Birthdays and Dr. Who

Hi everyone! Yesterday my kids had a snow day, so I had some fun painting with my daughter. Today is my father-in-law’s birthday and tomorrow in my son’s birthday, so we were preparing for a special birthday dinner for the two of them, so I thought we should do a simple painting together for Grandpa. This is what we came up with:

 
 
I won’t be adding this one to my gallery, since my 7 year-old daughter helped paint it, but I will share how this one was made so you can try it yourself sometime. This one was a lot of fun!
 
We started out with a blank 8×10 canvas panel primed with white gesso. Then we created our design with masking tape. For this one, I had my daughter decide where we should put the tape. Then I had my daughter decide which colors she wanted to use and I mixed them up the way she asked. (We used regular acrylic paint.) Then I let her go to town! 
 
After she had painted each section, I helped her scratch some designs into each section. I made hearts, lines and zig-zags, and if you can make them out, she made some smiley faces in the green sections. After the paint had dried, we removed the masking tape and made the red splatters with some liquid acrylic mixed with water, loading a paint brush with the mixture and flinging it onto the canvas panel by running our fingers through the bristles. (If you try this trick, I recommend wearing a smock or apron and protect and surrounding surfaces with newspaper or plastic, because it can get messy!)
 
Once the red splatters were dry, I sealed it with an acrylic matte varnish and our painting was complete. My father-in-law liked it, because it reminded him of the South African flag. he’s a former minister, and had gone to South Africa on a mission trip. So… Success! I think he would have liked it anyway, just because my daughter painted it, but still.
 
My son turns 12 tomorrow. His latest focus is Dr. Who, so I got him a Tardis poster for his bedroom wall. We’re Whovians around here. For my wedding, I wore a Dr. Who bow tie. The picture on it was the painting from the Van Gogh episode with the burning Tardis. My phone case is the same. 
 
That episode really touched me. The Doctor met Vincent Van Gogh, who had never sold a painting in his lifetime, and brought him into the future to see how important and valuable his work had become. It made me cry. So many times in life you work so hard at something and never see any real result. You wonder why you’re wasting your time doing it at all, but this episode reminds people to look beyond themselves and their short lifetimes. it may seem as though what you are doing is insignificant, but one little change, one snap decision, can make a huge difference. 
 
Well, I guess that’s all for tonight. I hope you enjoyed my daughter’s painting.
 
T.
 

Out of Order

Hi everyone! Just wanted to let you all know that some of my more recent posts are out of order now. I paid someone to change the layout of my blog and things got all messed up. Some of my posts had been right aligned, and the punctuation marks were at the front of the line, not where they should be, and the only way I could fix them was to delete the entire post, fix it in MS Word and repost them.

Anyway, now I’m trying to fix all the issues and make this blog shine! So, please bear with me over the next few days as I get things the way I want them. Things are going to be added and moved around until I get things the way I like them. Sorry for the inconvenience.


T.

Happy New Year!


It’s finally 2017!!! Thank goodness! This year has been an interesting one for me and my wife. It started out very well. I had a good job at a factory and Beth and I got married on April 2nd. The wedding was beautiful and I am so proud to be a part of Beth’s amazing family. Beth’s father is a former Methodist minister, and officiated some of our wedding ceremony, along with the pastor of the church that we belong to. Beth’s parents are so loving and accepting. Last winter, the kids and I moved to Door County, and into Beth’s parents’ house. They welcomed us with open arms, and have been so understanding and supportive as I work toward regaining control over my thoughts and my life.

Memorial Day weekend was when the newlywed high came crashing down around me. I was speaking to my mother on the phone and she gave me some information that brought the memories of child sexual abuse that had happened when I was three to four years old. For months, I had panic attacks several times per day. I could not, and still cannot work, (My goal is to get back. I had a really good job before all of this happened.) I began to see a therapist and a doctor for medication and tools to help control my panic attacks, but it took quite a while for the doctor to find me the right combination of medications, and for me to learn how and when to use the grounding methods that my therapist was teaching me.

The memories came back in short, but intense flashbacks, and I remembered only small pieces of events, leaving me trying to connect the dots through research and conversations with family members. Since the abuse occurred over thirty years ago, I cannot prosecute my abusers because the statute of limitations has passed. Now that I think I have remembered most of what happened, I am left battling with my brain, which automatically goes into panic mode every time I come across something that reminds me of those events, and dealing with the feelings of hurt, shame, anger, fear and betrayal. All of this while parenting two autistic children, one of which got suspended from school for a week last month.

So, here’s to a new year that will hopefully see me going back to work at least part time. I’m hoping, and looking forward to getting my son the help that he needs to work out his issues. I’m hoping that as I work with my new therapist, that the EMDR treatments will help my brain to process the memories that cause all of this anxiety. And finally, I’m hoping that I can regain some sense of normality. I think that those hopes are not too far out of reach.
Happy 2017, everyone! I wish you all joy, luck, and love in the coming year.
T

New Therapist and Other Updates


Hi, everyone! Sorry, it’s been a few days since I put out a new post. The last few days have been quite busy. On Wednesday I met my new therapist, and I think that we are going to be a very good for each other. She has 16 years of experience specializing in trauma and can continue the EMDR therapy that I started with my former therapist. She is also LGBT friendly and has an autistic son, which is very nice. I already like her.
On Thursday afternoon, we had an intake meeting for my son at Social Services, and that turned out very well too. They are going to help us find the right counselor for my son and get him into some programs that will help us all work together to find the best ways to help him succeed. As far as the legal stuff, he will be doing some community service and will have to write an essay. Not too bad at all. I think we (my wife and me, his father and the social worker) were all pleased with the outcome.
This morning I finished the painting that I have been working on here and there all week. It’s still drying, so I’ll post a photo later. This one is too personal to sell, but I will still put in in my Gallery and on all of my social media. Speaking of that, I’ve added some new social media accounts this week. I’m now on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram, so check out my pages and follow me if you’d like. I have links to all of my social media pages in the sidebar on the right side of the page.
I also have an Etsy shop and am on Patreon, if you’d like to support me by buying some of my artwork or by being my patron. On Patreon, I am asking for support per piece, with pledge amounts as low as $1 per piece, rather than a monthly pledge so you will get to see what your support helps me to create. All of those links are also in the sidebar on the right side of the page.
I’m also considering creating other products to sell on Etsy. I haven’t decided what they would be yet, but I could get my craft on. I’m considering creating signs with funny sayings or maybe some fun collage pieces for kids’ rooms. I painted the kids each a little something for their rooms a month or so ago, and my daughter has been asking me to do another one, so I thought if she likes them, other kids probably will too. Another idea is to just visit my local thrift shops and just see what they have for me to play with. I’ll keep you all posted as the ideas and projects come.
I think that’s all I have for the moment. I will be posting a photo of my most recent piece later. It’s a mixed media piece on a canvas panel.
Thanks for reading!
T.

Frozen


Hi, everybody. This blog is all about my journey in dealing with my PTSD, so today I’d like to share what I’ve been going through lately. My anxiety has been crazy high for the last week or so. There were so many things that I had planned to do that have all been pushed aside because I’m just frozen. I had planned to work on some new paintings. Those are sitting right next to me, only partially completed. I meant to fold and put away the laundry… Well, at least it’s clean. I had also planned to .write more of my book but I’m still sitting on chapter two.
And sadly, all of this anxiety is over something that I can’t discuss here on my blog. I’m sure it will end up in one of my books later on but for now, I can’t share it.
When my anxiety spikes like this, I’m much more irritable and jumpy. For example, I have a cat, and she likes to sit on my desk to get my attention, but sometimes I won’t see her walk up to the desk and when she jumps up so do I. My wife works for a ride share company and she often will come home if she has time between rides, and I jump every time she opens the door.
Another downside to all of this anxiety is that it also brings more flashbacks. It had been over a month since my last flashback, and over the last few days I have had several of them, and the scenes are getting more and more vivid and increasing in frequency and intensity. They happen mostly at night, as I’m laying down to go to sleep. While I have no recollection of this, my wife tells me that I’ve been twitching and talking in my sleep and sometimes I cower in my sleep.
For the last 12 years or so, I have been sleeping with a body pillow. I always need to have something covering my chest, and Nobody can touch me in my sleep! This has caused problems in my last few relationships, but it’s the only way that I feel safe. My wife is very patient and understanding, and on nights when my anxiety is up, she will even put a pillow between us so that she doesn’t accidentally touch me and scare me.
I know that to some people, this all seems crazy, but there it is. This is what I deal with every day. This is why I can’t work, and why I have problems being in public and crowded places. I’m scared and worried all the time, and most of that fear and worry is completely irrational. I know it is, but I can’t seem to convince my brain that it’s irrational and that it will be my lifelong struggle.
Writing about it helps, even if nobody is reading this. This is a good outlet for me, and a chance to show others with the same struggles that they are not alone. They’re not crazy. I thought I was crazy for about 30 years. I would have flashbacks of things that I didn’t remember from my childhood and no proof or confirmation that they had actually happened, until recently and the parties involved were unwilling to talk. I had to dig for answers. I’m glad that I did. Just having the knowledge that it actually did happen, and that I’m not crazy has changed my life.
Once again, thanks for reading and never give up!
T.

“Out With It”

As promised, here is the photo of my latest piece. It’s a mixed media piece on an 8×10 canvas panel. I had originally planned for this piece to be the cover of my next book, but I think it’s just a little bit too busy for that. Instead, I will include a photo of it inside.

“Out With It”
Mixed media on canvas panel
8×10
I put a lot of work into this one. It’s probably the most complex piece I have done so far, and it’s me. This painting is who I am. It’s everything that I’ve been through in my life. My struggles and my triumphs. It’s everything that I would never tell anybody if they asked who I was. And because of its significance to me, it will not be listed for sale in my Etsy shop. I might consider offering prints of it in the future.
As I stated before, this piece is quite complex. I started out with my 8×10 canvas panel, prepped with white gesso, and created a background of stain in multiple colors and layers with liquid acrylics. I preserved each layer with a light coating of acrylic matte medium. Then I placed my googly eyes on the canvas, gluing them in place with some more matte medium. The blue drips were created with string gel, which I had tinted blue and added a blue metallic powder additive, which had some interesting effects. The metallic powder retarded the flow of the string gel and softened its consistency when it dried. I added the numbers and symbols with a metallic purple permanent marker. The finger prints were made with my own hands with a flesh-toned acrylic paint, and the deep red spots and drips are a watered down matte medium glaze.
This was such an emotional piece that it took a lot out of me, so I plan for my next project to be light and happy. I have prepped six 2″x2″ canvas panels. I’m not quite sure yet if I will connect all of them and create one piece, or in threes and make two. I could also make six mini pieces. I guess we’ll just have to see what happens. These ones will certainly be available for sale in my Etsy shop when they are completed.
T.

“Crying Fire”

Hello, everybody! I just wanted to share my latest painting with you all. 


 
“Crying Fire”
Mixed media on canvas panel
5×7
 
I haven’t worked on a smaller canvas for a while, but I had one lonely 5×7 panel just sitting on my art box saying, “Play with me!” So I did.
 
For this painting, I prepared my 5×7 canvas panel with a coating of white gesso. Then I stained the canvas with water and liquid acrylics and once it was dry, I preserved my base layer with a thin coating of acrylic matte medium. I then applied a second layer of stain and coating it with another layer of matte medium once it was dried.

Next, I tinted some string gel with red and yellow and placed large piles of the tinted gel at the top of the canvas, and propped it up to let it drip as it dried. Then I placed drops of straight liquid acrylic directly onto the canvas, propped it up vertically again and sprayed the drops with water to help them drip. I used this method twice, allowing the paint to dry between each layer.

Once my canvas was dry again, I mixed some yellow liquid acrylic with a little bit of water, loaded it onto a brush and feathered the bristles with my fingers, to essentially, “Fling” tiny droplets of yellow paint onto the canvas. After allowing that to dry, the final touch was another drizzle of string gel, tinted orange, and left propped vertically to drip.

I hope that sharing my methods with you will help you get some ideas for projects that you can do on your own. I think that the most interesting pieces are the ones that are somewhat left to chance, like this one. I had no control over the way the string gel drizzled and dripped across the canvas, nor did I have control over how my liquid acrylics chose to drip. Pieces like this excite me because you can watch the beauty unfold naturally, rather than trying to create it artificially.

Well, if you like this painting and are interested in purchasing it, or any of my other pieces, they are available on Etsy!

Once again, thanks for reading.
 
T. 

T’s Big Book of Religion and Philosophy

Last night, I compiled and self-published another book on Amazon.com, entitled T’s Big Book of Religion and Philosophy. This book is a collection of most of my articles, blog posts and essays on religion and philosophy. 

Here is an exclusive look at the preface from my latest book:


          This book is the product of several years of studying religion, both personally and academically. Some of these articles were written while I still believed in a deity, but was falling away from organized religion. During that time of my life, I read anything and anything that I could get my hands on that pertained to religion.
           
            I was searching for answers. I read The Bible in its entirety,  all of the Apocrypha, the Dead Sea scrolls, The Koran, The Book of Mormon… you get the gist. As I read, I discovered that I held a fond interest in world religions, and I eventually began studying religion academically. I attended college online for three years before I left my then husband and ended up dropping out so that I could learn to care for my two autistic children as a single parent.

            While I was in studying religion, I was also an active blogger. I wrote and published articles on HubPages, as well as a personal blog, sharing my experiences in studying religion as a skeptic. This book is a collection of the articles, blog posts and research papers that I wrote during that time.

            I hope that this book will not provide answers, but encourage critical thinking, and inspire you all to keep asking questions.


This book contains over 200 pages of some of my best research papers, articles and blog posts. I worked through the night to compile, format and edit this collection, and finally published this book at about 2:00 this morning. Though I made every effort to place like articles together, they are in no particular order. My research papers list all of my references, but all of my work on this subject is backed by research conducted from nothing but the best credible and unbiased sources online and from books and peer reviewed articles from my textbooks and college library resources. 


If you are interested in purchasing my latest book, it’s available on Amazon.com, in both e-book and print versions. You can find it by clicking the “T’s Bookstore” link on the right side of the page. 


Thanks for reading,

T

Dr. Seuss’s ABC’s

Today, I’d like to share a few of the methods I use to calm myself when my anxiety levels spike. Some of these methods were taught to me by my therapist, and some of these are methods that I invented myself. Either way, they help bring me back to the present so that I can participate in life.

The first grounding method I use to try calming myself out of a panic attack is slow, deep breathing. Concentrating on my breathing helps me shift my focus to something that I can control, and it prepares me for using some of my other favorite methods.

The next method that I use to calm myself is one that my therapist taught me. She calls it the “wet noodle” method. I just let my become relax and become loose, like a wet noodle. This sometimes helps me temporarily, but it’s not something that I feel comfortable doing in public.

One of the most helpful grounding techniques that I learned is simple mindfulness. I pay close attention to my immediate surroundings, feeling the weight of my body on the chair that I’m sitting in, or concentrating on the feel of the steering wheel in my hands while I’m driving.

Another fun mindfulness technique is something that my kids sometimes help me with. Once again, it requires paying close attention to my surroundings and thinking what would happen if gravity suddenly was reversed. Going through each object in my line of vision and imagining what would happen to each object. Would it float all the way up to the ceiling, or would something stop it? My eleven-year-old son, who loves science, loves to help me out with this activity.

All of the grounding methods that I told you about work very well, but my favorite method, and the one that is the most effective and fun for me, is reciting the words of Dr. Seuss’s ABC’s, either silently or out loud. This is a book that I read all the time as a child. It was my favorite and I have it memorized. This is also one that my family helps me with. sometimes when my anxiety starts spiking, I turn to one of my kids and say, “Quick! Give me a letter!” If, for example, my daughter says, “X!,” I would reply with,

“X is very useful if your name is Nixie Knox. It also comes in hand spelling ax and extra fox.” -Dr. Seuss

This method can work for anything that you know very well. It could be a book, or quotes from a movie that you love, pretty much anything.

If you’ve never read Dr. Seuss’s ABC’s, or have young children, I highly recommend that book. You can purchase it through the T’s Bookstore link on the right side of the page, under Recommended by T. Cathers-Mitchell.

Well, those are all of the methods that I use to calm and ground myself when my anxiety spikes. There are many more, but these are the ones that work for me. I hope that these will help anyone else that suffers from anxiety attacks, and I encourage you all to get creative and invent or share some of your own in the comment section below.

T.

New Situation Jitters

Today, I’ve been trying to calm my new situation jitters by working on a new painting. The problem with that is that I work in layers, leaving too much time for me to think and freak out while each layer dries. Waiting for paint to dry is kind of boring, so I thought I’d write about this new anxiety spike.

Next week, a lot of new things are happening in my life. The therapist that I had been working with for my EMDR treatments is leaving, and I will be seeing my new therapist in Green Bay (Because nobody else in the Door peninsula treats PTSD) on Wednesday for the first time. Just the thought of having to retell my entire story to somebody new, which often brings back the flashbacks and panic attacks, scares the hell out me. I’m trying to keep in mind that I have support available to me, and to use my grounding methods (more on that in the next post). Even though I can calm myself rather quickly now, I’m still very nervous about meeting my new therapist.

The other big thing that’s happening next week is a meeting on Thursday with social services about my son. My 11-year-old son got into some trouble on the school bus a few weeks ago, and is now facing legal charges, which is all being handled through social services. I haven’t had much experience with social services in that capacity, so I have no idea what to expect. Will they give him a fine? Community service? Will they be visiting our house? (Cause if so, I have some mad cleaning to do!) My biggest hope for this meeting is that they will help me get my son the help that he so badly needs. He has Aspergers and ADHD combined type, and he has some aggression and self-esteem and social interaction problems that counseling and help at school are not solving.

While I know that this isn’t happening till next week, my brain will not let me stop thinking about it for long. PTSD causes the amygdala, the fear center of the brain to work overtime. So little things that would only cause mild anxiety to someone else, are a major upset to me. For example, we have a cat, and just about every time she jumps up onto my desk from behind me, I startle and it takes me a minute or two to calm down. I’m constantly in battle with my brain, trying to separate the irrational fears from the rational ones. It’s exhausting.

Writing about it all helps, even if nobody ever reads this blog, just getting it out of my head, and onto a screen where I can read it and recognize the irrationality of my fears makes a huge difference. So, if you’re reading this, thank you for bearing with me while I’m in panic mode. You rule!

Well, my last layer of paint is dry, so I think I’ll start the next. I’m having fun with this new painting. I’ll share it when it’s finished.

Thanks for reading,

T