Allow me to dust off the cobwebs for some realness.

In order to be able to see the light, one must experience a little bit of darkness. One shouldn’t exist without the other, at least, that’s the way I feel.

For the past couple of months I have been living in the dark. In a more simplified way, you could say I was (am?) in a state of depression. It took me a while to recognize its presence, but once I realized it was there, it loomed like my shadow, even when the sun was its brightest. Getting out of bed required effort, I wanted to sleep a lot and the fog has lingered for weeks.

It took a while for me to recognize but once but I did it was pretty easy to accept, but my awareness of it only reinforced just how much I didn’t like it and I needed to do something about it.

I have always been a pretty emotionally driven person. My exterior wall is built with fun imagery, dirty jokes, my harmonious home life and what you get to see with your eyes. But the truth is that all of that fluff and fun is the bouncy house exterior to the wall I have guarding the inside. I don’t drop the walls very often and if you have had a chance to really peek inside my windows, I am a person full of drawers. You can imagine how I felt when I saw a sculpture of Salvador Dali’s “woman aflame” for the first time. It is to this day one of, if not my favorite pieces of art. She resonates something in me. (Note to self: find a replica)

photo by eyj1001 on flickr - click to see on his page

photo by eyj1001 on flickr

 

Each drawer represents a compartment of my life. I fill it with ideas, people, feelings, relationships, the things I hold closest and sometimes the things I need to put away. Some of those drawers are mint and functional, some are missing their handles or are stuck. It is probably with good reason that they are, some drawers are meant to stay shut.

I have been checked out for quite a while now. I tend to be one of those people that don’t like to burden others with my goings on. Save for Josh and a couple friends who actually took the time to ask, I have been relatively mum about the whole thing. Everyone has their “things” and I like to try and figure out what those “things” are instead of going on and on about it while trying to find them. If that makes sense.

So I retreated within myself to do some searching and trying to find what it was that ailed me.

I love Josh with everything in me, he is part of the threads that weave every fiber of my being. He has listened, encouraged, held, spoke and supported. We have done all the things partners should do but I also knew that the constant state of venting needed to be directed elsewhere, in neutral ground where I can see a little clearer.

I went to talk to someone about it. It was a short-lived round of therapy since a lot of that immediately gravitated toward medication. Well that and I seemed to be coming to conclusions on my own. Let me make it abundantly clear that I am not against the idea of medication if it would help. I get that people need it to function and if it works for others then awesome for them. I just know I am hypersensitive and I would probably get all the side effects. My gut told me that path wasn’t the best one for me… the last thing I need is for something to make me heavier and kill my sex drive. That within itself would only bum me the hell out even more.

With that said, I have been looking for pieces in order to make my picture feel whole again. A different path so to speak.

One thing that was pointed out to me, and was totally true, is that I seem to spend a lot of time doing for others and not doing enough for myself. I am the anchor of the home, the show scheduler, the cook, the mother, the wife, the nurturer and giver. You have no idea just how fast it happens and next thing you know, you have let your self go to the wayside We live in a society where it is engrained into our heads that the act of doing for yourself is an act of selfishness. “Selfish” is so far from who I am or ever want to be. Maybe it is the minuscule shred left of my Catholic upbringing, who knows, but guilt and the constant state of apology for doing for myself is something I need to shed.

Then there is the state of my personal relationships with people. I have been spending so much time hanging on to friendships who have given me little to nothing in such a long time. Yet I hang on and for what? The calls that never come, the messages never returned, the unreciprocated question that we all need to hear: “Hey, how are YOU?”. The constant state of disappointment. It’s a gut wrenching to know and feel like you have done nothing wrong yet you’re now an afterthought in the inevitable show of growing apart. The connection being clipped like a thread. A swift kick to the balls is what it is… and while I don’t have balls, I can imagine it hurts like a motherfucker. Just like losing people you thought better of.

In any event, it has been a process and will continue to be. For those of you who know the feeling, depression travels time like dog years. These things are slow and take time.

And if you’ve made it this far, I owe you a cookie…

Which brings me to my “AH HA!” moment.

When it comes to life and the interest of self preservation I have always made it a point to remember one thing: “Learn and master the art of saying NO. The sooner you learn how to say no, the happier you will be”. I have said it a lot and for the most part, that shit holds tried and true. But something hit me in the past couple of weeks  that made me look at that from another perspective. I have been so caught up in the constant state of “no” that I am also forgetting that there are so many things I want and need to say “yes” to. Saying “yes” has brought me so many rewarding experiences and I have been denying myself the chance at potentially wonderful opportunities out of fear. Because while I can dish a “hell no” like the best of them, I don’t have the skin to hear it back and that’s just not how it works.

So I have embarked on saying “yes” more.

Yes to forcing myself out of the house.

Yes to invites.

Yes to experiencing new things and people.

Yes to honoring my feelings and needs for a change.

Yes to finally growing a fucking pair and putting myself out there more.

Yes to giving my energy to those who want and appreciate it.

Yes to contacting galleries and trying to get my voice heard (and being incredibly surprised at the responses!!).

Yes to treating myself better.

Yes to wanting what I think I am deserving of.

Yes to knocking on doors, answering doors and walking through them.

And yes to taking dives off the cliff even if you know there may be rocks the bottom.

Yes. A thousand times YES.

 

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I have been doing a lot of soul searching in the past few weeks. Some of these quests are making me look at myself long and hard. I am finding a lot of things that aren’t pretty, trust me they aren’t. I guess you could say I am kind of going through a bit of an emotional low point. This doesn’t happen often, at least not for me but when it does it arrives hard. It’s crazy how all of a sudden it creeps up on you, a bite on the back of your shoulder and next thing you know the itch is there. The incessant, anxious itch you can’t seem to reach in order to satiate.

In any event, I guess you could say I have neglected this space. Along with so many other things. The reflection of the exterior is a portrait of what’s inside… and what is inside feels disjointed, uneasy, an unfinished puzzle with missing pieces that I am still trying to find. They will turn up eventually, I just need to look a little harder.

It’s hard not to beat myself up over previous decisions in my life. I know some of those things have made me who I am now. The wisdom that came from those things have helped form a foundation on which I stand. Even then, I can’t help but think about where I would be if I just had my current self go back in time.

If I could, this is what I would probably tell myself…

There is great power within you, you just need to know how to hone it and where to direct it. You’ll get there.

Convey your feelings often, hold nothing in. The good, the bad, they ugly. All have an appropriate outlet.

Ask for help when you need it. It’s ok. Needing help is not weakness.

Take your own advice.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you how or who you should be.

If a dude treats you like shit, you leave. It really is that simple. Life is too short to spend it with people who don’t think you’re rad. Same goes for friends.

Speaking of friends, sometimes the best ones will be in the most unlikely of places. Always pay attention to who is actually listening, get rid of the ones who don’t.

It’s ok to be a little shameless.

Stop placing so much value on how others perceive you. You will deny yourself so many wonderful, basic life experiences because of it.

Learn and master the art of humility, gratitude, giving a compliment, accepting a compliment and when to just say “no”.

Spend more time with critters. They will teach you far more about love than some of those stupid dudes you are dating.

Do lots of things for yourself, don’t wait for someone to do it for you.

Question everything but know when to surrender to uncertainty.

Get outdoors more. Some of the best places are outside and free. They will fulfill you more than clubs and bars ever will.

Be better at your finances. I know people say that shit doesn’t matter. It doesn’t buy happiness but it certainly helps keep you from being stressed out all the time.

Travel. See new places, road trip, try new things. You will come back a changed person and will teach you more than a book ever will.

Be honest. Speak loudly. Be heard.

No one likes a sourpuss. No One. So if you’re going to be that person, stay home and work on fixing what is making your puss sour.

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Girl.

Trust.

 

 

 

 

I depart from my usual posting content to share a story with you. You see, I try to keep this place fun, lighthearted, interesting. But above all, I like to keep it honest. This is a post where I share some trials in the world of parenting.

It is nothing new when I say that kids can be some of the biggest assholes on the planet. Some kids don’t know better, or they were never shown how to be loving and kind. Some come from horrible home situations and in turn act out or take it out on other children. It’s almost of right of passage to encounter one of these kids in your lifetime.

Ever since Reza decided to shave the side of her head, she has told us about situations where kids (mostly older boys) make comments to her about it. That she “looks like a boy”.  We encourage her to defend herself in whatever way she seems fit and have stressed that we will never be mad at her if she gets in situations or altercations out of self defense. I will never punish her for standing up for herself or others.

For a while now, we have been noticing changes in her demeanor. Truth be told it happens quite often. As she grows up she continues to navigate down uncharted waters, with it come storms or smooth sails. These changes are usually par for the course, typical growing pains. We usually just say it’s “just the age” and when that happens we adjust how we handle it accordingly. But this was different.

All of a sudden our spunky girl was bottled up, withdrawn, moody, snappy, sassy. We are very in tune and when she isn’t herself it is pretty obvious something is going on. So I decided to ask her what troubled her. My first instinct was that she was getting bullied in school. Several weeks ago I was cleaning her bedroom, reorganizing her many books. I picked up one of her sketchbooks and this is the page it was opened up to…

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Try finding that amongst your child’s things and tell me your heart wouldn’t break a little. Mine did. Here’s this wonderful person who just happens to be a little quirky and other kids are using that unique light against her. Assholes. It’s funny because the defense mechanism kicks in and the first thing that comes to mind is, “who is this little shit so I can go open a can of whoop-ass”. You too? Ha. Luckily we talk to her A LOT about always being a kind person and owning her eccentricity. She brushes stuff off but even the strongest of fortresses can have a weak spot. Trust me, I know… she is just like me.

I never asked her about the drawing because I didn’t want her to feel I was snooping. We are very large proponents about giving her her space. I didn’t have it and I still remember how hurt I was when my privacy was violated by my Mother, even more when I had zero reasons for her to even cross that line. But the change was so drastic that I decided it was time to ask.

She did admit some kids have said things to her. When that happens we tell her how to cope, retort and the best ways to dish it back. But she insisted that wasn’t the “issue”. I was met with a lot of resistance. “I don’t want to talk about it” many times over. I asked all kinds of questions without being pushy but she insisted on staying mum but did say, “I would rather not tell you because I know it is going to make you mad”. You can imagine the kinds of shit that went through my head. Pair that with a very heavy heart because I just knew something was wrong and all of a sudden, I can’t fix it.

This is one of the hardest feelings in my life as a parent thus far. Sleepless nights, potty training, tantrums? All of that shit is trivial and pales in comparison to when you know something is wrong with your child and you feel they are beyond your help. That sense of helplessness is overwhelming, a knot in your gut that nothing will relieve. All of a sudden your Mommy Glue doesn’t work on this, not this time lady.

I didn’t press her. I talked to her teacher and nothing abnormal there. And then it hits me. She has asked questions about having boyfriends and we always respond with stern “not anytime soon girlie”. I bet this has something to do with a particular boy. As the evening rolled on, she broke out in an allergic reaction to something and while grilling her about what she did, ate, etc. I just told her that I can’t help or give her the right kind of advice if she isn’t going to talk to me.

And out it came. Yes, she does get poked at in school but nothing she doesn’t seem to be handling. This mood was heartbreak, a schoolgirl crush that is going unreciprocated. Shit. Look, I am not naive enough to think that my daughter isn’t going to develop feelings for another boy/girl/wherever she wants to go with it. I guess I didn’t expect this kind of thing so soon but nonetheless here we are. There were watery eyes as she sat in my lap and while stroking her hair I tried my best to band-aid it, telling her stories about all the times I got my heart stomped on by some boy who never even knew I existed or decided my friend was more interesting. We talked for a while about it and within minutes it was like the light came back in her eyes because she felt that safeness that comes from knowing you can tell your story without being judged, punished or humiliated.

This was a lesson for us too. We realized that by saying “no boyfriends anytime soon” and not explaining our reasonings, we pushed her into a corner where she felt she couldn’t talk about it with us. The idea of that alone is a bummer because that is not how we roll as a family. But hey, this is our first time go around with this parenting business and we are bound to make mistakes, right?

I share this for two reasons…

One? Think about that drawing and how it probably made her feel. She is one of many that has felt that way at the expense and hand of another. Kindness and acceptance are lacking in this world and it will never change unless we continue to educate ourselves and those coming up under our wings.

Two? I needed to put this somewhere, if anything to continue to remind me that communication is key. Talk to your nuggets about a lot, about everything, even the scary stuff, the things we hold back to spare them from growing up too fast… cause guess what? They’re going to and while you can’t give them all the answers, you can certainly give them the flashlights so the path isn’t so dark.

 

I decided I would start a list segment in which I share the more recent inspirations…

Reading
: Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty.
Confession time: I don’t read nearly as much as I should. I get distracted easily, need silence and well, I have the attention span of a small child. If the writing doesn’t suck me in, I put it down and on to the next. Cailtin’s book was not the case, maybe because I find the whole funerary process fascinating, even more when it is coming from an insider. It has some very interesting insights and anecdotes about death, how we view it and how wrong we are about it. I enjoyed this book very much and if you aren’t squeamish about gory corpse details, then I recommend you pick it up. Techinically I am not reading it anymore since I finished it last week, it was a rather quick read as I could not put it down.

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I am making a sincere effort to read more books this year because honestly, it’s a travesty and people who don’t read don’t deserve sex. You can thank John Waters for that awesome logic.

Currently ReadingWhere the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey by Marie Mitsuki Mockett. As you can tell, the subject has been on my mind. I will let you know how this one goes.

Eating:
Lately, Josh and I have been making efforts to skipping on so many meat-centric dishes and in turn, I am being forced out of my comfort zone and am looking for recipes to try.  Quality meat shopping can get expensive for one and we have also been working out more so cutting caloric corners is a plus. I came across this one on Pinterest: Roasted zucchini, black bean and goat cheese enchiladas from The Sprouted Kitchen. To say it was a hit is an understatement. I approve. Go make it!

Also, I seem to have taken up a hot chocolate kick. Just in time for another 5 day storm we are about to get.

Wearing: Some Strangeness In The Proportion by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab.

10612575_339230029581425_7050001566437258625_nYes, this comes off as some shameless whoring since I drew the art on the bottle but it is one of the two scents from the Ligeia collection that really stuck with me and I keep going back to it. This one contains: “Rich vanilla sandalwood elegantly distorted by oudh, labdanum, scarlet saffron, and pink pepper.” – On me, since I have wacky chemistry, smells like amber. Either way it’s warm and awesome sauce. I do have a feeling that this may be replaced soon by one of the highly anticipated Lupercalia 2015 collection cause who doesn’t want to smell like something called SMUT or Ivory Vulva. I know I do. Heed with caution, BPAL IS ADDICTING. You’e been warned. (EDIT: All of the limited edition Ligeia are now off the site. Limited edition fools! Snooze and lose)

Also wearing Back To Black By Kilian. I was lucky enough to have this gifted to me for my birthday and my god it is a One Way Ticket To Sexy Town. And yes, it is worth every single penny.

Listening: Lately I have been all about classical and soundtrack music. There really haven’t been any new releases that made me salivate so I am going back and revisiting some beautiful compositions for movies. It’s nice to switch it up to a more classic sound from time to time. I made a small playlist on Spotify of some good ones if you are inclined. You can find it here. Note to self: add more.

Watching Watched: The Fall and Peaky Blinders

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I got to give it to the Brits and their TV because they have been churning out all kinds of awesomeness, in better ways than all the shit that is being spat out this side of the pond. These two were so good we could not help ourselves from marathoning all of it. The Fall is just a good serial killer crime drama and Peaky? Crime family, lots of eye candy in perfectly tailored suits and a rad soundtrack to boot.

Both are on Netflix, have at it. Ok ok not all gringo tv is bad, I shall give an honorable mention to Transparent on Amazon.

I also saw Parenthood through to the end. I am glad it went out with some dignity and JFC I am glad it’s gone cause one can only ugly cry so much while watching TV and folding laundry.

What are you reading, eating, wearing, listening to and/or watching? 

 

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Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It has been almost a month since my last confession blog entry. I looked at my last offering and thought, “Has it really been that long?”. Why yes Ivonne, it totally has. I can’t say it hasn’t been for good reasons though, one of which I will share with you now.

It is nothing new when I mention that I have been having weird abdominal pain that up until now has gone unexplained. Last week alone was a real winner where I spent a day starving and prepping for a colonoscopy and endoscopy. Look, I just turned 40 and getting a screening is good thing anyway and if you are doing one, might as well take advantage and get the other done. You just have to stay on top of that kind of stuff. Anyway, they have been trying to out-rule all kinds of stuff when it comes to my medical maladies and camera hoses were the last step. If talk about shit and anal probing makes your butthole quiver, this is where you exit.

If you have never had to have either of these tests let me tell you, the tests themselves? Cakewalk. You’re nicely drugged up and don’t recall any of the shame of being in room with many people watching as they put a hose up your ass. The worst part of it all is really the day before where you are confined to your house, starving and shitting water. The whole process is kind of embarrassing. One wrong move and you’re sharting… YES I SAID IT. Don’t act like these kinds of things don’t happen to us all, they totally do. Everybody poops.

I can handle the pipe cleaning ritual, whatevs. But not eating for 24 hours? That was a whole other level of hangry – so much so that I refused to make dinner, kicked my husband and kid out of the house so they could go eat in peace and not have to look at my bitter, Oswald Cobblepot mug, staring at the food I could not have. No really, I am pretty sure I made this face when Reza started talking about dinner….

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You have to take all this over the counter poop provoking juice, they tell you that you can have certain juices, specific colors and the consolation prize was you could drink clear Ensure, but only the peach flavor. Barf. When you’re starving it’s like the last Saltine on the Island, but only under those circumstances cause let me tell you, it’s revolting and how anyone drinks that shit of their own accord is incomprehensible to me. So, so gross.

The next morning I suited up in my finest 666 print knee highs, Josh dropped me off and I was turned into a lab rat. I was lucky enough to get the nurse who likes to give Lidocaine at the site before she impales your hand with an IV. I hate IV with a passion. They also put me in this fancy gown that hooks up to a heater hose from the wall. Whoever invented that shit deserves a medal because hospitals are ice boxes and when your ass is hanging out, trust me, that hose of hot air is your new best friend.

Once I was fully admitted, poked, vitals checked, they wheeled me back to the Room Of Orifice Doom. This is where I was all kinds of not happy. Imagine that you are starving and you’re wheeled past a table that has pie. You see said pie (see above photo again^). Then the nurses are talking about said pie and hoping there is still some left by the time they’re done with you. BITCHES. Give me the drugs so I can forget about these awful hunger pains NAO! “Ok Ivonne, we are gonna make you sleepy”…

I would love to be able to give you the gory details of how it all went down, or up in this case? Ha! But the truth is, I was so happily passed out I remember very little of it. I may have woken up mid ass probing but my memory is vague. It’s probably for the best. I do remember my Dr. saying “all done” and coming by to say hi in recovery. I kind of wished I had asked for copies of my photos like Josh did when he got his. No, really, he has copies of photos from the inside of his ass. They were his Facebook profile photo for a while. It was the least they could do after they paraded a whole troop of female students in to watch his anal invasion.

Josh picked me up a couple hours later, got me home and I slept like the dead. I was so doped out I didn’t even think about food. Then I woke up to pho. Amen and amen.

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Here we are, another year out from under us and a hotel hallway of doors full of possibilities within our view. We approach a new year with hope, intentions and in some cases, superstitious juju rituals. Maybe we don’t have that form of clarity and things are still in a state of limbo. If your intentions aren’t as clear, here are a few ideas to help you jump start another year full of wonderful.

2015

  • Don’t wait for Spring for “spring cleaning”. Why wait? Start the year off with a clean slate, literally!
  • Take advantage of the sales and get yourself some new, crispy bed sheets.
  • Delete profiles and accounts from websites you no longer frequent or use.  Less e-mail!
  • I say this one every year because it is a good one: Learn and master the art of saying NO. The sooner you learn how to do it, the happier you will be.
  • Pay it forward, that small gesture can be an game changer and not just for the recipient.
  • Say goodbye to relationships that do not reciprocate what you give to them. It is better to be alone than in company that doesn’t give you your worth.
  • Do something completely out of your element.
  • Put your phone away. Documenting everything is taking away from your truly enjoying the moment.
  • Have a bunch of e-friends you have never met in person? I know I do. Bite the bullet, travel somewhere new and meet them!
  • Take a road trip and stop in kooky spots to take photos.
  • Cancel your cable. Less tv time and you have extra cash!
  • Make an effort to reduce your phone time and have more “me” time.
  • Start a new journal for art, writing or scrapbooking.
  • Do a 365 project. If it’s too much commitment, do a “once a week” project. Have the photos  bound in a book and you can re-live your year in imagery.
  • Speak up. You are your biggest advocate.
  • Learn the freedom of leaving the house without make-up.
  • Sign up for Postcrossing and exchange postcards with strangers from around the globe. Or do it with your friends.
  • Write out your bucket list and put it somewhere to remind you of all the things you want to do. Scratch off at least one this year.
  • Tell those you love why they’re wonderful. We all need to hear it and life is too short to be holding it all in.

*****
Want more ideas on how to make the best of your New Year?
You can visit previous lists from 2014 + 2013

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Here we are, a few days away from a new year. I went back and gathered some of my favorite moments and posts.

Notable Moments!

Altered my letterpress tray to put all my collectibles. It is all full now. I already have a blank on backup for the next round.

Had a couple pieces in two group/gallery shows. I really need to do more of that next year.
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I really produced a lot of art I liked this year, more than ever. Lots and lots of sketching.

Took a linoblock printing class.

Cut my hair off and went back to brunette land.hurz

The Mary Blair art exhibit with my new friend Caitlin. Yay for new, awesome friends!

Started volunteering with a feline rescue group. One of the best things I have ever done.

Collaborated with Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab and had my art used for their Ligeia collection.
10612575_339230029581425_7050001566437258625_nStarted my artist website! Now I just need to do a better job at updating it. Heh.

Made my first Day Of The Dead altar in our home, a tradition I plan on keeping up.

Stats: Josh and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary (13 years together) and our 40th birthdays, Reza turned 8, our cats turned 3.

Reza: won a cosplay contest, started 2nd grade, was in the local paper twice, rode a bike for the first time, shaved off the side of her head, lost 5 teeth and continues growing into an awesome little person.

Shows: Forest Swords, Washed Out, Chvrches, Lorde, The National, The Knife, ††† Crosses… CHINO, in person. Bucket list item achieved!

Travel: Two trips to San Diego, a road trip to Portland and a reconnection with the motherland in Mexico.

The Good: 
A new car! Well, new to us anyway and I love our VW.
Slowly but surely making new friends and getting closer to some existing ones. It is always nice to see things move to the next level with those who value you.
Lots of new memories with our friends. Being back in CA certainly has its perks.
Lots and lots perspective.

The Bad: Josh’s brother Jared died and certainly tossed up a lot of feelings, my Mom got diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and of course the coming to terms with friendships (or lack thereof) and where you stand with them. With distance comes the inevitable drifting apart. All of these things really hit me with a massive dose of perspective, a renewed sense to really work on making things count.

The Ugly: Had a bit of stressful things go down. Drama, health issues that weren’t getting resolved. Thankfully all of that seems to be working itself out slowly but surely.

Favorite new phrase: “shit show”. And considering how some things went this year, it merited my using it, a lot.

Music: my favorite album as a whole was the soundtrack to Only Lovers Left Alive. It is the one I keep coming back to. Yes, my favorite album of the year was a soundtrack. Only-Lovers_CD_cover-art-660x660

This year was an odd one for music. Lots of good tracks but albums as a whole, not so much. I also felt this year was the year of the woman as some of the better tracks to come out were from Team Estrogen. Well played ladies. I made a playlist of some of my favorite tracks from this year, you can listen to it over on Spotify. There are way more but not everyone is on Spotify.

Goals for 2015: 

  • Make more art (and sell it) – girl has got to pay some bills.
  • Work on debt reduction so we can look into buying a home.
  • Less time on social media, more time making memories and art.
  • Stop taking so many photos with my cell phone and use a real camera for a change
  • Write more: on my blog, a personal journal, snail mail.
  • Read more.
  • Focus on health. All aspects of it.
  • Gratitude and humility. Lots of it.

*****
In previous years: 2013 + 2012 + 2011 + 2010

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There have been some serious cobwebs around here. I know. It isn’t without good reason. I guess I am still in recovery land from all the things that went down last month. It’s hard not to get sucked into the vortex of doom when you get hit from every angle. That sounds so overdramatic, lol. All things considering, things are on the upswing. A slow climb but a climb nonetheless.

The past few weeks have been my trying to get my health back to normal. It’s a process and it’s not even done. Nothing like having an endoscopy and colonoscopy to look forward to in January. Happy New Year Ivonne! Here’s a hose up your ass. But hey, this is what us old people do.

Josh and I selfied with Santa earlier this month. It went a little like this… “Santa? Can we selfie?” “SURE” and then we all made those faces.

Don’t let the Christmas cheer in that photo fool you. I have been a tap on the Grinchy side this year. This is the first year in forever that I didn’t send cards. I feel like a total schmuck for it but I just don’t have it in me because as you can imagine, I like to go all out and the list is huge. It is way more than I want to chew at the moment. So if you wonder why you didn’t get a card from us, well, it’s cause I didn’t do it. It’s not you.

Christmas is around the corner though and this month seems to have flown by in record time. It will be SUPER low key this year, at least for us adults. Got to put the cheddar toward more important things and travel to see family is out of the question.. Reza on the other hand, wrote out the most ambitious xmas list to date cause you know, “Santa”. She still very much believes and we are not going to crush her dreams as long as she wants to continue. But girl has lofty ambitions and an expensive Lego addiction. She cannot get it in her head that a motorcycle is not something 8 year olds get. We did make our pilgrimage to find the wonkiest tree possible… sadly no crooked ones like last year but we did come home with this tall, slender gent that the cats seem to believe was put there just for them.

I think I may have shared that I teamed up with Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab to do some art for one of their limited edition collections, Ligeia. They went live last month and won’t be up forever. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a whole box of it and I couldn’t be more happy with the outcome. So so pretty.

Being creative has been a tap of a challenge with all of the peronsal things that have been going on as of late. It’s an interesting yet frustrating process when you hit the slump. In any event, I have been clawing my way back out of the hole in hopes I stay out of it for a while. I did manage to make a xmas/birthday gift for my friend Caitlin. Contrary to popular belief, there is such thing as too much BPAL, at least for me… so I gave one to her and it was very well received. 3D objects are a learning curve but they sure are fun. I hope to make more of these coffins as I have a bunch of blank goodies just waiting for the brush.

It has been raining here for weeks now. We even got hit with that Pineapple Express storm that flooded a bunch of places and closed school for a couple days. There have been some minor breaks but for the most part, grey and wet. Wet, wet, grey. I guess this is what Sonoma County Winter is usually like? It wasn’t like that last year. I like rain, don’t get me wrong but weeks of it is just… ugh. People cannot drive in this shit and girl needs some vitamin D. Over it.

It is no news that I can be a bit of a procrastinator, especially when it comes to creative endeavors. I get it in me and the follow through can be a little on delay. Remember my “Mystery Box” giveaway? Well, I finally got around to sending it, partially because I wanted to make a small custom piece for it and with all the health shit/drama that arrived in November, it was a total buzzkill. In any event, this is what was in the box…

A card, tokidoki cell phone charm, 2 BPAL imps, a scissor charm, a protection card, Addams Family trading card pack, stickers, Burt’s Bees – you can never have enough and a mini framed watercolor elephant. Hopefully worth the wait.

I have a bunch of other thoughts floating around in my head but they’re better suited for my “end of year” post which will be here sooner than we think.

And hey, if you’re reading this, have a wonderful holiday. Live, love, hug long and laugh… loudly.

xo –

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A couple weeks ago I got an e-mail from the community manager of a specific website. They were asking bloggers to write a post about what I would include in a “holiday survival kit”.  I won’t share the name because I am not in the business of plugging sites who want blogger content in exchange for nothing, exposure don’t pay the bills holmes. Sorry! (not really)

But it got me thinking about “things” to help get through the holidays with a bit of sanity. Don’t get me wrong, I have shared stuff I love before but I do it under the guise of things I actually have and use. Yes, like a lot of bloggers I could sit here and include a bunch of photos of “things” and tell you why I think they’re “essentials”. But I am not going to.

So instead of making up a bullshit list of things you need to go out and buy to “make your holidays less stressful”, I am going to share things I/we could do and doesn’t really involve shopping. Shit, most of this free… and you all know how much we love the word “free”. So without further ado, I bring you…

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STOP SPREADING YOURSELF SO THIN. 
It needs to be said. The holidays bring on all kinds of pressures. Pressure to be there for family, pressure to deliver. The thing is, some of these pressures are totally self imposed. We pull a Bilbo Baggins that feels “thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread”. You end up spending the holidays bouncing from place to place, sometimes in horrendous traffic and next thing you know it’s January and you are just relieved it is over. The month flew by and you didn’t even enjoy it. So cut it out! There is only one of you and your time is just as important.

DON’T PUT YOURSELF IN DEBT
This goes on par with the pressures. The need to deliver xmas becomes this prevalent feeling, so much so that all you’re doing is stressing about how it’s going to happen. There’s pressure that you have to buy people things… sometimes people you don’t even want to give gifts to but feel like you have to! So many people overextend themselves monetarily, maxing out credit cards or spending money that sometimes they don’t even have to spend. I know it’s tough, especially for those with kids who have no concept of monetary value or struggles. But look at it this way when giving gifts, balance out what is a “want vs need”. It’s just stuff. If there is one thing 2 cross country moves have taught me, is that we amass so much bullshit and clutter in our lives. Things are just things and in the grand scheme of life, those things don’t make your happiness. If you’re going to gift, give the gift of rewarding experiences with those you love. That lasts so much longer.

SHOP ONLINE
I’m not saying you need to pull and Ebenezer either. If you really want to give gifts, have at it! I know it can be really fun to surprise friend X with the rare book they’ve salivated over. When you have a very clear intent on what you want to buy and it’s readily available to your fingertips, just do it online. It saves you so much hassle, stress and fighting with assholes for a parking spot at the mall.  We did a lot of that last year and it was sweet! Just make sure you do it with a timely manner so things arrive in time.

MUSIC
We all have it, have access to it, own it, stream it. You don’t know how many homes I have visited of friends and family and they never bump tunes. I don’t get how they do it because the right song, at the right moment, makes memories. Use it! It can change your entire outlook on the day. It is as essential to me as water. Play it in your house, play it loud. +1 point if it’s a total guilty pleasure and you shake your ass to it while doing your household chores. +10 points if that shit is done in your underwear.

LEARN TO SAY NO
There are so many people who “hate the holidays” and a lot of it is because you feel the pressure of having to spend it with or around family you may not even get along with. It’s ok to say no to things and don’t feel bad about it! No one is going to advocate for your sanity more than you. If not going to Aunt Horrible Cooking and Creepy Drunk Uncle so-and-so’s house in bum fuck is going to make you feel more chill, politely decline. Yes, there will be disappointments expressed but those who love you will get it if you just can’t. There is a fine art to learning how to say “no” to people and the sooner you master that skill, the happier you will be. .

IT’S NOT WHO YOU SPEND IT WITH, IT’S HOW YOU SPEND IT
I know a lot of people who dread the holidays because they have horrible or sad memories attached to them. I get that so much, especially when you’ve lost someone meaningful in your life. It can be daunting especially when we’re fed visuals of happy, perfect families sitting around in their matching pajamas by the fire. We feel alone, like we are missing something bigger. Family is a part of it but remember your family is who you make of it. Fall back on your friends, your pets, etc. Go out and do things that fulfill you: a hike, movies, travel etc. If you happen to have awesome company, well good for you! But if you have no one, it’s ok too. It really is. Give to yourself.

I know a lot of these things are easier said than done. Trust. I get it. Xmas is what you make it and we all have that power… and it doesn’t involve door busting at 6 a.m. for a deal on a TV.

 

 

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No. Really. I wish I could say it was something else but I can’t.

I have been dealing with some medical/health bullshit the past few months and nothing seems to be getting better. The digestive system is a very complicated place you see, and no amount of describing what I am felling is getting me any solutions. I have seen a number of physicians, had more tests, many vials of goo removed. You name it. And I have more coming.

In the wee hours of Monday morning, I woke up with an unholy pain in my body, nausea, horrible cramps, urge to vomit… so much so that I ended up in the emergency room. I was poked, prodded and after they decided I had nothing threatening, they kicked me out. As I gathered myself up, in a drug induced haze, I pulled a full on Linda Blair in the bathroom. I haven’t puked like that in ages. Note to self: next time don’t let them give you dilaudid. That shit is awful and gave me a horrendous hangover.

Anyway, I won’t get into the gory and disgusting TMI that happened with me in the days to follow. All I know is that I haven’t been myself in weeks and as much as I try and put on my game face, I have been dealing with some really uncomfortable internal battles… physical and emotional. It’s hard to function when your belly feels like it has multiple hands shoving their fingers into you. It’s hard to feel emotionally whole when you’re in a constant state of pain, discomfort or fragility. Add all the other shit that happened in the month of November, I am a pretty overwhelmed.

An interesting development arose yesterday. I got a call from one of the ER Drs. to let me know that my lab work tested positive for a bacteria called H. Pylori. I have never even heard of this shit! 80% of people carry this bacteria and are asymptomatic but in my case it certainly doesn’t feel that way. So I seem to have a pretty nasty bacterial attack on my GI system. In looking it up, reading forums, a lot of it sounded like my symptoms. Could this be the cause? Who knows. They ordered me a pretty beefy regimen of antibiotics/meds for the next two weeks.

I only hope that this is the answer I was hoping for because I am so so so tired of feeling this way physically. I really want some relief. It has really been killing my creative output which only depresses me more. This isn’t who I am. I am a doer and right now I feel like Ada tied to the piano under the sea, the surface so close I can see it yet the weight beneath me keeps me from pulling up. I’m ready to break through and breathe.

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