let the rain fall

100LIFETIMES

It’s been a very stormy day, I woke up to thunder and heavy rain and was glad. I like it when the weather matches my mood.

Sometimes it seems like we’re rushed through our sadness or, worse, encouraged to ignore it altogether.

Isn’t it better, though, to recognize our sadness for what it is?

Sadness is a natural response to loss, regret or hardship. Only when we make space for our sadness can we move past it, adjust, and affect positive change in our lives – not doing so can lead to anger, bitterness, avoidance and depression. All of which effect our overall wellness (emotional, physical, intellectual, spiritual) and stifle our personal growth. Give yourself permission to feel sad and find ways to express that sadness. Journaling, creating art…or just letting yourself cry can be extremely helpful.

You are wild, wondrous, and worthy – feel your feelings. ♡

credits:
Artwork ©Aimee McEwen.
Personal use only. Not for commercial use. If shared, please link back to this post.

biscuits + berries

artur-rutkowski-strawberry2

Made gluten-free buttermilk biscuits for me and about 12-13 of my invisible friends over the weekend. Just now getting around to finishing them off, actually. The first thing I did was get a recipe online here…then I just switched out the regular flour for GF flour.

It wasn’t until I got home from the store that I realized I’d forgotten the buttermilk! So, I hopped online again and found a substitute…it’s 1 cup of milk and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Combine them, let sit for 5 minutes, then mix and it’s ready to use. Lucky I had milk and lemons, though!

I popped the biscuits in the oven and decided to make an impromptu strawberry shortcake (for one, obvs). I cut up some strawberries, sprinkled them with sugar and let sit for 30 minutes in the fridge. I also decided that since I don’t care for whipped cream (yeah, I said it!) I’d cheat a little and use the cheesecake mix of a Jello No-Bake Cheesecake kit instead. I mixed the cheesecake up, according to the directions on the box, then added a little lime juice (like a tablespoon) totally as an experiment – thought it’d go well with strawberries. By the time all that was done the biscuits were ready. I ate one with butter straight out of the oven – as it’s written into law somewhere that you have to do that – even if you burn your mouth (which I did).

The biscuits were good! Not the best I’ve ever eaten but they were a nice GF alternative and the dog LOVED them so, you know…BONUS!

Once the cheesecake had time to set up in the fridge I was ready to start building my shortcake…made a big mountain of it…like so…

strawberry-and-biscuits2

…proceeded to take three bites, then felt full. Guess that test biscuit I ate took up all the room I had in my tum. Don’t worry I didn’t waste it, I wrapped it up and finished it the next day…for breakfast.

My eyes are definitely much larger than my stomach, lately. It could be stress or old age or both, who knows. Last night for dinner I ate naked chicken wings (no breading) and arepas…have you ever had arepas? They are made with corn, totally gluten free. I buy the frozen kind. They’re damn good with chicken wings…remind me of pancakes or waffles…except there’s a bit of cheese in them. Anywho, I ate one arepa and 3 chicken wings (drummettes, actually)….then I was full…and ate the rest for breakfast...this is my life now, apparently.

credits:
Top Photo: Artur Rutkowski    Bottom Photo: Aimee McEwen
Personal use only. Not for commercial use. If shared, please link back to this post.

coffee and coconut oil sugar scrub

It’s 8pm on a Wednesday and I’m sitting here with my stalker – I mean cat – in my pajamas, with a lovely blue-gray mud mask on my face. It’s pretty great, actually.

I’ve been using these Que Bella masks for a couple months (get’em at Target, 8 out of 10 hermits prefer Target to other stores). Probably tried them all but I haven’t chosen a favorite yet. The one I’m using right now is the Repairing Charcoal Mud Mask…it makes my eyes water somethin’ fierce but it’s only for the first 3 minutes of a 15 minute mask. While I waited for the mask to dry I decided to exfoliate/moisturize my hands…which I do a couple times a week…it’s super easy, so I figured I’d give you the “recipe.”

When I do this stuff I’m really messy so I always change into an old shirt before I start. I mix everything together in my tiny kitchen and apply the scrub to my hands over the sink. I don’t recommend using this scrub in the shower, it’s oily and things could get slick in there if you know what I mean. Safety first! I also feel this scrub is too abrasive for the face so stick to using it on your pretty little hands.

The Mix: Combine equal parts sugar and coffee grounds. About 4 tablespoons, each, should do (I prefer damp, used grounds to dry…whatever you prefer is fine), add 1 tablespoon of grape seed oil, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, and 2 or 3 drops of sweet orange essential oil. This mixture is soupy, if you like it more dry add more dry stuff or less wet stuff. I’m not very scientific about it, to be honest.

Apply mixture to hands and massage gently. I do about 2 minutes per hands then rinse with warm water. Dry hands and apply your moisturizer. I use this lotion (yes, it’s for babies…if you met me you’d agree it makes sense because I am a giant baby). The scent is decent, although I would prefer it to be unscented. Burt’s Bees has an unscented lotion that I’ve used forever, I love it. I prefer to use baby lotion because my skin is sensitive and this one’s free of parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, sulfates and it’s not tested on animals. If I’m not using baby lotion I’m using straight shea butter, cocoa butter or coconut oil. Nothin’ fancy. ♡

This is about as wild as it gets for me on a Wednesday. How about you? Do you practice self care during the week or do you reserve these kinds of things for the weekends?

rose buds + vanilla

VERA_WANG_ROSE_VANILLA-©AimeeMcEwen

Hello, Weekend! Hello, Summer! Hello, Beautiful!

Right to it then…I stumbled on this Vera Wang Embrace Rose Buds and Vanilla Eau De Toilette pretty randomly and it was such a surprise I’d thought I’d share a my little, uh, review-aye-poo. Rose and vanilla happen to be two of my favorite scents. I’m a snob about perfumes and usually stick to the same one…for years. When I go looking to change it up I find that most perfumes are too strong for me to deal with. I don’t want someone across the room to be able to smell my perfume. Frankly when I can smell someone after they’ve left a room I tend to feel offended so I definitely want to avoid being That Guy.

This one’s pretty tame. It smells like roses but not in an old-fashioned way (remember those pink rose-shaped soaps your aunt had in a dish on the bathroom counter that you weren’t allowed to touch but you touched them anyways even though they were just for looks…they might’ve even been a little dusty). No, this has a subtle real rose scent, and the vanilla (base note) is warmer than it is sweet.

Here’s the official description (if it helps at all):

Floral Oriental (ohhhkaaay  o_O). The top opens with a rich floralcy (this is a real word…I checked – just means it smells like flowers) of rose buds and a shimmering accent of mandarin oil. A heart of sweet magnolia and cyclamen give an elegant radiance that is effervescent on skin (what??). Intertwining in the background is the finishing touch of vanilla and creamy sandalwood.

Pew! I mean…PHEW!! That’s a lot of flowery language, aye? Well, it doesn’t seem that complicated a scent to me. I’ve looked so long for a decent rose/geranium scent that I had all but given up. AND HEY…it’s $30…they have it at Target and Walgreens and it comes in an even cheaper body mist for $10 if you’re feelin’ thrifty. This isn’t even an ad. I’m just so surprised I liked it and that it was so, ahem, cheap.

There’s three other scents in the collection worth checking out; Marigold and Gardenia, Green Tea and Pear Blossom, Periwinkle and Iris. If I were to choose another one, it’d be the Marigold and Gardenia scent (not on website) because it reminded me of Savannah.

Alrighty, well I’m all set for the three day weekend…yesterday I made a trip to the craft store and bought new pencils…they’re almost too nice to use…almost. I’ve got NO PLANS, except some naps…because I’m a bit hermity, and also because those ER bills started rolling in and I’m on a budget for a while…except when I need pencils and rosey perfume, obvs. ♡

Do you have big plans for the weekend or are you like me and just going to wing it?
Did I mention the pencils were 50% off? I mean, how could I NOT buy them?

credits:
Imagery design & composition © Aimee McEwen.
Personal use only. Not for commercial use. If shared, please link back to this post.

Not a sponsored post. All opinions expressed are my own.

dark wings

gift

My Father was intelligent and funny, he played guitar for us and sang. He took my sister and I on adventures through the woods to hunt for berry bushes and pick apples. He’d build a fire in the backyard and we’d make “toast on a stick” or “potatoes on a stick”…any food you can burn on a stick, really. He was silly and enjoyed teasing Mom about pretty much everything. It’s not easy to get a laugh out of Mom, so making her giggle made Dad feel victorious.

He’d put iodine on our cuts and scrapes, baking soda paste on our bee stings, calamine lotion on the poison ivy we got from all the berry picking. Me and my sister brought an abandoned puppy home once. When he saw the pitiful little thing he dropped to the floor almost immediately and loved and squeezed on that puppy until I saw tears streaming down his cheeks. Dad was sensitive.

Being sensitive can mean several things…I consider myself to be sensitive but it doesn’t mean I fly off the handle, cry easily when embarrassed or hold grudges. My Mom would say to nearly total strangers: “She’s my artist, she’s sensitive.” As I grew older, she’d sigh heavily and remark, “You’re just like your Father.”

I always thought that meant I was logical and smart…but she meant sensitive.

What being sensitive means, to me, is that I pick up on things. My therapist actually called me a “noticer.” She once changed out her chair…it was the same antique wooden chair as before (with pink floral cushions) except it had arms. “Did that chair have arms before?” I’d asked about fifteen minutes into one appointment. She was amazed and said it was the same as the other chair only it had arms. Another time I noticed a pillow on the settee had tassels…she laughed saying she’d only recently added the tassels. I catalog my surroundings and behaviors of those around me; it’s all tagged, color coded, evaluated for safety and filed away for future reference. Where does this even come from?

Perceptivity isn’t a superpower, it’s instinctual; a survival skill I honed while learning to maneuver the ups and downs of a mercurial parent. My Father had a quiet violence about him. I’d try to stay a step ahead of the darkness, watching him for the slightest shifts in mood; a way of giving myself the illusion of control so that I could keep everyone safe. Even though there were moments of light, darkness seemed to loom over my Father. I was 17 before he would finally get a diagnosis (manic depressive/bi-polar disorder).

Remember the things that the darkness taught you.
It’s by learning to overcome our personal trauma (navigate the darkness) we become nuanced and enlightened individuals capable of empathy, forgiveness and love.

Forgiveness is key, forgive others, forgive yourself. From the darkness I learned to pay attention to my gut (intuition), to expect nothing (good or bad) from anyone except myself, to accept responsibility for my own emotions, to respect the grief, pain and love of others. I learned to look for the light and appreciate it while it lasts. ♡

What has darkness taught you? Do you struggle with forgiveness or does it come easily to you?

credits:
Artwork © Aimee McEwen. Photo: Annie Spratt
Personal use only. Not for commercial use. If shared, please link back to this post.

sweetie

weekend

Mac, ma petite puce (my little flea), went to the vet for a recheck and got a B+. My final rabies shot was over a week ago so at this point I’d say we’re both “out of the woods.” Between the cat attack, my rabies vaccinations and Mac’s skin/ear problems, I’d like to avoid the need for any more doctor’s visits for a while.

We’re back to going on walks around the neighborhood but we steer clear of the street where it all went down. Mac is definitely feeling much better. He’s eating and playing and getting into trouble. He’s being a little bit of a baby and bossypants though, I’m sure he got used to the extra attention over the last few weeks.

I cut myself some slack this weekend and avoided chores. Sunday I was out “window shopping” with a friend, then we stopped for ice cream and it started storming outside. We watched the heavy rain roll over the parking lot while we inhaled our chocolate sundaes. We’re glad to see the rain, we hear thunder and our eyes widen gleefully; with all the wildfires in Georgia and Florida right now we really need a few more heavy downpours.

Tonight, I plan on having some quiet time, picking up the house (I made a wicked mess of it over the weekend), reading my new Magnolia Journal, with a big fuzzy blanket, some tea (Yogi: Bedtime) and my notebook. Maybe I’ll even do some (brain)stormin’ of my own.

How are you doing lately? How was your weekend? Were you able to get things done you’ve procrastinated or carve out some time for self-care?

 

 

black days

Whatsoever I’ve feared has come to life
Whatsoever I’ve fought off became my life
Just when everyday seemed to greet me with a smile
Sunspots have faded and now I’m doing time
Now I’m doing time
‘Cause I fell on black days
I fell on black days

Whomsoever I’ve cured, I’ve sickened now
And whomsoever I’ve cradled, I’ve put you down
I’m a search light soul they say
But I can’t see it in the night

I’m only faking when I get it right
When I get it right

‘Cause I fell on black days
I fell on black days

How would I know
That this could be my fate?
How would I know
That this could be my fate? Yeah

So what you wanted to see good

Has made you blind
And what you wanted to be yours
Has made it mine

Don’t you lock up something
That you wanted to see fly
Hands are for shaking
No, not tying, no, not tying

I sure don’t mind a change
I sure don’t mind a change
Yeah, I sure don’t mind, sure don’t mind a change
I sure don’t mind a change

‘Cause I fell on black days
I fell on black days

How would I know
That this could be my fate?
How would I know
That this could be my fate?

How would I know
That this could be my fate?
How would I know
That this could be my fate?

I sure don’t mind a change

chriscornell-jameshance

James Hance has made this tribute available for free  – click to download

wild, wondrous and worthy

wild-wondrous-worthy©MOTHANDBLOOM.COM

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

“A mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood. Such conditions may affect someone’s ability to relate to others and function each day. Each person will have different experiences, even people with the same diagnosis.”

Did you know?
Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S….43.8 million, or 18.5%…experiences mental illness in a given year.

Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S….9.8 million, or 4.0%…experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. 

Whether you are aware of it or not we come in contact with people dealing with mental health issues every day…your neighbor, coworker, cashier at Publix…me. I write often about anxiety, empathy, coping, mental wellness and the human condition…did you know that I am one of the 1 in 5 adults living with mental illness?

The average person deals with a multitude of stressors, hardships, and difficulties, yet not all of them are mentally ill. How can we tell the difference? Should we be afraid of the mentally ill? Why do some people choose to take medication while others do not? How do you know if you are mentally ill or really just “terrible at life”?

First things first…you are NOT terrible at life…if you feel you may have a mental illness, see a behavioral health specialist and/or a psychiatrist. Depending on your situation you may do really well with talk therapy and not need medication or you might try a combination of both. I’m not a doctor so I can’t say what’s right for you. My best advice about doctors is if you don’t find a person you are completely comfortable with then keep looking, there are some really great professionals out there…and there’s some not so great ones…when it comes to mental health (all health) concerns you have to be your own advocate and speak up when something isn’t working. Speak up and make sure they hear you!

As for the questions you may have about those of us living with mental illness, they are a lot harder to answer. Mental illness operates on a spectrum…and we all fall in somewhere on that spectrum. There can be coexisting conditions, and mental illnesses can improve or get worse…or even seem to go “dormant.” Some people go years without an episode, and just as suddenly find themselves in a psychosis. What I’m trying to say is there’s a lot of layers to mental illness. If you care about someone, and want to get to know them, tell them you care and ask them about their diagnosis. The tricky part about that is it’s really difficult to talk about mental illness with “new” people. There’s still so much stigma surrounding mental illness that people will downplay their struggle or go as far as pretending to be “normal” until they’re alone or with people they feel are “safe.”

Sound exhausting? Yeah, it really is.  So exhausting that we avoid people and places and isolate ourselves when we don’t feel strong enough to keep up the facade.

I’ve always felt my slightly overdeveloped sense of empathy comes from living with or around mental illness. My Father was manic depressive but diagnosed very late in his life (around 50) which means I was exposed to all the terrible things that can happen when mental illness is left unchecked; self-medication, risky behaviors, instability, conflict, violence, abuse – a lot of suffering.

Awareness has come a long way since the 90’s but we have to do better; be better humans and let people know that just because they live with a mental illness it doesn’t mean they’re broken, fundamentally unlovable, or lost – and they definitely don’t have to go through it alone. ♡

If you want to learn more on this topic go to nami.org and here’s some books by Jenny Lawson that have helped me cope with my own mental illness:
Furiously Happy
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

credits:
Artwork © Aimee McEwen. Personal use only. Not for commercial use.
Photo: Alisa Anton   Mental Health Statistics via nami.org
If shared, please link back to this post.

hello french toast

joseph-gonzalez-192345

French toast, also known as eggy bread, Bombay toast, German toast, gypsy toast, poor knights, or Torrija, is a dish made of bread soaked in milk, then in beaten eggs and then fried. – Wikipedia

Back before I knew gluten was a problem for me I would go almost every Sunday morning to my favorite breakfast place and order French toast, 3 strips of bacon and black coffee. Breakfast is my favorite food. Breakfast for dinner is my favorite thing ever…TBH

Sadly, my breakfasts nowadays are without bread of any kind. After about 5 years of no (or very little) gluten I do my best to keep things simple. Trading out gluten filled foods for gluten free (GF) alternatives (like GF bread) leaves me feeling disappointed (and poor, since GF bread is like $5 a loaf and it’s a tiny loaf at that.) So, I usually skip it and stick to foods that are naturally GF (meat, fruit, veggies).

But, I’m not super human for gawdsakes. I can only go so long without some kind of cereal or bread item. GF flatbreads are pretty good substitutes for crackers and most of the GF breads are okay if you toast them. Mmmm, toast.

I’ve tried using sheer willpower to say goodbye to breads and baked goods forever but you know how that goes…you feel deprived and end up wanting it more, or worse, you make terrible food choices, and even worse design choices. Really, I once mocked up an entire website and bought the domain name for hellofrenchtoast.com. It would focus on my quest for decent GF French toast, my life as a notorious introvert, a little crime fighting, and pics of my dog, of course…but mostly the French toast thing. It was gonna be HUGE…so huge it would inspire a chain of dog cafés that served French toast a million ways (along with the requisite 3 strips of bacon and coffee) which would then inspire a novel, and a screenplay, and well…you know the rest…all proceeds to homeless pets, my teeth are magically straight, I’m thin…but not too thin…and I end up married to a gorgeous Irish guy, obvs.

You probably think I’m joking about all this, but I’m not:

HFT-mock-up

Why am I telling you all about this? Maybe it’s because I really, really, really want to make GF French toast for dinner tonight. It might be completely terrible…but I think this is one of those times I gotta just go for it…at least it’ll be cheaper than a domain name.

Oh, and if anyone wants hellofrenchtoast.com it’s available – I KNOW! I can hardly believe it either! ♡

click here for recipe I’m using
Photo Credit: Joseph Gonzalez

new day

new-day

Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

credits:
Artwork © Aimee McEwen. Photo: Sandra Chile
Personal use only. Not for commercial use. If shared, please link back to this post.