Monday, March 7, 2016

Busy is the Land of Chaos


I feel like I've gone missing for some time and for the few actual followers I have, I am sorry. I get so caught up in all the four million things that I have time for now that I tend to neglect the little things like spilling my guts and whining about my life in my blog post.

I joke, this is not one of those.

All in all things are looking pretty well. I do NOT have a steady income, but I feel more empowered by it somehow. I don't get paid for just showing up, I get paid for the work I actually do and that is a feeling I can't describe to anyone who puts in the hours. I think I found my problem with the workforce. It has been so clear to me all along, while I was getting paid the same amount for working my ass off that others were getting for being lazy as hell. How did I miss it for so long?

No matter, I love my job(s) now because none of them feel like work. I get paid to wash my face, share my imagination, help others bring their imaginations to life, make crafty little things for fun. I am soon going to get paid for reading books. WHO WOULDN'T LOVE THAT? Do I miss the steady hourly income?  Not really. I don't do much outside my house, never did. I don't tend to spend a lot of money, especially now that I don't have to fill up my gas tank every week or pay for daycare for my children.

I've been offered a chance to clear all the crazy out of my brain and get paid for it. What?!?!

But, I digress. So, what have I been doing lately?  Reading. Writing. Drawing. Creating. Finding myself in my art. Learning new skills. Enriching my life with knowledge. Spending time with my kids. Taking pictures. Teaching. Reaching out. All the things I never managed before.

Now do you see why I never have 5 minutes to sit down and bang out a blog post. I'll try to be better. I really do need to keep up my "professional" blog on the other site. I hope yall are looking forward to seeing more of me. I'm not stopping,

Thursday, January 28, 2016

My Life in Music 3: Bif Naked

I realized today that it has been awhile since I sat down and did one of these, and so here I am. Today, as I was going through my Facebook, doing my normal check in and catch up routine, I came across a throwback Thursday post from one of the most amazing and influential people in my life. She was born to parents who didn't want her. A couple of private school kids in New Delhi. Yeah, that's right, India. She was adopted by American Missionaries and brought to Kentucky, where she did a little bit of growing up before her family finally landed in Canada. Her name is Beth Torbert, but she will always be the one and only Bif Naked.

What is it about this crazy looking tattooed woman that makes me adore her so. I have to admit, it isn't all about her music, though that has helped pull me through some rough times. The songs she sings are not your typical songs, but to me they have a meaning that goes deep into the soul. She is a self-proclaimed punk rocker and spent many years of her life touring in an old busted down van with the guys in the band. Many bands actually. I discovered her on a whim one time. I bought her CD because I had never heard of her and the album cover was interesting. This is nothing new, I do this a lot actually. I love discovering new music, especially female artists. I just really relate, I guess. That album was I, Bificus and it changed my life. 

This was not her first album by any means, but it was her most commercially successful one, though she did have a pretty big song down the road. Her songs on I, Bificus range from loud and screamy guitar driven punk rock romps to slow, sultry, burning heart-wrenchers. The emotions coming through the speakers are ones that every girl deals with but can't get them out. They sit there and eat away at us, chewing holes in our soul. Bif Naked found them, she put them to music and she rocked her ass off. 

The second song is one I found while scouring the interwebs looking for more Bif. More Naked. I wanted all of her I could get. I couldn't explain the draw, but it was there and it still is. I came across a song called "I Love Myself Today" and, to a person like me, constantly struggling with clinically diagnosed depression and anxiety, this song is as an anthem. It might be just a break up song to some people, but to me it is a constant reminder that even though yesterday was shit, you can pull through and love who you are no matter what. I try to remember, to sing it often, "I love myself today, not like yesterday, I'm cool, I'm calm, I'm gonna be okay." Bif brought me this. 

Now, I know you remember earlier when I told you it wasn't just her music. Well, what is it, then, you might be asking. It's her lifestyle. When I grew up some and the internet changed, I  found she had a Facebook, as many artists and public figures do. She also had a twitter. I followed her on both, wanting to know what she was up to. 

I need to rewind: 

Bif Naked is a fighter. No, that's not the right word. Bif Naked is a WARRIOR. You can all see her picture, she is incredibly heavily tattooed. However, being a rocker and a punk girl and covered in ink, she also identifies as straight-edge. She eschews the punk sub-culture of drinking and drugs to live a clean, healthy life. In fact, she is a strict raw food vegan, mostly for health reasons over any ethical or religious ones. She is spiritual in a way I will never grasp, but which brings me peace, even through everything she has been through.

She is sick, she has been sick, and she has won time and time again over the forces that hold her back and try to stop her from living life to the fullest. She was diagnosed with a heart aneurysm, but did not pursue corrective surgery. In 2008, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Through all the chemo and surgery, she kept her spirits high and her attitude in check. 

Bif Naked has been open with her struggles, her life. She speaks openly, but never harshly or judgmentally about the things she holds true to her heart. She is a giver in every sense of the word. Her outspokenness has helped raise awareness for a number of things from cancer research to the poor welfare system in Canada. Every year she takes part in a challenge, living as the vegan she is on the meager handouts to show that it is simply not enough. 

She is an animal lover, having had her two dogs Nicolas and Anastasia well into their old age and caring for them dearly. You can't not like an animal lover.

Bif and Nikolas

Now, back to following her on Facebook and Twitter. Do you know what she was up to? She was admiring the sun shine on a rain covered sidewalk. She covered her teeth with orange peels and smiled for the camera, bringing joy to everyone who saw her. She was writing poetic praise about the littlest things in life that she found so much joy in and spreading that love to others. Bif Naked has become a guru or sorts, a person I strive to be like. She is a woman who is filled with infinite love and kindness. 

One day, when I was having a particularly hard day, I reached out to her. In my own Moment of Weakness (the name of one of her most popular songs), I sent her a message on Facebook, not really expecting a reply, but just wanting to get all the anger, pain and sadness out of my head. Sometimes it's easier to tell a complete stranger. 

She responded. She sent me the most heartfelt note, something that I will cherish forever and I look at often when my heart hurts and I can't find the energy to get out of bed today. I keep it there, always so I know that this complete stranger believes in me. She cares enough to take a few minutes out of her day to bring joy and kind words to another, someone she has not, and will likely never meet. This is the Bif Naked I adore. You, girl, are not a Let Down. You are an inspiration.

I want to turn the tables now and wish Bif herself the kind of kindness and joy she brings to others. All the warm socks encasing toes and beautiful jewels that form in refracted raindrops. They are all for you, Bif. Thank you.

Monday, January 11, 2016

My Life In Music 2: Bowie

To be honest, I didn't plan on doing one of these so soon. However, given the circumstances, I feel it is an appropriate time to put it out there. I woke up this morning to a text from a friend telling me that David Bowie had passed away. He was such a big part of my life, so much so that my friend knew that I should hear it from someone else besides random facebook posts. That certainly means something.

Like most people born in the early 80's (and afterward), my first glimpse of this wonderful man was as the Goblin King, Jareth, in the movie Labyrinth. I was immediately entranced with this man. His look, with the crazy makeup and huge hair, made him stand out. More than anything, his mesmerizing mismatched eyes and that incredible deep, intriguing voice caught ahold of me and never let me go.

As I grew older, I came to hear his voice in some of the most iconic songs from growing. China Girl, Let's Dance, Changes, Fame; all of these are songs that everyone knows but they never go back to associate them with David Bowie. I consider myself lucky enough to recognize his genius and go back to learn about his songs. They have been covered by nearly everyone from Nirvana: 

The Man Who Sold the World
to Adam Sandler:

Space Oddity

Throughout time, Bowie had changed his look, name, style, and attitude, always adapting to new things and keeping up in the world around him. When he first started, he was a weird little gender bending, crazy -eyed, gay boy who liked to wear makeup, dresses, and sing songs. He has always bent the rules and chosen to live outside the norms. When he died, he did so as a super-successful rock star, having had a 40-year long career of amazing hits, he was married to a beautiful supermodel, Iman, and he had achieved legend status in the world of music. 

David Bowie's influence can be found just about anywhere. There are tv shows, like Life on Mars, that are named after his songs. They pop up in Shrek, Moulin Rouge, and Se7en. In fact, this song he did with Trent Reznor is one of my all time favorites.

The Heart's Filthy Lesson

Throughout his life and career, this man pushed boundaries and opened up the world for nearly everyone. There was no one who had to suffer through being 'weird' because there was always Bowie to look up to. His psychedelic, glam rock age and his Ziggy Stardust days were some his best. David Bowie had a way to take our wildest imaginations and put them into song, adding just enough to them to make us really stand up and listen. 

David Bowie also had a huge career in doing collaborations with other artists. He worked with the best of the best to create some of the greatest songs in the world. Here are a few of my favorites:

A Christmas Favorite with Bing Crosby

Dancing in the Street with Mick Jagger

Under Pressure with Queen

Under Pressure with Queen is by and far one of the best songs ever. Choosing David Bowie songs to put in this blog has been hard because there is no way I can even come close to the majesty this man put into everything he did. David Bowie, from his early days to the album, Blackstar, released just days ago, has always captivated me with his music and his life. Please, go out and listen to his music. Aladdin Sane is amazing. Suffragette City is an awesome album. The beauty of Bowie is that he adapted so much that there is literally something out there for everyone. Find your Bowie. Each time he put out something new, it was better than the last. I'm sad that now I won't be able to see where he takes us in the rest of this wild ride called life. He was able to leave us with this final goodbye, at least. 


Goodbye, David Bowie. You moved the stars for us, despite your profession of the contrary. Remember, it's only forever, not long at all.  

Saturday, January 9, 2016

My Life in Music 1: Dolly

I have been thinking a lot lately about the things that are the most important to me and I have realized that my entire life has been framed and surrounded by music. Every bit of my life can be put to song, so I thought I would try something new and do a series of blogs about my favorite musicians and how they have impacted my life. I want to start with Dolly Parton.

Why start with Dolly?

Well, let me tell you. Ever since I was a kid, I have loved this woman. I should point out that she is a very religious woman and I am not. In fact, I consider myself to be an atheist. However, Dolly's music is as close as I will ever get to the gospel. There is something about not only her music but her whole life that I look up to in so many ways (despite the fact it's hard for someone 5'9" tall to 'look up' to a woman who stands a whopping 4'11"). I have learned so much from her: how to look at the bright side of things, how to change and adapt to your surrounds, how to not lose yourself in the crowd, how to forgive, and how to be compassionate and love others.

She is also hilarious. She says she took her look from the woman of ill repute in her small town because, in Dolly's child eyes, she was the most beautiful woman in the world. Dolly also quips about how it costs so much to look so cheap. She is self-effacing and doesn't seem to let anything get her down. Plus, how can you go wrong with songs like this?

This is absolute perfection

Throughout the years she has appeared in a number of movies and television shows, always showcasing her southern, down-home wisdom and her own quick sense of humor. One of my favorite characters is that of Truvy in Steel Magnolias but has also been in a number of great movies such as 9 to 5, Straight Talk,  The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (for which SHE WROTE AND PERFORMED the iconic 'I Will Always Love You', later sang by Whitney Houston for The Bodyguard), Joyful Noise, Rhinestone, and even a number of cameos such as this scene in Miss Congeniality 2.

Solid Gold

While her appearances in movies and television shows are always entertaining, and her interviews on late night programs always leave me in stitches, it is not always fun and games with Dolly. She grew up super poor and has built herself up into a worldwide megastar, all while remaining humble and down to Earth. She often uses the butterfly as her symbol because the beautiful butterfly has to go through the stage where it is just a glorified worm to become something magnificently beautiful and able to fly. It is a wonderful depiction of her life. Ironically, Google has informed me that today is the 41th anniversary of the discovery of the Mountain of the Butterflies doodle. Seems like a good day to talk about Dolly.

Besides her career in music and movies, she has also started a number of charities. She founded the Imagination Library, which sends out free books throughout the world for children who can't afford them. Her devotion to children is amazing, possibly because she has none of her own, despite being married to the same man since the 60's, a truly remarkable feat for someone in the public eye. She even opened a theme park in Tennessee called Dollywood, where she hires locals and family members in order to build up the local economy. 

She is an advocate for gay rights and is actually thrilled to be the inspiration for a number of drag queens. Dolly truly looks for the bright side of life and the fun in every situation. She is flattered by the love shown to her and does her best to pay that love forward. Her songs have morphed through the years, covering an incredible range of topics from the stigma associated with the intelligence of blondes to the loss of loved ones and children. She does not shy away from any situation in her songs and a good number of them share the lessons and the gospel she grew up with. Some may seem like they are just fun and ridiculous, but then they come up with a lesson at the end that will leave you thinking long after the song is over. 

She has been singing and making music since the 1960's and has amassed an incredible library. There are simply too many to get through in this little blog of mine. If you have time, I highly recommend checking out her songs, at least, 5 from each decade, because there is gold in every era of Dolly's music. One of my favorite songs of all time is this one. Better get to Livin' in which she points out how ridiculous it is to let life pass you by and how you should take it by the horns and make your own path. 

I have always loved Dolly and I think I always will. When I am lost and I need to figure out a huge problem, it helps to listen to her music. With her unique, beautiful voice and her plain and simple lyrics, I am usually always able to see the light and the path I need to take in life. A girl could really have a worse hero than the irrepressible Dolly Parton. Thank you, Dolly, for shaping me into the woman I am today.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Year, Same Old Me

So, I want to tell all my friends that I absolutely love them.  I have been kind of in a funk lately, and all of that ended when I was given the opportunity to get out of my house and hang out with some fantastically fun people over the New Year Holiday.  I had SOOOO much fun.

Today, as I was thinking about things I wanted to change this year, my resolutions, if you will, I came upon an epiphany.

I don't want to change.  I don't want to be anyone better or richer or thinner or smarter.  I want to be me.  I am loved for who I am by the people that matter and those who don't matter....well, I don't honestly give a shit about their opinions of me.  See, that's the thing. I am living MY life, they are living THEIR lives.

I am not thin but that is because we are lucky enough to have food on our tables.  Sure, I'd like to lose weight and be thinner, but that's not my priority at this time.  I have enough food in my house to keep my children fed.  That matters.

I am not rich.  I will probably never be rich.  It is taking me a long time to get my little writing business off the ground, but that's ok, because I am doing what I love.  I never knew I wanted to be a writer until I sat down and did it.  Now I don't see myself really doing anything else.  I won't get rich this way, I am not Nora Roberts or Stephen King.  I am me.  I make enough money to help pay our bills and when we get to the point where we have paid off all our debts, we will be fine.  It's a long road, but we are walking it and I know we will reach our destination in the end.

Smarter?  Ok, really I don't think I could be any smarter.  I'm pretty fucking smart.  However, I can continue to learn, and I will.  My learning will turn from book stuff to observational things.  I want to learn how other people react to things.  I want to know how to comfort people who suffer a great loss. I want to be available to stand up and change the human condition for someone who has even less than I do.  I don't need a degree to accomplish these things, I don't need to spend thousands of dollars for a piece of paper from a school stating that I am "good enough" for a certain job.  I will never stop learning, but I will never be "smarter".

As far as being better goes, there really isn't much I can do to be better.  Again, I can only be me.  I make it a point to treat people the way I want to be treated, with compassion, caring, loyalty, and affection.  I try to never look down on others, and unless given a reason to do otherwise, will always strive to see the best in people.

So many of you out there are using New Years to change your lives.  New Year, New Me.  What about next year.  Are you going to reinvent yourself yet again?  You are not Madonna.   Are you going to reinstate some changes you gave up on 3 months into 2016, only to probably "fail" again?
Do me a favor.  Take a step back, close your eyes, take a deep breath.  Now imagine a better you. Imagine the dream you.  What are you doing?  Where are you?  I'm willing to bet you look pretty much the same and you aren't in a Ferrari.  I'm also willing to bet that where ever you are, you have a huge smile on your face.  The new you doesn't live in a perfectly clean and organized house.  He isn't muscular and toned.  She isn't going to work in a power suit daily.

The new you is in your head.  She is happy, he is content.  They have fun and realize that even though the year is new, they are not.  They can only do what they can.  Sometimes you much give up on some things in order to make others a possibility.  Take a chance.  Do something you never thought you would do in a million years.  Quit that job you hate. Hug your father.  Read your children bedtime stories.  The only new you have to contend with this year is your new outlook on life and your love of living.  Don't let your quest for your dream life be the thing that makes you miserable. DO NOT DO IT.  YOU ARE ENOUGH!

The road is a long one, and the journey may seem never-ending, so why not make the most out of the trip?

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Christmas Spirit

Many of you know that I am not a religious person, so guess what won't be discussed in this post.  I believe people are kind and caring because they recognize the need to be so and see that others also need it.  That is all.

However, I have not been in the Christmas spirit of late.  It has been a trying few months, in fact, the last 6 months since I wrecked my bike have been pretty shitty.  Things are starting to turn around, but it is happening slowly.  I know if I can just hold out, it will all work out in the end but the holidays are stressful already and not having a steady income makes it worse.

I refuse to lament on the bad though because that is the direct opposite of what I have set out to write about.  Yes, I broke my knee in a bike accident, I totalled my bike, I've lost my job, and my husband was in the hospital.  These things have all added to my stresses.  In an attempt to be less of a pessimist, here are the good things that have happened lately.

We all have our health.  We did have a bit of a scare and have been in and out of the emergency room lately, not to mention or 500 trips to the pharmacy, but we are all living and breathing and ambulatory.  As far as I am concerned, we are winning here.  That is plus number one!

I was worried about Christmas, money wise.  Now I know that is not the true meaning of Christmas and it is more about giving and kindness than getting, but my children are small and I wanted to make sure they, at least, got some joy out of the season.  We were assigned an Angel this year from a local Angel tree and she was kind enough to provide us with a few gifts.  We pooled some resources and were able to get a few other small things.  Our kids will be taken care of.

I was not sure if we would have a tree this year so I asked all of our friends to send up Christmas cards so I could fashion a tree out of them. Well, the response was nothing short of awesome, I had no idea we had so many friends willing to send us cards. A very good friend of mine also sent some little cake bits (which my kids LOVE) and somehow managed to get her friends to send us a few little monetary boosters as a surprise.  I nearly cried at the gift of money and gift cards from complete strangers.  Because of this wonderful surprise, I was able to get my kids something nice that I think they will enjoy and still have some money left over. I nearly cried at the gesture, and I am not one to cry easily.  So THANK YOU to those people.

We were also worried about not being able to see family this season.  With all we have been going through, we just didn't think we would have the time or the money.  Plus, we had to find someone to watch our tiny zoo while we were gone.  Turns out, we are pretty damn resourceful, much more so than I thought.  We may be going home giftless, but we will be going home.  I cannot wait to spend that time with people we love, see the joy one the kids' faces, eat until I want to burst, and laugh until tears are streaming down my face, because, really, that is what Christmas is all about.

I have my health, my family, and we are not so bad off as to be living on the street and starving.  Yes, it is a lean year, and those are bound to happen.  By this time next year, we will have this all figured out and we will be in a better place.  All we can do is keep moving forward and try to squeeze every last bit of enjoyment out of the time we have.

In short (haha, I'm funny) I just want to remind everyone that no matter what situation you find yourself in, keep looking forward.  Don't hang your head and wallow in your own self-pity.  I've been there, all it does is make you feel worse.  Pick that head up, put one foot in front of the other and face your troubles head on.  You may be battered and bruised, but you are not broken and if you keep fighting, you WILL win.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Mental Health is No Joke

I struggle with depression and anxiety. I have for years, it's pretty hard to get people to understand an illness they can't see.  I have been on and off of medication a number of times.  Most recently I have been struggling pretty hard and had to go back and get put back on meds.  When this happened, I tried to explain the way my thought process worked to those around me, to tell my family what triggers my problems and when I just need to get away.  They never could understand.  Things continued as usual, and I often felt ignored and like no one seemed to even acknowledge I had a problem.

My husband has just gotten out of the hospital, he had a really bad form of pneumonia and had to spend nearly a week in the hospital.  While he was there, he took a step back and took a look at his life and the things that go on around him. He took the time to learn to breathe, to put things in priority order.  Due to his stay, he has a new found perception of mental illness.  He has finally suffered a bit of it himself and when he tells me about all the issues he is having to deal with, I just kind of nod because, I FUCKING KNOW!

In a way, I want to be grateful because he finally understands what I go through and this will make it easier for us to communicate our needs to each other and know when the other needs to just back off and give space.  On the other hand, it upsets me that he never bothered to wonder or understand my issues until they related to him.  I get it, but it doesn't make it any less upsetting.

So now I joke with him and call him Buddha because of his newfound Zen and his mottos and his processes. I'm glad he is getting better, but at the same time, I hope if he does, he doesn't lose the understanding he has gained through this process.  I get a little aggravated at the Zen preaching, but if that's what he needs, ok.  I'll deal.

In short, do me a favor and listen to those around you.  If you love someone and they are diagnosed with a mental illness, take the time to listen, talk through, and figure out what they are going through. Even if you don't really understand, be open and pay attention.  Make it known that you are there when they need you but can back off and leave them be if they need space.  Be aware, be present. Don't wait until it affects you to change your perspective.  Don't let it get that far.

It is a relief to finally be understood, to be able to say things and have him know that I'm not just being a cranky bitch, to know that I can't just "deal with it".  I just wish he would have gotten that perspective long before he had to deal with it himself.  Keep your loved ones close and try to understand what they are going through, if you just don't get it, ask.  It will make it much easier on all involved.