250th Post – Some of my Artwork

This is my 250th post as a blogger! Wow! I can’t believe I’ve made that many posts and that people actually read them!

I’ve had a couple of people asking me to post some of my artwork, so I thought it’d be a great way to celebrate 250 posts! When I make art, sometimes I simply color adult coloring book pages. Sometimes, I make crazy shapes, color them in, and as I’m making these shapes, the artwork just speaks to me on what it should be so then I choose colors accordingly. Sometimes I do decoupage or paint ceramics. Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of my decoupage or my ceramics, but I do of my coloring/drawing.

Here’s a couple of my recent coloring pages:

 

Both of these coloring pages are artworks by Selina Fenech, an Australian artist whom I absolutely love. The one on the left is titled Within the Coffin and is from Selina’s Gothic coloring book. The one on the right is called Her Special Place and is from Selina’s Magical Minis coloring book. Selina has many coloring books available including one that’s just ponds and flowers which I really enjoy.

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I’ve also found a coloring book group to be a part of on Facebook. Joanna Campbell Slan, an author I like, set it up and it can be found here. Below are two of the pictures I’ve done from there.

I’m actually in the process of coloring a few more of the “Breathe” picture so I can give them to important people in my life who need the reminder to “breathe” from time to time.

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Now to share some of my “original” artwork. I’ve never been real good at drawing. If I practice for hours and hours a day, I’d get to the point where I was good, but never great. So, instead, for probably 20 years or more, I’ve made my own type of abstract art. Sometimes, I have a set palette of colors in mind when I start; a set concept for what I want it to represent. Sometimes I don’t know until I get started with it and then I will get a sense and tailor my color choices around that sense. All of these, I already had the concept in my head for what I wanted it to represent. Even still, the shape of the various shapes and the colors aren’t chosen ahead of time. That all happens in the moment.

This first one is all about anger and rage. This one I did as I was processing my feelings from our annual Staff Day. We had a speaker from the police department and at he was talking about gun laws and things like the open-carry laws in Michigan and how libraries aren’t considered protected spaces like schools are. I was doing okay with all that. Then all of a sudden he switched over to active shooters, including videos. There was a complete lack of warning about content of videos. I made it out of the room and didn’t see any of them, but I didn’t make it to the lounge quick enough and I heard the whole first video. I was livid that no warnings had been given about it. There was no “if you don’t feel comfortable, you don’t have to sit here” warning like there was the first time we had active shooter training. It seriously triggered me (and I later learned that it also triggered some others with PTSD). This artwork came out of processing those feelings and triggers.

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The blue is due to the fact that often when I’m angry and raging, I cry. Messy, ugly crying. Thank god for great co-workers and friends. Also, thankfully, the speaker AFTER the police department was incredibly funny and that help break up some of the tension that was still there after all the ugly crying and breathing to stay grounded.

Line of art supplies - rolled canvas, paint brushes with paint on tips, paint jars, paint tubes, watercolor trays, and paint palettes
© Graphic Garden

The first of the following two I did at Staff Day as well. I had actually started it before the active shooter surprise. It’s simply supposed to represent fall and all the brilliant colors we see in fall.  The second one I decided to do after fall. It’s winter, but I’m not that pleased with how it turned out so I’ll probably do another one soon.

The white I have currently isn’t real great. I need a new Prismacolor white. A few months ago, for one of my programs at work, I used my white pencils to trace shapes on black paper. Most of my white pencils were pretty much obliterated during that, including my Prismacolor white.

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Thanks for joining me a special 250th post! I’ve got a couple of reviews coming up this week for you and other stops on blog tours as well.

Small Victories

Things on this end have been so-so lately. Apparently, mid-October is a rough time mentally/emotionally for me. I never realized this, but my therapist and my best friend both say that every year this time is difficult so I trust them!

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Given that, I’ve been focusing on small victories lately.

  • Over the weekend, I got a bookshelf moved by myself (it’s a tall skinny one, easy to move alone), I cleared off another so my dad and I can take it to the basement (hopefully this weekend), and cleaned out my entertainment center so it’ll be easier to move.
  • This week I’ve also pre-wrote and scheduled some of my blog tour posts in advance. I’ve had a hard time lately – forgetting them or having life get in the way and they ended up posted late. Now I don’t have to worry about the next 3 posts. They’re already written and scheduled to post. That makes me feel good.
  • In the past, I had a real problem with self-harm. I still have urges now and again since it’s somewhat of an addiction, just instead of drowning my sorrows in alcohol, I did it with cutting. It’s just easier to say no to the urges now than it was in the past. The other night, the urge was pretty strong, but I did not give in, so I’m proud of that.
  • I’m diabetic and I’m doing better at not eating so many sweets. I’m never going to be someone who doesn’t eat any at all – ice cream is my vice. BUT, knowing I was going to have ice cream after work last night, I said no to a cupcake. Yay!

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Sometimes, the way the world eats at us and gets us down, we’ve gotta find the small things that will lift those spirits. Most of the time it’s my adorable niece and sweet nephew who lift my spirits, but this week, I found some other victories.

What kind of small things have you been grateful for lately? Any victories you want to share?

Going Green for Mental Health Awareness

Today, I’m going green for Mental Health Awareness. May is Mental Health Awareness month here in the United States. This is something near and dear to my heart because I live with five (5) mental illnesses every day of my life and I have a tendency towards a sixth (which just means that my symptoms aren’t bad enough for full diagnosis). 

  • 1 in 5 adults (60 million people) in the United States lives with a mental health condition.
  • 1 in 25 adults (10 million people) in the United States live with a serious mental health condition. 
  • 60 million adults in the United States face the day-to-day reality of living and dealing with a mental illness. 
  • 90% of all suicides are committed by people with a mental health condition, but it doesn’t have to be this way. 70-90% of all sufferers experience a significant reduction of symptoms if they are getting the right treatment and have good support.
    (All statistics are from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)

I am one of those 60 million people. Day-to-day living with a mental illness is not easy, to say the least. Some days, it’s debilitating. Other days, it’s just simply hard. On those days when it’s just simply hard, I’m able to go to work, able to blog, able to get together with friends, able to have a life. The days in which it’s debilitating, it’s just that – debilitating. I cannot work, cannot blog, cannot hang out with friends. About the most I can do is maybe make it out of bed to the couch. Maybe.

Mental health isn’t something that’s easy to talk about and yet, it should be. One should be able to say, “My anxiety is really high today” just as easily as one can say, “Man, my allergies are really bad today”. They’re both illnesses. Neither is more “legitimate” than the other. Unfortunately, there’s a stigma attached to mental illnesses. Stigma refers to not only the tangible reasons that most people stay silent such as bullying, rejection, and discrimination, but it also refers to the intangible reasons, feeling isolated, being blamed for your mental illness, and feeling shame for having a mental illness.

If you notice, while I’m open about the fact that I have five (5) mental illnesses, I did not name them. That’s because of the stigma associated with them. It’s become more acceptable to talk about having depression and anxiety, both of which I have. But there are still some very severe mental illnesses where the stigma attached is so great that people automatically assume that if someone has one of those illnesses, they’re a danger to society. Unfortunately, I have one of those. Consequently, I don’t usually talk about what specific mental illnesses I have.  

However, let me be candid and frank. Any mental illness, no matter how severe, does not automatically mean the person is a danger to society. I’m not saying it’s not possible. We all know it’s possible. I watch the news as much as the rest of you. But simply having a mental illness should not be the sole component that an individual is judged on. Period. Do you automatically think that someone with diabetes or multiple scleorsis or cancer is a danger to society? No, you probably don’t because most people don’t. Similarly, those with schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, dissociative identity disorder (multiple personalities), antisocial personality disorder, or any other mental illness should not automatically be considered a danger to society.  With the proper treatment (which is usually a combination of medication and therapy), people can learn how to cope with their mental illness and can be productive members of society, but many don’t seek help because of all the stigma attached to mental illness. We as a society need to work together to change that.

My challenge to all of you today is two-fold:  

  1. I encourage you to educate yourself, learn about the disorders that people have, and then go out and start conversations with people about mental illness. Help end the stigma that people with mental illness feel. Help end any stigma you may feel against someone with a mental illness. Only by working together can we end all stigma. 
  2. If you have a mental illness and you’re currently not seeking help for whatever reason, please do yourself the favor and seek help. It is the single best thing you can do to change your life. It’s not easy. I know it’s not, but it really is the single best thing you can do to learn how to cope with your mental illness. 

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