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Autonomy, Creativity and Psychological Issues


Português: Gato Psicótico criado pelo autor. E...

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Rethink Mental Illness

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http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/wilma-smithtempel.html?tab=artwork

Normally, I share my artwork in the designated page entitled “Artwork.”  You can find this in the upper tabs.

Recently, I have started making my art available on the above website, FineArtAmerica.com.  The pieces are just available as cards right now.  Someday soon I will figure out how to edit my art into print-size and poster-size versions.  Until then, these cards will continue to be available so people can get a hint at some of the projects I have done.  I have some more that I could probably post.  Soon I will get it accomplished.  I’m slow; bear with me.

I was going to ask advice on the issue of keeping my relationship going despite very negative interactions with my husband.  I have been wondering how often it happens that couples who have been separated reunite to live happily ever after.  Also, we ask the question of whether living apart but remaining married (sometimes called Living Apart Together) can provide a happy middle ground. one where we don’t have to part completely but can enjoy autonomy.

Perhaps the problem we are facing is one my father used to say as a child and that he told me about a lot.  I used to ask my father repeatedly to tell me stories about himself growing up.  One that he always repeated and I never tired of was that of how he used to tell his mother she was “frustrating his autonomy” when he was just a small child.  Maybe that’s what we do to each other.  Maybe we need our space.

I have twisted delusions sometimes, ones that I don’t always tell people.  I will think someone is another person entirely.  I will think that I used to know them a long time ago in another part of my life but they don’t remember their old identity and neither do I.  Do other people imagine these things?  They frighten me sometimes because maybe I am strange enough to believe them.  It’s kind of uncomfortable talking about it in the open, but I figure the more I’m willing to talk about it, the more it makes the world a safe place for people to talk openly about their mental differences.

Why do we have to call it “mental illness” or “disorder” or “craziness” or “insanity”?  True, these things are scary.  They can rob us of pieces of our lives.  Maybe I’m the one having trouble admitting the truth.  Maybe I’m also stuck in what old style Freudian psychoanalysis would call neurosis, meaning I have unresolved trauma and this brings up false memories and beliefs.  Which is true?  How do I know?  Do other people think this way?

In the end, I just have to live with what I have and move forward whatever my strange imaginings may be.  When I share my art with the world, I am showing another part of myself.  When I contribute to the world through volunteerism, I am giving back to others while building on my own self esteem.

I have to tell myself I’m fine even when I’m struggling.  I really am fine, just as long as I decide to use my resources and stay ahead of my symptoms.

Self-Analysis Report


Last time I wrote, I was bemoaning the loss of personal items on a bus.  I’m still in the process of replacing things, still need to head to the DMV for my state identification, and I still need to recover my mail keys.  I have to wait to get those because they require photo identification.

The past week, I’ve basically stayed home.  I went to a tour of Monterey Institute of International Studies and was told to be more certain of my goals before pursuing such an expensive investment of time and dedication. I can agree.  I do not want any more false-starts.

In another area of my world, it seems the scope of my world has somehow shrunk.  I had been attending Omni Resource Center downtown where I would volunteer and participate in groups, but I took a break.  I called and told them I was going to take time to explore the possibility of work or school.  Maybe this was a bad idea. 

I know I missed one doctor’s appointment (mental health) at the beginning of the month because I overslept.  I didn’t mean to do this.  I was catching up because I stayed up all night the night before for no particular reason.

I let some professionals know my mood had altered.  I also know this time of year, as April approaches, this is a sensitive time.  

I have an anniversary effect from my father’s suicide around his birthday which is April 5.  It is hard for me even to write this in a public place because it is such a poignant subject despite the fact that it happened ten years ago.  

Time doesn’t really erase the effects for me so far.  It just results in a new set of life events that I wade through as I move further away from the original date.  Maybe I have never truly processed the grief.

I wonder if I felt the need to take some personal time for myself for a variety of reasons, since perhaps I sensed a disturbance in myself and was trying to contain it, since perhaps I’m afraid of another mental breakdown or destabilization due to this anniversary effect.  I might feel that the current state of events where my son (who was named after my father) is a potential trigger for some kind of unhealthy state of mind.  

I know isolating is not desirable for me, though.  It becomes a prison I impose upon myself.  I need socialization to stay in touch with the world and to “get out of my head” as I used to tell friends was important for my mental and emotional well being.  

I think some of the desire to have employment or school right now is to avoid that insulated lifestyle of isolation.  I fell into this back when I started more focused treatment.  Also, living alone can breed this in me (maybe for others, too?).  I know sometimes when I’m alone too much I start to think that I just want people to leave me alone altogether.  I don’t know why this is, but I know it is not a constructive trend.

The prevailing wisdom would be to forego serious commitment and just volunteer some more, be patient with myself until I know I am solid.  

I should also tell myself that having most of my time filled with volunteering and self improvement is nothing to be ashamed about.  My husband goes through this also.  He started volunteering at a local nonprofit that refurbishes and sells computer systems at a very low price.  He didn’t stay because he felt the position might not be as meaningful because it is not paid work.

I know volunteer work is not only valuable but vitally necessary.  I know because nonprofits cannot function without them and without nonprofit agencies, so many resources we take for granted would not be possible in the same way.  I know.  I really do.

I volunteered as editor of the newsletter that is distributed throughout the county based in Interim, Inc. (the nonprofit agency that provides community supports, advocacy and other resources in conjunction with the county mental health department).  The newsletter is available to anyone who wants to receive it.  Many people who are not part of that system read it, including doctors and others.  I made a commitment to this, and I intended to stay with it.  Maybe I should be happy with this.  Maybe right now, this is what I am doing, and it’s fine.  I don’t need to be dissatisfied.  Sometimes the best employment opportunities are the ones that happen when we least expect it.

I’m also supposed to start volunteering at Our Voices, and I have volunteered sometimes at Omni Resource Center, both of which are peer-driven resources for Interim clients.  

Why do I think it’s not good enough?  I know it’s a great thing to be able to volunteer, contribute to an organization that I support with all my heart and which helps so many people.  I know it is invaluable experience if I ever want to go further in psychology and/or counseling (and I might).

Why am I disillusioned? Or am I?

Two Pluses and One minus Equals One Plus, Which Puts Me Ahead of My Game


Rainbow over Monterey

Rainbow over Monterey (Photo credit: JamesMoberg)

English: The Monterey Institute of Internation...

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Seal of the Monterey Institute of Internationa...

Image via Wikipedia - Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS)

I don’t really like that title, but I could think of none better.

Sometimes the old adage goes, “One step forward and two steps back.”  Sometimes not.

Last Friday, I lost my personal items on the bus.  I may have posted about this or I may not.  Either way, I lost the following in my purse which was beautiful and had a nice rainbow glitter design on the front with a zipper and was the kind that could be worn cross body style because it had a nice long strap.  It was dark blue, and I think I bought it while I was in my undergraduate years.  I lost the following:  One pink small-size eco-friendly moleskin (certain type of journal/writing book) made with 100% post-consumer materials — this said it would be recoverable only I didn’t have the foresight to actually register it at the website like they suggested, one wallet with two debit/credit cards (credit union and major bank), two or three checkbooks, a bunch of receipts, some cash, my set of keys (with apartment keys & mailbox keys), random lip balms, maybe some lotion, and I’m sure other stuff I’m not thinking about.

This week has been partially about backtracking.  My credit union knows me even though I only just started with them this year.  They were kind enough to allow me to withdraw cash although I do not have my ID (oh, yes, that must be one of the things I forgot to list!).  I had to get back to spare key I had given my husband to get in on his own.  He no longer can do so.  I’m waiting for my friend who works with the management of my apartment complex to call today so that I can get into my mailbox and get my mail to include my beginning-of-the-month check that I receive from a certain fund.  I will go over and remind her gently after lunch.  I may just hang out with her in the office for a while.  I’ve called the post office at both the distribution center and the regular post office where I would receive the keys.  I left a message, but I will have to call again after lunch as well.  I’ll hope I can go on Monday.  I’ve been so busy lately running around to other parts of town to visit my son on Tuesday, before that visit my husband, also go to see an Episcopal-Lutheran priest yesterday with him (although I am of neither denomination; I am Unitarian Universalist).  I haven’t even had time to go and volunteer this week.

I’m supposed to make a list of activities that I will be doing with the peer center in Monterey called Our Voices.  It’s another center run by peers mainly in Interim, Inc.  The link to that organization is provided, of course.  I haven’t done this yet, but I will today.

The other thing I did (bigger) is that I contacted Monterey Institute of International Studies online this morning and requested information about their program where a person can get a Bachelor of Arts in International Policy and a Master of Arts in another field within three years total (for both programs).  I decided I would find out about various language programs.  I’m interested probably in the Translation and Interpretation program although I started out looking into the programs where one would teach a foreign language or maybe English as a Second Language.  The admissions person said they would have a particular person talk to me about that all next week, someone who advises based on all the language-oriented programs.  This venture is really exciting to me because up until now, I was looking and looking and never had found a calling.  I’m approaching a resolution to the search that I’ve been having for about two years.  I will be proud to be on a road.

My husband and I talk of moving to Monterey or Marina, which is closer to the Peninsula where I live.  I’m in a more landlocked part of our area.  It’s somewhat safer on the peninsula and more pleasant overall.  The atmosphere is different, and it could be much more comfortable.

We’re going to be attending this Episcopal-Lutheran church every other week.  Christopher did not like the idea of every week.  I guess he feels he needs some Sundays to stay at home or relax.  I recommended that we could still be in touch with the reverend regardless.

I would love to live in the part of Monterey near the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS).  It’s the downtown area where there is close access to all kinds of shops, activities, some friends who live near there, and there is Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods both close by.  Plus, this would be closer to both of our respective mothers.  It would make life much simpler and more peaceful, I believe.

Christopher has started to volunteer with a non-profit organization called Loaves, Fishes, and Computers.  Their mission primarily is to sell refurbished computer systems at a very low cost to create a greater access to these resources.  It’s great experience, and I’m impressed with him for doing this because he has never really volunteered before.  He has always wanted to get into a job with computers (currently is a landscaper for Interim, but he wants to expand away from this to his greater interest in computers and technology).  He does not have formal training but is very knowledgeable with figuring things out and is very personable when he is relaxed.  When he’s experiencing anxiety, he can be contentious, but more of the time he is fine.

I see if we take things easy, allow the time of transition to pass and look forward to the days when, as the priest says, our son can make a choice about having a relationship with us in future years, focus on the present without looking backward to create depression or too much into the future to create anxiety…. If this all can be achieved, then we will be on a healing and wonderful path.  This is my goal, my prayer, and it is my wish.

Applied Behavior Analysis, Open Adoption, Newsletter Editing, Ideas for New Writing Projects


For the sake of order (a quality which I often lack),  I will provide a list of topics at the beginning of this entry.  It may not be necessary, but at least, you will know which will interest you the most and it may even help to assist you in deciphering the information as you read.

  • Applied Behavior Analysis – A field in psychology in which behavior is understood as resulting from various causes and will always have an effect, similar to the laws of physics having predictable outcomes (although most people do not regard human behavior quite this precisely, there are noticeable patterns which may be observed and measured)
  • Open Adoption – The result of the hearing was termination of parental rights with a recommendation for continued contact between our son and ourselves.
  • Newsletter Editing – I am coagulating the information that has been submitted to me by members of our mental health community in my county.  It is a big job as I am finding out.
  • Ideas for New Writing Projects – I have various ideas for other children’s books: one is about turtles, another is a longer nonfiction account of my experiences.  I am playing with ideas.  The children’s book is more tangible of an idea for me.  I am also just slowly beginning to market my book.  I need to email someone at a local art gallery/used book shop.

That’s pretty much it.  My husband is over for the weekend.  I’m trying to learn to be a better cook.  I went to see the adoption social worker.  I need to get in touch with a program called Kinship Center (link is on the front page, sorry for not linking here, lazy).  They have a support group for people who have given up a child to be adopted.  It would help me probably to talk to others.  I don’t want to get overly involved since there’s a lot I’m actually doing right now.

The Applied Behavior Analysis is something I’ve considered in the past.  Someone mentioned it to me by way of a college recruiter.  I don’t know if I messed up by asking them to call another time or send an email.  I hope that is not too much of a problem.  I think it would be a good fit since that is what I do much of the time anyway.

Open adoption; I will not mess that up.  The family is very kind.  I hope I can support my husband to become more comfortable with them.  I don’t know how to do so in an effective and gentle way.

About the newsletter, I’m just in the assembling process.  It’s my first time working with Microsoft Publisher very much.  I may have used it for other projects, but maybe it was a long while ago.  I don’t know.

My writing ideas…. I have to get them down.  Maybe I will post my story that I told aloud to my husband today while at the bus stop.  It involved a turtle and he sees a rock.  The rock is not what it appears to be.  It’s a story for children, but I feel adults would enjoy it too.

I get to see my son along with my mother on the 27th.  I’m going to try to see what I can do about what’s happening with my husband and his contact with David, but I don’t know if it’s my problem.  I do feel it’s in David’s best interest to know his birth father.  I don’t want him to completely shun him.  So far, he seems to be distancing himself.

Progress on my book, editing for Our Voices, and more Volunteering


I think I’ve almost if not completely finished the illustrations for my children’s book entitled The Bears of the Wood. I will not, of course, know for certain until I get a chance to upload everything, whether or not I will need a few more pictures or not. I’m not precise enough to know exactly how many I will need. This is my first time doing this, and I will say, I don’t really have a precise process. It’s just me doing it in a way that makes sense to me. I have no idea of the standard or the traditional way things are done. I’m just mostly doing this for David, my husband’s family (whether or not they ever really care) and my own feelings. If I sell books (which of course would be nice), that would be lovely.

I also went over to the peer center Our Voices today. I’ve been volunteering at Omni Center in Salinas since September. The administrator at Omni made me aware of an opportunity to edit for the newsletter at Our Voices as well. I went over and discussed this with the appropriate person at Our Voices. I got the formatting done for the first page. I feel like my next step is to get the word out at Omni, Shelter Cove/Sandy Shores, Our Voices and behavioral health (places that mental health consumers frequent) and let them know that we need people to write articles. As soon as I get a few articles, I can start adding them to the newsletter. I’m also going to have a section on the holidays from February until the next newsletter comes out. Another thing is to get out a community events calendar and create my own little calendar of events most likely at the back of the newsletter. It will all come together in time.

Meanwhile, I’ve been volunteering whenever I can at Omni. I will go in tomorrow. I could also figure out if I should go on Friday. I probably should go. The more time volunteering the better in my book. Even if they don’t need someone volunteering at the particular time, it’s always a help. Also, this Friday is the last Friday of the month, and they have the clothes closet open. Last month, when that happened, it was pretty busy. They will probably need help, so I should probably go.

Capital Punishment and other Issues I feel strongly about, plus volunteering opportunities


http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2011/09/21/the-night-the-lights-went-out-in-georgia/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/sep/14/troy-davis-death-penalty-lynching

Above are two links to articles about a recent execution of an African American in Georgia named Troy Davis. He was given capital punishment in September despite the fact that seven out of nine witnesses recanted their testimony regarding whether or not they had tangible evidence that Davis was guilty.

There are a number of issues, the death penalty being one, that I feel very strongly about. Some of them I talk less about than others. I could even make a list: Vegetarianism/veganism, environmentalism, animal rights in general, equality between men and women, anti-abortion but pro-choice, freedom of religion, tolerance of differences across all nationalities and races, non-violence…. and there are probably more that are not coming to mind…. mental health awareness, disability advocacy, etc.

I try not to be pushy about my beliefs. I believe likewise that we all have the right to our personal beliefs so long as we’re not hurting anyone.

I also attempt to weave my beliefs into my actions. I can only do so much, of course. I recycle as much as possible, buy some organic food, talk about environmental issues with people, have become open about mental health issues with friends, volunteer at the Omni Resource Center, and I have helped put on as well as participated in other events related to mental health awareness in Monterey and other places. I try to walk my talk, so to speak.

I always wish I could do a little bit more. There’s always more to be done. But there’s only one of me. There are man more other people, however, and hopefully, the positive actions can add up into one big picture of progress.

Today I volunteered at Omni again. By the way, I forgot to write in my extra hours on my time sheet, darn. Oh well, there’s always next time.

Moving to a One Bedroom in the Same Complex Next Week, and Other Accomplishments


I had been looking around for one bedrooms, but when I asked my manager if I could move before my lease is up, they said I would be responsible for the rent until they found a new renter. That dashed my plans to move into a complex just a little ways away from here but still in the North Salinas realm. As a result, I talked with my friend, Jessica, who works in the office and had a baby girl at the same time I had a baby boy. It came up from a maintenance man who was listening to the conversation that there is, in fact, a rental available on the opposite side of my apartment complex, a one bedroom, downstairs unit. It rents for more than what I had been aiming for, but given my current situation, it’s the best I could come up with at the moment. The head manager said I could move in as soon as next week if I can get some money down to hold it by this coming Monday. So that’s a good thing, since I’m pretty sure I can do that.

Otherwise, I saw David today, and he can walk now! I was so proud! I’m a proud mommy! I love my baby, yay! And he’s doing really well, I’m so happy. Chris was really emotional yesterday about David and about the separation. I felt bad for him.

I’ve been volunteering at Omni Resource Center this week. I started on Thursday, but before that I had started co-facilitating groups already. With the new month, I hope to do the facilitation training. I’m going to ask about it. I want to turn this into a real job someday if I can.