Christmas Cheer #7

handmade greeting card, collage art

My brother and sister in a rare congenial moment.

Of course this was before I was born.

Nuff said.

Christmas Cheer & Gratitude

Science Fiction

 I loved my Gramma.  She was creative with bits and bobs, which set me on my path.  Here, she made our Santas out of oatmeal boxes.  They were filled with new underwear—HooHoo! (I’m on the left).

Christmas Cheer #5

handmade greeting card, collage art

This is the Solstice card I sent out last year.  I use images of Yggdrasil, the Norse Tree of Life, in a lot of my Solstice pieces.  I’m working on an art quilt of Yggdrasil to eventually hang on my door, but it’s far from complete.  I’ll share it when I’m done.

Christmas Cheer #4

handmade greeting card, collage art

My Uncle Herb and my dad in front of the house where I grew up.

Don’t all farm dogs look the same?


Christmas Cheer #3

handmade greeting card, collage art

Is it weird to admit this is me as a baby?

‘Cause I think she’s kinda cute.


Christmas Cheer #2

handmade greeting card, collage art


Christmas Cheer #1

Since I’ll be in the theater Hobbitting all day tomorrow, I will leave this bit of Christmas cheer.  And you know what I’ll be grateful for tomorrow!  squeeeeeee!

handmade greeting card, collage art

Christmas Unplugged

handmade greeting cards, collage art,Phew!  Well, that’s over.

Unplugging from Christmas felt a little like traveling through a foreign country.  After 55 years of doing Christmas, undoing it was just weird.  I was able to see how much anxiety and stress the holiday generated in me from the time I was tiny (sleepless and hysterical, watching for a magical man with presents to land on my roof) through my years working retail and still making all the family gatherings, to buying presents I couldn’t afford and eating food that made me sick, to the sensory and emotional blitzkrieg that ultimately triggers a fierce bipolar storm.

Thanksgiving was a trial run, choosing not to attend the family dinner.  I had to navigate some pretty big potholes of guilt and shame, feelings of being mean, selfish, anti-social, unloving, ungrateful, etc.  It was about as difficult not to go to Thanksgiving dinner as it was to go.  But, I knew I was carving a new path, and that it would get easier.

It did.  As a whole, my family was supportive.  They missed me at the celebrations, but didn’t pile on any additional guilt (I still had some of my own to manage).  My brother and I are starting a new tradition of meeting for breakfast the morning he starts back for home (he lives nine hours north).  This is perfect.  I can still enjoy him without getting overwhelmed.  My sister took me to a darling little coffee shop last week where we could do the same.  Now, I need to figure out some new tradition to do with my mom.  Hmmm…

Jimmy Stewart, It's a Wonderful LifeIt helped that I was still enjoying fair mental weather this week.  So, cooking a pot of delicious, vegan soup yesterday was a joy instead of a stressor.  Listening to my holiday music and snipping new captions for cards felt relaxing and calming.  And then watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” and getting weepy over the sweet Frank-Capra-isms was fun and kept me connected to the holiday.  I still ate too much yesterday, but all in all, it was a success.

And as a side note, my therapist gave me a tool I’d like to share with all my neuro-diverse friends.  It’s called The 14 Days of Christmas and is a way to navigate the stress the week before and the week after the holiday.  Here’s how it works:

The following activities are written on little slips of paper and put in a jar.  On each of the fourteen days, a slip is drawn and the activity carried out.  This helps in a number of ways:  each day has a small, doable goal; each day holds something to look forward to; and each day provides a small self-soothing or pleasurable activity.  All these benefits could mean the difference between losing one’s mind and keeping it.  Of course, there are times when no tool can keep the episodes from happening, but I like to have as many guns in my arsenal as possible.

Here’s the list.  Of course, everyone will have others to add that will make the list more personal.  I’m also going to fancy-up a jar and pack this with my Christmas decorations for next year.  That way I’ll have it ready to go.

The 14 Days of Christmas Activities

  1. Make an Alphabet Gratitude List (A is for Aunt Tootsie, B is for Biker-Chic boots, etc.)
  2. Make a list of ten things you like about yourself or skills you have when you are feeling good, then keep it to read when the bad times come.
  3. Do at least one activity that appeals to each of the senses (visit a flower shop, light a scented candle, etc.)
  4. Make a collage with pictures/words cut out of old magazines.  Let it be about what soothes you.
  5. Write down a New Year’s Goal—something you have control over and is reasonable.
  6. Go to a cafe or coffee shop.
  7. Journal.
  8. Turn on loud, fast music and dance.
  9. Read your favorite book, magazine, paper or poem.
  10. Read a trashy, celebrity magazine.
  11. Go for a drive.
  12. Write a letter to someone you haven’t heard from in a while.
  13. Watch an inspirational or funny movie.
  14. Get a haircut or pedicure.
  15. Play a video game or card game.
  16. Make a scrapbook.
  17. Make a list of people you admire (real or fictional) and why.
  18. Blog
  19. Try cooking a new recipe.
  20. Get a massage or go to a spa.
  21. Pray or meditate.
  22. Go to the library or a bookstore.
  23. Do something with your hands (knit, crochet, build models, make art, etc.).
  24. Have sex (alone or with someone you care about).
  25. Do your favorite exercise.
  26. Talk to a friend on the phone.
  27. Go to a museum or art gallery.
  28. Find something funny to do (read the Sunday comics, visit “I Can Haz Cheeseburger” on the net, etc.)
  29. Take a nap.
  30. Write a Bucket List.
  31. Chat online.
  32. Invite a friend to your home.
  33. Sing or play a musical instrument.
  34. Make a simple meal and invite someone to join you.
  35. Watch TV.
  36. Go for a walk and take a picture of whatever catches your eye.
  37. Have a little chocolate.
  38. Go outside and watch the clouds or the stars.
  39. Visit your favorite Web sites.
  40. Go to the movies.
  41. Learn something new (a new word, new skill, idea, information about a friend, anything) and write about it.
  42. Give a gift (bought, made, an experience, time together, etc.).
  43. Join an Internet dating service.
  44. Shop (virtual or real).
  45. Go visit a friend.
  46. Listen to gentle music.
  47. Play a game with someone else.
  48. Sell the stuff you don’t want on eBay or
  49. Draw or paint a picture.
  50. Add to this list.

A Few Days of Christmas: Day 10

handmade greeting cards, collage art, Christmas

♥ ♥ ♥

May Your Days be Merry and Bright,

and May all your Christmases

have Aunties who aren’t Quite Right.

A Few Days of Christmas: Day 9

handmade greeting cards, collage art, Christmas

♥ ♥ ♥

I love this picture.  My sissy is absolutely stupified with joy.

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