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Today is a Day for Art


Often I feel words on a page have life.  I used to walk around my university as a freshman and sophomore with poetry running through my mind describing my inner philosophies and illustrating my current life through verses that I never remembered but which kept me entertained on my long walks around the largeUniversityofCaliforniacampus inSanta Cruz.  I enjoyed all the walking, and I enjoyed all the thinking.  I enjoyed them probably too much because I did not notice that my life and my consciousness were disintegrating without my awareness, as is the nature of a shift of this sort.

Since I lived in words and thoughts, when I stopped being able to express myself lucidly due to a lack of cognitive ability or clarity, my depression started, and my world seemed to dramatically shut down.  My mood became dark, and my motivation screeched shut.

I didn’t care about anything, not even enough to brush my hair.  I was paranoid about food content.  I was vegan in those days, but I was paranoid that not only were things I might be eating possibly non-vegan, but that this non-vegan-ness, this contamination, well – it might make things poisonous.  In response, my housemates, made a very involved vegan dish of lasagna that I always made myself normally, a gesture they made in an effort to encourage me to eat.  I would not eat because of my paranoia, and the girls grew increasingly concerned.

A few days passed, and the girls took me to the hospital.  I became violent, acted out, and screamed for my rights in the unit, the whole nine yards.  I was hysterical.  They gave me some kind of medication, probably a sedative or maybe a mood stabilizer.  I could not tell you what because it was so long ago and I didn’t care what it was then, anyway.  I didn’t want to take medication.  I felt they were toxic, poisonous, and I just wanted to get better on my own, get back to school and continue on my work with my part time job and my ambitions in life.

Life doesn’t always go as planned.  In fact, in my experience, it rarely does.  Whatever you feel is the path maker in life, it’s not usually governed only by you, I or anyone who makes plans in life.  Sure, we can decide to make changes in our lives, and we can make decisions to improve our lives.  We can succeed at these things, definitely we can.  Still, there are always events, fortunes that present themselves as hurdles.  Life hands you lemons, you can add some sugar or you can find some limes and make it more interesting.

As I went along in my early and mid-twenties, I always had one step forward and two steps back.  I felt I had overcome my hurdles and there would be no more.  I would get to the highest level of wellness I had felt in a while, try new things that I felt I was able to do as a reward and a challenge, telling myself that since I was healthy I could handle more now.  I just sometimes forgot to be cautious.  Sometimes I forgot that I need to be safe with myself and love myself enough to know my limits.  This was not a sign of weakness but a measure of strength to know myself enough that I would not let anything in life make me crumble again.

Time and time I made the same mistake, trying new goals, falling backwards, falling further down than I had been the previous time.  This is related also to the most recent episode with my son, in which I had tried to handle my separation with my husband, new responsibilities as a single mother, my own mental illness challenges, my grief about my father’s death still lingering, and my goals about getting an advanced degree in my field.  I tried too much all at once, and suddenly the inevitable happened.  I broke.  I didn’t break to the point of being unable to be fixed.  I just broke temporarily.  I got back into my groove again later, but I lost a part of my life that time.  I lost a part of my life that I had always wanted even before I had it.  I lost a piece of my connection with my son.

I had always wanted to be a parent.  When I was a young child, I used to take care of other young children.  When I was in fifth grade, my parents wouldn’t let me go to science camp because my father was overprotective.  I helped out in two classrooms with the younger children instead – preschool and third grade.  I have always loved people younger than me.  I love people older than me, too.  I just love people.  They are frustrating and tiresome, but I love them anyway.  It’s a blessing and a curse.

There is an art and a science to being a parent that I wish I had mastered earlier on in my relationship with my son.  I never understood until I was away from him for a little while. I had a lot of input from various sources, including professionals of all types, government officials, a few family members, church members, friends, medical individuals and more. Sometimes too much input is just too much, though.  There is an art and a science just like (and I hate to say it because it sounds crude) there is an art and science to cooking or painting or doing anything that requires precise measurement and ingredients and skill but is still up to the individual to a great degree.

Parenthood is the ultimate version of this, and it is more important than any of the others because it not only affects the parent and the child but it affects the whole world.  That is because this little person who had entered the world through the vehicle of parental attachment will someday contribute to the world in ways that no one will ever envision.  The world will change that child, and that child will change the world.  We know this of course, but I’m not sure I thought of it so much, and I don’t think I gave it precise awareness all the time.  It could be a daunting undertaking if you got too scared about it for all these reasons . . . and so I did, I became scared . . . and I fumbled.

My mothers’ friend who helps her with driving told her that “fear is wishing for things we don’t want.”  Maybe that’s like that converse of the power of positive thinking.  Maybe it is the opposite of that movie/book phenomenon they called “The Secret”.  I’m sure I do not know enough about that to comment, but what I can say I do know is . . . I did not want to lose custody of my son, and I was afraid that this would happen.  This fear made me anxious, and this anxiety made me scared to do almost anything at all.  Fear can paralyze, and I believe it did in my case.

There is a long connection between my experiences with illness, my son, and the introduction of my story about words on a page and their life upon that page.  The connection lies somewhere in the meaning of my own words, my own experiences, what is possible for myself and/or others to learn from them, how I can use what I have to be of benefit, and how can I as an individual, a writer, a mother, and any other person with a role in life – how can I understand these events in relation to myself?  It’s about a relationship with me and a relationship to my life.

I once wrote a final paper in college about a hypothesis I had concerning how the spaces, the nuances, the shapes of words that take form by the author may reflect feelings, even cultural beliefs or reactions pertaining to physical realities about space.

My main thesis in this paper had to do with First Peoples (in particular from North, Central and South America) who had a traditionally oral language (not normally written down on paper) but which still had been converted to a transcribed form when the European inhabitants exchanged elements of language and cultural practices.  I postulated that there were some psychological elements of cultural and linguistic productions that show up in the physical placement of words, sentence structure and overall layout as well as composition as they are presented.  Perhaps, I thought, people from different cultures might show (for example) more open space if they experienced more openness in their physical lives or in their physical space, particular their living environment.

I am sure one could do research about this idea. Perhaps a survey could be gathered between different cultural groups, including subcultures, even communities within a certain culture that differ in living arrangements, perhaps even include institutional communities.  If a correlation were found between physical placement of words on a page or in some other document, perhaps this could be connected to psychological characteristics such as happiness or health of some kind.  Who knows, right?

Maybe people are already doing this?  Who am I to say?  I haven’t read a psychology or other academic paper since sometime the first half of 2010.  That was for an online class that I attempted at the University of theRockies, which is a university inColorado, primarily for different types of psychology but offers some other coursework as well.  I am always so unsure what I want to do in life.  I waiver and hesitate and think I will choose something, then choose it momentarily, but something holds me back.  Sometimes I want to start back into graduate school, but I am unsure what I want to do.  I am afraid if I start on an option, I will start but not like it but want to finish anyway because I have already started.

I already nearly finished a teaching credential program – Special Education with a specialization in Mild/Moderate disabilities, but I was considering getting a certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis from the same university.  I was studying locally atCaliforniaStateUniversity,MontereyBay– a university with a lot of support from Leon Panetta, who is a local of my area and now I believe is the head of the CIA.  I am not bragging at all.  This is just the facts, ma’am.

Today I engaged in some creative processes:

(1) I talked with a grandfather who was with his grandson, a boy younger than my son.  The boy had long hair and sometimes people thought he was a girl.  He was beautiful, not in a girly way.  Beautiful does not have to have a gender.  Maybe it never does.  The man gave his grandson some chewing gum.  I listened to the man talk about how he is taking custody of this child for his daughter.  I wondered to myself why I can’t take care of my own son.  I realized there is no use wondering this.  Either I take action or I don’t, and if I don’t, I have still taken an action in making a choice and sticking to that decision.  Either way, the decision is made

(2) I attended Breakthrough H’art, an art collective through Interim Incorporated, the mental health agency with which I have been connected for a few years.  I also volunteer with them in two different places.  I started to work with watercolor pencils for the first time but it ended up just being a pencil drawing.  There is a professional artist who helps with the collective, and he made a number of suggestions as I was working on my picture (featuring a tree, hearts, orange Ohm symbol, a variety of colors) as well as saying how I liked it very much.  Others agreed that I had talent.  I felt good.  He said if he had a child he would not send them to art school because he feels once you are trained, you start thinking too much.

3) I was up into the wee hours looking into a way to sell art online through FineArtAmerica, a page which I will make available in time through this blog.  I may post a link on my art section.  Currently, I have only figured out how to make a few pictures available as greeting cards.  Hopefully, there will be more in the future.

4) I agreed to work on a mosaic for a housing community with Interim called Sunflower House.  This is going to be on Wednesdays.  I have to get in touch with the woman in charge again.  I will ask on Friday when I go back to do more art at Breakthrough H’art.

There may be more that I have not though of including as creative such as making dinner and writing.  These are givens, and I do not need to list them.

To me, life is all an art and a science.  It is a balance, and the balance doesn’t have a correct formula so much as one which works best for a given person at a given time and in a given way.

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Mother’s Birthday, Breakthrough H’art Cancelled for Today, Spending the Day at Omni


It’s my mom’s 64th birthday today! She’s a Libra! I’m seeing her on Friday when she comes to the Quadrangle to see David. We’re going to lunch at the Health and Diet Center, which is nearby the Quadrangle building. I’ll be giving her a few high quality teas from a place in Oldtown Salinas near the Steinbeck Center. She’s going to Chinese for lunch today with her driver and friend Natasha. I wished her happy birthday this morning as I was getting on the bus across from Target.

As I was getting on the bus, I thought I would be going to a Breakthrough H’art session at Shelter Cove with the leader of that program, Kaytlin. It turns out she was sick with strep throat last night, so she cancelled. However, at Omni Center, they didn’t have my updated information, just the info from maybe 2008, which is probably from when I lived at Shelter Cove.

I was somewhat disappointed that I didn’t get to go to Breakthrough H’art. I’ve been trying to work on my book, Bears of the Wood. I’m hoping to get it published and on the market by next year. I think it’s possible. Today, while I’m at Omni, I think I’m going to sit down and map out how many pictures and what the pictures will be. I guess I could set it up with a check-off system so I could check the ones that I get done as I go.

My check finally cleared. After I get my rent and my bills paid, I can go and buy stuff to set up my printer. I can also get a few groceries, maybe just $50 worth. I should buy my own set of oil pastels and paper as well, just so I can work on pictures at home and go at a faster rate.

Today, I’m going to just hang out at Omni until 1:30, then go home and tidy up so it’s respectable to look at when my social worker and a couple other people come over. I’ll also call my good friend, O.T. if he doesn’t call me. I believe he’s in a class that he has.

One other thing I want to do, probably in the new year, is go back to University of the Rockies and take classes toward my Masters in Psychology with a Concentration in Non-Profit Management. Someday I want to help work at and eventually set up my own non-profit aimed just at combatting stigma. There is already a program that is part of Interim, but I think that stigma and education and self help is a topic all to itself. If there could be an emphasis just on that in a non-profit organization, I think it could be really empowering.

Few Steps Forward, Few Steps Back: Also the Waiting Game to See About Possibilities


My last rootbeer

So I had decided since last week not to interview for the Greenpeace job. It would have paid well, given good benefits, and even a 401k (not so sure what that means, but I’m sure it’s a good thing to have). I’m looking instead at going back to school at University of the Rockies. I would still be in the Master of Arts in Psychology only my concentration would change from Mediation and Conflict Resolution to Non-Profit Management. I’m waiting to see if I am eligible. Enrollment/start of school starts in less than a week. I’ve called twice yesterday when a guy named Robert in the enrollment department said he would call me in the afternoon yesterday but did not. This caused some anxiety. I was trebitatious already about “giving it another go” in school. His lack of commitment to calling me back after he talked me into starting earlier than I anticipated was not reassuring to say the least.

I’ve been enjoying my visits with David. My munchkin is so sweet, and he’s grown very attached to his soon-to-be adoptive family without losing his feelings toward myself and his birth daddy, it seems. He has two families. What baby could be more lucky? So much love going around. Aaaah…. Feel the love!

And feel the fat building up all over my body, as well. I intended to stick to my Joel Furhman Eat to Live plan, but I have still not been very successful. I asked my mom to give me some nutrition tips last night because she used to be about as overweight as I am now, and she lost maybe 40 lbs. If I could get to at least below 200 lbs, I would feel like I had accomplished something. Maybe that’s just it. Maybe I am setting my goals too high (or too low in this case). Maybe I don’t need to make unrealistic goals to be super skinny again. Maybe just to get to an upwardly healthy weight would be enough. I could make my goal to be to get to the higher edge of healthy for my height and body type. And not have a crazy unrealistic goal like eating only fruits and vegetables. Maybe just calorie counting and eating lots of fruits and vegetables and cutting out soda and high calorie items, and portion controlling, maybe all that would help. Maybe having realistic expectations without being too restrictive and hard on myself. Maybe in setting unrealistic goals, I was in actuality setting myself up to not follow any of it.

I ordered pizza and fatty pastas and two kinds of soda and cinnamon bread yesterday for dinner. So bad. My clothes are not going to fit soon, and these were the clothes that I got that were bigger because I needed new clothes after I had the baby. So potentially depressing.

I can’t keep expecting to lose weight if I stuff myself with chips, pizza, soda, and junk food of all types. There’s no way. I have to make a concrete choice. Do I want to eat junk food all the time or do I want to lose weight? Maybe cutting out junk food forever is not required, but having it so often, especially at the beginning when I’m trying to have a real impact and lose those first few pounds…. Maybe that is an act of self-sabatoge. I have to be stronger than that.

The thing is: I don’t know why I think I need junk food. I think it is habit. I think I believe it will taste good, and for a fleeting instance it might. However, when I get to the end of eating it, I don’t feel good, I don’t feel proud of myself, and I haven’t done myself any favors. So what’s it gonna be: Junk food and junk in the trunk? Or a proud, healthy, conscientious person who respects herself enough to care about what goes in her body? I say option number two.

Now, to pour out the soda. It’s time.