Thursday, October 11, 2012

Say, "Cheese!"

One of these days, I'm going to get a real camera. I've tried getting real cameras as gifts for Christmas or my birthday in the past, but these gifts are never real cameras. When I get my real camera, I'm going to do something I love doing: Taking over 70 pictures at a time and finding 4 I actually like out of the bunch. Haha!

I took this one of the boy. He's hard to photograph because he's at the age where "Smile!" means pulling his lips unnaturally over his teeth and giving a wide-eyed psychopath expression. That can be cute sometimes... just... not very artistic to have 70 pictures that look something like this:

One can easily see that the first picture has a much softer, more artistic feel to it. I like it. It captures the sparkle in his eye and the glow to his naturally brown skin. While the second picture is good for a giggle. And to save to show future dates he brings home (insert low, maniacal laughing).  

The girl is even harder to photograph. She loves posing for the camera, but her poses are a little too dramatic to translate well into pictures. That, and her facial expressions are intense and fierce, but don't include natural smiles very often. And she's two, so she moves. A lot. My best bet with her is to give her props to play with and stand back snapping picture after picture to hopefully get one good one. 

She's my little imitator. She wants to do every single thing I do. It's humbling and adorable. So I give her my high heels. 

What I really want when I take pictures though, is not to have pixilated end-products with low resolution. The blur ruins perfectly good moments. Like this one:

So I want a real camera. A good camera. A real, good camera (I dare someone to try to correct my grammar there...).

I think it would be extremely fun if at some point I could do bigger things with my photography. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The New Confidence

The scar is getting better, slowly but surely. It's still very noticeable, but I'm getting used to it.

I use helichrysum hydrosol and argan oil on it every day, but instead of the scar bothering me, I imagine all sorts of ridiculous scenarios. Like, painting my neck green and drawing on big stitch marks so that I look like Frankenstein's monster.

Or, draw eyes above it and make it a weird smiley face. This really makes me giggle.

My poor scar is so embarrassed when I blatantly ridicule it.

 Now it wants to go incognito.

If I keep this up, it might go rogue on me, and then who knows what kind of fanged beast it will turn into.

Yes, I've taken to mercilessly making fun of my own scar. I do something similar in my college developmental writing class. When I get just a little too excited about grammar, I make fun of myself for my own enthusiasm. This kind of self deprecation is a good deflection.

If I'm making fun of myself, it kind of takes the steam out of anyone else making fun of me. Laughing at myself, I'm totally brave and confident.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Please don't call Hoarders...

This is my craft table right now.

And I'm using all of that stuff.

(Except the sippy cup. I've mostly outgrown those)

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I've remembered something in the past week and a half, something that I forgot was critical to my happiness and mental health: creating brings me inner peace and focus. Creating anything, really. I remembered that the times I am not making something are the times I am the lowest.

Writing proved to be a little tricky, so throughout the last week, I've thrown myself into creating. I wasn't even that intent on the product, but the process. Sitting at the table my grandmother just gave me, I made things, immersing myself for hours in a blissed-out world of creation.

First I made flowers. And then I put those flowers in my daughter's hair.

And speaking of my daughter's hair, she finally has enough to do this:

I also made French bread. 

And then I ate French bread. I will say, making bread for two hours and eating said bread in mere minutes was one of the most satisfying pastimes I have indulged in. 

And I made preschool games for the class I'm teaching this term. 

(By the way, why in the world did I sign up to teach preschool this term? As I struggle with healing and muscle weakness and chronic fatigue, teaching 2, 3, and 4 year olds is a bewildering task for me to take on. They are most exuberant little people.)

While the finished products might not seem impressive to the casual passerby, the process of making and putting aside all the physical and emotional struggles in favor of creation has been more healing to me than medicine. 

The laundry pile can fall down around me, the kids can climb the walls, the dishes can stack on top of each other. I'm busy re-making myself during one of the most challenging times in my life. And doing random interpretive dancing in the woods, just for giggles. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Self Image

My mind is going in many directions lately. Mostly crazy directions. And fragmented like reflections off a broken mirror.

I suddenly have much more interest in my appearance. Before, make up never held my attention for long. I was ambivalent in my resignation that my hair would never be coiffed in anything resembling the latest fashions. I silently judged women who obsessed over their looks; surely they were superficial or insecure. Surely I was above all that.

And then I had my neck sliced open twice in ten days. Surgery left its mark.

I'm superficial enough to be bothered by the red raised scar at the base of my throat, insecure enough to want to compensate for its rawness in other ways. Concealer masking. Eye liner drawing attention up, away. Bronzer highlighting. Shimmers reflecting, lip gloss wet and inviting. I braid, twist, coil and curl my hair, accessorizing with flowers and ribbons and scarves.

To be honest, I'm not caring about impressing others. It is myself I am trying to distract. I don't want to look in the mirror and see the sad, scarred woman I am slowly morphing into. If I highlight the right areas, maybe the ones that shame me will be muted.

Maybe I can recreate my own self portrait. Perhaps I can twist and coil and curl the struggles with my health into something worthwhile. "Cancer survivor" sounds heroic and so much braver than I feel, but I can apply it to my list of attributes like a coat of mascara. "Survivor" is a liner I can draw all over myself, really -- depression survivor, sexual abuse survivor, drug abuse survivor. Natural, unassisted childbirth survivor. Fingernail biter survivor. Multiple body piercings survivor. Counting experiences I have come through or encountered that haven't killed me yet is almost exhilarating. Difficult situations somehow sparkle under the word "survivor."

My fragments of broken mirror can be pieced together in a Picasso-like mosaic, a girl before a looking-glass. A girl looking at all the different pieces: lines, marks, colors. I'm reading my reflection to understand who I am now.

Like make up, Picasso never held my attention before. Yet now, like bottles of powder and color and shimmer, he is relevant to my life changes.  My changes in self perception.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

On Depression

For me, depression has been a parasitic disease. It grips my neck with razor-sharp teeth and breathes heavy snarls in my ear. It plays Shrink and Regrow, almost disappearing entirely so that I forget it's there. Then it swells back up, thick and engorged like a giant mosquito drunk on my lifeblood.

Depression is an embarrassing parasite. I look around my home, my beautiful children, the things I have that so many others do without, my loving family, my network of caring friends. The shame of the disease adds up with many other negative emotions that float around me like a cloud of pollution: Self-loathing. Disappointment. Frustration. Anger. Grief. I often find it hard to breathe. Or, I just stop caring altogether. Apathy is embarrassing, too, so I pretend I care deeply and passionately about whatever it is I am supposed to care about.

"Fake it til you make it." I can't quite understand this philosophy. Not that I haven't tried it extensively. Feeling low? Just smile and be uplifted! Frustrated at the never-ending cycle? Whistle while you work! Don't feel like having sex with your spouse? Just say yes and go with the flow until it's all wonderful! I'd throw up at the saccharine optimism, but I really hate throwing up. I prefer to sneer with disdain, wrinkling the left side of nose and almost-smiling with sarcasm. Boy, I love who I have become. I've faked it more times than I can count, and I still haven't made anything that I can tell.

Self-loathing. That's the feeling that I know what I am supposed to be but I just can't quite swallow it into existence. Self-loathing settles like dust in that place in me that just doesn't understand how to actually make anything happen. I'm supposed to be happy. I don't know how. Self-loathing. I'm supposed to be loving, but I feel nothing. Self-loathing. I'm supposed to work hard, but I'm lazy. Self-loathing. I'm supposed to... but....
I'm just a pile of gritty, grainy dust molecules. Gross and worthless. Wallowing in my own misery, hating myself for wallowing in my own misery.

Psychology suggests that expectation is the leading cause of disappointment. I feel about that similarly as I do about "fake it until you make it" which is to say, I hate it. I hate it because I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed that I'm not doing more with my life, that I'm not a missionary in another country or doing life-changing work in my community, or creating something of intrinsic value or... something. I'm disappointed that being married is so difficult, and that I don't know if I'm parenting well at all because my children seem rather soft and spoiled. I'm mostly disappointed that I don't enjoy life, living, barely at all.  I feel perfectly justified in expecting that things should be better than what they are right now, but I'm disappointed that I don't even know where to begin to make changes.

Ignorance is frustrating. I don't know what to do, and I don't know where to find the answers. I look for answers, but I don't understand them. I'm frustrated that I can't seem to pull myself together. Frustration and anger are conjoined twins vying for the same vital organs. They twist the stomach and harden into a lump in the chest cavity. I can't tell where one ends and the other begins. They just are.

Then, of course, there's the grief. Grief first stutters and struggles to convey itself. Then it settles into a sadness that never truly goes away. Grief for things lost. People. People who died, or people who moved away, or people who simply floated out my my life the same way they seemed to float in. No matter where they went, they are gone, and their absences are wounds stitched closed and scarred over. I grieve for lost ideals and hopes that never surfaced. I grieve for beliefs that proved untrue. Grief is forever a collar around my neck that I feel when I try to stray farther than my chains allow. I cannot follow the things lost.

I was once wild and untamed. I still have echoes of my former determination, so I will take my antidepressant, and swallow some vitamins, and do a few exercises to release endorphin. I will read the self-help books and other books for enjoyment. I'll play with my children and smile at my husband and go to church. I'll do my yoga breathing and call my mother. I'll do the laundry and cook dinner and vacuum the living room floor, over and over. I'll scratch at that parasite, and hold out hope that at some point in my life I will find the answers I seek.

Oh, and today is my birthday. Happy birthday to me.