Out of the Lion’s Den

I was the perfect prey.  I was the kind of prey that walked right into the lion’s den.  The beautiful lion stared at me, lazy and indolent.  He purred and rubbed up against me and I was so happy.  A lion actually liked me!  The lion chose me as someone he was interested in.

Then the lion got bored.  He had never thought to take me into his pride.  I was his toy, a thing to play with.  He nosed me aside when I came to spend time with him.  I ran after him, wondering why he wasn’t interested in me.  After all, if he was interested in the first place, why wouldn’t that interest grow into a more long-term relationship.

I forgot that he was a lion.  I thought that I could tame him, a beast that loved the hunt.

It took me many years to leave that lion alone.  It took more years before I gradually began to drift away from all the memories of darkness that plagued me.

It took me five minutes to have the darkness resurface, to have memories flood back. To learn that I wasn’t the only one devastated by this predator.  To learn that I was actually the lucky one that got away and escaped. 


Reflection: August 3, 2015

I’ve been thinking back to the time that I was most successful at getting both physically and mentally healthy.  I had just returned to a very unhealthy relationship that I absolutely knew wasn’t going to work out in the end.  I had my reasons for giving it one last shot, but inside, I began to prepare to leave for good.

The first thing that I did was work on a full-sentence positive reinforcement.  Whenever I have used the positive reinforcement technique, it has worked wonders.  However, I inevitably end up getting lax and lose that valuable part of my routine.  I think a lot of that is due to a lack of reflection.  With reflection comes a recognition and return to what works, even if you have failed and fallen down a number of times.

Feeling a bit under the weather for the past couple of days has really discouraged me.  I am frustrated with the lack of progress in both my shoulder and my eating habits.  So it is time to develop a new positive reinforcement and to use reflection to aid me in my goals.

Positive reinforcement: I am a strong, healthy, persistent fighter.

While this reinforcement may change, I can’t wait until I have the perfect reinforcement to get going on this.

I firmly believe that positive reinforcement is one of the most beneficial techniques for those of us who were raised with/encountered endless negative reinforcements, both internally and externally.  This technique helps to rewire those misfiring synapses that seem to get me into trouble.

Success: Today’s success was taking my vitamins with my meal and getting a shower in before bed.  To people who have never struggled with real depression, this may seem ridiculous.  If it does, then this blog isn’t right for you.  Another success was sitting down and making the effort to work on this reflection.

Challenges: Fighting off an infection left me feeling out of control.  I ate poorly, didn’t do my PT exercises or stretches and found myself feeling as though I might never pull out of this long slump.

My goal tomorrow is to be more mindful and to get in ten entire minutes of positive reinforcements.  This means that as I say my positive reinforcement over and over, I am mentally imagining and feeling myself as if I am part of what I am saying.

Strong = imagining my body running, lifting weights

Healthy = imagining eating healthy, lean foods and feeling full of life and vitality

Persistent = imagining coming up against obstacles to my goals and pushing through mindfully

Let’s do this …

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Take One Step

Dear CK,

Be gentle and tough at the same time.  You  didn’t experienced success by beating yourself up.  You experienced success when you stepped over the small mistakes, doggedly moving past them to what mattered.  You didn’t experience success when you curled up in a ball, eating your exhaustion, boredom, and pain away.  You experienced success when you plotted small plans and took one step at a time.

Do you remember that fall day, about 12 years ago?  You had about 60 pounds less burdening your tiny frame.  You wore courderoys and a light sweater.  Your body wasn’t perfect, but there weren’t any rolls weighing you down.  Do you remember the way the flat of your waistband rested on your waist?  Or how you could feel the stretch of the muscle and skin across your hips?

It wasn’t about being thin or perfect. It was about feeling the beauty and grace of having muscles and skin in their healthiest state.  Remember this when you are tempted to give up on your dream of returning to this state.  Persist, regardless of mistakes made or discouraging circumstances.

A year from now, you can take a walk in the autumn breeze and realize that dream.  But only if you stop beating yourself up and start taking one step at time in the right direction.


Don’t Forget

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One Foot Out of the Grave

I’m home on the last day of a four-day weekend from work.  I don’t get much time off, so this is a great opportunity for me to be alone and think.  Normally on a day off, my mind is filled and racing with thoughts of trying to clean up whatever household mess the week has created, trying to deal with the issues in my marriage, trying to be perfect.  I’m not good at being perfect.

It is on these days when I am by myself that I come back to who I am and who I want to be.

Over the last couple of weeks, my post-surgery physical state with regard to recovery has been pretty good.  I’m eating normal foods and the lack of digestive discomfort is noticeable.

The problem is, my gallbladder wasn’t the only issue.  Depression, shoulder pain, back pain, foot pain, and excessive tiredness are still part of my daily experience, taking front and center now that the more intense pain is gone.  With all this pain, I’m still about seventy-five pounds overweight, with little muscle to help me carry it.

A few weeks ago, a co-worker of mine visited her sports medicine doctor after having issues with her shoulder.  He diagnosed tendonitis in her left bicep and rotator cuff.  Since I have reached my max out-of-pocket for health insurance due to my surgery, I decided to shrug off my usual stoicism where my shoulder is concerned and get it diagnosed by her doctor.  Low and behold, I am suffering from tendonitis in my left bicep and rotator cuff, causing a painful impingement.  This has also led to tightness and pain in my back, neck, right shoulder, and both my right and left pectoral muscles.  I honestly don’t know how I have been just “surviving” this for the last three years.

The doctor told me that my prognosis looks good and he expects full recovery.  Wait, full recovery, did you say?  I’ll tell you what … I would never have expected to hear those words about my shoulder.  The amount of pain I have suffered over the last three years has been unspeakable.

My husband is the only one who has even a fraction of an idea of how much pain I’ve been in.  When I would get into bed on most nights, I would grit my teeth and hold on tight until my shoulder, bicep, back, and pec would readjust themselves.  At times I would sit on our loveseat or couch and hold myself in some rigid position, just to avoid the slight movements that would cause me intense pain.

I’ve had about four sessions with the physical therapist and already there is a difference in the way that my arm is resting into my shoulder, into my neck.  Every session has been excruciating.  Initially the therapist thought that there would only be pain during the assessment.  Unfortunately, three years of chronic pain have caused their fair share of toll on my body.

The problem I’ve had over the last few days is that I’ve let my depression issues get in the way of me doing my therapy exercises.  Some of it is that I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing.  I lost my sheet of paper that has the exercise descriptions on it.  Even with the sheet of paper, it can be very awkward trying to figure them out.  My solution: today when I go to therapy, I will have my physical therapist record me doing all the exercises so I have no way of feeling lost.

Also, I am going to have to face the anger and pain that have caused this depression.  I am going to have to make a choice on a daily, hourly, minute basis: will I choose to focus on pain and all that I have lost/will never have, or will I choose what it possible, what is healthy, what is within my ability to grasp?

Going to the physical therapist has given me so much hope that I will be able to do more than survive.  I thought I was half-dead.  I thought my physical stamina and well-being were almost over.  I had one foot in the grave and felt that the other one would land in the dirt within very little time.

There are a lot of things that I have wanted to experience that might not happen, but I’m still alive.  I am still alive.  Not only that, but there is still hope for a full recovery of my body.  The choices I make right now can change my life for the better.

Where do I want to be physically in the future?

I think this video sums up everything I want.  Strength, flexibility, control, calm, peace.

Here We Are … Now What?

If I was given a self evaluation in my twenties, I would have labelled myself a feisty survivor.  Someone destined to do great and fantastic things.  I would have painted myself into a finished fantasy series, a fluent second and/or third language speaker, and an accomplished world traveler.  I would have continued my martial arts training, competing and performing, honing my craft.

If I was given a self evaluation a month ago, I would have labelled myself an exhausted zombie.  Someone destined to never have children, travel and die of a horrible disease.  My body is at a broken state that it has never been before, martial arts all but forgotten.  My creativity had reached an all time low.  Even at work, I felt like I was just going through the motions.

Every month, my PMS symptoms kept getting worse, and curiously, started further and further before my period actually began.  I started getting worried when I would get strange nausea and chest/shoulder pains four, five, and seven days before the start of my period.  From January of 2015 on, I was getting these symptoms with increasing intensity almost a week and half before my period.

It was confusing, because each time, even though I track all woman associated happenings, I would become convinced that it must be that my period was going to start.  That was it.  Then it wouldn’t.

In January, the chest and shoulder pains threw me into such anxiety, that I, the stoic who brushed off doctors and hospitals, actually left work early to go see my doctor.  Granted, it was my chiropractor, who when I called for advice, suggested I get myself in to see a doctor and get checked out.

I was having one long anxiety attack on top of all of this.  Sitting in the waiting room, all I could think was “I’m having a heart attack and I don’t even know it”or “Oh my God, I have a pulmonary embolism!”  Thank you very much WebMD.

Well, after an EKG, the doctor informed me that my heart was perfectly fine.  Even my low blood pressure and anemia, which had been present the last time I was at the doctor’s office were not manifesting.  The doctor lightly mentioned the possibility of taking an ultrasound, but told me to just be extra careful and sent me to the hospital for a chest x-ray to rule out lung issues.  This too proved not to be the issue.

I went home feeling anxious and crappy, convinced that I was developing anxiety disorder.

Fast forward to the end of April.  On the last Sunday of April, I wasn’t feeling that great.  I didn’t want to cook, so we ordered a pizza.  Bad idea, but maybe one of the best things that could of happened to me.  Once again, the same pain and nausea returned, but combined with my period symptoms, it was bad enough to keep me up all night, moaning and intermittently crying.  That was what prompted me to go to the emergency room.  I didn’t want to be a sissy (I have a high pain tolerance, so this has always been my M.O.).

This wasn’t normal in any way though.  I remember thinking, “if I don’t have children, this is the closest I will get to childbirth.”

I called the doctor’s office and they told me to go buy a pregnancy test to be sure that I didn’t have an ectopic pregnancy.  It came back negative.  Now I was relieved and worried at the same time.  The doctor told me to call the office when it opened in the morning to make an appointment, as it didn’t sound like I needed to go to the emergency room.  I’m thinking that maybe I downplayed how bad it was?

At about 6:45 in the morning I was done and ready to get some relief.  I went to the emergency room.  An ultrasound and IV later, I had been diagnosed with multiple gallstones and a high white blood cell count, meaning my gallbladder was most likely infected. I asked if I could try to use a stonebreaker herbal formula first to try to pass the stones, and the look on the doctor’s face freaked me out.

It wasn’t the usual “you crazy” look that I get from doctors when I try my healthy methods first for medical issues (which by the way have worked the majority of the time).  It was the “I am afraid for you if you leave this hospital” look.  When she explained that this wasn’t just stones, but infection, I was a little freaked out.  They wouldn’t let me leave the hospital, because my gallbladder could rupture and go septic.  Gulp.

My husband told me that  the doctor came out and spoke to him when I was in recovery after the surgery.  He said my gallbladder was full of stones and infected from the inside out.  Whatever “infected from the inside out” means, it does NOT sound good.  Apparently, it was a VERY good thing that I got in when I did.

It hasn’t been that great recovering, but way easier than when I had my ACL surgery.  I’m already experiencing huge relief from many of the symptoms I was experiencing.  I’m eating less, losing weight, and overall, more conscious of what I’m putting in my body.

The best part is that I can feel some of my energy returning.  Not all at once, the way I’d like it to, but a little at a time.

I am more hopeful about the future.

Which leads me to some of the goals I’ve had that seem to have slipped away.

I’m not going to announce these goals to anyone on Facebook, family members, friends, etc.  I’m going to keep them here, in my cerebral domain.  I’m going to work on reclaiming my vocabulary, verbal and written confidence, and positive energy.

Here are my first two current “working on” goals:

First, I’ve been fighting this thing where certain words and names elude me.  That really freaks me out.  I know some of this may have been from all the exhaustion from fighting a failing gall bladder, for what was probably years.  My plan is to make a list of these words/names, and work on making them incredibly familiar to me in the context of situations I experience on a regular basis.

Second, the more secretive goal.  Writing anything has been incredibly difficult for me while all this was going on.  I’m writing this post on one of the worst days of my period, which is way better than any of my best days have been for the past few years.  I haven’t had any caffeine, yet I am still managing to finish this post.  Bravo!

My plan is to take the 1.5 to 2.0 hours that I have before my husband gets home from work every day and start writing again.  No research, no background planning, just writing.  This could be writing my fantasy novel, writing in my journal, or even writing for this blog.

All of this seems rough and my writing feels choppy, but it will only improve and smooth into something palatable if I do it on a regular basis.

And that is what.

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Into the Canyon

Final piece post-production.  HDR Image The Morrow Point Boat Tour – taken in the Black Canyon after climbing a steep stairway/trail for about half an hour and boarding a pontoon boat in the depths of the Canyon. This tour is located in the Curecanti National Recreation Area.  View and vote “like” at: 500px

Into the Canyon

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Project #2: Burlap Happy Birthday Banner with Jersey Rosettes

At the beginning of June, my dear little sister, Tabitha, celebrated her 30th birthday.  Her older sisters are some of my closest friends, and as an adult, she has become so dear to me as well.

After receiving the email about the needs for the very detailed party her husband and sisters were planning, I knew this was the perfect opportunity to take the “Happy Birthday” banner concept swirling around my fizzy brain and bring it to reality.  Of course, I used several links, both Pinterest and others, to help me in my endeavors.

I knew that the first thing I would need would be a pattern and I was lucky enough to find an awesome printout pennant pattern on fantastic Chickabug’s blog.  One of the best things about this pattern is that it has four possible size modifications.  I cut the triangle down to the 6″ size and taped it to some cardboard scraps that I’ve been saving from our moving boxes (knew these would come in handy).  I carefully cut around the triangle with some very sharp scissors, but you could use any number of effective tools.  When I was done, I had a very sturdy template that could be used for all my pennants.

Banner template

Using a fine tipped sharpie marker, I outlined the pennants on a medium weighted burlap and carefully cut them out.  I was careful to use a burlap weave that wouldn’t come apart as easily.  The next few steps were important for the overall look of the lettering.

First I found a beautiful Celtic font Zilluncial online and downloaded it here.  I played around with it and made it bold at a very large font, can’t quite remember the size, but it was big enough fill up a large space on my pennant.  I printed off the letters in bold black and carefully cut them out.

The bold printed letters before they were cut out.

I traced around them onto paper with a fine-tipped marker, making a beautiful outline of each letter.  Then I practiced making a 3-D effect using this tutorial on How to Draw 3-D letters with the Cavalier Perspective.  Click on a picture to enlarge and see a closer, more detailed perspective.

Practice Sheet 1









Practice Sheet 2









Practice Sheet 3










Once I felt confident of each letter, I traced the outline of the letter onto the burlap and did the 3-D effects by hand.  It ended up better than I could have hoped.

3-D Close-up

I knew I wanted to have rosettes in between each pennant, but after making a few burlap rosettes and trying them out, I didn’t like the look of burlap with burlap.  It was time to try the rosettes using a different material.

I broke out some off-white jersey material I had stashed away and cut some long narrow strips.  It was fun to use the Decorated House tutorial for rosettes on a different material.  After playing with it for a while, I made several small rosettes that worked perfectly.

Rosettes and Pennants

Rosettes and Pennants

It was then I realized that my pennants were going to be too see-through for the lettering to be seen if it was hanging outdoors.  I used a basic black cotton material and cut triangles small enough to be glued onto the back of each pennant.

I cut some long strips of jute and used craft glue along the edges of the triangle, stringing each pennant on the jute and gluing the rosettes in between.

Black Backing

After letting it dry for a while, I realized that the rosettes were weighing down the top of the banner, causing the letters to topple in on on themselves.  My solution?  A little U.S. currency.  I glued one penny close to the bottom of each pennant on the back side … it worked perfectly!


I will modify it in the future and put either large rosettes or bows on the ends, but all in all, I think the final product was a success!  We hung it on the hosts’ garage and it went perfectly with the rustic decor for the party.

Happy Birthday Banner

Tab and Hannah

The hosts and their adorable son

The hostess and her precocious daughter

My nephew and his good buddy E, Tab’s niece

Project #1: Tea-stained coffee filter wreath with feathers, burlap bow and flowers

After injuring my knee and undergoing ACL/meniscus reconstruction, a girl has to find a way to keep herself busy on the couch.  This is my DIY Project #1: Tea-stained coffee filter wreath with feathers, burlap bow and flowers.  A combination of tutorials from Designing and Diapers :

Tea-Stained Coffee Filter Wreath

and The Decorated House

How to Make a Flower Rosette

I love the direction I am taking into decorating!


Sometimes, we just need someone to lean on. That someone who inspires us and makes us believe, once again, that God has made us capable and talented in so many ways.  In my life, that person has come in so many forms.  My mother, father, sister, girlfriends, husband, and now, Kandee.  Her honesty about discouraging times and her desire to encourage others is overwhelmingly inspiring.  More than anything, I long to get back to the girl that inspires and lifts up.  Sometimes, this can be easy to let slip away.

Recently, someone I know experienced a deep loss. I am just coming out of a depression myself and found it difficult to sit and listen to what my loved one was saying and feeling.  Yet, I love her so much.  Her choice to share herself with me that way is meaningful and a direct reflection of how our relationship has grown over the years.  I sat, listened, silently cried, and worried over her.  This amazing woman and mother needs healing and peace.

There was a time when I would have tried to pretend I understood. I have been through far more than most girls I know.  But this … this isn’t anything I know or can imagine.  There was a time when I would have thought she should get over it, quickly separate herself from it.  The truth is, more than anything, people need to be heard.  People need to be listened to and met wherever they are.  They don’t always need advice or a quick fix.  That doesn’t work.  They don’t always need to immediately try to be better.

“Broken people are like shattered mirrors.  They reflect light more brilliantly and beautifully.” The ever-wonderful Kandee mentioned this on one of her video shares and I know I’ve heard that before.  Today, it really hits home.  Without understanding what pain feels like, it can be hard to touch the lives of people who are in pain or discouraged.

Our pain may not be the same, but it is shared. For a time, all of my reactive anger to being emotionally and mentally abused led me to wonder if I had anti-social personality disorder.  I kid you not … I was really worried about it.  That worry alone should have been the key to let me know that I definitely do NOT have this disorder.  I feel things too deeply, especially when they happen to other people.

Now it is time to be there for the people who really want it and need it. I’m realizing how much my loved ones gave during all of my heart-aches and troubles.  I didn’t have the energy to give back, because it was all being siphoned off by a snarling mountain lion disguised as a kitten.  That mountain lion would rip off my limbs with his silence, his snide insults, his terribly harsh judgments, and then turn around and mew like a kitten when I wanted to leave.

I don’t have time for people who will not be their true selves with me. Instead, I reserve my energies for life, for loving my beautiful friends and family, for letting myself be leaned on by those who need it most.

Former Workout Queen

For those of you who know me well, you know that I thrive on the intensity of sweat-inducing workouts.  Getting on that bandwagon after being off so long can be really difficult.  So Mike and I have agreed to train for a 5K and follow the training schedule in Fitness magazine to help us get ready.  Our 5K of choice?

The NAMI 5K Run for Mental Health!  This run supports the National Alliance on Mental Health … definitely something worth running for!  I am excited to get my husband some proper running shoes and improve our health, while doing something beneficial to others.