What are you making?

You’d think by now that I’d have the whole “don’t judge a book by its cover” thing down pat. Especially since it drives me nuts when people judge me by my appearance. But apparently the Universe thought that lesson needed to be reinforced today, so It sent me the guy in the orthopedist’s office.

This guy wouldn’t have looked out of place as Daisy May’s brother. He could have played an Appalachian mountain man in any theatrical production. He was almost a caricature of a redneck yokel from back in the hollow.

At first, I didn’t realize he was talking to me. Kev and I were conversing, and I wasn’t paying much attention to my surroundings, beyond knowing who was where in relation to me. Suddenly, there’s a wheelchair right next to mine, wheels touching, and I realized he was addressing me.

“Whar y’ makn?” is the closest transcription I can manage. (I’ll continue in unaccented English.)

“I’m sorry?” I replied.

He pointed to my lap and asked again, “What are you making?”

My therapist strongly recommended I undertake some creative pursuit with a tangible outcome, to help manage my anxiety and bipolar disorder. I poked around on Pinterest a bit (follow me), but nothing really grabbed me. Fortunately, I was heading to Knoxville for Thanksgiving in a few days after this suggestion, and my mother is the most creative person I know. After a long-term substitute teaching job as a middle school art teacher, she found a position as a home ec teacher, which is what she’d gone to school for.

When I explained what my therapist said to Mama, she had an immediate response ready: hexies. More to the point, happy hexies*. And she introduced me to English paper piecing. It’s a method of quilting where you basically fold a piece of fabric around a piece of paper that’s been cut to a specific shape, and baste the folds down. Then as you sew the pieces together, you remove the papers so you can reuse them. These hexagon templates Mama’d found had smiley faces on them.


That’s what I was working on at the doctor’s office. In my lap, I had a pile of un-basted hexies, a pile of basted hexies, and a pile of thread I’d pre-cut to the length I needed for the basting.

“What are you making?”

“I’m sorry?” I replied.

He pointed to my lap and asked again, “What are you making?” He looked both confused and profoundly curious.

I showed him. I explained the process, demonstrating how I was folding the seam allowance down over the paper, whip stitching the corners where two folds met, and how they’d all go together when I was done.

The more I eludicated, the more understanding I saw in his face. And, strangely, joy. When I finished, his response was immediate: “Oh, wow! Awesome!” It didn’t feel like he was using the slang meaning either; it felt like he was full of awe and wonder.

I’d been having a rough morning. Lots of reasons, but we’ll just say I lost my Ananda – my joy in existence without which the Universe will fall apart and collapse. This man I had judged solely on appearance was, in fact, the angel whose joy in what I was doing led me back to my own joy.


* Credit to Mollie Johanson for the happy hexie pattern. May all the blessings of a benevolent Universe be upon her, now and forever more. So mote it be.

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An animal, a demon, and a monster walked into a bar…

Wow, looking at my last post, I’m fairly embarrassed. All I wanted to do was get an entry made, but because I was so out of it, what you got was a garbled mess. I’m not going to delete it, though; you’re getting my real, authentic life.

The frustrating thing is that while I have days like that, I also have days where I feel fine. Almost, dare I say it, normal. Even, occasionally, strong. That is, until I try to do something more strenuous than walking five feet. Some days, I can take the stairs one foot per step (albeit slowly and with canes). Other times, I can barely get by scooting up and down on my butt. Days when I can tell you how fickle my health is, and describe , in great details, its oscillations. Moments when I struggle to find the most basic words, up to and including my own name.

Accepting the vicissitudes of my health has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I don’t think I’m 100% there yet. I still get disheartened and sullen when I can’t do what I’d planned or wanted to do. I resent needing to sleep away the better part of two days, waking only long enough to pee and eat. I feel stymied by muscle cramps and convulsions.

Ok, so I’m definitely not 100% there yet.

The internal barrage I get from the Anxiety Animal doesn’t help. It’s a constant refrain of why aren’t you getting up, why are you going back to sleep, why aren’t you doing something productive, why aren’t you at least arting if you’re not going to work, why aren’t you working, why aren’t you even trying, why, why, why, why aren’t you good enough? The Depression Demon often chimes in to tell me how worthless and pathetic I am, until the Manic Monster tackles him to the ground and insists that I must do all the things right now go go go go go go go gogogogogogogog.

It occurs to me that I might try drawing the Animal, the Demon, and the Monster, so I physical representations of them to which I can talk, and tell them each, when appropriate, to go to hell. I’ll have to ponder upon what they might look like. Any thoughts on what anxiety, depression, and mania look like from all y’all? Tell me in the comments!

Michelle Chamuel just got second place on The Voice, so it’s time to start season five. Which reminds me, another question for y’all: if I created a YouTube page (channel?) for my singing, would you watch? What songs would you want to hear? Put that in the comments too! I’m off to work on my hexies and watch people chasing their dreams.

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To sleep, perchance to dream

I slept eight hours last night. After being up for around six and a half hours, I slept for five more. And now, less than two hours after waking up, I’m ready to go back.  So this is going to bea  short post

Didn’t do anthgni tdoay at all. Jstu slept, stared at the comp utre,                                                                                                                 dlept some moesr.

By thew ay, I’m leaveing ty pose intact on tshi post tso y ou acn get an aidea     for howa my brain goes a adn fires sgoffidease when I’m in basd shoape.  I think I’m just going to have to call it a post and try fro porjfundity tomororworw.

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I really was going somewhere with this…

Today completely kicked my tail. I added to exercises to my physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) moves. And pushed too hard. I don’t even have to wonder if I pushed myself too hard; I am absolutely certain of it. It’s what I do. I joke about being an overachiever because I have not one, but two kinds of sleep apnea; not one, but two types of trigeminal neuralgia; peripheral neuropathy in both arms, both legs, both hands, and both feet.

Then I had a whopper of a panic attack in the shower. You’re going to laugh at why. It’s ok. I’m laughing at why. (At least I am now!) The biggest daddy longlegs I’d ever seen tried to attack me. I heard him rallying the troops to join in the assault: “I see a whole army of my countrymen here in defiance of tyranny. You have come to fight as free men, and free men you are. What would you do without freedom? Will you fight? Run and you’ll live — at least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!!!”

{The above was written last night, before sleep sneaked up behind me and slapped me upside the head.}

The rest of yesterday was in the car, out of the car, in the car, out of the car, in the car, out of the car. I wasn’t ready for how completely it wore me out. But I slept for eight hours straight. I couldn’t even tell you when the last time that happened was. It’s normally two hours here, three hours there.

I have no idea where I was originally going with this entry last night. I remember that I was going somewhere with it, somewhere beyond “I did this, then I did that, then I did this.” So I shall take my leave of you, and return anon. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

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This is my brain

I made the commitment to write every day. So here I am, writing today. It’s February 1st. February’s a funny word. You want to say Feb-you-airy, but it’s Feb-roo-airy. Nobody does it right. Why doesn’t anybody do it right? I wonder what the origin of February is. Let me go look that up. Huh. It’s from the Latin  februarius mensis, which means “month of purification.” What can I do to purify my life this month? Strip away all the crap, and live my authentic life. Which is what my goal is. So, good timing.

On the same search results page, at the Etymology Dictionary, I’ve got hootenanny. I don’t know that I’ve ever been to a hootenanny. Of course, sometimes it feels like there’s one going on here in my head. Especially when there’s mania, when my brain insists that I do all the things. Right now. Simultaneously. I have to write and sing and knit and cross stitch and color and sew and read and and and and and and and… NOW.

I wound up writing down all the things on index cards on a key ring last night, and flipping them around with my eyes closed to pick one. Then I spent an enjoyable few hours making an origami flower out of the pages of a book. Once I figure out how to put pictures on here, I’ll upload one. Or two. I think I took five. Give or take. (Two hours later [while I was still writing this entry], I can tell you I took three, and the best of the bunch is at the end of this post.)

But during the time I was making it, I was also searching for info for a short story, researching music composition software, talking to a friend who was nervous about something coming up in his life today, jotting down ideas for songs to sing and songs to write, playing Minesweeper and Solitaire, watching past seasons of The Voice, eating dinner, and working out. The YouTube demo video for the flower took around eight minutes. One flower took me something like five hours. That’s par for the course these days.

I guess the upside of manic brain is that I’m getting things done. Things I actually want to do. It may take me 37 times longer to get things done than if I wasn’t manic, but they’re still getting done. And I’m enjoying them. That’s the funny thing: if you’d told me six months ago I would derive such enjoyment from things like coloring, sewing, or crafting, I would have laughed in your face. The really cool thing: I’m good at doing these things. I always thought the visual art genes skipped me. Mama has them, my next oldest cousin has them in spades, and my Lulu has them. I never thought I did.

I guess that’s a side benefit of arting. I’m learning more about myself while I do it. It’s not just the distraction my therapist was looking for. She strongly recommended I do this stuff as a means to help control my anxiety. And it’s working well for that. But finding out who I am in the process… that, I did not expect.

While I’ve been writing this post, I’ve also been playing Bejeweled Blitz, watching The Voice, exercising, checking tomorrow’s calendar, looking into knitting and crochet classes, checking in on a BBS, daydreaming about a career in music, figuring out how to do more WordPress things than just writing a post (I added a picture! And connected my blog to my Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr accounts!), and emailing my Little Man back to explain that having your living room, kitchen, pantry, dining room, office, craft room, and bathroom all be the same room is not as fun as he might think. (To be fair, he only wants the first six in the same room.)

So here we go. First post is done. You never know what I’ll be writing about next. It might be my day, or the day I wish I had, or the dream I had, or something neat I saw online, or one of my arting projects, or a song, or anything at all. But it will be authentically me.


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If the dream is big enough, the facts don’t matter.

I had an interesting discussion some years ago with a friend about one of my favorite motivational taglines: “If the dream is big enough, the facts don’t matter.” She said (and I’m paraphrasing wildly here….memory of a lima bean, don’tcha know…) that it was a faulty statement, because the facts ALWAYS matter. If the fact is that you are paralyzed from the waist down, you are not going to be able to get up and walk, no matter how much you dream about it being so. If the fact is that you are male, you are not going to be able to carry a fetus to term and deliver a baby from your own body, no matter how much you dream about it being possible. We both wound up frustrated that neither of us was coming around to the other’s point of view, and finally agreed to disagree.

This weekend, I’m revisiting my assertion that if the dream is big enough, the facts absolutely do not matter.

As I sit here composing my thoughts into this post, I am under the influence of opioid pain medication, and have heating pads on various body parts. I was in a car accident on Wednesday, in which I acquired a separated shoulder, bruised ribs, and a demolished car. (Should you ever have the burning desire to find out what it feels like to be a pinball, and decide that you would like to experiment with this desire using your car and a couple of big trees….don’t. Just don’t. Bad idea. I promise.) I had only basic liability insurance on the car, so my insurance company is taking care of my medical bills, but I’m on my own for replacing the car.

Now, I don’t happen to have a couple grand just lying around to put towards a new car (or a new-to-me car….assume that both new new and new-to-me new are included when I say “new”). And since I’m self-employed, it’s challenging to find financing through a dealership or some such to buy a new car. But there’s another option. The company with which I am affiliated has a program through which its independent sales force can earn the use of a free career car through their businesses. Free car? Sign me up!

So here are the facts: To earn my free car, I have to share the business opportunity with a certain number of people. And then we, as a group, have to sell a certain amount of product. When I wrecked my car, I had one team member. Nowhere near the number I need, of course. (When I have five team members, I’m considered “on target.” The final number is a bunch more than that.) And the two of us, my team member and I, we’re absolutely, positively NOWHERE near the sales total we need.

Here are some more facts: I’m in all kinds of pain. Separated shoulders really, really suck. Leave those suckers put together the way they’re meant to be! I have very limited use of that shoulder, and am wearing a sling when I’m not laying down. The accident also caused a flareup of my longstanding health challenges, so the pain’s not just in my shoulder. Hobbling to the bathroom and back is a huge undertaking right now. Oh, and those pain medications I’m on? They make me dizzy, nauseated, sleepy, light-headed, and extremely foggy-brained.

That second set of facts….it’s completely irrelevant. None of it matters. At all. I mean, sure, it’ll all make for a great story. (It’s already making for a great blog post!) But it’s all beside the point. The point is, I need a car. Now. And my company will let me earn one. Also now. And I have an amazing mentor who will help me earn one. Also now. And I have begun earning my free car. Now.

Is it easy? Nope. As I sit here typing, there are about 5 versions of my laptop swimming in front of me. Same thing was going on yesterday when I contacted a dozen friends and said “Hey, will you help me? And can you help me fast?” Several of them were able to help me within 24 hours of my asking. And my incredible mentor did 3-way phone calls with me and my friends. And two of those friends are interested in maybe starting along this journey with me in their own businesses.

Is it easy? Nope. I’m typing mostly one-handed, because the pain in my shoulder is radiating all over the place.

Is it easy? Nope. I’m losing track of my train of thought.

Is it easy? Nope. I have no idea where the rest of my numbers are going to come from. I’m just going to keep asking and let the universe take care of the rest.

Is it easy? Nope. But that’s another fact that just doesn’t matter.

If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Of course it’s not easy. But it’s worth it.

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Holiday best wishes!!

Dear Sir, Madam, or other appropriate Gender Designator:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

And a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2013, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great, (not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country or is the only “AMERICA” in the Western Hemisphere), and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform, or sexual preference of the wishee.

(By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal, it is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for
herself/himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warrantee is limited to replacement of these wishes or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher. Void where prohibited by law. Do not fold, spindle, or mutilate. Do not use while bathing or sleeping. This end up. Handle with care. Do not mix with bleach, ammonia, or other common household chemicals. Acceptance of this greeting grants permission to the wisher and his/her/its affiliates to contact you via telephonic means, in accordance to the ‘Do Not Call’ legislation recently enacted. Open other end. Use in well-ventilated area. Contents under pressure. Contents may be flammable. May cause drowsiness. Do not drive or operate heavy equipment under the influence of this greeting. Contents may be hot.

Public notice as required by law: Any use of this greeting, in any manner whatsoever, will increase the amount of disorder in the universe. Although no liability is implied herein, the recipient is hereby warned that this process will ultimately lead to
the heat death of the universe. Please note: Some quantum physics theories suggest that when the recipient is not directly observing this greeting, it may cease to exist or will exist only in a vague and undetermined state. Important notice to users: The entire physical universe, including this greeting, may one day collapse back into an infinitesimally small space. Should another universe subsequently re-emerge, the existence of this greeting in that universe cannot be guaranteed.)

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