Spinal Fusion | 20 Years Later

Hello!

In the last several years a lot has happened, I celebrated 10 years as a blogger in 2019, I hit two milestones in last year, starting with my blog turning 10 in October and I entered my “dirty thirties” a month later. For this year, there is a very different anniversary, and I’ve felt weird about it for months. I actually decided to allow myself to write about my thoughts months in advance because I couldn’t get it out of my mind of how it’s been this long since it happened, so I hope you enjoy taking a trip down memory lane today.

I was technically born with three conditions, as you may know I have Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congentia, but this can lead to other problems like babies born with club feet. scoliosis, etc. I happen to have a serve case of AMC with the addition of a club foot, rocker bottom, and scoliosis. I’ve had many, many physical therapies over the years, in the hopes of trying to help make life a little easier. I’ve had discussions about what could be done as far as surgeries go to “fix” my arms and feet, but the only I ever had been the full spinal fusion surgeries in 2002.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

What is spinal fusion?

Spinal fusion surgery is usually the last option, if your back cannot be corrected after wearing braces for multiple years. The National Spine Health Foundations says, it is like trying to fix a broken bone(s), which is a great way on how to explain it, especially in my experience. What does one do in the hopes of repairing a deformed bone? You have two options: use a splint or form a brace/cast and hope time will heal all wounds… Nice pun action there, right?

I wasn’t a stranger to braces; we still have the itty-bitty braces doctors gave us for my hands. When I came out of the womb, my arms weren’t set in the position at my chest. According to my mother, they were somewhat flat, and the doctors tried to adjust them twice. The first was when I was in incubator, (I was a preemie, so I needed a little help breathing and then of course figuring what was going on with my body.) and the nurses made a makeshift log by folding a single wash cloth and propped me on top of it so my arms would stretched out and eventually my parents were given the braces for my forearms and they a little smaller compared to a standard remote for your TV!

Anyways, I was about five or six years when I was put into the first brace I actually remember. I don’t exactly remember the appointment itself but It had many crooks and crannies, plus it was very decorated with stickers, thanks to my fellow classmates adding a bit of fun to the whole thing! I wore it until the end of third grade and just before I turned 10, I was fitted with a brand-new brace and it was very bulky, this was as close to a corset as I could get, and thankfully I only had to wear it for less than a year because it wasn’t doing very much to help me at this point.

I remember the night before we drove up to Shriner’s Hospital in St. Louis, my mom had my sister and I and we prayed together if it was decided by the doctors I would have surgery, I remembered our expressions being of fear and shock, I mean we were kids, despite the fact we’d go over there multiple times a year since I was about two years old, somehow I hadn’t heard that word “surgery” before, so it was no wonder why I can remember that scene so well because it was a new thing to me, and I didn’t fully understand that whole process until much later in life.

The actual appointment is still hilarious to me because after getting X-Rays done five minutes earlier, the four of us were called next and put into the standard size room with a very used chalk board and different toys attached to the wall next to the giant mirror. Our parents were wrecked with nerves, Blondie was playing, and I was on the cold floor slowly peeking out into the hallway, watching everybody walk around, which is something I still do at age 30, but I noticed there were a lot of doctors looking at a set of X-Rays and I saw my doctor among them. I knew at that moment they were inspecting my images and as I was told to scoot back in the room, I didn’t feel scared but curious of the language they were discussing–I knew something big was coming and it fascinated me!

As I made my way back over to my folks, they suspected the doctor would be coming soon, so one of them lifted me onto that damn bed thingy and I sat there for a short time before they came into the room. How do you know you’re going to have surgery? Well, in my case, about 7 doctors walked right in and they were the same 7 people busy talking in low tones about the process of my spine. There were tears and I cracked a couple of jokes, because that’s how I roll in life. The day we went up there for this appointment had to been in mid-April 2002, because by the start of August, and what would be the beginning of my 5th grade school year, we made another trip which would be even longer as I was now an inpatient on the second, B floor with a roommate by the name of Shelby.

My mom and I tend to argue about the exact date we went up and stayed at the hotel and eventually moved into the hospital to stay. The first night in that hospital was another hilarious experience! I couldn’t get to sleep, because the next day would start on my three-and-half-month journey. We got yelled at by one of the night nurses that the TV wasn’t allowed on at night. This is definitely something you don’t tell a new patient, but we followed the rules, and after my mom went to bed, I decided to play with the controls of my bed, and I had that thing folded up like a taco! I think my mom woke up in the middle of my fun and told me off, because I don’t remember much after that!

The next day, Dr. Lawrence Lenke only came to the hospital on Tuesdays and Thursdays as he spent the majority of the time at the Children’s Hospital a few miles into the city, where I would end going for the second and third surgeries. The first was a smaller one but the one we can somewhat pinpoint the easiest, which is why I tend to celebrate them on this one date, as supposed to the day we left in early November. This surgery was just as important as the doctor and his nurses and techs fitted a half halo made of metal onto my skull. I had eight pins screwed into sections to keep it secured and I was attached to a pole in both my bed and wheelchair to keep myself alignment. I ended up having three surgeries altogether, but I wouldn’t have the actual spinal fusion surgery six days after my 11th birthday.

Over the years, I’ve finally figured out the timeline of everything that happened, both while I was in surgery and recovery, and what was going on at home and school too. My mom and I were separated from our support systems. My dad stayed home to work and stay with my younger sister, she actually doesn’t have a lot of memories of that time, whereas I remember almost everything. I had tons of distractions between school, friends that stayed in our section, the goofy nurses and field trips. I went on more field trips in three months than I did in one year!

A little after I had my first surgery, I got to meet some of St. Louis Cardinal baseball players. My dad was very excited, he thoroughly enjoyed this! I think this and the time a group of motorcyclists came to visit us and brought us goodies. Anyways, I’m not into baseball so I sort of felt silly meeting these guys, but the Cardinals team is a big supporter of Shriner’s Hospital, and visit the kids, and sometimes a group of kids, nurses and people in the RT (recreational therapy) go to watch a game and meet the entire team(s) and I am thrilled they do this. We met with a great bunch of guys, and it was really fun, but I highly doubt Woody Williams still has my autograph but hey you never know! He was very curious of my ability to write with my feet, so we did a trade, he signed my shirt, and I gave him my autograph.

From L to R we have Timo Martinez, Andy Benes (he retired later in the 2002 season!), Mike DiFelice and Woody Williams. Notice the metal halo on the top of my head, and the pole behind my wheelchair. Photo credit: Dona Glambert aka my nana!

It is absolutely crazy that it’s been over 20 years since I had my first surgery, the other two anniversaries will be at the end of October and first week of November.

I could sit here and tell you all of the things that happened, but it would be even longer than it is now, so I am going to stop here for now. If you would like to ask any question about my experiences; while I was staying at Shriner’s, recovering, or anything else, you can email me at gotmeghan.blog@gmail.com Be sure to get the dot in between “gotmeghan” and “blog” before you send your messages! I’d also like to say if you know someone who was a nurse at that hospital, worked in the B section, and remembers anything about the girl who drove her wheelchair with her feet, I’d also like to get in touch with you/them too!

Have you ever had surgery before? What was the location and reason why you needed to have it in the first place? Leave your answers below!

snowflake

Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag (+ Book Journal Update!)

Hello!

I have been looking forward to doing this tag again for the third year in a row, since the end of March, and what makes this one different from my previous posts, I will also be giving you an update look into reading journal! I said in the beginning that I would like to discuss my progress was going sometime this summer and since we’re right at the middle of 2022, I figured it would be awesome to do it all together so I wouldn’t have to do more scheduling this month!

Firstly, we will go on with the tag itself and then I’ll show you my journal afterwards. I do have a couple of things to mention though, I am only talking about the books I’ve read from January to mid-June and I’ve kept the same questions, so if you’d like to do this challenge on your blog or YouTube channel (or just for fun!) I would really love to see your answers, so please tag me in your posts!

Here are my previous answers from 2020 and 2021.


Best Book You’ve Read so Far

Honestly, I’ve read a lot of really good books. I’m trying to break out of my normal genres like romance and rediscover old favorites like historical fiction. It took me a bit, but I’ve finally started to push through the historical aspect with diving into stories about the Vikings, and I am forever grateful for taking a chance on K.M. Butler’s debut “The Raven and The Dove” which is based on the Vikings living in Normandy. Before reading this book, I wasn’t interested with these types of books, but I have a soft spot for women’s stories and despite the fact the author wrote this in two POVs, I actually loved it! It was fun to look into the main character’s lives and how they viewed one another personally and the customs of the times.

After I finished it, I tried my foot into similar books, but I wasn’t able to mesh with any others until I came across Melanie Karsak’s own Viking stories called “The Road to Valhalla”. I had tried to read one back in December, but it wasn’t what I wanted to read at the time and then a few months later I discovered the actual series and I adore the fact that Melanie can create such interesting characters and settlings that you can clearly picture in your mind at all hours of the day (or in my case at night!) and attempt to figure out how it will all end for them. Once I completed “Under the Howling Moon” back in March, it didn’t take me long to whiz right through them! I will probably be finished with all five books by the end of the season.

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far This Year?

I’m surprised with myself, but I haven’t really read any sequels or at least any proper sequels than besides The Road to Valhalla. However, when I was done with “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott back in March, I decided to test out “Little Men” which is about Jo’s school for boys and discusses her life with her nephews and other young gentlemen that live amongst Jo and her husband Friedrich. The stories are very dated, but I have enjoyed love discovering the way people wrote their stories. Louisa wrote her books in the style that reflected her life in some way, so in a way she gave her accent and voice to her characters.

The other sequel is Harry Potter and the “Order of the Phoenix” by J.K. Rowling. Some of you might know about this, but I tend to only read my Harry Potter books whenever the weather warms up a little, so from spring to early summer to the end of autumn, I am sitting outside with our cats on the back deck continuing my Harry Potter journey. When I came back to it in late April, I was halfway done with it and usurpingly remembered everything I had previously read several months before and so I was thoroughly excited to finish it but now I feel weird that after I am done with ‘Half Blood Prince”–and I could finish it by the start of fall–that I will have one more book in the series and I would cross it off my reading bucket list!

New release you haven’t read, but would like to

I’ve tried my hardest to not think of the recently released books, but I do take advantage of the Amazon’s First Reads for prime readers, as you can get one book a month and they are usually free to any user, and I’ve collected three books I thought looked interesting and they were: “The Last Rose of Shanghai” by Weina Dal Randel, “The Taste of Ginger” by Mansi Shah and “The Lobotomist’s Wife” by Samantha Greene Woodruff. As you might be able to tell, all three were from the Historical Fiction box. I am excited to get to these books, but I have no idea when that will be exactly!

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

There are a couple of books I’d like to get my feet on soon, like I said above, I haven’t paid that much attention to the lists. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t see anything on social media from my family and friends… One was inspired by my friend Ella, as she had checked it on Goodreads as “want to read” last month. She has a large array of books and this one really seemed odd and right up my alley, It is called, “The Drowned Woods” by Emily Lloyd-Jones.

The second book was listed as part of Hot Summer Reads blog post on Goodreads, and I thought the title was both hilarious and morbid, but once I saw what it was about, my curiosity was piqued, it is former actress Jeannete McCurdy’s “I’m Glad My Mom Died”. Besides historical fiction, I also have a huge weakness for memoirs, and I think this would be a great read as we enter the colder months. I only say it like that because I tend to want sporty and coming of age books around the time school starts back up!

Biggest Disappointment

This year I’ve been trying to listen to more audiobooks and back in February, I decided I wanted to check out some childhood classics, and I found “Matilda” by Roald Dahl and I have always been curious about it, and the fact I have only watched the film once in my whole life, I thought I would be fine with it but I was so upset with it by the end of the experience! I still don’t believe it deserves to be in a “children” category, especially with the amount of traumatic themes in it. I literally rated it as a three out of five stars, because I thought it seemed fair. I mean I didn’t absolutely hate it, as there were good spots here and there, but overall I’m glad I got it off my list for good.

There was another children’s classic that I didn’t finish but thought it was worthy a mention here. Upon recommendation, I decided to check out “Anne of Green Gables” by Lucy Maud Montgomery and before going into this, I had just finished “Little Women” so I thought I would mesh fairly well with it. I didn’t. My first thought was I didn’t like how the author used the word “ejaculated” in the beginning of the story as to being a substitute for “gasping” or Louisa May Alcott’s favorite “raptures” but after the first chapter, it kind of disappeared and I thoroughly happy about it!

I can be a big talker when I want to be, and I’m constantly daydreaming just like Anne, but even I thought she was too much for me to handle, so by the time I had passed Chapter 10, I thought it was going by so slowly but slightly amusing to hear this little girl yap about anything and everything. Unfortunately, when I was about to hit Chapter 19, I couldn’t take any more of it. so, I eventually had to find something because this wasn’t working out very well.

Biggest Surprise

Last year, I did something I thought I’d ever do, I watched The Notebook. I still don’t remember what caused me to go for it, other than it must have been on our movie channels constantly and I might’ve been in a huge rom-com mood, and this was what my brain chose first, but I did enjoy myself. It wasn’t too awful, but I still don’t want to watch A Walk to Remember though…

Although I might consider listening to the audiobook instead, since I did give “Safe Haven” a chance back in February. I have watched the film when it came out in 2009, but I have only watched it once so I thought this insight would play in my favor, but it didn’t. I still remembered everything of the movie, but I was shocked when I found myself crying in the middle of the night for certain chapters and the ending really got me good, but now I can’t stand to rewatch the film and that part sucked but I am open to listen to more Nicholas Sparks books in the future!

Favorite new author (Debut or new for you)

For the most part, I have discovered a lot of “new” authors, but my favorites so far have been K.M. Butler, and it was his first historical fiction novel and my first of the new year. I owe him for creating such interesting characters like Halla and Taurin. They came from two separate religions and worlds, but he found a way to make it work and tell the story of how people can accept and change their views for the greater good of others.

Another historical fiction book I found at the end of May, is about Lady Katherine Swymford, simply titled “Katherine”. She was the mistress and later wife and Queen Consort to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. It was written by Anya Seton in, get this, 1964! Honestly, I thought the author’s not in the beginning was odd, because she explained how her family would travel back to England in the ’50’s and she studied as much as she could that was available at the time, in order to write the story of Katherine de Roet. It just never occurred to me of how old the book itself would be until I did some digging of my own! It is 500 pages long, so I am probably still reading it as this post publishes, but it’s been very interesting so far!

Newest fictional crush

Well, when I started reading Melanie’s “The Road to Valhalla” series, Hervor wasn’t the only one to fall head over heels in love with Prince Hofund. The moment when he and her cousin Leif and their warriors arrive out of the sea and into battle in the second book was amazing because for once everything came so vividly to me at that moment. It wasn’t supposed to be a sexy scene but leave to me to make it that way!

Unfortunately, I have had some difficulty picturing these Viking men lately, sometimes, descriptions can be blurred together for me and since I haven’t watched many films or TV shows set in the Viking world, I don’t know certain hairstyles and/or the ordinary look of these characters, however, I have better luck with the women because it’s easier to picture them for some odd reason.

Book that made you cry

Well, considering I just told you this back in the “Biggest Surprise” question. I have cried to a few others, such as, “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga, “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott, “Under the Hunter’s Moon” and “Under the Blood Moon” by Melanie Karsak. I am trying like crazy to stay away from those that could turn me into a blubbering mess, but sometimes it just happens without any warning!

Book that made you happy

One of my secondary goals for this year was to read books that have become a film and/or TV series in the last couple of decades; and I had one book where I was curious but worried about because I have watched the film before and hope to show it to my niece and nephew someday. James and the Giant Peach. This was my second Roald Dahl classic and as I was listening to the audiobook for it, I was so happy to know that there wasn’t a lot of things changed for the film, and despite it also discuss childhood abuse and trauma, it is generally a cozy little story.

The second thing that also made me happy was when the book itself was originally released on November 1st, 1964. It actually came out on my birthday, and it was a wonderful surprise after I had finished reading it and the fact that my views on the film adaption didn’t change either made things work so well!

Most beautiful book you’ve bought this year

The most beautiful book I’ve read this year was definitely “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga. It was exactly what I needed at the time of Ramadan and the start of Eid. I don’t really celebrate the holidays of the Muslim communities and friends, but mainly it was my way of supporting them unknowingly. It was such an adorable, but kind of sad modern children’s book set on a little girl named Jude, who is a Syrian refugee in the Midwest of the United States, and you learn about how she is learning how to adjust to life in America with her mother, as they stay with her uncle’s family.

What books do you still need to read by the end of the year?

By this time, I’d hope to be around 24 books into my initial goal for the year, which is 40-45. I am currently reading six different series, and I’m almost finished with “Harry Potter” and “The Road to Valhalla” series, I doubt I will be able to finish “Deathly Hollows” because I know it’s a giant book and chuck full of information, so I would like to take my time on it, plus I tend to only read my HP books while I am outside with the cats, and really it all of it depends on the weather too, but I am looking forward to completing TWO of them this summer! As for the others, it will be interesting on what actually happens with them.

And then, there’s my notion of finishing the “Me Before You” by JoJo Moyes and “Sinners on Tour” by Olivia Cunning series I had mention last year or back in 2020, because those are fairly shorter on their percentages, especially “Wicked Beat” but I don’t know, it’ll just depend on my mood and what I generally want to read for the next half of the year.


Now let’s move on with our next subject. My reading journals.

Before 2022 started, I had a lot of plans and thoughts that I thought would be fun to create in this new venture, but in the last three months I’ve noticed that I am not grabbing neither one of my journals on a daily basis.

The most important spread I use in journals are the monthly trackers. It has been kind of fun shading in a box or circle for every day I’ve read, but recently I’ve had to make a faint line after seven days because for the last five months I’ve been counting each dot in the Blue journal and it can get very frustrating if you’re not careful! In my Green journal, I was smart enough to create an easer tracker system that includes the numbers on the left side of the graph, and I tend to go for that one most of the time; if it wasn’t so heavy I may actually use it everyday!

The second most popular habit tracker is my “amateur” bookshelves I created in the Green journal–I am still very impressed they worked out so well, especially after going over it with my pen! Next time I will just forgo the pen because that was such a disaster! Anyways, I completed one shelf, I did that back in late March or early April I think. It was a quick discovery I will say! I definitely have a lot more Kindle reads but I’ve added one print, two novellas, and seven audiobooks so far! Also, I need o make a not for year to pick prettier colors than gray, pink turquoise and green because they are ugly together!

As for my actually Reading Log, I’ve had to do some editing here and there. Since my overall theme is Harry Potter, I had wanted to use the House colors for each section, but I didn’t have all of the colors so I had to improvise and although I use the heck out of it, my hopes for it didn’t work out well for me but I would like to work on them to do this layout again in 2023.

And my final layout is the end-of-the-month stats and again, I didn’t have big plans for it but I am happy on what I was able to do for it. I have done some updating this past month and I am going to need to create two more blocks for November and December and the end results for the year.

For those who don’t know, I have four things I keep a record of each month and they are: how many books I finish, the number of pages I read, days of the month and finally the selection of words. If you’ve read about the post where I talked about how I wanted a space reserved for all of the words I collect as I read each of these books, mainly because I love to collect but I also wanted an everlasting reminder of the stories.

I apologize for the bad lighting, I decided to take them just after the sun went down and had to deal with my regular light and the shadows of my feet! I bet you never thought you’d see those words in the same sentence! Anyways, for the most part the photos actually came out really good!

Are you the type of person who needs to create a book journal like me? How would you design yours or what has been your favorite layouts/themes? If you don’t have a reading journal or blog, how do you keep track of everything?

snowflake

Blogmas: Wooden + Dots Ornaments

Hello!

As you may have noticed, and I still don’t know what happened because I had plans, but we didn’t put out any pumpkins this fall. My sister did, she decorated her entire front porch with various sizes of pumpkins, but we did not. I found it very surreal, because that’s my favorite thing to do in September and October is paint pumpkins. After that, I think my body was like, “okay, we need to find an alternative fast!” because this project came out of nowhere, but it ended up becoming a new favorite of mine.

In mid-October, I started looking for birthday gifts that weren’t books (I know it’s shocking!) and I found these wooden shapes and I sort of fell in love with them and then I found ones that were Christmas related and then all hell broke loose in my brain!

In the last year and a half, I’ve been watching a lot of reels and regular videos on YouTube of dot art. I still don’t remember what inspired the find in general, but I’m forever glad it came into my life. I used it in my 3 projects last Christmas. It was only a simple red dot here and there with a Q-Tip but it was still a new thing for me and I loved it. I have been working on it throughout 2021 and I finally felt comfortable enough to use the technique in my new project: the Christmas ornaments!


What you will need for this DIY:

  • Wood cut outs – it’s important for them to be “unfinished”
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paintbrushes
  • Dotting tools
  • Damp washcloth
  • Paint palette or paper plate(s)

Before we get too into this part of the post, I wanted to show you how the ornaments came in the mail.

They were perfectly stuffed into this cute Santa Claus box. I was originally going to get the 160 pieces but I’m glad I switched to the 40 pieces because I would still be painting right now! Anyways, they were four traditional Christmas characters: a snowflake, bell, tree and baubles. You get 10 in each stack, so you have multiple designs you’d like to trade off, you are welcome to do it evenly. If you would like to purchase this set or the others, click here for the Amazon page. You also get clusters of string for each of the ornaments, plus a small bag of metallic beads, but I did not use them.

Raining Dots

I started with the Christmas trees, and I copied the same color scheme I did with my last project, so I mixed my green with a tiny bit of blue and I love how they all came out. After finishing all 10 trees with their base coats, I moved on to the trunk and I poured a small amount of brown into my palette, and I used one layer of paint for that part. I am a lover of DecoArt acrylic paints, (thanks to Lydia May on YouTube!) I usually don’t need more than two coats depending on the shade, and I was very happy with my color choices this time around, including the yellow!

Once everyone was in the process of drying, I switched my attention on my design ideas for a few of my baubles. I knew I wanted to create a series of animals, but I’m not really good at it so I went looking on Pinterest and found a great step-by-step guide of the Fox for my friend Brittany. She was the one who really inspired this part in the first place. I continued to search for guides of the Cow and Pig, but I wasn’t able to find anything, so they were basically all free-foot sketches. After that, I stopped for the day, and came right back to it the next day.

A couple of weeks ago, I was finally able to add another selection of dotting tools. I have the smaller sizes, and I’ve been using them for about a year now and they are very nice for me to grip my toes around and make my dots, but the others are various sizes and I have been wanting to get them for a while now because I wanted to try my foot at the larger dots. I am having issues how to grip them, but I expected that to happen. I knew I wasn’t going to go all out with my designs (honestly, I had the phrase, “less is more” in my mind the whole time!) and I tried to keep it that way.

When I came back to my trees, I was ready to decorate everybody, and I used two colors: yellow and a light gray (I mixed my gray with a tiny bit of white!) and I painted the stars with those colors and would switch the yellow star with silver garland. I was smart with this; I drew out a zig-zag design on most of them and would follow the lines with my dotting tool and I really loved it! Some look like traditional Christmas trees, but there are five of them with the “walking technique” which is coating your desired tool with paint and dotting down the canvas, I love this so much I did it to my Bonsai pot in the spring! My parents saw the final tree with this design, and they love it. Honestly, everyone I’ve shared it to, has expressed the same thoughts too!

So, here are how the trees turned out.

There Goes Rudolph!

The second (or third) shape were the bells. I wasn’t impressed with the bells at all, they were very boring even without paint on them…

My thinking behind them was the golden bells you normally see on pictures, but I could not get the yellow to turn to a pretty gold and I tried like three different times and was only successful after finishing with them. I was so mad at that point, but I moved on though. Since I had 10 of these bells, I was influenced by a fragment of a carol “with silver bells ringing” I kept hearing while doing the base colors and I created the silver hue again for the rest of my bells and I thought they looked so adorable!

I left to dry overnight and I was really worried about how boring they looked, so that night I thought about adding a reindeer face on it and in my dreams they looked so cute and I was over the moon when I started sketching out how I wanted the antlers to go, but once I started doing my dots I got a little worried because the design started to look a little bit like a pair of balls and by my second bell, I became terrified at what was appearing but thankfully my mom thought they were great, especially after I put the eyes and big red nose at the end.

The reindeer/bells are definitely my favorite, even with the cock and balls antlers, they still look amazing! I did a good job on them and that’s something I rarely do when it comes to painting, is enjoy what I am creating, and lately it’s been so fulfilling to believe in my artwork for the first time.

Let It…

For the third ornament, we have snowflakes.

I think both the trees and snowflakes were the easiest to do because they required a small set of skill. You can free hand your designs to make things simple and they would still end up being very beautiful. When I began on the snowflakes though, I thought I would be able to play with my various sizes of tools, but I rarely got away from the blue tool, which is a little bit bigger than the purple tool. I basically treated the flakes like the trees when it came to their designs and used the walking technique quite a bit throughout the process.

And like the trees, I kept my color scheme pretty limited, I only used white for the base and used two different blues, but my favorite shade was the bright, neon like because it reminded me of the Frozen films. I’ll be honest, I had Queen Elsa and Princess Anna (and of course, Olaf too!) in my head all while I was working on these and I’m glad I did because it got me out of my head, and I allowed myself to make mistakes with them because I mean every snowflake is one of a kind so I just left them the way they were… well, some of them! There were 3 that definitely had to be fixed but after I was done, I basically pushed them as far away as possible, so I wasn’t able to add more dots!

The Cast of Characters

Lastly, the bauble balls were my least favorite because I knew what I wanted to do with a few of them and it scared the living daylights out of me! I got through in one piece thank God, but not without psyching myself out in the first round.

So, like I explained above while I was waiting for my trees to dry, I got started on figuring out what I wanted for three of my baubles, the rest was pretty much left until I did the base coats. I treated the baubles like the bells, as I split them up as they were painted in traditional Christmas colors: green and red. I was so worried the red would be too dark for my animal baubles, but thankfully they design held up great against the paint, and I was still able see every part.

My biggest worry now was, do I have a brush that was small enough to paint the character without creating a big mess around it, and I was thoroughly surprised as I found a tiny brush that was not only perfect for the designs, but it quickly became a favorite of mine because it allowed me to gain back some of the control as far as what I wanted to bring into each animal. I didn’t stop using my dotting tools though as I had made the eyes and noses with a small tool, and they turned out as adorable as my Rudolph/reindeers in the end.

When I was done with them, I was fairly tempted to leave the rest of the baubles plain, but I thought they looked too boring for that, and I started experimenting and I made array of different ones but I did one that spells the word “Woof” for a family friend, they have a Pittie and they recently got a Beagle puppy so as my mom told me, “it fits” for them, and then I surprised myself again but creating two baubles in a Ugly Christmas Sweater design and I’m still upset I did just do that with the rest but it was just a beautiful disaster that I need to remember for next Christmas!

Bring Me the Rainbow

My final bauble is very special because it is my nephew’s. Nolan has become obsessed with the moon and rainbows, and since I already got him a Moon phase garland for his room, I figured I needed to bring out his love for the rainbow too, so I reserved a bauble ornament for him. I don’t know why I didn’t do this with my nana’s ornament since she too is obsessed with the rainbow! Oh well, I will make a note of this for next year!

I was thrilled to do this for Nolan but I was also terrified too because I had to use the ruler to create a series of lines for each color, and honestly, this was a doozy! I was having a hard time making six, somewhat equal, lines for each dot and it was a hard task at first but once I got it all figured out, I poured out my paint on my palette and got to work on the actual dots.

This media has also become a favorite of my nephew too. He currently had two or three CDs I’ve made in the last year or so, the first one he just took home and the others I gave him because he kept holding onto them. I think in the new year, I will try to teach him how to do it so he can be excited about his own creations too! Anyways, I used my pink tool, which is the middle size and honestly, it was actually perfect for this design. I was going to use the tiny brush again to remove the empty spaces in between the dots but I stopped myself from doing it and messing the entire ornament up. Nolan was very excited to get his ornament. I don’t think he understood at first why I had given him a different design compared to his mommy’s pink reindeer, but I know he will cherish it nonetheless!

It is strange when a small thought that can appear in the middle of a sleepless night, can grow into such a huge project and yet bring so much good to a slice of the world. Homemade gifts are good for the soul. I give kudos to anyone who has a small business and fix up orders every day, because that is no small feat! As I told my nana the other day, now that I am done painting and the cards were shipped out and people are receiving their ornaments, I still feel like I need to be doing something, and I really hope it was finishing this post.

I really hope you have enjoyed reading my process with this project. It was fun while it lasted, and now I can relax for the rest of this break. If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a lovely time with your family, friends and/or pets. For anyone else, have a wonderful weekend!

30 Lessons I Learned In My 20’s

Hello! 💙

I would be lying to you if I didn’t say I have been thinking about what to talk about in my birthday post for MONTHS!

My mind went from listing thirty various facts that I thought was interesting, then it ranged from other 30th celebrations from all over the world, but I landed at giving you a list of lessons I learned while I was enjoying my 20’s.

Honestly, a part of me totally understands the episode of Friends, where Rachel wakes up, it’s her birthday and she is upset at the whole notion of turning 30 years old and basically panics because she realizes there were a lot of things she hoped to accomplish in those ten years, but she hadn’t and everyone tries to help her feel better and possibly do some of these things afterwards; unfortunately, I’ve never seen the ending result because when I watched that whole, I just pushed it out of my mind. Despite the fact my old self hoped to do some of the same things Rachel wanted, I am happy that I didn’t get it. I actually learned this lesson while in my late teens so it’s something I’ve welcomed with open arms (or legs in my case…) and this ultimately made the decision of theme for this post easier to do.

I didn’t exactly know how I wanted to write this portion of the post, I thought I’d set it up in a couple of sections but I thought it would take forever, so here’s a simple list of life lessons Honestly, this blog is a great map but I thought these would be a great little snapshot into those moments.

🖤 You don’t need to go to college, living as you are can be even more educational
💜 Being a blogger isn’t a bad thing
🖤 Friendships don’t last forever
💜 There’s a light at the end of those dark tunnels
🖤 Acceptance is key
💜 It’s important to find your patience to deal in this fast-paced world
🖤 There’s nothing wrong with wanting life to feel complete at 25, However, when it doesn’t go in the way you want, please kind to yourself
💜 Being disabled is not a burden
🖤 Cats are life

💜 Art is not your enemy – find another media to explore
🖤 Working with digital magazines can be fun and are a great excuse to grow as a writer
💜 NaNoWriMo is no joke
🖤 It’s better to be open-minded than closed off
💜 Trees are amazing creatures
🖤 It is a hidden talent to kill crickets
💜 Books are awesome ways to escape life
🖤 Basketball is better than football
💜 Time heals most wounds
🖤 Becoming an auntie is fascinating
💜 Put a bird feeder outside of your window

🖤 Fairy lights around the window are a cozy and essential for when you can’t reach the lightswitch on your own without the possibility of hurting yourself
💜 When pain arises, nap can be necessary
🖤 Having a bit of a green thumb or in this case, a green toe
💜 Being able to create long and short term goals and keeping them
🖤 Spotify is a lifesaver
💜 Be a fierce queen (or king)
🖤 Always trust your intuition
💜 Never stop adapting to your surroundings
🖤 Stay in the moment
💜 One.

When I started on it, I really tried not to overthink any of them, which is why there are some funny ones throughout too. I wanted to be thorough but not fussy about the things I felt were important to include in this post. I think what helped me the most was listing them all out in no particular order and once you get to a certain number you’re comfortable with, that’s when you can readjust the list itself and I don’t know why, but I always have the most difficult time figuring out the last five of anything, and once I switched to focus my attention on recent discoveries that’s when I felt totally comfortable with its entirety.

If I have somehow inspired you, please understand that I am slowly accepting that term into my life, and its that I ask to comment below your favorite lessons I’ve taught you in the last 10 years or so! I will enjoy to read anything you can list, whether it’s funny or important.

Life | Mental Heath Update + Things I CAN Control

TW: talks about the dark side of depression and thoughts of suicide!

Hello!

Last year was so crazy that I ended up forgetting writing a two year post depression/mental health update. The only reason why I’m here now is because it’s been on my mind for the last few months. I am a whole month late but I don’t care about that too much, and I didn’t think you would mind either.

A “little” backstory of my struggle with depression.

I’ve had a semi-long history with it, It started in middle school, and just seemed to get worse after I graduated high school. The prospect of going to college and having to deal with different people, surroundings, etc was really exciting at the time, but you have to understand I wasn’t thinking like I had a serve physical disability. I was always in denial because I wanted to be like my friends, go to a regular class, live in a dorm and go to parties, everything that a normal college person does, I wanted it too.

When hell decided to descend into my life, I took it very hard. I was so depressed that I have MONTHS–between the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2012–of memories gone! I thought of suicide many times, and just because I have a disability, doesn’t mean I never thought of ways on how it could work in my favor. When you are that low, you are as determined to end your life but thankfully, I never acted on those feelings, but every time I felt like I was heading into that suffocating black hole, I was terrified because I knew what was going to happen once it took hold of me again.

And then at the end of 2017, after my sister got been married and told everybody that they were going to wait five years to start trying to have a baby, they find out they were pregnant. I was already trying to deal with the aftermath of my papaw dying, and that one pretty much threw me over and I went down the biggest hole I’d been in since September 2010. I struggled to be happy for them becoming parents, my parents becoming grandparents and the fact that I was going to be an aunt, but I thoroughly jealous of the fact that my younger sister was going to have a baby.

I’ve always wanted to have a family of my own.

It was the one thing that I wanted to accomplish most of all.

Nothing else I ever did would matter as much as being a mother. I thought my disability would be pushed down like it had while I was growing up because I would be more focused on my child(ren) than my disability. This also shows you how much I despised my own body that would one day carry my own flesh and blood, so seeing my sister absolutely hate everything about being pregnant would make me want to scream after every visit! It angered me so much that this was happening, and then my nephew was born and I was instantly full of both good and bad emotions. I felt really guilty, but yet I was still holding on to that dream and so, it just continued to drag me down

I was supposed to have a doctor’s appointment to discuss taking anti-depressants into the middle of the pregnancy, my poor mom had to be my rock throughout those nine months because I was so sad. I would cry almost every night and finally, a week after Nolan was home, I started on my long journey to heal. In my first year update, I mentioned that I would still have my ups and downs, and that is definitely true all around but I will say, I have kept quite a few affirmations in my mind at all times and in the past year that has really helped me continue to work on myself.

I focus on what I can control, and I let go of what I can’t.

Once I saw this, everything in the last 11 years just washed away. It was infectious to learn this quote because now I don’t feel as many things that would easily, not to mention that would normally, irritate me because I know I am in control (oddly enough!) of my own body and peace of mind. The only thing I still have issues with, is my guilt about my sister being pregnant with my nephew. I still put myself in a guilt trip every once in a while but I am learning to get out of it before the whole thing just takes over, so that’s something to be proud of I think.

I should probably share that if you haven’t learned to control how you react to the different situations, like talking back, judging a book by its cover, learning that no response is still an answer, you probably won’t be able to really let things settle down. You don’t have to right every time. You respect the other person’s words and you go on living yours by your own measure. These are things you CAN control, which brings us to the next phase of this post.

I have a blog friend by the name of Nicky and she recently posted a photo of herself on Instagram last month and explained how life was going for her at the moment. She was feeling really out of it and discussed about dealing with finding control in daily life and she proceeded to create a list of things she could control, and I liked it so much that I decided I wanted to talk about it too, but in “Got Meghan” fashion, I like to chat and ramble on–obviously! I knew doing a simple Top 10 list wasn’t going to cut it, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone basically and this was the ending result I guess.

  1. How to breathe, because not many people have the luxury to do so
  2. Everything is by choice in life and dreamland
  3. Reaction to both positive and negative situations
  4. The book(s) I want to read next – for the most part!
  5. I can help people understand more about me, the ending result will not always be in my favor, but that’s the price to pay.
  6. If things don’t come to me at the right moment or fit into my monthly blogging schedule, I can always save it for a later date.
  7. Accepting myself, ALL of my self and being in the moment
  8. One-on-one time with the cats – even if they don’t like to share!
  9. What songs to include in my Spotify playlists
  10. Creativity to the arts, especially starting new medias and projects

Before I go, I would like to say that if you can, find someone to talk about your depression, whether it’s through a therapist, family member, best friend, co-worker, basically anyone you feel the most comfort and trust with your feelings but if you are unable to, I highly suggest writing about it. You could create a blog like I did, although deep in my haze I wasn’t in the mood to blog about anything, so maybe find a journal or if you are worried about someone seeing a diary or journal, keep a regular notebook like you would keep for school assignments, and write in there secretly. Of course, the best advice I can give you is the National Hopeline Network is completely free and the number is 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433). There is another one I am giving you and that is, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and their number is, 1-800-273-TALK (8255). I hope if you are struggling with life, whether you have a disability or not, I want to say, you’re not alone at all. There are ways you can thrive with life again.

My only question is, can you list out 10 things you CAN control like I did above?