The Borrowers

The 2010 Studio Ghibli movie, “The Secret World of Arrietty”, is probably the most modern version of the Borrowers that I know. My step daughter was home sick from school and this was the movie she ended up picking to start her sick day. I sat with her a bit and watched because I really do love this film. It’s shorter than I’d care for it to be, but a lot of the later Ghibli films did seem shorter for whatever reason.

I let my step daughter know that this movie was based off a book series that I read as a child. I was probably her age when I started to voraciously tear through the series. The Borrowers and the Borrowers: Afield, Afloat, Aloft, & Avenged. This nostalgia has me really wanting to find these books. I know that a Borrower’s movie was made in 1997 and John Goodman appeared in it. It wasn’t horrible, but it was most definitely one of those moments when I still feel like the book was better.

The reason I typically think the book is better? My mental version of characters is never quite the same as other people’s. There’s always such a limitation on things when you give it life beyond text. I’ll always, ALWAYS rant about this if the topic of book versus movie comes up. Studio Ghibli films are always amazing at bringing fantastical life to novels that Miyazaki converted. These films are marvelous, but even my favorite film “Howl’s Moving Castle” still doesn’t scratch the surface of everything from the novel. The “Howl” series by Diana Wynne Jones is incredible. I feel like I’ve probably said this before. It’s my favorite series and probably only second to my favorite book of all, “Neverwhere” by Neil Gaiman. One day I’ll have to do a post about that book.

Mary Norton is the genius who also wrote the “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” series. I only really knew the first one, but there apparently were sequels. The 1971 musical movie starring Angela Lansbury is another large portion of my childhood memory. I remember watching that one so many times on repeat that the beta tape we had it recorded on broke at one point. Does the mention of a beta tape give you an idea of what my age is?

I never read “The Littles” book series by John Peterson, which is very similar to “the Borrowers” series by Mary Norton. Except the Littles have tails in the novel, and in the cartoon series they have pointy ears and buck teeth. I remember watching the cartoon series when I was younger, which makes sense since the series was produced in 1983 and 1985. It’s apparently on Amazon Prime Television right now, so I might throw myself into some nostalgia land later.

What series is iconic from your childhood memory? Book or television series?

Once again, thanks, guys for reading! I’m trying to stay ahead of the curve and write posts daily, so that my buffer doesn’t run out.

The Art of Simple Living: Part Two

Part Two: 30 Ways to Inspire Confidence and Courage for Living

Try changing your perspective.

  1. Discover Another You: Find your inner protagonist. Your protagonist has boundless potential.
  2. Don’t Be Troubled By Things That Have Not Yet Happened: Anxiety is intangible. Anxiety. Where does it actually exist?
  3. Take Pleasure in Your Work: Work is what brings out your inner protagonist. Joy is to be found within yourself.
  4. Simply Immerse Yourself: The tremendous power of being unfettered. Empty your mind, and do not let it settle anywhere or wander.
  5. Do Not Feel Put Out By the Tasks Before You: A way to make work much more enjoyable. “A day without working is a day without eating.”
  6. Don’t Blame Others: A way of thinking that will bring forth opportunity and fortune. Think of the work you’re doing as an encounter.
  7. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others: When you feel as though you’re doing the wrong job. In anything, the hard part is just to keep going.
  8. Seek Not What You Lack: Be content with the here and now. The quickest path to achieving results.
  9. Every So Often Try to Stop Thinking: Where ideas can be hiding. The benefits of having room in your mind.
  10. Make Distinctions: The best way to relieve stress. Try erecting gates in your mind.
  11. Try Attending a Zazen Sitting: A chance t o sweep the detritus from your mind. You can leave behind your stress and worries at the temple.
  12. Plant a Single Flower: No day is more important than today. In the world of nature, every day is a new day.
  13. Make a Proper Start: Create an “upward spiral”. How to generate lots of good around you.
  14. Cherish Your Own Self: The meaning of carrying an amulet. An amulet is your alter ego.
  15. Think Simple: If you really want to satisfy your mind. What might seem deceptively appealing
  16. Do Not Fear Change: Cast off your attachment to the past. These is beauty to be found in change.
  17. Notice Changes: Everything else springs from this awareness. The effect of observing yourself from a fixed point.
  18. Feel Instead of Think: To foster a true zest for life. The advantage of those who notice small changes.
  19. Don’t Let Things Go to Waste: For instance, try eating radish greens. What is a “Zen mind”?
  20. Don’t Be Bound By a Single Perspective: There is more than just “the proper way”. The concept of mitate.
  21. Think with Your Own Head: Be skeptical of common sense. Knowledge and wisdom are similar but not the same.
  22. Believe in Yourself: When you give up your potential drops to zero. Possibility springs from confidence.
  23. Instead of Worrying, Get Moving: A much easier way to meet a challenge. For those who plant the seeds of their own anxiety.
  24. Maintain a Supple Mind: What purpose does hard work serve? A supple mind is a strong mind.
  25. Get Active: Become more down-to-earth. Some things you can appreciate only when you do them yourself.
  26. Wait for the Right Opportunity: When things don’t go the way you want. The Japanese mind-set.
  27. Appreciate Your Connection with Things: Recognize the luxury of not having things. An appreciation for things is an appreciation for yourself.
  28. Try Just Sitting Quietly in Nature: Make time to look closely at yourself. The reason why, when you encounter a garden, you have an unconscious desire to sit down.
  29. Try Clearing Your Head: Become aware of which senses are being stimulated. Do less, not more.
  30. Enjoy a Zen Garden: Experience how such a garden is imbued with the “Zen mind”. There are healing powers within a Zen garden.

Okay, first of all. I just LOVE the idea that you are the protagonist. Protagonist: (noun) The leading character or one of the major characters in a drama, movie, novel, or other fictional text. The main figure or one of the most prominent figures in a real situation. An advocate or champion of a particular cause or idea. Too often, we’re taught to be generous and giving to others. We’re pushed to consider others above ourselves. And that’s always a good lesson. But I’ve found with mental health issues, being selfish is something that’s very difficult for some of us. Take care of yourself. Consider yourself the leading character of your own life story.

#2 – The book really puts it into perspective. “I will calm these anxieties for you. But first, will you bring them to me? If you can set them before me and say, ‘These are the anxieties that burden me.’ I will be sure to calm them for you.” We’re holding onto things that aren’t tangible. We only give them as much power as we allow. It’s really hard to accept this. In the past, this sort of mindset used to make me angry. Because I felt as if someone was talking down to me. It doesn’t feel easy just to push away anxiety, especially for someone that gets fixated on certain thoughts. In this situation, I would point to Accumulate Positives from DBT as a great way to help. You can’t focus your energy on something that upsets you if your mind is focused on something good.

#7 – This is one of my hardest things to come to terms with in life. I’m always thinking about others and how they do things. When you don’t know how to proceed, you tend to look for an example, right? In these cases, I’m always using someone else as a litmus test. And I know that I shouldn’t. I should be looking at my own achievements in the past. I’ve had my newest therapist point this out many times. I’ve handled situations that are stressful much better than I ever did in the past. Things that have happened to me recently, I don’t believe I would have handled them well five years ago. A decade ago. I’m a better me than I was before and every day I’m making progress. And even when I have set backs, that’s just another lesson to learn from.

#9 – I can almost never shut down my mind. I’m always thinking about something, daydreaming, or otherwise. It’s mentally exhausting. They say that even Zen monks have trouble shutting off their minds. I’ve envied my SO for his ability to think about nothing. He’ll often zone out and stare at something. And I’m always wondering what he’s thinking about. Contrary to my own experience, he’s often times just not pondering anything. If you ever find yourself wondering, “What was I just thinking?” That might be the mindlessness that they’re referring to. Apparently these are the times when ideas or sparks might emerge from your thoughts. Which makes sense. If you pack so many things into your mind constantly, where is the room for new creations?

#14 – I never knew the reasoning behind amulets. The book explains and it’s so enlightening. “Think of an amulet as an alter ego of the deity or of the Buddha himself. You’re looking after the deity for a year. You must protect the deity. And by cherishing the amulet, you are cherishing your own self.” The amulet isn’t something magical that gives you powers of protection. You’re supposed to value yourself.

#16 – Change is so upsetting. I’m a creature set in my ways. The idea of deviating from the normalcy of things is so upsetting. Change has always seemed awful, bad, and wrong. My Dad is gone. My pets are gone. The things I’m used to aren’t there any more. Things change as we age and our surroundings never stay the same no matter how much we try. The harder you try to grip a handful of sand, the more the grains slip through our fingers. I loved the one statement in the book, “Rather than lament change, it (a supple mind) finds new beauty and hope in it. That is a life to which to aspire.”

#18 – I had to read this one first to understand it. They don’t mean just to feel with your emotions. I’m more of an emotional person and I tend to react to things based off my emotions. In this instance, they mean to feel things with your five senses. Which is actually one of the exercises I’ve been taught for anxiety attacks. Look at something, drink in the sight of the ocean and the sky meeting on the horizon. Taste something, like the salt in the sea air. Smell something, like the scent of the water coming in from the ocean. Feel something, such as the sand between your toes as you sit on the beach. Listen to the sounds of the waves crashing on the shore or the noises the seagulls make. Take interest in the environment around you. Enjoy the details of the world.

#22 – I have such a a hard time with this one. “There is capability within all of us — no one has zero potential… For those who feel stuck, or that they have lost their conviction, the answer is to boost your believe in yourself.” It feels like if you can find this ability. Even a drop of it. It will go such a long way. And it’s something you have to find for yourself. Someone else can’t give it to you.

#23 – Opposite Action! Plain and simple!

#29 – Do less, not more. HOLY COW. That’s just. I don’t hear that EVER. EVER. Making time to clear your head. Just giving yourself a moment for that. It’s not something that can be stressed enough. I’m always hearing cries to be productive. When you’re at work, “if you have time to lean, then you should be cleaning.” Or when you’re at home, people telling you not to waste the day. Do something. Even during leisurely activities, we’re being told to get the most out of life. What if doing less is how you do get more?

I really am enjoying this book. I’ll probably wait a few days before I post about Part Three and Four though. I want to give myself some time to let the Zen stuff sink in. This feels like something you have to take in gradually. My brain feels pickled right now from these concepts. Too much all at once means less retention. I’ve been trying to consider this as I do my DBT skills. I didn’t just read one DBT book and suddenly understand it all. This is one of those moments where I’ll have to revisit the concept a few times.

Thanks as always for your consideration, guys!

The Art of Simple Living: Part One

Okay, the first part of the book is really interesting. It makes sense because Zen is one of the building blocks to the foundation of DBT skills. The book is nice since it really only has about a page of text about each of these points. It’s not really something I’ll expand upon to much in this one post, but I thought I’d give the points of each sections to show what the book is like.

30 Ways to Energize your “Present Self”

Try making a subtle shift in your habits.

  1. Make Time for Emptiness: First, observe yourself. Be with yourself as you are, but without haste, without impatience.
  2. Wake Up 15 Minutes Earlier: The prescription for when there is no room in your heart. How being busy makes you lose heart.
  3. Savor the Morning Air: The monk’s secret to a long life is found here. Each day is not the same.
  4. Line Up Your Shoes When You Take Them Off: This will beautify your life. Disorder in your mind shows in your feet.
  5. Discard What You Don’t Need: It will refresh your mind. Part with old things before acquiring new ones.
  6. Organize Your Desktop: Cleaning hones the mind. Your desk is a mirror that reflects your inner mind.
  7. Make a Delicious Cup of Coffee: The happiness to be found in taking your time. When we eliminate effort, we eliminate life’s pleasures.
  8. Put Pen to Paper with Care: Your true self can be seen in your handwriting. Turn your attention inward.
  9. Try Using a Loud Voice: This is a way to get yourself motivated. Speak from your belly and awaken your brain.
  10. Do NOT Neglect Your Meals: Make your meals about the eating. “Eat and drink with your whole heart.”
  11. When Eating, Pause After Every Bite: Savor the sense of gratitude. Zen practice is not just seated meditation.
  12. Discover the Benefits of a Vegetable-Centric Diet: A vegetarian fast is a “quick cleanse” for your mind and body. Inspired by a high priest’s beautiful posture.
  13. Seek Out Your Favorite Words: Time for being with you mind. For example, “All things come from nothingness” — a Zen phrase to free yourself from attachments.
  14. Pare Down Your Belongings: Acquire only what you need. The concept of exhausting the essence of things.
  15. Arrange Your Room Simply: Doing so will simplify your mind as well. The difference between simplicity and frugality.
  16. Try Going Barefoot: How to keep sickness away. The reason why monks go barefoot.
  17. Exhale Deeply: How to eliminate negative emotions. Improve your breathing, and your mind, too, will improve.
  18. Sit Zazen: The effects of sitting and thinking. Humans are not capable of deep reflections while we are moving.
  19. Try a Standing Practice: A Zen-style method to make use of your commuting time. An easy way to motivate yourself.
  20. Don’t Waste Time Worrying About Things You Cannot Control: What does it mean to become spiritually lighter? The moment when you suddenly leave yourself behind.
  21. Become Adept at Switching Modes: Create gates within your mind. There are such things as “necessary nonessentials”.
  22. Breath Slowly: A five-minute “chair zazen” during your lunch break. To settle your mind, first adjust your posture and your breathing.
  23. Join Your Hands Together: The way to calm an irritable mind. The meaning of gassho: The left hand represents you; the right hand represents others.
  24. Make Time to Be Alone: The first step towards simple living, Zen style. The benefits of “seclusion in the city”.
  25. Get in Touch with Nature: Find the happiness that is right at hand. Create a miniature garden in your mind.
  26. Create a Small Garden on Your Balcony: A little place for practicing mindfulness. You can sharpen your mind, no matter where you are.
  27. Seek out the Sunset: Be grateful for making it through another day. Find your own “sunset steps”.
  28. Don’t Put Off What You Can Do Today: You cannot regret the future. Learn from a monk’s last wishes.
  29. Don’t Think of Unpleasant Things Right Before Bed: A five-minute “bed zazen” before going to sleep. Time to reset your mind.
  30. Try Your Best to Do What You Can Now: It will lead to good things. Don’t go chasing after clouds — you will never catch them.

There’s four parts in total to the book. I’ll try to post the other sections on other days. It just seems like so much to cover. A large part of all of these that I listed above for me personally will be actually -wanting- to implement them into my life. Some of these really will be hard and go completely against my own nature.

I suppose that’s part of the Willingness to try versus the Willfulness to continue to do what I’ve always done. If I want to see a change, I should at least be willing to try something new and see how well it effects my life.

Contemplating on a few of those:

#6 – Oh no, if that’s the chase, then my mind is piled up with everything. I keep so many things near by because I’m worried about loosing them. That means that it just ends up being a TON of clutter. I can’t even take a picture of my desk right now. I’m so ashamed of how messy it is.

#7 – I’ll try that with a cup of tea. Because it’s less about the drink and more about the act and mindset you take as you go about that one.

#10 & #11 – Mindful eating. When you’re doing Zen Meals there’s something called “the Five Reflections” which you should try. 1) Think about who brought us the food and be grateful for it. 2) Think about our own actions and quietly eat. 3) Savor your food – push out emotions such as greed or anger, and make sure to keep your mind on what you are doing. Refrain from zoning out. 4) Think of the food as medicine to nourish your body and sustain your spirit. 5) Thankfully receive the food as a part of your path towards enlightenment.

#20 – This one is a HUGE part of DBT and just therapy in general. You can only control what you have the power to control. If you cannot change something, the best course of action is to change the way that you react. If you’re worried about how things will go, practicing your Cope Ahead skill can really help you with your responses to stressful events and even how to calm down after those stressful things happen.

I’m really going to have to read through this first section a few times just to get my mind all right with the ideas. Are there any on this list that are a hard “no” for you? Morally, I’ve always had a lot of interest in Zen lifestyles and Buddhist mindsets. I’ve always thought that I wasn’t really a good enough person to take on that religion as a whole and it seemed awful to try and half arse attempt my way through it.

As more books seem to come out about these sort of things and Mindfulness has started to become an integral part of mental health care, I feel like giving it a whirl is at least a step in a good direction. I’d love to hear about your opinions on this in the comments. Thanks as always for reading, guys!

Library Haul

One of the books I opened from the library had a green “4” UNO card tucked in it. Is this a sign? Not sure why the Naga section of the book was bookmarked. I’ll have to ponder and think up some strange story behind all of that.

I had to return some of my books to the local library and decided to grab a few more. I’ve been cycling through books. I always like having some kind of physical book around the house to read. Not always fiction. I like to grab a variety of non-fiction stuff just in case I get bored.

They said don’t judge a book by its cover, but I’m always grabbing things by the cover. Pretty color? Grab it and read the synopsis inside. If it sounds interesting, I’ll check it out. I mean, otherwise, you have shelves and shelves of things to chose from in a library. It’s hard sometimes to pick something.

I suppose most bookworms don’t have this problem. They have their next books lined up and ready to go. For me, I go with the waves and tides, seeking out whatever my mood of the week is yearning to explore. Like I’ve said before, I’m not really that adventurous except when it comes to the paper versions.

I always try to grab a mental health book while I’m at the library. Something about Mindfulness, Buddhism, Zen, or the like. This was my pick this time. I’m looking forward to checking out the 100 daily practices.. Maybe I can do a few for blog entries or write one big one about the book in general.

This one was on the new book shelf and the color attracted me. I read the blurb and I found it intriguing. Young Adult fiction so this one just really sounds interesting.

Set in the coastal town of Danvers, Massachusetts (which in 1692 was Salem Village, site of the origins of the Salem Witch Trials), the story follows the Danvers High field hockey team as they discover that the dark impulses of their Salem forebears may be the key to a winning season.

The 1989 Danvers Falcons are on an unaccountable winning streak. Quan Barry weaves together the individual and collective journeys of this enchanted team as they storm their way to the state championship. Helmed by good-girl captain Abby Putnam (a descendant of the infamous Salem accuser Ann Putnam) and her co-captain Jen Fiorenza, whose bleached blond “Claw” sees and knows all, the DHS Falcons prove to be as wily and original as their North of Boston ancestors, flaunting society’s stale notions of femininity in order to find their glorious true selves through the crucible of team sport.

Interesting blurb, right? I’ll probably write a little blurb after I tackle reading it.

A DEFINITIVE COMPENDIUM OF FOOD WISDOM

Eating doesn’t have to be so complicated. In this age of ever-more elaborate diets and conflicting health advice, Food Rules brings a welcome simplicity to our daily decisions about food. Written with the clarity, concision and wit that has become bestselling author Michael Pollan’s trademark, this indispensable handbook lays out a set of straightforward, memorable rules for eating wisely, one per page, accompanied by a concise explanation. It’s an easy-to-use guide that draws from a variety of traditions, suggesting how different cultures through the ages have arrived at the same enduring wisdom about food. Whether at the supermarket or an all-you-can-eat buffet, this is the perfect guide for anyone who ever wondered, “What should I eat?”

The library’s version was the illustrated one, so it’s got some eye catching pictures and my lifelong obsession with food made me pick this one. This last book was on display on a shelf so the cover once again caught my attention. I will definitely be doing a review of this one as well.

My step-daughter picked out 3 books about science and gems, but I haven’t had a change to snap a photo of her books. We stopped grabbing her fiction because she’s currently engrossed in the Wings of Fire series that her Gran introduced her to. She has those books so no real need to borrow. If anyone knows some good series to recommend or even some individual books, please comment!

I’m always up to suggestions, for myself or my step daughter. Thanks for reading along my book lust post.

Picking Up the Pieces, Moving On

A week after Velveteen passed, I finally started to clean up her space. It had been hard to do anything right afterwards. My SO had my step daughter stay out of the living room, because the whole thing had my emotions raw and I was really sensitive. Her computer is in our living room and the having Minecraft videos blasting in the background while I was sobbing over my pet’s cage was not ideal.

I put up an ad on Facebook to sell the unopened bag of rabbit food I had leftover after Velveteen died. So the day I started to clean up her space, I also made a point to gather up everything that would be useful for another rabbit. Nail clippers, brushes, some chew toys that were barely used. At this point, it wasn’t about money. I just want to get the items out of the house and for someone to get some use out of them. (At the time of this post, I haven’t actually met up with the lady from Facebook.)

Taking apart her little bunny condo was devastating for my heart. I bought a large dog crate with some birthday money about four years ago. I used some square wooden dowels and had Home Depot cut some plyboard in half. I used some peel and stick linoleum tiles to create a nice surface for her to hang out on the second level. I’d switch things around occasionally so she wouldn’t get bored.

I have so much bunny stuff that I’m going to offer this lady from Facebook. A carrying backpack that we used to use while we were hiking. A pop up pen that was what housed her during road trips. The huge bin that I used to store her hay in. Both of Velveteen’s favorite hidey homes. I feel bad, but keeping things doesn’t make any sense. I’ll never get another rabbit. Her and Jethro have a special place in my heart and I can’t bring myself to fill it.

My emotions still feel really raw after loosing Velveteen. I’ll go grab a carrot from the fridge to eat and cry. Or start to grab a handful of lettuce and realize that I don’t need to go give her any. She was a very big part of my life. The same with Mango. I had popcorn the other day and set aside a small bowl for her only to remember that she’s gone.

I did a Canvas Webtoon for a few weeks way back in the day and the introduction comic included some pet pictures. So I thought I’d share my drawings of Velveteen and Mango. Sweet girls. My sweet babies. I love you so much. It feels like pets are such sweet loving creatures that they just can’t stay with us as long as others. (Loosing a pet is never as hard as loosing a person, but urgh, it’s still rough.) Both of my pets were definitely there for me to cry on and cuddle with when my dad passed away.

Eventually, I guess I’ll mend. The last few years, my SO and I have kicked around the idea of what we’d want to do pet wise. Because getting a new pet is not something you just up and decide to do one day. Pets are a long term commitment. I’ve never actually had a “baby” pet before. All of my pets were rescues that were full grown by the time they came into my possession.

Mango was 11 when I first adopted her. We had a good long 10 years together. And Velveteen was already a year old by the time she came from my Sister’s house to me. I can’t even think about all the other pets we’ve had. It just makes my heart heavier as I think about each of them. I suppose some day I’ll want another pet.

But those are like long term … very distant dreams.

I’m still working on a memorial piece for Velveteen. I’ve found all her old outfits and I’m trying to figure out what I want to do with them. Keeping them as whole items will be bulky so I might try to collage something together with pieces. If anyone has some suggestions or ideas, please feel free to leave me a comment in the messages.

Thanks for listening to my lamentations. I’ll try to do something a bit more upbeat tomorrow!

Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery

This game came to my attention thanks to this article. As someone that draws, the basic premise behind the game is sort of funny. I watched a bit of footage for it and it made me chuckle. It’s a fairly simple game that doesn’t look like it actually takes skill. It’s mostly about the story.

From the looks of things it’s really one of those narrative adventures with mostly cut scenes that draws you through the story. There’s nothing wrong with that! It’s got that Ghibli-inspired art style that everyone is craving. These days everyone tries to emulate the masters.

At $9.99 – the game isn’t too expensive. I actually sprang to get it while there was a discount on Steam for $8.99 (only 10% off). I might do a video of the playthrough. I’m not great at making videos though so we’ll see how things turn out.

It’s really funny that the story names place in New York, but the game was actually developed by a Taiwanese group of developers called Silver Lining Studio. It says there’s about an hour long narrative adventure. Everything in this is hand drawn, which makes me drool. You might not get to do art as part of the game play, but I miss the days of hand drawn artwork in animation.

Best of all, it’s mostly lo-fi chill music playing in the background. I almost wanted to spring for the soundtrack, but the $5 just wasn’t in the budget right now. We’re trying to be mindful of spending. We’ve got to save up so we can one day get that dream house from Clayton Homes! (I only slightly kid. My SO and I really are working on budgeting ourselves better.)

I’m looking forward to the puzzle aspect of this game. I’ll try to at least add a review to this and add some game footage, if nothing else. I’ll leave that for another post on another day. Does anyone else feel like eating a bowl of ramen now and turning on a Ghibli film?

Hibiscus Tea

Not my image, pulled from a vector art page online.

I love hibiscus tea. It comes in close second behind black tea. As a Southerner, we end up drinking a ton of classic black tea in the sweet, iced form. I typically like hibiscus straight up, but I’m probably going to try the recipe from that image up above soon. Hibiscus is often the filler that it used for a lot of fruit teas. I’m usually looking at the labels of the teas, because I’ve had interest in making my own teas… oh gosh, that’s like another tangent I shouldn’t rush off on right now.

Some of the benefits of hibiscus tea include antioxidants and lowering blood pressure. There’s a lot of claims that it can help with your liver, cholesterol, and weight loss, but I can’t honestly speak up for that. When I drink hibiscus tea regularly, I have to reduce my hypertension medication. That’s just a fact that I can actually check using a meter. I have to drink large amounts of the tea for it to be effective, but sometimes you’d just rather drink something tasty than take a pill, right? Heck, I suppose the data I’ve read about hibiscus tea helping to fight bacteria might be true too. They say it helps right a variety of infections ranging from bronchitis to pneumonia to urinary tract infections. And that last one used to be the bane of my existence. I have noticed a decline in that since I started drinking the tea more regularly.

Hibiscus tea is really simple to make. You can easily purchase it at your local health store or online. Due to it’s popularity, it’s started to be maid in pre-made tea bags, which you just steep in hot water, remove and enjoy. You can drink it hot or cold. Iced hibiscus tea is really refreshing in the summer time. It has a very tart flavor similar to the flavor of cranberries. I guess that’s why people squeeze lime juice into it to balance the tartness. I personally just sweeten it with a bit of stevia. And I almost always use loose leaf tea.

Not that I’m a tea snob. Because I’m probably the most uncouth tea drinker in existence. My family just drinks so much tea in one go that we use a coffee maker to ours. We have a coffee maker that was bought for the sole purpose of making tea. (To avoid cross contamination of the flavors. No coffee in the tea maker!) I just put a few spoonful of the loose tea into a coffee filter then let it go!

We store our hibiscus tea in a dark mason jar to keep it fresh longer. I didn’t think to take a picture of the tea seeping since I’d been on a manic rush at the time. Normally, I make like three runs of tea for the household while I’m doing other chores. I only managed to stop and snap these photographs when I was settling in to enjoy my cup of tea. It’s SO, so good.

If for no other reason than the taste, I suggest giving hibiscus tea a try. 🥰 As always, thank you, guys for reading. Your presence is really a present!

Mindfulness and DBT in a Cartoon

I will be very honest. I have NEVER seen an episode of Steven Universe. I’ve read some Wikipedia articles and watched some Youtube videos about the show, but never watched a single episode myself. I do like the music for it though and I’ve listened to a ton of the songs via Youtube music videos.

This song literally is a mindfulness exercise. I shared it once back when I was still in my DBT group/class. If you take a look at the lyrics, it seriously is just a guided walkthrough to work on mindfulness. I absolutely love it. It’s one of those songs that I could listen to over and over again because this is the sort of ear worm that SHOULD get stuck in your head.

[Intro: Garnet]
Take a moment to think of just
Flexibility, love, and trust
Take a moment to think of just
Flexibility, love, and trust

Use the STOP skill from the Emotion Regulation module.

[Verse 1: Garnet]
Here comes a thought that might alarm you
What someone said and how it harmed you
Something you did that failed to be charming
Things that you said are suddenly swarming

Use the “Wise Mind” skill from the Mindfulness module.

[Pre-Chorus: Garnet]
And, oh, you’re losing sight, you’re losing touch
All these little things seem to matter so much
That they confuse you
That I might lose you

Use the “How” Skill from the Mindfulness module.

[Chorus: Garnet]
Take a moment, remind yourself
To take a moment and find yourself
Take a moment and ask yourself
If this is how we fall apart
But it’s not, but it’s not, but it’s not, but it’s not, but it’s not
It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay
You’ve got nothing, got nothing, got nothing, got nothing to fear
I’m here, I’m here, I’m here

I can’t really pinpoint what would be the “perfect” skill to use for this verse. I honestly think any from the Distress Tolerance module would be prefect.

[Verse 2: Stevonnie]
Here comes a thought that might alarm me
What someone said and how it harmed me
Something I did that failed to be charming
Things that I said are suddenly swarming

[Pre-Chorus: Stevonnie]
And, oh, I’m losing sight, I’m losing touch
All these little things seem to matter so much
That they confuse me

Another really important part of Emotion Regulation is being able to identify your emotions. So that you can understand what events cause what emotions and the thoughts that stem from those emotions.

[Bridge: Both]
And it was just a thought, just a thought, just a thought, just a thought, just a thought
It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay
We can watch, we can watch, we can watch, we can watch them go by
From here, from here, from here

[Outro: Stevonnie]
Take a moment to think of just
Flexibility, love, and trust
Take a moment to think of just
Flexibility, love, and trust

Use the “Positive Self-Talk” Skill from the Emotion Regulation module.

I don’t know if that was helpful to understand what I mean about the song. It seems like it’s primarily Mindfulness exercises and Emotion Regulation exercises, but there’s some Distress Tolerance sprinkled in there. Sometimes when you’re under duress you can’t really think straight and working your way through these kinds of situations becomes even more difficult. I know we’ve said this in the Podcast a few times, but …

We might know the skills and what they’re called in DBT. Sure. Knowing versus being able to practice them is a huge difference. Just because you know how to do something doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to perform under pressure. It’s often times why you’re forced to practice things so many times. If you ever take a CPR class, even just the basic one, they’ll teach you a few songs to sing while you’re doing CPR on someone. Because it’s really easy to speed up and do things wrong in an emergency situation.

In this case, part of me is very happy that there’s a song to help when you’re having overwhelming thoughts and emotions. I might not be able to actually sing this song myself, but at least I know to go to my phone, pull this up, and hit play so that I can listen to it and unwind.

I hope this was able to help someone! By the time this post actually goes live on the blog, it’ll be after the big mental health week entries. At this point, I’ve got a huge amount of buffer going for my posts. I’m going to keep writing every day though to stay in the habit of writing. I’m not always able to write in a physical journal like my therapist asks, but these entries online are always accessible by computer, tablet, or even phone so it’s one of the best ways to keep up.

What events happened? What emotions followed that event? What thoughts did you have during all of this?

That’s basically what I attempt to record each day when there’s something happening. Not always consistent, but at least I’m aware and trying. Thanks for reading, guys! See you tomorrow.

Part of History?

I honestly was never one of the types to imagine being around for something historical. All of that seemed like science fiction from a novel. Even now the idea of space travel seems so far away. I’m the type that doesn’t really go out and seek adventure. Unless you count picking up a book as an adventure.

This was a problem during my first marriage. My ex-husband always wanted to go on spontaneous trips. Go explore strange places we’ve never been before. Which was honestly anxiety inducing. He was the type that was tight with money and would always hound me after we went out to eat or went to the movie theater, guilt tripping me that we spent far too much money.

With that sort of mindset, you’d obviously want to plan things out before hand, right? How far are we going? Where will we stay? What time of the year would it be cheaper to travel there? What’s the best way to plan our trip? These are matters that usually were handled by our friends during group vacations or myself if it was just us. Again, super anxiety inducing. So yeah, I’m not the adventuring type… Careful planning, packing, and preparing. That’s me!

Okay, so I went off on a tangent again. Sorry. Back to the topic at hand.

What have we as the current generation experienced that would be considered part of history?

9-11 – The September 11th attacks are probably the first thing that I can truly cite as a historical incident. Right after these events occurred, people found it taboo to hold celebrations on this day. No weddings. I always felt bad for anyone with a birthday on this date. Everyone always talks about where they were and what they were doing on that day. My step-daughter’s school used to do a project where the children asked their parents about this… but apparently they’ve gotten to the point where the parents of elementary school students are too young to remember. 😱

I was a Senior in high school. I remember being in Social Studies class. Right around the time it hit the news. We switched on the television and just watched as it all unfolded. It was unreal and even at the point when people started throwing themselves out of the skyscraper, we couldn’t look away. I can’t remember the teacher’s name or her face anymore, but I still remember being told, “Watch this. This is one for the history books.

The biggest thing that I think about concerning this day is one girl in my class. Her dad was actually supposed to be traveling to New York that day. I remember her being really distraught, but it all ended up turning out all right. Her dad had gotten food poisoning while he was in Atlanta and never boarded his flight. Even if his flight hadn’t been at risk being involved, it was a huge relief that he wasn’t in the air when all of this was happening.

The First Black President – Barack Obama was the first African American and first biracial president of the United States, being elected in the 2008 election. I had actually just moved away from Atlanta, GA a few days before the election. I wasn’t able to vote due to the move. My ex-husband and I were in the middle of one of our major break ups. (He’d admitted cheating on me and at that point we’d been dating a few years.) I still remember calling one of my friends back in Atlanta the night the results were announced. They told me that people were so excited they were shooting off guns and fireworks in the streets. Oof.

Global Pandemic – And that brings us to the present! Oh no… I mean. Last year was insane. I still remember right when things started to shut down. March of 2020: I’d gone to the movie theater by myself to see Onward. That was the last time I’d be in a movie theater. Cases were starting to rise and suddenly everything was closing. My MIL was finally praised for being a prepper and a gardener. Both of my in-laws are autoimmune compromised, so we made a huge point to be careful.

Sadly, it didn’t really do much for us. We did – and still do – grocery pick-up from the stores so we don’t have to go inside. We isolated. My SO at the time, was interning. His very last task at that job was to prepare hundreds of laptops for the employees at his workplace. After that, there was no more work to be done. Everyone else was working from home and interns would have nothing to do. The kids stopped having school so step-daughter started floating between our house and her mom’s.

My dad’s health took a huge downturn in August 2020. Which was heart wrenching for me. I’d spent Christmas 2019 with him and he seemed to be all right then. His heart valve was leaking and there wasn’t anything the doctor’s could do for him. My family had a small reunion one weekend. We all drove down to see him. That’s when my dad and step-mom broke the news to us that doctor’s told them to prepare for the end. It was already rough enough traveling during the pandemic, but this news really broke me.

When my dad passed away the next month, it was rough. I got the phone call and then I was running out the door to travel back to my home state for the funeral. We didn’t want to wait too long for his burial. And I’ll say I feel extremely blessed and lucky to have been able to attend the funeral. There are so many people who lost loved ones during this pandemic who were unable to grieve properly. Right now I’m dreading the one year anniversary of his passing, but it was definitely an experience going to a funeral during COVID.

I will stress that I always worse a mask while I was traveling. The funeral home was amazing. They had tissues everywhere and bottles of sanitizer everywhere. There were extended rooms opened with video streaming of the funeral service played so that everyone wasn’t sitting on top of each other. There were a few people at the service who were on oxygen or couldn’t mask up, so it was extremely important to be cautious. Just so no one gets the wrong idea!

Despite our best efforts, we eventually caught COVID at the beginning of December 2020. It was tragically ironic how it was brought into our household. Despite the pandemic, my in-laws still needed to go to the doctor’s office. They weren’t able to have Zoom appointments due to the nature of their health. They started showing signs of having COVID late November right as the month flipped over.

We were so lucky. My step-daughter had been sitting in her Gran’s lap at one point. When my in-laws had gotten a positive result back for their test, we let step-daughter stay with her mom. All of us went to get COVID tests. My SO and I both got back a positive test while my step-daughter and her mom received a negative. She ended up spending the next 14 days with her mom while the rest of us soldiered our way through the illness. (I still don’t know how she managed to not catch it since she was in close proximity to all of us.)

Having COVID was hell. I don’t really remember much of the time since I slept my way through most of it. I was always tired, had no appetite, and felt like I was experiencing the worst flu of my life. It actually took my SO and I longer to bounce back from COVID than the in-laws. I lost about 15 pounds, which sadly did not stay off. The second I started eating again, it all came back.

For a moment there, that was the most extreme crash diet ever.

Now we’re nearly in the Fall of 2021 … and I’m not sure what is going on. Pandemic 2.0? Urgh. How is everyone else doing? Is your area still in lockdown? Have things opened up? Schools are open and running normally here. There have been some scares that things are starting back up. I’ve noticed a lack of toilet paper on the shelves. Not looking forward to seeing what happens next.

I’ll end things there. Looks like this one turned out really long. Haha. I am glad I ended up throwing the September 11th stuff the day after though. Hope everyone enjoyed all the mental health stuff this past week. I’m still going strong with my writing! Thanks for reading, I’ll see you tomorrow!

September 11th

Today is September 11th. In the United States of America, this is a day of tragedy and remembrance for those who died. Patriot Day hopefully should not be confused with Remembrance Day (Poppy Day), which is on November 11th. I’m not going to go into depth today, I wrote a little bit about 9-11 and being part of history in tomorrow’s blog post.

Right now, I’d just like to take a moment to think about the end of Suicide Prevention Week.

I’ve posted a ton of stuff this week about mental health and other details to help with suicide prevention. I actually found a great page with information about the history of suicide prevention week. So I’ll ink that here. I hope that this week has helped raise awareness to prevent suicide and help reduce the stigma around mental health. Just a little extra compassion from people can go a long way.

Just because suicide prevention week is ending, it doesn’t mean that I’ll be talking any less about mental health issues. I’m still going strong with DBT and therapy. If you have any topics that you’d like to hear about, please let me know in the comments or stop by the DBT Discord to join us. I really appreciate everyone being here and look forward to doing more posts!