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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.

snowman2snowman5snowman3snowman6snowman8

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!