I am so excited!

Just got a note from Lisa Kaus about some new original artwork–love those mailing lists! I bought this piece:

Isn’t it beautiful?! I just love her work. Something about this just spoke to me. I never used to like yellows but I took a chance and painted my kitchen and powder room yellow and love it. Well, it’s not bright lemon yellow or anything… more like a golden raffia color. I am going to have to find a special place for this little gem. I cannot wait to find out what class(es) she will be teaching at Art & Soul in Portland.

Speaking of classes, I also got a note from Scrapbook Attack, which is a local scrap booking store. I was so excited to learn that they have booked Tim Holtz to teach a two day workshop in July. The details will be revealed in March. Such exciting news!

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Anxiety

When you were young, did you worry about fitting in?  Or were you one of the popular kids?  Did you wear the right clothes, listen to the right music, and have cool parents?  Did you get bullied but were unable to defend yourself?

As an adult, have you ever offered someone encouragement only to be left wondering whether they appreciated your sincerity?  Have you ever disclosed something personal to someone only to feel a sense of panic afterwards?  Have you felt uncomfortable around others because you weren’t sure about fitting in?

I was so painfully shy growing up.  I still suffer from social anxiety.  Logically, I know I shouldn’t feel this way but I can’t help it.  It’s the emotions I can’t control sometimes.  It’s the worry and fear.  It’s a feeling of insecurity.  Everyone else is more qualified.  Everyone is more experienced.  Everyone is more intelligent.  And everyone is more deserving.  Any second everyone will see through me as if they have faker-vision (x-ray vision for phonies).

When the anxiety takes hold, it starts out as a strong feeling that something bad is going to happen.  I can’t tell you what I think will happen but it feels like impending doom.  The fight or flight instinct wants to take over and make me run far, far away from the danger.  Goodness knows, I am not a fighter so that isn’t an option.  Nowhere is safe from anxiety; the panic takes over and the physical feelings intensify even more.  Breathe deeply.  Close your eyes for a few minutes.  Relax your body.  It’ll go away… it’ll go away.  It may subside but it never goes away.  I’m always on alert.  Always ready for that doom to actually take place.  It takes every bit of energy from me.  It sucks out the life from my body and leaves me exhausted.  You’d think sleep would offer a reprieve… but my brain cannot slow down.  It races with worry and won’t stop.  It takes hours to finally fall asleep.  Waking doesn’t offer any sense of renewal.  After so much deprivation, I’m a walking zombie.  Each of my senses is on overdrive.  Noise is overwhelming and physically painful.  Light is too intense.  My body aches and no touch is soothing.  Even taste and smell are often too pungent and bitter.  I long for solitude and quiet.  If only I could cry and release some of the pressure but experience tells me that crying is too painful and doesn’t offer relief.  My tolerance is non-existent and I distrust everyone and everything.  Life this way is not fun at all.  I am too tired to concentrate and I worry that my work is suffering. 

And the cycle repeats itself.

Take a breath

I had an interesting meeting with my manager today. He helped me remember that I have a choice whether to stress about EVERYTHING. He also asked me what kinds of things I want to work on. I couldn’t answer that question. Unfortunately, Intel doesn’t have an art department. Anyway, he gave me this workbook to help me analyze my strengths and preferences. Creativity and aesthetics were two important things that were reinforced by the activities I completed. Now I need to create a plan to help me map out the path to get to my goals.

I’m co-teaching this class at NAMI called Family to Family. It’s held weekly each Saturday. The people in the class all have family members who have a mental illness. It is really intense and emotional. But it is my way of giving back because the class helped me so much when I took it. This is the third series I’ve co-taught. So far, we’ve taught four classes so we’re a third of the way through. I don’t think I’ll teach another class; it really takes so much out of me. One really great thing about doing this is that Intel will be matching my hours with dollars. In the past they’ve only matched educational volunteering so this is a plus. If you do have a mentally ill family member, I would highly recommend this class. Plus, it’s free.

Happy Birthday, Gramma

Today is my grandmother’s 88th birthday. Our family celebrated yesterday with cake and ice cream. Happy birthday, Gramma! Wishing you a year of all that brings you joy!


Whew!

What a week this has been. Life at work has been a struggle for me but I’m not the only one. Morale is really bad right now and it makes it hard to stay focused. Jobs are being outsourced and off-shored and everyone feels insecure. On top of that, upper management seems oblivious and exempt from these issues. I am normally not a negative person but I’ve gotta work to pay the bills and it’s a constant worry if I’ll be next to lose my job. Sometimes it feels great to vent, so thank you for listening. 🙂

Now to more pleasant things. Tonight Steve and I are going to a semi-formal party. It’s downtown and I’m really looking forward to getting dressed up and going out. Steve has been dying for this pair of Tommy Bahama slacks and yesterday he broke down and got them. He loves clothes and shoes almost as much as I do. Unfortunately, shopping with him is almost as difficult as shopping with Amber… he takes FOREVER to decide on something.He also picked up a really lovely card for me. The card was nice but it’s what he wrote inside it that touched me:

Denise, I think of you at least 1000 times a day and tell myself how truly lucky I am and how special you are.

Wow, I think I’m pretty lucky too.

PS: A PLACE TO BARK INC has over 1200 donations and is in second place. To learn more, click here.

In case you didn’t know…

I’m voting democratic and would love to attend one of the debates.

My mom informed me she wouldn’t be voting on anyone supporting one specific issue: abortion. I think I have good values. My parents did a good job raising me. But I guess we differ in our judgment. I just hope that people take a look at the bigger picture before making a decision. When candidates push people’s hot buttons, we wind up with bad results. Yes, Hillary Clinton supports a woman’s right to have an abortion but I really don’t think the government should be in the business of making moral decisions for us.

Okay, I’ll step down from my soapbox now…  Sign up here for a chance to attend the democratic debate in Los Angeles.

Pros & Cons

I had an appointment with my therapist today. I have been in therapy on and off for the past 18 years. Over the years, some of the people I’ve been to were great, some were not. The therapist I have now is in the great category. I would recommend talk therapy if you need to work through issues in your life. I guess I’m from the opinion that we are continually growing and changing during our whole lives. Change can be difficult and having an unbiased professional help you sort through things can be so helpful.

There are three things I’m working on now. First, I would like to get my financial situation under control. I want to get some credit paid off and start seriously planning for retirement. I would like to sell my house and build a new one in Scappoose, the town where I grew up. Eventually, I would like to simplify and downsize. I would like to have a creative job and live with much less job-related stress.

Second, I would like to get my eating under control. I think I mentioned before that I use food to soothe myself. I really need to learn better coping skills and be satisfied with delayed gratification. Logically, I get it but my relationship with food is emotional.

Third, I would like to be more active. Last year I got a new bike but it’s been so rainy that, it hasn’t gotten much use lately. Until I am able to drag it out again, I need to get out at lunchtime and start walking. I want to carry my camera with me in case there are some photo ops while I’m outside. Exposing myself to daylight will also help with my mood.

Because my mood is down, my therapist suggested listing the reasons why and why not to do the things I’ve been struggling with. Hopefully, I can create some healthier habits, become more stable financially, and lose some excess weight. Wish me luck… I’ll need it.