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”.


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.

Willingness versus Willfulness

In case you missed the Podcast yesterday, here’s the video!

Willingness is an important part of your mental health journey. If you aren’t willing to put the effort in to try for yourself then no one is going to be able to help you to do so. It’s a sad fact that loved ones need to be aware of as well. You cannot force someone to try. That’s not to say you should give up on them, but keeping this fact in mind is important.

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about therapy not working for them. Or even having DBT sessions and not feeling like it worked for them. It’s really important to remember that there is no instant fix to mental health issues. Even the medications that you receive from your doctor will take some time. Many of the medications for mental health disorders take a few days or more to build up in your system before you’ll start to notice their effect.

Taking an active role in your therapy and medications is part of the willingness to improve your own mental health. If you’ve never had therapy before, this article is very useful. (I linked it over in my Discord, but I know some people are not on there.) If I could go back in time and hand my younger self this piece to read, I honestly think it would have made things easier. In the past, I was very willful concerning my treatment. I didn’t want to be seen in a bad light.

I think that’s a matter I’ll leave for another post. I apologize for the short length of today’s blog entry. I have to take my bunny to the veterinarian. She’s been sneezing, wheezing, and has a runny nose. Hopefully they’ll be able to help her. Thank you again for reading! I’ll add some photographs of my bun as pet tax.

Velveteen is a Dwarf/Mini Rex Rabbit. My sister got her sometime around Christmas of 2012. In March of 2014, she came to live with me and my ex-husband. She is a very sweet, affectionate animal. She loves to travel. She’s been across the Eastern part of the United States multiple times. Rabbits are lovely pets, but potential owners should be aware they do have certain needs.

Rabbits cannot be left alone for long periods of time. They are like dogs and will eat all of their food in one go. They can be litter box trained like cats, but they do create hundreds of pellets each day. SO be prepared for poop. They are very destructive. Chewing on anything possible, whether it be your walls or your cords or digging up your carpet. They NEED lots of stimulation to prevent getting bored and lots of EXERCISE.

Thanks again for reading! Oof, looks like I made a mini post about my bun. Haha.

The Best Laid Plans

Last night and this morning, I put some good attempts into working on the logo. I don’t have the original line art from my tattoo, but I do have some good photographs. I just can’t seem to get anything accomplished though. Every time I’d draw a line, it just didn’t seem right. I’d start, hate it. Erase. Start again, still hate it. Erase again. At some point, you just have to realize that you can’t force it so I put the project down.

I’ve had long bouts of artists’ block in the past, but every since my Dad passed last Fall, it’s been plaguing me constantly. I haven’t exactly figured out why. It’s frustrating and I’m still attempting to separate myself from the idea that my art is part of my identity.

In the past, my artistic phases really coincided with my mania. Any time I would slide into my manic phase, I’d be able to do all of the things. I’d stay up all night, completing drawings for people. Or I’d be super hyper focused during tabletop games, so much so that I’d have pages of illustrations showing what we did during that day’s session. A sad part of me really misses the energy and powerful feeling that you gain while you are manic. I can understand why some people will go off their Bipolar medications.

That’s not an option I’m ever willing to take. I don’t like the lack of control that happens while I’m manic. Illusions of grandeur are nice, but frightening. Eventually you will come down from those lofty feelings and the crash after an emotional high is probably the worst thing I’ve ever experienced. I’m usually strongly at risk for a suicide attempt when I’m sliding from a Manic phase into a Depressive state.

Some lucid part of my brain wants to fight the change and is terrified that I’ll never have another good thought again. Logically I know that’s not true, but when you slip into depression, it seems like time slows down. Every day is longer and the end never seems to be within reach. I’ve learned now to prepare ahead. (DBT calls it build mastery, coping ahead.)

The facility that I currently receive mental health care from has us setup a safety plan with our therapist. It’s a lot easier to write one of these when you’re doing well as opposed to during a low phase.

Step 1: Warning Signs. Which pretty much means, any thoughts, images, moods, situations, or behaviors that might be a blue that a crisis might be developing. I know personally, my own self-care usually starts to suffer when I start to get lower. I don’t feel as if I deserve upkeep. I’ll avoid showering because I loathe the way my body looks. I won’t eat because it seems like too much effort or trouble. Pretty soon, your mind starts to fall apart as well.

You have to be mindful of this. It’s easy to lose yourself. A good cope ahead for this situation involves giving yourself some helpful tools. Even if you can’t bring yourself to brush your teeth, get a bottle of mouthwash and use that. If you can’t bring yourself to shower, buy yourself a can of dry shampoo. Or in some cases, biting the bullet and just taking a shower. I have a work around for being disgusted with myself. Showering in the dark. Having trouble with preparing yourself a meal? Not even a sandwich? I think my mind was blown the day my therapist told me just to eat the ingredients. And I’ve done it. I’ve just sat down with a few pieces of deli meat, a hunk of cheese, and some nuts. You do what you can.

Step 2: Internal Coping Strategies. These are the things you can do to take your mind off your problems without contacting another person. This includes relaxation techniques, physical activities, and etc. These honestly don’t seem hard to list or come up with when you’re in a good mood, but become extensively harder when you hit full depression mode.

I love to read. Absolutely adore books so much. But when I’m really low, I’ve come to realize that my attention span is not the same. I can’t focus. The effort put into reading can be on par with running a marathon. Sometimes I’ll just marathon watching a television show that I’ve seen before, because the comfort of watching something familiar is all I can muster. More recently, I’ve gotten back into using my local library, which clued me into this game changer: you can use your local library card and Overdrive to access digital books. Or more importantly, audiobooks. I can’t tell you how relaxing it is to listen to your favorite novel. Sometimes I’ll even read along if I have the book. That really helps my brain stay focused on reading and distracting me from my problems.

Step 3: People and Social settings that provide distraction. This one has been complicated since COVID. I have a few friends that are on Discord and Facebook that I can speak to at least, so we’ve tried to stay in each other’s lives throughout the pandemic. Video calling has been a lifesaver.

Step 4: People to ask for help. This list got smaller when my dad passed away. A few years ago, I accidentally did a Facebook post about my last suicide attempt and remembrances concerning it. I did NOT filter that post like I normally do. And shockingly my dad called me right away. He didn’t shy away from the subject and told me that I could call him any time or day if I needed an ear. It was probably one of the most relieving moments in my life. Now that he’s gone, it’s been a lot more difficult.

Step 5: Professionals or agencies to contact during a crisis. I hear people always saying they can’t reach out to professionals. They’re afraid they’ll get locked in an asylum or they’re afraid the police will show up at their front door. There are a lot of resources that will not do that. I’m partial to the Crisis Text Line, because I hate using the telephone to talk. The Crisis Text Line also covers a lot of different subjects beyond suicide, so it’s definitely a resource to put on your safety plan.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also good. You can never have too many resources. If you aren’t in the United States, please be sure to check Open Counseling. There’s an extensive list of numbers on their page. Please, PLEASE, just remember that ending your life takes away your ability to improve your situation. I’ve always hated when people told me suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Depression doesn’t feel like it’s a temporary problem especially when you’re in the deepest depths of sorrow. I’ve found that I have to word it differently for my own state of mind. Do what you need to do, do what’s best for you.

Step 6: Make the environment safe. Remove anything that might tempt you. Whether this be sharp objects, guns, drugs, or alcohol. Designate someone in your life to help you do this. Do whatever you need to do.

The last part, isn’t really a step, but it’s a very important part of your plan. What is the one thing that is most important to you and worth living for? Even if you aren’t willing to live for yourself, what in your life gives you enough drive to not leave? I’ve learned to be more selfish now and I know that I want to continue existing because I want to enjoy my life, but when I’m feeling my lowest, I remember that I have a wonderful SO that would mourn me. A step daughter that would never be able to understand why I was gone. And even the most mundane realizations, who is going to feed my rabbit if I’m dead?

Wow, okay. So I hadn’t really planned such a long post. The safety plan stuff sort of jumped out at me, but I’m hoping that it helps someone out there. I’m honestly just throwing as many things out there as I know, since it’s impossible to tell what might stick for certain people. Everyone’s different and how you approach your mental health care will have to cater to your needs and desires.

Today is Thursday! So “The Journey” DBT Podcast will be happening live on Elektra’s Twitch at 5pm EST. She’ll post it later to her Youtube, if you can’t be there for the live version. Also, if you’re interested in joining the DBT Discord, please feel free! We’re still fairly small. Under 50 members right now, but still growing!

I got distracted by the safety plan, but for good reasons. Step 2, internal coping strategies. I used that yesterday and today to distract me from my lack of artistic abilities. Sometimes, you’d think that you’d want to go in the opposite direction of what is troubling you. I decided against that and instead picked something that helped me express my art without needing too much creativity.

Remembering my dad has been an important part of my grieving. I’m afraid of forgetting the sound of his voice, the way he looked, or the impact he had on my life. Recently, while looking for some yarn at the local craft store, I noticed they had a sale on wood pieces. I picked out this boat piece because my dad loved fishing. I’m probably going to go back to the store soon and buy one of the fishing poles they had in the miniature department.

After some internal debate, and asking my SO’s opinion, I decided to paint the boat white with red trim accents. It’s really simple, but I think it worked out well. The task of painting the wooden boat was really easy. It gave me a sense of accomplishment. I might not have been able to get the logo done, but I did make something. I’ve still got a few more details to add to the memorial, but check it out!

My dad was a devote Christian, so the nail cross is in memory of that. The duck actually came from his collection. Each one of my siblings and I were allowed to take one. I picked a smaller one, which fits very well in this little boat. I’m planning on putting the coin collection my dad passed onto it in the drawer. It’s not actually a coin collection per say, but coins he picked up throughout his travels over the world. Once I get the memorial setup in its final spot, I’ll post more pictures.

Once again, thank you so much for reading my blog!

Brainstorming, the Owl Rain

June 2013 was my last hospitalized suicide attempt.

I’m having a hard time writing about this subject. I’ve openly talked about my mental health issues for years now, but sometimes, returning to the past can be difficult for my mental health. Not everyone is always understanding of mental health issues. Even those who love you. Especially those who love you.

I suppose that’s why I worry that talking about certain subjects will upset new people in my life. There’s fear that I will overshare and scare someone away. Or change their overall opinion of who I am. I know that stems from fears of abandonment and my overall desire to be a people pleaser. Sadly, knowing that does not make things any easier.

For today’s post, I won’t go into too much detail concerning that suicide attempt, just know that it was a helpful situation despite all the heartache. I was able to finally be diagnosed with Bipolar and my Anxiety Disorders were finally acknowledged. It had been a huge struggle to get a doctor, diagnosis, and medication. When I finally checked out of the Psych Facility, my ex husband gave me two stuffed owls to add to my collection and said that I could finally get a tattoo. I had been wanting tattoo’s for a very long time, to cover self-harm scars on my arms.

The parlor where I got my tattoo changed names since 2013, so I wasn’t able to link their information. I thankfully was able to have the same artist do both of my arm tattoos. I designed both tattoo’s and they are in the same location on each arm. I won’t post the other tattoo today, but it’s very nerdy in it’s own rights.

My obsession with owls started when I was younger, so I’ve always been a fan of doodling owls. It took a lot of trial and error to come up with the tattoo I finally picked. It’s not perfect, but it was a design I made myself for myself. So I’m happy with it. As you can see in the pictures below, I took bits and pieces from other tattoo’s and drawings I’d seen to create my own.

The last few weeks, I’ve brainstormed, agonized, and debated what to use for my website logo. It held me back for the longest time. I wanted to have my logo created before I got all my website/social media accounts made. At some point, I had a mock up made, but I changed my mind eventually.

I wouldn’t say that the logo was a bad idea. Just not exactly the image that I pictured in my mind when it comes to Atelier Whootique. My OCD always demands perfection. Even if there isn’t a clear parameter concerning what perfect is exactly. As you can see with the website right now. I picked a lot of black and white artwork with blue menu’s. This is a similar design to the WordPress page I’d made for Fish in Bowl. A little bit of an homage to my previous work.

Ideally, I knew that I wanted to stick with the owl motif. I wanted to somehow include art into the basic design, hence the paintbrush. I thought that would be cute, but I have so many other topics as well that I want to write about. I know that might be my indecisiveness talking. I just honestly feel like there’s so many little pieces that make me who I am. The books I read. The shows I watch. The things I do to help with my mental health. The martial arts that I practice.

I have to constantly remind myself, my identity isn’t centered on any one thing. I’m not just an artist. When I can’t draw, that doesn’t mean my existence is worthless. I’m not just a bookworm. If I can’t focus enough to enjoy a novel, that doesn’t mean I’m broken. The things I do add up. Which should be the focus instead of the things that I feel divide or lessen myself.

So the long winded point of this all? I think I’m going to use my tattoo as the Atelier Whootique Logo. I need to polish it up some, I didn’t have a drawing tablet back in the day. My artwork was all drawn on paper, inked, then scanned into a computer. It’s not a bad thing, but the basic image will need some touching up.

Expect that in the near future. Once again, I can’t thank you enough for reading my blog. Every time a notification comes to my e-mail that someone has liked a post, it makes my heart warm.