Hello! How’s it going? I’m pretty stinkin’ great. I have a quick layout share today. This is one I did for Simple Scrapper and features one of my favorite photos from our summer adventures. We went to the Grand Canyon with my sister Amy and her family … and it was awesome. I love the Grand Canyon and I always love hanging out with my family. Cooper and Shelby adore their cousins, so it was awesome for everyone.
I can’t say I’m much of a nature person. Most of the time, I prefer hotels over camping. But there’s something about the Southwest that makes my heart skip a beat. The red rocks. The cacti. The tower rocks and jagged canyons. This nature is home.
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“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” – Robin Williams
It’s been a little more than a week since Robin Williams lost his battle with mental illness. The news of his death cut through me in a way words can’t adequately describe. I haven’t be able to stop thinking about him, his disease and the struggle he faced.
I’m bipolar and suffer from acute depression. My highs are really high. My lows are unthinkably low. I’ve always know something about me was different, but when I started having trouble getting out of bed, when tears soaked my pillow for no clear reason and when as an adult I fantasied of running away from my life … I knew I had to do something.
I don’t know what Robin Williams went through. I’m not sure how he felt. But I do know how the feeling of hopelessness can eat you up, slowly gnawing away at any peace and normalcy you desperately crave. I know what it’s like to stare at a darkened ceiling planning your escape from the life you can’t fathom living. I know what it’s like to have tears pour from your eyes and no idea what’s crushing your soul an causing you immense pain and sadness. I know what it’s like to be unable to sleep as you flutter through the darkness on a heady high, though manic moments that convince you that you’re capable of doing anything you put your mind to.
I have a good life. I have a good family. I have beautiful and amazing children. I have a great education. I have a great job full of adventure and excitement. I have some of the most precious friendships with kindreds across the globe. My life is so good. From the outside, there’s nothing that should cause me to be so sad. But that’s just it, it’s not my life that makes me sad. It’s my mental illness that does. I have a disease and that disease makes my heart hurt, the tears flow, the frustration bubble, the manic moments fly by … But it’s a disease, just like diabetes, cancer or high blood pressure.
Why am I sharing this little secret about myself, you might ask? It’s simple: if one person reads this and feels less alone, then it’s worth it. If one person reads this and feels less shame, then it’s worth it. If one person reads this and asks for help, then it’s worth it. It’s taken me nearly 40 years to be comfortable with who I am and it’s time I used my voice + story to help those around me. It’s scary to “let it all hang out.” There are people who read this blog who don’t know me in real life. They might very well judge me. Some of my co-workers and business colleagues read this blog. They might very well judge me. Heck, my family reads this blog and they might be embarrassed or ashamed of my coming out. So be it. I’m will not let shame dictate the choices I make and neither should you. You are more than your mental illness. And you deserve to speak your truth.
I’m not a professional when it comes to treating mental health issues. I would never profess to know everything about it. What I do know, is what works for me.
I take medication. Over the years, I’ve gone on and off medication to treat my illness. My doctor tells me this is very common with bi-polars. When you’re feeling great, you feel like you don’t need your meds. As soon as you go off them then you spiral out of control. I’ve done this, and I know now that I can never do it again. Just like high blood pressure, this is a disease I’ll deal with for the rest of my life, which means I’ll be taking my meds even when I feel awesome (like I do now). I also use alternative methods, such as acupuncture and essential oils, which have proven to be super healthful.
I’ve built a team to help me. I have a psychiatrist and I see him every three months. These regular check ups allow me to check in with him and myself. We chat about how I’m feeling; how life has been going; and how my medications are working. We make changes as needed. I also have family and a few friends who know my whole story. These are people I can lean on and turn to in my time of need.
I practice flow activities. I seek out opportunities to loose myself in activities that take me out of my head and out of my life. Painting and creating are flow activities for me. I pour myself into them and nothing else exists while I’m in creative flow. It allows my mind to take a break and I connect to something beautiful and peaceful.
I exercise. I don’t love exercise and even though I do it almost every single day, I still don’t love it. However, I often joke that exercise “keeps my crazy at bay.” And in all seriousness, it does. Moving my body and working up a sweat are incredibly therapeutic. Everyone benefits when I exercise, as I’m calmer and more focused.
I fill my mind and body with goodness. For me a wandering mind can bring dark thoughts. I make a point of keeping myself busy and filling my mind with goodness. I read a ton. I listen to podcasts. I seek out things that are interesting and uplifting. In the same vein, I watch what I eat. I follow a gluten free diet and try to eat a minimal amount of processed food. For me, garbage in equals garbage out. So I’m thoughtful as to what goes in my mouth and mind.
I set goals. If I don’t have something to work toward, I can get lost in the chaos of life. Setting regular goals has helped me to look forward and not wallow in mistakes and sadness. Right now, Mike and I are training for the Tucson Half Marathon in December. We also set a goal to read 50 books on 2014. Those sorts of goals help me stay focused and I take small steps to achieve them each day.
I write. I write to work out my feelings. I write to tell stories. I write to connect to others. I write to purge myself of the yuck when it starts to simmer and bubble over. I write because it makes me happy. I write because it sets me free.
You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.
There was a time that I was ashamed of my disease. I was embarrassed I wasn’t like everyone else. I no longer carry shame with me. My story may not be ideal and it may be a tough story, but I’m not broken and I have value in this world. I suffer from a disease that will not define me. Instead, I focus on my truths: I’m a good mother. I’m a great wife. I’m a hard worker. I’m a loyal friend. I’m a creative soul who loves paint, paper and words.
I’m proud of the woman I have become. I’ve lived a full and good life thus far, and will continue to thrive as I manage my health and illness. I’d be lying if I said I don’t have bad days. I do. There are days I crawl back into bed and can’t for the life of me figure out why I feel so miserable. But those are the days that I’m constantly reminding myself “Hold on, the light will come.”
If you’re struggling, hold on. The light will come. Reach out. Ask for help. Know that you matter and though your struggle is hard, it can get better. It’s hard work, but you are worth the work.
Hello! I’m so excited to share a little home improvement/decorating project I’ve been working on. Shelby wanted to overhaul her room. It’s been the same powdery pink since we bought the house more than seven years ago. She’s going into 5th grade and wanted something more mature.
The whole process of updating Shelby’s room has been so much fun, but also a little frustrating. Shelby definitely has an opinion about things and we don’t always agree. We both had to make some compromises when it came to her new room, but I also had to remind myself that she deserved a larger say in the outcome, since it is her space after all.
Since this has been quite a process, I wanted to share what I learned:
Take your time. Since we were excited, we both wanted to quickly push the makeover ahead. Luckily, Mike is quite level headed and made as take our time. We picked paint. Prepped the room for the new color. And then spent a weekend purging, organizing and painting. The result? A clean, well-painted canvas we could slowly start playing with.
Next, be thoughtful. We have been super thoughtful about everything that we bring into the new space. If Shelby didn’t totally love it or need it, then it didn’t make the cut. This has created a clean, minimalist space that’s both stylish and tranquil.
Compromise is key. For decisions that didn’t matter, I let Shelby have 100% control. That way when more important decisions came up (ones that hinged on location of outlets, ceiling fans, etc), then I had more leverage to make my case and drive the decision making.
Let it go. There are some things Shelby and I will never agree on. For those things, I had to let go. It’s her room. It’s her space. I really shouldn’t care that much, so I’m (trying) to let go of my own agenda and support her choices. This is a great exercise for the future when we’re going butt heads over a lot of things (hello pre-teen years).
Hello! How’s it going? Summer is winding down at my house. My kids go back to school on Thursday! Holy. Moly. Cow. It seems like they just started their summer break. Shelby will be in 5th grade and Cooper is starting kindergarten (sniff). Both kids are excited for school, especially the part where they get to see their friends.
I have a new layout to share that seems especially appropriate with Cooper starting school and “growing” up. I’ve been a little sad when I start to think about how quickly my kids are growing up. They aren’t so little anymore. And with kindergarten for Coop just days away, I’m feeling this even more. But every now and then Coop (and even Shelby) does something that reminds me he’s still oh so little.
Sometimes I look at you + think you’re SO big and growing up way too fast. Then you beg me to buy you a pair of bumble bee wings at the dollar store + I see the little boy that still are + I’m so grateful my baby is still my baby.
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Hello … how’s it going? Life has been trucking along, at an amazingly speedy pace. Life is so good. I look around and I’m constantly reminded just how blessed I am. I took a blogging break (as I’m sure some of you noticed). I’ve been spending a lot of time think about this space and what I want it to be. I haven’t decided anything, but there are changes afoot. A lot of changes.
Anyway, here’s a new layout I wanted to share with y’all. This one I created for the Daily Digi using a kit from Quirky Heart, which is included in the July 2014 Digi Files.
Ten years. I can’t believe it’s been ten years since I first held you in my arms. Ten years since I heard your first cry. Ten years since you stole my heart. Ten years have never gone by so fast and have never been filled with so much joy.
A couple of weeks ago, my 10-year-old – Shelby – decided she wanted to redecorate her room. She was over the light pink of her “baby” years and wanted something more mature. As soon as she decided she wanted make the change, Shelby was hot to trot to get started. She wanted turquoise walls. She wanted new curtains. She wanted new bedding for her bunk beds. She was wanted to art. All I could think was, “Holy moly, this is going to be expensive.”
But, I didn’t want to discourage her. I wanted her to exercise her creativity and have the room she wanted. It is her room after all and she should have some control over her own space, right? I just had to come up with a way to offset the cost of her grand ideas.
This whole process got me thinking: are there some ways I can save money and repurpose what I have? I have a craft closet that’s overflowing with all sorts of craft goodness, including a whole section of discarded party supplies. Here are a few ways you can incorporate common party supplies you’ll surely have on hand.
I’m a sucker for party lights. Heck, I’m a sucker for anything that twinkles. Have you seen what people are doing with party lights? Search Pinterest for party lights. Be still my heart. It’s just amazing. I’ve bought many a strand of twinkling lights for a party and then tucked them away to be quickly forgotten. Instead of letting them gathering dust, string the lights to freshen up a space and add a little bit of sparkle.
Wrapping Paper Art
I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but I have a wrapping paper addiction. I love buying wrapping paper. I’m pretty sure I have more wrapping paper than I could ever use in a lifetime. As I scoured the Web, I found so many fun ways to reimagine wrapping paper. You can use wrapping paper to make some pretty cool wall art. And if you’re feeling super adventurous, you can upcycle old furniture with wrapping paper and a tub of Mod Podge. Since we’re going to dramatically change the wall color of Shelby’s room, adding an extra piece of decor to highlight the color is a great idea.
Adding a garland or bunting to your room might just be the easiest and cheapest (cheap isn’t a bad word). You can punch shapes out of paper party supplies like plates and cups. I like hearts, but you can use circle, stars or butterflies … whatever you have a punch for. Then sew the shapes together with you sewing machine and you have a quick and fun garland. In Shelby’s room, I have paper hearts strung from her curtain rods, as well as her bedposts.
Since pawing through all my party and crafting supplies my head is swimming with ideas on projects I can do for Shelby’s new room. Now, I just need some time to actually try them all out.