It worked again today!

I’m becoming more and more convinced that all this positive thinking stuff works!

Here is today’s experience. I went to Yoga and for the last fifteen minutes, we lay on our mats, meditating. I breathe in white light and breathe out sparkles. The sparkles float into the air and tap into all the optimistic power of the Universe.

After yoga, I hauled my sweaty self home. (I never would have imagined yoga is a sweat-inducing business.) Bronson greeted me joyfully. After loving on him for a bit I went to the computer. Checked out Gmail. My only emails are from zulily, Chase Bank, and Capital One. When did people stop emailing? Then I snooped around CNN news and finally opened Facebook.

Lo and Behold my friend Judy sent me an FB link to best-selling author Judy Blume’s new Master Class. I adore Judy Blume.  One of my favorite books is The Pain and the Great One.

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All my positive thinking manifested a class offered by one of my favorite kids’ authors! See? There are no accidents.

I plunked down $90, gathered all my coloring equipment and planned to spend the afternoon coloring while at “school.”

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It turns out the class doesn’t begin until January. So I’ve put the pencils and coloring bookmark away.

Instead, I’ll sit on my broad backside and read Ken Follett’s A Column of Fire. Jimmy bought it at Costco, but he’s still picking his way through Gone with the Wind, so I pilfered it. Jim reads very slowly which gives me plenty of time to finish. Recently I asked him, “Do you read every word?”  He replied, “Of course. What do you do? Skip every other one?”  Possibly.

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It really works!

I’m becoming more and more convinced that all this positive thinking stuff works!

Here is today’s experience. I went to Yoga and for the last fifteen minutes, we lay on our mats, meditating. I breathe in white light and breathe out sparkles. The sparkles float into the air and tap into all the optimistic power of the Universe.

After yoga, I hauled my sweaty self home. (I never would have imagined yoga is a sweat-inducing business.) Bronson greeted me joyfully. After loving on him for a bit I went to the computer. Checked out Gmail. My only emails are from zulily, Chase Bank, and Capital One. When did people stop emailing? Then I snooped around CNN news and finally opened Facebook.

Lo and Behold my friend Judy sent me an FB link to best-selling author Judy Blume’s new Master Class. I adore Judy Blume.  One of my favorite books is The Pain and the Great One.

20170928_134156

All my positive thinking manifested a class offered by one of my favorite kids’ authors! See? There are no accidents.

I plunked down $90, gathered all my coloring equipment and planned to spend the afternoon coloring while at “school.”

20170928_134250

It turns out the class doesn’t begin until January. So I’ve put the pencils and coloring bookmark away.

Instead, I’ll sit on my broad backside and read Ken Follett’s A Column of Fire. Jimmy bought it at Costco, but he’s still picking his way through Gone with the Wind, so I pilfered it. Jim reads very slowly which gives me plenty of time to finish. Recently I asked him, “Do you read every word?”  He replied, “Of course. What do you do? Skip every other one?”  Possibly.

20170928_134922

 

 

Clinical Depression

 

In 1993 I suffered severe clinical depression. It took years to find the “…and that’s good because” of that illness. At the time I felt ashamed of my inability to be happy. I had all the trappings intended to make for a joyful life. I had–and still have–two beautiful, healthy kids. My son was thirteen at the time, my daughter was ten. I lived an affluent life in a gated country club community. Fancy cars, fancy clothes, fancy travel.

But I couldn’t stop crying. No one knew I was so ill. I was the master of slapping on a smile and faking happiness. Sure, there were signs that old friends would have recognized, but we’d moved away from old friends shortly before the illness began. New friends commented on how much weight I was losing and how good I was looking. Ultimately I became concentration camp skeletal.

I was suicidal.

Each day I would fake being happy mommy long enough to see my kids off to school. Then I would crawl into the bed and curl up in a fetal position. I made it my rule to stay on the bed, reasoning if I got off I might make a fatal choice. When they arrived home, I resumed that odd grin until they went to bed at night.

Ultimately I was hospitalized. Upon arrival attendants took my picture. The result showed a shrunken woman, hollow cheeks, sorrowful eyes. She was wearing a strange toothy grin.

Shoelaces were confiscated, as were make-up mirrors and any other items possibly used to inflict harm upon ourselves. All medications were put under lock and key.

My first night I had a nurse seated by my bed throughout the night to make sure I didn’t suicide. The following morning I was awakened by frightening, deafening pounding from the room next door. Anger management class. The pounding was rubber bats against pillowed chair seats.

The following three weeks were a series of classes.

Anger management–I did my fair share of pounding. I found it was very therapeutic.

Art therapy–I used only black pens. Sometimes I slammed the pens so hard the felt tips were ruined, other times were weak little scribbles.

Group Discussions–Patients were seated in a circle and would take turns discussing our feelings. I had long since forgotten how to feel my feelings. I was unable to feel joy, only just learning to feel rage. I had stuffed my feelings. Piled on top of them was a boatload of pain. One man never opened his eyes. I wondered how he navigated the hallways. I have since tried his technique and now understand how it is a brilliant coping skill. One more way to keep the world out: Just don’t see it.

Sing-a-longs led by a jolly guitar playing minister. All the songs were Christian. I remember one, “This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Private counseling– One on one with very gentle psychologists.

The patients included a long distance truck driver, John, who blamed himself for his son’s death. John had given his son a new car. Days later his son was killed in that car trying to beat a train.

Laura, who was committed for a mandatory three days. She had attempted suicide following an affair with her boss. The man rejected her. Her Jehovah’s witness family shunned her.

Doris, who had run away from an abusive home at thirteen. By fifteen she had given birth to a baby who died shortly after that. She was anger personified, often skipping classes or, if she did come, she flounced into the room with a scowl and contributed nothing.

One woman, whose name I have long since forgotten, had to spend her first night in a padded room. Her hands were bound so she couldn’t scratch herself. A camera on the wall recorded every movement to a television posted at the nurse’s station.

She was suicidal over the loss of her teenage son. Each visiting day her husband and pre teen daughter would come. Dad would spend time with his wife while the daughter would sit, stricken and alone, in the visitor’s area. My heart broke for that young girl. She must have felt she alone wasn’t a loveable enough child to make her parents happy.

For years I experienced intense shame about having been in a mental health hospital. It was embarrassing to have become crazy.

Now I’m coming to the “this is good because….” part of my clinical depression journey.

The mental health hospital I was committed to offered two treatment options. One option looked to me like a nut-hut crazy madhouse. The other choice a spiritual Christian model. I now understand my nightmare hospital experience was the first step in my journey to belief in a higher power.

That three-week experience–two weeks inpatient, one week out—was a turning point in my life. Sure, there were still miles and miles to go before I learned to trust my higher power and live the life I now have–A life filled with abundance beyond anything I could have believed possible back in 1993.

There were years of therapy following my hospitalization. Robin, my skilled psychologist, gently guided. She taught me assertiveness skills and how to recognize my feelings. She told me to close my eyes and imagine situations from several sides. Following each assessment, I was to take stock of my physical self. Were my shoulders tight? Was my breathing shallow? My body’s tension or lack thereof would give me answers my mind couldn’t manage.

Eventually, I made the most important wellness choice–leaving my twenty-eight-year marriage. Which led me back to church, back to prayer and back to simply breathing in and out. I learned to be quiet. I learned to trust that God put me here for a reason. I don’t know the reason. I don’t have to. I just have to say, “Hey God, put a neon light over the door you want me to walk through.”

And God always does.

 

Textural Triptych

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Each of these paintings are 72′ tall by 24″ wide.  Mounted on top are three smaller canvases.

After years of decorative residential and commercial painting, I finally hung up my brushes when product design opportunity rolled into my world.   The product design experience was a fantastic one, but eventually travel to China became too hard for this old girl.

I  planned to move on, but struggled with what to move on TO.  I walked, prayed, and dropped it into the hands of my Benevolent Force.

One random day I got a phone call from house painter Gary Monaco.   Years before he had introduced me to a home owner, Karen. That introduction led to years painting in nearly every room of her huge home.

Gary began the call by saying, “I have clients who would like you to paint for them.”  Making the assumption that decorative painting was the request, I replied, “Thanks, Gary, but I’m out of that business.”

Gary then told me his clients didn’t want me to paint on their walls, they wanted canvases to hang on a specific wall in their home.

Thrilled to have opportunity to pitch my work I called the clients, Sam and Ann Wagner, scheduled a day to visit and put together a small portfolio.

I drove to their vast rural farm where an elegant sprawling home was located at the edge of a large pond.  As far as the eye could see there was rolling land topped with lush vegetation.  I felt overwhelmed at the notion of creating original artwork for people who clearly had very discerning tastes.

Clutching my meager portfolio, I took a deep breath and rang the bell.   Ann was home, Sam was not.  She graciously led me to a huge kitchen over-looking the pond.  There, at the granite counter, I nervously showed her my work.  I then asked for opportunity to wander their home and observe the many original paintings.  I needed to get a handle on their preferences in artwork.

After measuring the giant wall, I went home and dug into coming up with lots of feasible options.   Did they want nine canvases,  three rows of three?  One big canvas?  Four in a row?  Four, two rows of two?  A triptych?  And how would they feel about a collage using dried vegetation from their land?

Her response was, “Yes to the triptych.”  I then worked up a pile of triptych possibilities, with suggestions for color direction etc.  At that point Ann said, “You choose.  It all confuses me.”  Wow!  Free reign!

Shortly after, on a clear fall day,  Jim and I met Sam at the farm.  He gave us his rugged all wheel-drive truck.  We drove the bumpy fields gathering mountains of twigs, leaves, corn husks, weeds.   The painting above is what those bits and scraps became.  The metallic streak across the three paintings is gold leaf.

Happily the Wagner’s were delighted with the final result.

I don’t believe this opportunity was an accident.  It was manifested by positive thinking and prayer.  Now on to meditate.  I am excited to see what my Benevolent Force will offer next.