I’ve been working with a fabulous woman in town who is building a new site for me on Squarespace, where I can have a better shop experience for my cards and prints... I’m a little nervous about the transition, but I will keep communicating with you folks who are following me, about how to follow me at Squarespace as well! I’m looking forward to this next online adventure 😊
Last week my Anxious Brain threw a temper tantrum. Everything in my life was being filtered, the way a dog recognizes only a few words of your conversation with him. My Anxious Brain disregards the entirety of many sentences, and tends to reframe whole concepts in a bizarre attempt to undermine my Logical Brain. Something like this: "Do you think you can make this deadline?" turns into "We are pretty sure you are not going to be able to meet this deadline." Someone saying to me "Sure, I'd like to see you later." turns into "You are so needy, I guess I have to show up for you even though I have better things to do." Anxious Brain also hears a phrase like "not now" and holds on to the "not" part... words like "maybe" can be a trigger... and silence -- like those silent dog whistles? Yeah, Anxious Brain latches on to that as well. I've used the analogy of Anxious Brain Dog for myself for a while. If I catch the dog soon enough, before it grabs onto a piece of negativity, I can shove a treat in its face and we all move on. If I don't catch it... well... it retrieves every percieved bit of self-esteem crushing information and just rolls around in it... which every dog owner can imagine <insert disgusting pile of whatever your dog rolls in while you uselessly yell at it>...
This sketch was part of my coping mechanism last weekend.
Even when things are fine I end up worrying about all the things that I think I should be worried about instead of feeling fine. That being said, I present this evenings sketching.
It was a wonderful whirlwind trip to Maine! Up to Schoodic Point, where we stood on the rocks and wondered about flat earth theory, made up reasons how the rocks got cracked, and reminisced about the yard sales we stopped at. Then off to mini golf and a restaurant meal so terrible it will be months before I can see a bottle of Alfredo sauce without laughing. The next day was a drive to Popham Beach, with warm sand, swimmable ocean water, and the porcupine’s first kite flying experience... Dinner and wine with friends, and the next day breakfast with the same, and then we puttered along home tuning in to as many 80s music stations as we could find. I hit the ground running with work... and am wishing I could pack up and drive back to the beach tomorrow.
I’m working hard to figure out my brain chemicals... worry, anxiety, panic... disbelief, fear, trust. Funny how new situations can trigger old memories and knee jerk reactions. These are two panels from a comic I did this afternoon, sketching like this definitely feels more natural than a diary. Shadow bunny seems to be off on an adventure, but he’ll be back, I’m sure...
The Porcupine and I are taking our First Road Trip... and I am suffering from Over-Packing Anxiety. Whoops. There might even be one more bag not pictured here.
Last Friday I made a whirlwind trip to a small town in NY where I have some friends... Susan had been reminding me that I said I would visit once she had moved, and after chatting with me over the last two weeks her encouragement grew a little more forceful... so I decided to run away for 36 hours. It's a little over a 3 hour drive, perfect for my playlist and about all the time my butt can handle sitting. There was a reunion at her place punctuated by lots of swear words and a few tears as we got caught up, then a raucous dinner at an Italian restaurant with one more friend... a wonderful breakfast the next morning at a friend's farm, with lots of light and heavy discussion... and back on the road to home in the afternoon. Returning to Hardwick felt good. I am still grieving for Sara. I still pass her house and in my head are the words "she's gone." But being away cleared some cobwebs, and I'd like to think she would be cheering me on to have more spontaneous adventures, and to stay close to the people that have come across my path.
Today I finally mailed packages out, cards and prints, with apologies to all for the delay. Even simple tasks seemed difficult the last few weeks. I'm slowly getting caught up today on projects, and it feels good.
I hope you are all enjoying the day, and have a good week planned ahead :-)
Today I feel fairly calm. It could be that I am flat-lining from all the emotions that have been tumbling around for the last two weeks? But I also was flipping through my calendar and was shocked that I only moved here about 3 months ago... I feel like I have lived a lifetime in this short time. This morning I decided to make an important decision about the most important meal of the day. I think it was a good one.
I've reached the point where my brain can't keep up with all the emotions and daily distractions and schedules and promises. This morning I felt relatively on top of things, I promised the porcupine it was going to be an Amazing Day. I had a work-list, an art-list, and an end of day let's-finally-clean-up-the-apartment list. I made plans to run away for a visit with friends at the end of the week. Then Life Happened, as it's apt to do. I tried to stay focused on work. Then I muddled through walking to the post office. And slogged through more work. And then decided the time had come to Take Myself for a Walk. Behind my place is wooded area called Hardwick Trails (not too inventive, but accurate). My friend Sara and I went up there so her dog could bounce around and chase squirrels and we could chatter away for an hour or two without seeing another person. There's the really steep hill we always took breaks on because neither one of us could talk and walk up it without hyperventilating. The area with the sweet smelling ferns. The swimming holes for Roxy to cool off in. Various berries to pick and share.
Every time we went Sara would ask where I wanted to go, and I would laugh, and say I'd follow her... and tell her how I would get completely lost if I ever walked up there by myself.
Guess what happened today? ... I did finally find my way back, though. Thanks, Sara.
Sometimes grieving looks like eating 4 cold pop tarts instead of going for a walk.
Soon after moving this May I met a woman named Sara. We were introduced, I gave her a business card with my number and said I’d love to walk with her and her dog anytime. She texted me a day or so later and we were off. She lived pretty much at the end of my street, a 3 minute walk. She led me around the trails by my apartment, for an hour or two, almost every other day, and we bared our souls as only two strangers who feel a connection can. I told her about my break-up, she told me about her breakdown. We talked about families and friends and being in our 40s. We talked about apologies and lies and if we knew who we really were. We shared secrets that are hard to tell to people who knew you “then.” She was struggling with some major life changes, but seemed to be moving forward, making decisions, trying to be excited about having a life ahead that was commitment free.
Last Thursday I texted her, her family was in town, and I had been away for a few days, and wanted to make sure she was doing okay and if she wanted to go for a walk. She replied, and yes, a walk soon sounded good. She was counting down to everyone leaving on Sunday. She had a rock/gem collection and we had talked about taking some on our walks to leave for people to find. I was looking forward to stashing those on our next get-together.
Friday at noon I recieved a call. Sara had killed herself that morning.
No one I have talked with knows what could have happened between her watching movies with a friend late Thursday night, and her decision that morning. No one was emailed. No note. And no sign that she was in the kind of anguish that meant this was her only choice. She was making plans. She had help. Energetically, I never once picked up on absolute despair. She’s a statistic now. And there’s a Sara sized hole in my heart.
I started reading a book (to be honest, I don't think it's very good, but... whatever) called "The Practical Neuroscience of Buddha's Brain" (it's not as heavy as it sounds, AT ALL)... but what I like about it is that it explains how, by consciously focusing on "good" moments, we are actually laying down a neural path that we can refer back to. If we let these moments slip by without noting them, it's harder to access these happy memories when we need to be lifted up.
I'm trying hard to to do this more and more. Step back and pause and actually say to myself "This is a Good Moment." Archive it and Index it. Something that I can find again when my anxious nature starts snowballing. It seems to be working. I've pulled myself out of some downward spirals recently, and stopped myself from making assumptions and panicking... maybe there is something to this whole "being present" thing after all.
On another topic, when I turned the page in my planner to August there was note saying "Start Advent Calendar" -- hoooo-boy. Guess I need to kick my creative side in the butt soon.
Apparently they are off seeking their fortune... I don’t blame them... I’m sure they will be back with stories to tell...
In the meantime I am tackling some loons this evening... still planning for my starry skies....
I’m going to start another series of starry skies soon... today I focused on fish... it’s been so hot this summer, and I’ve been in the water so much, it’s no wonder they are on my brain!
I am still recovering from all the extroverting at the Craft Fair on Saturday... I had no words left by the time I got home that night, and I still feel a little dazed... In the meantime, here's a pig that was wandering up and down my street this morning. Welcome to Vermont, where no one in the neighborhood batted an eye at this.
I think I may have learned my lesson about procrastinating.
Online card orders have been coming in, and I knew had to get my act together for the craft fair happening this Saturday (Craftstbury Antiques and Uniques for locals!)... I scanned some new art, printed cards, and planned on sitting down tonight to fold and package... One glitch. Apparently I never ordered envelopes after I moved. Somewhere —somewhere safe I assume — there is a list that states very clearly "Order Envelopes." Too bad I didn't stick it on the fridge.
After frantically searching online and realizing no one can deliver by Friday, I am going to disassemble some older cards, and use those envelopes to get me through the fair. Tomorrow I'll make some calls and see if anyone in a 30 mile radius has anything close to what I need. I'll also be sending an email out to folks who ordered online, letting them know that their card orders may be delayed slightly. Sigh. Glitches. They are bound to happen.