Deep In the Heart of GISHWHES

It’s day two of GISHWHES (the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen) and although I cannot show you any pictures yet (but I’ll be doing a blog over that as soon as I am allowed!) I can tell you about this process and what it has meant for me.

Before I get into that though, let me thank all my new followers for stumbling upon my not-so-humble opinions and thank you all those who stick around. I am honestly delighted to have met/start meeting ya’ll! It’s so wonderful that I get to share my thoughts and have feedback! Along that line, I’ve not published SEVEN articles with The Mighty and I am so blown away that just a couple months ago I was dawdling along and now I’m making progress in such fantastic ways. Beyond thrilled. Honestly.

So in the process of these last two days I have: Painted a portrait, illustrated a fairy tale, made a birthday card, made three post cards, done something nice for someone, taped coupons to shelves at the store, and made origami out of toilet paper. In the next few days, I will be making a trailer park out of sand (think sand castles), graffiti-ing the US constitution somewhere (legally!) and participating in a virtual choir-just to name a few things!

And sure, there are plenty of things which are also asking for participation which I haven’t yet gotten to and I’ve got my hands in quite a few projects as we speak, but the real value here is what it is doing for my mental health. And that’s where I wanted to head with this conversation.

I balked at the idea of doing GISHWHES at first because I’m shy, my art skills aren’t Monet level, I don’t have a lot of money, blah blah blah. I got over my inhibitions and decided that I was going to do it. And now that I am here, I am ever so glad I did. These items have given me confidence to do things I otherwise would not. I can do all these really fun things under the guise of GISHWHES, without feeling like people will excessively judge me. And sure, they absolutely will judge me. But you know what? I wear my GISH-membership like a suit of armor. I’m proud I’m doing stuff that’s out of my norm and I’m taking chances-which is more than I think a lot of people can say.

What Pokemon Go is doing for obesity and depression/anxiety, GISHWHES is doing for similar things. I’ve read the accounts of so many other GISHers who talk about having PTSD, Depression, Anxiety, OCD and more doing their items and breaking out of their shells. It’s phenomenal, it’s encouraging and I think it’s a delightful way to make friends who have the same interests as you.

When this week is over and I can post the pictures and show the videos, I will discuss all this in a little more linear manner. Just know that it’s epic, it’s fantastic and I’m doing my very best to help my team win.

Every Word’s The Same

I have to say

There seems to be a miscommunication

I thought secrets were for the living

But the only secrets are kept in death

If every second lasted just a second longer

Maybe the trust I thought I deserved 

Would shatter before my eyes

Instead of behind my back

My shoulder blades itch, 

Could you move the knife up and to the left?

Or should I just fall on my face

The beauty of the fall is my disgrace

Is that your heartbeat

Or is it just the echo of a chest that’s hollow

Because you’ve been a tin man your whole life

And I guess that makes me the one without courage.

It takes a tribe to raise a kid, but 

Maybe it was a village of idiots.

You thought you were so clever, so sweet

That I could save you from your own disasters 

You should have looked for a parachute

Because this plane’s about to go down.

I never thought it’d come down to this

A thief and a liar, oh but the twist,

We are the same, you and I

Connected by the handcuffed scars on our wrist.

  (Photo from Pinterest!) 

Thankfulness, Day Seven

Today’s message isn’t an abstract, it is very much a real thing, which I use to get me through the day.

Today’s the day about coffee. 

  
My dad drinks (no kidding) almost two pots of coffee each and every day. I don’t try to compete with that, but coffee is a VERY large portion of my day. I usually drink a half a pot, but somedays just suck a little more and so my intake goes up. Coffee is the way I get through my twenties, as I got through my time in high school.

All kinds, thanks for asking. I haven’t quite gotten to the point where I’m comfortable taking my coffee black, but we’re almost there. If I’m making it myself, I have a drip machine and I brew anything from french to black silk to blonde. Then I add in some creamer and give it a stir. (I usually have 3 bottles of creamer in my fridge-all the big ones so I can have options). And if I’m going out, I’ll try something new each time. Going out doesn’t happen very often, so I try ot not over splurge, but you know it happens. I’m a Starbucks gold member (and have been since college started) but I really wish they would reform their standards about ethical consumption of products (A rant for another day). I almost tried the Tim Horton’s Pumpkin Spice Frappaccino, but the drizzle looked like chicken poop on top (I owned chickens-I would know) and I got grossed out. And at any rate, the coffee is so weak compared to how I drink mine, that the only reason I stop there is for baked goods. I deeply enjoy coffee houses.

Waking up is hard. My bed is comfortable, I enjoy sleep thoroughly. Pulling the sleepies from my eyes and yawning and stretching are all part of the daily routine. I pull my hair into a hair tie, watch the bits that aren’t long enough fall back down. And if it’s days like today, I stroll out to the kitchen and turn on my pot. While I wait, I gather my cup (which is actually a soup bowl with a handle (It’s decorated with little coffees, so it counts) and wgo back to my room to change into day clothes. By that time, coffee is mostly ready for a cup and so I pour the deep black goodness in and decide on a creamer. I love watching the little cloud of creamer turn the coffee colors. It’s what I know the coffee will do to me soon enough. I put my stir spoon on the sink, so I can come back for it and raise the cup to my lips and blow.The steam wafts over me, carrying the smell of my creamer (chocolate caramel lately). One sip and my eyes close in delight. Two sips and my brain turns on. By the time my coffee is cool enough to gulp, I’m already getting to work on whatever it is that I need to do today (like this blog, and my nanowrimo novel and the grocery list). One more cup will be savoured throughout the day as I work, maybe two more, and the rest will go in the fridge until I need it on Sunday.

I could write a whole book about how cofffee changes my life from the undead to fully functional member of society. A Zombie-Coffee Love Song.

The Evolution of Self: A Portrait

Years ago I had an art teacher tell me that I was no good at drawing, or coloring, or creativity. Those concepts carried into my time as a high schooler, making me avoid art class with a passion. I chose instead, to put all of my efforts into music-where I learned to play various instruments with adequate skill and sang my  heart out in groups and solo. It is the story of my music education that I will hold onto for another day. When I found myself in a visual art class one year, I went to the teacher and explained that “I sucked”. It wasn’t because I had been certified as an individual without artistic powers or that I wanted mercy in the expectations, but because someone had told the impressionable child-me that I was no good and I carried that with me as my own truth. My high school art teacher told me that I didn’t suck and kept after me to keep trying. When my first entry on a larger project was complimented by TWO art teachers, I was confused.

I thought I sucked.

And yet here I am, a number of years later still and I find both coloring and drawing to be comforting. My skills are unpolished and although I find it relaxing, I would not say I am an artist. If you ever wondered what a difference havig art in classrooms can make, please use this story. If you’ve ever wanted to know why I have the utmost respect for teachers with passion, use this story. And when you combine the two, you’ll understand why this is one of the life-defining moments in my life.

I struggle daily with how to define myself. The labels which have been handed to me do not present a complete picture, and there are not words for the other parts of me. As I explored this, I realized that I am in a transient state, changing, moving and shaping myself constantly. I have no labels, because I do not need them. I am an unfinished work of art, still being planned out by an artist who hasn’t decided where this project will go.

I look back on that moment in high school when I struggled with my identity. Perhaps it’s just high school, perhaps I was different. I didn’t know that by breaking down the walls of my childhood-the misconceptions that I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t worth investing time in-I would be doing the best thing for myself.

It has been 8 years since I stepped foot inside the high school I would graduate from. I was a junior when I took the art class that convinced me I didn’t have to be perfect to make something beautiful. 

I didn’t have to be perfect to make something beautiful.

So here I am, almost a decade after I began my transformation into the adult I will become. I haven’t finished changing, and in fact, I imagine I will be someone new before I finish. But the thing is, those words stuck with me. The teacher I had in high school is both someone whom I admire deeply and a source of great inspiration to me. She pushes me still to see the world in a different way than may be easy, or colorless. And so one of the things I’ve been working on this semester is exploring that change. What I came up with I’ve been putting into writing, becoming more assertive in what I need to say. What I don’t show people often is that I also put my messages into drawings. Sometimes they are tattoo sketches far too big and detailed to be reasonably priced, sometimes they are metaphorical and drawn in an utmost surreal context. But then there’s this piece.

The Evolution of Self: A Portrait

  I so named it that because I wanted to show how my change is both reflective of who I am now, and the product of who I was. I’d like to take a moment and explain what I feel the message is. You don’t have to like it, just consider it.

The basic content is: a waterfall, a phoenix and two sets of hands. That much, I gather you could figure out for yourself. The next layer are the words in the background: Transform, Brave, Love, Acceptance, Beautiful, Hope, Life, Forgiveness, Growth. There is the color scheme to consider, the level of detail (and shading) in the hands, the size of the hands and the “decoration” of the hands, as well as the way the background is set up. 

The nine words are the ones I had to learn the hard way. They are reflective of self, things that were not always easy for me to fully grasp.

The background grows darker, more assertive as it approaches the bigger hands, more concrete. The waterfall is closer to the small hands. The left side of the picture in general is lighter, less defined, more washed out. 

And the hands themselves. On the left, you have a child’s hands. They are reaching out for help, open and expressive. The nails are painted black, and the waterfall is suggestive of losing oneself, “going off the deep end” and trying to “keep my head above the water”. The hands themselves are lightly shaded, as though the owner is becoming invisible. And yet there are bright red marks on the arms-dashes, hope and love. I can promise you that this isn’t a shock-and awe piece, but a true to life representation of the way my arms looked spring of my freshman year. I don’t talk about it often, it isn’t a story too many people know, but now they will. Those two words were the things I wanted most out of life-hope of a better life and love that would heal all wounds. And yes, I really did cut them into my arms with diamond Os and the Es facing vein length. It is honest and brutal.

On the right, there is the me that I am now. older, stronger hands with imperfections (like crooked fingers) reaching out to the younger me, the me that is representative of the 2-3 million people who engage in self harm each year. The right side reaches out, without judgement, offering safety and hope and love to those without. The nails are blue and a silver wedding band is there. But if you look closely, the scars are still there, silent reminders that what was done cannot be undone, but can make you stronger. 

In the end, it was never about being right or being wrong. It was always about being the person who broke free from their shell to embrace something new. I may not be perfect, but I made something beautiful: a new life. And that is the true evolution. Like a phoenix, I took my failures and created brilliance. I cannot wait to see what comes next.