Mindfulness: Germantown Series

I love art.

Any kind of art will do, but photography and writing have always been at the top of my list.

I’m no photographer or best selling author, but in the words of John Steinbeck,

The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.

So, I write and believe, write more, then believe again, just as he suggests, and the same can be said for my photography.

Nashville, at its city center, is evolving into something new, with some retained and restored, beautiful history.  Germantown, North Nashville, less then 10 minutes from my current home, is gorgeous.  There is so much character that is being preserved on each historic street, and I sought out to capture some of its history.

When I’m taking pictures and editing them, I truly feel like I am doing the most important thing in the world; mindfulness is right in front of me daily, right here in my own city.

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You…

I’ve said this to my husband a million times over,

Sometimes, it’s not you or the family that motivates me to keep pressing forward, but it’s you, the reader.

You.

There may only be one of you that read my words or maybe I’m just enamored with the thought that I am encouraging at least one person to keep fighting, but when I’m at my lowest, wondering what is the point of my suffering, YOU motivate me.

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You motivate me, because when I think about how precious your life is, how amazing your intricate makeup is, to make you you, I feel a little strength to keep fighting and keep writing; to keep being as real and open as possible, so that you feel, in the words of my dear friend, “that I’m doing good”, even at your lowest.

There are horrid lows of depression, and also ‘gifts of depression’, in the wise words of my therapist.

The gift is that thing that makes you hold on when you want to give up, trust me I’ve been there.  You get tired of fighting and feel like this world doesn’t need you, but how can that be true when you were made so wonderfully.

Your heart beats, because there is purpose for you.  It may not be clear what that purpose is, but the clouds will part enough, one day, for you to see that purpose.

So keep fighting.

And that is why I keep fighting, because I know what it’s like to be so low that you can only see rain, but it’s those like you that have helped me hold on when I read your precious words, so it’s only logical that I pay it forward.

So, this open letter is to you, the you that has read my blog from the beginning, or the you that has never read my blog, if only but one sentence.

I thank God for you, and please keep fighting.

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Antiquing Alone

For as long as I can remember, the sight of old things, you know, your great grandmother’s jewelry box or that worn piece of furniture you found on the side of the road, that only needs a little sanding and staining to be renewed, these junky treasures have always had a warm place in my heart; I feel butterflies in the pits of my stomach, now that’s true love.

Anyway, my psychiatrist has always urged me, and my husband to take four hours, alone, at least once a week, to partake in activities that we like to do.

Now, at one point, this was very difficult to do.  The lack of motivation to move from one spot in my bed to another spot in the bed, has been like pushing a car, alone, up a mountain; it’s been rough to even think about things I liked to do and was willing to do these days, due to depressions grip on me. But, with much patience, though painful, and perseverance through the tough lows, taking my prescribed medications, praying, and pushing myself beyond my body’s limits at times, I can say that my motivation is full throttle!  It’s only been a week with this mustang engine like motivation, but I’m taking advantage of the ride while it’s still here, and I’m not looking back.

So, I got a babysitter for today ( thanks Ms. Kim) and I was off.

I went to the east side of town.  I wanted to look at potential homes to buy, since there is constant construction on this side of town and beautiful new homes to view, literally every week.  After driving around the historic Inglewood neighborhood, I had high hopes of going to the bookstore, but the big beautiful antique sign from my peripheral vision while driving, changed my plans today.

I hit self-care’s jackpot!

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Farmhouse-East Nashville

 

If only you could have witnessed the semblance of joy exuding from my body, as I made a quick u turn into junk Disneyland.  I was so excited to walk in that store.

I was there for over an hour, studying each piece and thinking about it’s history, while silently contemplating where I would put things and how I could convince my husband that I needed all the things I wanted to buy.

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i just settled on one thing though, in the end; a chair.

I managed to bargain the price down to 15$ from 20$ (should have said 10, oh well), and me and the hot new seat were off to the bookstore;  no, no we weren’t.

I stumbled across another antique store around the corner and it is by far the most fun, eclectic, and beautiful shop ever.

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OMG (old made good)

Its called OMG ( old made good-love that name), and the shop owner was so cool, that we even struck up a convo about entrepreneurship and being creative- great times.

Needless to say, I enjoyed myself today.

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I ended my day with a trip to Home Depot for a few DIY items for my new chair, then went home to find that my irritability that I have been having more of lately ( a symptom of depression), was back to rear it’s ugly head, and my kids whining, was a huge part of my trigger.

Depression, as my counselor would say, likes to hang on to the negative, and make me think that the return of the irritability made the day a bad day, but I beg to differ.

Today was a good day, and I’ve come a long way.

 

 

‘Stainback’ Potential

It’s January 22nd, the seventeenth year in the 2000s, and so much has happened.

Not only is it the first month in the new year, but outside of the continuing battle with my wayward mind, and the selling of our first home, among many changes in our family dynamics, some good, some bad, the greatest change in dynamic is the leadership of this world.

Donald Trump is America’s president.

Yes, the man behind the infamous phrase of “You’re fired”, now has the top-secret codes to weapons I’ve probably never knew existed.  He is who ‘America’ has chosen; notice my emphasis on ‘America’.

Nonetheless, it is what it is, and unless he breaks a huge law (I don’t know how he has not done that thus far), shaming the existence of the constitution, because it wasn’t enough that he has shamed most of ‘America’ and then some, it looks as though he will be the leader of this ‘free world’ for the next four years.

My stomach hurts.

But, I digress; slightly.

So, yesterday was the huge women’s march all across the nation.  A march to emphasize and publicize the sheer disdain for Trump’s thoughts, as well as actions in regard to women, including their treatment.  It was nice to see such a huge turnout of women of various backgrounds, coming together in a time that has seem to have caused great divide in the land, but the out pour of love shown through social media (as I did not participate), was immense.

I stand for the same values that the women’s march was created by, but just wasn’t able to participate physically, with my current state of mental health.  Instead, I did something enjoyable for the first time in a long time, which made me feel more in tune with those above said values more than ever.  It’s been a while to where my brain would even be quiet enough, to allow pleasurable thoughts of doing certain activities, to flood my constant mental stream of dejection with life, so I had to react to the eerie prompt.

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clawfoot tubs are an insatiable luxury from the 19th century

I’ve always loved interior design, HGTV, home decorating, and the like.  So, though the thought to go house hunting or looking for fixer uppers around town might have been long over due, it was far from foreign.

I found a cute little cottage style house, built in the 1930s, located in the heart of East Nashville, a prominent hot spot in the greater Nashville Metro area.

My husband has always had the entrepreneurial itch, lately for flipping houses, which through my scared eyes looked like a bad idea, risky to say the least, but my mind was changed when I saw a few photos of this dilapidated home on realtor.com.

I loved it.

There were stains on what looked like glitter lined wall paper, concerning cracks in the ceiling, and mounds of dark residue of God knows what and how, but through all of the ugliness, the rich, as well as beautiful history shined through.

Those thick, architecturally dated, but regal trim and base boards, with french doors and hard ware out of a scene of an old Dick Clark film, were phenomenal and filled me with a feeling so grand, that it took me a moment to step back and relish in the current state of affairs.

Joy washed over me; unspeakable joy, the kind of joy that is supernatural, not knowing how it got there, but appreciative of where it came from.

That is what I felt, as I walked across the sunken foundation in the kitchen, and brushed my finger tips against the smoothness of the aged hardware on the doors.

I get moments of clarity like this sometimes, but not as grand as this moment felt like.

Thank God for that moment.  Thank God that I was able to put on my clothes, with less push back compared to times past, thank God I was able to have more motivation to get in the car to get myself to that old house, thank God for the medicine I agreed to take (the third one, I might add) to take a chance on myself getting better, and thank God for that old house.

It was worn, like me.  It was scarred, like me.  Yet, there was beauty and resilience shinning through, just like me.

And just like me, I know there is someone out there that knows what kind of joy I speak of in this post.

Step out on chance, take a leap of faith on getting better, whatever healthy alternative that may be.  Listen to your mind when it tells you it feels bad, listen to your mind when it quiets enough to say it wants a little piece of joy; then go follow whatever brings you joy. •

Who in the hell eats kale?

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Guilty.

I was the strange one that decided to change years worth of horrible eating habits, right around one week before Christmas.  Of course, those 48 hours of torture I put myself through, raging with irritability every other minute, when my junk food cracked out brain imagined how good a cronut from five daughters bakery would be, all of a sudden made me so aware of the damage I was doing to my body.

Within those 48 hours under the water board, I was gluten free, dairy free, and every other kind of ‘free’.  I heard of kale before.  In fact, I faintly recall a cartoon show on sprout (a kids  network;  a staple in our house) that dedicated a whole 30 minutes of programming, to honor and persuade kids (and adults, I’m sure) to enjoy eating kale; that’s probably the only reason I picked up a bushel of kale in Whole Foods.  What a catchy toon, that kale song.

That was the first time I tried kale.  I heard it was bitter, but I dug into a bowl full of those green crispy leaves with a fighting mind, fighting the urge to disconnect the communication between my brain and the impulse to spit out something far from the taste of a delicious pad Thai or 5d cronut (yum).

It turned out to be not that bad.

Weeks of giving into eating traditional holiday food has passed, and now I’m back on the kale band wagon.  Once again, I’m back at it, crunching away and geared up with my fighting mind, but now, I’ve come up with a better way to stay firm on the kale track.

Its time to take the taste of kale to another taste level.  So, I came up with a little recipe for a dressing to make my kale salad taste like heaven.

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I’m no chef, and I just recently conjured up enough confidence to try my recipes, other than boiled noodles, on close friends of mine, so bravely making this vinaigrette up on the whim (posting it on Instagram stories before tasting it-geez) is new for me.

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1 lime, 1 avocado, a handful of blueberries, and a dash of balsamic vinegar later, I created a kale bath masterpiece; Blueberry-avocado vinaigrette.  Enjoy!  And never forget that Kale is #foodforpeaceofmind. Eat kale daily 💚

Blue-Avo Vinaigrette

1/2 lime squeezed

1 avocado

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup blueberries

+ blend

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= put 1-2 tablespoons over a handful of kale, toss, + eat! (Keeps for about a week, stored air tight in fridge)

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How to open a gift mindfully

imageHow beautiful is this 2005 Food and Wine cookbook I found at a local antique store, nestled  cozily next to pristine flowers and aged wood?  Quite a sight of HGTV proportions I’ll say (photo cred: your’s truly).

I love this photo for so many reasons.  Its reminiscent of home, the home that we officially sold (well we are under contract) last month, in less than five days on the market (I knew it would go fast-its my interior design baby; I will miss it).  Though I have rung through the gamut of emotions, grappling with the stressful reality that I have to pack up nearly seven years of life and stuff (so much stuff), manage life daily, and continue my strenuous journey in healing my mind, this picture somehow calms this chaotic to do list.

For those of you who share my love for all things HGTV and the sort, you can imagine what metaphors (maybe) that parade in my wonderland of thoughts, when I feast my eyes on the above picture of beauty; a gift, wrapped in the finest gold glitter paper (I love this type of wrapping paper by paper source), and adorned with the perfect red velvet bow, wrapped cleanly with each loop well calculated and contorted.  Pretty over the top description, but my mind can go to these fantasy lands at times, if depression is forgiving.

So how would you open such a gift as this?  What emotions might you feel, to find these items in that beautiful packaging, knowing that these items have been on your dream list for some time now?  Naturally, gifts connote positivity, which denotes an ode to positivity; aka exuberance of some kind.

I haven’t felt exuberance and gifts in the same context in a long time.  It’s hard to be genuinely excited about something, when you don’t have enough neurotransmitters in the synaptic clefts of your brain, in order to feel what should happen naturally.  No need to feel sad if you don’t know about this experience, or let your mood plummet, if you are all to familiar with this sentiment; take heart, because today I made a discovery on how to ‘open a gift mindfully’, without setting yourself back, due to disappointment from being mentally dead to the ‘natural’.

I received a gift today; beautiful items packaged in a lovely email that I have been dreaming about for a long time.  Naturally, well my ‘new naturally’, I felt nothing.  If pigs could fly, they did today, because there were no fireworks, I didn’t feel giddy like the schoolgirl with her first crush, I just felt nothing.  Some fear of course, because these beautiful items come with great cost and requirements, as well as pros and cons related to my future, but crickets sang a serene song today.

Depression almost took me down that all to familiar mental path of black hole sadness, making me question what’s wrong with me and when will I ever be fixed, as well as see a semblance of what ‘normal people’ do naturally when they get a great gift as mine, but I had just enough fog cleared to grab a life line; God.

It may sound cliche to some, which is fine, everyone has their own relationships and deities, but mine has always been fear of God; the God of Issac and the God of Jacob, ‘am that I am’.

He’s followed me to the pits of my despair, even to lowly places I never knew my mind would take me, but I’ve always felt his presence, which has sustained my life, I believe, despite dealing with depression for so long.

My cry for help, to him, in that moment of mental black hole sadness today, is what put gift opening in perspective.

36 Turn my heart toward your statutes
and not toward selfish gain.
37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
preserve my life according to your word.[c]
38 Fulfill your promise to your servant,
so that you may be feared. (Psalm 119 36-38)

…With these words, I realized that my focus was all wrong.  It’s not that the items you receive are gifts, because at the end of the day, everything on this earth are “worthless things”, its the meaning behind the gift that is important, the intangible things, emotions or reactions that may be ‘natural’ in many different ways to many different people; our gifts and what we do with them are unique to us, to you as an individual.

So if you find yourself in shoes similar to mine, where you are battling day to day sadness, at times your head barely above water enough to breathe, yet alone respond ‘naturally’ positively to life’s gifts, just remember the intangible things.

The gift is always that fight in you, that thing that keeps you going when you want to give up.  Only you can make the ‘items’ given to you in this world, hold as much meaning as you let them.

How to sell your home during a depressive episode

Don’t. That is, if you can help it.  But, essentially life may not be that kind and you may have to.  This is the predicament that I am in with my husband and our two toddlers (winning!).

After seven years of memory making (the good the bad and the ugly), marriage, birth of our beautiful baby girls, a traumatic house fire (more so for me than the house), and one diagnosis of major depression later, it’s time for us to move on. Do I want to go? If you would have asked me this the other day when the realtor came to help us sign our lives away on endless forms, I would have said no, but today I feel a little different about it.

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Who likes change? Some may more than others, but I think it is fair to say that change is hard at first, and this is the case for anyone with the healthiest mental state, yet alone someone like me or us (if you are in a similar situation) who have to endure the blows of change with a mental illness.  No pitty party over here, but something as simple as sitting on the side of the bed, in depression’s severity, can feel like your heart has been ripped out of your chest and  a headache ensues from such a traumatic experience; this is what ‘change’ can do in a depressive episode.  Just imagine the second by second, day by day battle an individual with this newfound sense of doom and gloom, has to power through; it sucks to say the least.

So, I have gone through this state of open heart surgery- without anesthesia- state of emotions, since my husband and I started the process of putting our house on the market.  Yes, I knew it was coming and it has been something we discussed for some time, but it had become really real and really scary.

I’m in the kind of depressive episode where sitting on the side of the bed is a daunting task. There was an intense anger and extreme dip in my mood, after the realtor left.  There was the ugly cry, of course, where I was sprawled out on my beautiful hard wood kitchen floors, in an intense panic at the thought of the house selling fast ( the house across the street sold in 8 days; Nashville is booming apparently in the house selling department), and all the stress that would come with moving; my husband was happy with the return in investment we are predicted to attain, but disgruntled with the need to console me and maintain his happiness (family suffers a lot when loved ones have a mental illness; it’s understandable that they get angry when they are helpless in helping you).

So, what did I do to get to the state where I am now, a state of eery acceptance about such a big change?

I cleaned.  Then I felt down thinking about it all, then I cleaned again.

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Its funny how depression and that strange chemical imbalance works.  It makes you unmotivated, but for some odd reason, lately, the moment I push myself to pick up a broom or grab that bottle of windex, the fog of lowness slowly starts to lift as I am distracted by serene views from my washed windows, or the clean lines from a freshly vacuumed floor.  In these moments, I feel in control; depression and the pain in your head, is so far from controllable.

My husband started a massive clean in prep for pictures of our memories we’ve built in this house, to grace the sites of zillow or realtor, and I followed suit, doing what my mind would allow me to do ( I find that I have to listen to my mind when it says you’re doing too much, or my mood takes a dive off of the deep end,which doesn’t end well).

From unique pieces of jewelry I forgot that I had had from my youth and travels in Europe, to tons of flooring in my closet, previously buried in mounds of things, due to the consequences of being unmotivated, I’ve developed more of an appreciation for this change that we are in.

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We will move on to another house, a home near and dear to my husband’s heart, his late grandmother’s home in the heart of east Nashville (a now robust and bustling part of town), and we will make new memories.

And if you’re in a similar position such as I, or trying to endure change in a depressive state of mind, find your control in something healthy and helpful to you.

You are strong, and this change won’t defeat you.

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