Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Truth about "Cabin Fever"

Cop'er & i were discussing the whole concept of "cabin fever" after he came downstairs & loudly proclaimed to be "bored." Okay, for one thing, it was 10:15pm... a little late to be worried about that. I mean, what's the likelihood he's going to find something to do & not go to bed in a few hours???

But the most interesting thought was... why are we victims of 'cabin fever' when we KNOW we can't get away (technically, we could, but we don't want to bother with all it entails); on the flip side, days when we don't have to go anyway and CHOOSE to stay inside all day is something different.

Obviously, my scientific explanation is going to be --- it’s all in our heads.

As mi padre liked to say many times when I was younger—there’s nothing wrong with you. It’s all in your head.

I have suffered from the same problem today though. I have been happy staying in & not having to strap on all the warm weather gear one could wear and still move (think Michelin man). Not to mention, it’s always more than that—you have to take those cold wet clothes off & put them somewhere, all the while not tracking snow in the house, causing additional work of cleaning up the melted snow puddles. If you ask me, it’s much better to look than to participate in dealing with it.

We have 3 small dogs & they HATE going out in the rain, so you can imagine what they think of snow. With rain it’s just that wet stuff falling on top of them, stepping in puddles & that smell that emanates from them (wait, maybe that’s MY dislike). With the snow, especially at these depths (10-12”), they get lost—literally. Our smallest, O-town, he’s hidden in this snow. Not only does he shiver like a leaf on a tree, but it’s like he’s in a whiteout. Poor guy.

Before the last big snow we got (around 14-16” in December), I had the brilliant idea to make a ‘pee hut.’ Sure, laugh all you want, but it worked! We pulled an outside table up close to the garage door & covered it with a tarp. It created a cover on the ground with no snow & a shield so the snow wouldn’t blow in. Odd as it looked and as picky as these dogs are, I was thrilled to see the first introduction to it was a success! They went in without any problem, did their business & were ready to come back in & warm up.

With news of this impending snow on the horizon, we decided to replicate the pee hut for another round. Unfortunately, though they are still using the hut, they aren’t as inclined to go outside… I think it has something to do with the 19-degrees it is outside. Hey, can’t say that I blame them. Not sure I want to leave my warm home, go outside with no shoes, coat or hat & squat near the cold ground in 19-degrees either!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New Toys are Fun!

Some say i really didn't need it... I didn't listen to them. I jumped on it. I bought a new camera. That shiny new Nikon D-3000 is ALL MINE. This camera is just a prop for my New Year's Resolution (see my last entry for more info). I am going to, if it kills me, be more creative! I have a minor in photography - it's time to dust off those skills & see what I'm made off.

I keep seeing all these gorgeous pictures on people's blogs - full of color, life & depth of field. For those of you who don't know "depth of field," that would be when your photo  has a clear subject and a blurry background or vice versa. You just can't get that with a point & shoot, so I'm moving up in the world to a DSLR (digital single lens reflex).

I guess technically this is a move back up to a SLR. After all, i used one in college - it's how i learned to shoot and create with a camera. I didn't realize how much i missed it until i saw what other people were doing. I'm sure that's some sort of jealousy, right?? Or maybe it's the knowledge that i KNOW i can do it! I can take those pics too! I can shoot something other than what everyone else out there with a point & shoot can do!

So, i'm practicing... relearning what 'aperture', 'shutter speed', 'f-stop' -- the list goes on -- means.
i don't have too many willing subjects, so i have to MAKE people sit for a second. This would be Cop'er, Sister Fantanimal and nephew Ry-guy.

Then we have those models who won't sit still, won't keep their eyes open, won't sit, lay, roll over or beg.


Lil' Guy


Then we have an even more impossible grouping of models...


Roxy Ann

Eventually I tired of chasing these guys around the house. They were not having any parts of this new "toy" & wanted the flashing light to stop blinding them. Hey, that's fine... I'll find other things to shoot.

See... SOME things don't mind when i make them the center of my attention.

I won't lie... there are about 100 other images that i didn't post in this blog, but a girl's gotta start somewhere, right? I'm getting a little better, dusting the cobwebs off and exercising my pointer finger.

I have a feeling this toy is going to be around for a while.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

New Year's "Resolution"

I am, by degree and overall skillset, a designer and crafty person. Before i went to college for art, i loved drawing & creating things. But college is where i fell in love with it.

I always knew i wanted to do something in the art field, so applied to VCU. For those of you who don't know, you have to submit a portfolio to even be accepted to their art program (as is the case for most art schools). Talk about stressful! It's a lot for a teenager to handle, thinking that something they drew would be the reason they did or didn't get into college. Needless to say, i got in & the next 4 years were history.

For the first time, i found myself surrounded by like-minded, creative people who didn't think about academics, but how the figure moved on the paper, how to capture an expression on film, etc. It was the best time of my life. I would go back & do it all over again in a heartbeat (I can't say the same of high school!). I remember feeling so absorbed in my creative self - everything was art back then. I lived & breathed whatever projects and skills we were working on in class; i stayed up many long hours just to "get it right."

Outside of college, i have had fewer jobs that employ my real creative side & though it's not something i regret, it's something that i miss. I miss the critique of peers - those who knew what good design was. I miss the surge of creativity that has to be captured RIGHT THEN. I miss being able to look back & see what i created.

I haven't completely forgotten my creative roots, i've just had to harness them in & use that energy for other things. I scrapbook now, still draw on occasion, take photos, do graphic design, write stories and poetry, etc. But i long for the days when i could just sit down & let whatever was in me flow out.

Just recently i decided that i was going to make a new year's resolution and it was going to be one i stuck to. It wasn't the typical "lose weight" (which is something i need to do) or "save more money" (another something to do) or "spend more time with friends & family" (this is something we all should do)... this year, the resolution was to do something creative - write, draw, paint, take photos - once a week. The key to this success is that it had to be something tangible. At the end of 2010 i have to be able to look back and see 52 creative endeavors i have taken on AND COMPLETED this year. I have already started & i'm actually excited about holding myself to this resolution.

I'm hoping this opens up that part of me that has gone a little dormant over the seasons... i'm looking for the true creative me to emerge - like the proverbial butterfly from its cocoon - ready to see the world in a new array of colors and images.

ahhhh... done for the day

I won't lie - sometimes technology is a real pain in the... you know where. So, for today, i will just be happy with the new title bar i created. I'm not really supposed to be working on this - i have a list of things to do, but it was soooo plain compared to some of the other exciting blogs i have come across. It was a little embarrassing, since i'm a graphic designer & all!

Let's just call this a good start...

Under Construction

Ok, so technically this blog was already here, so it was 'constructed.' However, i am making some changes... if you come across here & notice strange goings on, don't fret. Just a little facelift. When it's done, i'm hoping for something magical - even if only i can apprciate it!

See you soon!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Politics - 2 sides to every story

Sometimes it's really hard living with a person of differing political views. (Let's call him "Cop’er” from this point on). For example, I was discussing the utterly ridiculous "Letter to the Editor" in our local community newspaper. You know the kind—Obama is the cause of all the problems the US has, has ever had, will ever have. I asked Cop’er what EXACTLY Obama did to incur the wrath of the overzealous Obama-hater.

Search as he might, Cop’er couldn’t come up with anything to answer the question at hand, but as the conversation continued, he decided he too would put the blame on Obama. Then came the constant argument amongst this couple—my Presidential vote.

Hey—I am entitled to my beliefs, same as he is, right?

By the way, referring to all people who voted for Obama as “idiots” does not endear you, Cop’er, to this little lady. I happened to have selected my candidate based on my feelings, my research & what I wanted for this country. To say he has failed already I don’t believe is fair. He’s had a year… 365 days to turn around a mess that he largely inherited.

Look I’m not saying he hasn’t added to some of the debt, he has. Have I agreed with every decision he’s made? No. But I am willing to give him a little time to find the best solution for the ills that trouble our country.

What I am really tired of is the overdone, out-of-control, rumor-fueled talk that only ends with constant Democrat vs Republican debating. I know nothing has changed & this kind of side-taking isn’t something new. However, I really feel that this ‘taking sides’ is at a whole new level… and it’s not good, in my opinion. Pointing fingers, name calling—really, what grade are we all in? What does this show our kids—the next generation of voters? What we should be teaching these up-and-coming decision-makers is how to research their candidate, how to become passionate about something THEY care about, not what they have been told from the ‘old guard’ about politics and how to make a decision that’s not based on pressure from the masses.

Until “Republican” & “Democrat” are no longer what defines the candidate, we likely will never find the right fit for the leader of our country.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

So Long 2009... Hello 2010

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I am happy to see 2009 fade into the distance. It was a bittersweet year for my family—celebrating births & mourning losses. Some of those losses are still being mourned.

For those of you who don’t know, I suffered 2 miscarriages in 2009. One, early in the year, after finding out I was pregnant right before Christmas 2008; the 2nd, shortly after discovering I was pregnant again in August.

You know how they say each pregnancy is different? I think the same can be said for miscarriages. With the 1st one, we were told there was no heartbeat in our first ultrasound appointment. It was devastating from the standpoint that I never went to the ‘what if something’s wrong’ place. Why would I? No one else in my family had problems. The 2nd miscarriage was completely different—from finding out I was pregnant to when it happened. Aaron, I & 2 other people were the only ones who knew what was going on. I felt both prepared & completely unprepared to deal with it.

Miscarriage is one of those things similar to death in that people just don’t know what to say, how to act, what’s appropriate or inappropriate. I completely understand that—I frequently feel inadequate with how to help ease someone else’s pain. Sometimes you just can’t do anything & all that’s left is to listen.

When I had the first miscarriage, I was shocked by the news, but knew how common miscarriages were with first pregnancies (even if I didn’t think it applied to me). When I had the second miscarriage, it really threw me. Even though I knew what was happening, there was disbelief. If I didn’t think I would have a miscarriage with the first pregnancy, thinking I would have one with the second was even further from my mind. It really felt like a betrayal of my own body.

I considered many things at that time—maybe it wasn’t meant to be; maybe I waited too long; maybe there was something wrong with me; maybe it was a sign; maybe it was something God was telling me & I needed to figure out. Wouldn’t you know that I never figured out an answer!

I told people I was ‘ok’ when they asked. I don’t know if that was my shield or my way of making everyone think it was true so they wouldn’t worry about me. On the inside, it was difficult & the second time around really hit much harder. And the unfortunate timing was that it happened to be in the midst of a baby boom with friends & family close to me. I couldn’t turn anywhere without someone having a baby or announcing being pregnant.

I have this feeling that people think after the miscarriage is over, it’s just that, over. Time to move on. Nothing you can do about it. But what they fail to remember is that pregnancy, however brief, is the start of a dream. That’s a life beginning & no matter how you try to not think about it, you start to imagine what it will be like ‘when.’

I tried, I did, to put on a happy face, but there came a time when I just had to say—you know what? I can’t go. I can’t be around another happy mother with their baby right now. I bowed out of get-togethers knowing I wouldn’t be good company. I started to think there was really something wrong with me—that I was selfish & couldn’t celebrate the good news of others.

The truth is I don’t think I’ve been a big celebrator of babies/births. Sure, they are cute & say funny things when they get older, but they have always been just outside my line of sight. I either didn’t want any or wasn’t ready for any. I was perfectly fine with not having someone else to be responsible for. Some might take my standoffishness as not caring and that’s simply not true.

I joined a Grief & Loss group for those who have had miscarriages. Being one of many in that group, I realized that I didn’t have unique feelings. I wasn’t the only one who thought, all of the sudden, the world had become baby-centered. I wasn’t the only one who felt as though their body betrayed them. I wasn’t the only one who has taken several months to get to a point where they could be around other babies & not feel awkward, flashing back to thoughts of “what might have been.”

There’s a quote I ran across many years ago that really speaks to me and I think it’s something we should all consider when we have thoughts about how other people act:

“Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something.” (~Proverb)

If I were to sit down & talk to you, you’d know I feel this way—I am afraid of something, love something & have lost something. That’s what life is about, isn’t it.

Am I 100% good with things now? No. But it’s getting easier. I have some really great friends who have let me talk when I need, no matter how much, about my feelings and thoughts. It’s been what I’ve needed.