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  • Don't hit me

    Don't hit me

    Every once in a great while, I get a glimpse into Gwen's life before us, and I don't like it.

    We have a cat door that leads to the back room, where we keep the litter boxes and kibble. Aeris figured it out pretty well, but Gwen didn't quite get the hang of it. She could go through the flap if we taped it open, but pushing it open? No. (Oddly enough now I know how smart she is, I think she could do it if she wanted to.) One day, the flap fell down and taped itself shut. Aeris will bug us incessantly if she doesn't have access to something she needs, but especially at this point in time, Gwen was way too timid. As a last resort, she hopped into a cloth basket and peed.

    I was shocked, but not angry - especially when I figured out why she'd peed where she did. We hopped up and took care of the problem. No yelling, no stomping, nothing sudden. But Gwen's reaction was complete terror.

    Now, I've seen spazzy cats, and I've seen cats who know they're in trouble. Aeris gets that look all the time when she's caught smacking something off the dresser or desk. This is different. This is, "I am in so much trouble, they're going to hurt me" terror.

    We didn't hurt her. We never would.

    She seemed surprised when she dared to come back out and was greeted by people who were still happy to see her.

    Last week, Gwen hopped up on the arm of the couch, as she usually does. I had a plate sitting on the end table with a few crumbs leftover from hard boiled eggs. Inquisitive little girl that she is, she sniffed at the plate. I reached over to grab something from the end table, and Gwen got that look of terror again. Pleasedon'thurtmeIwasjustsniffingtheplate!

    It shocked me. I changed course and gently rubbed her cheek. The fear melted away and she climbed up next to me and went to sleep.

    On the whole, Gwen is a confident and happy cat. You can see by the picture above that she is at peace. She lets us pet her, and even more as of late seems to really relish being touched. So I don't believe for a minute that she's actually afraid of us. It's pure reflex, from a time when she didn't feel safe.

    I don't know who could be anything less than kind to this quiet, affectionate little girl, but apparently they exist, because every once in a blue moon, I see proof.

  • Fiercely Independent

    Fiercely Independent

    This breed is alert, intelligent and fiercely independent. Families looking for a cuddly lap dog should look elsewhere.

    Someone forgot to tell Koo about the "fiercely independent" thing.

  • Can't can

    When I lived in Michigan, there was so much that I could not do. So many places I could not go because of traffic or inclement weather.

    (To cut myself a little bit of slack, having a car that I perceived as unreliable did not help)

    I wouldn't drive anywhere south of the Auburn Hills area, because that freaked me out. It took me years to drive on I-75 at all. When I started to be able to do that comfortably, it felt like a real victory.

    I'll say this over and over again - anxiety medicine is not a cure all. I think it's best described as removing some of the logical part of your mind from the emotions, so you can better distinguish between actual danger and your brain playing Chuckie Finster.

    But it has amazed me, on recent trips to Michigan, how much my brain has decided is, in fact, possible. I won't lie, part of it really ticks me off. I haven't hit a road in Michigan yet that has made me panic. It's as if my brain now understands that every car around me isn't looking to play bumper cars. They want to get to their destination just as safely as I do. (Though some of them really don't look like it - I'm talking to you cars that whip up behind people doing 90.)

    I never ever dared drive with Matt to work, because I had no idea what I would do once I got down there. I felt like I would be trapped in that building, because there was no way I could drive anywhere. Now, it's no big deal. I hop in the car, and I go. Back on the interstate, up Crooks road, whatever!

    On this last visit to Michigan, I even drove in (gasp!) snow. Now, it wasn't a lot of snow. More like aggressive flurries. But there was a coating of snow on the road, and that would have been enough to keep me at home before. But I drove around and just took it slow. I even had traction control pop on a few times, despite my best efforts, and it still didn't do anything to me.

    I can't help but lament all the things I could have, should have done, were I properly medicated. How much happier could I have been if I weren't perpetually afraid of what would happen if I left the house?

    But there's nothing I can do about that now. What's done is done.

    At least I can do more, moving forward. Maybe it sounds bleak, but for me, it's a pretty good consolation prize.

  • Cats Rule

    Cats Rule

    I think this is pretty self-explanatory.

  • Pinterecipies

    Pinterecipies

    Like many people my age, I have a slight obsession with Pinterest. In particular, I love using it to hoard recipes - things that look good, that I might want to try someday, or recipes for a particular event. Love it.

    But over the years, I've collected quite a few recipes that I've just never tried.

    I'm going to change that.

    I sat down and looked through my pins, and figured out which ones I was still interested in making, and which ones were either unappetizing or just more effort than I would actually be willing to do. Then, I printed them all out. Let me tell you, going to the website for each pin and printing them out was a pain in the butt.

    Yeah, you're probably thinking, "uh, why not just pull up the recipes on pinterest?" and to be honest, if I don't print them out, I'm never going to get around to making them. As much as I love digital stuff,  paper is still my love.

    I put all 99 recipes in a binder, and I'm going to try and work my way through that binder, one or two recipes a week. They're not all dinners - I believe one is for a buffalo wing made out of cauliflower. That should make the project easier.

    I figure, worst case scenario, maybe I'll have learned a few new tricks and broadened my horizons slightly. Either way, it should be fun!

    Hopefully I'll start this in a week or two - depends on how soon life settles down. I find it hard to cook much on physical therapy days!

  • Basic makeup tutorial: eyes and lips

    So, moving on. We've covered concealer, foundation, and blush, as well as looking at a few of my favorite tools.

    Next up: Eyes

    I have always had a problem with eyeshadow melting into the creases of my lids, which makes me very sad. I've tried many tricks over the years, with some degree of success. But I know that cream eyeshadows and the eyeshadow crayons don't work at ALL for me.

    This power up primer (yep, geek chic!) is amazing. It's $5.99 and this little tub has lasted me, I think, a little over a year so far. Granted, if you use it every day, you'll go through it faster, but this stuff is MORE than worth the cost. When I go to conventions, I apply makeup first thing in the morning, and my eyeshadow stays put until I'm ready to crash, some 16 hours later. I can't sing the praises of this product enough.

    So you just chip a little bit of the primer onto your nail, then rub it between your fingers until it's smooth and creamy - then spread it onto your eyelids. Easy.

    Here's my collection of foundations, blushes, and eyeshadows. I love versatile neutrals, but I also have some crazy colors that I don't wear enough. Whatever you want, geek chic runs the gamut.

    For today's purpose, I'll choose one of those versatile neutrals. This one was a color of the month called "My Bishojo Romance". It's a gorgeous color in person, and the phone photos never do it justice.

    I get some shadow on the brush, and apply it much like the blush - gently, so as not to apply more than I want!

    I turn the brush the other way to smooth out the edges, blend them into my skin a little bit better. Otherwise, you'll look ... kinda weird. More so, the darker your shadow is.

    And there you go. Eyeshadow. And egad this lighting is not doing makeup any favors. :sigh:

    Now eyeliner. Again, this is a problem area for me - it tends to run down into the fine lines under my eyes over time and give me a drowsy goth look. As much as I hate to spend lots of money on makeup, this eyeliner by Arbonne is the only thing I've used that doesn't do that to me.

    Also, I'd love to show you how to apply eyeliner, but it squicked me out trying to take pictures. Ironically, I don't like things too close to my eyes.

    But here. I apply it along the bottom lid, about halfway across. It's a personal preference - I think it looks too heavy if I go all the way. I do the same on top and try to keep it as close to my lash line as possible. I want my eyes to look more open, not too dark rimmed. BUT! Your mileage may vary. It's something to play with.

    For mascara, I also currently use Arbonne. I didn't think it mattered, but then I recently bought a cheap masacara and was horrified at how much it flakes off if I touch my eyes. The arbonne stays put and doesn't clump.

    As to applying it, I aim to coat my lashes, but not clump them together. When I apply it to my bottom lashes, I barely touch the wand to them. Again, personal preference.

    And there you go. It takes a little while to master, but getting eyeliner and mascara applied in a way you like can really make your eyes pop.

    I don't often wear lipstick, but when I do, I try to apply a bit of lip liner first. It helps the lipstick stay put longer, which is nice.

    With a good lip liner, you could stop here and apply a little lip gloss or balm and call it good.

    Here's my current crop of lipsticks. I decided to go with th last cetra, because it's a bit more neutral than some of the others, but has more kick than the newb color.

    There, see? Not bad.

    I stepped into the bathroom, because it typically has better natural lighting, but it was super overcast that day, so it didn't help much. All in all, I can do my makeup like this in five to ten minutes - it really doesn't take long if you know what you're doing.

    So that's my makeup basics. Maybe in the future I'll try out some more daring looks and give you the rundown. No promises, though!

  • Basic makeup tutorial: concealer, foundation, blush

    I've had a few people over the years say that I should teach them how to apply makeup, or tell them my secrets, things like that. So here's (basically) what I do when I wear makeup. I'm not saying that this is how you should apply makeup, just how I go about it. I don't read tutorials or study things myself, this is just years of playing around.

    If your skin is dry, or, well, you should probably do it anyway, find a moisturizer with some sort of spf factor to protect your skin. I struggle with doing this. Anyway.

    First things first, I use a bit of concealer. This is what I have currently, though to be honest, I'm not super impressed with it. It works well enough, but I got kind of a dud stick that is cracked down towards the bottom, so one day, it's going to fall out on me.

    I swipe some concealed in the areas I think need it - usually under my eyes and a blemish here or there. Rub it in gently, and move on.

    These beauties are my makeup brushes. I'm sure I have more brushes than I actually need, but they're fun to play with! I think that good makeup brushes (by which I mean they do their job well, not necessarily breaking the bank!) are worth their weight in gold. You should also wash your makeup brushes with some regularity to keep them from getting germy (and with the eyeshadows, you'll end up with funky colors if you use dirty brushes).

    The vast majority of my makeup comes from Geek Chic Cosmetics. I love their products because they are gorgeous and work well, but they're not -really- priced more than a decent drugstore product, they're vegan and cruelty free. It's a win-win all around.

    So this is my foundation, in the Morrigan color. The great thing about Geek Chic is that you can order samples from them for a reduced price, make sure you like what you're getting and it's the right color. Very important with foundation.

    Put your brush in the jar and do a light tappa tappa to knock off excess powder. Really. Very important, otherwise your foundation will fall off onto your shirt. Then take your nice poofy brush and just kind of...apply it. All over. It's a trial and error thing, but if you're not applying a foundation wildly different from your skin color, and if it's not liquid, it won't be so noticible if you miss a spot while you're practicing. :)

    VOILA, foundation face. The point is just to even out your skin and give you a good canvas for adding color back in.

    These are my blushes - Newb and Nerdgasm. You can get away with one blush, but I do think it's fun to have a couple. The darker blushes are easier to overdo in the winter, when my skin is a little lighter. If I had to pick one basic blush to start out with, I'd go with newb. I know it looks really ballerina pink there, but it's a really basic, neutral color. Promise!

    Okay, so, this is the blush brush I use. I couldn't get a great picture of it, but it's wider at the bottom and more tapered at the top. You'll want to apply it with the wide part at the base of your cheek, the top along your cheekbone.

    Like so. You'll want to make some gentle swipes, diagonally, towards your hairline. Follow your cheekbone, really. Do it gently and make multiple passes so you get the amount you want. It's easy to add more than it is to wipe off overblushed cheeks.

    I don't have great lighting for this informal tutorial, and I apologize. But blush does add color back into your cheeks.

    Look for part 2 of this tutorial on Monday!

  • Lull me to sleep

    I love sleep, yet, I'm not very good at falling asleep. I try laying there and focusing on breathing, counting, things like that. But if my mind is set on wandering, those things don't work. And if my mind is set on wandering, there's a decent chance that this wandering is going to lead me to the land of anxiety, if I'm not there already.

    I've been working on a bedtime routine, and that helps. I go into my office shortly before bed and fill out that day on my five year journal, and try to jot down anything on my mind for the next day in my planner. Getting things out of my brain before they have time to sit there and poke at me seems like a good practice.

    But that's not what I want to tell you about. Not really. I love listening to podcasts when I fall asleep. I use my tablet and stick it under my pillow so that I can hear it pretty well, but it's muffled enough so that it won't bother Matt. But the problem is that either I fall asleep to a podcast I love, which makes me sad, because I want to listen to it, or I try to find a podcast that is mildly interesting - and then I end up enjoying that podcast too.

    So when I saw this podcast that claimed to help you fall asleep, I thought it was worth a shot.

    Sure enough, this podcast is sleep magic. I'm not kidding. This guy's voice knocks me out like a light. Most episodes run for around an hour - I'm not sure I've ever lasted more than fifteen minutes, if that. I don't think I make it past the announcements most of the time.

    It is my favorite podcast because it knocks me out so well. And nothing he talks about is so interesting that I feel like I'm missing out. He says that the podcast is designed to distract your brain so that you're listening to the podcast and not thinking so that you can fall asleep, and, well, it works. I can't stress this enough - it puts me out like a light.

    If you're interested in trying it out, here's a link.

    Sleep with me podcast

    He's launching a patreon later this month, and I plan on backing it, because it's one of the most useful things I've discovered in a long time.

  • Control Freak

    I think I'm something of a control freak. I wouldn't have used those words to define myself, normally. I consider myself laid back, who can roll with the punches. Control freaks are people who are mean and demanding and definitely not me.

    Except, well, I am definitely not laid back. Maybe I look like I'm laid back, sometimes, but inside, I'm screaming.

    "Let's play it by ear" is a phrase that makes my chest tighten. Because when I hear that phrase, I hear "You can't make plans. You'll have to sit around waiting on someone else to decide what is happening." and I haaaaate that.

    But let me rewind a little bit.

    Maybe I should have caught onto my "less than flexible" personality when I started describing "lateness" as one of my top pet peeves.

    I've been trying to work through why certain things make my anxiety flare up. I'm not going to say that I've been the bane of Matt's existence lately, but I kind of feel like it. We've been having a lot of conversations of the "what is bothering you?" variety, and I feel like we both just walk away more frustrated by the end of it. My answers are always the same, and so are his, and so we end up at an impasse, because I really don't think that a medicine adjustment is what I need, and sometimes I feel like my neuroses are too stupid for a counselor.

    But one of these conversations ended with an epiphany. A lot of the things that really cause me to panic are things that I cannot control, cannot hope to control.

    Plans that change at the last minute (note: my definition of last minute varies greatly) drive me bonkers. I had a plan and that plan has changed and my brain cannot cope with that.

    The weather causes me a lot of grief. I can't control whether it snows, and so it makes it hard to plan around it. Even if I make the plans, the weather can change! I suspect that I don't like winter driving because I don't feel like I have enough control of the car.

    I love plans. Even if I don't follow them to a T, I love the idea of plans. It stresses me out when I have plans and they follow apart. I love traveling, but I also hate it, because it means that I am outside of my routine, that the time period before and after traveling is also going to be chaotic.

    My planners need planners. Really.

    I find comfort in routine, in knowing what to expect. I think I'm happiest when I have a plan for the day before I go to bed. It's not that I can't be flexible. It depends on how married to the plan at hand I am. If someone were to call me up and interrupt my house cleaning plans, I'll be out the door before the dust hits the floor.

    I don't know. Does knowing how much my brain likes plans and knowing what to expect mean that I should lighten up? Does it mean that I can embrace it, and choose to be more mindful? Can I prevent anxiety by recognizing why I'm bothered in the first place?

    Food for thought. Speaking of food, I realize that I forgot to get the bread dough out of the freezer this morning, so my supper plans are now out the window. Huh.

  • Weird Ways I've Woken Up, Part 2

    Weird Ways I've Woken Up, Part 2

    This isn't a case of having my leg just dangling off the bed. No. I've woken up with my leg bent, foot actually planted on the floor, like I was in the process of getting up. However, the rest of me is completely on the bed, in a somewhat sensible way.

    Where is my leg trying to go?!?