It’s time for some real talk

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Over the past six weeks, several people have asked me about this blog and whether or not I’ve decided to give it up. The short answer is no. I fully intend to continue the blog.

A longer answer is warranted, though. Not only for you, the readers, who absolutely deserve an explanation, but also for me – a gesture of self-acceptance, cleansing and renewal.

So, here it is: I’m depressed.

I have been depressed for a while now. Probably since the holidays, when I tried so desperately to combat it with constant cheerful posts on Facebook and Twitter. And it’s not that I was lying, really. I did feel joy in those fleeting moments. But they were just shiny dust particles floating in heavy air.

It wasn’t that bad, though. I get depressed off and on, and almost always during the holidays.

Then Sam died. Then a friend pushed me away. Then I realized how much weight I’ve gained. Then my grandma got really sick. Then I started feeling more pressure at work. Then I started to worry about my finances.

There’s only so much a person can take.

I find myself so tense that I have to consciously push my shoulders down, or else they’re up by my ears. My sleep is restless at best. I still pick up the phone almost every night to call Sam, and then cry when I realize what I’m doing. Food doesn’t taste good, but I eat until I feel full (and usually beyond that.) I haven’t been to the gym in six months. In that time, I’ve only read a handful of books and seen a handful of movies. I haven’t written a word. I haven’t queried further on my book. My apartment is a wreck. I went to a concert of one of my favorite bands and didn’t have a great time.

The idea of taking any kind of action to fix any of that makes my bones ache with fatigue. I know I need to, though. I have paperwork to fill out before making an appointment with a therapist whose office is nearby, but I haven’t done that or made the call. I just don’t want to do anything.

I don’t want to be this way – it’s such a colossal waste – but the barriers I’ve put around myself over the past several months don’t let in much positivity. It’s pretty dark and dank in here. One of my cousins has the wonderful ability to express herself and inform others without making people feel like they’re being lectured for failing in some way, even if that’s how they feel about themselves. She called me recently and gave me a ‘real talk’ talk that helped. She said, in so many words, that she was there on the other side of my blockade, ready to kick it the hell down at my request.

Well, here it is: start kicking.

I don’t need anybody to check on me. I don’t need sympathy. I don’t need pep talks. All I need to know is that when I start clawing at the walls from inside my black fortress, someone will be waiting for me on the other side.

I feel ready. I want out. It’s time to get to work.

Time to grab you and your buddies by the horns.

Time to grab you and your buddies by the horns.

The VIVA Project

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My friend Jessica and I are big fans of social experiments, especially ones that involve positivity, creativity and art. We’re always sending links to each other to stories about that kind of stuff. A couple of weeks ago, I sent Jessica a link to this story about these guys in New York City. They made signs with rap lyrics that mention a specific place in the city, and then posted the signs in those places. They knew they’d get stolen in about a minute, but they didn’t care. It was something they wanted to do, just to do it. Very cool.

Jessica replied with a link to this site about the Before I Die project. Boards are posted in cities around the world (there’s one in San Antonio, which I didn’t know) and people can walk up and write what they’d like to do before they die. When the board gets full, it’s wiped clean and then everyone starts over.

Jessica and I were talking about how cool it would be to do something like that during Fiesta. Sadly, we didn’t actually have the idea in time to make a giant board somewhere, so we decided to do little ones instead. “Viva Fiesta!” is San Antonio’s cheer during the 11-day celebration. That’s “Long live Fiesta!”, literally, but it’s also “Yay Fiesta!” “We love Fiesta!” “Fiesta rocks!”, etc.

Thus was born the idea of VIVA Boards.

I had a couple of blank canvases at home, so I took Jessica’s design request for her board and went to town:

My board, first round of paint.

My board, first round of paint.

Second round. Yay... I mean... viva! stripes! ;)

Second round. Yay… I mean… viva! stripes! ;)

Added the prompt...

Added the prompt…

Jessica's board.

Jessica’s board.

So, during Fiesta, Jessica and I walked around with our boards and invited people to Viva! things. It could be whatever they wanted, just something that they liked, or loved, or made them happy, or that they wanted to celebrate. By the last day of Fiesta, our boards looked like this:

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Hooray!  Our boards make me so happy. (I wrote “Viva VIVA Boards!” on Jessica’s.) :)

It would be super cool if next year we found a space to put a giant, colorful VIVA board and people could just walk up and write on it during Fiesta. I have no idea what we’d do with it when Fiesta was over… but that’s a problem to be solved another day. In the meantime, I’m going to frame my board and either put it up in my apartment or at the office. A lot of my coworkers wrote on the board, so it would be cool for them to come visit it if they need a little pick-me-up throughout the year.

That’s The VIVA Project… a new Fiesta tradition!

My nephew, the artist

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I’ve mentioned and shown my nephew’s affinity for art on this blog several times before, from turning my parents’ living room into a comic book to hosting his own art show on our family vacation last summer. Today I’ll brag on him again – one of his pieces from art class was selected to be in the district art show last weekend.

The show.

The show.

The artist, pointing to his work.

The artist, pointing to his work.

A closer shot. (The orange thing is part of a piece in front of it. I didn't want to mess it up by moving it.)

A closer shot. (The orange thing is part of a piece in front of it. I didn’t want to mess it up by moving it.)

My parents' neighbor (on the left), who is an artist and art teacher, my nephew, and his art teacher (on the right.)

My parents’ neighbor (on the left), who is an artist and art teacher, my nephew, and his art teacher (on the right.)

The piece is called “Leaf Prints.” I’m totally biased, of course, but I think it’s great. I was big into art at his age (he’s in first grade) and still dabble with my paints every once in a while, not to mention the whole mandala thing. Art is fabulous. I hope my nephew continues to do it as long as he loves it. I hope outside forces don’t influence him to give it up when he doesn’t really want to. And I really, really hope I get to see what he can do as he gets older. :)