25 March 2015

Today’s distraction: Japanese Mon Design

At my counselling session yesterday, we were talking about the  Scared Girl, the Not Good Enough Girl, the Angry Girl … all those personas inside my head who each have a job to do, but sometimes try to take over when their help isn’t really needed. Each Girl has a name and an image in my mind … my Scared Girl wears flannel pyjamas and hides under the bed most of the time, whispering to everyone else hold still, don’t make anyone angry, just hide. My Not Good Enough Girl stands there in a very prim skirt, low heels, beige nylons, and a buttoned up white blouse, her hands on her hips as she chides me for being inadequate. The Angry Girl has a leather jacket, ripped jeans, scuffed steel toed boots, and a pair of brass knuckles - she shouts and curses and yells and wants to hit things.

Mostly, these troublesome girls have quieted down now that I’m appropriately medicated, and for this I’m profoundly grateful. Still, I know they are there if I need them … and I’m also aware that because I’m so sensitive to stress and prone to feeling unsafe in perfectly ordinary situations, the Girls might jump out and try to help at times when I don’t actually need them.

Yes, if I’m truly threatened I will need my Angry Girl to stand up and say “No further! That’s enough! Stop there.” However, I don’t need her hitting anyone or yelling mindlessly – she has to communicate clearly, to fight fair, to be honourable. I don’t really want a street brawler who is always spoiling for a fight living inside my head.

So, I am going to send my Angry Girl for martial arts training. She’s going to become a peaceful warrior, one who will fight honourably in defense of herself or those she is responsible for, but who will not seek out an argument and will avoid violence, using only the amount of force necessary to evade danger and remain safe, no more.

Now I know that the samurai of history who developed the martial arts were in love with violence and death and I am, truly, a pacifist at heart … but there is much in ancient Japanese culture and martial arts philosophy besides physical violence, there is much that is beautiful and not inconsistent with my beliefs. I took a few lessons in Aikido when I was in university, and the idea of turning the enemy’s strength back on them while evading their blows really resonates with me. You aren’t out to beat someone up … just to safely get out of the way and convince the person that attacking you (or those you are protecting) was a very bad idea.

If there was a way for me to go to Aikido classes, I think I’d probably sign up again. I’d really like to use a quarterstaff, but reason tells me I’m not likely in any shape to even practice something so physically demanding. So, for now, I’ll see what I can do about reforming Angry Girl into an Honourable Warrior through mental discipline … and a wardrobe change.

Warrior Girl has set aside her leather and denim. She is now wearing plain peasant hakama and an indigo jacket. The brass knuckles are gone, instead she carries a wooden staff that serves as a walking stick to help climb the bumpy spots on the trail, and as a defensive weapon to ward off predators on two legs or four. She carries no swords, no tools of death … she is a pilgrim walking the Tokaido Road in search of peace, helping others as opportunity arises, always headed towards the sea.

On her jacket, at the centre back, is the mon: the crest of her family.

MonEncircled by the wings of a crane is the staff of a pilgrim and a flower blossom: the crane for longevity and peace … the pilgrim’s staff for support, safety, and the ongoing journey … the flower for hope, life, and beauty.

I may need to make myself a haori jacket with this symbol on the back. And find myself some hakama … they seem like they’d be terrifically comfortable.

24 March 2015

New Shawl Design: Randomly Productive

I grew up with a bit of an overdose of Protestant work ethic: you must be productive. The Devil makes work for idle hands. Being lazy is a terrible thing. Do something useful.
As I have been learning to live with PTSD, I’ve had plenty of trouble with these beliefs. I want to do things, I want to be productive … but I also need to rest. I really need to pace myself, or there are unpleasant consequences for everyone. But when I rest, when I listen to my body and do only the things I feel up to on any given day, I feel like I haven’t done anything useful, like I haven’t been productive. And I feel awful about that.
But the truth is, I’ve actually done plenty. I never just sit. I putter about doing a bit of this and a bit of that: knitting, or weaving, or spinning, or baking, or gardening, or sweeping the floors, or doing a load of wash. I do stuff. Just not the stuff that was on my to-do list for the day.
I’m randomly productive.
This shawl was designed for my beautiful therapist, who helped me to realize this fact. The design celebrates randomness in colour, texture, and shape … yet despite relinquishing control over the details, despite purposely not planning everything out in detail, it makes a completely wearable and absolutely one-of-a-kind shawl.
Good things can happen when you just follow your heart.

You can get it here.

11 March 2015


Boy and dog for scale. It's a deep hole!

Dug up lots more rocks. The fountain is looking better with more stones around the edge. 

09 March 2015

Call the dogs!

We have always told the kids if anything scares them, like if they run into a cougar / bear / wolf (all common enough here), the very first thing you do is call for the dogs. Same thing if you get hurt and can't make your way back in...especially if it's cold outside. The dogs will lie with you and keep you warm at the very least, and they will likely be able to get someone's attention.

When we had the two big livestock guardian dogs outside, you could be guaranteed they would get between any of us and any predator. It's what they were bred to do. Even Caleb, goofy companion that he is, would bark like mad and probably take on whatever it might be... Though his chances against anything large are nowhere near as good as Bob or Mac's would have been. But he'd try. And he'd raise a ruckus that would bring help. 

I've been having a lot of bad dreams lately. A friend told me that when her son had nightmares, she told him to call the dog in his dream... He had a big, loving protective canine best friend, and this strategy worked. 

I doubted I'd have enough lucidity to manage this... Lucid dreaming is something I've only managed a few times. 

Then the awful nightmare hit last night, and my instinctive reaction to the terror was to call the dogs! I called for Dax, the Akita who loved me through the loss of my daughter and the collapse of my previous life, the dog who would have done anything to protect me. I called, and she came... I called for Ben, too, not wanting to leave him behind and needing his company... And I realized I was dreaming and told Dax to get us out of there and help me wake up. She led off down the hallway, away from the awful things I had seen. 

And I woke up. 

All the way. And Ben was right there to lick my hand and confirm that I'd found reality. 

I went and made hot chocolate. Ben came with me. 

Thanks Ben.

Thanks Dax. 

You guys can bring Bob and Mac and Duggan along any time you feel like we need the whole pack. 

Together we can take on anything. 

I'll call you. 

07 March 2015

Playing in the dirt

The south slope  in front of the house has melted.  I have plans to terrace the yard space this summer, making it more useful (and less treacherous in rainy weather... It's quite steep).

There's a fair bit of dirt to move around... A hill to transfer into a low spot, lots of digging. Once you are through the quack grass layer you hit clay... There's a reason I've decided on container gardening. 

As I was making my yardscape plans this winter, I remembered that I have a couple of fountain pumps. And a water trough with a hole melted in it (yeah, don't ask)... So I decided that what our yard really needs is a fountain.

Trough + poly  + dirt + fountain pump + driftwood  + dirt + moss transplanted from the ditch.

It'll look better with more rocks and some greenery. And maybe a solar submersible light.

I love it. 

I had so much fun digging in the dirt today!

03 March 2015


I discovered a queen sized heated mattress pad on Kijiji and picked it up yesterday.

Oh my. 

Sleeping with the temperature in the bed exactly where I want it....


I feel so rested!!


I found some forgotten onions in the bin which had started to sprout. 

So I put them in a container with some potting soil and they are growing! 

I'll transplant them outside when the weather turns. 

01 March 2015

Just sedate me

I don't sleep well. Even with the sedatives. Well, I sleep but I dream and wake weary from all I have seen and done in my sleep. 

I an out of sorts in my waking hours..
 Off kilter, like a squirrel who's had too much caffeine. 

And at the same time, I am tired and just want to lie down. 

I thought this would go away when I made peace with my past. 

Trouble is, my past damaged my brain. Peace helps ease the emotional pain... But the cognitive impairment seems unaffected.  

My counsellor told me that prolonged stress causes the brain hemispheres to stop talking to each other properly. Left brain gets on with life... Right brain encapsulates the trauma and you just keep on keeping on. 

I'm walking the fine line between acceptance and hopelessness.