar. Maybe that's true. But that doesn't mean you have to give up hope. It doesn't mean that you are not a person, that your feelings don't matter, and that you cannot be the amazing person you wish to be.
It just means you have to deal with the ups and downs that go with it, and that maybe your ups and downs will feel a little bit more up, and your downs will feel a little more down than the average persons.
But that's okay.
That's the price we creatives pay, anyway.
I probably sound like I've gone completely bonkers.
 
Maybe I am. 
Now you know my secret.
Be that as it may, be it depression, or whatever it is you're dealing with, know this, that some of the most creative, passionate, inspirational, bipolar people have been influences for good---they have been the makers, thinkers, doers, dreamers, and change agents that have brought the world a great deal of spice, sugar and salt.

I think of a quote from Alice in Wonderland. 
 Mad Matter: "Have I gone mad?"
Alice: "I'm afraid so. You're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”

Lewis Carroll


Maybe we're here to make life a little bit more interesting. To zest things up. To shake things up, and to make people see things in new ways, and feel things they might not have felt.
I don't know.
But I have to believe there's a reason---that who I am, and what I do has meaning. And that I am a person, worthy and willing to live the life I've been given.

We all face the fog. The heaviness of the unknowns. The confusion of what we cannot understand.
Why are there so many problems in the world? Why are there so many illnesses? 
I wish I knew.
Fog.
The past is gone.
Fog.
The future is obscure.
Fog. 
Here, I can see my feet. And I can see the small path before me. Now is not so bad.
Happiness is within my grasp. Here, now, more than ever.
More than circumstance. More than a place or a person. Or the next book I write, or the next dollar I make, or the next person I meet or in the attainment I seek, or someday when, or on a distant somewhere, happiness is on the inside.
It always has been.
It is.
It really, truly is. Right here.

Monday, January 19, 2015

"Anything is Possible!" (And a simple DIY Ice skating rink with pictures)

Hello there!

My sister on the left, and myself on the right.
I have neglected you, I know. Sniff. I hope you all haven't given up on me. I'm still here, and I'm back. It's weird, but it doesn't seem like much time has passed since I blogged last.
Is it really 2015?

Why is it that I never manage to get a December blog post done?
 December came upon me so quickly I had to rush to catch up to Christmas before it passed.
I joined a local choir, and I had to learn nearly twenty five songs in a great hurry. Then there were lots of concerts, and Christmas performances, so much so that it was all I could do to keep up with that. So this year, for Christmas, I did music, and that was pretty much it.



Music's good. But it's a weird feeling when it's suddenly a week before Christmas and you realize you haven't bought one thing for anyone, and you still haven't put up the Christmas tree.

That's when the panic sets in.
That's when you wish you had at least one more month to really do everything you had planned.
But Christmas doesn't wait for anybody. Nope.
 We did finally go up to the mountains, and chop down a Christmas tree. It wasn't the most shapely tree, mind you. But it was generally shaped the way most trees should be, and with some pruning, it looked passable.

And I did get my three moss terrariums made, complete with clay mushrooms I made myself. (A gift for my plant-loving sisters) 





And I stayed up till four in the morning baking malt balls, and finishing a family movie I'd been working on. And I also made some very yummy Jalapeno hot sauce, and sour kraut. 
So I didn't let all the Christmas concerts, snow my Christmas completely.
Snow. Oh yes, it did snow for Christmas.  I was out in it when it started to fall, early in the wee hours of morning. I watched it come down as I fished tumbleweeds out of my ice rink from the wind storm.
On Christmas Eve my sister and I  put the ice skating rink tarp down ahead of the storm, and though it was a windy battle to keep it from blowing away, we were rewarded. On New years eve, the ice was ready to skate on. And it was very much enjoyed by everyone. We even had a game of ice hockey with hockey sticks made by my sister and her husband.

I took my sister and I about a month of extra work to expand the area about ten extra feet in width. It's been such a mild winter, I wondered if all our work would have been for nothing. But the cold New years freeze kept our ice from melting, even when the river thawed. 

If you're wanting a simple DIY step by step guide to building an ice skating rink, read on. 
 First you level off an area, and build up a dike tall enough so your water doesn't spill out.

Watch the weather reports to see when it's going to freeze hard. Then after purchasing an ice skating rink tarp the right size, (make sure its white, as it helps the ice stay frozen. Place the tarp, and make sure the edges are secure so the wind doesn't blow it away(we used rocks) You can find ice rink tarps anywhere on the internet. Prices vary though according to size, thickness of the tarp, and quality. Ours wasn't as heavy duty as last years. But for the size, and price, we decided to try it. It's  about 50' by 30'. Hopefully it will last more than one season.    


Add water, and wait for it to freeze. It will take several days even if it's cold.

The water is almost frozen in this picture, but not enough to skate on.

Once it's frozen, you can now go and enjoy the ice. Make sure after each time you skate you clean the ice off with a snow shovel, and then pour water over the top in the evenings to resurface the ice so you can enjoy smooth ice in the morning.






Back to my blog post.
Almost every morning I've been out there, skating away to the music, enjoying the blue sky, the mist, watching the cows in the field, and loving the beautiful symmetry of movement, gliding over the ice, balancing, flying, weaving, spinning, over the ice as if I was a bird.
Sometimes great masses of sparrows flit over me as I skate, and I lift my arms and look up and pretend that I am one of them.
I think ice skating is as close as I'll ever get to flying. It's weird, but watching friends and family who take a turn on the ice, I never see a frown. Only smiles, and laughter. Even when someone falls, and hits the ice over and over again, as with the case of little nephew learning to skate, he just gets back up, falls, gets back up, falls, over and over. He doesn't complain. Doesn't cry. He only skates. And loves it.
My niece lifted her arms to the sky when she was skating and said, "it feels like anything is possible when I skate."




Me with the funny hat, and my nice and nephew.
My sister spinning.


And It's true. When I'm on the ice, it does feel as if anything is possible. Lifting my arms to the sky, to me, seems as much as prayer, as much a gesture of praise, and victory as any statement of faith I can think of.
Anything is possible. I let go. And who knows where I may fly. My sister and I were talking as we were skating this morning, and we both reasoned that ice skating is a sacred experience.
I guess it might sound weird. But truth be told, I feel more at home on the ice, more peaceful on the ice, more connected to God, beauty, and the timeless raw, eternity than in any Church.
If this be sacrilege, then stone me.
The ice is my chapel. And if I were to die and go to heaven, I wouldn't want a golden paved brick road leading to my house. I'd like one made out of ice, so I could skate from one end to heaven to the other.
Thinking about it, I suppose I sound like Elsa. But I can't help it. On the ice, I feel like my troubles melt away. Now that's kind of a funny thought.
The ice melts my troubles.
And when the ice melts, as it surely will, then I'll enjoy the sun. But like I've said many times before, we're all skating on very thin ice, everyday, tomorrow who knows, the sun may come out and it may all melt away---so "skate."

The ice may not be your castle.
But something else surely is. Whatever it, it doesn't matter how well you do it. You don't have to always stand by and watch the skilled Olympian  wow the crowds by their excellence.
Do it for yourself. For the pure raw the experience of doing it. Not doing something because you don't do it well, is as silly as watching someone eat a Twix Bar because they are the only ones who really know how to digest their food.
Seriously.

I've said it before. And I'll say it again.
"Skate! Once you start, who knows, anything is possible!"


For those interested. Below is a sort of Photo Journal. I figure I'll post a picture and write the story that goes with it underneath. 

I'm not much of a morning person. Maybe it's because I stay up too late, and putter around at night. So, I usually see more sunsets then sunrises. But on this particular day, I was lucky and got to see the most beautiful sunrise!




So the other evening, after I finished ice skating I started feeding the animals, and I noticed one of my momma goats straining. What looked like a normal birth, soon turned into a terrible nightmare. The baby was turned wrong, and no matter how hard I tried to pull the baby out, it wouldn't come. And believe me, growing up on a farm, sticking ones hand into (the unknown regions) never gets any easier. But when you try your hardest, and you still can't get the baby to come out, you are left with a terrible feeling of helplessness. We called the vet, but he was too slow. We called my brother in law (who is great with animals) and couldn't a hold of him. My hands were cold, icy cold. My mind felt numb. I sent about a thousand prayers up to heaven. But still no help came. Finally after waiting what seemed like hours, my brother in law finally showed up. He skillfully repositioned the baby, and got him out. Sadly the first baby had water in his lungs, and even after doing CPR on him, he was gone. Then, my brother in law helped un-tangled the last two babies that were both trying to come out at the same time. It took all his strength to get them out. But he did. And I'm still pretty amazed. I don't know if the vet could have done a better job. Both babies are cute, and very healthy.  

The day after the first two babies were born, another goat gave birth to two more with no problems.


Different Christmas Crafts. My mom made these window stars.


Christmas tree pine cones my mom made



My sister's Birthday is on Christmas and every year she kind of gets overlooked. This year, we decided to make a special effort to surprise her---the day after Christmas




Olaf
An indoor Marshmallow Roast

My goat, Monro, Eating petrified Pizza. It was so tough, it kept her busy the whole time I was milking her. Though, I think later, it made the milk taste like---crap.  

Christmas Chaos

Too much food=sleepy guys

My sister, me, and my two beautiful nieces, getting ready for a Christmas Concert



Our funky Christmas treee

The Tree of Ice I found on the edge of my ice skating rink

A nifty shape-shifting cloud I spied on the way to a Christmas Concert. To me it looks like a horse. My mom thinks it looks like a dragon.

This little guy crashed into our windows right after my mom washed them. He made a pretty loud thud. When my sister and I went out to see him, his little legs were up in the air, and he looked like he had a pretty bad headache. After awhile he soon perked up, and sat on my finger looking at me like I was Marry Poppins. A moment later he flew away.


My sister, Bess, on our Christmas Tree expedition.

It was pretty snowy in the mountains, so finding a tree, was a little bit tough.




Closer to the base of the mountain, things were a bit warmer.


Deer tracks.

A cheesy selfie

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