Friday, January 28, 2022

The Three Best Things I've Done For My Mental Health In The Last Year

You know what I love? The concept of "leveling up" versus "getting older." Instead of focusing on the things we lose as we age - smooth skin, energy, the metabolism of a coked-up weasel - leveling up focuses on the things we gain. Things like skills, experience, and better armor for your body type.

When I was 20 the thought of making a healthy breakfast for myself every day was laughable, I had no idea why everything hurt all the time, and I believed everyone everywhere had to like me at all times or I might actually die. 

Now at level 43 I'm more comfortable with myself and others, I've had most of my broken parts diagnosed and treated, I feel a million times better, and I've learned hundreds of skills and coping techniques and routines that just make life better. Like how to make a healthy breakfast every day. It's awesome. Leveling up is awesome.

So in that spirit, I want to share three ways I've leveled up my mental health game this past year. I haven't mastered anything yet - and never expect to - but these are ways I can look back and see definite improvements.

1) Lean In To The Routine

This is obvious for most of my fellow mental health warriors, but it's gotta be said. Routine is our friend. Make lists. Set alarms. Schedule your week, your meals, maybe even your outfits if that helps. The less mental energy you spend making decisions, the more you'll have to tackle your day, your work, and the unexpected gremlins life chucks your way. So spend your precious, finite cache of mental energy wisely.

If this is a new strategy for you, let me recommend my post Routine Maintenance: 4 Ways I've Reduced My Daily Anxiety By Limiting My Choices.

And here are two tools from that post that help me stick to a routine:

- A pre-printed daily list:

(I erased all my strike-throughs so you can see my examples from yesterday.)

Note how the 2nd thing on my list is to make another list, ha. The things I do every day are printed, then I add day-specific tasks on the right. I've been using a dry-erase list like this most days for the last several years. I keep it next to me while I'm working, so every time I realize I'm mindlessly scrolling social media (which still happens a lot), I can check my list to get back on track.

Tuck your printed list into a page protector, and voila, instant dry-erase list! I also have an alternate list for Sundays on the back, so it's double-sided.

- My magnetic menu board

I've raved about this thing enough before, so let me just say again that it is a massive sanity saver. If you do the "I don't know, what do you want to eat?" dance every night, try this. Since I last mentioned this menu board I've leveled up to making the menus myself each week, instead of making John decide. See? Still baby-stepping my way up!

2) Volunteer and/or Donate To Charities

John and I've always loved working on projects for friends, but this past year we've started volunteering at an actual charity, The Sharing Center. We started small, just a few hours a weekend sorting clothes for their thrift store. That was so fun we decided to go bigger, and over the last few months we've replaced ceiling tiles, painted entire offices, laid over 1,200 square feet of laminate flooring, replaced sinks, and more. It's harder work than we've ever done for friends, but also vastly more rewarding.

If you watch my Stories you might remember some of these updates.

How is busting our butts for free rewarding? Let me give you an example. Two week ago as John and I were painting the Client Services building - where they distribute food, rent money, and more - I watched an older woman knock on the door and beg for a loaf of bread. "Please," she said, "Just anything." The office was closed at the time, but the workers still opened the door and handed over a bag of groceries. I was across the room painting out of sight, but that moment struck me to my core, gang. I felt incredibly humbled and grateful and sad and joyful, all at the same time. At that moment, you couldn't have dragged me away from the work I was doing.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

You May... Take A Viking... To These Photos

Last week we needed something boring at Walmart, so for obvious and necessary adulting reasons, John and I detoured through the Valentines' plushie aisle.

This little ginger viking is adorable, but plays a terrible rendition of "I'm Too Sexy."

The pun was gold, though, so a few days later I decided to do this:

... and then this:

Here's a non-flasher pose in my cold weather outfit, since I like it a lot:


The fair was a last minute decision for me, but my friends Arielle and Karen were prepared and dressed like actual Vikings:

Friday, January 21, 2022

My Favorite TikToks To Keep The Gloomies Away

It's Friday and my panic's up, booo. Probably just my hormones having their monthly Kylo Ren moment, but trying to explain that to the screaming ferret in my brain doesn't seem to help.

You know what does help? After taking the appropriate meds?

(If you don't see the videos after a few seconds try refreshing the page; sometimes they get stuck loading.)
@officialcinetv #snlsketch #impressions #impersonation #voiceimpressions #movieactor #snlfunny #foryoupage #comedycentral #comedian #comedy #rossmarquand #voiceactor ♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys - Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey

John sent me a bunch of these, btw, so he gets some credit. I only log in to TikTok a couple times a month, and every time I have about 50 forwarded links from John. (Forwarding funny links is the "flower and chocolates" of our time, am I right?)

I think I've shared Parkour Cat before, but it may be my favorite TikTok ever. I simply can't NOT laugh every time I see it. (I tried once, and strained something.) 

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

"Silence of the Yams," Gothic Mushroomcore, & Gondor Gon-Doors

Hiya! Happy Tuesday.

Today, in the category of "content you didn't know you needed," I bring you Corinne's Food Art, aka _ghoul_mom:

Her whimsical anthropomorphic food art puts the biggest grin on my face. It's not all sugar and sweet, either; Corinne's work also has some bite:

... and she enjoys the occasional creepy food pun:

Like "Silence Of The Yams." (Bahaha!)

As of this writing Corinne has less than 3,500 followers on Instagram, but I bet her account is gonna blow up soon. These are too good to go unnoticed for long! Fingers crossed she'll start offering prints, because I so want to decorate a kitchen with them.


Then for a truly hidden gem at only 380 followers, meet Katie Martin of Suncat Illustrations:

I love her characters! This is Plushie Cat, and Hika here has his own dollhouse:

Katie's bright, soft colors bring me back to my My Little Pony & Care Bears days: pure smiles.

Be sure to check out the Sun Cat Illustrations Etsy shop for originals, stickers, prints, and coloring pages you can download instantly for under a dollar. Sweet!


Marika of roompic_ru calls herself the "guardian of luminous mushrooms and forest spirits," and her teeny hand-sculpted snails just might steal your heart. Slowly.

Friday, January 14, 2022

My First Asian Lantern Festival: "Into The Wild"

Happy Friday, you ferocious firecracker! Have you smiled yet today?

If not, I got you:

Last weekend John and I visited our first ever Asian Lantern Festival at the Central Florida Zoo. These lighted festivals are apparently all the rage in zoos across the U.S. but I'm told ours is an especially snazzy example. Even better, this particular exhibit, "Into The Wild," travels! So some of you have seen these exact displays in your state, and some of you might see them soon. I love that, really spreads the joy around.

If you can't watch the video where you are right now, never fear; I also have photos, and there's so much more to see! I tried to video the ones with a lot of motion, but I took regular pics for the rest.

A line of giant candy-colored snails greeted us in the parking lot. Peep that reflection in the pond!

The entry is flanked by these froggy friends:

If you saw my video, you know they blink! ("JOHN, THEY BLINK!! YES I KNOW I'M BEING TOO LOUD.") Going in I only expected a few static displays, so this was my first inkling that we were in for something special.

These festivals are a DELIGHT to photograph, because by the time you lower the exposure enough to capture the colors, all the people in frame practically disappear.

("De-light"? See what I did there?)

The narrow entry path was flanked by lighted cacti, snakes, and even a giant scorpion and spider. This iguana was my favorite, though:

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Snail TV, The Muppets Animal, & A Blockbusters Basement

Happy Tuesday, my tasty totchos! (I'm trying out some new nicknames - expect a food theme.) How was your weekend? I've been alternating between chair-dancing to Encanto songs and snuffling back tears to Encanto songs, ha. (I usually forget to mention Movie Nights here, but that was our pick last Friday/Sunday on the Epbot Discord. SO GOOD.)

Now, let's see what gems the internet has to offer us today, shall we?

Over in Jim Henson's Creature Shop (a FB fan group) Emily E. made her boyfriend a plush version of himself... in Animal form:

 AAAAAA! Y'all. We all need Animal avatar plushies now. This needs to be a thing.

Emily's boyfriend is a drummer who loves ice cream, plus Emily made a replica of his favorite hoodie. AMAZING. See Emily's original post with a few more photos here.


Here's a fascinating nugget and resource for you crafters, art lovers, and anyone interested in copyright law:

Jasmine Becket Griffith - a rock star in the art world with official pieces in the Disney parks, Hot Topic, and shops around the world - is putting tons of her artwork into the public domain under Creative Commons licensing. Meaning anyone can use it, modify it, and sell it, for free. o.0 Jasmine says she may be the first living artist to do this, which is very possible.

Griffith is starting with 625 pieces, but reports she has 5 to 6 thousand she plans to add. She is actively encouraging folks to use her art on merch and sell it, no strings attached. (Though of course credit or a donation via her Patreon is always welcome.)

Check out her FB announcement here for more details on the how and why, then go browse all of Jasmine's available works for download here on her website. I'm excited to see what some of you do with this, and VERY interested to see if this will help or hurt Jasmine's income going forward. Such a fascinating, gutsy experiment.


Over in 90's Nostalgia Nick C. turned part of his basement into a 90's era video store, and it's a blockbustin' blast from the past:

Raise your hand if this photo brings you back to your childhood.

::raises both hands::

And tell me this next photo doesn't make your inner 14 year old start screeching:

Now THAT is a Saturday night. Just needs some fresh-baked cookies.

Plus - PLUS - Nic added all kinds of fun galaxy lights and LED strips for nighttime!

Friday, January 7, 2022

Turn Your Old Calendars Into Pretty Gift Wrapping Bows!

How's your first week of 2022 been, bots and babes? Mine's been pretty restful, since the new year is when things finally slow down over here. Of course I spent exactly two days napping and saying how wonderful it was to relax, then by day three I was prowling the house looking for projects. Ha! (Sorry, John.)

To that end my eye fell on our old 2021 calendar, and I decided to revisit a paper craft I used to love years and years ago.

Oh good, it's not just me.

And look what I made!

I originally learned this method using magazine pages from one of my favorite - and sadly now long gone - blogs, How About Orange. However the original source seems to be here, where nothing is in English but the pictures are lovely, so it's worth a click just for those:

I especially like the little embellishments in the middle, still need to try that.

Since I don't get magazines anymore I hadn't done this paper craft in ages - but I figure a calendar is basically a big magazine, right?

So after I turned my entire Flowers calendar into bows I thought I might film a tutorial for y'all, since there are a few tricky steps that are much easier to explain on film. A friend gave me her old Space calendar, too, so for the tutorial I got to make galaxy bows, awww yeeeeah:

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

All I Want For 2022

I want to reach someone new, I want to try something different.

I want to start the conversation, never end it.

I want to stomp footprints in the shifting sands of strangers' lives. I want to sift out their most beautiful flaws, and melt them into kaleidoscope glasses I will never take off.

I want to shatter hesitations, and give taloned wings to those who leap.

I want to tuck soft blankets around invisible shames, and sing sweet lullabies of safe spaces.

I want to grow down, chin up.

I want to fling joy like confetti: sweep giggles, snap grins, frame laughter.

I want my hands and heart to grow weary with giving, reach deep, and give more.

I want to scream my dream from the mountaintop, and watch it spark an avalanche of restlessness and hope, crashing and changing and rearranging all that it touches.

I want to unite jagged edges, but never smooth them.

I want to mark the passage of time by eyes met and burdens shared.

I want to dance first, worst, and often.

I want to charge howling into hurtful places, swords drawn, eyes clear, heart exposed.

I want to rest easy in planted places, green with peace - but still growing.

I want my legacy to be smile lines, open minds, kindness, love, and love of all kinds.

Hello, new year.

Shall we?


My December Squeegineer winners are Brenda F. and Jen B.! Congrats, you two, and please check your inboxes for a message from John so you can choose your prizes.