Words That Helped Me Remember My Worth

A couple months ago, I was writing on my break. A team nurse as kind as can be popped in and said the nicest things to me.

Internally, I had been feeling overwhelmed and kind of worthless. She changed that. She was someone I walked by each day, but spoke with very little. She saw so much good in me and told me that day.

My eyes welled. I asked if I could give her a hug. She responded by giving me one. I thanked the kind, generous nurse and gushed. I told her how much I needed that and the pressure I was feeling. I hugged her again. I wiped the tears from my eyes and face and thanked her once more.

Afterward, I tried to write down what she said, so I could read it on difficult days. I’m so appreciative that she took the time to share what she thought of me.

This is the same person who frequently asks about my progress on my artwork and creative projects. Each time, I’ve been disappointed to tell her that I hadn’t worked on anything.

Each time, she encouraged me and said she looked forward to seeing my finished work. I’m hoping to get back into it soon.

Last week, those familiar feelings of shame and worthlessness engulfed me again.

I sobbed while I flipped through a catalogue of city events. I told my husband I’d feel like I had more of a purpose if I could find something I could volunteer for. He reminded me that I prefer to stay home in the winter and that I’ve accomplished a lot. It helped a little.

Fast forward to last Monday.

I was thinking in the shower. When I turned off the water and looked down at my feet, I found something in the soap suds.

Do you see it?

To me, it looked like a semicolon with a sideways heart next to it.

I carefully stepped out of the bathtub. I gently pulled back the front of the curtain and took a picture. I sent it to a couple close friends. After I confirmed that the picture was saved, I wiped away the suds.

In case you haven’t heard of Project Semicolon and what it represents; it means you continued, when you could have stopped. If you would like to learn more, please visit https://projectsemicolon.com

As always, I thank you for your continued support.

I continue to wish you the best.

Loose Hinges – Artist Through the Years

I hadn’t realized the memories I’ve kept in my art sets. So many sets were gifts. I remember who gave me each one. I used to be overcome with exuberance and wonder when I opened a new box.

Pretend you have a box of chocolates. You think you ate the last one. You lift the empty plastic and see crinkly paper. You remove it to reveal a fresh layer of tasty sweets.

I used to feel that giddy about revealing a second level of art supplies. I used to repeatedly raise and lower the top decks. The hinges are slightly loose because of that action.

When I made thank-you cards, I used every color and almost all the materials in the box. I snubbed the oil pastels.

I prefer the pastel pencils. Those give me more control. I’m less likely to get it on my outer palm and smear the colors across my work-in-progress.

My favorite set wasn’t even mine. It contained two levels of watercolor pencils. Part of the plastic case functioned as a stand. I must have really appreciated multifunctional cases.

I dipped the watercolor pencil in the water. That created the paint. After I used the pencil, I used the paintbrush to spread the pigment. I painted a racecar scene for my dad. He’s kept almost everything I’ve made. He might still have that painting.

Years later, my mom bought me something similar. I applied the new watercolor pencils directly to the watercolor block. Until I wet the block, it looked like colored pencil. It was simple. If I could draw it, I could paint it.

I remember painting a scene of my blue Chinese fighting beta in his tank. He was surrounded by a wall of books. Fun fact. I named my beta, Picasso. This was before I fell in love with the work of Leonardo da Vinci and Edgar Degas.

I wish I could find that painting. I was quite proud of it. The scale was off, but everything was well sketched and painted. It was before I had social media and took pictures of all my work.

Now, I only use those pencils for small and intricate sections of watercolor paintings.

In my late teens, I started learning preferences for the paints and pencils I used. I didn’t want to use what was considered student grade. Thanks to my mom, I learned about qualities of different brands. I started buying tubes of paint in only the colors I needed.

Into our second year of dating, my fiance’ asked my mom for advice on my birthday gift. It was a quality watercolor paint and palette set. When I lifted the lid just now, I found something unexpected. It was dried paint on the palletes.

Back then, it was unusual for me to go more than a couple days without creating something. There wasn’t harm in leaving something out and coming back it to it the next day. With this set, I painted Mov;ng Forward. I consider this to be my best painting.

I included a photo below. When this was a work in progress, I had an all black background. My mom suggested I soften it with a fantastic color called Paynes Gray. This painting showcases several shades of it.

I used Freda Austin Nichols’s photo for reference.

Last year on my birthday, my husband and I went to Traverse City, Michigan. It had been several months since I’d sketched or painted.

We stopped at the Michigan Artist Gallery. Inside, is where I found an art form that was perfect for my busy schedule. It’s called a Buddha Board. It only uses water and a soft bristle paintbrush. When the water evaporates, the board returns to a blank canvas. The only drawback is that it’s not in color. It’s a light grey board that turns dark gray when touched by water.

I quickly “painted” a water scene on the demonstration Buddha board. I started with loose brush strokes for the water, added a small boat on the left, tall grass on the right and finished it with birds soaring in the sky. I loved it. It was the most creative and free I felt in a long time. I grabbed the box and said, “This is mine. Happy birthday to me”. I proceeded to the cash register.

Below are some pictures of my Buddha Board creations once I was home. I wasn’t as inspired as I had been inside the gallery, but it was still fun.

After six years of renting, my husband and I bought our first home. I’m doing my best to make a creative space for my art, projects and writing. The walls are light colored and proudly display my mom’s and my artwork. Since it shares a room with my new home office, I have been much better about keeping it clean.

My easel has an acrylic work-in-progress on it. It’s next to a completed painting. It reminds me what I’m capable of and what more I can bring to that series.

I find it fitting that I broke free from writer’s block as I tossed old paints that crunched and oozed.

Perhaps, this is a foreshadowing of how I’ll find inspiration and create more one of a kind pieces in my room.

Like my dad told me, I’ll do great things in here. I love our new home. I love my new room. I’m grateful to have found some inspiration.

Overcoming My Fear of Alcohol: Part Two

It’s been a long road, but I am no longer sent into a panic by the mention of “Fireball”, my husband drinking in front of me or having alcohol in our home.

I still prefer not to have it here, but I won’t cause a scene anymore.

In August, our friends from out of state visited. As they settled indoors, my husband, Chris asked if I would mind if they bought drinks. I said no. He tested my understanding. “By drinks, you know I mean beer, right?” I nodded and said yes. Chris thanked me and gave me a kiss. He offered to bring home a wine for me to try. I told him I had been thinking about it and felt ready.

Previously, I spoke with my psychiatrist about having an occasional drink. I read the warning labels on my medication and read more on the drug manufacturer’s website. My antidepressant had been working so well. I didn’t want a little wine to ruin its repairs.

Also, my friend is a counselor and she helped me feel more comfortable too.

I announced that I would try the wine at 7:30 pm that night.

In my head, I envisioned a momentous milestone. I thought about “going live” for the first time on social media to capture the moment.

I considered inviting my closest friends who have helped me mostly overcome this ridiculous phobia.

I did none of that.

I told myself it was daily living for millions of people and to get over myself.

While we played games, our friends had beer and red wine. It may have been my nose, but the beer smelled like a public bathroom that had been cleaned with lemon scented products. I barely smelled the red wine.

It was getting to be close to 7:30 pm. My husband poured me a glass of the supposedly sweetest white wine. I let it sit for a few minutes. Chris reminded me that it tastes better cold. I let 10 minutes pass and I picked up the glass. It smelled fruity. That was a good sign. I looked at Chris and our friends. We clinked glasses. I toasted, “To being open minded”. I took one sip. “Nope”. We all laughed.

Chris said if I didn’t like that wine, I wouldn’t like wine.

I gave Chris my glass. That was all the alcohol he had to drink that weekend.

I was a little uncomfortable having a two cases of beer in the fridge and two bottles of wine on the kitchen counter. As my counselor says, “a little uncomfortable, we can work with”.

Still working on it…

In September, Chris accompanied me to my high school reunion. Chris ordered a mead called “Zombie Killer” . I asked to take a sip. It smelled decent and it tasted much better than the wine. Still, I stopped at one sip.

Surprise! I brought beer.

Our out-of-state friends visited again in October. As they brought in their suitcases and air mattress, a case of beer came with it.

I wasn’t expecting that. I wasn’t thrilled, but I didn’t say anything. I reminded myself that it wasn’t an issue last time.

This visit, Chris had no beer or wine while we were home. When we went out to dinner, he ordered one drink, but he didn’t finish it.

This is going to be okay. We’re going to be okay.

I still get irritated when my husband’s friends talk about getting drunk and make it out to be the most important item on their to-do-lists. Thankfully, he has only a couple of those friends. I think to myself. If you choose to drink copious amounts of alcohol, please stay home. I don’t want anyone to get hurt or experience worse.

Thanks for sticking with me.

I wish you the best.

Hobbies, Self-Care and Sunshine

Being outside with my husband and family helped me clear my mind. It gave me permission to unapologetically relax. No time was wasted.

I sketched, read, played games, wrote in my therapy workbooks, colored, made s’mores and played toy trucks with my nephew.

After one blog free June, I wrote six posts in seven days. How freeing! I feel accomplished and refreshed. I’m so glad I finished these before returning to work on Monday.

I apologize for my WordPress hiatus. I hope you like my new posts.

I wish you the best.

A Friendly Message

My husband and I went to an important meeting to hopefully wrap up an ordeal that started two years ago. Afterward, we went to the mall to buy Chris shorts for our trip. We ate lunch and I used a public restroom. When I closed the door, I saw, “Smile – You’re beautiful”.

I don’t know if that person wrote it on only one door or if it was on all the stalls in the women’s restroom.

Seeing it helped me feel better about the day and the world. It’s corny, I know. Sometimes, I need corny. There are so many terrifying and heartbreaking news stories. I appreciated this simple reminder of genuine, random kindness. What kind messages have you unexpectedly found? Feel free to share in the comments below.

I wish you the best.

Overcoming My Fear of Alcohol

This post is personal to me. I appreciate your empathy and encouragement for me to be more accepting. Negative comments against my husband or myself will be deleted.

At a young age, I assigned a strong, negative connotation to alcohol. I married Chris. He didn’t drink. It was a wonderful rarity. We were sober and happy at parties. I felt our sobriety was something that helped us become a compatible couple.

One day, my husband went to the Renaissance Festival with his buddies without me. When he returned, I learned that he went to a pub crawl and sampled several meads.

I was distraught and irrationally angry. My husband who never had a drop of alcohol had several samples of heavy drinks that day. Clearly, he forgot who his audience was. Chris proudly showed me his badges and souvenirs from the crawl.

That same night, I wrote a list of rules and statements to remember when he drinks. It was biased toward me and riddled with my hasty assumptions. I tried to find the list to include in this post. I think I threw it out. I’m ashamed of how I used to think and my perceived judgments. I’m not 100% or even 90% over it.

I still cling to those negative claims when I feel the need to protect my ideology. Now, it lasts for a shorter time and I am more careful with my words.

Here’s a less than fond memory from 2017.

I texted profanities and partially wished sickness and harm to my husband. In my mind, he needed to feel the consequences of his actions. Ironically, it was a misunderstanding. I was the one who needed to feel the pain of my sharp, disgusting words. This is what happened several months ago.

A mutual friend and my husband and I visited some friends out of state. Chris opened a Leinenkugel Summer Shandy and started drinking it in the kitchen. I asked him what he was doing. He said, “I’m having a beer”. Until that moment, Chris had not had any alcohol in front of me. Plus, I thought he hadn’t drank since the pub crawl that started it.

I walked into the livingroom to watch movies with my friend. Meanwhile, he played board games with friends in the dining room . I watched my husband go to the fridge three times. He grabbed a summer shandy each time. I had heart palpitations and cried hot tears as I watched in disbelief. My hands, legs and feet trembled too. My friend tried to comfort me.

I texted my husband and begged him to switch to tea or water. I saw him grab four beers in three hours. He didn’t deny it or explain what actually happened.

I went to bed upstairs. First I sent Chris a series of cruel texts describing what I hoped would happen to him after drinking that much. I didn’t fall asleep, but I tried. Later he read the text messages and was justifiably upset. He explained to me that he only had one beer. He grabbed the other three for our friends, because he sat closer to the kitchen.

I apologized and told him how uncomfortable that made me. It didn’t matter. My word choice from earlier was too much to set aside.

In July of 2017, my husband and I and the same buddy from earlier visited my in-laws. We had just finished eating lunch. We sat around the bonfire. A family member sipped on a Pepsi Fire and dumped it out. He said it tasted like, “weak-ass Fireball”. He asked my husband if he had fireball whiskey. Nonchalantly, Chris replied, “Yeah, I’ve had Fireball”.

From that moment on, I was heartbroken, disappointed and infuriated. I was inconsolable. That unbearable, heavy hearted feeling lasted through September.

I spoke with my closest friends, family members, family doctor, counselor and husband. It took a long time, but I realized my husband didn’t do anything wrong. He could have told me that he continued to drink after the pub crawl, so it wasn’t such a shock. That’s not the point. Chris was responsible and hadn’t changed like I feared he would. My counselor suggested I try visualizations to trick my mind, walking in a store with alcohol in my cart and practicing mindfulness. This advice was appreciated and followed.

What I found most helpful, I did on my own. I wrote a list of reasons why alcohol bothered me and brainstormed what I could do to lessen my heated reactions to it. My handwriting is sloppy, because I wrote as quickly as I could think.

When I showed the list to my friends, one suggested I write instances when I was okay being around alcohol. That was helpful too. I was surprised to think of as many examples as I did.

That July trip was like trying to ignore a massive sign with flashing lights. I imagined the words in that sign read, “DIVORCE, LONELINESS, DEATH”.

I understand if no one can relate to this post. It’s personal.

I did not want to continue resenting my husband and our friends for the situations that were sprung on me. I love my husband. To help me realize what I have and reassure myself that I needed to be more accepting, I wrote a lengthy list of all things that I love about Chris. It was easy. I didn’t want to lose him. The list is included below.

I realized drinking does not change Chris. He’s still the charismatic guy I fell in love with in 2009. He’s still the funny, sweet guy I married in 2012. He’s still my loving, goofy and reliable husband. Plus, his drinking has not made us less of a couple.

This July, Chris and I stayed with my wonderful in-laws again. They told me it was good to see me doing so well. My mother-in-law explained to my husband what awful condition I was in while he was away at a convention last year.

This year, we went to a bar/restaurant on the fourth of July, just before dusk. It was loud. A few people were inebriated. There were four young children present and some women were not wearing much. That upset me.

I was on edge for the first 15 minutes. I told Chris and my in-laws that I needed to get it out of my system and I would be fine.

Chris wanted to order an Apple Ale, but the waitress didn’t return to our table until he had eaten most of his burger. I thought if he ordered a drink, I would take a sip and bond with him. I ate a delicious pulled pork barbeque sandwich. My funny father-in-law joked that he could see my review. “The food was great, but the people were obnoxious”. No, I didn’t post a review.

I forgot to mention that I researched alcohol content in common beers, meads, wines and whiskies. Whiskey makes me uncomfortable, because its alcohol content is usually 40% and it’s consumed in the form of shots.

I’m considering going to a wine tasting with my husband. I understand each sample is between two and three ounces. My mother-in-law thinks I might like the darker red wines. She said those taste sweeter.

I still worry about being bitter to Chris and other loved ones. Thankfully, I am more accepting and open-minded. Thank you to everyone who has helped me and continues to reach out to me. I appreciate you.

There are several more things that happened in the past year. I think this post nicely summarizes it in a readable length. Thank you for reading.

Reminder. This post is personal to me. I appreciate your empathy and encouragement for me to be more accepting. Negative comments against my husband or myself will be deleted.

Greetings from Neighbors and Man’s Best Friend

Yard work allows me to escape from daily fears and stressors. It reminds me of simpler times and I enjoy the fresh air. Plus, I like seeing how nice the lawn looks as a result of a job well done.

Since moving out of the county where I spent all of my childhood, I have not felt a neighborly connection. That changed when a couple and their two dogs stopped to talk.

I stayed at my porch for the first few minutes. Once I felt comfortable to let my guard down, I walked to the end of the front yard and met them at the sidewalk.

They were nice. Their two dogs were just as friendly. The larger dog laid on the ground and kicked her hind leg as I rubbed her belly. The smaller dog approached me and I gave her attention too. The couple told me their dogs don’t usually warm up to people that quickly. I said I like to think I’m a good person and I’m glad that their dogs agree.

The couple told me they own a nonprofit organization. They repair bicycles and give them to local children. I told my neighbors that I haven’t repaired bikes, but would be happy to help with their nonprofit.

The generous couple invited my husband and I to come over anytime. Part of me would like to do so. Maybe if I see them outside again, I can introduce Chris.

I’m happier to feel less threatened and more open to meeting new people. I look forward to meeting more of our neighbors.