February 28, 2006

Enjoying the weather

The sun's shining and it's 70 degrees today. It's been a beautiful day. Windows are open, kids are playing, all is well. I love these pre-spring days!

February 27, 2006

Friend of mine

I've been sitting here, enjoying my "peas and quiet" while Elijah naps this morning, thinking about what I could blog about. My attention has been diverted for a few weeks now. Sometimes one just needs to step away from the rat race and take a breather.

I've been thinking about my life. Over the last ten years, friends have come and gone. Very few (less than three, in fact) have remained and proven to be true friends. And sometimes I forget what it's even like to have a close friend. Not an acquaintance. A real friend. One whom you can lay your worries on, and who can lay her worries on you. One who is there for the heartaches, to wipe away your tears, hold your hand, and cry with you. One who is there to celebrate the joys and share her joys with you. These friends are precious jewels, and are extremely rare to find.

Then sometimes a true friend comes along unexpectedly. Out of nowhere, she's there. This morning I'm thinking about such a friend. We've never met face-to-face, but we've been friends for over two years now. She has helped me through some terrible times. She's been there to listen, when I needed to call and cry. She is sympathetic, caring, and trustworthy. She's been there for me more times than I could count, when I had nobody else to turn to. She's been like a sister to me, and sometimes I tell her I think we were separated at birth.

I love you, Angela. You are one of my dearest and closest friends. I value your friendship and I thank you for being honest, truthful, and most of all, for your kind heart. I pray that God blesses you and your family!

February 25, 2006

Sorry!

I know I've neglected my blog. It's all good though, I tell you, ALL good! I've been totally consumed in art for the last couple of weeks. It's my release, the one thing that I can do without thinking. It actually helps me not to think--which is a good thing, if you know what I mean!

So anyway, know that I'm here. I'll share more pictures in another day or two. Right now I need to do this for me. It's cheap/free therapy. ;)

Which by the way, what do you do to unwind? How do you relax? Share with me!

February 23, 2006

New batch of ATCs

ATC mosaic


I've been doing artwork for about a week now to refill my well. These are some new ATCs (artist trading cards) I made during this week of art splurging. Most are available for trade. (Click on the mosaic to go to my Flickr page where you can view them individually.)

February 21, 2006

In the mail

Primitive dolls with heart flag, drawn by Hope on 2/23/92
Dated 2/23/92 (I was 15 when I drew this!)

Crystal recently found this and I'm so glad she did. It's probably the only physical piece of my past that I now possess. I smile when I look at it because it reminds me of when I discovered my love for drawing, and how good I really was at it (at the time I thought this was "junk"). A good reminder to never throw anything away, especially if you think it's worthless. Put it away, let it rest, and in due time you'll discover the true piece of art within.

P.S. I've been doing more artwork lately. I'll be scanning some ATCs I've recently completed and will share those pictures in coming days, so stay tuned for that!

I see the light! (I think)

I've been battling a certain problem that I haven't fully disclosed here. I think I've probably briefly touched on some of my symptoms. I don't really like to talk about personal issues here though.

Anyway, I've known something was "off" with me, or more specifically, with my body. I just couldn't place my finger on the what. Then a friend called me one morning and started telling me about an herbal product she's been using and how much it helped her. I could tell just by hearing her voice that something in her had changed.

I was somewhat skeptical. I've always been leery of medicine, period. At this point though, I was ready to try anything, if I thought it might help. Since it was natural and not very expensive, I thought I'd give it a shot. If it didn't work, I'd only lose $20.

Let me sidetrack for just a moment and tell you a few things that was going on with me. I'd been feeling extremely frustrated for a long time (I'm talking years, not days, weeks or months). I'd try to work (write), yet could not focus, regardless of what I tried. My mind would wander in a million directions (literally). I would have very brief moments when I turned out pieces of work, but they were few and far between.

The frustration continued to grow because then I'd become frustrated with myself because I couldn't concentrate. It's been a vicious cycle of ups and downs, highs and lows. I've felt like I've been on a terrible emotional coaster ride for way too long.

What's made it worse is trying to hide it from the public. A couple of weeks ago I divulged to someone close to me that I've been struggling and she said to me, "I don't know how you are sane, after all that you've been through." I looked at her, laughed and said, "I'm not sane, people just don't know what I deal with when I'm alone." (Even typing this now, knowing that people I know will be reading this, I'm scared because I'm opening myself to public scrutiny.)

Along with feeling frustrated all the time, I've been dealing with other things like terrible mood swings, bladder problems, changes in my eating habits, anxiety, and extreme fatigue on a daily basis. The fatigue has really gotten to me lately. In the middle of the day, every day, I become so fatigued and sleepy that I literally cannot hold my eyes open. Anyone who knows me knows I do not like to take naps. I think it's wasteful. But I have been forced to nap every day (for the last couple of months, at least).

At first I thought maybe depression was taking control of me again. But I do not feel that "dark cloud" over my head. I've experienced depression before, and I knew that my symptoms this time, although very similar to depression symptoms, were not pointing to depression.

So back to my friend. When she pointed out that I could have a hormone imbalance, it was like a light bulb went off. I'd never thought of it. Fact is, my body hasn't been the same ever since the birth of my son (2-1/2 years!!!).

She told me to join a certain group, where I would get tons of information on hormone balance and treatment. I did, and after going through tons of messages, and doing even more research, I decided to go ahead and try this alternative treatment.

It's been three days since I started using the cream. I hesitate to speak too fast, but I think I am beginning to see some positive changes. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

February 18, 2006

Something fun

Just popping in for a minute to post this real quick. Got this from Angela, who got it from Java Diva.

Choose 6 words that you think describe me. Then you'll see how I view myself, and others view me.

February 17, 2006

Immersion

Yesterday I dabbled in my art again. I started by coloring in a Strawberry Shortcake coloring book. It was fun to just let the crayons glide across the page.

Last night I pulled out the altered book I started quite a while back. I stopped working on it because my perfectionism issues got in my way the last time. I always have an image in my mind when I set out on a project like this, but the end results never looked quite right to me. Yesterday I played. I didn't worry about the art being "perfect."

I ended up painting a few pages and starting a collage on two of them. Then I painted several cards, in preparation to make some artist trading cards. I owe several people return cards from last year and I just haven't had time to make any to send out. I feel bad about it, but that's just the way it is. Anyway, I've got some pretty pinks and blues painted and will probably start collaging on them either today or tomorrow.

No pictures today because my card is still full on my camera. I'll try to dump it as well this weekend so I can share some photos of my finished work next week.

I'll see you on Monday! Have a fabulous weekend....and be nice to you.

February 15, 2006

Love grown cold

I have a confession to make. My love for writing has grown cold. I don't know why. It's been an on again, off again relationship for a little while now. I'm wondering if this doesn't have something to do with all the ups and downs I've experienced in the last year-and-a-half.

Whatever the reason, I'm not happy about this. Not at all. It's like a personal relationship that has turned south. It stings. It hurts. I can't figure out why, when, where it all went wrong.

Writing has always been sort of like a love affair for me. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of writing moments. Creative writing contests. I used to love those. I remember one particular year, my first year in fact, of creative writing. All the students participating in creative writing challenges stayed after school some days for "practice." I remember some kids griping about staying late. Me...I loved it.

I remember the thrill of receiving each stapled stack of purple carbon-copied sheets on my desk. Sharpened pencil in hand, I'd study the picture and list of words, intent on using more than the 3-5 required words from the chosen list in my story. It was fun!

Fast forward to high school. I've told you before about my English teacher that required our class to keep a daily journal for a grade. Oh, how I hated that journal at first! I remember how painful it was to write those pages in the beginning. Then I made it fun by drawing and adding color to pages, and later, writing my first short story within those pages.

Somehow I've lost the fun part of writing. I need to find it again, ASAP.

February 14, 2006

Love

LoveIf I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13 (New International Version)

February 09, 2006

Perfection

I woke up this morning thinking about perfection. Some of the things I struggle with mentally are because I am a perfectionist. So I turned to the bible to see what I could find there:
"No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven."
- Philippians 3:13,14

focus on the prizePerfection doesn't mean everything has to be perfect, without flaw. Perfection means taking a good look at myself, take stock. I might not--probably won't--like what I see. In fact, that's usually the point where I stop. I look at myself, see all my flaws and failures, then focus on each and every one of them, until I've beaten myself into a bloody pulp (inside).

While we can look at and recognize our failures, that isn't where our focus should be. I know that I'm not everything I should be, but my mind and energy should be focused ahead. The past is there, in the past. There's nothing I can do about it. I just have to focus my eyes on the goal, which is heaven. Only then will I muster the strength I need to run this race.

Being a perfectionist means I realize my flaws, then press on towards my goal, on a daily basis.

February 08, 2006

Taking Care of Me

After a little "meltdown" Sunday night, Robert suggested I take a few days off. No computer, no internet, no writing, no nothing.

"You have to slow down, Hope," he said. And I knew he was right. "Your brain is on overload. You have to take a break."

While I knew in my head that I needed--desperately needed--a break, it took a physical and mental meltdown and my husband pointing it out to force me to do it. Later I mused to Robert, "I don't understand why I would rather continue suffering and hurting myself, than just step away for a few days. It's like I can't be nice to myself."

Sad, but true. For so long, I've been accustomed to just going and doing and never stopping. Even when I recognized the symptoms (anxiety, panic attacks, changes in sleeping patterns, etc.), I still did not stop and allow myself to heal.

Monday morning I woke up and immediately my mind began working. What could I do, since I was officially off work? Laundry. Cleaning. De-cluttering. And then.....I stopped myself.

Wait a minute, I thought. If I were sick with the flu, I wouldn't be running around trying to catch up on housework or anything else for that matter. I would sit back, snuggle with my favorite blanket and just take care of me.

So that's what I did. And I have to tell you that was the best thing I could have done. I simply took care of me. I was kind to myself, instead of beating myself over the head (mentally) for all the things I didn't get done that day.

I'm not totally "healed" yet. I don't think it's something that can happen in a few days. I liken it to having a serious illness. If you're not careful, if you try to do too much too soon, you'll relapse. So I'm taking it slow.

I'm still working, but am doing a lot of my work offline. So if you email me and I don't reply right away, know that I'm not greeting you with silence. I am re-prioritizing. God didn't intend for me to be a zombie, constantly "on," and never thinking of myself first. I'm cutting back the fat, in order to be a more healthy, productive me.

Oh, yes. One last thought to share before I head out for the day. Pay attention to your dreams. They can be very revealing. (I don't believe every dream means something, but sometimes you have one every now and then that really sticks out and stays with you once you're awake.)

Last night I dreamed something really weird and crazy. After waking, the dream stayed with me. More specifically, throughout the entire dream, two numbers kept being talked about over and over--the numbers seven and ten. Look at what these numbers represent:

Seven signifies mental perfection, healing, completion, music and attainment of high spirituality. Additionally, you are unique and eccentric.

Ten corresponds to closure, great strength, and gains.

Oh yes...I know that I'm on the right path to taking care of myself.

Take care of you today!

February 02, 2006

Blessings

"Reflect upon your present blessings - of which every man has many - no on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some."
- Charles Dickens


Robert and I struggled financially quite a few years. It seemed just when we'd get our footing again, something else would happen to knock us down again.

We grew tired. Weary. Frustrated.

Between me and you, I got downright irritated. I kept asking God Why? Why does this keep happening? Why can't we get a break?

It was difficult to see past the bad things. They were too large, too consuming in my life. It seemed like only bad things happened to me.

I couldn't see the blessings--healthy children, food on our plates, clothes on our backs, shoes on our feet, car to drive.

Every one of us, whether we are well-off financially or not, are blessed beyond measure. Sometimes I think we forget just how bad it really could get. When Robert returned from Iraq, he told stories of children begging for water and money. He said they'd beg for you to give them anything. We truly are a blessed nation--a blessed people.

Don't look back at your past misfortunes. We all have those. Count the blessings that's in your hands today.

February 01, 2006

Shhhh....

"Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand."
- Karl Menninger

I am blessed with three fabulous, creative friends who listen to me and all my whining from time to time. The last few days I've done quite a bit of it, too. They listen, and then give me the swift kick in the rear (in love) that is much needed.

ListenI think this is why I love writing, too. Writing allows me to "talk" to the page. And the page listens. No interruptions. It doesn't roll its eyes at me, or pop its tongue and shake its head in disgust. The page listens.

Writing gives me a voice.

At one time, I didn't have a voice. Even when I tried to speak, my cries for help went unheard by those who should have listened. Now, I look back and see how my Inner Critic, that voice that stifles my writing at times, comes from my past. Inside, that Voice yells at me, letting me know how stupid I am, how ridiculous my ideas are, how nobody will care, and everybody will laugh at me.

The Inner Critic is that little girl I once was. The little girl I left behind so long ago. Her mouth was taped shut because it had to be. Her words were cut off, and made unimportant. Sometimes that little girl wriggles free from the rope that binds her hands, and rips the tape off her mouth. She kicks and screams and yells. She's scared. Scared of being right. Scared of being wrong.

I am learning to nurture that sweet little girl. She didn't feel a lot of love at one time. That's why she's stuck in the past, stuck being a little girl. She can't help it.

Today I will put that Inner Critic in her place. I will hug her and then sternly tell her to be quiet. Today that lost little girl will be the woman that she is, strong in her own power. That woman, that little girl, is me.