Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What does depression feel like?

Here's a picture of some rocks. Because I like rocks and I don't have a picture of depression.
Ok. I'm ready to chime in. It's been just over 24 hours now since I read the news that Robin Williams had died. And that his death may have been a suicide.

I've run the gamut of emotion since hearing the news. Trying not to cry at first because, why? I don't know him personally. Why would his death have that effect on me? Then letting myself cry because, damn it, it IS hurting me, so feel it and let it go already. Then reading all of the tributes and articles and realizing just how many emotionally important (to me) movies he was in.

At this point, I'm starting to get annoyed by all of the coverage and took a few minutes to figure out why. Of course it's good that people would talk about depression and suicide, right? That's how things change and get better, right?

I want to yell, JUST SHUT UP ALREADY. Honoring Robin Williams and the impact he had on all of our lives is wonderful and right. Encouraging people to get help for mental illness is a good start.

But until we all actually start talking about depression out loud and in the open, then little will change. So, I'll start.

What does depression feel like?

I can tell you what I feel like when I am depressed. I'm not depressed all of the time, but I have been depressed. I LIVE WITH anxiety all of the time, to varying degrees. (Another day, I'll tell you how I discovered the true extent of my fear of heights last week while we were on vacation. It was the opposite of awesome. Good story, though). But depression is something that visits me situationally.

And this? Is a picture I took while I was pretending not to be stark raving TERRIFIED on the observation platform.
When I am depressed, it feels like there is a lead ball in my chest, sometimes sinking into my gut. It feels thick and heavy and ugly and dark. There is no removing it.

I also feel very heavy, just generally, in my body when I am depressed. It's harder to move around for no apparent reason, and I just don't want to get up. All of the things that I normally love to do, I pretty much don't care about. I can sit and list them in my head, trying to find something to WANT to get out of bed for. There is nothing. Not because I don't still love those things, but because I am depressed. I know, it doesn't make sense to me either today because I'm not depressed. But when I'm depressed that's exactly what it is.

It's been this way long enough now that I can see it, as if from outside myself. Even when I'm in a depression, and I have to list the reasons I should get up, I'm able to realize that it will pass. I'm able to know in my head that I won't always feel this way. Eventually something inside of me will shift and I'll feel differently and the dark inside of me will lift and I'll get up and enjoy something again.

I think it helps to decide ahead of time that you're going to believe that. That the next time you are depressed, you are going to believe that there is something to hope for. You have to decide ahead of time that you know the dark will lift, because when the darkness falls, you won't want to believe it, you certainly won't feel it. And for me, and I think for many others, feeling is how we move through the world.

That, I think, is why we loved Robin Williams so much. Because he made us laugh and feel so very good. Even in his dramatic roles, there was warmth and love and hope.

I don't always write about these things, so I'm never sure if I should. But, here it is. I don't want to add to the noise because I hate the noise but I do want to contribute to the discussion. Please feel free to share in the comments how depression or suicide has touched your life. Feel free to link to your own post if you like.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Jason is an imp - Vacation edition

Jason has gotten really good at sneaking into pictures.

First at Munising Falls in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

On the street in St. Ignace.

And at Sleeping Bear Dunes.

The boys got skills.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

When you want to sing along .....

I'm sharing this video by Kristin Andreassan because it is just so, so much fun. I discovered this via an online friend and artist, Sara Mincy, and we watched it soooo many times.

We now own the album this song comes from, Kiss Me Hello, and we know all the words by heart. It's a really great singing in the car kind of a song.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Austin Kleon says that we should Steal Like an Artist. That's just what I've been doing this week as I've been a little bit stuck for inspiration but really wanting to keep my regular Zentangle practice going strong.

I've sought out inspiration from fellow Certified Zentangle Teachers and mimicked tiles that they've shared. Just by taking a look at what they've done, it's possible to decide what the border and string must have been, at least approximately. Those elements are always just suggestions anyway.

Next I take a look at the tangle patterns they've used and decide if I'm going to use them. Usually, I will because that's one primary reason I choose a tile to copy; because I need to practice some tangles that I might not normally choose to practice regularly. Of course, I do tend to deviate if there's one that I just really don't want to draw at the moment or I think it just doesn't fit my tile. And of course, there's always the moment when you just need to draw your favorite tangle. This is a meditative practice, after all.

The first tile I copied was by Kathe Berthold. Hers first, then mine.

And the second was by Kierstan Betancourt. Kierstan's below, then mine.

I like this exercise because it's just another example of how everyone's tile will be unique, even after being given the same instructions. And it reminds me of my favorite part of every Zentangle class, when everyone's tiles are put together to form an amazing mosaic.

Thanks so much ladies, for sharing your tiles and for your inspiration! Hopefully I can do the same!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Diva Challenge #174

The Diva Challenge #174 was to use superimposing strings. Here's my tile with strings only.

And after about 28 minutes (I decided to time myself to see how long it really takes me to make a completed tile), here is the tile without shading.

After about 5 minutes of shading, below. I'm really trying to be more aggressive with my shading because I just haven't yet felt that it was "right" when it was finished. Since there is no right/wrong that's not quite the right word but you get the point.

I decided it needed something more at the top so added some Hollibaugh, below.

For a completely totally finished tile in approximately 40 minutes. So there you have it.

Today is also the day I began the Zentangle tile gallery in the dining room, with tiles by everyone in my family and one by Maria Thomas for good measure.

Friday, June 20, 2014


I'm not sure what I want to share this week. There's just so much. I went to Seminar in Providence, Rhode Island at the beginning of this week to be certified as a Zentangle Teacher. I really did not know exactly what to expect since I didn't know anyone personally who has gone through the experience, nor did I already know anyone who would be there.

One conclusion is that this was the most generous conference/seminar experience I have ever had. (Yes, of course I paid for the experience, yet) The hotel accommodations were exceptional (well done  Hotel Providence!), the food was fantastic at every single meal, and the tools, supplies, and resources that were shared with us were well beyond what I would normally expect to receive.

Even beyond that, by the second day it was clear that not only were Rick and Maria there to teach us to draw in a Zentangle way, and to teach us how to teach, but it truly felt like they were welcoming each one of us into their family. That's the only way I can explain the level of generosity and kindness with which they share.

I've spent the two days since arriving home in a bit of a bubble, not sharing too much all at once with Jon because I felt like if I shared too much all at once, the bubble would pop, and the experience would vanish. Now that I've started sharing I realize that the bubble won't vanish but it will grow to encompass everyone with whom I'm able to share Zentangle.

I think that's going to be enough sharing for now. I'm better for having gone and I'm looking forward to sharing what I've learned with others and learning more about Zentangle along the way. Classes coming soon!

(click on the images to see them larger)