Category Archives: My Thoughts

ISOLATION BREEDS DISCONNECTION

Hello Friends,

First, I want to thank all of you who support me emotionally in my writing and art.  I appreciate it more than you could ever know.  I enjoy bringing a smile, a laugh or even tears to you.  This is another long post and a little you may know already…but this is where I’m at.

I have been going through a lot of emotional upheaval in the last few months – losing my brother to suicide, trying to figure out exactly what I want to spend the rest of my life doing, and both of our kids leaving the nest temporarily (tomorrow.)  Our son is gone during the week living and working with friends, but he likes to come home some weekends to spend time with us.  He will be going out on an 8-day trip with his crew from the California Conservation Corps.  Also, our daughter is going to visit a friend for a while, possibly the rest of the summer!

So…because of all of the things I just mentioned, I decided to do two things:

1)  Go back to counseling for a while

2)  Go to suicide survivors meetings

Last week I did both which I will continue a few more times.  I do not feel at this point that I am going to need to go to either for a really long time.  I have been in a good place mentally for quite some time now since recovering from some significant losses three years ago.  What is really great is that my counselor can see me in the hour before my meeting starts on those two Mondays every month.  Also, I met some great women at this meeting that I want to get to know.

Here’s what I learned at my first suicide survivors meeting:

  • I am not alone – suicide has touched almost every family. Survivors feel angry, sad, abandoned, and wish we could have said or done something to prevent it.
  • We feel guilty to some degree that we couldn’t stop it or didn’t see the signs.

Some people find their loved ones who died.  I can only imagine how emotionally traumatic that would be to a person.  Just hearing how my brother killed himself and hearing how people did CPR on him for at least 20 minutes, puts images in my mind that I will never forget.  Finding out that his best friend had brought my brother a wheelchair the day he died and didn’t see the signs of suicidal thoughts in him, helped me understand why my brother may have made this choice.

When he called me a few weeks before he chose to die, the last thing he told me was that his legs didn’t work anymore.  He said he could barely stand up or walk.  I always knew that my brother was a prideful man.  He never wanted to show weakness.  He was always sensitive, loved animals (whom he knew could love him back,) and I think he just felt out of place his whole life.  He was not a follower nor was he a leader.  He was determined to go his own way which he always did.  He didn’t confide in me or anyone else in our family about anything.

I can relate to some of this.  I have felt this way for most of my life.  Some may think I am projecting part of who I am onto my brother.  However, I would disagree.  He and I were a lot alike in many ways that I just never really thought about until now.  I will always miss him even though he never did let me get close to him.  For some reason I’ll never know, things were just always intense between us.

The difference between us, though, is that I hit bottom at 27 years old, reached out for help, and eventually began taking medications for depression and anxiety.  My brother self-medicated from his teen years on, what I believe, was some type of mental illness.  Thinking back over a lot of his behavior – his anger, impulsiveness, pride – makes me wonder if he had extreme anxiety which is why he drank.  Alcohol is a depressant, though, and he was not one to sit around feeling depressed, which is why I think he became addicted to speed.  All of this stuff can really mess up a person’s brain which just complicates mental health issues even more.  It is a vicious cycle!

The saddest part of all of this for me is that about three years ago he called me to apologize for how he had treated me most of our lives and tell me he didn’t deserve forgiveness; he said he wanted to quit the drugs but couldn’t.  He felt stuck, scared, and defeated.  I think he just had not hit bottom yet – until he saw that wheelchair.  Unfortunately, hitting bottom for him didn’t mean reaching out for help.  I believe he may have thoughts like:  “I am not going to become an invalid.”  “I will not become helpless.”  “I will not become dependent on anyone to help me with everyday things I can no longer do for myself.”  I knew my brother well enough to know that this is very close to what had to be going through his mind that last day.

Yet I believe human beings are made to need other human beings.  As much as some of us may not want to admit we need people – we do.  Isolation is not a solution to relieve anxiety.  Desiring to get away from people is natural – for a time.  But to stay alone for weeks, months, or years is to disconnect.  Disconnection from healthy relationships leaves a person in their own head where they can deceive themselves so easily into believing lies such as:

  • I’m ugly.
  • I’m not worthy of love.
  • No one will ever love the real me.
  • How can anyone love me when I am such an emotional mess?

These were some of my very thoughts, along with many other negative tapes playing in my head, from a young age.  Some of it came from emotional neglect and abuse that my brothers and I went through from our alcoholic dad.  I know now that our parents were probably both mentally ill, (my dad was depressed and my mom most likely had anxiety to some extent) but they did the best they were capable of in parenting us.  I think on some level my brother knew this, too.  I just wish he could have asked for help.  He lived in a trailer park and had some friends, but only one of them knew how depressed he was, yet he didn’t even recognize the suicidal signs that were there.  So…

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, do what could be the hardest things you may ever do – pick up the phone and call your local suicide hotline or the Suicide Prevention Services of America at 1-800-273-8225.

Lastly, please do not allow yourself or anyone you know to stay isolated.  Try your best to reach out.

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug.   🙂

 

MENTAL HEALTH: Getting Well is Possible.

Hello Friends,

Over the last few days I have been deciding how I plan to deal with my brother’s suicide and how I would like to be involved in a large community near where I live.  I met with a woman on Tuesday at the open house for a new mental health facility that opened in Redding, Ca.  Here is a link to the article:   http://anewscafe.com/2017/05/25/county-officials-mental-health-professionals-and-public-attend-open-house-of-new-mental-health-facility-in-redding/

It was exciting for me to hear about all of the many services this group of people is going to offer to Shasta County.  I knew then that God was showing me how my life is going to change real soon.  I signed up to be a volunteer.  I will start out doing simple things at first such as answering phones or e-mails or helping with mailings.  I also plan to begin attending meetings facilitated by the woman I met with.  She facilitates meetings for friends and family members of people who completed suicide.  It has been many years since I went to any kind of open recovery meetings such as this, but I am looking forward to it.  I remember back in 1988 when I went to my first recovery meetings after I stopped drinking and using drugs.  I felt very nervous and afraid.  However, I am not that person anymore; I know what I need to deal with, I have good boundaries, and there is no pressure to share.  I think just meeting new people and hearing other people’s stories will help me begin to deal with the unfortunate choice my brother made.  I will have no problem sharing or talking, though, so I am sure I will.  The next meeting isn’t until June 5th so I have some time to process all of it some more before then.

I have my first counseling meeting set up for June 2nd with a therapist I met a couple of months ago.  I am also looking forward to talking with her.  It has been a very long time since I went to a woman counselor which will be different.  When I first went to counseling in 1988, I went to a woman.  However, after several months, I felt really uncomfortable with her for some reason.  So I stopped.  I kept going to the ACA meetings, and then found a male counselor at the church I was attending at the time.  I went to him for several years, and he was encouraging, safe, and the first man I ever felt connected with emotionally whom I knew I could trust.  I grew a lot in those years, and he helped me through the transition of entering a second marriage which has been healthy and loving.  My husband and I have been together since December of 1994.  It has been quite a journey!  And now we are looking toward the future when our nest is empty and he retires someday.

So as far as working with Hill Country Care Center, I am planning to take some time to get to know people, get a good feel of all of their services to the community, then possibly go through their Shasta Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Academy which is a “FREE 65-hour certificate training program…designed to help people prepare for entry-level positions within the public mental health field and/or prepare them to become Peer Mentors.”  (That is a quote from their brochure.)

It has been many years since I have taken any kind of classes, but I had already been thinking about something along these lines for the last year or so. I just had no idea I would find out about this wonderful care facility this way.  So hopefully, as I said in my last post about my brother, something good will come from his death.    It is possible that I may eventually get to use my writing and art to contribute to the creating of flyers, etc.  So that is exciting for me, too.

Thank you to all of you who read my last post about the suicide of my brother.  I appreciate all of your support, prayers, and comments more than you know.  I am planning on keeping you updated on what I will be doing and learning as a volunteer in the mental health community.

I am still doing art and still plan to keep working on the picture books I’d like to write and illustrate, but for now it is just for fun.  I am feeling like this other work is going to become more important to me for the time being, but the facility does also have a program where they train people to go into elementary schools and talk about suicide.  Who knows?  Maybe somehow, all of this will meld together into something beautiful.  I sure hope so.

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

 

 

World Turtle Day 2017!

Hello Friends,

This is a day late, but I just realized that I missed posting about my favorite animal yesterday!  How could I miss World Turtle Day on May 23, 2017?  Silly me.  I did, though, so here’s to turtles everywhere!

Please enjoy this little video showing some wonderful things that we can do for turtles.

 

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

SUICIDE: Don’t Make That Choice!

Hello Friends,

I have been feeling a little reluctant to write about this, but honestly, I don’t see how I can NOT write about it.  This will be long; bear with me, please.

On the morning of May 5th, I learned that one of my brothers committed suicide on May 4th.  In a way, I wasn’t surprised when I thought back on the last time I had spoken with him.  He called me out of the blue about a month before this and asked me if I knew where his daughter was.  I thought this was a strange question since I have not seen her since she was three years old!  She and her mom left California in the early ’80’s when her mom and my brother divorced.  Anyway, I asked him why he needed to find her.  I asked him if he was sick.  He said he wasn’t sick, but he couldn’t hardly walk anymore. He said he wanted her to be able to have all of his part of the financial investments that our parents left us “just in case something happens to me.”  In the back of my mind I had a flash of what he may have been planning.  However, I did not ask him if he was feeling suicidal.  I wish I had.   I was actually surprised that he even called me.

My brother and I had a very rocky relationship for most of our lives.  I never really understood why.  I am the youngest.  He was the middle sibling.  We were four and a half years apart.  He would have been 61 this July.  He always seemed closer to our other brother.  However, throughout our lives we all really went our separate ways.  The closest I ever felt to either of them was when we went through the death of our mother in 2006.  Our father died three years later.  So our eldest brother had to handle all of the inheritance stuff.  It was a very stressful time for all of us.  Since then, we have all lived separately; my oldest brother left the area and my other brother and I never knew where he was until about three years ago.

That was when my middle brother decided to call me and apologize for everything he had ever done to hurt me.  He was crying and truly sorry.  This was something I had been praying for since 1987 when God had turned my life around.  I had tried many times to make amends with him, but he was just not ready.  Needless to say, I was thankful for that call.  I told him I had forgiven him many years ago and had been praying we might be able to have that conversation someday.  I told him I had always wanted to know him and I loved him.  I asked him if we could just start to have a relationship then, but he said he didn’t want to.  He was addicted to drugs and couldn’t get clean.  He was living in a trailer park where he had been for the last 20 years.  He didn’t know how to change, and he didn’t ask anyone for help that I know of.  I felt helpless, but I let him be.  I called him a few times just to see how he was doing, but he just didn’t know how to connect with me.

I believe he suffered from mental illness his whole life; most likely anxiety and depression, just as I have since I was at least 15.  Looking back on my childhood, I now believe my dad suffered from depression and this was why he drank.  I also think my mom had anxiety issues not just because of his drinking, but because of her own chemical make-up.  She was always worrying about everything and everyone.

I went through my drug and alcohol abuse days from about 1980 to 1987.  That was the year I quit everything and got help through counseling and an ACA (adult children of alcoholics) meeting every week for a couple of years. However, both of my brothers kept using drugs and alcohol for the rest of their lives.  My brother who died was hurt on a job many years ago and was getting pain medicine through the veterans hospital.  He was in the Navy for four years when he was right out of high school.   Apparently, though, his back became so bad, he could hardly walk anymore.  I believe that he just chose to die to escape the pain that was consuming him.

I have been that low many, many times myself emotionally.  However, I am thankful to have a loving husband and two children who love me and would never ever want me to make that choice just to escape any pain I may go through in my life.  It doesn’t solve anything, and it leaves those whom the person left behind in shock, angry, and sad.

When I learned of my brother’s suicide, I was definitely shocked.  Then I was angry for a few days.  Then I had to begin dealing with the aftermath of what would happen to him and his stuff.  At the time I didn’t have a clue as to where his daughter was.  Then his best friend found my brother’s ex-wife’s phone number.  She was contacted and then my niece was.  Yesterday I spent most of the day on the phone with my 37-year-old niece whom I do not even know.  It was strange, but good.

Hopefully, just getting in touch with her will be the blessing that comes out of his sad choice.  My brother and his daughter were estranged from each other for most of their lives as well.  I always felt sad about that, but hopefully she and I can build a relationship with one another now even though we live very far apart.

To this day I have no clue as to where my other brother lives.  We became estranged after our parents were both gone eight years ago.  He left the area and has never wanted to come back.  However, our brother who died did have a best friend who knew where our oldest brother was.  So the same month that my brother called and apologized to me, he also went and found our other brother to make amends with him as well.  However, I have no way to find our eldest brother to try and do the same.  He is living off the grid which is what he always wanted.

I know this has been a very long post; if you stayed with me, thank you.  I wrote this to encourage anyone who is thinking about suicide or knows anyone who is, to tell you to please reach out for help.  There is lots of help to be found!  First, try to talk to someone you know.  If that doesn’t help, call a local suicide hotline.  Or call 1-800-273-8255.  This is the number for Suicide Prevention Services of America.  Their website is http://www.spsamerica.org if you want more information.  I have never used their services, but I am sure there would be someone there to talk to.

Well, friends, I am definitely going to be reaching out for some help myself in dealing with this.  I have talked with someone locally whom I am planning to meet this afternoon.  Perhaps this is going to be the start of something good.

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

Writing…Sometimes It’s…toUGH!!!

Courtesy of Google

Hello friends.

I found this quote and picture on Google today, and it encouraged me.  I have not been posting much lately, but because of some personal struggles, I have been doing the best I can.  Struggling has pushed me back into tackling some writing projects again.  I am not sure if the writing is therapeutic or not at this point, though.  It feels a bit stressful at the moment…thus, the UGH!!! in my title.

One story I began a very long time ago is “Gracie, the Green Sea Turtle.” After re-reading it, I decided to remove it from my blog for now, because I realized how many mistakes were in it so I am doing a re-write and will hopefully actually finish it.  I may post it again someday, but I think posting it before was premature and showed that at the time I did not proofread it enough!  And I am usually a stickler about proofreading.  I must have been off my meds that day…

Lately I have been working on other turtle stories and a poem this week, too.  I just jotted a short poem down this morning which still needs work.  I haven’t really written poetry in years.  I already posted “The Most Ticklish Turtle in Town” this week.  It’s a good thing, too, because somehow it has disappeared off of my laptop. I have a printed copy, but I sure didn’t want to have to type it all over again!

My daughter and I did get some good news yesterday, though.  She does NOT have classes next week due to other students doing testing.  She is a senior, so she doesn’t have any testing this year.  I don’t think she is planning on doing college classes in the fall at this point.  She is planning to join the California Conservation Corps. soon, though, which is something she has been looking forward to for the last couple of years.

This has really been a trying week; to add stress upon stress, we have been having upgrades to our hatchery done in the past few weeks, so there have been lots of planned power outages so the people can work on our power poles.  It has been very frustrating to say the least.  In addition to this, we had to have our personal (not the whole hatchery’s) internet system upgraded, because our old one was having too many problems.  All I can say at this point is TGIF!!

Hopefully, the weekend will be brighter.  My husband and are planning to go to something called “Spoken Word Night” this evening.  We have never been to one, but I guess it is “an evening for serious poets, writers, playwrights, storytellers, comedians, actors of all genres.”

I may be the least “serious” of them all at this point, but perhaps we will meet some interesting people.  They meet once a month.  So we will see how it goes.

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!

What a Wonderful World

Hello Friends,

I had a lot of plans for art and writing today since I didn’t have to go to town and our daughter is spending a few days with friends.  But alas, a sore throat got me, I took some flu stuff before bed last night, and then slept my whole morning away.  I’m feeling kind of bummed right now, too, because I ruined a painting I was working on and have to do something else now.  I’ve never really liked working with oranges much, but that’s all I’ll say about that!!

Oh well, in spite of all of this, I thought of this song.  It is surely the medicine I needed today.  Just seeing Louis Armstrong’s smiling face singing this beautiful song has already made me feel better.

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

 

Whitefeatherfloating: My Online Name

Hello Friends,

The other day I did this quick painting of my online name of “whitefeatherfloating.”  You may wonder why I have this name…you may not!  😉  We first were able to get internet at our second apartment way back when and I was trying to come up with a name to use online.  I was studying Native American history at the time, so one day I was thinking a cool Native American name might be whitefeather.  Then I took it a little further in my imagination and thought the white feather should be floating, so I put it all together and ta da!!  I have had this online name for many years now and I quite like it.  So here is my FIRST attempt at a painting of it.  Mind you this was a quick watercolor sketch I did on a lazy weekend afternoon.   Next time I plan to make the background darker so it will show up better.

whitefeatherfloating

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

 

 

 

Birthday of My Son – His 20th!!

Hello Friends!

A few days ago I made this scroll for my son for his 20th birthday.  It was February 3rd.  I wanted him to be born on Groundhog’s Day, but alas, he came at his own time…

Josh is into the horror genre so that’s why I tried to do a skull at the bottom along with a hooded man with a cane in a graveyard.  The drawing was spontaneous.  I need to practice drawing skulls!  Then my daughter put it on the porch to take the picture, that’s why the background is grey which added to the effect I think.

Anyway, the main thing in the middle is supposed to be his name, Joshua Caleb, in Japanese!  I did it in Sumi-ink!  I found his first and middle names in a book I think I have mentioned in a previous post called “The Simple Art of Sumi-E, Mastering Japanese Ink Painting.”  It is by Takumasa Ono.

So then after I painted it on plain white paper, I glued it to a dowel and put a ribbon on it so he could hang it up.  I wanted it to look kind of like a scroll.

joshua-caleb-in-japanese

So here is my son, Joshua Caleb, growing into a fine young man.  I am proud of him and his creativity.  He does a lot of role playing with his dad for Dungeons and Dragons, and he is also going to be running a new game called World of Darkness with some friends and another one with me and his dad eventually.  We are still in the process of creating our characters.

Yesterday, we played a Dungeons and Dragons game with my husband and his girlfriend and another friend of theirs.  I got to play a Dragonborn Wizard and cast a spell of invisibility on a guy who had been turned into a sheep, then we were able to hide him until we could take care of the bad guys who had cast their spell on him.  I also got to obliterate an ape with a spell called Scorching Ray!!  It was a lot of fun.

 

josh-and-me-20th-birthday

 

So anyway, back to my son.  I love the way Josh thinks, his amazing ability to create stories and help others bring them to life.  He is an amazing guy (and a lot of fun to role-play with!)

What are you proud of about your children?  

 

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

Mary, My Friend

Hello everyone.  Well, this morning I finished the portrait of my friend, Mary Glenn, who died tragically in a house fire one year ago today.

I framed it and took it over to her husband a little while ago.  He was very touched and really loves it.  I was very glad.  It made me happy to give him something meaningful.  He said he would always treasure it, and that meant a lot to me.

Here she is!

 

Mary Glenn

Mary Glenn.  RIP my friend.  I miss you.

 

Have a wonderful day and give someone you love a big hug!  You never know if it will be the last one.  🙂

Happy New Year’s Eve!!

150870-happy-new-years-eve

Hello everyone.  I just wanted to make a last post this year to thank all of you who read my blog or have just stopped in to take a quick peek around.  I realize there are a lot of unfinished things on here that I began this year or maybe even longer ago, but that’s how life is for me…I don’t always finish what I start.

When I was a kid, my mom used to tell me I never finished what I started so it became something I have heard in the back of my mind ever since.  It was not always true, but the notion did cause me to feel guilty whenever I did not finish something I began.  I know many people besides myself who struggle with this.  Oh except for maybe the “type A” personalities or the “perfectionists” (of which I used to pressure myself to be.)  But through the last 22 years of living with a “type B” personality, the more laid back kind of person that my husband is, I have come to realize that I think I have always been one, too.  I just didn’t feel I could allow myself to be one when I was surrounded by those type A people who used to be in my life.  Don’t get me wrong; I still love them, but I will never ever be one, and my acceptance of this has lifted a huge weight off of me.  I think everyone should be who we are meant to be and not worry about trying to be like who we may admire or compare ourselves to; comparing ourselves to others really is a waste of energy.

Last night I was telling my husband that I feel like I didn’t accomplish much this year (still struggle with the “I’m not good enough LIE”,) but then this morning I realized that in the past year I have been building friendships that I think will last the rest of my life, I have done as much art as I desired to do, I have read 128 books (26,680 pages) this year which is crazy!  I set my goal at 75 books so this was a surprise!   Granted some of those were children’s books when I was checking them out from the library and getting ideas about picture books, but hey!  A book is a book…in my book!  😉  So all in all I think it has been a pretty good year!

I worked out a lot, but got a little lax in that area in the last few months.  However, my daughter’s school is relocating to a building within walking distance of the gym I go to which will be great for the rest of the school year.  After that I may not keep the membership since I won’t technically have to go to town for her next year.  She graduates this coming May!   I am very proud of her.  In the meantime I will still use the gym on the days we go and work out at home the rest of the time.

I find it hard to structure my time, however, when I don’t have to go anywhere for anything in particular.  I just get myself so distracted so easily!  When I was homeschooling the kids, we had some structure but it wasn’t really strict; as long their work was done and they were learning, I was happy.  And they made it through just fine.  So what is next for me once she learns to drive and can go do what she wants to do – either work or go to community college or both – I’m not really sure yet??

I may just take a year to spend as much time with my sweet husband as possible when he isn’t working.  I may try to get back to some writing projects I have started.  I may get more serious about really working on the picture book ideas I have.  Or I may just bask in the sun on nice days, sip on some tea, and read a great book (maybe I’ll make it to 200 books some year in the future.)  I do love my solitude!

What I have learned in the last few years is to slow down in life.  I think of life as a marathon, not a sprint.  We had to learn to crawl and walk before we could run; now that I am on the other end of my life’s spectrum, it is time to learn to walk and crawl again.  Some days my body won’t let me do anything except barely walk anyway!  HA, HA!

So my dear friends I am ending 2016 feeling thankful for God, my family, my friends, our health, and all of the love that has been given me this year.  I pray I gave as much or more than I received.  May 2017 be another year of love, joy, peace, and sweet friends and family to cherish for everyone.  God bless you all!

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

 

 

 

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