Color Kissed

Fuckin' Juice

I love finding great supplies for art-making.  I’ve stopped being a complete raven, bringing home all the shiny bits and bobs that make me squeal (or caw, if we keep the metaphor).  Now I look specifically for flatter objects and materials—all kinds of paper, fabric, seed beads, flat charms and too-dads.

What I love most are fibers and ribbons.  I order a lot of specialty ribbon and fibers from Flights of Fancy, but my all-time favorite source for ribbon and silk cord is the Etsy shop, Color Kissed Silk.  Tammy always helps me find exactly what I need—or makes makes special arrangements for me.  Because all the ribbons are hand-dyed, nothing in stock stays in stock.  It just morphs into an even more delicious combination of colors.

Solstice 2014A couple of weeks ago, the design for my 2015 holiday card came to me (I love when that happens).  I started ordering my supplies—card stock from Stampin’Up (because their paper is rich, heavier weight, and worth the money), metallic paint spray from Lindy’s (for my required level of grunge and mess), and ribbons from Tammy.

It’s a simple card (not like last year’s major production), but I expect to make about 100 cards this year.  The list of people I love and admire keeps growing, which is only as it should be.  Making my Solstice cards is Christmas for me—sending out all that attention, beauty and love into the world.  Ahh.

Anyway, I told Tammy I needed yardage this year.  And like always, she had everything I needed.  I also planned on making a lot of cards between now and ArtFest in March (I hope to be part of the Artists’ Fair and show off a little), so I ordered a gob of new ribbon and silk cord.  When my order arrived on Saturday, I went into beauty overload.  For two days, I played with my ribbons, laying them out, sorting, figuring out a new way to store them so I can see and feel them all as I pull a card together.  Aren’t they gorgeous?

CIMG3356

 

Old FavoritesAs I sorted my old stuff in with the new, I found snippets of silk cord that Tammy doesn’t make anymore.  I kept them to remind me to ask if she had any of these old colors stuffed in a drawer somewhere, but always forgot.  So I contacted her yesterday to find out.  Here’s what she said:

I have a bag of scraps. I don’t know what is what … I don’t have any of the originals to compare so I can’t identify any of them… I will send it to you and you may find some use for this mess…  keep in mind this is just end pieces thrown in a bucket so they are not at all organized, labeled , or pressed…..I am not even sure what length they are… Put it to use if you can… they will go out tomorrow.

Holy Jackpot, Batman!  I asked what she wanted in the way of payment.

Nothing, they are just scraps… that I should have thrown away long ago, not sure why I ever kept them…

Oh, I know why.  It’s called Synchronisity.  And Abundance.  And the fact that the Universe abhors a void, so while its taken away my compulsive eating, my Beauty Glutton still gets to binge on a Bucket of Ribbons!

Somedays, it’s really good to be on An Adventure.

Signs

Seems to be a MysticThe UU service in Des Moines this morning sounded interesting—a teen talking about trans-gender issues.  I’d missed the last couple of Sundays, so my intent last night was to shake off the bipolar ennui enough to get there today.  I was a little late, so grabbed a frappuccino out of the cooler at the gas station instead of standing in line at Starbucks.  But it was snowing, and slushy, and the roads hadn’t been cleared well.  On the road, I debated whether to keep going or turn back and watch the rest of Season One of Hannibal instead (I’m preparing for next season when Richard Armitage joins the cast—yaay!).

As I pondered, I shook my frappuccino.  The lid flew off, and sugared coffee doused me, my windshield, and everything else with me (purse, dash, floor).  Dumbstruck, then laughing, I grabbed at Kleenex and mopped my face.

“Okay, okay, I’ll turn around!”

After scrubbing out the car (sticky, but what a yummy smell!), washing my coat, purse, book bag in the tub, and sticking my head under the faucet to get the coffee-sugar out of my hair, I watched the snow plows rumble by.  That’s okay.  Sometimes I do have to get hit over the head to get the message.  Or, at least, splashed in the face.

Are you ready, Dr. Lecter?

spilled coffee

The Magic of Showing Up

Collage art, Greeting cardsI figured flying to England and back would give me a cold.  And I thought the spotty sleep over there mixed with the inevitable drop in adrenaline might bring on depression.  Check and Check.  What I really hoped for, though, was magic.  Alas, no.

I hoped a break from this weird job I started in July might help me see a clear path.  Stay or Go?  Jump in with both feet and start setting up mental wellness support groups?  Or resign and look for a position with less chaos, less pressure, less ambiguity?  You’d think leaving the freaking country might shift one’s perspective, throw a little light into the shadows, turn the fire up under the subconscious, but no.  I’m still sitting just as squarely on the fence, the pros and cons equally balanced.  I’m still in this Neither/Nor space—not able to fully commit, but not able to back away.

Sick and depressed, the impulse is to quit, crawl back into my safe, old life and nurse myself back to health.  But, I don’t know if going back is the answer.  I’ve spent the last two months pushing my Distress Tolerance envelope, and now I have this new space around me.  When the impulse says, “Run!” I can actually take a step back from it and answer, “Wait.”  And when I do that, the emotion and the thoughts settle down, and I simply show up for whatever is in front of me.  Sure, I could take this skill back to my old life, but I’ve had a taste of more.  I can have more if I just wait and stay present.

Yesterday, I felt too funky, physically and mentally, to meet my friend, but I also knew it would be good for me to get out of the apartment and into the sunshine.  So, I went.  Allison and I get together to write, which is always good, and to connect, which is even better.  We sat in our booth, doing our thing, aware of the noise in the booth behind us—two very young mothers with their combined litter of small children eating lunch—when it suddenly got very quiet.  We had heard the bonk of a little head hitting something hard and anticipated the bawl that would follow.  We both turned and saw that the baby was choking.

Allison asked the mother if she needed help, and she rushed the toddler to our booth.  I picked him up without thinking, and started doing the Heimlich.  One.  Two.  Three.  Four.  Out flew a wad of chewed food.  And he started crying.

The mother grabbed him and the whole crew went back to their booth.

I looked at the baby crying in his mother’s arms.  I looked at Allison.  She looked at me.

“I’m glad I showed up today,” I told her.

I believe in synchronisity and looking for lessons in the moment.  But, this was a little much.  My legs felt like jelly as I walked to my car.

Just Show Up.

Well, I asked for magic, didn’t I?

 

Seekers Find

Temporal Map

I’m starting to notice a pattern.  Whenever I reach critical mass with my bipolar symptoms and seek additional help, something wonderful happens.  Is it the Universe putting things in balance?  Do I open up to a wider definition of “help”?  Is my distress signal amped to a new frequency?  Or is it that I’m surrounded by more professionals with more resources and more ideas?  Maybe it’s just coincidence.  Or maybe I need to quit over-thinking it.

After being in partial hospitalization this past week, I got a call from my mental health clinic at home.  They will be developing a Peer Support program and asked the Nurse Practitioner and therapists if they had any recommendations for candidates.  My name came up.

So, I met with the team yesterday.  They’re still not sure what to do with Peer Support—the mandates are purposely vague to let providers plug Peer’s into a variety of roles—but they have some ideas.  It was fun to thrash those around with them.  I was honest about being in treatment now and my anxiety about returning to work.  But I think I presented myself well as a professional with skills.  I felt welcomed and respected.  It was a positive experience.

They have a lot of work to do—more candidates to interview, decisions to make.  It will probably be a few weeks before I hear from the committee again.  That’s fine.  The seed is planted.  What I need to do now is concentrate on my own Work—attending the outpatient sessions at Mercy during the week, meeting with the counselor assigned to me there (my buddy, Dan, who got me started on this Peer Support path in the first place), doing the homework assignments, watching my resistance and my anxiety.  A new rhythm will develop.

As a Trekker, geek fan-girl, and spiritual renegade, this convergence feels like the Laws of Attraction and Vibratory Resonance in action.  That comforts me.  But, it doesn’t really matter what’s at work here.  All that matters is that Opportunity Happens when I ask for Help.

Workin’ It

As with most things I do when I’m stable, I’m totally rocking my Smart Car Quest—walking to the Y, saving all my errands for one trip, eating at home, keeping a list of things I want in order to delay gratification.  And just as I hoped, the Universe is conspiring to assist.  Yesterday, a friend offered to let me use a spare phone she just happens to have on her service plan.  She may also have a little job for me keeping a website up to date.  And as I promised, I’m staying open and accepting of the gifts coming my way.  With gratitude.

It feels so good to take back some control over my life.  Even if this is as fleeting as my mood, a few days of determining my own destiny helps me remember that being bipolar doesn’t have to equal being helpless.  Or alone.

Here’s a shot of my front door, where I stick all things inspirational.  Bruce is still coming to me in my dreams.  And I’ve added my own version of the typical work safety sign.  I’m aiming to put that puppy into the double digits. Because…

I’m on an Adventure.

Psychic Acne

I woke up this morning from a high school reunion dream.  This is not a good way to start the day.  But, it feels more like a subconscious zit coming to a head after churning through current events.  So, I’m hoping I can just give it a good scrub and move along.

I tried my hand at another old skill yesterday—public speaking.  My mom asked me to talk to her social club about bipolar disorder.  So, I put together a presentation and, after the huge potluck, gave my spiel.  I think it went well.  No one nodded off after all the cheesy potatoes and macaroni salads.  And several people had questions or wanted to talk about grandchildren or friends who had BP.  I always figure that’s a good sign when a speaker can get folks to talk.  Others came to me privately afterward to discuss the material in more depth.  That felt right, too.

Discussing mental illness is frightening to some, fascinating to others.  The freak-show aspect of it can be a big draw.  If I can be articulate and funny while also candid about how the illness manifests for me, I like to think I humanize a condition that’s usually kept secret.  That’s my hope anyway, and I think I was pretty successful yesterday.

But, I was exhausted afterward.  And wired.  Telling my story always effects me that way.  Even though I’m completely comfortable being “out” as a person with bipolar disorder, there’s still an element of risk in telling my tale.  I share intimate details with strangers, then give them permission to make comments about my life.  It’s a vulnerable situation.

On my way home, I stopped to check out a new chiropractor.  I injured my shoulder years ago, and the laps I swam to recover my range of motion after surgery woke up that old injury.  The pain in my neck and shoulder was only getting worse, so I knew I needed to take care of it.  My former chiropractor stopped accepting Medicare, so he wasn’t an option.  I had to find someone new.  Dr. Beane and his wife led the Unitarian Universalist service on Sunday.  When I learned he was a chiropractor, I grooved on the synchronistiy and found his office.

So, once more I had to tell my story—different focus, but life events are life events.  He listened thoughtfully, then went about his business.  The scar tissue and inflammation around my shoulder had progressed so far they had pulled the bone out of the socket.  Dr. Beane said I had a significant “droop shoulder” and worked to snap it back into place.

I’m encouraged and in less pain this morning, though it will take several sessions to reap the full effects.  Money will be an issue.  His office requires full payment up front, then Medicare will reimburse me for whatever percentage they cover.  Money—the constant worry.  But it seems important to take care of his injury before heading in for another surgery.  I feel like I need as many parts of me strong and in working order as possible to compensate for the upcoming restrictions and pain.

So, I’m not surprised that my brain churned out a fussy, uncomfortable dream about feeling vulnerable and judged. Today—observe and get some Clearasil.

Entropy

I just finished reading Stephen King’s newest doorstop, 11/22/63.  It’s a story about time travel and the Kennedy assassination, and one of the themes is that the past fights hard to stay the same.  Yesterday, I couldn’t help thinking that the present (particularly my present) will roll over anyone (insert “me”) to stay the same.

I visited the Animal Shelter yesterday to discuss volunteering.  The gal at the desk asked me what I’d like to do.  I said anything that needed doing.  She signed me up to work next Monday afternoon.  I walked back out to my truck in a daze.  I’d been in the building a good seven minutes.

On the drive back to town I kept telling myself, “You can do this.  It’s one afternoon.  It’s doggies and kitties.”  But, the anxiety started low in my gut and crept up to my throat.  Where was all that positive, life-affirming determination that shot me out of Minneapolis and back to Marshalltown with a vision of My New Life?  Stuck under the depression that’s since arrived, I imagine.  It was as if a part of me fought hard to stay the same.  Because the same is known, safe.

Later I went to Wal-Mart.  To start beautifying my little apartment and make it more my home, I asked my mom to help me purchase a storage cabinet for my bathroom.  Always happy to have something concrete to buy for me, Mom agreed.  I found a reasonably priced one online and had it shipped to our local store.

“Some assembly required” meant a box full of boards (Not boards, pressboard—the next step up from cardboard) and a big bag of hardware.  I’m pretty handy.  I mean, I’ve got my own drill, for heaven’s sake.  So, I wasn’t too concerned about putting an over-the-toilet cupboard together.  The instruction manual neglected to mention fronts or backs of any of the pieces, so I “assembled” the thing three times.  By then the anchors were tearing out of the pressboard, and even Gorilla Glue wouldn’t keep it standing up.  After five hours of wrestling with the thing, I gave up and took it back.  At least I got my money back.

The present took one last jab this morning.  As I was cleaning the pieces of my CPAP machine, I poked a hole in the hose that connects the machine to my face mask.  I stood at the bathroom sink, holding up both ends of the hose, watching water squirt out the hole, and I thought.  “Okay.  I give up.”  I can’t afford any more accidents (I fell on the ice out side Wal-Mart and also getting into my truck) or medical issues (an old shoulder injury is painfully back in town and there’s some gynecological shenanigans going on in my nether-regions).  I get the message.

But, there’s a part of me outside the current depression that’s getting steely-eyed.  I can feel her reaching for the Uzi.  Entropy may be a powerful force, but so is the Bad-Ass.  I’ll regroup and rethink while the depression grips me.  But, after that.  Yippy-Ki-Yay, Motherf*****.

Amazed in Blogland

Yesterday was a first for me.  Someone reblogged my post to their own blog.  I didn’t know whether to be flattered or run to the teacher and tattle.  So, I zipped over to this rapscallion’s site to see what was going on.

Well, for Heaven’s Sake.  Ian Reese is from Mumbles, South Wales.  I could not have made that up on my best writing day.  His motto is Nid bod ond byw, which is Welsh for Not existing, but living.

The more I explored his blog(s), the more perplexed I became.  This young man writes mostly thoughtful political commentary about what’s going on in Britain, or posts wonderful photography.  How the heck did my little post on searching for the ultimate coffee shop fit his gestalt?  And how in the world did he find me in the first place?

Sometimes this blogging business feels like the ultimate in serendipity.  Social Media meets the Laws of Attraction and Karma.  You get what you put out into the world.  What goes around, comes around.  Toss a bit of your soul into the vasty, cyber seas and it comes back in a bottle made of diamonds.

The people I’ve met by keeping this public journal are deep and wide, soulful, striving, loving human beings who shock my socks off every single day.  Even old friends and members of my family reveal parts of themselves here that are surprising and tender.  What a miracle to connect with such beauty!  What a miracle to be found, stumbled over in the electronic dark, by minds and hearts so open and giving.

Ian, if you’re out there, buddy, I thank you for this amazing gift.  And I promise to keep on living, not just existing.

Zane!

I wanted to share the collage I made for my new grand-nephew, Zane.  As I write this, it’s heading south to Oklahoma with my mom, sister and her husband.  While his big brother, Wyatt, holds a special place in my heart, Zane carries a little extra spiritual juju.  He was born two weeks after my dad died, and I like to thing of them passing each other in the ethers, offering their wisdom about the realms they’re about to enter.  You can see Great Grandpa Fred in the upper right corner of the piece, calling Zane.  It makes me a little hungry to hold that new baby boy.

Drifting in the Surreals

The past few days have been odd.  It’s the time of year when the veil between Worlds grows thin, and elements bleed from one side to the other.  But, Death and Change are thick like burning leaves in the air—and I’m still coughing.

I saw my psychiatrist for the first time in several months.  Just a check-in.  She seemed at loose ends, since I’m not on medication and not clamoring for some kind of relief.  She asked lots of questions about how I manage my illness, praised my blog, then asked if I wanted to come back “in six months, twelve months, or never.”  We decided it was best to come back in a year, that way I’d still be on the books “just in case” (I’m big on safety nets).  But, how weird to be officially on my own.  My shrink can’t help me.  My therapist can’t help me.  I’m scouting new frontiers in bipolarism, with no “experts” to refer to or fall back on.  It’s exciting and scary.

Then, the father of a dear friend passed away, which is a weird juxtaposition since our family is waiting for my dad to do the same.  She’s home from Minnesota, tending to the funeral details.  I find I’m mentally taking notes, because I’ll be doing the same things soon.  She came over for a while last night, a chance to talk without worrying about her mom or siblings.  Everything she said could have come out of my mouth, every emotion from my own heart.  How odd and beautiful to have a close friend traveling this path with me.  It’s like an echo of my own voice coming out of the mist.

And we hover in this strange holding pattern with my dad.  Every day he fails a little more—now using oxygen, now confined to bed.  He still knows us all, but gets confused—a combination of morphine and kidney failure.  Some days it seems disrespectful to talk about his funeral arrangements.  Other days it seems proper to get those details out in the open and checked off our invisible list.  Some days we feel lifted when he eats a few bites of oatmeal.  Other days, we wish the aides would just let him rest.

This is the dance we weave between the Worlds—one step back into the past, one step forward into the future, then a shuffle-rest in the present.  I find that when I’m with Dad, I’m really with him—not thinking about our past or his future, but touching his swollen hand, listening to his weak words, looking into his pale eyes.  It’s very restful there with him, just waiting and being present.  Around me, the situations and events of the past few days swirl in surreal colors.  But sitting next to Dad, things seem quite clear.

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