Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My Picture Quilt

Recently a reader asked me about the picture quilt I referred to when I responded to the comment he left on the post Organized? I was telling him about the process which I have been referring to as my "picture quilt." So I thought I would write a post just about the quilt.

Here it goes---------

I went to a therapist several years ago, and she asked me to go home and look at pictures from my childhood, specifically from ages 8 to 12. But I am stubborn and when I don't want to do something, I won't, and I didn't. I never actually did that while I was seeing her.

Fast forward a few years---------

Over the years, my husband has been really trying to help me to figure out what going on with me that stops me from being the person I say I want to be. Last summer, we were once again talking about me and my issues and the idea came up for me to look at my pictures from my childhood. I agreed that it would be a good action to take to help myself with myself.

I must add here after reading this over that as I describe what I did, it sounds very linear and like I did it in a timely manner. No, no really. My husband had to prod me more than once to continue on this journey (and he still does, bless his heart! He is an amazing man!!!) It wasn't until last November that I started to record the time I spent on it each day to keep myself accountable to working on it everyday. I did that for 4 months, working almost every day, for 10 to 100 minutes.

Okay that said-----

I started by going through my pictures and collected all the pictures I could find from ages 6 to 15. All of my pictures are in small plastic bins and are not in chronological order. I did the best I could but soon realized that I really wasn't sure exactly what age I was in the pictures.

Looking through all those pictures really began the process of seeing my life and where I've               been and who I was. (Which became a window into who I am still am.)

So then I went through all the pictures again to look for the pictures that had dates attached to them and set all of those out on the dining room table in order. I took several pictures of those pictures, both of the whole thing (see below this paragraph) and close ups of every 2 pictures or so.  My plan was to use those pictures to put the stack of pictures I chose before in chronological order.

This was fascinating to look at my self from ages 1 to 15. I saw how I grew , how I                               changed, what I looked like over the years, and it was odd and good. I remember being the                   age of a lot of the pictures past age 4 but how often do I think back and picture myself at those             ages? Not often. I really enjoyed seeing myself.

Next, I took pieces of butcher paper about 3 feet by 2 feet ish and began to put the pictures down in order. It took me over a month to get the pictures in order. I put them down and then over and over moved them around to get them into an order that seemed right. I taped the pictures down and when I was finished I had 6 big pieces of paper covered with 20 to 30 pictures each.

I thought I had really started to process of seeing the quilt before that. Not so. :)  It wasn't                     until the whole thing was in order that I began to do the real work. I could not actually see me             until the whole picture order part fell into place.

Here, I faltered. I was not sure what to do with these pictures. So I just started making comments about the picture on the paper below the pictures. It was sporadic.  I commented on a a picture or two from each page and then would move on o the next page and do the same. The comments were like "I look unhappy here", "I loved this dress."  As I was doing this, I was talking to my husband about what I was doing and discovering. (Yes, often because of his loving push.) He had been talking to me about looking at the fantasy of my childhood and the reality. That helped me to started looking at every picture and writing down the fantasy and the reality of every picture. That took a couple of months. I couldn't force a response to any picture so it came "naturally" (I put that in quotes because what really is naturally?) I sat down, started with one end of the time line, 6 or 15, and wrote something about some picture, always both fantasy and reality ideas, and then flipped to the next page in the tine line and did the same. I did this over and over. By the end of 2 months or so, all the pictures had comments about what I thought was going on and what was most likely going on.

This helped me to see that I had blown so many unimportant things way out of proportion and             let some very big things just slip under the rug. The pictures clearly showed that I was                         increasingly angry over time about unimportant things; I believe to try to let out some of the               hurt, fear, loneliness, and pressure I felt about the problems my parents were having, but no                 one was talking about. Yet the pictures also showed me good times and positive things my                   parents, family, and friends did for me. It made me both sad and happy to work through the                 pictures that way. But regardless of how I felt, I was able to see many misconceptions I                       had/have about life.

I had gotten really far by then in the process of seeing my quilt and who I am/was. But I wanted to see more. I had committed myself to working on this every day so I had to figure out what else to comment on. I got creative. I commented on any pattern I could see. Parents standing together or apart, me touching people in the picture or not, my facial expressions, what I was wearing, what I was doing or not doing, what I seemed to like or not like, anything I could see more than a few times, I commented on. Patterns emerged, and I stated to see the patterns I used to and do live now. :)

It was hard to look at myself in this way, a more logical, analytic way (which I was not                       completely successful at and still aren't,) instead of the very emotional way I looked and look at         myself on a daily basis. (I still do this most of the time,; I am working on more logic and less             emotionality.)

So yeah, that is what I did to look at the quilt of my childhood. It was uncomfortable and fabulous, at times, and is still helping me to see me and then get to the best me I can be!! ( Yes, I am old enough to remember the Army slogan "Be all that you can be!" and I did just reference that.:) Hee-hee!  ;) )

Wow, long post! Thanks for reading and hope all is well in your world.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Something New

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I have been "trying" to fix my problem for several years now and my amazing supportive husband kept pointing out to me that something was missing. I was not addressing something. I kept and still attempt some things that really don't take a good look at what is missing and addressing it.

My husband found this great article about writing for math and science learning. Why mention this? The link below is to that article.


The following is an excerpt from that article.

During the school years, especially from ages 8-18, the most rapid phase of maturation is taking place in the prefrontal cortex. This is a critical time during which the brain is developing the individual's executive functions. These include judgment, critical analysis, induction, deduction, delay of immediate gratification for long-term goals, recognition of relationships (symbolism, conceptualization), prioritizing, risk assessment, organization, creative problem solving. There are also emotional aspects to executive function, including the ability to identify one's emotional state, exert emotional self-control, and reflect about emotional response choices.

How the Brain Stores Information

There is an involuntary information intake filter that determines what sensory input is accepted into the brain. Input must also pass through an emotional filter, the amygdala, where the destination of that information is determined. When stress is high, the intake filter selectively admits information related to perceived threat, virtually ignoring other sensory input. The high stress state also directs the amygdala switching station to conduct information to the lower, reactive brain, where long-term retrievable memories cannot be formed. In addition, the behavioral outputs of the lower brain are limited to fight (act out), flight (self-entertainment sometimes misinterpreted as ADHD), or freeze (zone out).

Having checked out at 8 due to my reaction, my "high stress" to my parent's shit, I was not really available to do a good deal of work on the above described maturation.  Some parts I do show some examples of, but others, it seems like not at all. So really how the hell do I go from here to create something that would spark this sort of mental & physical growth? I am stuck mostly and have been for a while.

The other day I came up with something and have been doing it even since. Math. Yes, you read that right, I do mean math and not meth.  It occurred to me that I lack skills that practicing math might help me to learn. I have been trying to bring up the feelings I have when my brain goes to the lower, reactive part and then I try to solve a math problem, both on paper or by doing mental math.

It has been a couple of days, and it has been really interesting in that I find myself wanting to so it. Math makes me think in ways I do not think about much in other places.

How can I solve a problem easier?
What other ways could I solve this problem?
What patterns are in this problems that I can use to make this easier to solve?
What information can I use that I already have to figure out his problem?

This is the kind of thinking I want to have across the board in my life. So for now I am going to practice math and see what happens.

Do you like math? Have you ever considered what math can teach?

Thanks for stopping by!! Love to hear your thoughts about this or anything really. :)


Monday, March 9, 2015


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Have you ever considered how you organize your life and get all the things done you need and want to accomplish? I don't know if the average adult really considers this or if it is deliberate for real adults. Honestly, I don't really know; I am not a responsible adult.  I'm 43 and I have a career and a marriage and a house and pets etc. But I have not spent time learning how to manage the responsibilities that come from being married, from having a career, from owning a home, from owning pets, from being a healthy adult.

If you are a responsible, successful adult, you probably organize your life in some way: lists, scheduling, long term plans, shorts term plans, etc. I mostly have been living day by day and trying to remember all the things I want and need to do and that has gotten very tiring, and very annoying. I always feel like I am a loser because inevitably, I forget something. Yet I have been very resistant to scheduling and making lists, primarily because I have associated those activities with my mom and haven't wanted to be like her. (So not logical, but it is what it is.) I so desire the end results of using a schedule and listing but haven't really wanted to put in the time, energy, and effort required to get to those end results.

So once again I am trying to get a grip on what it means to be an adult and am trying to list and schedule out as many things as possible. I have started and continue to work on a master list of all the things I want and need to do, am making a basic daily schedule, and am working on following through with the things I put on my list and schedule. Having done this before, and started again just recently, I can see that it is very important that I prioritize my daily activities by how much they are stressing me out, or what I seem to see as the "hard" stuff.

If I can get to the really stressful items first in each day, then maybe my brain will be free to look for more opportunities and experiences, instead of it running circles trying to figure out when I at going to get the "hard" stuff done, or what am I missing.

Hugs!! Hope you are well!

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Tramatic Event

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I just wrote a post and referred to a traumatic event that happened in my childhood. It occurred to me that I was being totally vague so I though I'd just tell the story.

When I was about 8 and my brother was about 10, we were snooping around in my mom's room (my parents lived in separate bedrooms, yes weird, I know) looking for Christmas presents when my brother found some legal papers that referred somehow to divorce. My brother showed me or I just looked at it and although I am not sure I knew exactly what divorce was all about, I knew it wasn't good. My brother told me we could never talk about what we found with anyone, not even each other. We had to act like it never happened. I felt scared and alone, but I never talked about with any one until a few years ago.

Now I know it seems like kids of parents who slept in different rooms should have some clue that things were not right and some where inside of me, I sensed things were not okay before finding this paper but my family was very good at acting okay and doing family stuff that made us seem normal. There was an elephant in the room but we all ignored.

This event kind of fucked me up. I responded by withdrawing, quitting activities, being quiet, being livid at inappropriate times, and I took those bad habits and I ran with them. A impactful event happened to me  and I have chosen to let it define me. I chose to not say something to someone about what was happening or had happened. I choose to look to harmful actions like lying, stealing, drinking, doing drugs, smoking, isolating myself to fill the void I have chosen to allow to grow past childhood.

Now I am at a point that I would like for these problems that I have created to go away but am still choosing to not address them in a purposeful way that is affecting change in my world.

SO there is the story.  Maybe a little disjointed but I wanted to get it out here before I lost the thought to do so.

Bear hugs!

The Wrong Measure

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The last time I wrote, I said I was doing well and that things were moving along. Well, not so much due to my using the wrong measuring stick.  I was measuring how well I was doing by the fact that my husband and I were getting along. We were getting along pretty well at the last posting, and I was sure that it meant I was working on me and getting better. What it really meant was that my husband was trying to be patient with me and get along so I could work on me.

But I didn't really work on changing anything; I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out "what's wrong with me," and not any time and effort in changing anything that I don't like about myself, i.e. procrastination, no follow through, lack of drive.

For the last 4 or 5 months, I have been working on putting together a history of me through pictures. I got out all the pictures I have from my childhood (which, fortunately, is a lot), found the ones from age 8 to 14, sifted through those to chose some from each year, and then taped all of those in order (best I could) to 6 pieces of butcher paper. That took a couple of weeks to get it all in order with the help of things like laying out all the yearly photos my mom had taken of my brother and I, and yearly school pictures to compare the chosen pictures to to get a good sense of my timeline. Since I finished that, I have been and continue to look at each picture and write below each one. I have been labeling each one with many different tags like fantasy verses reality (what I thought was going on and what really was going on), closeness to others (physically and emotionally), big events in my life, likes and dislikes, and even clothing chooses. 

I started this reluctantly at my husband's advice. Really the first person who suggested I look at my pictures form this time period was a therapist I was seeing 6 years ago or so, but I refused to do that at that time. So after fighting with my husband again, he asked if I would please do this, and I agreed. I have learned many things about myself from 8-14 since I began this process, especially how unhappy and increasingly closed off I was from people. 

BUT and it a big BUT, Nothing is translating into action. I just act the same way, which means one thing: I am not dealing with the real problem inside of me.  If I can look and see my history in pictures, yet not be moved to react to those findings, then I am not really dealing with the problem.
What you ask is the real problem? I went through a traumatic happening in my childhood, and as a result, I began some bad habits, that, because I never addressed, have multiplied. 

Like I said before, I learned many things about myself through this picture exploration, yet have not been willing to really see let alone change those negative attributes about myself. I am still trying to fight with husband instead of fighting for myself with myself to be the person I wish (and sometimes tell myself I already am) I was now.  

Writing this post is one step in the right direction, not just because I wanted to share and put myself out there, but because I did it. I wrote the post instead of thinking about and avoiding it. 

Alrighty thanks for stopping by. :) Hope all is well and that you are in good spirits!