Digital Art: Pocket Full of Happy

Sometimes our own little world is not very happy. Bad stuff happens. Pets die. Friends disappoint us. Parents get old and sick and spend their remaining months or years in a nursing home.

Having battled depression most of my life, I like being around happy people and creating happy stuff. I hope my creations put a smile on your face. As always, they are free for you to use. Click on any picture to enlarge.

 

Be Still and Listen

I raised the windows in the living room, poured a cup of coffee and snuggled in my favorite chair. The one that glides and swivels so I can keep busy while I’m sitting and doing nothing. The one that Pepper loves when she curls on my lap and I rock her to sleep. The one where I sit and think and dream and talk to God.

So, as I sat gazing out the window, feeling the breeze, listening to the wind chimes, and watching the salamander skittering across the porch rail, God whispered,

“Stop pushing so hard and trying to fix everything. Stop fretting about getting old. Stop worrying about your husband’s diabetes. Stop complaining because you can’t do things you did ten years ago. Just keep trusting me. I have everything under control. I will never let you down.”

Yeah. God whispered that to me this morning through the gentle breeze, the tinkling wind chimes, and the salamander skittering across the porch rail.

I Want More of This and Less of That

I got a makeover today. I asked the makeup artist to make my eyes look bigger, my nose to look smaller, and my lips to look fuller.

Yeah, I’m just clowning around. But how many of us are never satisfied with our looks? As a kid, I used to sit for hours drawing before and after pictures of myself because I never liked what I saw in the mirror: freckles splattered all over my face, eyebrows and eyelashes you couldn’t see with the naked eye, and straight, stubborn red hair. And I was skinny. Like, Olive Oyl skinny. My clothes looked better on the coat hanger than they looked on me.

But, I wasn’t alone in my self-loathing world. My best friend was so self-conscious of her weight that it was like coaxing a mule to get her to poke her head out the door. Another friend hated her feet and nose and said they were the two ugliest body parts ever. And then there was the boob thing. They were either too big, too little, or non-existent. Guess where I fit in.

It’s a shame that many of us go through life feeling “less than” for whatever reason. Why do we do that? What is so awful about that body part we don’t like? So awful that we feel we belong in a zoo; or even worse, a freak show. So awful that many have spent thousands of dollars to fix only to end up broke and just as dissatisfied as ever.

Ken and Barbie didn’t help much. And neither did models and movie stars with their dazzling eyes, flawless skin, and perfect bodies. The unspoken message was and still is, what you see is what you should look like. And if you don’t, you might as well wear a bag over your head.

And we believe it!

I fell into that deep dark hole of believing that people didn’t like me because I was ugly. The truth is, I didn’t like myself because I believed I was ugly. I believed that from head to toe something was really wrong with me. I mean, really! Other girls my age had boobs. Why couldn’t I?

According to guys, boobs were way better than brains. I grew up with brothers, I know. They would laugh and tell me I was a pirates dream because I had a sunken chest. And they hid Playboy books under their mattresses and google-eyed every girl who bounced like a pair of basketballs when she walked.

So yeah. I got the message loud and clear. If you don’t have boobs you might as well be dead.

While laying in the sun one day, my bathing suit stuffed with toilet paper, I felt completely hopeless of ever looking like a real girl. But I believed in prayer. I even believed in miracles. So I prayed, “Lord. Please give me some boobs!”

Today, I’m so thankful God didn’t give me what I asked for. And I’m thankful that I learned to love myself as I am. If we can’t love and accept ourselves, how can we possibly love and accept others? If all we see when we look at someone is their physical appearance then we’re not seeing that person at all. There’s so much more to a book than its cover. You have to open it. You have to read it. Only then can you know and appreciate what it’s all about.

So I don’t care what you look like. I don’t care what color your skin is. I don’t care if you walk with a limp, stutter when you talk if you’re gay or straight or have tattoos and piercings from head to toe. I care about your heart. And I judge whether I want you as my friend by what’s in your heart.

It’s been a long, hard journey, this self-discovery thing. A journey that most of us have traveled. And until we can realize that there is no “perfect” in this world we’ll never end that torturous journey. We’ll never be happy with ourselves. We’ll never dig deep inside ourselves to see what really makes us tick. We’ll die wishing we could be like someone else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A House Without a Dog is Not a Home

When Rascal, our handsome, Australian Shepard mix of eight years died, he took part of us with him. The grief was so unbearable that I never wanted another dog to wrap my heart around only to have it ripped apart.

But hubby couldn’t stop grieving and I couldn’t stand seeing him suffer. So, for his birthday, we paid a visit to the animal shelter, and there she was, curled up in a big cage on a skimpy blanket on that cold cement floor frightened and all alone.

Hubby fell in love.

I didn’t. She wasn’t Rascal.

So we kept looking.

No Rascal anywhere.

But hubby wasn’t looking for Rascal and kept dragging me back to that pitiful, scrawny, long-legged Greyhound mix curled up in that dreary cage. I guess I’m a sucker for pitiful, so we adopted her.

That was three years ago. Yep! Three years of wanting to wring her neck for chewing up her bed, and my pillows, and my couch; things Rascal NEVER did. Three years of her hyperactive personality, her jumping and jerking around when we tried petting her. Three years of trying to stop comparing her to Rascal.

Then a year ago Pepper came into our lives. Sweet, dainty, loving little Pepper. She was more dead than alive after being abandoned along with fifteen other dogs. She was so skinny I could barely feel her when she jumped on my lap. Then she licked my face, pierced my soul with those big brown eyes, and that did it. We bundled her up and took her home, hoping and praying Bella would approve.

It was love at first sight. Kindred spirits.

Having two dogs at one time in the house is more than challenging. It’s insane! Pepper loves jumping on the table, and countertops. Heck, she just loves jumping! The higher the better. Now Bella thinks she can jump that high, too. And Pepper is a chewer. Bella stopped until Pepper came along. And she was potty trained till Pepper came along. She was getting more settled till Pepper came along. We had to potty train her all over again. And Bella poops and pees like a cow. So yeah. I was tempted to haul them both off to the animal shelter. But, you already know what a sucker I am for pitiful.

In spite of all their frustrating antics, they are beautiful, loving dogs. They love each other and can hardly stand to be apart. And they love us and children and whoever comes to visit. Most of all, they bring us joy and happiness and a ton of laughter. And when I think where they might be today had we not rescued them, I want to cry

Just Lock Me Up and Throw Away the Key!

I sat on the edge of the sterile, paper-lined examining table, laughing at my husband’s silly jokes, my mind racing like a team of runaway horses. My husband accuses me of never being able to sit still for five minutes without jumping up and doing something.

A brief knock at the door and the doctor walks in, shaking his head and rolling his eyes playfully. Laughing nervously, I said, “Yeah, I know. Just cut off my head and be done with it!”

He sits in the chair across the room, crosses his long legs and patiently begins his interrogation. I look at my husband for comfort, wishing we were at the beach or the Bahamas; anyplace but here.

Finally, satisfied that I had answered all his perplexing questions accurately, he has a diagnosis: Borderline Personality Disorder.

Great! Not only do I feel crazy, I am crazy!

Suddenly, it all started making sense, though, why my brothers called me Sybil, why the rollercoaster of high’s and low’s, the crying spells, the anger and rage, the gnawing, gut-wrenching feeling that something is wrong with me. No normal person flies into a rage over a squeaky chair or broken vase. And certainly, no normal person feels like a terrorist lives inside them, setting off bombs and blowing up their insides and sense of reality their entire life.

No wonder I was more wildcat than my mother could handle. We were like two live wires striking against each other creating more sparks than either of us could handle. She didn’t understand me and I didn’t understand her, yet, we were both the same.

So, I’m sitting there thinking, now what. Am I stuck like this? Do I just live out the rest of my days feeling guilty because of who I am, hating myself because no matter how hard I try I can’t get my act together? Give me a break, I’m old. I’m running out of time!

Other than gaining an ounce of wisdom and a sliver of understanding, I’m no better off now than I was before sitting in the doctor’s office. I’ll take the medicine like he prescribed and just keep doing the best I can. Since I can’t tame the beast within I’ll keep avoiding people, places, and things that make it roar the loudest. I’ll try to stop cleaning my house all night long and pushing myself to the nth degree in everything I do. I’ll try giving myself permission to screw up and work on forgiving the stupid things I do and say.

But, do you have an inkling how hard that is? People with mental disorders feel they have to be punished; purged from their abominable sins to be allowed back into the human race. They have to work twice as hard to receive half the benefit of “normal” people. We have to hide who we really are, don’t dare show the world our ugly side. Keep it stuffed way down deep and never, ever let that stinking sewage rise to the surface and erupt. Do you see the dilemma? do you feel the pain and desperation of just wanting to be okay?

Pretending became a way of life for me, and how I hate pretending! It goes against the grain of who I really am. So many times I wished I could go shopping for a new brain that functioned with love and peace and joy, was more positive and happy and full of fresh ideas and creations. A brand new brain without a junkyard dog tied to it.

I realize that no one is perfect. No one is “normal”. We live in a fallen world of brokenness, none of us escapes the trials and tears and long, lonely nights. We all have our own battles to fight. We all want to win.

So, I sit here today, feeling anxious as usual, worrying about this and that and hoping the medicine will kick in before I die. But, I am thankful for my life, the things I’ve gone through and the wisdom I’ve gained in the process. I’m thankful that God chose me to live this life with its many challenges so that I can better understand others going through similar circumstances. I’m thankful that I don’t have to be “normal” for God to love me and use me for His purpose. I’m thankful that I have sense enough to know that only God can put me back together again. All I have to do is trust Him.

Borderline Personality Disorder | Learn About This Disorder | rtor.org‎

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Week Down

My Four-Legged Babies

It’s 2:10 pm and hubby and both dogs are still sound asleep. I thought of waking them, but it’s so peaceful and quiet that I changed my mind.

Bella and Pepper have been driving me nuts! For three years, Bella was the only child; potty trained, and over her chewing the furniture and pillows stage. But, after rescuing Pepper a year ago, our house hasn’t been the same. Oh, the couple loves each other, that’s for sure. But, even as sweet and gentle and dainty and loving as Pepper is, she brings out the worst in Bella; our hyperactive-tough-as-pig iron problem child. She’s more hyper, more mouthy, and has reverted back to peeing and pooping on the floor as if to say, “Pepper does it, so I can too!” Oh, and Bella’s a digger. She’s dug holes she can stick her big head into all over the backyard! And she thinks she’s a lap dog, now. A lap dog that takes up three and a half laps to sprawl on. I feel like I’m raising two kids instead of two dogs.

Well, Pepper and Bella are separated for now. Pepper was spayed Tuesday and hubby brought her home yesterday saying she has to be kept quiet for two weeks. That means two weeks of no jumping up and down like a kangaroo, and wrestling Bella to the floor and taking off with her chew toy. Two weeks of no racing Bella to their food bowl, and dancing around like a ballerina. She’s either in her crate or Bella’s in hers.

And I have to say, It’s the calmest and least frustrated I have felt in months. Hubby has a ton of tolerance, I have NONE! So yeah. I’m letting them all sleep as long as they want to today . . . and maybe tomorrow and the next day as well!

Twas’ a Few Days before Christmas

Twas’ a few days before Christmas and there was nary a tree. No stockings were hung by the chimney with care, no presents, no decorations; no sign of Christmas anywhere. At least, not in our house. Not that we didn’t want to decorate and go shopping and at least conjure up a Christmas spirit, it just wasn’t there. It got gobbled up by pain and depression, empty bank account and a just plain too-sick-and-tired-to-care attitude. Plus the stuporous side effects of the pain medication I was taking didn’t help either.

And to top it all off; the last straw that broke the camel’s back, Pepper chews the corner of the cushion to the love seat. She might as well have chewed up everything in the house. At least the scenario that followed next would have made more sense.

Crying, and limping in pain to my husband sitting at his computer, I sought solace. No, I sought a full-blown miracle. I wanted him to fix it, right then and now. I wanted him to suddenly become the Dog Whisperer and teach our two bratty dogs how to behave. I wanted him to wave his magic wand and make a Christmas tree appear with presents piled under it and a magical star on top. I wanted him to rip the pain from my hip and leg and send it back to Hell from whence it came. I wanted him to be God!

I guess my expectations were just a bit too high. Because, well because he’s just a man, and as hard as he tried to understand this woman boohooing before him, he just didn’t. So we ended up arguing. And I ended up in the twilight zone of ghosts and goblins as I lay sobbing in my bed.

There was the house I grew up in, and my grandmother shuffling from her bedroom to the living room, Bible in hand heading towards her favorite chair. And there were my brothers and my mom and dad, and even me; young and vibrant, not a care in the world sitting on the couch. Between sobs of grief, I saw the spruce Christmas tree decorated with bubble lights, vintage ornaments, and tinsel hanging on the branches. I saw presents under the tree, stockings hanging from the mantle and the spirit of Christmas dancing like jolly elves in everyone’s eyes.

Like zombies everyone I loved and lost wandered aimlessly through my mind, making me happy, making me sad; making me cry and cry and cry.

My husband is beyond frustrated now. He comes to me, pleading with me to tell him why I’m crying so. But no words could describe the awful grief that seemed to have carried me to my own grave.

So he threw up his hands and left me laying there sobbing and clinging to the ghosts invading my mind. That’s when the tree appeared, the one I always ran crying to when no one seemed to understand or care. Now, in my frenzied mind, it was more than just a tree; it was my best friend; my grandfather I never knew; my dad who was never there; my mom who never understood; everyone and everything I needed in times like these but was never there. Void of human arms reaching out to me, I always ran to the tree.

Now, in total desperation, I cling to the tree planted firmly in my mind, drawing comfort from its unshakable strength. The tree, so rugged and steadfast never feared my tears, my overly sensitive emotions, my anger and frustrations. It never made me feel stupid and insignificant. It just let me sit beneath its protective, sturdy limbs and cry and work it all out my way and in my own time.

Suddenly, in the midst of my inconsolable grief, the tree faded away and God appeared, mighty and strong and holding me tightly in His arms. I felt His love and understanding. I heard His words of comfort. I saw His smiling face and knew everything was going to be okay.

Twas’ just a few days before Christmas when an unexpected check arrived in the mail for my husband, enabling us to do a little Christmas shopping for our family. The pain became more bearable, the depression lifted, and I decided not to strangle the dogs. Hubby, the man who grew up with five women, is still scratching his head and wondering what the heck that was all about, and that’s okay. I understand and that makes me easier for him to live with, so what more does he want?

True Love

Growing up, without saying a word, my dad taught me men are not to be trusted. They sleep late, work when they feel like it, and treat women like dirt; expecting them to do everything, be everything, and keep their mouth shut. That’s when anger gave birth to the Incredible Hulk. That’s when a sweet, faint-hearted child became a strong, courageous woman fighting against injustice toward women and all the underdogs of the world. No womanizing, woman-abusing anybody-abuser was safe in my world.

It’s no wonder my ex-husband and I didn’t stay married long. His big mouth was as abusive as his rough hands slapping me till my ears rung and slamming me against the wall squeezing my throat. He just didn’t realize he had a tiger by the tail until he dragged his butt home from work one day to find his bags sitting outside the door and the locks changed.

Now, holding my nine-month-old son on my lap, my cynical, twenty-year-old heart told me I can trust no one. I can depend on no one; not my family, not my friends, not my church, no one. I’ll have to buckle up, woman-up and stand on my own two feet.

As a single mom, divorced and back in the dating scene I soon discovered that guys only wanted one thing from me, and it wasn’t my keen mind. Fueled by the memory of being molested at the age of thirteen, sexually harassed on the job, and nearly date-raped one horror-filled night, the Hulk inside me grew increasingly fierce and strong; fighting all men and needing none because no “real” man existed in this so-called man’s world!

So I stumbled along, alone and raising my son the best I knew how. He was my little man, my hero; the only living soul my heart truly trusted and believed in. Still, my heart yearned for the right man for me. I was too young to go through life alone, and besides, my son deserved a loving father. But the wall of steel protecting my untrusting heart would take the strength of Superman to break down.

One Friday summer’s night out with, my niece and five-year-old, we dragged up and down Main Street in Debbie’s bright yellow, 69 Mustang. It wasn’t my style to do such a teeny-bopper thing but that night I decided to go along just for the fun of it.

Then we spotted them. Two neatly dressed, good-looking guys sitting on the hood of a fire engine red, 63 Ford. Immediately, boy-crazy Debbie pulled into the service station where two curious guys slid off the hood of the car and strutted towards us like a couple of peacocks.

I had just broken up with a church-going-God-professing-born-again Christian who proved to be a druggie, a liar and a cheat, and just plain crazy! Shortly after our break-up, he barged into my apartment waving a gun. I never felt as afraid for my child’s and my life as I did that day. You can only imagine my relief when he said he was going to kill himself and stormed out the door.

So I was far from ready to strike up a conversation, let alone a relationship with Prince Charming poking his head through the car window.

However, soon after meeting that night, Buck and I began dating. But my heart was never off guard. Not even when I saw how much he loved Robbie. Not even when he knelt beside me, gazing into my eyes with the love I’d never seen before. Not even when he asked me to marry him.

My brain said he was a good man. My heart said he’s just like all the others. My brain said he’s good for me and that I can learn to trust him. My heart said when he finds out how I really am, he’ll run, just like everyone else. My brain said to give him a chance. My heart said it will never yield to any man any time this side of heaven.

Six months later, we got married.

This man saw the worst anyone has ever seen in me before and loved me in spite of my suspicions, fears, and insecurities. He held me when I cried, he supported me during counselling, he talked to me, he listened to me, he encouraged me. He lifted me up high and taught me how to fly. No one except Jesus has ever loved me like that before.

He weathered the storm. He pushed through the barriers. He broke down the walls of steel with his stubborn love, his gentle strength and patience and longsuffering. He won my heart.

I thank God for our forty-five years together and for the love and happiness that few people share simply because they don’t push through the rough times. Most of all, I thank God for revealing His unconditional, steadfast, unwavering love for me through my awesome husband; the man He created just for me.

I still have trust issues. I still view the world as being more evil than good. I still, and always will have a fighting spirit against injustice. But because of one man’s stubborn persistence, I finally know the meaning of true love.