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Painting as an anti-anxiety/anti-depressant

Sometimes blogging makes me think too much and I need a break. Sometimes exercise is impossible due to injuries. The Salvation Army has saved my butt during several dark Alaskan winters by sponsoring an arts and crafts project called Transformed Treasures.  They give participants $50 worth of Salvation Army coupons in order to transform 3 items from their stores and then they are auctioned off in the spring. I have completed my three just in time to start rehearsals for a show.

As an unmarried woman without children I am conscious that I can not make my job or my blog or my home or my hobbies my life. I am an amateur at everything. Many people frown on this but it is my credo that if I stop loving something I should take a break from it. If I feel that something is taking on too much significance in my life, in that I am making it more important than my recovery, then I need to step back.  Obviously I can’t give up on everything. That’s what depression wants, so I have lots of alternative interests.   As an over active person, painting allows me to sit down and pursue something that has much more process than endgame.

In the past, I have painted sneakers, (trainers for you Brits) and  lamps in tribute to women artists. This year was just a fun bit of steampunk and Doctor Who. I have never painted reverse on glass so this was a great process of making mistakes and living with imperfection. Everything used was non-toxic. I especially liked aging the letter holder with acrylic paints added to watered down isopropyl alcohol and applied with a hand pump sprayer. What fun, and it looks like mold and patina.

Here is the distressed steampunk letter holder. The internet is great for finding old bills of lading and dirigible pictures to decorate with.

distressed steampunk letterholder Jcullinane Transformed Treasures

Old School is new school again. Get off line. Write notes and letters.

Here are my Doctor Who plates. Who knows why I love this show so much? The multiethnic cast? The great British actors? The broad themes of human struggle and humor that echo the original Star Trek?

DoctorWhoDarlekplateJcullinanetransformedtreasures.jpg

I’m not really sure if there is a market for a Darlek dinner plate. I believe a child or diehard adult fan would appreciate it. It looks a little angry but perhaps angry dinner plates can be a new thing? It’s therapeutic to make something that speaks to oneself and hope that the spirit moves someone else. Even though it is not a terribly original idea, it’s still an odd one and I am proud of that.

The first piece I made is the Tardis plate which is a bit rough around the edges as I was just learning to paint on the reverse and get the lettering right.  But it does have transparent windows which are cool.

DoctorWhoTardisplatejcullinanetransformedtreasures

It looks like the Tardis is falling rather than flying but she often does that. I believe it will be a nice plate for fish sticks and pudding dip.

I’m happy to be giving these away.  I just hope I spelled everything right. If not they don’t have my name on them. I feel a bit less anxious but that could also be all the chocolate I’ve been eating. Bon Appetit.

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How to keep the holidays real

When it comes to the holidays how we  “keep”  them can be connected to a deep or superficial set of beliefs. This includes beliefs about who we are. Here are some beliefs which influence how I spend the holidays. Let’s get the negative ones out of the way first. It’s a short list but sometimes powerful enough to discourage me from enjoying what can be a very fun time of year.

Negative Beliefs which are probably not based in fact

  1.  I am a misfit. I don’t have the energy for this.  I’m depressed. I can’t figure out what I want to do for the holidays.

2.   Holidays are for families with young children. I am out of place at holiday events. Something is wrong with me because I don’t have a spouse or children. I’m an adult. I should act like one.

3.   This holiday is just manufactured to make me spend money.

Reality checks

  1.  I am unique and I have unique gifts which aren’t always “as advertised on television.” I have to watch my energy but if I only do a few things for the holiday I will enjoy them. I do get depressed when it’s dark and there is no snow but I am also creative enough that I don’t need the weather to be as I want it in order to have a good time.  Many people don’t know what they are going to do for the holidays so they go with the flow. Others feel trapped by traditions and obligations they would rather avoid. I can try something new every year just to mix it up.

2.   It’s not productive to hide my joy under a bucket. I might as well go out and share it. If I set an example that older women can have just as much fun as young folks then maybe someone else will feel empowered. There are many reasons I am single. Being in a relationship and having children is not something everyone gets to do. Live with it.

3.   Holidays can be corrupted by capitalism but someone has to keep the faith whether that’s faith in good cheer and charity or in Jesus or Santa. Halloween doesn’t have to be sexy for me. Christmas can be small. The winter solstice can involve an outdoor challenge.

How I keep it real

Spending time with people is more important than exchanging objects. It’s also nice to make gifts and shopping with a friend can be fun. Don’t beat myself up over gift giving. I can’t make other people happy.

Use winter as a time to clean out garbage, do research on my future. Do something creative most days. That includes making dinner.

Give to people who need it, not just out of obligation. Don’t measure gifts in terms of money spent but rejoice when I serendipitously have a part in getting someone to laugh or get out of their comfort zone.

Decorate, sing, bake. These are activities from my childhood which bring me joy.  Share this joy when possible, and also enjoy my own company. Share with the neighborhood.

Remember if people in Poland can hang their Christmas trees upside down then I can make up my own way to celebrate.

I am on the hunt for some old holiday “blow Mold” decorations that are more often seen on the East Coast, probably a snowman like one of these.

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You might think, ” These snowmen don’t look very REAL.” But to me, the joy they elicit is real even though they are made of plastic and they are very low maintenance as far as men go. Happy holidays!

 

 

 

Walk with me

This is a writing prompt from:

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/19271780/posts/2070559232

harlequins-mirror

In Flanders field, the poppies… but here nothing will grow,  not for a long time. No one will come back for the guns, or the mines or to look through the arch, especially to look through the arch.

When we killed the entire community we forfeited our right to look back at the culture we destroyed. Their loves, their glory, the winds which carry smells of dinner, illness, bird calls and bells – all are frozen to us. We will call the vanquished  “backwards”, “dangerous”, “collateral damage.”  We will see the events in black and white. We can’t afford not to.

The arch did not seem of any consequence at the time. It had been part of a post-modern villa in the hills. It did not fall. Soldiers would be drawn there to talk or rest. It was on the old road but perhaps it was something more. In the other times, villagers must have gathered, perhaps to celebrate a harvest or a wedding. We could only guess. When the war ended troops left their guns where they stood and began the dazed journey home. If we ever returned we would see the wasteland we created with the weapons we used planted like lifeless trees which give no shade.

But someone will come. Someone who slipped our grasp. Maybe one of their children who was sent away or a sister who was married off to a different village. They will come back when it is safer and see what we could not.  The remnants of poison will soften their brains. They will see the palm trees caught mid-wave, the birds stuck in flight brilliantly framed by the arch . This is where the ball rolled, where the bouquet landed, where the girl smiled. The arch still stands. There is something to lean on in this ugly world.

They can laugh, weep and curse but they can only be at home in their minds eye. They can enter the beautiful place they called home, frozen in its last breath inside an arch. It is real enough to cause insanity, or as we say, their insanity makes it real.

We, with our beautiful spouses, children, lawns and kitchens returned to our homes but our minds were closed. We attempt to open up with liquor, danger, sex. Everything  and everyone continued to grow but us. We are stuck, without feelings, without movement. We are the dead trees of our own landscape and only our loved ones remember us the way we were. The way we never will be again. We have no arch because we were not attacked or provoked. We went far away to kill others for many reasons that seemed to make sense. Now nothing does.

It turns out that the only way we can move on is to return to the arch with one of our former enemies and be led through to feel the life and loss of the place and people. This will take enormous work, reparations, and willingness to forgive on their side.  It will take a long time. Then the trees will bend back and the birds will soar. The wind will blow all of us clean. We can not wait for the day. But how to begin?

Summer in Alaska Bucketlist

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Do you envision a list involving salmon, moose, bear, mountain summits, through hikes, single track bike descents, canning and preserving goals, maybe a triathlon thrown in for good measure?

Not I. I need to relax. I don’t relax in the wilderness. I’m on constant bear alert, either that or getting shot by a random bear hunter alert. Here are some of my ideas for a perfect Alaskan summer. You may find you can follow them wherever you might find yourself. After all, Alaska is mostly a state of mind.

  1. Spend as much time as possible in the hammock. This will require a good supply of insect repellant but it is much more rewarding than actually accomplishing anything after a long day of work.
  2. Share my tandem with as many people as possible. I’ve started calling friends to ride with me and  put an ad up to capture strangers. It’s an enormous bike, definitely as long as a horse but slightly lighter. What’s the point of waiting around for someone to announce that they vaguely remember I have a two seater hanging up in my shed? A tandem is the perfect excuse to advertise the need for companionship but in a sporty, retro, non-threatening manner.  I’ll try not to coerce people to wear costumes until the 2nd or third ride.tandemThis is a Gary Fisher Gemini Mountain bike tandem from the 1980’s. It is appropriate to sing 1980’s music while riding. The Police, Bruce Springsteen, Van Halen, (David Lee Roth years), Duran Duran, Blondie,  and The Bangles are all acceptable. This is not a Madonna bike. It is also okay to sing this old gem on this particular bike especially when wearing dark sunglasses.  https://youtu.be/rsr_lJpDHfU
  3. I would like to watch more of the hundred best War movies. I like the old ones best and just finished “To Be or Not To Be” with Jack Benny on You Tube.  https://youtu.be/T3eG37VDvfc   I don’t love war but I am desperate to understand it and how it reflects the internal wars with which humans struggle.
  4. Read more books about The South. I love visiting my friend Rose Anne in Louisiana. It is as much another world as visiting my sister in Paris.  I finished reading this excellent book   and am now reading this one.  Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads  These help me understand why there is a large movement in America to reclaim “glory days” of the past.  This is a force to be reckoned with, not to be ignored.
  5. I need to write more and laugh more. I believe I am singing as much as I can without being murdered.
  6. It wouldn’t hurt to see some new movies. I don’t see many first run films but I would be willing to purchase a ticket to Bohemian Rhapsody or BlackKklansman.
  7. More raspberry ice tea. More raspberry everything. Alaska has great raspberries!
  8. Donald Trump protest art show anyone?  I bet it could be fun or would we be giving him too much attention?
  9. I guess I could go camping one time but that is my goal every summer and each time I come back not having slept and I have a backache but a few funny stories.
  10. Stay in the moment, smell the air as it changes with each bloom of the season – lilacs, roses, clover, fireweed.

 

Anxiety Woman’s reading list: a prescription for wellbeing

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I remember being in the middle of a conversation with a fellow actor in San Francisco. After yammering on as we actors do, he stopped, looked me in the eye and said, “I can’t afford to be around negative people anymore.” Then he walked away. I laugh large laughs in my head today because his conversations about making it big and investing in his latest project remind me of a certain current president of a formerly much admired nation. If you can’t deal with negativity then perhaps you might need an ego reboot.

Sure, I’m a bit negative when it comes to assuaging men’s egos. I also have a tendency to underrate my own cooking but this is a self protective move. If I tell people the brownies are a bit undercooked and have too much salmon extract in them, that means there are more for me.

I’ve been noticing my stress level is creeping up lately. I can’t sleep until 3 am. My dominant forearm is aching while I type this. I’m getting charlie horses at night and now I have “Trigger thumb” where my thumb becomes dislocated as I sleep due to high tension and over use during the day. How do you overuse a thumb? By yanking up one’s pants too many times, securing wheelchairs, pushing wheelchairs, giving a thumbs down to bad movies, riding a bike in winter  desperately trying to get the brakes to work and by cross country skiing.

I am taking a break from the skiing and the biking and decided to catch up on my reading.  My reading choices reflect an inability to move forward with my life. It would take a disaster of great proportions to uproot me from my safety net of friends and activities so that’s what I read about. Besides there is nothing like a disaster book to make you feel like anxiety is a good thing.

I read this one last year when there was very little snow in Alaska. The weather was getting me down but reading this put an end to my complaints.

I just finished reading this. If a recurring reference to a pail of human eyeballs doesn’t put you off then you might enjoy the rest which is equally gory but historically accurate.  There are no big plot surprises as you can see the trajectory right on the cover. And to think I am wary about moving back to the Northeast because of ticks.

Here’s one I got at the library book sale on Friday night, haven’t started it but it was on the shelf marked. “Disasters” so how could I go wrong?

I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but I have a difficult time resisting non-fiction with the word, “terrifying” in the sub-title. I hope someday there will be a Trump era history with that word in the title. I find myself feeling much more at home in a Trump presidency than many of my friends who don’t court disaster as doggedly as I do. I, who am oft  the outlier in terms of neuroticism, now appear closer to the mean or average. This is a lucky break for me.

A man named Lance Panzer, no relation to the tank, reviewed it on Amazon.com with the headline, “Makes the Perfect Storm look like a picnic”

Just in case I needed a different sort of input, I made my way over to Title Wave to  cash out my credit before the March 15th deadline. Look what I found!

Product Details

They have two more copies if you want one!

This is how I put my life in perspective. I may have no direction. The leader of my  country may be inherently unstable but at least I am not on a plane with snakes.  If you have any film or reading recommendations, please leave them in the comments.

 

 

Tis the Season to SCREAM!!

The clocks are going forward which is SO stupid in Alaska where most of us have seasonal affective disorder. It’s going to be pitch black when the school bus comes no matter what time you call it. It’s also going to be cold and for some children, way up North, there will be polar bears waiting to eat them at their bus stops.

The only redeeming aspect of this weekend is Halloween. Most kids will go to malls or well orchestrated Halloween Townes or Trail events.  But we still have some old school ghouls with their porch lights on. One family in Mountain View has their home open as a Haunted House this weekend.  My roommate and I have put our unit on The Trick or Treat Map and are almost through decorating. Sad to say, I am almost through the first THREE POUND bag of Halloween candy as well. Here are some photos of the yard. Nothing was purchased  except the $3.50 zombie head, which I decorated myself.

zombie.jpg

This next guest is a favorite of mine. My roommate created it and it has a seat of honor right by the door. I am using gender neutral language because even though it looks like a chicken, I don’t want to make assumptions.

chick.jpg

This creature reminds me of the  Malcolm McDowell film, “O Lucky Man,” which featured the following result from an advertisement for paid participants in medical research.

sheep

A not so lucky man!

We also have other obscure guests on our porch.

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Yes, that is a rat with a rotten banana. How about a grave with ketchup?

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That is a stake, not a steak which I believe is more commonly associated with ketchup. On the subject of scary food, how about a really obnoxious orange tree?

orange.jpg

My roommate made an excellent sign for us since we live in The Valley of The Moon.

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We do our best with very little cash but I did buy one of those laser lights that you see on TV which make it look like there are fireflies everywhere. I consider it a great investment as it works for Christmas as well as for indoor parties. Now I will never have to hang lights again.  Hanging lights is not my forte. The ones you see on the window above were originally hung by me but I caught my roommate rehanging them so they would be more artistic. I am messy but Halloween can be messy, I hope. At least as messy as election season.

Maybe that’s why my seasonal affective disorder is so bad this year.  I’ve lived here a little too long. I need some more adventures that don’t involve being cold, wet, or  the online dating of Republicans. Perhaps I will put the zombie as my primary photo on OK Cupid. I seem to peek the interest of men in Florida. Does that mean that only really inaccessible men like me? or are people in Florida more likely to fantasize about the cold? I don’t fantasize about Florida. I dream of a state with less expensive health insurance and a few less Right wing zealots.  .

Please feel free to stop by my house this Halloween. I only get a few trick or treaters. I mostly decorate to keep my recovery strong. After all, there is no better time to be obsessed with death and doom! Except, once again, election day.

What made me want to write today

1.  Watching the panic over Hilary Clinton’s health.   Let’s admit that all of us are going to die, make mistakes, get sick.  I would rather have a president with a mental or physical illness who gets to know their limits than Trump or Putin who have no limits. Leaders are no longer descendants of the Gods. They should reflect the imperfect population they serve.  We are vulnerable, but in our leaning on others we are better on the whole than those who can not bow due to their rigidity.

2. The 9/11 tribute I just watched was a great example of this. Public Servants did not run away from their job but ran towards it. Even though their lives were in danger. They held each other. They cried. Everyday there are things in this world to cry about. We are lucky enough that there are things to laugh about as well.  When a firefighter is overcome or a fellow social worker breaks down, I don’t laugh or pity them. I may fear that I will be next but I acknowledge my imperfections and move on. I attempt compassion and believe they can recover to what extent they are able with support.

pumpkin

 

3. Pumpkin Cookie Butter ice cream by Tillamook Farms. It has something named “Speculoos” in it.  It tastes good. They could make it anytime of year but it only comes out in fall because there’s a market for it. Its appearance underscores the inventional explosion of Oreo Cookie and Chips Ahoy flavors which are too numerous to name.  FYI, Chips Ahoy filled with brownies is a loser.  Living in a feeding frenzy for “trending” in terms of flavors and media, I want to push back, not just to the basics but to what real creativity is. Putting your own style together, making a recipe with leftovers, throwing some friends together and improvising a script that doesn’t have to be filmed in 3-D, seeing past an illness to the person behind it, and knowing when the rules have begun to break your back then coming up with acceptable alternatives.

As an actor, I enjoy breaking the fourth or fifth wall when it fits the scene. As a clown, I show my dirty laundry for laughs. As a social worker, I  let my heart bleed but keep my head on straight. As a human, I eat my roommate’s crazy flavored ice cream and cry, “O, the humanity!”

Let’s each make our own twisted way in the world today and hope that the weave spins something magical out of us.