Rag Wreath Therapy

To keep my Crafty status, I make a craft once a month or so. I’m going crazy on rag wreaths. I don’t know why I like ’em so much other than they are so easy to make and I love the texture. I’ve made like 7 recently for gifts and to keep some around the house. Super cheap and you can put it together while streaming Netflix. 🙂 It’s a very comforting project. It’s like sewing, but not. Wish I could sell ’em. 🙂 When I give them to people, they can’t help but touch them. And keep touching them. LOL It’s very soothing and tactile. It’s a fidget spinner for adults! Baby blanket with textures.

rag wreath white and blue

This one’s really fluffy and full. It will probably never show dust because it’s mostly white. It’s a very tranquil pastime putting one together. Try it! You just need a wire wreath form and your favorite colors or scraps of fabric. Cotton works best since you can rip it instead of cutting all the individual pieces. Ripping it gives that rag look anyway. And ripping is therapeutic!

Here are the wire forms:

green metal boxed wire wreath form

Available at any craft store usually. Even Walmart has them. If you want to go in there. LOL

Cut up and old sheet or curtain even and start tying! Single knot around the frame, tie on the wire. It will stay, believe me. Once you jam all your fabric on, it’s too tight to come loose. Show me your projects! What are your favorite patterns or colors?

My daughter said this looks like an angel in wreath form. LOL And my husband said it looked like a fluffy sunshower storm cloud.

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Glad for the Dad

It’s a day late. Wish I would have thought of this yesterday, but I was busy doing things for Father’s Day! lol Like infinite back scratchies and dinner prep! Laundry, cleaning, moving, crafting, writing. Ya know, the usual.


Thanks for being Lilli’s dad, Kacey Moe. She has a better one than I did and I’m glad I get to see it. ❤ I wouldn’t want anyone else for my child’s dad. Well. Maybe Mr. Rogers. But, come on! Don’t we all??

You spent the better part of your life without an example for fatherdom. So. Wow! You’re doing the best job without any experience or training! Impressive.

It’s mainly that you fill her with all the emotional things you knew you wanted and never had. That you teach her the lessons it took you so long to learn. That you read and sang to her every day. That you hugged and kissed her every night. That you prayed over her, poured over her like precious oil, crafted her, molded her, formed her so carefully. Like our Heavenly Father does with us. That you worked so hard to stay through difficult times. Thank you for being a wonderful parenting partner. I love you.


My husband usually draws himself in this style (featured pic). So I thought I would incorporate a doodle that looks like him. 🙂

Cats and Cigarettes

My daughter, Pencil Princess, drew these. I love them.

She does not like them (hates them), but said I could post them on my blog.

She did these in art class. The little girl is watching big sister smoke. Then in the next panel, as an older kid, she’s now smoking. Their faces are scratched out, but I love that. So, the little girl is wearing a cat dress and then she’s wearing a cat shirt to show progression of time. I love the exaggerated clouds of smoke and how the smoke lines up almost perfectly from panel to panel.

I forget, did you do that on purpose, PenPrin? Nice job. Love it.

Check out her creations on her blog. She’s really developing her illustration skills.

Tell Me About My Chris

My friend, Chris Churchill, filmed a documentary about his mom. It’s about his whole family, really, Tell Me About My Mother.

It’s compelling. Hard to watch in places. Private. Heartbreaking. Bare-to-the-bones revealing. Honest. Touching.

This documentary challenges my idea of what a doc should be. And that’s okay! Chris is seen, on camera, part of the story, asking questions. But, because of the subject matter, because of his inclusion in the events, because of his expertise in these realms, his participation is certainly needed and wanted.

The film is edited well and contains original music. Those elements of pictures, interviews, soundtrack and special effects all contribute to one’s understanding of Chris’ heart and mind during/after such a chaotic time.

Chris’ mother is a funny, charming, sweet, old lady. Like anyone’s mom. But we hear early evidence to contradict that initial image. Having had a parent with mental illness, I feel compassion and empathy for Mother and Chris from the first moments of the film.

It’s 3:33 am. I woke up with so many questions, Chris.

Q: It seems almost impossible that your mother would leave her small town for Chicago. She left to attend Salvation Army training. Both of your parents were officers in the Salvation Army, at one time. In the movie, we see an inattention from SA to help the very families serving them, much like the US military branches. Did that lack of sympathy from SA disturb your spiritual life? Did you struggle with Christianity and God? Where are you spiritually?

A: When I was young, I was extremely religious. At first, I was extremely and specifically into the Salvation Army because it was all I knew. But also, because it was…connecting with my parents in a way I knew they’d be constant. As I got older, I began to notice and question the less loving and accepting parts of the Bible and, in particular, our church’s interpretation of it. I wanted to love everyone as they were, but it seemed like the God I was being taught about wasn’t like that. I was also lucky enough to be able to see that what people said God was didn’t seem to match up with what they all said God did or felt. So I began that lifelong search for a spiritual truth that works for me and isn’t reliant on what authority figures insist I believe. To be fair, the Salvation Army has evolved on a lot of issues over the years, too. But I can’t see myself ever returning to…any church services regularly. I know what it’s there for and I don’t need or want that. No disrespect to those who go and are satisfied with their experience and who actively love all of humanity. I also understand that getting wrapped up in the minutiae of any religion diminishes the overriding point of it all. And if the point isn’t as simple as love thy neighbor as thyself, then it’s missing the point. All that came from being immersed in a faith that had the tendency to overlook the primary importance of love over laws. To quote The Thompson Twins, “Love IS the law”. That’s where I am now. Love is the point. Everyone is equally important, even the people who are your purported enemies. I believe in God as the fabric of the universe that connects us all. The information I was raised with that makes the most sense to me involves compassion and mercy and love. I believe God, that thing that creates, heals, teaches and connects us all, is love. And love is both a noun and a verb. To be with God, you have to love. To love more and more deeply is to be more and more deeply with God. To love less is to be less with God.

Q: Your dad seems very unsympathetic at times. He is currently a minister. Do you feel that his lack of compassion toward your mother is a Christian ideal?

A: It’s interesting that you say that about him because I’ve heard people say the opposite as well. Some people see him as a man whose calling was to lead a flock in a church his whole life. He certainly sees that. He did the best he could for us but he was always split in his duties between us and the church. And, yeah, the church will always win. It seems “un-Christian” of him but my dad was also serious about serving others which is very “Christian” of him. You could look at it both ways and you’d be right both ways.

Q: Do you think he was having an affair?

A: I believe him when he says he wasn’t at the time that this movie covers. I’m not sure, however, if during the time they were separated, but before they were divorced, that he wasn’t in a relationship with my first stepmother. I know why you’d ask and why anyone would wonder. He’s still extremely flirty. But I’ll tell you, he’s been married to my second and final stepmother for 38 years. So, I’d say that generally, in terms of flirting, his bark was always far worse than his bite.

Q: Being Salvation Army officers, your parents made some strict choices, but also, some not-so-strict choices. Some very non-SA choices, I would venture to say. It seems demanding that your father would expect your mother to attend SA training and become an officer, but also sleep with her outside of marriage. Do you resent this seemingly arbitrary thinking?

A: I see the premarital sex as a mistake or a “sin” in the eyes of that church at that time, but I don’t really see it as a “sin” in general. My dad explained to me 25 years ago when I was living with the young lady who I would ultimately marry that he didn’t consider it a “sin” because the Bible never describes any specific ceremony that determines that you’re married. It’s in your heart. The decision to be committed to another person is a marriage. That’s why you should never judge anyone. The love and the “sin” all happen in people’s hearts and minds where we can’t see it.

Q: Or do you see it simply as two young people unable to reconcile their belief system with natural, biological urges?

A: I would agree with the latter, but it’s also none of my business.

Q: Do you think your father was too demanding of your mentally-ill mother?

A: I think, like most people who have never experienced a mental illness themselves, he didn’t have a good idea of what she was going through or why. He certainly only had the tools he was raised with to help. Those tools were based on a strict sense of duty to the church.

Q: Even if his upbringing was different, do you feel a more compassionate person would have left SA and not been resentful? I personally believe your father, as a man of God, had a responsibility to put his family first. Even above SA. Not above God, but SA. Because SA is just an institution, not God. Do you think if your father could have prioritized the family and helped your mother, things would have turned out differently?

A: It seems like it, at first glimpse, but here’s the real issue. My mother’s illness would have probably manifested to this extent even if he had been the world’s most attentive husband. Part of her illness was (and still is) the compulsion to push the ones they are closest to the edge. I think that’s part of the definition of a borderline personality disorder. I think. And I’m pretty sure that’s one of her issues.

Q: Do you feel that your home life represented a contradiction or the hypocrisy of the SA lifestyle/rules? It sounded like SA swept much under the rug, er–cross.

A: Kind of. But it’s not that Dad treated us poorly or that mom was choosing to hurt us. It was Dad doing what he thought was right and mom was doing the best she could in light of her condition.

Q: How does your dad reconcile the continued family crisis under his belief system? The film doesn’t really address his deep understanding of her mental illness. Does he understand from a spiritual standpoint?

A: He understands better now than he did then. He’s a good man. He just didn’t know how to make both halves of his world work together back then.

Q: I have much anxiety about your accident. Does it concern you or cause you anxiety to think about what could have been? It was a miracle that you weren’t more seriously or gravely injured. Do you resent your siblings or mother because of the accident? Or making you wear that horrible bandage at the dinner table? (LOL)

A: I don’t remember any of it. I have anxiety about a lot of other things, but that isn’t one of them. I never think of what could have been because my earliest memories…are of me with a big scar on my head. I hold only deep appreciation of the fact that they themselves cared enough about me to be traumatized at the thought of seeing me so severely injured or of losing me.

Q: Do you think you have trust issues with people as a result of your familial relationships?

A: Yep. I only recently started internalizing the feeling that people love me. Even those closest to me. I couldn’t take it in. Which means that even when you’re surrounded by people, you’re still lonely and you don’t understand why.

Q: Do you feel that your mother’s early childhood abuse played a part in her mental illness?

A: I think it might have played the biggest part (except maybe a physiologic tendency towards mental illness).

Q: Many members of your family seemed dissociated from that time. Understandably. Do you think they are aware of that?

A: Each of them are aware to varying extents. It’s hard to be aware of your own biases and weaknesses. I was probably the least aware, though. Which is why I’m the only one who’s been hospitalized for mental illness.

Q: In light of modern day approaches to psychotherapy, it’s sad to see that your mother was treated harshly in the mental healthcare arena. It’s horrific that she was subjected to ECT and a padded cell, but that seems typical treatment of those patients from that time. How frustrating is that for you?

A: She and I have talked extensively about it. I have had plenty of time to process it so it’s not frustrating to me. It’s just a reality. I suppose it would have been more frustrating if she were to spring it on me now for the first time. But then again, it’s so long ago—I don’t know.

Q: Do you feel that most of your family holds your mother responsible for the dissolution of the marriage? Or do they see it as a complex situation? Some family members seem to point the finger mainly at your mother. Am I just being defensive of Mom? You know them more intimately.

A: l certainly appreciate anyone being defensive of my mom. So thank you. But I think we all understand it to have been a complex situation. Of course we were all kids then and incapable of seeing it that way at the time.

Q: It took me years to come to terms with my father’s mental illness. To demystify and unmonstrify (is that a word? it is now!) him. Did you ever blame your mother for her inability to care for you or hold the family together? Or were you too young to remember?

A: I always knew she had problems. I was never mad at her, but I was frequently scared by her. Again, this movie only covers up to when I start to have memories. There’s a whole bunch of stuff I dealt with later and some when it was just me in the house with her. No dad or siblings around to help.

Q: As the youngest, I think I do the most question-asking and memory-sharing with my mother. Is that true for you? Why do you think you ask the most questions? Do other family members like to forget that time?

A: I ask the most because I understood the least. Everyone else saw these things take place when they were old enough to consciously deal with them. Much of my neglect and abuse happened when I was too young to have episodic memory or an ability to understand the meaning of what was going on. Which is why I became the one with the biggest psych problems. Primitive neglect is what they call what happened to me. So I try to find out why I feel how I do or panic or get depressed the way I do. It’s because of all the stuff I should have learned about feelings as a baby and young child but I didn’t.

Did you already receive an award for the film? (He has already received two!)

Silver Spotlight Award at Spotlight Documentary Film Awards and Exceptional Merit in Human Spirit at the Docs Without Borders Film Festival


You can purchase the DVD on Amazon. Find out more at IMDB as well. It is so personal, yet a comprehensive view of what it’s like to live with someone who is trapped in severe mental illness. It’s profound, cathartic and so informative. Thanks, Chris. For answering these questions and sharing your story. It’s important!

Loser!

“I’m a loser, baby! So, why dontcha kill me…”–Beck 😉

I submitted my audio collection of poems and prose to a contest and didn’t win. Oh well! Here are the entries. Best thing about losing is–I can have my material back to post on my very own blog! Always something to be thankful for. Please listen and let me know your thoughts! Thanks, Dear Readers. Thanks for getting me. :*

Picture Perfect

I love this photo of my grandparents. Young and newly married. They look serious and somber, but handsome.

gma and gpa

I only knew my grandmother as an old woman, but here she looks full of thoughts and feelings.

I think this frame is a perfect fit. Does my grandpa look like Ralph Fiennes?? To me, yes. LOL

Here’s to you, Gram and Gramps. To a lifetime of love and loyalty.


Featured pic is their home in Missouri during the depression and war.

Feels

Why do I like to hurt myself?


I have ugly cried in the mirror since I was young. Like since I was 10-ish?

I have made faces, had pretend conversations, made-up television interviews, fake arguments, indignant tirades, rousing speeches–all delivered to my own reflection. For over 30 years.

Does anyone else do that?

Is this a completely narcissistic exercise that sane people don’t engage in?

Or is this a honing of craft?

I have no idea. But I am compelled to do it. It’s not something I even consciously do. I just do it. I can’t help it. It would be harder to stop than changing my name.

In fact, call me Janet.

I have imagined being someone else for most of my life. Smarter, prettier, funnier, nobler. Stronger.

I have imagined being a surgical nurse on MASH, powering an entire corporation as a CEO, commanding WW2 troops on the beaches, dangling from the peaks of Colorado.

I don’t actually want to do those things. I just want to act like I’m capable of those things.

Most of the time, people walk around completely obtuse about their own power, capability or talent.

Who am I? What do I like? What can I live with? What can I live without? What am I really good at?

But I’ve known. KNOWN. For a large chunk of my life. That I can act.

I became good at acting because I was good at lying and pretending. I used acting to have a voice and power. I was so lost that I didn’t know who I was. I needed other people’s words to stand in the place of my own. Until I found my own words. I needed a voice for all the horrible feelings I had.

My superpower is acting. My salvation is expression.

I only acted like I cared about other people. Or myself. Until one day, I did.

Thank you, Acting. You saved me.

From 2015: So You Got a Little Damp

BB–before blog 🙂


so, i’m standing outside in the rain this morning, waiting for the bus with Lil. we only have one umbrella. so i give it to her. i can get wet, but if she got soaked, she’d be miserable all day. at least i can come in and dry off. it’s cold and a little breezy, but not too bad. it was chilly, but if just a tad warmer, not at all terrible. it made me think of when i was somewhere between the age of 5-8. for the life of me, i can’t remember how old i was. but it was an experience i would never forget.

it’s raining outside and my sister and i come up with a great idea. let’s put on our bathing suits and go stand in the rain on the porch. what would mom say? OMG! she said yes. what?? so we put on our bathing suits and we go outside. all i can see is about 3 feet in front of me. it’s raining hard. no lightning and it’s quite warm. a warm summer soaker. it’s so hard to see. so we start pretending that we are waterskiers on the back of a boat and hold on for dear life. i think we even had a rope that we tied around the railing of the deck and that was our tow rope. we leaned back and ski’d like pros. i even had the sensation of bobbing up and down on the water, making jumps and doing tricks. what a powerful experience. my sister and i squealed and frolicked in the downpour and literally danced in the rain. i didn’t worry about getting hurt, i just enjoyed the rare delight of getting completely wet on purpose.

well, as adults we lose that ability to enjoy the storm. we think about our things that get wet, our basements, our stuff, our cars. we think about that leaky roof that we want to hold for one more storm. we think about how the storm might damage our flowers and plants. we wonder if the wind and rain will claim our possessions, houses, lives even, if it gets really bad. we wonder if the power will go out and if we will be left in darkness. we fear the thunder and lightning because we don’t know what will come. i can’t think of a time as an adult that i enjoyed the actual storm. maybe if i was inside, under a blanket and the rain was light. but i would never willingly stand in the rain.

i did get caught in the rain with my husband on the huzzah (pronounced hoo-za) river one year, in a canoe. it hailed on us and lightning all around. hail. and we were in a metal canoe. with lightning. i was scared to death and all i could think was to paddle like hell. we made great time after the hail started. never paddled so hard in my life. Guy was humming “Ride of the Valkyries” from the back. for a minute, even while paddling, i thought, “maybe we should stop.” but where was there to go to escape the rain? the banks were small, no trees really, no shelter. the people on the sides of the river were being rained/hailed on just the same. might as well keep going. just keep paddling. we’ll make it through or die trying. i’d rather be struck by lightning trying to get to where i need to go instead of waiting around on the side of a river and be struck by lightning. we were the very last team among our friends to make it to the end. worst experience canoeing ever. ever. many mishaps on the river that year. but we made it through and i can laugh about it now. at least we had a boat to float it out! and a dry ride back to camp.

but this morning i stood in the rain. and it wasn’t so bad. i can get wet and it’ll be okay. this is life. with God. he’s my umbrella. and while i may not dance around like i did when i was a child, i can still smile through the storm and know, it’ll be over soon and He’s got this. I don’t have to worry or be afraid. there will always be storms. there will always be rain. it makes things grow. like me. be thankful for the rain and don’t worry.

James 1:2-3
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

boy, does it.


If you’re going through hell, keep going.
Winston Churchill

HMD

Last year, I took my mom to her hometown on the Saturday before Mother’s Day. That was probably the best day I’ve ever spent with her. (<<—Click the link to read more!) It was a relaxed sunny day. On the cool side. Not in a hurry. Able to talk and drive and eat and remember.

I took pictures. I listened to my mom’s stories. I asked questions.

I wish these country roads could take me home today. I wish I could fly home and see my mom, even for just a day. I miss you, Mom. I love you, Mom. Thank you for all the love that got me to here. Happy Mother’s Day.

 

Dogs in Strollers Signal the End of Times

A repost. Because I just watched John Mulaney’s new Netflix special Kid Gorgeous and he talks about his dog stroller. I’ve lost all respect for you, John. Sigh. But you still make my whole family laugh. So. You got that goin’ for ya.


Do you suppose that at the height of any advanced civilization, pets were carted around in small chariots and worshipped? And then the civilization collapsed due to economic and political disaster? Egyptians, Romans, Mayans. America?? The sign of the end is animal worship IMO. LOL

I don’t know if it’s Florida, old people or Wal-mart, but the amount of small dogs in strollers is increasing. I just saw two Shih Tzus being walked in a stroller on our street on the way home this morning. I saw a Yorkie in a stroller at Wal-mart last week. North Korea has missile capability. The end is nigh. (Please remind me to never go to Wal-mart ever again. Even if they have the cheapest aprons for high school ceramic students in town.)

Seriously though, why stroll a dog? Isn’t the purpose of walking a dog that the dog actually gets exercise? God have mercy on our confused nation. I mean, I love dogs, but a baby stroller?? Please euthanize your dog if they are unable to walk any more. For God’s sake. If you are offended by this advice, you might be a dog-strolling Wal-mart shopper. Or from Florida.

For years I have openly laughed at neighbors standing in small, sad patches of grass behind their dog, watching said dog poop, relaxed with total apathy except for their anxious blue-gloved hand in permanent claw pose, waiting to scoop said poop. The dog always has a smirk or a smile, “I got this human to pick up my shit for free just because I lick his face when he walks in the door.” Or the dog looks totally strained or confused. “Why do I have to poop in front of everyone??”

Who’s in charge? Someone once famously said, “If aliens came to our planet, they would think dogs were in charge because we are picking up their poop!” Aliens would definitely think dogs are in charge if they saw us carting them around in a baby buggy. Gah!

Flooding in Texas. Increased earthquakes. Global climate change. Start prepping now. Actually it’s probably too late. Watch Red Dawn and buy a bottle of Tequila.