Today I received the most unexpected “thank you” note. It’s said, “thank you for sharing your story with me,” and had a nice note alongside that spoke about art and creativity and the healing of trauma, grief and broken spirits.

I want to thank YOU, for much the same thing.

I think we often forget that a person’s art IS their story – regardless of the type of art they create – and that’s where I’ve focused my mind this afternoon. When we create any kind of art, even when it’s not a piece of writing that “explains” what’s in our minds, we are actively releasing SOMETHING. Whether it is good or bad, whether it is joy or pain, beauty or darkness, we are actively expressing our hearts in any creative endeavor that we are a part of.

I truly appreciate the kind feedback here, at Instagram, and all the other places. I appreciate YOUR art and stories so much. It’s a wonderful way to remember that we are really all the same, just living our own stories…even when we aren’t sharing our own out loud.

Thank you for the kind response to my sharing of my music. I was really very unsure whether it was “worth” sharing, since I only create it as a hobby. Turns out it’s much like my experience with sharing photography and writing – people enjoy other people’s art, they enjoy SEEING another human being, and you get to know other people who create the same kinds of art, whether it’s photography or writing or music…

I’ve enjoyed “meeting” so many different people since I started putting that stuff out there. It’s a blessing to get to know and learn from you.

It’s always been one of my greatest joys to share my creative pursuits and my spirit with the world. Thank you for encouraging and reminding me how important it is for a creative person and artist of any kind to do that.

I’m thankful for, and blessed by, you. Keep expressing yourselves in your ways, too. And stay awesome.

All the love,

C. 💜

It’s easy for people who don’t have major depression or a chemical depressive disorder to look objectively at a person’s life and point out all of the logical reasons why someone should not feel sad, angry, anxious, or any number of other emotions and emotional experiences that come with depression. But depression isn’t logical. Depression doesn’t care to reason, and certainly not to show mercy.

You can’t talk your way out of it, pray your way out of it, think your way out of it, spiritualize your way out of it… You can’t analyze, theorize, medicate, or meditate your way out of major depressive disorder. You can’t shop, travel, read, or even act your way out of it.

For those people reading this who are in my shoes, you get it. For those in my life who can’t grasp it, I’m sorry. I know that you can’t get it. I’m sorry that I’m sick. I’m sorry that I am not who you want me to be or who I want to be to/for you. For those reading this who don’t get it at all, I hope this helps your mindset.

Please try to remember that it’s a disorder, not a decision. You can’t fake your way through depression every day. You get tired. And when you get tired, and feeling especially tied up in the straightjacket of depression, you really don’t care who sees or doesn’t understand.

Then, you regret that, because they think it’s them. They try to make it about something it’s not, because you should know if you pray or get spiritual or meditate or walk outside or even “JUST TALK” TO THEM!! then you will suddenly be ok! Then, you REALLY hate being here. You REALLY feel misunderstood and unloved. You REALLY want a drink and you REALLY don’t wanna take your meds – because you just want to sleep.

You want to sleep forever. You can’t move. You don’t shower. You don’t even brush your teeth. All you manage to do is go ahead and swallow the pills and go ahead and feed your kid and fake your way through homeschool. So…

The cycle continues. Until one day you say, “f*** the cycle. F*** it. F*** other people. F*** how it looks. AGAIN. I’m going to just make it stop.

And then you don’t. AGAIN. Because of him, in my case. My son. Because you’re too filled with love. That’s right – people with depression still love. They still feel “positive” things. And most often, when they commit suicide, they do so because they love others and they truly believe that the world and their people are better off without them. I know that’s hard to understand. But, it’s the truth.

Why? Why do they think the world would be better off without them? Not because of depression itself. Because they’ve had to fight their depression alone, which is impossible. They believe they are a burden. They feel their depression is causing too many issues for other people.

They feel…. Unloved. Ignored. Unseen. Without worth to add anything good to the world. They don’t want to make the world a darker place because they love. But when they end their lives, and usually while they are still alive and it’s often what pushes them to the end, along with the depression itself, they are labeled with things like selfishness, negativity, cynicism, laziness, etc.

None of those things are true.

You can’t do it alone, and anyone who says they did or do or that you can is a liar. Even if it was influences from media that helped them (music, movies, speakers, writers. etc.), nobody survives depression alone – especially not the kind that wraps itself around you like a second skin and doesn’t let go, and can’t be peeled off, and hurts even to try to put clothes on and cover it for the day.

And that’s the only reason I’m still here.

#welcometomyweek

I haven’t shared any of my music for a while, but, whelp, here’s a thing. Enjoy. All I can do right now is express the music (and the image edits) and that’s what this is. I may not have the words but I have the music. So far, I’ve always had the music.

The basis of this song is to end stigmas, to understand that those with mental illnesses need compassion and they need to be reached out to, not ignored or shunned or pushed away or further labeled, and saying goodbye to those labels.

There is some sort of problem with the video playing on mobile devices so if the video doesn’t work for you, you can listen to the song on SoundCloud as well as download it for free, for listening later.

I hope that YOU are doing well, and I hope that you get something out of this post that helps you better deal with or understand anyone in your life who struggles with depression.

All the love,

C. ❤️

**This song was mixed with Auxy using samples from Fanton ’87’s “Pay Phone.”

There is nothing like the joy of a child, or your love for that child and that joy.

It’s snowing here tonight – very lightly, compared to our snow in December, but snow nonetheless. I have a memory that always returns to me when it snows here in Alabama. It is a memory of a father watching his only child play outside in an Alabama blizzard at something like 9PM, darkness never bothering the child and snow never failing to fascinate and excite.

I remember this man watching this child and seeing a sparkle in his eyes, despite his misery at being outdoors in the cold, dark night, wind howling and snow blowing from what seemed like all directions.

I can see him suffering at the hands of neuropathy and overworked muscles and joints, every step a sharp pain and every breath a hope for the snow to stop and the pipes not to freeze. But I can also see him glorifying the excitement and the newness of the snow in the child’s eyes and spirit, and struggling to roll the three parts of the snowman just in case it melted the next day.

Turns out, that snow lasted for almost a week, there was no power until days after the snow had melted, and the man saved the child from frostbite by giving the child his own full faced toboggan halfway through the snowman building process.

This man was willing to suffer for his child. He was willing to forgo the knowledge that his body would hate him the next day, that he wouldn’t be able to go to work (even though there was a blizzard his factory didn’t care – he was a supervisor and was expected to be there, no matter what).

He didn’t care that he was hurting or that he would pay a price for the temps in the teens and the random but grand night adventure. He played. He laughed. He threw the child in the air and caught the child. He didn’t let her fall. He never let her fall.

This man was my father, and this child was me. And I will NEVER forget that night or that blizzard, not as long as I live. I will never forget the milk and the goat cheese and the freshly churned butter and the wax paper wrapped venison and squirrel that he’d taken for us and cleaned and processed himself, literally buried in a drift of snow, or the cooler on the deck full of all the condiments and other refrigerated foods.

I will never forget his smile. His laughter. His attempts to run and to make six foot four inch snow angel and perfect lines of size sixteen footprints right alongside my own. I will never forget the light in his eyes, even in the dark, even in pain. I will never forget how warm I was when he would hug me up in his own coat or the comfort in the voice I have almost forgotten saying, “how do you like the snow? Are you having a wonderful time? Do you see and feel the magic?”

I am thirty nine now, and have an eight year old child of my own, and suddenly tonight I realize the sacrifice that was a part of what was one of the best memories I carry in my soul. I know now what he gave to me – not just suffering the cold that southerners “can’t bear,” or staying up late, or giving up his recliner and his comfort. He gave me his time. He gave me his patience. He gave me his love. He gave me his heart.

When you have a child, and you love that child, that’s what you do. It’s not even a choice. It’s just what happens. You don’t think about your own comfort, even if you repetitively say, “I don’t know how long I can stand this cold!” You just…do. Because the child brings out the magic and the joy that’s been buried in your soul by an exceptionally long overworked-with-nothing-to-show-for-it run.

You realize you have everything right there in your arms, and no amount of pain (physical or emotional) or cold or worry about the future is going to stand in your way of that moment. That now. That memory.

That’s what I experienced tonight. Tonight I became my father. And now I sit in bed and weep tears of both longing and joy. Because I was raised, protected, loved and spoiled by a loving man. A faithful man. A steadfast and gracious man. A good man, despite his flaws.

Watching my boy, and playing with him tonight in the cold and the wind and the little bit of snow that presented itself, I realized that I carry that within me and I am capable of giving it to my baby. Although eight years old, and someday 39, like me, my baby he will always be.

I love you, Daddy. And I am so grateful for the 36 years I had with you. Thank you for the life you gave me, and the heart you taught me to have. And thank you for the snowman.

A New Year’s Note to my Precious Friends

As the sun sets on one year and rises on yet another, there is so much I hope and wish for you…

I hope the coming year finds you well, filled with hope that never ends, and surrounded by love.

I hope that you continue to grow, continue to forgive, continue to learn, and continue to live.

I hope that you laugh, sing, dance, and dream, no matter your age or circumstance.

I hope that you will always see the beauty and the splendor, the magic and the miracles that exist in the world around you, every day.

I hope that you will believe in yourself, trust in your soul, follow your heart, and always do all things with love, finding it all returning to you with grand abundance as you share it with the world.

I wish you grace when you find yourself tired and beaten down, freedom from all the things that may burden you, and healing if you should find yourself sick and unwell in any way.

More than anything, I hope that you see the beauty in yourself that the Universe has created in you, that you realize the truth of your worth and your strength, the value of your spirit and of your heart, and how precious their reflections are in the world around you.

With gratitude for all the ways you bless and enrich my life, I wish you all the blessings and all the goodness that life has to offer you in the coming year, and always.

May we all float on with peace and hope to carry us.

All my love and best wishes to ALL who read this, from my heart to yours.

C.

Several weeks ago I shared a post about my hair and how I had almost buzzed it. Here is a quote from the post:

For a very long time I have thought about shaving my head. For a time only the slightest bit less than the amount of time I’ve thought about it, I have wanted to shave my head. I’m talking buzz cut, not slick. But either way – bald is the name of the game. I go back and forth about actually doing it, but I WANT to do it. I’ve come to a time where I’ve really begun to think more seriously about it – to the point that I presented the idea to both the man and the child and they have no opinion at all other than that they want to be involved in the process.

Well. Here we are, about three weeks later, and the deed has been done. I actually did this almost RIGHT after I shared that post, but I wasn’t ready to share THIS post right away because I wanted to see how it went. I wanted to see how I really felt about it. I wanted to collect some pros and cons after having done it, and I wanted to feel fully “buzzed,” if you will, before I started spouting words about the experience. I am ready to do that now.

Before I go any further, there is something I want to talk about – perhaps clear up, so to speak. One of the most consistent experiences I have had since the buzzing took place has been this one (or, at least, this one in so many words), over and over again:

“You are so brave! I could never do it – even if I wanted to! It’s very courageous to make such a huge change!”

This bothers me and I want to tell you why it’s not true. It did not take courage for me to buzz my head (or shave it, or whatever term you wish to use). I am not courageous. I was not looking to completely change my life in a matter of moments with a hairstyle (ok, maybe in some ways I was – which I will discuss further in the “Pros” section of this post). I just WANTED to do it. So I did! It really was that easy. For a long time I couldn’t understand why people had to attach more to it than that – sure, a lot of thought went into it before I did it, as shared in my original post. But I feel really awkward when people say, “you’re so brave! I could ever do that! That took a lot of courage.”

No. It really and truly didn’t. For me, what it took was being fed up with my hair for a number of reasons. It took wanting it the hell out of my face and to stop wasting my time. Oh, and it took a quick flip of the on switch and running the clippers over my head. That’s all it took. There’s a difference between being brave and just being done.

Brave is charging into a burning building or jumping out of a helicopter into the ocean to save lives. Brave is working as a beat cop during this day and age. Brave is facing your demons, getting help with addiction or mental health issues or finding a way out of an abusive relationship. Brave is being a woman in a country where women have no rights. Comparatively, I am not brave. I have only done something I wanted to do… Maybe that IS brave to some, and I suppose that I can accept that and allow anyone who feels that way the right to feel that way. But personally? I don’t feel that way about it. I don’t feel it was a “brave” thing to do, and it truly makes me uncomfortable to be called “brave” over something so insignificant as shaving off my hair.

Now that I’ve expressed my thoughts on that, I want to share with you some of the other things I have experienced and learned since flipping the on switch and the best way to do that, I think (for me), is a (hereto incomplete) list of pros and cons.

The Pros (so far):

  • MONEY
    • First of all, it doesn’t cost anything to run the clippers over my head. I don’t have to pay someone else to do it (yet – I’m not into styling at this point, just being uniformly buzzed).
    • I also spend almost zero money on hair products.
    • The only hair product I use is shampoo – although I use it daily now as (con) my head gets oily much more quickly.
    • I also have found myself using the Argon oil I gave to my husband for his beard on my head the last couple of days because the winter is drying my scalp out (not my hair, which still gets oily by morning even without the argon oil – go figure). I haven’t quite found a balance there.
    • But the bottom line for this bullet is that this is CHEAP and I love it.
  • EASE OF EXISTENCE
    • No bed head.
    • Shower time = five minutes.
    • No drying time.
    • No styling time.
    • No fuss. No mess.
    • No, “Oh God, you have to wash your hair? You should start getting ready an hour ahead of me,” from my husband.
    • My life has become so much easier and I love it.
  • MY FACE
    • It exists.
    • I can see it.
    • I am learning to love it (actually, I almost loved my face more instantly after a long time of being very insecure about it).
    • No spider web hairs to tickle it.
    • No random hair everywhere in my eyes when I’m trying to do EVERYTHING I DO.
    • I love it.
  • HATS
    • I get to wear hats of all kinds now and they fit my head.
    • I have a REASON to wear hats now.
    • I like hats, so this a definite pro for me.
    • I love it.
  • LIGHTNESS
    • My head feels so light, even still. After years of the weight of my hair (I literally lost almost two pounds after I had buzzed it – despite it falling out like crazy that sh*t was so thick and coarse and heavy), I now feel so much lighter.
    • It’s not just the weight of the hair itself – it’s the lack of worrying with hair.
    • I love it.
  • IT IS COOLER
    • I live in the south, where the humidity doesn’t end until January (usually). Therefore, for most of the year, having free head air conditioning is a wonderful thing. There are also some cons to this, which I’ll list below, but mostly it’s great.
    • I love it.
  • ME
    • I just feel so much more like me. I can’t explain that. But it’s the truth. Not having my hair to define me (which I’m sure it still does for some, but not for me – like those who think I’ve lost my mind, ha!) has liberated me in all the ways I expected and in some I didn’t expect (like that whole having a face thing)…
    • I used to love playing with makeup looks. I love that again now, and have a lot of fun with it. I’ve only actually done my makeup a handful of times since the buzzing but had a ball doing it and bought myself the Naked 3 palette from Urban Decay for my birthday.
    • I love it.

The Cons (so far):

  • GROWTH
    • My hair apparently grows VERY fast. That’s annoying. I buzz it at least once a week. This has impacted my OCD a tiny bit, but that’s OK. Good grooming is a factor of my depression that I could stand to be a bit more “on top of.”
  • ITCHING AFTER CUTS
    • My husband used to complain like all get out about tiny hairs poking him when I’d cut his hair. I used to say he was overreacting. HE WAS NOT OVERREACTING.
    • The itchiness when you finish a cut is INSANE. I sometimes have to shower twice in one shower to get the hair off of me.
    • Sometimes the little hairs get stuck in my bra and don’t wash out (don’t ask, I don’t know how or why), so I sometimes look like a man scratching his balls except it’s my boobs I’m digging at. Sigh…
  • HATS
    • I mentioned the pros of hats. The only con I have found is that my head is much smaller than it was with hair (MUCH SMALLER) and my baseball caps do not fit properly. I can’t get them tight enough without the bulge in the back…
    • Silver lining? I will eventually get to buy smaller baseball caps!
  • COLD
    • The con to the pro of coolness. Now that it’s really cold here, it’s REALLY COLD here.
    • I have to wear hoodies to bed some nights…which is awkward because I generally don’t like to sleep in very much clothing because I get these weird sweats. Not with my shaved head. Nope. Not right now… But, sleeping in bulky clothing is still not very comfortable for me.
    • Going outside without a hoodie or hat on is unwise. Just plain unwise…
  • HOT
    • By the same token? Getting hot and sweating is not fun without hair, either.
    • Sweat drips in my eyes, and I actually find that I sweat MORE without hair than I did with it when I work out…or maybe it just has nowhere to go and I notice it more.
    • When it’s hot and I wear a cap to keep my head from getting burned, I sweat more…but that’s OK. I’d rather do that than have a charred scalp.

Other Strange Expereinces:

  • STARING
    • People stare. A lot. It doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would, what with my social anxiety and such. It’s actually made me more confident because I am learning how to ignore people far more efficiently through the experience.
  • BEING HIT ON
    • Women hit on me openly, even here in the south. This NEVER happened until I didn’t have hair. Go figure.
    • Men (surprisingly) flirt at me (I refuse to say with because I do not reciprocate). I thought men would be more put off by a woman with a buzz cut but apparently, I was wrong.
    • Don’t get me wrong – it’s always nice to be noticed in this way, but I realize that in this way my hair still defines me to some extent. I don’t like it being sexualized, this way or the other way (long). I guess that is something we will (ALL) always have to live with in our society…
  • ARE YOU SICK?
    • numerous times people have flat out asked me if I was sick or if I had cancer BEFORE they asked me why I shaved my head (usually strangers, oddly enough). It’s like they feel sorry for me right off the bat. That’s annoying and to some extent upsets me because I know what it’s like to be that person who has little or no hair due to sickness (from the experience of cancer with Dorie) and it’s no fun for people to judge you either way in that aspect.
    • At the same time, I don’t blame people – not many women have this sort of hairstyle. It’s almost an automatic assumption that there must be something wrong if they do have this sort of hairstyle.
  • NO IN BETWEEN
    • people either love it or hate it. There is no in between. So when people dislike it they tend to make it known (much more so than those who love it), for example when they shout ugly things across the parking lot at you (generally racial things, hello – I live in the south, am white and have a shaved head – I must be a racist), it’s a bit saddening. I don’t hate anyone and my hairstyle has nothing to do with anyone but me. I know my heart, so I am learning to let that go by. But it’s a telling sign that racism is still alive and well here in the south. And that’s just really wrong and saddening.
  • TOUCHING ME
    • My final and most annoying con is that people randomly touch me. Sometimes they ask and before I can even say, “no, please,” they’re already rubbing on my head. It’s like when a woman is pregnant (or at least this was my experience): people can’t help themselves – they want to touch your belly. Same thing with my head. It’s like a hand magnet. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll get a bigger bald spot than the small couple I already have (from celiac) or if all my brains will get sucked out from all the rubbing going on up there….
    • I wish people would stay out of my personal space, that’s all. I really wasn’t expecting that. I have, however, invited all of the boy’s little friends and most of my own friends and family to have a feel of the buzz cut – it seems to ease their minds a bit. They aren’t used to a woman with this kind of hairstyle at all and it’s a little unnerving for some of them, I think. Bless their hearts.

So I suppose that’s it for my buzz cut run down after a few weeks of living the buzzed life. Ultimately, I absolutely LOVE it and wouldn’t change a thing. I have NO regrets and I don’t think I will grow my hair out at all for a very long time (which for me could range from a few more weeks to several months, ha!). I haven’t felt this free or in control of myself for a very long time. There is peace for me in having no hair. I have, within myself, taken, “no hair, don’t care, to a whole new level. Suddenly there are a LOT of things I’ve let go of. But that’s another blog.

I suppose now you’ll be wanting to see what it looks like, so here are some photos (some candid, some posed) of the buzz cut. Ultimately, I hope the message taken away from this blog and this experience is that people will find the wherewithal to just be themselves and do what they want to do with their hair, their faces, their bodies, whatever. Just be you, and do what makes you happy. It’s worth any cons that might come your way, as long as you know what you’re doing is where your heart truly is.

Until next time, take care and enjoy this last night of the year…

C.

Dear 2017,

What can I possibly say to you? As I begin this I am speechless. I sit here overwhelmed with all the challenges, all the horrors, all the sheetrock dust… I don’t even want to think about any of that. That’s not where I want to focus. Anyone who really knows me already knows all of that – anyone who follows this (very intermittent) blog already knows a lot of it..

I want to focus on this:  I am alive today.

I am alive today. That is…both a miracle and a feat of inner strength I didn’t know that I had but found only because I was loved, even when I didn’t realize I was being loved.

I’ve needed the friendship and love I’ve had in my life this year more than any other I’ve faced. As everything from the past few years came to a head within me, and as I lost my grip and slid down to as close to rock bottom as I have ever gone, I found myself in a darkness like no other I’ve ever experienced. But with support and love from so many people, I began making the changes I needed to make to begin to get better both physically and mentally (like fighting my way back to the meds I knew I needed – and what a fight it was…).

2017 has been one my hardest fights with depression and anxiety and after being diagnosed with CPTSD and some specific physical health problems that I have had to learn how to manage, well, initially I didn’t handle anything very well at all. But then, I came to a precipice where I realized how life or death the situation was, and I did something I can hardly believe I did. I showed my weakness.

First, I showed this to my husband. It is truly to him that I owe my life this year. He has taken control in ways I have never seen him take control and he has exhibited patience beyond what I have ever seen in him – and that is saying a lot. He is my rock, my partner, my saving grace in so many ways, and still, after 18 years, my best friend. He and I have grown apart and back together more than once but never like this year. I love him so very much and I am so grateful that he is a part of my life. That’s a choice he made, and I am so blessed that he did.

I was also very open with my son about what was going on. I leaned on him, perhaps more than anyone, whether he realized it or not. It was simply his existence and the fact that he needed me as much as I needed him that gave me purpose and something to fight back with in my brain when my pain and my depression would try to convince me to give up. He is the light of my life, my dear friend, my little hero, and my biggest inspiration. I love him dearly. He is so much of my strength – and isn’t it amazing how such a small human can be such a source of healing and love… God bless that mess, as my father used to say…

My mother in law and her husband have gone above and beyond to help me by making the hardest things much easier and by being so incredibly understanding about my not being able to drive. They have come to us here so many times to pick up and to drop off the boy, and the phone calls I have shared with my mother in law have been another huge source of comfort and of feeling loved and supported. They are both more than inlaws to me. They are like my own parents. And Lord knows I’ve needed their help this year more than any other.

My cousin and her farm have also been a huge part of my sanity this year. I haven’t spent as much time there as I have in years past because, well, I wasn’t leaving home very much and certainly wasn’t able to drive myself. But even from a distance, sharing with her via phone calls and texts, always being able to ask her questions about the physical issues and cry on her with the emotional issues…she has continued to be an incredible blessing in my life and I love her dearly.

My friend Ralph – he has come back into my life in a grand way this year – staying here for weeks and helping to solve problems and support us and heal me (and us). I can’t even begin to share here all the ways he has helped me this year. Listened, understood, allowed, accepted, taught, hugged – he’s been my dad reincarnated while still being my Ralph. For quite some time I forgot that he was my friend – I viewed him as the boy’s godfather and friend and I focused more on their relationship with each other. This year I have relearned my own friendship with him and he is one of the best friends our lives have ever been blessed with. He has gone out of his way to help with anything that we’ve asked for help with, and even stepped in when a need was there and we weren’t asking – no matter what it was. I wouldn’t be here without the teamwork between him and my husband to steer me in the right direction, make sure I got to appointments, make sure my rights were fought for despite my inability to fight for myself.

And then, there’s the internet. You. All of you who have commented on my Instagram and blog posts, who have emailed me or private messaged me. Strangers, friends, all the same – you have done much to propel me forward and help me to keep hope somewhere in the darkness. I have received so much love and shared many conversations with people like me, or people with friends or family struggling with similar problems, and all of these conversations have helped me to see things differently, to see through other people’s struggles, to learn different ways of coping that I’d never tried or even heard of before. While I’ve become quite private in the last half of the year, you have all always encouraged me to share when and what I wanted, and to remember that it always helps us, too, when we help each other, and that that is what sharing could amount to.

One of the things the internet gave me – nay, the universe – that has helped me tremendously this year was a reconnection to a person that forever changed my life years ago but still has that same role in it – teaching me, listening, showing me by her own example and opening my eyes to the me I CAN be, to make more and bigger steps forward and not stay there as long when I take steps backward, and to own the fact that I must and I CAN do it myself. It waivers, still, but my faith and confidence in myself and in spiritual things is returning in huge waves through the existence of this person in my life and the experiences we have shared in common, and I am so very grateful for the blessing that has (always) existed in our friendship.

Yes, 2017. You have been tough. The toughest. Even still, in the fall  of the year I found myself going more places even when it was hard and being more and more open with certain people in my life to heal the bits and pieces a little at a time. I found myself being pulled back to nature and spending huge amounts of time in it, hiking and climbing, exploring and camping… The winter came, and as always the struggle has returned in some ways. The cold hurts my body and the darker days hurt my mind. But I’m not planning on letting that stop me as the new year turns over it’s new leaf.

2017, you gave me the hardest battles I’ve ever fought – most of them with myself (and with doctors). But what you gave me that is really just about all I can see today is love and friendship despite the hard things. Support, kindness, compassion… You surrounded me with it – and while I didn’t realize I was accepting it until recently, I DO realize it and I am grateful for it. So, 2017, while your beginning was the most difficult, sickest time of my life, your ending comes with my realization of these lessons:

The harsh (for me, the independent) lesson in the reality of how life is not meant to be lived alone.

We are not meant to merely survive these horrible things, nor do we HAVE to do so, alone.

We are meant to give and receive love, and sometimes, although the balance is off, love is always there.

Good is always there – good things, good people, a good life to be had if we persevere.

Sometimes endings aren’t endings at all – they are mere pauses. The heart knows which is which with each situation and circumstance.

It is always worth our hope, and our hard work, to continue on.

There are ALWAYS people out there who can be touched by us, even by our worst experiences their lives can be made better.

It is okay not to be okay.

It is okay to take the time we need and to retreat.

It is okay to doubt, and to fear, but not to stay there.

It is okay to be who we are – those who are meant to be in our lives and bring good to our lives WILL. No matter what.

The universe truly does provide.

And, ultimately, that we all struggle, and we all matter, and we are all worthy of the help we are offered – sometimes, the hardest thing is to accept it.

So, in closing, I am grateful for the help that’s been offered me this year, and I’m grateful that I somehow accepted it. I wouldn’t be here without having done that. I wouldn’t be here without every one of the people mentioned in this post, including you. I am filled with gratitude and with love for you all, and to close this year I say, “thank you,” to you, to my family, and to 2017.

May 2018 overflow with all the love, friendship, joy, and blessings that you – that we all – deserve.

All my love,

C.

Herbs and essential oils are and have been healers and helpers for all of time, for humans and animals alike. I have really bad headaches – sometimes (a lot lately) they turn into migraines and these are not remedies so much as just helpers/soothers during migraines but they REALLY help and sometimes completely relieve my tension or sinus headaches.

I have two things that I use – one with dried herbs and one with oils. For dried herbs I just put one part each of eucalyptus, mint, and lavender into a small sachet bag or tie it up in a thin piece of cloth (cheesecloth works well) to make an herb bag. Then I just put it on my face and sniff it for a bit and try to nap or rest with it near my head.

When it comes to oils, I use the same three herbs. I use 15 drops of peppermint eo, 15 drops of eucalyptus eo, and 11 drops of lavender eo, dropped into 10ml of carrier oil in a (10ml) roller ball bottle. I prefer jojoba for the undertone in scent but also like grapeseed as it is a little thicker and has no scent at all once mixed. The last bit I made, I didn’t have either of those oils so I just used what we all always have on hand – EVOO extra virgin olive oil). To use this I simply roll a bit on my temples and rub it in with my ring fingers, kind of massaging. I often rub it down along the bone of my eye socket or even on my forehead for the cooling. Don’t get it in your eyes, though!!

EVOO is a great deal runnier than other carriers, in my opinion, but it blends well and I do not notice much of an underlying scent at all once its mixed well. Another note: you can use more or less of each eo – I played with this until I found what I liked best and what seems to work the best for me. I like the stronger scent of the eucalyptus and the cooling of the peppermint oil. Some have better luck with 10 drops of those and more of the lavender for relaxing. It’s all your preference. If you’re very sensitive to scents (especially with migraines), you may want to mix some with 10 drops or less of each. Again, personal preferences and what your body desires is what matters.

Neither of these things are a cure all (NOTHING is for migraines, except time, just to be perfectly honest – or so has been my experience), but these old time “remedies” really help to soothe any headache I have and often will help to clear up a tension or bad sinus headache (as the mint/eucalyptus) is so good for helping loosen and drain mucous).

I hope this might help someone out there if needed…just a random little thing I did again recently and wanted to share. Hope you are all well and have no use for these “remedies,” too!

Take care…

C.

Hair. Oh, the hair. I’ve been having some issues with mine lately due to my physical health – things like having it falling out in record amounts and even getting patchy underneath. It’s not as visible to anyone who doesn’t know me well but it’s annoying to me. Recently I cut nearly a foot of my hair. Nay, CHOPPED it off – myself, in my bathroom, with the man’s scissors. Hair that once sat just near my lower back now sits just above my shoulders. It was a test, more than anything. And I am left with the same thoughts as before.

For a very long time I have thought about shaving my head. For a time only the slightest bit less than the amount of time I’ve thought about it, I have wanted to shave my head. I’m talking buzz cut, not slick. But either way – bald is the name of the game. I go back and forth about actually doing it, but I WANT to do it. I’ve come to a time where I’ve really begun to think more seriously about it – to the point that I presented the idea to both the man and the child and they have no opinion at all other than that they want to be involved in the process.

Many years ago I got my hair cut really short. It was buzzed on the back/neck and left a bit longer on the top/sides. I HATED IT. Even though I THOUGHT that I didn’t care what other people thought, I subconsciously did. I hated it because other people told me that it didn’t suit my face, it didn’t fit my jawline, it wasn’t pretty on me…many negative things. I got to a point where I believed that my hair was my only good trait – my hair was my beauty and without it I was nothing if not disgusting. I reached a point where I hated my face. I was SO INSECURE.

At the time, I was 21. I was newly married. I was still in college, driving an hour and a half one way to classes four days a week, spending the other three either studying or trying to figure out how to be a wife and live with someone else (which I hadn’t done for nearly two years before I was married) and struggling to get through the semester with my brain still intact. It was around/during midterms. It was one of the supreme eras of stress in my life (there were a lot of things going on I won’t mention here, for length/time’s sake).

Long story short? I got the haircut for the wrong reasons entirely – only one, really – I did it because I hated my hair. My hair was being difficult on a daily basis, it was not working with me, it was SO THICK back then, and BIG, almost just like the stereotypical (but beautiful) southern female hair you see in Steel Magnolias and other “southern” movies and tv shows. Getting that haircut was one of those throw-your-hands-in-the-air moments in life where you do what feels like the only thing you can do, and in that case what I thought was the only option ended up being a HUGE MISTAKE.

I didn’t want to do it in my heart – I just wanted to get rid of my hair. Others ridiculed me for it, and that hurt, yes – but it wouldn’t have hurt if I was doing it for the right reasons. Well, I suppose it will always hurt for those close to you to judge you but I don’t believe it would have bothered me so much or made such an impact on how I saw myself if I had done it in and with confidence in the first place. The truth is, I didn’t know what I was doing.

Today I am 38 (39 in two weeks) years old and I am a very different person. I have, for all my life, had a good relationship with my hair (aside from the time I just mentioned). I have always loved my long, thick hair. I have always seen it as my best feature – even before the mistake haircut, to be honest… But, I have grown to a place where I have a LONG list of reasons that I have been and continue to think about and want to COMPLETELY shave my head.

The only real reason is this: I WANT TO SHAVE MY HEAD. Ultimately, I want to do it because I want to do it. I am anxious about it because I know the risk – I know the risk because I know what I went through with only a “near shave” all those years ago.I know there are going to be cons. I know that sweat is going to get in my eyes if I don’t wear a hat or something else when I exercise or mow or do things that make you sweat, like just walking outside in the south in the summer is prone to do. I know that it is going to be cold during the winter.

I know that it is going to be a problem for certain religious folk down here where I live in the a-woman’s-hair-is-her-glory Bible Belt. I know it is going to offend certain people who have lost their hair because of sickness rather than choice. I know this because one of those people has already made me well aware of how disrespectful it is for women to shave their heads by choice when other women would give anything to have their hair back and didn’t have a choice in the matter (which I think is completely ridiculous but at the same time I can see where she is coming from).

Those two things I know more than anything. People are GOING to judge me – especially when it’s summertime and my tattoos are visible. People are going to assume things about me, like that I must be sick or have something wrong with me or that I am gay (um, well…). I know that people who already know me are going to just think I’m having a Britney Spears meltdown/mental health moment.

People are going to look at me more than they already do when I go out in public and that DOES NOT appeal to me at all (social anxiety already makes going out almost impossible). The last thing I want to do is draw attention to myself and I know the worst possible thing I can do to cause that to happen is to shave my head. That thought absolutely terrifies me.

But then there’s the thought of dying without doing something I really want to do – something that isn’t really that big of a deal, except the big deal society turns it into. There’s the thought of how I don’t want to be the mom who talks about doing something I really want to do all the time but never doing it and leaving my son thinking that it’s OK to let the fear of what other people might do (stare at you in public, shudder) keep you from doing it.

There’s the thought of how much money and time I will save by not having to buy hair products or dry my hair or straighten my hair. There’s the thought of the bliss of not having my heavy hair on migraine days, or of not having it in my face no matter the fact that I’ve pulled it up or back while I’m exercising or cleaning or doing ANYTHING at all. There’s the thought of wanting to do it with Dorie when she lost her hair and shaved hers during chemo, and her not “allowing it” – something I really wanted to do with and for my friend, as much as for myself…

But now I realize something very real and very important – she did not stand in my way because she didn’t want me to do it. She stood in my way because she knew that I was still not doing it for the right reasons. She knew that afterward I would say, “I did it with and for my friend,” rather than, “I did it just because I wanted to do it. I did it for myself. Got a problem with that?” That almost hurts my heart now. I would have done anything for her, and in my heart I did want to do it for her – and that was her whole problem with it. She knew I was not doing it all for myself, and she wouldn’t allow me to do something that I was not sure was 100% true to me.

But ultimately, there’s the thought of my remaining insecurities and how I want to and am being encouraged by many people to step outside of my comfort zone. To face my fears. To live for ME. To overcome certain anxieties in order to eventually overcome other anxieties and on and on. There’s the thought of  looking at myself in the mirror without my “glory” and going, “hey, there you are. Let’s get to know each other – let’s learn to truly love each other.” That is what I want to have happen, and despite the risks and despite the fears (I can’t help but doubt that anybody who says they’re 100% secure the first time they shave their head is telling the truth) I am beyond ready to have that happen within myself.

But am I ready to embrace my own power and do something so drastic with my hair when I can’t seem to embrace my power and drive or go places alone or get beyond certain other issues in my life? I don’t know… Perhaps it could be a start. But will I be brave enough to do what I want to do? I guess we will find out soon enough.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever considered anything like this for yourself? Have you ever done anything that would be considered drastic by society – or at least the society you live in locally? What were your reasons? How did you cope? Let’s chat about it…