Thursday, September 27, 2012

In which I Choose to Feel

Back when I was sick last summer, I realized why people got addicted to things. I mean, I got it on some level because my dad was an addict. He sacrificed everything for his addiction. His family, his savings, his life. And he did the first two more than once. More than once my mom left my dad. More than once they lost everything. And after ten years of being clean, he gave into the temptation again. And that time it killed him.

I can make zero justification for my dad's choices. People used to tell me when I was a kid that he "did his best." I think they were trying to justify their inaction when they knew he was hurting me. No, he didn't. And if he did? His best sucked. Don't get me wrong, I have a few good memories. But I have more memories of being afraid. Of hiding. Of losing everything I loved. Of leaving my friends because we had to run and hide from him. Of getting frantic messages that he was missing that last time he fell back into cocaine. Of the heartache of the intervention. Of my mom's voice when she called to tell me he died suddenly. Of not knowing what to tell the pastor to say at his funeral.

Which brings me back to being sick last summer when we lost Garrett. Everything hurt. Everything. My body. My soul. My brain. My emotions. Nothing didn't hurt. It even hurt to look in the mirror at my ravaged self. Heck, it hurt other people to look at me. I can see the temptation of pain pills. Of alcohol. Of anything to numb the pain of the empty nursery and my four year old's heartache. To make it so I didn't feel my husband watching me like I might disappear.

But you know what? I choose to be awake. I choose to feel. I choose to live. I choose to hurt. I choose to love. I choose joy. Some of that is my own strength. I'm pretty tough in a lot of ways. Focused. Determined. But you know what it really is? Grace. Like Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. I work hard to be who I am. But it's not me. It's the grace of God.

But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.

This post is my contribution to the SheLoves Synchroblog Awake. Click here to read other stories on this theme and to add yours.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Self Defense Workshop in October

Although I try not to plug my classes too much here, I wanted to let anyone in or around the Memphis area know about a seminar that my school is hosting. We're bringing the guys from Innovative Martial Arts in Grand Rapids to town to do a self defense 101 workshop. If you have martial arts experience, this is a great review on basics and you will almost certainly learn something about instructing people safely and with no ego. And I pick up new stuff and new ways to teach things every time I meet up with Chuck and Don! Plus, there's a bonus session on Sunday about how to apply joint locks in the midst of chaos. ^.^

For people without martial arts training but who would like some basic information on self defense, this is a great place to start. Many self defense workshops don't offer anything but foolish overconfidence but it is not the case with the IMA workshops. Plus the instructors are always safe and they are not intimidating at all. I mentioned them before almost a year ago, if you wanted to read about that.

Here's the flyer for the event. You can comment here or send me an email if you have any questions or want information. To register online, you can click here. Scholarships and discounts are available if you would like to attend but are having financial difficulties. Aaaand, while I'm plugging things, you can like us on Facebook! Ok, I'm done now. :) Here's the flyer for real:

(edited to add that I switched the flyers...we are now offering a student rate!)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Community Helper Day

I haven't quite gotten the hang of blogging in the day while Autumn is at school. I'm guessing it will get easier but I've blogged post-Autumn's-bedtime for so many years that it's an adjustment to make time in the day! This happened last week and I meant to post about it but forgot until I came across this in my instant upload folder:

They had Community Helpers Day at school on September 11. The kids dressed up as people who work in the community, everyone from police officers to chefs. They also had to write a report about their chosen job. Autumn wanted to be a doctor so she wore some scrubs and a stethoscope Aunt Penny got her.

As you can see from the report above, she wrote that she wanted to dress up as a doctor because "they help people feel better." The picture she drew on the left is of her teacher, who has a broken foot. And Autumn is the doctor. On the right, she drew herself as the doctor again (I love the stethoscope) and then I'm in the bed with a baby in my tummy looking sad, and papa (wearing pants!) is there on the right.

She is SUCH a sweet soul.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Birthday Makeover!

Today is my birthday!! I've had a few friends joke with me about being 29 or 17 or some random not-32 number. I don't mind, though, because I figure I've earned my years! Plus any birthday I get after last summer feels like a gift, in all seriousness. But! Today was a fun day so I won't be bittersweet or melancholy.

I started out the morning at the salon. I decided about a month ago that I wanted to get a funky dye. I used to have fun hair all the time but sometime around 2010 I got tired of the maintenance and went back to my natural color. It's what you see above. I have dark brown hair, although Autumn insists it's black. :) I kind of wanted to do dark red with light/bright red tips and after looking around online, I found some photos of a color process called ombre.

I considered getting my mom to do it but I really wanted this to go smoothly so I decided to go with someone else partly to reduce the potential emotional drama factor. My mom is a great stylist but sometimes because I'm her daughter, I think she lets her ADD run rampant, haha. Once she gave me a haircut completely opposite of what I wanted because she "forgot what the picture looked like." THE PICTURE WAS ON MY LAP. So, yeah. I wanted a no drama cut. I also figured such a drastic change called for someone specifically trained in the technique. Originally, I made an appointment with Lainey's hairstylist, the lady who cut my hair last time. But she said she wasn't trained to do it in red, only brown, and recommended a couple of salons in Midtown. I ended up going with Empire Hair Studio because I have a friend who gets her hair cut there and they had a lot of great reviews.

One, holy eye wrinkles, Batman! And two, I like it! A stylist named Don did my hair. Poor guy...he did one set of bleach and dye and it took an hour because I have a ton of hair even though it doesn't really look like it. Another 30 minutes while it processed and in the wash...nothing! Well, almost nothing. The red violet took but the red at the tips? Nothing. Plain, old dark brown hair! So he went to round two. He and an apprentice ended up dealing with me for almost FIVE hours! They were super patient and didn't charge me more than the base price for an ombre. I didn't get quite the drastic change I wanted but I still like it. And the back has the ombre effect.

The interesting thing about this dye is how it changes depending on the light. In the sun, it's a bright color. In other lights, it doesn't look too far off my natural color. And I absolutely love the hair cut. Don worked around the crazy swirl that makes my hair fall forward all the time and used it to show off the color dimensions. And although I didn't get quite the funky tips I wanted, Mike really likes it. He was nervous about my new hair because he likes my hair dark. There was much sadness back in the days when I had platinum streaks. No sadness today! Although he does look afraid of the camera here.

Not only did I get a great hairdo, I had an all around good day. I always feel bad around birthday time when people wish me a happy birthday on Facebook because I am the WORST at that! But it was fun getting messages, posts, and texts wishing me a happy day. Mike got me the latest three Yotsuba& books. Autumn secretly helped Lindsay make this cake for me, too!

There will be a whole post on this later but we did something super cool tonight! Earlier this month, it was Nanny's 80th birthday. And late last month, they celebrated their 60th anniversary. So, tonight, we surprised them with a party! I did a lot of the printables for the party so I'll post them here soon!

Nanny was very surprised!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

12 Hours of Aikido and Still Upright!

This weekend I went to an aikido seminar here in town. It was seriously intense! I had a great time and it was pretty emotional being there. Last year, I could only sit and watch this same seminar. All together, I survived 12 hours of aikido in three days!! Andrew Sato Sensei led the seminar. He is an excellent teacher. He also happens to be the head of the AWA and has been doing Aikido since the year Mike was born. Thirty-five years. I can't even tell you how many ways he helped me with various techniques. Here is Sato Sensei helping me with tachidori, or bokken taking.

I also think that's a funny picture because you can barely see me behind Aaron there. I learned a few weaknesses I have to work on, which is really good, although it might sound bad. Sato Sensei extremely generously asked me what I wanted to work on and I asked for weapons. We started weaponry way later than this association does. I have a lot of experience with weapons, especially knives and various sticks and some experience with a jo, but I am completely unfamiliar with the bokken. And what knowledge I have of fighting with a weapon is not in an aikido context. Anyway, Sato Sensei's instruction worked. :) Enjoy this photo of my bottom half, hahaha.

The biggest physical issue was my lowest incision. The hernia repair was not a big deal at all. I kind of wonder if my belt helps with that part. The bigger throws seemed to, I don't even know how to describe it, make it feel like my insides were going to fall out? Not that extreme. But it was a lot of sharp, deep pain and it scared me a little because I have a high pain threshold. I made sure everyone knew that I wasn't taking big falls and every person respected my boundaries. Sato Sensei tried a number of ways to help me fall painlessly, but I told him I thought it was just going to be a time and strength issue because of how much and how far the doctors opened me up. I appreciated his concern, though. I did discover that if I rolled up smaller and held my knees in with a free hand, it didn't hurt. It's awkward but kind of amazing how much it helped. Hopefully some more exercise will clear that issue up but for now I know how to compensate. Even though I feel like a roly poly when I do it!

This, by the way, is Bob. Bob is absolutely fascinating and I told him he needed to write an autobiography! He started taking Aikido in his early 60's and, despite arthritis, is now a blue belt. I enjoyed working with him. Between the two of us, there aren't many excuses people who want to try a martial art can make!

Another person who helped me out a lot was Jones Sensei. He's on the technical committee for testing and is a dojo cho in Arkansas. He is a very large man! And a good teacher. I liked this photo because you can see how much I stretch out and project to get some of these big guys going. I muscle things a bit too much and it's one of the things I'm going to work to improve. I want to get better at feeling the energy people are putting into their attacks.

Randoori is the aikido version of sparring multiple opponents. It is the other huge gap I have in my aikido training partly because I was sick and I haven't done it in a while. Too, I wasn't familiar with how they go about it in this association until today! Apparently I was too polite for that portion of the test! I also have some footwork issues and I back up too much which doesn't shock me because I have the same problem when doing, say, kali. Oddly, I'm not discouraged by my showing in the randoori portion. I've been praying all week that I'd come into this with perspective about where I've come from. Aaron even said that I've come a long way--I did the whole seminar when last year I could only watch about an hour because I couldn't sit for that long on the bleachers! So, I'm not too torn up about the rough patches. I'm glad to have them! Hopefully I will feel the same tomorrow. Anyway, here's a photo of the randoori practice. I included this because the size differences are hilarious.

So, we totally had a blast. And you know what made the weekend even more fun? This weekend they had the Japanese Bon Festival at the Botanic Garden so we all went during the lunch break on Saturday! So fun! Mike is kind of shy so rather than go to the dinner, he and Autumn met me at the festival. All I have to say is that I am SO going to make Autumn a yukata.

They had a yukata dressing booth and, as you can see from her fan, a calligraphy booth. Autumn liked that so much she went twice! And, I got a chance to get out of my sweaty gi and into some dry clothes!

But next year? Next year we're totally doing the festival again and dressing up!!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Kind of a chalkboard and distressed frame tutorial...

But, really, this is a "what worked for me" for anyone who might be interested in trying this out!

I spent the week crafting ALL THE THINGS. I can't figure out if it's the almost-fall time of year or stress that makes me want to make things but I guess I'll just enjoy the productivity! This week I worked on a picture frame my friend Cathy gave me. Autumn was able to help me do most of it which made it even more fun! Here is what it originally looked like.

These pictures are, by the way, an odd mixture of camera photos and phone photos! Also, Autumn thought the picture was "beautiful." I told her we can put it somewhere in her room if she likes. :) I took the picture and the glass out of the frame and took it outside to spray primer I had from another project on it. Then, Autumn and I painted it with Anita's Terra Cotta Acrylic Paint from Hobby Lobby. 67 cents for the win, guys. After the paint dried, we rubbed wax from a used candle onto the spots I knew I wanted to distress.

After priming, painting the base coat, and waxing, we painted what I thought was going to be the final coat. It wasn't. I liked the color of the paint I used but next time I will use something a little thicker or higher quality or something. It took 3 coats of the DecoArt Light Buttermilk paint to cover the orange but for a 99 cent bottle, I can't complain too much.

It looked fine but with the white, it was really hard to see the pretty decorations carved in the frame so I took to the internet again.

I decided to use some ebony wood stain I had in the paint closet to antique the frame. I let Autumn paint the stain onto the decorations and the frame edges and I wiped it off immediately. I was afraid it was too dark but it really looks great. The carving stands out nicely.

In the above picture, you can see all my supplies. Foam brushes (to make it easier for Autumn to paint), wax, wood stain, wire cutters for opening the can and smushing down the staples that held the glass in, and rags for wiping the stain. Here's an up close of the frame's corner post-staining.

The last thing I did to the frame was sand! Autumn helped me with this, too. We took heavy sand paper to the edges and raised bits. The spots where the wax covered the base coat came off perfectly. I even got a few spots down to the gold so we can see it glint a bit in the light at spots. It's hard to see the distressing in photos so here's another corner shot.

I seriously love how the orange comes through. We ran over the whole thing with fine sandpaper and the wiped it down. Next was the glass. We sprayed primer (I love spray primer) on the glass and let it dry. I have tried sanding glass before when making a chalkboard but that is a pain and painting the chalkboard black was way harder on sanded glass than spray primed glass.

When I planned the chalkboard, I thought making it magnetic would be super fun. Well, let me just tell you not to bother. If you want a magnetic chalkboard, buy a different paint or use a metal sheet because the Krylon Magnetic Paint is useless. Which I would have known if I had specifically researched it before buying it. I used 4 coats of paint and let it cure and it still doesn't work. So I think I am going to return it. It even globbed some spots on my nice glass. Rar!

Last thing! We painted the chalkboard paint on! This part went great! We did the first coat horizontally and the second coat vertically. It looks fantastic!

I am so stinking happy with this frame. It is such an update from the original look and I feel like it's something I'd find at Pottery Barn. Oh! One thing...when you make a chalkboard, don't forget to prime it! But don't do what we did...we primed it after we framed it which made a huge mess in all the crevices. But we had fun doing it together. And making crazy faces.

Here it is on the mantel!

This is another spot I'm considering. I don't love that picture of me and Mike being there but it fit and everyone else likes it. But the chalkboard would look good there, too, and might not blend in with the fireplace as much. Thoughts?

Autumn joined me in the picture taking, too! AND she got the honor of doing the inaugural drawing! I thought about adding a quote about fairies because the picture is of Penny, Autumn, me, Molly, and Nanny and Boppa as fairies (I don't know why Mike got left out--she might have gotten distracted!), but I decided it was great as-is!