Whatever Happened to Lisa Frank?

The all-but-deserted Lisa Frank factory in Tucson, Ariz. Arielle Dollinger | NYT Institute

(The above image was taken from this article.)

I haven’t had a really great mindset the past few days. I’m definitely drifting into a Manic Episode. I don’t have a lot of focus, my thoughts are racing and my attention span drifts to a million different things. Normally this is when I’m really productive and can get ALL THE THINGS done. I’m not really sure why I’m having such a hard time right now.

I went to Walmart today to get a new memory card. I needed to replace the one in my tablet so I could finally start to use it for art again. Should I get the inspiration. I have to say that entering Walmart during the “Back-to-School” school season makes me a bit nostalgic. I was cruising down the aisles looking at everything. The Trapper Keepers are back!

I wanted to get one for myself, but $20 just seemed a bit steep for my tastes. Then again, if you go searching for Vintage Lisa Frank Trapper Keepers on Ebay or Etsy, you’ll see them ranging from $150 to $325. Oof. I did not realize that nostalgia could cost that much… You can also wear Lisa Frank makeup. I did a bit of a Google on her (wow, that’s a term we use in this era) and Lisa Frank has gone a bit silent. I’m shocked how private a person she is considering the style of design she created back in the day. Vibrant, loud, and something that all the girls obsessively loved. It’s a bit too much for my eyes these days, the patterns and the glitter add up, but I would have loved to given something Lisa Frank to my SO’s daughter.

Apparently the company still does exist.

I ended up throwing a pack of mini composition books into my cart. And a journal. I swear something about shopping while I’m Manic always makes the brain juices happy. I have to be so, SO careful. It’s easy to lose track of what you’re doing during these phases and somehow spend too much money. (Past credit card statements are proof of this….) Thankfully, therapy and meds has helped me keep that under control! But being aware of these kind of triggers is very necessary.

Sadly, I think that’s all from me today. I just don’t have it in me to write that much. Thanks as always for reading, my friends!

Spoon Theory

Image pulled straight from Wikipedia.

Spoon Theory was originally an explanation written by Christine Miserandino. It’s an amazing way to express something that’s not entirely concrete. The concept as a whole works amazingly for people with invisible illnesses. Mental health disorders being a big one. “But you don’t look sick.” Or my favorite, “You’ve done X, Y, & Z before, why is it hard now?”

Some days are easier than others. And sometimes gaining spoons is ridiculously difficult. There might not be any particular reason. Beyond the chemistry in my brain being unbalanced. Even with medications. Which is something people don’t always understand. Yes, I take medication for my mental health disorders. No, it doesn’t just “fix” me.

Not the same way that my blood pressure medication treats hypertension or insulin and other medications treat diabetes. CBT and DBT therapy are another factor that aid in mental health care. It doesn’t always make things perfect.

Still a bit confused? A great explanation of Spoon Theory is located at this Tumblr.

Sorry for such a short post today, guys! I’m really low on spoons and it doesn’t seem like sleep is helping replenish my supply.

Mental Overload

Yesterday I meant to do another post, but the day just did not go the way I planned it. I had my first session with my new therapist in the morning. The health care provider that I currently use has interns who start in July and their time at the facility ends in June. So my previous therapist left. I’m on therapist number four. It’s a bit of an ordeal, but I’ve found myself adjusting. I’m not becoming dependent on the person who is the therapist.

I have a male therapist, which is interesting. I’ve alternated. I had a female therapist, a male therapist, a female, and now a male again. I’m hoping our temperament matches well. I know that some people don’t handle the opposite sex well. Although some of my PTSD stems from sexual trauma when I was a teenager, I just adjust better to the opposite sex. My best friend is male. I’ve had very limited female friends through my life. I actually have enjoyed my group DBT therapy immensely because I was able to connect to other women with similar mindsets and emotional experiences.

But I digress! Even when you’ve been in therapy for years, the first session with a new therapist can be nerve wracking. I’ve had therapists that ask you to delve into your information, sharing your past, which always leaves me emotionally raw. I can talk about these details much better than I could in the past, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t expose something vulnerable within you. I was pleasantly surprised that wasn’t the case this session. We went over some goals. Talked about how I was doing. And discussed what issues I’d like to tackle with the new therapist’s guidance.

Identifying emotions was the biggest concern. I feel personally that if I know what emotions I’m feeling, I’ll have a better understanding of what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. This assists so much in Emotion Regulation. It’s a module of DBT that I always have struggled with since acting on emotions is so easy. It’s hard to pull yourself away from the knee jerk reaction you’re animal mind tends to steer towards.

My first homework assignment is to start journaling. Something I’ve tried to do for years, but never can keep up with daily. I always want to do something fancy like bullet journaling, but my OCD and perfectionist side doesn’t usually allow me to do it. I get frustrated, upset when I mess something up. Etcetera. Allowing for imperfection a fact I’ll have to learn to radically accept. One thing my therapist suggested that pleased me greatly was the time put towards journaling. Five minutes before bed. That’s it. That’s really honestly much easier than anything I’ve attempted in the past. I can do five minutes.

I always feel frantic and rushed when I’m preparing my posts here. They certainly take longer than five minutes to write. Plus, I already tend to think and dwell on things before bed anyhow. Which is another matter we’re going to try to tackle in therapy. Sleep. I tend to get tired in the evening and take a nap, which ruins my sleep schedule. Or even when I avoid napping, my brain doesn’t like to shut down until 2am or later some nights.

Which can ruin your schedule if you have something to do. I always nitpick over things as I’m laying in bed. I think about what I should be doing. What I could be doing. Or how things could be. For now, I’m supposed to use my journaling to record situations and the emotions that I experience from them. Then the thoughts that follow. Eventually you’re supposed to be able to switch that order up.

{Event > Thoughts > Emotions} versus {Events > Emotions > Thought}

Emotional journaling is supposed to help prioritize problems, fears, and concerns. It helps you track day-to-day symptoms and helps you to recognize triggers, then learn to control them. It also gives you a space for positive self-talk and allows you to identify negative thoughts and behaviors. I honestly don’t think I ever got to do that with journals when I was younger. Writing was usually something that I was required to do for classwork. We’d have journals, but you never wrote how you really felt since you knew your teacher would be reading it. I never dared to write any of my darker thoughts in high school. Suicide. Worthlessness. Betrayal. There was no guarantee that privacy would be given.

So journaling goals are:

  • Try to write every day. 5 minutes before bed. Record events/situations and the emotions they created. If possible, add thoughts I had during those emotions. Eventually when I’m ready, I’ll start to learn to turn thoughts thoughts and emotions to something more positive. My therapist suggesting starring some of the stronger emotions so that I’ll remember to bring them up during our next session.
  • Write or draw whatever feels right. Use the journal as I see fit.

Since I’m only really journaling five minutes before bed, I know that I might miss some things throughout the day. Maria from my Therapy Group (and “the Journey” DBT Podcast) uses Daylio, an app that goes on your phone. I actually used to use Daylio in the early days of it’s creation, but let that fall to the wayside. I was pleased to realize that I have a Premium account and redownloaded it to my phone.

It honestly is a bit overwhelming when you first dive into it. But having something so conveniently available at your fingertips is a boon. You can set goals to reach. Record your moods. Set your own moods. Customize the icons for said moods and customize the color of said icons. Daylio even gives you a weekly report so you can see how you’ve been doing. And a monthly graph as well. The gaming aspect of this, with achievements, gives you some incentive to keep at it. There are a number of different groups of activities you can record, sleep, food, chores, and etcetera.

I’d been thinking about starting a food diary, since I’ve gained a considerable amount of weight during COVID. (I’ve also managed to get my blood sugar levels better under control at least.) Ah the struggle! So I think having one application for all these jobs will make my life easier. It isn’t a calorie counter, but I think avoiding that aspect of things right now might be better. Regulating your mood along with regulating your eating habits can be a MONSTER. If you look up hangry in the dictionary, I believe my name will be right next to it.

Eating is something that I could address in an entire post, so I won’t delve into it too far today. I finally did bite the bullet and ordered a copy of “How to Eat” by Thich Nhat Hanh. I have a so many of his novels in Audiobook form. I’m hoping that mindfulness will help with diet and weight. Every other diet I’ve attempted in the past has failed spectacularly. We’ll see.

Thanks as always for reading my blog! I’m not sure how you can handle the chaos that’s called my brain, but I appreciate it nonetheless!

Oh No, Oh No, Oh No No No

I have no idea what I did wrong with the automatic pre-planned posts. I thought I was impressive having a few posts written ahead. Only to realize that some of them posted on the same day and when I tried to “fix” it, I thing I got the order wrong. I think I’ve finally gotten everything straightened out.

I’m going to attempt a real post later today. Recapping my Thursday and talking a bit about my first therapy session with the new therapist. (Oof, I’m a little nervous.) Just thought I’d let folks know why the blog posts suddenly switched around. Haha, man, technology is so confusing.

See you guys again during the dreaded day star hours!

Tea for Two

Not the 1950 Musical Film starring Doris Day, which I have now decided is a necessary movie that will be gracing my television sometime today. I don’t know why, but there’s something magical about watching some of the older films. I recently got on the kick after watching “Charade” (1963) with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. I did a bit of a time jump and watched a few of Robin William’s earlier films, “Good Morning, Vietnam!” and “Dead Poets Society”.

Films have always been a guilty pleasure of mine, since growing up in a small town doesn’t always afford you the joy of many interesting activities. Reading books and watching films gave me the ability to transport myself somewhere exciting. Now that I’m older and attempting to write my pieces, I understand things a bit better. Or worse. You can’t hold onto jaded ideals when you’re writing for young adults or children. You have to inspire hope and give them ability to open their imaginations.

So now that I’m done with that tangent, let me get back to my former thought pattern. I’ve had a hankering for a tea party. When my mom and dad split back in high school, my mom had a brief tryst with a lovely gentleman from England. I fell in love with tea time and hot tea. It was definitely not something I’d ever experienced in the Deep South. I never had the privilege of travelling to England myself. My mom always went off on her own. Whenever her boyfriend would come to America to visit us, he made sure to have a “proper” tea.

I know for most people, coffee is the drink that motivates them. I can drink it. I prefer espresso over plain coffee, but it definitely is not my go to drink. I still remember one of my favorite birthday’s. I was living in a fraternity house with my ex husband. The girls who lived there organized a Mad Hatter style tea party birthday. Nothing extravagant. They all chipped in to buy me a kettle, since we always boiled water on the stovetop in a pot. And then each girl gave me a box of their own favorite tea.

My go to favorite tea is Earl Grey. I know for some people, the citrus of the bergamot can be off putting. Growing up in the Deep South, most tea that you taste is iced and sweet like candy. During the summer time I love making different types of iced tea. My SO’s favorite tea is a Citrus Mint Green Tea from Adagio. It’s very good and I definitely recommend it.

I’ll admit I’m not a tea snob. I don’t know the exact times to steep certain teas or how to serve each kind. I’m just bound to the nostalgia of drinking tea with snacks and taking a moment to relax. Tea time is definitely something I wish America had adopted from it’s Motherland. I enjoy the process of finding what teas certain people enjoy. The drink someone leans towards can tell a lot about their particular taste buds. You can take a peak at my Amazon List to see what kinds of teas I favor.

Last year before the COVID pandemic, I found an adorable tea pot at the Asian Mart in town. I bought a small matching cup. I had planned to buy a second matching cup for tea parties, but the tea pot itself does not hold enough liquid for two servings. During my most recent journey out, I did find a matching mug. It has a lid to keep your tea warm longer. I’m in love with this unplanned matching set!

It was only a few dollars for each piece. A definite perk from cruising the aisles at the Asian Mart. You never know what you’ll find there. It might be a very small adventure compared to traveling to a foreign country, but it suits this bookworm’s comfort zone.

So tell me, what’s your favorite tea? Or what’s something you bought that you treasure. I’d love to hear from you all. As always, thanks for your time and consideration!

Uechi Ryu: Forming Habits

I feel like this week has a theme. I know I talked about practicing in general concerning the ukulele and art. Now I’d like to delve further into the martial arts I currently study. I suppose to start out, I should address what it’s called and where it originates from.

Kanbu Uechi

Kanbun Uechi is an Okinawan native who fled to China to escape Japanese military conscription. He was in China for a total of thirteen years. He studied a Kung Fu system called “Pangai-noon” under a Chinese master called Zhou Zihe (Shu Shiwa in Japanese). There’s a lot of debate about how he met Shu Shiwa and other details, but it’s interesting to read about theories. The history behind an artform explains a lot about how and why it was formed. Pangai-noon means half hard, half soft.

During the last three years of his time in China, Uechi ran his own dojo. As the stories go, apparently, one of Kanbun’s Chinese students killed a neighbor during a dispute over land irrigation. He swore to never teach again and returned to Okinawa.

There’s a lot of details I’m glossing over, but eventually, Ryuyu Tomoyose, a co-worker of Uechi, would convince Kanbun to teach him ways of defending himself against different attacks. Uechi eventually opened the “Pangai-Noon Karate Academy”.

Shushiwa

Kanei Uechi

Uechi Ryu is principally based on the movements of three animals: the Tiger, the Dragon, and the Crane. Sanchin, Seisan, and Sanseiru are the three katas that originate from Pangai-noon.

After Kanbun passed, the style was renamed to Uechi Ryu. Kanbun’s son, Kanei would continue his father’s work in the martial arts. Kanei, along with Kanbun’s Senior students, created Kanshiwa, Kanshu, Seichin, Seiryu, and Kanchin to help bridge the gap between the original three kata.

Oof, so now that we’ve delved through that epic saga. Here’s a bit of my own personal history regarding martial arts. I took Tai Kwan Do back in Middle School and High School. I studied under Master Young Seon Seo, a 9th degree black belt. The school he had in my hometown is no longer open, but it seems as though his son has opened a few schools of his own.

Hopefully, next time I’m able to search through my storage unit, I’ll be able to find some of the records from back then. I have a number of belts, medals, and other items that I kept. There’s something nostalgic about looking back.

Grand Master Young Seon Seo

Forgive the glare on the photograph! And the fuzz. A lot of these were sent to me via text message from my mother. I can’t help but cringe as I look at my younger self. The first picture (from left to right) was in 1996, likely? I was a green belt back then. Looking at the photos, it’s no wonder I have trouble keeping my elbows in now. The next two photos were when I was a black belt. Likely 1997 or 1998. Exact timelines are difficult, but I do recall having most of my hair cut off the summer before high school.

Two decades later and I definitely envy my younger self. I was so flexible back then! If you don’t keep up with something, you definitely lose it.

For Uechi Ryu, my current Sensei is Bob Noel of Knoxville Uechi Ryu. We’ve been studying under him for nearly two years now. My SO and I are currently at the rank of Rokkyu. Doing this martial arts as a family has been a good way for my SO and I to stay active together as well as with his daughter. Throughout the week, we typically also visit Sensei Mike McGee (Uechi Ryu) and Sensei Darren Gilbert (Isshin Ryu) for additional training.

I’ve found that Uechi Ryu has a lot of the mental and spiritual aspects that have helped me during my DBT therapy and practice. Mushin in Japanese is a mental state. Zen and Daoist practitioners attempt to reach this state, as well as artists and trained martial artists. The term is shortened from mushin no shin (無心の心), a Zen expression meaning the mind without mind and is also referred to as the state of “no-mindness”. It’s strange because you don’t want this sort of thing happening during DBT.

In DBT you want to be conscious and aware of what you are doing in the moment. Although the two things seem like polar opposites on the surface, I honestly think they do take a page from each other’s books. Before you can reach a state of Mushin in martial arts, you have to practice something enough that you gain the muscle memory. During Kata, you concentrate on your body, your breathing, and what you’re doing in that exact moment. You don’t think about what’s about to come next.

Eventually, once you’ve gone through things on repetition, you’re body is able to flow through it without as much effort. I feel like it’s the same in DBT. If you practice certain skills and train yourself to react in better ways towards negative emotions, it’ll eventually become second nature for you as well. I know that I’ve personally had better relationships with people in my life since I started DBT because I can communicate my thoughts and emotions better. In the past, I would let my emotions control me.

I can’t say that I’m perfect at doing that yet, but like all things, it takes time, effort, and practice to accomplish your goals. I’ve included a video of Sensei Bob Noel walking through one of our drills called Kyu Kumite. It’s supposed to be a two person drill, but life doesn’t always provide us with someone to train with so practicing it alone helps prepare us.

My Atelier Whootique Youtube is going to be primarily for DBT and art related matters while the Okinawa Observer is Uechi Ryu and Ishhin Ryu martial arts. I don’t know as much about the origin of Isshin Ryu, I’ll have to do some research.

Thank you for following along in this brief history lesson! As always, your presence here is appreciated. ❤️

Drawing on Repeat

Yesterday’s post was written frantically. I did it as I do most things, by the seat of my pants, just pulling from the deepest recesses of my insane mind. I did some writing in the past for my LARP (live action roleplaying). Most notably, I wrote the background for the Great Library setting. It’s my hope that by writing every day that I’ll eventually get better at it.

I’ve been drawing since I could walk. Somewhere amongst my things (nearly all my belongs are in storage right now), I’ve got the first drawing I ever did. A smiley face that was drawn on the back of one of my mother’s checks. I’ve always enjoyed creating things and was constantly told how artistic I was as a child. Now that I’m older and having trouble creating, it’s been a huge identity crisis for me.

The rock golem pictured above was something I drew at one point for a tabletop roleplaying game called Never After. I have a slew of artwork that I created for the game, but I don’t believe it was ever published. I sadly have not kept contact with the creator and writer of the game due to my numerous moves across the country.

The difference in the two drawings is very noticeable. And I am aware that the quality of the pencil sketch could be better. At the time, I did not have a scanner. I just snapped a photograph straight from the sketchbook where I found most of my old art. In the past, I always found normal art to be challenging. Drawing too darkly and having trouble erasing to correct my mistakes. Yet now there are times when I struggle with digital art because it’s so easy to erase and start over.

I can’t help but cringe when I look at some of my older pieces. I don’t even DARE open my college portfolio. You can see the stark difference between 3 years of drawing. Can you imagine my work from 2002? I’ll be posting these “Before” and “After” drawings to my Gallery once this post goes live. I think it’s important to show how much we’ve grown as well as what we are capable of doing.

The fundamental building blocks of artwork are color, composition, value, form, linework, and perspective. When I first started drawing, I often would mimic the art styles of other artists that I admired. When you’re first learning to ‘walk’ in the art world, this makes a lot of sense. I still remember loathing life drawing class in college. I wanted to create complete pieces. Not do sketch after sketch, roughly mapping out the messy forms of our art model. I hated realism, because it was difficult and my pieces never looked correct to me. My art professors would chastise many of us for drawing in “anime” style. I used to believe they just hated cartoons, but I appreciate their sentiment now that I’ve gotten more experience under my belt. Stepping outside of your comfort zone is especially important when you’re learning, discovering, and practicing.

You take pieces from artists you consider as your role model. Eventually you learn your own style. Even then, you’re artwork can change. Some of my favorite illustrators have honed their skills and even after decades of work, you can notice slight modifications and revisions in their work. Change isn’t a bad thing. A fact of life I’m still always learning to accept.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

I’ve done ACEO (technically artist trading arts, but it stands for: art cards, editions and originals) in the past for money. And I’ve taken on illustration commissions for different mediums. Sadly, commissions more recently have given me a large amount of anxiety. Turning your passion into a job doesn’t always work out. Communication can be difficult with customers even if you attempt to use your DBT skills.

And sometimes, working on pieces for friends just doesn’t pan out. So much so that it can destroy said friendships. It’s not something I want to dwell on, but just a fact of the matter I have to make clear. I don’t do commissions anymore because of these factors. I’m struggling right now to create things that I love. I cannot even image creating things that will sell. Maybe one day in the future, this will change.

Before I took down Fish in Bowl (dot com), I had a Patreon setup with a small number of patrons donating a small sum each month. It wasn’t an impressive amount, but I took some pleasure in knowing that my artwork paid for my streaming services at the time. Since content was no longer being provided, I lost that. I’m not back in the saddle creating art yet, nevertheless, I am pleased with the progress I’ve made in constructing and establishing Atelier Whootique.

Once again, I want to express my gratitude to everyone for reading my posts. Your presence here is greatly appreciated!

Crying Over Spilt Milk?

In the past I used to think that phrase was silly. Who would cry over something as small as spilt milk? But as I got older and my mental health deteriorated, it honestly makes much more sense. There’s that one small thing that causes the breaking point when you have no more patience.

I started writing a post about Uechi the same day I did the art post, but I haven’t finished it yet. My cunning plan to have posts prepared ahead of time was foiled by mental health issues. I did NOT have a great brain day yesterday. I’m not entirely sure if it’s because I’m slipping into a mixed episode or if it’s just a manic episode. It’s hard to tell sometimes when you’re wrapped up in your own emotions and having trouble accessing Wise Mind.

Checking the Facts, I realized that I was fragile yesterday so making unrealistic goals was definitely not an option. I slept for a grand total of three hours. I was not sleepy in the slightest once I woke up, but that doesn’t always mean you’re well rested. I had a few packages that were going to arrive via UPS. My temper was short.

I’m the type that sits by the door when expecting a delivery. Amazon and UPS both had said my packages were out for delivery Saturday and never arrived. I had resigned myself to that fate Saturday. Our UPS person does come out on Saturdays, sometimes. At this point, I’ve learned that living out in the country usually means they won’t always come out despite whatever the website says.

One part of my order wasn’t among the packages and after investigating online, I discovered the item only just now shipped. It seems silly, to get upset, but I was nearly in tears. I’d been waiting two weeks for this delivery and the item in question was a belated birthday present my SO had purchased for me. Conveniently enough, it’s one of those TeeTurtle plushies that you flip depending on your mood.

I needed it yesterday to show my unhappy mood, which I knew was ridiculous. Another factor in my foul mood. I dislike not having control of my emotions. I can identify them, but turning them can be a completely different issue. After a half hour of word skirmishing with Amazon customer service, I had the necessary cry, comfort from my SO, then I launched into Opposite Action. Staying active when you’re sad is really important

I opened the packages that did arrive and was pleased to find my new case for my Photography gear. I’m not amazing at Photography, but I’m trying to improve my skills. Part of me hates how long I’ve neglected working on Photography. A lot of my work from college is far better than anything I’ve done more recently. I’ve worried a lot about keeping my gear safe though. Moving it around from place to place is normal.

I’m partial to the Pelican cases, so I finally splurged to get one. I’d seen a friends in the past and fell in love with the rolling case. I forgot to snap a photo of the case with the solid foam, sadly. After a bit of careful consideration, I juggled how I’d put my Digital SLR Camera into the case along with one of my lenses and my Digital Camcorder. When I first invested in my Canon, I didn’t realize the model I’d purchased was bad for recording videos. Which is why I have a camera AND a camcorder.

I wouldn’t say it’s perfect, but I did manage to get things done in a way that I can fit most of my equipment into the case. So now I’ll be able to transport it to karate class with more ease. And should conventions ever become a thing again, I’ll have it ready for long distance travel! Please enjoy the photos which include my orange assistant. No box can enter our home without him inspecting it.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Not my comic. If you know the source, please let me know! It’s circulated around Facebook for ages.

My SO works today so it was the perfect time to practice playing my ukulele a bit. I managed to get a ukulele during COVID. Like many, MANY people, I picked up a few hobbies during the pandemic. I also got a guitar off Facebook Market as well, but it felt too large and hard to press the strings down. The ukulele feels right. The strings fit well with my fingers and I’m very slowly starting to understand how to play chords. Four strings are much easier for my brain to adjust to rather than five or six.

Since the Facebook Market guitar was collecting dust in my room. I ended up putting it back up on the market and selling it fairly quickly. I hope it enjoys its new home and the wee human intent on learning! I placed an order online with some of the recovered funds to get a baritone ukulele. I know not the same as the one I’m playing so I look forward to seeing the differences. Just have to play the waiting game. Amazon and Flight, please don’t take a forever!

I was a band nerd from Middle School until Community College. Once you go to University, they don’t really let filthy casuals participate in the music program. Haha. I jest, but I did give up on a music major since music theory just never clicked in my poor little brain. I’ve played the flute through Middle School and switched to Alto Saxophone in High School.

I still played the flute, but Jazz Band had me jonesing for the Sax. My Senior year, our band director asked someone to step up and learn to play the Sousaphone (Tuba) for marching band. I thought, why not? I was learning the Baritone Saxophone for the local Community Band so learning bass wasn’t too hard.

I continued music after I graduated high school. I was in the band at my college and started the basics for a music degree. I took voice lessons and sang in the choir. So you can kind of assume that I have a little bit of basic musical knowledge. Music theory was like hitting a brick wall. Combine that with my performance anxiety and you have the perfect list of reasons not to continue that degree.

And when I say performance anxiety, let me assure you that it was epic. I never attempted for first chair due to solo’s. I never wanted to stand out. During small group ensembles, I’d always raise my music stand so that I’d be able to avoid seeing our audience. During my voice lesson class, we were required to perform for the rest of the class. Every time I’d sing by myself, I’d cry. It confounded my instructor. I would be in tune and sang well enough. I was just so scared, I couldn’t help it.

Years of LARP (live action roleplaying) and working at anime conventions has helped me shake away my shyness. I’m still nervous as hell, but I’ve finally learned that it’s not the end of the world to be awkward and goofy in front of others. Confidence? Fake it until you make it!

So needless to say, I’ve loved music most of my life. I don’t have a genre that I hate. I always feel like there’s something decent among each kind. I.E. Hank Williams is classic. My dad loved him. Tom MacDonald is an amazing rapper. But that might just be me being partial to loving music in general.

Like anything else worth doing, music takes a ton of practice. My karate sensei’s tell us the same thing. Sensei Mike McGee told us to progress in martial arts, you need at least 4 hours in the Dojo each week. And at the very least, you should be practicing Sanchin 3 times a day. Bare minimum. Similar things were said in college. My college professors always reminded us to work on our artwork. For every hour you were in the classroom, you needed to put at least 3 hours into your artwork. Considering some of my classes were 3 hours long, twice a week, that meant at least 18 hours outside of class. Now that I’m older, it makes so much more sense.

Things that professors and instructors did easily came from practice. You don’t just naturally do something well. Some people take to certain activities easier, but they didn’t just suddenly become perfect. I have to remind myself of that. My attention span is always short. Either from my ADHD brain or my Bipolar manic brain. I have to set reminds for myself and motivate myself to keep at an activity.

For the Ukulele, this involves strumming. I have a few simple songs that I try to practice. June was my depression month, I always struggle with June so a lot of my normal activities well to the wayside. Now that I’m back out of the funk, I’m trying to practice daily. Even if I can’t make my way through the whole song properly. Practice the chords. Practice strumming up and down. Practice switching between each chord. I don’t feel ready to perform for anyone, but I know I’ve improved in the last year.

I plan to keep practicing. Not just my ukulele. Practicing my martial arts. Practicing my art. Practicing my DBT skills. I know that I can improve and I enjoy progressing. There’s always room to grow. Participating in the moment. Enjoying life. These things are the biggest combatant against depression.

As always, I want to express my gratitude to you all for reading my posts! I hope you enjoy my little rambles.

Opposite Action in Action

Saturday’s are busy days for my family. My SO, Bonus Daughter, and myself go to karate. Our dojo is about an hour away, depending on traffic. We travel the furthest of any of the other students, I think. It’s good for us. I love the martial art. It’s not just exercise. There’s history, tradition, and mental wellness connected to the style. I’ll probably do a post concerning the history behind it another day.

We missed the last two week’s off class due to illness and mental health issues. So today was necessary. Just to be clear. We do karate more than once a week: we attend private lessons midweek with other sensei’s. But our main dojo and instructor are at the Saturday classes. It’s so easy to miss something that happens weekly.

Anyone that’s a parent can attest to how hard it is to wrangle a child. Getting yourself dressed, prepared, and out the door is hard enough with mental health issues. Then factoring in my SO and Bonus Daughter adds to the difficulty. Side quests always pop up and delay things. (Nerd joke.) Today’s side quest involved Bonus Daughter hurting herself.

Technically, it was a minor wound. Our orange cat can be very rambunctious when you rile him up. Like most cats, running your hands and feet under the covers gets him excited. Cat owners know what I mean. It’s that moment when their eyes dilate and any reasonable person would know now is the time to let the feline chill. Children do not have that awareness. This resulted in Bonus Daughter getting scratched in the face.

Cat scratches. Not incredibly horrible injuries, right? It does suck that it’s on the face and we know we definitely needed to care for them to prevent scarring. But here’s the kicker. Bonus Daughter has a “beauty pageant” in 3 days. I say that with quotes because this event is just a small event at the County Fair. No skills involved, her age group just walks across stage in high heels and a fluffy dress, waving in a sassy manner. Bonus Daughter has ranted and raved about doing this for weeks. She had even considered sitting out karate class because she worried she might get bruised before the event. She was already fretting about a minor scar on her back that she was going to cover with make up. Needless to say, her meltdown about facial injuries was epic.

Thankfully Opposite Action came to the rescue this morning! Sadness: If you’re feeling down, approach, don’t avoid the situation you’re upset with. Similar to dealing with fear, you want to build mastery over your emotion. Don’t isolate yourself from others—get out and do something to keep yourself busy! Getting out the door and on the road makes it even easier. Remind yourself, I’ve already started the activity, might as well at least see it to the end.

As a special treat, after class, we ended up going to grab a very tasty lunch at the local Chinese Buffet. (Huzzah for COVID restrictions being lifted in our area!) Practicing mindful eating is always a bonus activity when I’m eating out. I need to practice is a lot more, but it’s one part of DBT I haven’t really delved deep into yet. I do feel like you add a level of pressure to the predicament when you’re eating out with others. You want to remain engaged with your eating companions while being aware of the food you’re partaking in.

Saturdays almost always involve a midafternoon crash on my part. I love going out and I love doing a martial art with my family. I just don’t always have enough energy to sustain the momentum all day long. I brought the mail in, took a nap, and woke up to realize one of my self bought treats had arrived. I thought I’d ordered a flower crown, but the item seems a bit different.

This lovely piece came from Amazon. I linked it so you can see the product photos as well. Obviously, now that it’s arrived, I realize I didn’t look at the listing as closely as I should have. I still love it. It’s purpose? Nothing practical, obviously. A confidence booster? Maybe. I’ve fiddled with it a bit and realize I’ll either need some hair pins or some ribbon to fasten it to my noggin securely.

I feel so cute! Like I’m ready to go prance through a meadow like a Disney Princess and sing about kissing my True Love. Always remember to treat yourself! I keep seeing this quote floating around the internet:

“None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an after thought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else.”

I always find my own self-care to be an after thought. It’s a struggle I’m always fighting to acknowledge. So something small like this flower crown is definitely worth the splurge. Any who, thank you for reading my little ramble, guys. Your presence here is appreciated! I always feel warm and fuzzy when I get an alert that someone liked my post.