Posts Tagged ‘depression’

Why I Write


This was one of the prompts at our last Summer Writers’ Group, and it was a great one! Easy to write, and fun to listen to everyone else’s answers. Do you write? Why?

I write to make people laugh, and to help myself cry.

I write to educate, elucidate, enumerate and illuminate.

I write because in seventh grade, Mr. Durbin told me to never stop doing so.

Sometimes I write to reason things out for myself and others.

I’ve written a few moral inventories to save myself from myself.

Lately I’ve been writing to advertise, trying to build a dream and share it with the world.

When I was a child and young adult I wrote because I knew my brain would forget the important, terrible truths of life. Even at 5 I knew the inexorable nature of denial. It took many years to see denial differently; a tool the mind uses to protect itself.

Sometimes now I write for posterity–hoping future generations will be a fraction as grateful as I am toward previous generations efforts, to capture the present for the future’s past.

Dancing in Graveyards


I made a Fairy Cemetery for Halloween this year. It seemed appropriate, considering what a year of loss 2013 has been.

I’ve always liked cemeteries. We grew up close to the Cook (Owens Twp.) Cemetery. Micki, Melissa, and I would meet there on bicycle and ride around the circular drives, marveling at the children’s stones and looking for relatives.

When we got older, Lois and I would take dad’s pickup for an unauthorized joyride, we’d be forced to go to the cemetery’s circular drives (because it was a standard and finding reverse was tricky.)

As an adult, I spent some time mapping, cleaning, photographing and transcribing stones at a few small local cemeteries for a genealogy project.

This year, unfortunately, has been a year of visiting friends and loved ones at Hillside, a beautiful local resting place. And you know what? The closer I get to 40, the more names I recognize on the stones.

Saying Goodbye--Harley and Katherine 017

Saying Goodbye--Harley and Katherine 023

This year we lost Karla A., Katherine L., Vanessa C., Cindy P., Mrs. Oles, Rich W., & Dave B., and others in our little town. And though they are not human, the loss of Mr. Stinky Droolface and Mad Bird and The Dollar Barn has been hard, too.

If you or someone you love is grieving a loss (and really, who isn’t??), maybe something here will help:

Delta Rae, Dance in the Graveyards is a song our friends Kris and Dan shared with us. It helped them; it helps us. I hope it helps you, too. Please, please, please watch the video!! “When I die, I don’t wanna rest in peace. I wanna dance in joy. I wanna dance in the graveyards….And while I’m alive, I don’t wanna be alone, mourning the ones who came before, I wanna dance with them some more, let’s dance in the graveyards.”

Bertram’s Blog is about grieving, and I have found the author’s writing to be empowering and soothing.

It also helped me to be able to know that all these fricking FEELINGS will pass. It’s all part of the process. Check out The Five Stages of Grieving. Chop chop. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance will come and go, usually when you don’t expect it.

This week, I started decorating for Halloween. I don’t feel like it. I hurt physically and emotionally, but am trying to do something I would normally do were I not grieving.

So back to my Fairy Cemetery… A year ago, I found this lovely old Planter’s Peanuts cookie jar (it was probably my grandma’s), and decided it would make a lovely terrarium for my Venus fly trap, Audrey Two. This year, I found some Halloween miniatures and added them to the terrarium for Halloween. Fast, cheap, and easy. And it makes me smile,

fairy cemetery, fairy garden, grieving, loss, venus fly trap, terrarium, halloween

fairy cemetery, terrarium, venus fly trap, pajari girls, halloween, graveyard

As usual, thank you for reading. If you found this useful, pass it on. Like, Share, and/or Pin at will.

Loveyabye.

Losing The Barn


BarnFire 063

On June 17, 2013, Cook Dollar Barn, Gilley’s Naturals, and 8 apartments went up in smoke. Everyone got out ok, including Middle Spawn and another tenant who were the only people in the building at the time. All the tenants are clothed and relocated, and the fire has been ruled an accident, though the actual cause may never be known.

It’s hard to write this. I have been trying for two weeks to put into words all the gratitude, love, loss, devastation, hope, and countless acts of kindness. But grieving is a lot of work.  I can’t focus very long on any one thing, and my emotions are all over the map. So today I decided that instead of waiting for my brain to catch up to my heart, I would just take it a day at a time and blog about it all.

For the first week or so, we were in denial. I know I was, anyway. That’s ok though, because denial is a useful coping mechanism. It let my brain kind of run on auto-pilot while necessary arrangements and calls were made. If I’d tried to deal with all the emotional stuff, I’d have lost it. Honey Badger helped. We all became a little more like Honey Badger on YouTube.

Until yesterday, I was in the anger phase of grief. Not just testy. Boiling, seething, almost ready to hide bodies angry. Which is exhausting and scary. Plus I think it was Shark Week. Did I mention I quit smoking two weeks before the fire?

Then I visited a friend in hospice and depression kicked me in the face. Another loss…. A total stranger held me in the hallway and told me how sorry she was that my friend was so sick, while I cried so hard and from such a deep place that I almost couldn’t breathe. It’s the first time I have really cried since the building burned. (I’m the emotionally stunted one; Lois somehow manages to cry a lot and STILL get stuff done.)

And wow, is there a lot of stuff to do.

Insurance. There’s the insurance for the building, insurance for the store, lack of insurance for the 8 tenants, and insurance for the three businesses that could have easily burned with the Barn, but were nonetheless damaged by smoke and water. And our chimney and walls falling on it didn’t help.

And we aren’t the only ones grieving. For the first week, Lois pretty much showed up every day and sat and cried and visited with customers and friends whose hugs truly held her together so far. Every day, every trip to town is like another visitation or funeral. Not that that’s bad! I know it helps ME to hear people’s memories of The Barn, or the tons of other businesses that the former Brown Building housed. Seems like almost everyone has lived there at one time or another, too…

BarnFire 079

There is a Facebook page set up for the fundraisers the community is planning,  under Brown Building Fire Relief Effort. 

It looks to be one heck of a party for all ages. Live music, kids’ games, cotton candy, pig roast…wow!

Maybe tomorrow I will tackle some of the FAQ’s, like when cleanup can start and if rebuilding is an option. For now, thank you everyone who has helped during this super-sucky time.

Loveyabye,

Laura aka Employee of the Month.

Solar Powered Furnace


I have been getting a lot of questions about the changes to my house last fall.  (I live very close to one of the main roads in the area, so a lot of people drive by on their way to work, school, or their vacation homes.) “Who are those guys, and what are you doing to your house? What are those THINGS on the south side of the house?” Here’s the scoop. I qualify for AEOA‘s Energy Assistance Program (formerly Fuel Assistance) and therefore also their Winterization Program.  They have an agreement with the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) to install Solar Powered Furnaces (SPF) on lower-income homes. Free.

SPF Installation

How it works:  The sun heats up the panels. Air from my basement is then pumped through the panels and a simple thermostat controls the fan. I usually have my furnace thermostat set at 60F, and the SPF will not kick on unless there is warm air in the panels. The SPF thermostat is set to shut off at a certain temperature(85F), and will be turned down in the summer. The “brain box” takes up very little room in my basement, and very little additional ducting was needed.

Solar Powered Furnace, RREAL

(credit: RREAL.com)

But why?? Why do they do this?

I was pleasantly surprised to find the answers on the RREAL website. Check out their Return on Investment Page For Solar Assistance here. In short, installing the system pays for itself in ten years or so, and lasts over 30 years. It’s a wise investment that goes well with the Winterization Program. It reduces the amount of fuel oil or propane needed (up to 30%!), while also reducing carbon and other pollutants. Kind of like teaching a man to fish instead of just giving him food. For example, one day last week the high temp outside was right around zero, but the sun was shining. The fuel oil furnace didn’t kick on all day, once the sun started hitting the panels. And it was a very comfortable 70 degrees inside!

Unfortunately, according to RREAL, “[i]n 2009, 591,951 households who applied for fuel assistance and qualified were turned away in Minnesota because of lack of funding”. I was on the list for years before it was “my turn.” I would love to write a best-seller and donate back to this program someday. For now, I will write this article and hope that RREAL gets a bazillion orders as a result. They are doing a wonderful thing.

And what if someone wants to install an SPF on their own? Is it cost-effective?

Yes, RREAL installs SPF systems on homes that are not below the poverty line, and businesses too. I am not an expert, but if  I didn’t qualify, I would still recommend investing  in this technology– check out their Return on Investment Page to see if it’s worth it for you or your business. I love mine…there is nothing like having free heat from the sun blowing into the house when it’s winter…and it has dramatically helped me hate winter less.

I hope this helped answer your questions. Any others? 🙂

Pajari Girls Shark Week


I know what you’re thinking…but we don’t mean the one on Discovery Channel.

This week  is even scarier. Maybe it’s best illustrated by a conversation I recently had with a male friend of ours. We’ll call him Mr. No-Fun.

No-Fun: What IS it with you girls and car problems this week??

Me: I know! And it’s shark week, to top it off!

No-Fun: (Stops walking, and turns around with a wrinkled brow.) What the hell does that have to do with anything? It’s the Discovery Channel; it’ll be on again. And again. And again.

Me: No, no, no. This is worse. PMS week.

No-Fun: Holy Christ, you don’t ALL cycle at once, do you??? Omigod….Poor Big Guy and Paul…Can’t you do something about that??!

shark cage

photo credit: www.discoverhawaii.com

Later, relating the above convo to my sister (aka The Queen of Poo, Lois, and the witch who volunteered me for the play), she laughed so hard, I bet tears ran down her leg. “That’s a terrible idea!! What does he want us to do—all four take turns so the whole month is hell?!?! Better to get it all over at once!”

I agreed, “Holy crap! You’re right!! Kinda like a nuclear blast….give the community three weeks to recover in-between!” There is no doubt in my mind this is why women who spend a lot of time together also cycle together. Mother Nature is no dummy.

shark attack survivor

photo credit: nbc news

It’s not that bad. Usually, we are more bark

basking shark

photo credit: Discovery Channel

than bite.

nemo sharks

photo credit: Finding Nemo, where the answers to ALL life’s questions can be found.

Usually. 😀

It wouldn’t hurt to tread lightly, though.

Cabin Fever Cures


Friday and Saturday, the winter blues were encroaching. Then my friend Kelly sent me flowers at work to thank me for helping winter suck less. 🙂

winter bouquet

“Thank you for helping me embrace winter.”

AWWWWW! How sweet is that?? Thanks, Kelly! You brighten my winter, too. 🙂

The big gravel pit banks looked kind of intimidating to the 5  year-old, so I broke out the food coloring and some spray bottles. Also reeeeeeeally brightened up the winter landscape.

winter fun, snow art, food coloring, spray bottle

Water and food coloring in spray bottles.

food coloring, snow

Names in the snow. Hygienically.

I always wanted to write names in the snow...

I always wanted to write names in the snow…

Avi's Hippie Snowball

A psychedelic snowball!

writing in snow

There’s always one in every group…

Also, there was some awesome sledding on the gravel pit banks.

Before...

Before…

During…

Hear the fire crackling in the background? We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows.

Sledding

Photo credit: Eldest Spawn

clint and avi

Again, Eldest Spawn took this one.

Everybody wants to kill that one bush in the gravel pit…

After

After.

Also, Jill stopped by to model her newest in Funny Farm Fashion. 😉

Baler twine as a hair accessory. True story.

Baler twine as a hair accessory. True story.

All in all, it was the perfect day to ENJOY winter. 30 degrees above zero was reason enough to celebrate. On a related note, the Finns allegedly have more words for “snow” than the Inupiat. Check out the link…Finnish words for snow.

As usual, please like, share, or pin to spread the joy. 🙂

Playing With Water at -25F


One of my latest self-discoveries was that hating winter doesn’t make it shorter, and it certainly doesn’t make me any happier. So, after making ice candles, candle rings, and ice gems/marbles, I went hunting for more crafty ideas on Pinterest and found this genius named Tracy Lynn Conway who had pinned ice sun catchers using a cake pan and/or muffin pans. I was inspired.

The best thing about this cold snap is that I can stand at my kitchen door and watch water freeze. Shut up–it’s verry interesting. Stop judging me!!  Mr. Wonderful found it pretty chuckalicious too, until I sent him a picture.

ice suncatcher

Eat those words, Larry.

This is a fast, cheap, and easy way to fight cabin fever, depression, and/or Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is also Parent of the Year stuff. Youngest Spawn is learning all about frostbite and how ice forms.

Tracy made her sun catchers in the freezer, but I had a blast watching the ice form outside. (And at -20, it was waaaaay faster. See her pin/blog for more on using the freezer.) My favorite effect is when the food coloring freezes while dissipating in the water…it looks like psychedelic snowflakes.

TIP: If you want to use multiple colors, wait until the water is almost ice. Otherwise, you will end up with brown sun catchers.

I’d tried making my ice marbles into hanging ornaments, but the curly ribbon always broke when I tried to remove the balloon. (And they were kind of heavy, which is tough on winter-brittle branches.) That’s where the muffin pan came in. I used magnets to hold the curly ribbon where I wanted it.

muffin pan, sun catcher, ice

I like the way the silver curly ribbon catches the light.

Like the other ice crafts, it’s all about catching the light. A Bundt pan has a ready-made hanging hole, as well as ridges.

ice, bundt pan, suncatcher

I only filled it 1/3 of the way..less weight for the string.

Because I didn’t want all the colors to bleed together, I didn’t add the drops of food coloring until it had started to freeze. Therefore, the color only shows from one side. I dribbled more food coloring on the other side like a glaze.

Glazed.

Glazed.

We have these sets of 3 plastic heart containers at The Barn ($.50 per set), and I just knew they would be good for something. Adding lace (also on clearance), and some foofy colored ice cubes I made from silicone baking molds…

sun catcher, ice, heart. rose,

Ice Valentines to hang in a tree.

Looking forward to seeing this in the sunlight.

Looking forward to seeing this in the sunlight.

On the thicker sun catchers, my color didn’t go all the way through, so I finger-painted a quick heart on the back of this one.

sun catcher, ice, valentine,

This is why my fingers are red.

Again, thank you to Tracy Conway for the great tutorial! Here are some other fun things to do with water in the winter:

ice marbles/gems

Make ice gems/ marbles with balloons. And spray yourself and kitchen blue.

Cool-Whip, Ice candle

Make ice candles with Cool-Whip bowls.

Bundt pan ice candle

Ice candle ring from Bundt pan.

Comments? Questions? Tips? Please “like”, share or Pin it! Better yet, vote to make me Employee of the YEAR!! Loveyabye.

One Lovely Blog Award


one lovely blog award

Thank you Heather of  Rambling of a Hedge Witch for awarding me the One Lovely Blog Award! I finally got around to really looking at your blog, and love the Pet Portraits blog, too..a very talented lady.

The rules of this award are:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you (manners, people! manners!).
  2. Add the “One Lovely Blog Award” image to your post.
  3. Share 7 things about you.
  4. Pass the award on to seven nominees.
  5. Include this set of rules (important, otherwise confusion and mass hysteria ensues).
  6. Inform your nominees by posting a comment on their blogs.

*If this is your first Blog Award Nomination, you might want to read this post. It’s things I wish I’d known earlier lol.

7 things about me:

  1. I have recently discovered I have a form of OCD involving spelling, grammar, and punctuation. I’m working on a post about that, but am extra-worried that I am doing something wrong.
  2. I don’t just love to laugh; I need to laugh. Daily. It’s part of how I battle depression, and I think I got the idea from Robin Williams. (But I’m fighting off a stomach bug and can only be upright for a short time. Sue me if I’m wrong.)
  3. My sister (The Queen of Poo, aka Boss Lady, aka Sissy Butt) says the best word to describe me is “irreverent”. “Insubordinate” was a close second. Whatever.
  4. I am on the fence about Blog Awards, but for today I find the pros outweigh the cons.
  5. We have two pets at my house, GF Peaches the neutered, male, half-Manx cat and Isabelle the Guinea Pig. (Any other creatures I talk about are my sister Lois’s.) That link is a YouTube video I made of GF playing piano/nippin’ out. He plays piano without catnip too.
  6. I am finally at a place in my life where I like who I am. This is not an accident; it took a lot of work. And a lot of mistakes, lol.
  7. I use texting shorthand quite a bit. The reasons? My female Spawn are 18 and 20 (our main form of communication is text), and I have RA so some days my hands are uncooperative.

These are my awardees, and a short note about each and why I chose them.   In general, I included blogs I was bummed I forgot for the Liebster, and then went through my “posts I recently liked” list. Please stop by and visit them as well as visiting my nominator’s very cool and interesting blog. Accepting this award is optional, and supposed to be fun. Don’t feel you have to do it; nothing bad will happen if you choose not to. 🙂

Quarter Acre Home: This chick boggles my mind; she grew up in a city and is living her dream of living sustainably on about 1/4 of an acre. Having been raised on a thousand acre beef and horse farm, I find her blog fascinating. Her latest post, “Animal Rights VS Animal Welfare” is a must-read if you are conflicted or confused about eating and raising meat.

The Return of the Modern Philosopher: This is funny stuff, written by a real-life screenwriter. Latest post titles include “Zeus Announces Contest to Name New God” and “The Mourning After, or How to Deal With a Drunk Leprechaun“. I always laugh, and have something new to think about when I leave this page.

Rag Bag Originals: This is my friend Ruth Huismann’s blog. She works across the hall from me and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her, her spawn, her mom (who scares me a little), and her siblings. I admire her sense of humor and the things she does with fabric. It’s because of her that I am thinking about buying myself an American Girl doll–she makes the cutest clothes for them. She also makes mittens that encourage the myth of Minnesota Nice. (Ever try to flip someone the bird wearing mittens??)

The Wicker Woman: This is another local lady who is a very talented artist. She makes the COOLEST baskets with antler handles, re-canes furniture, and does many other amazing things. She has been creating literally as long as I have been alive, and has been blogging for 8 years.

Single Dad Laughing: This guy’s blog  is kind, funny, smart, and honest, and I love the way he approaches parenting. I first found it through my sister, who suggested reading his post “16 Ways I Blew My Marriage.” Shortly after that, he posted “I’m Christian, Unless You’re Gay“, which is an eye opener for all faiths )or none) and sexual orientations. Most recently, he did an AMAZING thing for a neighbor of his, posting an appeal for help that resulted in a gift from his readers in the amount of $10,000. A great example of the good that can be done via the internet.

Fish of Gold:  According to Fish of Gold herself, “FOG is a eclectic assortment of opinions, experiences, gripes, stories and fiction.” Honest, interesting, uplifting and funny stuff. Her New Year’s post brought a tear to my eye, and The Middle Finger: The Jolliest Finger of All made me laugh out loud. You are missing out if you don’t follow this fish.

Bananas and Prunes: This lady and her hubby Bill have recently moved back home with her mother to be her caretaker.  Her latest adventure started with the question, “What Could Be Worse?” when she decided to clean out some of her mom’s belongings. I won’t spoil it, but it was freaking hilarious. I am still chuckling days later. Read this now.

Pouring My Art Out: His motto is “Ripping out my guts for your entertainment”. That sums it up nicely. Here, you will find adorable baby pics of his nephew Willy and pics of Saddam Hussein and Mother Theresa in footie (footy? feety?) pajamas. Kind of reminds me of myself….crazy, but in a fun, non-threatening way. Visiting this blog always makes me laugh, smile, and exclaim,  “WTF is WRONG with you?!?!?” Good times, good times.

Have you ever made a New Year’s Resolution that you kept?


Thanks to The Daily Prompt for this little nugget. It’s a great question. And I’ve kept one resolution that I made 21 years ago, while pregnant with Eldest Spawn.

I was 16, pregnant, and terrified. I was in college, so I was smart enough to know that this could be very, very bad, for me, the child, and society in general. I was told I would never finish high school OR college, and that the unborn kid was screwed from the start. I might as well just give up now.

I almost did. I spent a few nights with my .357 in my mouth, pretty sure suicide was the only solution.

I didn’t do it. I can, however, still taste the cold, oily, metal on my tongue and it reminds me of the only resolution I ever kept. As resolutions go, it’s pretty vague and it doesn’t exactly reach for the stars:

Screw up my Spawn as little as possible.

It started with the hope that maybe all was not lost. That if I tried hard enough, learned enough, and wanted it enough, we could maybe be ok. I was taking Survey of Calculus at the time, so I began with the known quantities–things I knew I did or did not want: Don’t ever make them feel like the only good option is to kill themselves. Tell them how smart they are. How beautiful, inside and out. Keep them alive and relatively safe. Do what I can to help them not be in the position I was in (trying to parent while still a child) . Tell them they can be whatever they want when they grow up (even a mama duck). Love them.

But…HOW??  I began by talking to other parents (grown-up ones), and reading a lot of parenting books.   That eventually led me to self-help books and counseling, and depression medication, and support groups, where I made some great friends who loved me unconditionally and taught me how to  take care of and heal myself, and my spawn. I tried and retried everything. I made mistakes, and learned from them.

I am not Parent of the Year. I swear too much, I’m cranky in the morning, and until recently, my housekeeping sucked. I hate cooking. I have made a TON of mistakes. But I read something about parenting once that stayed with me…I don’t know who wrote it or where I saw it, but it went something like this: Children are like a clean glass. Every parent harms their children in some way. Some hurts are just greasy fingerprints that can be wiped off. Others leave chips or cracks. Some shatter their glass children irreparably.

My goal is to at least give them the tools to overcome the damage I (and the rest of the world, including themselves) will do to them. So far, so good… I hope.

photo credit: Humor Train

photo credit: Humor Train

PS: I found this pic on Facebook today. Perfect timing for this post! It reminds me to ask myself where I am today, and where I want to go. 🙂

Gratitude… Every. Single. Day.


Gratitude, thankfulness, gratefulness, or appreciation is a feeling or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive. The experience of gratitude has historically been a focus of several world religions, and has been considered extensively by moral philosophers…” . -Wikipedia. (Link below.)

llama, funny farm

Bella Llama, Jade & Lois at The Funny Farm.

This is Jade. Her mom, our friend Danielle, has been posting what she is grateful for on Facebook:

“Today miss Jade is Thankful for her new kitten (which she does not have) Mickey Mouse books, Duluth and Curious George.”

“Jade is thankful for mama fixing, Mister her best friend and yummy cheesy sandwiches and dancey dance party.”

“Today Miss Jade is thankful for her mama and warm blankies and care bears and seeing the sunny side.”

I love that she is teaching Jade from a very young age about the importance of gratitude. It reminded me of a tool my friend Colleen gave me 19 years ago to battle depression: The Gratitude ABC’s. Start with “A” and name things you are grateful for. At first, I thought it was hokey. I was too cerebral for a simple thing like this to help. Besides, my life sucked. Thankfully, it sucked enough that I was willing to try anything.

Soon after, I taught the “game” to my kids. It was another way to keep their fighting to a minimum, while trying to prevent them from the deep depression I have struggled with ever since I can remember. Hard to say if it worked on them –sometimes all you can do is plant the seeds and hope they grow. But it has certainly worked for me. Prozac helps too. So did therapy and a support group. Good friends, family, writing, reading, talking…..it all helps. They are all great tools. But since Thanksgiving is just a few days away, I wanted to remind myself (and you) that gratitude, practiced daily, makes us feel happier & healthier.

If you don’t believe me, see the complete definition here on Wikipedia! (“W” is for Wikipedia).

Happy Thanksgiving! Loveyabye.

PS: If you didn’t hate this post, or if it made you the tiniest bit more grateful, please like, share or comment. I’d be ever so grateful. ;P

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