Smashing and Wrecking

A week or so ago, my favorite coworker gave me a gift.  It was a Smash Book and some accessories to go with it.  What is a Smash Book?  It’s sort of a messy, less anal-retentive form of scrapbooking.  The pages in the book have a theme, and then you’re supposed to just stick random stuff in it.

smash-supplies

Pictured above is my Couture Smash Folio with a pen band around it, the cute little pen-like scissors, and a bunch of Smash Pads, which contain themed pages you fill in and use in your book.

The concept reminded me of the Wreck This Journal book I worked on a few years ago.  Except maybe more fun, as the Wreck This Journal had specific instructions for each page and the Smash Book is more freeform.

I jumped right in, working first on this zebra page:

smash-zebra

You know what happened?  I got very excited about this idea, and have purchased a bunch of supplies and watched tons of videos where people show their completed pages/books.  I was glad to be excited because I’m having a serious apathy problem lately.  Now that I’ve bought all this stuff?  I think the excitement was just about spending money, because now I have ideas and feel all perfectionistic about them and can’t get started because I don’t want to screw it all up.  This totally defeats the point of the Smash Book.

See, I want this one to be super random.  But then I bought the Tasty Folio to do a food-themed one with recipes and wrappers and restaurant menus.  And I want the Holiday Folio to do a special one about all the Christmases with my grandma, since that was her favorite holiday.  And I want to save the stuff about my various trips to do one that is all about travel.  Ugh, can I just say that I hate my brain?

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NAMI Walks

Back in September, I wrote about A Perfect Life that I was fantasizing about. At my latest therapy appointment, Sadie brought up this checklist and we talked through which parts I was making progress toward and which parts had fallen by the wayside. There were many areas where I said, “That’s never going to happen” and Sadie pointed out that I was placing a lot of limitations on myself.

We talked through some of the bigger items that I said would never happen and why I felt that they were impossible. When it came to the smaller ones, like wearing my own handmade cardigans and chainmaille jewelry, I could give no explanation other than that I was unsure I really wanted that. In reading The Happiness Project recently, the author’s first commandment for herself was “Be Gretchen”. The point was to do things because they made her happy, rather than because she felt they ought to make her happy.

The example from my own life which I shared with Sadie was scrapbooking. My grandmother created dozens of scrapbooks. One for each of my years in school. One for each vacation we took to Walt Disney World. She collected all sorts of mementos to scatter among the photos. After she was gone, I collected the same sort of bits and bobs from all my vacations, but they languished in my hanging file rack, doing nothing but making me feel guilty. I finally realized a few months ago that, no matter how much I felt I “should” make scrapbooks like grandma did, the reality is that I never will. It’s not consistent with the idea of Being Donna. So I threw all those folders full of papers in the recycle bin.

This is the problem I encountered with my perfect life scenario. I genuinely don’t know what makes me happy. I mean, I guess everything in it made me happy at one point, but there’s so much in there that I can’t realistically do it all, and I’m not sure what elements are most important to me. Sadie encouraged me to revisit my checklist and give further thought to what I actually want, ultimately rewriting the whole thing. Then the goal would be to take small steps toward accomplishing these things.

One of the big items we discussed was traveling internationally for charity work. We identified that this was actually three things. Traveling, going outside the country, and doing charity work. I have some issues with the first two due to some ridiculous anxieties, so Sadie suggested I start with charity work close to home. Perhaps a mental health charity. In fact, why don’t I try the NAMI Walk happening on May 9th, for which there were flyers in the mental health center’s waiting room? I had been looking at these flyers for weeks, and never picked one up, but on my way out that day I grabbed one.

It took me two days to convince myself, but today I registered for my local team. I’m not going to link to my individual fundraising page, as it uses my real name, but I encourage you to go to the website linked in the previous paragraph and sign up for your local walk, or donate to a team in your area.

A Perfect Life

I have a habit of taking things in to my therapist before she asks for them.  When I went to my first appointment – transitioning from a therapist who was leaving – she said she didn’t know much about my family.  I handed her a family tree I had drawn.  She asked if I had supportive people in my life.  I handed her a copy of my safety plan.  She said, “How did you know to bring things to answer questions I didn’t know I was going to ask?”

In a later appointment, I brought in a little essay I had written about what my current life would look like if it were perfect.  I had also created a checklist of the elements.  As it turns out, this is an actual exercise that my therapist sometimes assigns to people.

perfect-life-checklist

I live with my cat in a spacious apartment located in a quiet neighborhood within a large city. There are numerous amenities (banks, parks, post office, stores selling natural and exotic groceries) within walking distance. Just about anything else I could want to do is easily accessible via public transportation, or a short drive in my compact 4-door sedan that has a roomy trunk.

I work part-time at the nearby public library, helping people learn to use technology. I go to work wearing my own handmade cardigans and chainmaille jewelry. I take two college courses per semester, working toward a degree in psychology with minors in law enforcement and creative writing. When I have a week or two off from school, I travel internationally to do charity work.

In my spare time, I volunteer with a local theatre company and meet with a writers’ group where I share excerpts of a play which will soon be professionally produced. I update my popular blog at least once per week. I enter poetry and photography contests, which I occasionally win. I am a member of Mensa and participate in their puzzle competitions.

I regularly cook for friends, either by hosting dinner parties or bringing food to other people’s events. I keep in touch with many extended family members and bring updates on my genealogy research to our family reunions, where we hold board game tournaments. Some of my close friends have small children with whom I do art and science activities. I send greeting cards for all occasions.

For relaxation, I spend time at pools and water parks. I keep GAMES Magazine, Popular Science, and Reader’s Digest on hand for filling spare moments while waiting at appointments or riding buses. At home, I always have a jigsaw puzzle in progress, and work on it while listening to mix CDs I’ve made to tell stories.

All of the elements of this scenario are individually plausible.  Putting it all together presents budgeting issues, both financial and timewise.  It would be impossible to pay for tuition and all the fun activities on a part-time salary.  Perhaps more importantly, juggling all those activities would require a level of manic energy that a.) cannot be summoned on command and b.) would inevitably lead to hospitalization.

My therapist thought it was cute that I had already checkmarked “cat”.  I’ve had my beautiful, sweet, loving cat for 9 years.  So far, I have acquired the car, which is not compact but otherwise meets the description.  I have been making chainmaille jewelry, although it’s for gifts and sale rather than for myself.  I’m getting closer to updating my blog regularly, but it’s nowhere near being popular.  I’ve handed out a ton of greeting cards, just not as many as I’d like.  So I am making some baby steps toward what may not end up being a perfect life, but at least will be a better one.