The Woman in the Mirror 

I’ve had self-esteem issues for as long as I can remember.

When I was very little, I had no worries. I was a total tomboy, who didn’t care what other people thought of me. I was happier dressed in clothes I could climb trees & get muddy in. And often did just those very things. I climbed up & down a cliff behind our house on a daily basis, snagging my hair on tree branches, and chewed my nails down to the quick, making my mom lament of me ever being a “girly girl”. 

She has often told stories about how she would wait until we were literally on our way out the door for church to get me in my dress, or I’d get something on it.
But, little girls grow up, and as they do, they eventually start to care about how others see them.

I was no different.

By the time I hit 6th grade, I cared about how I was perceived by my peers, as well as by adults. 

Alas, also by this time, we’d moved from Iowa, where I had friends, to a small town in North Dakota, where… not only did I know no one, but I was a complete outsider.

I was, and still am, a nerd. I read a lot, was good at school, & got good grades.  I wasn’t a troublemaker. I’m not good at sports (my nickname in volleyball was “jello-wrists”, no joke) except for horseback riding, and our small town lived for its sports. I wasn’t considered pretty enough to garner the “pretty new girl” attention, & I didn’t have the “right” last name. 

All of these things pretty much signed my social death warrant there.

In high school, at 5’7″, 125-130lbs, I was considered the “fat girl”.

I smiled here because I knew it was almost over. 

My saving grace through high school, was that my best friend had faith in me. She was a total extrovert, who moved to our town when we were in the 8th grade. She was good at sports, & was/is gorgeous & skinny. And she believed in my writing.

She sort of adopted me, & pulled me out of my shell, got me to leave our small town, & we went on adventures to other towns where we fit in much better, & made our own fun.

Even with that, I still stood in the shadows. I was always – “Oh, you’re S’s friend, right?” 

*sigh* yes, I’m her friend. 

I did make some friends of my own, separate from her, we did each gave our own groups that we’d hang out with, occasionally. And I did have boyfriends from those other towns that had no connection to her.

But I never felt as though I was enough.

Every relationship I’ve had has ended with me feeling as though I wasn’t enough for the other person. I always felt as though I was lacking, somehow, because of how things ended. Every. Single. One.

I’ve never really, truly, felt good enough.
And that includes my writing.

I’ve had certain friends tell me for years that I should write a book. That my words are worth more, that they have value.

I’ve always kind of just pooh-poohed the notion, telling them that I write my blog for me, to get the words out of my head.

After all, friends & family are supposed to say nice things to you, right? They’re supposed to back you up no matter what, right? Even if it’s trash?

Nephew… You live too far away to smack me on the back of the head right now, so sit back down.

I love you.

And I’m not done talking yet.

Because right now, I’m standing on the edge of a cliff.

I’m terrified – and exhilarated – and about ready to puke – all at the same time.

Because… I’m taking a leap of faith, & I’m going to try to build a pair of wings on my way down.

A little over a week ago, someone that I’ve admired & respected from a distance for a long time, but who has had zero idea that I existed, contacted me. 

We started talking, & in the course of becoming friends, I introduced this person to my blog. They liked my writing, & started telling me that I should write a book. 

I told them to talk to my Nephew, because it sounded like an echo.

My self-esteem still needs work – I know this.

I still look for acceptance & approval from others on my work, whether it’s my writing, my crafts, my remodeling I’m doing on my house. I’m never sure that what I’m doing is good enough, and I flounder in indecision about the choices I make unless I get feedback from people I trust.

I don’t know if it’s just a Gemini thing, or just a Jen thing… 

Even today, when I spoke to one of my coworkers about the possibility of me writing a book, she called me crazy. And I immediately started to doubt myself.

It’s easier to believe the bad stuff.

The woman in the mirror every morning looks at me with bleary, disbelieving eyes.

The woman in the mirror at night usually tells me it’ll be better tomorrow.

I’m hoping there’s a bad ass bitch hanging around somewhere in the background who’ll kick both their asses, smash the mirror, & yank me up by my collar one of these days.

Till then… I’ll be shoveling sand.

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No Lightning…But Kinda Pissed

First off – let me say that most of today was just fine. That’s why I’m only kinda pissed.

I went to my hometown during the all-school reunion festivities today, & made my first stop my parent’s house. Because, of course, I did! I’m a good daughter!

Dad was out of town, so it was just Mom and me, & we ended up wandering the town to look for Dwight Knuth, the gentleman who wrote his autobiography, & featured one of my blog posts in it. We met up with him at the school, & talked to him for a bit. It was really, very nice & he had to have a hug from us both when we parted.

Then.

We went in search of the shadow box my dad built for the school which holds my sculpture of Horton & the book, Horton Hatches an Egg, which I mentioned features my hometown in it.

See the teeny little plaque at the bottom?

Know what it says?

“Donated by the Class of 2015”.

#&#%@$@%$+$+%((#!@!!?#-#-@!

WHAT!?!

Nothing, and I repeat…Nothing about how my DAD built that wooden box FROM SCRATCH… Nothing about how a member of the Class of 1988 created the sculpture.

Nothing about the hours of time it took my dad to handcraft each piece of this shadow box. The measuring, sanding, staining -painstaking work that he put into this piece, making sure that each shelf fit perfectly into the enclosure, and would hold up over the years. 

This is not a “company-made” piece…this is a hand made, one-of-a-kind piece of artwork. 

But no one knows that, because my dad is too humble to ever push himself forward in that manner. He’ll never tell anyone about the work he put into it.

Just that the Class of 2015 Donated it.

Ungrateful little shits.

Pisses me right the hell off.

Did I get a thank you?

From my Dad, yes.

From the Class of 2015? I got fuck all.

Anyway…

After that, Mom & I blew that popsicle stand & went downtown to have lunch, retreating back to their place afterwards.

I did stick around long enough to hit the “street dance” too… (Nobody was really dancing, more like milling around the street, drinking & listening to a band play really loudly)

I did end up running into some classmates, & had fun talking to them, catching up with where they are, what they’ve been doing, how old we’re all feeling anymore…

And before I knew it, it was almost 11pm, & I had to get the hell out of Dodge. I hate driving the highways so late at night, after hitting a deer a few years back – it makes you a bit jumpy & skittish while driving alone.

So, I’m home, safe. I didn’t smite the town with lightning…although I’d like to smack some little ungrateful wretches from the Class of 2015…

And I scored some homemade strawberry jam out of Mom’s freezer…so…definite win.

So, no lightning, but still kinda pissed.

Fear, Blessings & Change

There are days when I fear.

I think about the fact that I’m soon going to be 47, and that I’m in the upper-middle portion of my life. I’ve had a hysterectomy, so, no more children, which is both a sadness and a blessing. There will be no more warm little bundles combining my DNA with someone else’s. But, then, there will also never be anymore sleepless nights of feedings, diapers & the stresses of teenage years. I’ve come to accept this, & I am not only Ok with it, I’m happy that part of my life has passed me by.

But, there are also negatives that have come with the maturation process.

I have osteoarthritis, mainly in my hands and wrists, & over the last few months, it has come to be a large focus for me.

My hands play such a vital role in my life, and I fear what this change will bring to me.

My job consists of working with computers and files. I type…all day long. The arthritis has restricted me in many ways, making my job a lot more difficult. I have trouble handling heavy files, as they put a lot of pressure on my inflamed finger joints, and the medicines I take for it don’t completely mitigate that pain. Typing all day puts stresses on my hands that I never thought would be this complex and painful, but I have learned a lot about my limits & my capabilities, including my tolerances for pain. 

And then… There’s my art.



Things like these take a LOT of hand-work. I twist wires with the help of jewelry pliers & locking wrenches, but the bulk of the work is done by MY hands. On days when the barometer fucks with my arthritis, it can go from uncomfortable, shifting to painful & excruciating.

How can I continue to do what I love, when it can cause so much pain? 

How can I express my visions, my imagination, my passion, when I can’t manipulate the medium I work through without crippling my tools – my hands?

This is my fear…

That the arthritis will steal my gift.

That it will destroy something I love…my art. 

And I will be left without it’s comfort.

Where is the blessing in this change?

…….I continue to search…..

Catching Up, Letting Go, & Shoveling Through

Got into an argument on the internet, today. 

Yeah, I know, it’s pointless, irritating & inflammatory to argue with strangers on the internet…but he pissed me off. 

It was in a pagan group, & he was busily invalidating people’s beliefs, so I spoke up & told him off. 

Politely, and with facts.

The subject was Wicca, & he was running his fingers, telling everyone that the only TRUE Wiccan was HIS type of Wiccan.

I pointed out to him that there are many valid paths, not just his, & he got condescending…which, you know, just calms me right down, because who doesn’t like being talked down to?

When I pointed out to him that Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, etc., were just as Christian as the Catholics, even though they’d split from the Holy Roman Catholic Church years ago, he totally ignored that, & spouted that I just don’t understand what true initiation is.

Someone get him some Kool-Aid, wouldja? Jim Jones wants to visit with him.

So, I dropped the mic on the conversation & left the thread. 

Let it go. Trolls shouldn’t be fed, I wasn’t going to get him to understand that he’s just as bad as the fundie Xtians who think all of us Pagans are going to hell, & I just get all riled up with no resolution.

Time to do something a little more constructive.

Like baking cookies. Chocolate chip are all baked & ready to go on Monday. Snickerdoodles are waiting to be mixed next, & they go in the fridge overnight, so I need to get on that.

I also need to shovel my front sidewalk, but that’s not happening anymore to right. Maybe tomorrow…maybe I’ll wait till my neighbor decides he’s sick of looking at it & clears it for me with his 4-wheeler…

I also need to get busy on Yule gifts & a custom Xmas order my mom wants for a family member.  Trees…trees, trees, lots of little wire trees. Nothing I Can show you till  after the holiday season, since they’re all going to be gifts, but I will post pictures then.

Annnd, I’m almost done painting inside my house for now. The living room & dining room/office/gym/ferretarium are painted, & most of the hallway is finished, with only the trim at ceiling & floor, & around doors is left. Touchups, really, then I’m done for now. I’ve got some demolition to do in the kitchen before I can paint in there.  I’ll post pictures of the finished painting as soon as it’s all done. I’m rather proud of having done it by myself. I love the soft grey color that seems to shift throughout the day with how the light hits it. Sometimes it’s just grey, sometimes it looks more blue, sometimes more lavender, but always clean, soft, & comforting. 

There, now you’re caught up. 

Time to go mix cookies…

Up and At ‘Em…

So, I got up and got busy.

This morning started very slowly, and I wasn’t feeling my best, so I decided to put in some extra effort on myself, first, to make me feel better.

Makeup, hair, & a nice shirt with jeans made me feel more like doing, so, I got busy.

Vacuuming, mopping, dusting, dishes, & moving some furniture later, and I’m doing better.  

Maybe it was the mindless housekeeping, maybe it was forcing myself to focus on each task as I went about them, and not being able to linger on the million things that’ve been swirling through my brain…I’m not sure.  

It helped.

So, tomorrow, I’ll be doing more of the similar. Laundry, kitchen cleaning, & a short trip to the office for some handywork. 

And this evening?

Crafting….and an adult beverage. 

I might end up with some funky looking crafts, but hey! It’s all art, right?

Up and at ’em, Chickie.

*update* I have also now roasted a turkey breast & made chocolate chip cookie dough, which is currently chilling in the fridge, so I can bake them tomorrow.  I’d better sleep like a rock, tonight.

Busywork

Yesterday was a busy day, between cleaning, gardening & artwork.

But here’s what I finished…

I sculpted these pumpkins, some even have green leaves & squirrelly stem pieces. This was prior to baking.

This pic is a little blurry, but it shows how I work on my sculpting. Tinfoil keeps the sculpey from sticking to my wooden TV tray. The black lump is sculpey I was working with at the time.

Here are all the finished pieces. 2 witch’s hats, 2 black cats, a handful of punkins, & even a bat on a wire.  It’s the first time I’ve tried making a bat out of sculpey, & let me say, it wasn’t easy. Such tiny fiddly details…

Anyway, that’s the extent of my accomplishments yesterday.  These sculptures took me approximately 3 hours, all told. And they baked up in 10 minutes.  

Now, I just have to sand them down, to take off any rough edges, paint the final details (face markings on the punkins, eyes on the cats), & varnish them all to protect.

I also in worked on a couple of smaller trees that I’m making for gifts, but neither one is finished, so, no pictures yet.

But it does feel good to get back into my artwork. 

DP- Burn

Here’s my contribution to the Daily Prompt…for the first time.

I am impatient, I know this.  For some things in my life, I fume and yearn, I struggle and strain. And I burn.

I strive towards my desired goal, straining at any harness, any obstacle in my way. I curse, loudly and often, when impeded.

Some call this ambition, some greed. Some merely call it impatience or impetuousness.

I call it passion.

It drives me as an artist, pushing me to seek higher forms in my creativity. It goads me into taking chances with the medium I use. And, sometimes it works.

Sometimes it fails.

It seduces me in my life, luring me into taking chances with relationships, knowing full well the cost I’ll end up paying. I cannot shake the siren’s song…the possibility of heart’s warmth, of that overwhelming emotion…the hope for love, I seek the heat, the spark, the flash.

Sometimes this passion for experience, this yearning towards the light ahead…

Lures me into the flames.

And I burn.

There is pain, pain I’ve felt many times before, pain I will feel again. Even though life has sought to teach me caution, I cannot ignore the flames.

And I burn.

And as the ashes settle into new forms, dusty & forgotten by those around-

I rise again.

Because I’m a fucking phoenix.

I live to burn.