Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Book on Anxiety

Rewire Your Anxious Brain: How to Use the Neuroscience of Fear to End Anxiety, Panic, and Worry
by Catherine M. Pittman and Elizabeth M. Karle

This book was a wee bit repetitive, but it made the relevant science of the brain perfectly clear to a non-sciencist like myself.

What I found most interesting is that anxiety can have two different routes through the brain.  There is cortex-based anxiety that basically comes from our thoughts and that we are quite cognizant of.  Whether we are obsessing over some problem, or reasoning ("If this happens, I won't be able to pay the mortgage"), we know those thoughts are there.  The cortex notifies the amygdala, and we get the faster heartbeat, adrenaline, tensed muscles, etc. that we associate with being stressed out.

But there is also amygdala-produced anxiety that completely by-passing the thinking parts of the brain.  Very useful when you are suddenly in danger from a mad dog or drunk driver who seems to come out of nowhere. It's not the time to stop and analyze the situation!  The kicker is, though, that the amygdala can set off the danger/anxiety chain reaction when there's nothing wrong because something went wrong once in a similar situation.  And because there's no thinking involved, you may not even know why.

One example from the book was a woman who felt anxious and upset at baby showers and Thanksgiving dinners.  She just wanted to escape, even though there was nothing unpleasant about these events.  She had no idea why.  Eventually, she figured out that when she was in grade school, her teacher had had the students stand in a circle and read out-loud, and she was derided for her poor reading ability.  Her amygdala associated being in a circle with anxiety, hence gathering around the table at Thanksgiving or sitting around the room at a baby shower made this woman anxious.

Happy, both the cortex and amygdala can be retrained.

I was really fascinated by this idea because I dislike dogs---but I didn't as a child, and I cannot remember any negative dog experience.  But if it is amygdala-based anxiety, I wouldn't have to remember it.

Plus I have plenty of cortex-based anxiety, worrying, obsessing, and general stressing-out and the book has some techniques for dealing with that.  Nothing revolutionary, but it was nice to have it all in one place.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Movie Review: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Item One: Forget the James Thurber Story.  There's no connection except the title.

But I watched this movie this past spring and really liked it enough to remember to write about it now.  (Ben Stiller does such a great job playing an ordinary guy and I believe the underlying idea of the movie that ordinary people really are important.)  Plus I loved how carefully the visual elements of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty were planned.

Sometimes you can just tell folks put a lot of love into a movie.  It won't change your life but it's pretty high quality brain candy.

Monday, September 21, 2015

More Alcohol Ink Tiles

These are so good for me to make because there is so very little control over the process....  It just happens.

I'll be selling these at the St. John's Craft fair in November.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Free Wash Rags

Growing up, we used old T-shirts for rags.

My husband was not a fan.  He would actually BUY flimsy, disposable rags, which he called dishcloths and which were blue and came neatly folded.

I thought this was a waste of $.  Finally, I realized that if I cut the T-shirts into neat rectangles, minus seams and stacked tidily in a box, that he would tolerate them.  So, whilst watching TV, I cut stained and otherwise rejected T-shirts from the St. T's Thrift Store's discard bag into neat rectangles.  (My favorite privilege of volunteering there is rummaging through the discard bag.  The other ladies can't decide if I'm admirably thrifty or crazy.  But don't worry, the ones I don't pick aren't thrown away.  There are many forms of recycling.)

The dishcloths sat atop the fridge. Then I decided to cover the box with wallpaper scraps from the Free Fridays at the EcoStore.  So what follows cost me absolutely nothing.  (It saved me almost nothing.  But it was fun.)

I didn't end up embellishing the box with flowers cut from old cards, but I thought about it.

Wall-papering the box actually required more forethought than I had expected in order to hide seams and deal with corners.

 Now it is not such an eyesore on top of the fridge.

Have you made anything lately?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Audition Update

The audition went pretty well.  It turned out to be for a car dealership, and I'm not sure I have that kind of voice, but we'll see.

The guy from the ad agency was quite charming and pleasant to work with.  But I keep thinking to stuff I should have done just a little differently.....

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Don't Quote

The only limits in our life are those we impose on ourselves.

– Bob Proctor

  This quote is the kind of thing that happens when people don't pay attention to language and precision of thought.  It sounds wonderfully grandiose.  But it's not true.

We have all kind of limits that are not self-imposed.  For starters, there are 24 hours in a day, none of us have superhero-worthy, mysterious powers, and we all have physical limitations imposed on us by our need for sleep, food, and air.

But more than that, there are limitations to our lives and ignoring them seems silly while blaming people for being affected by them seems snotty.  Limited money, limited job opportunities, a limited social network – these limits can be overcome, but while they are still there, they are still limits.  And we all have a finite number of resources which we can use to overcome our limits, so we can't overcome all of them, at least not all at once.

I think it is a myth that we can do anything we set our minds to.  It is the Great American Myth, so I suppose I seem unpatriotic.  I do agree that we can do most things we set our minds to.  But not everything.  Not all limits can be overcome.  It seems kinder to admit this, rather than having everyone who has failed (or not tried the impossible) think that it is his or her fault.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Monday, September 14, 2015

Pretty Flowers from Elizabeth

This bouquet is made of torn-out book pages.
Thanks, Elizabeth P., for showing me how to make these....
.... and for giving me one so I didn't have to make one--they are complicated!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Loving Jesus

This is little Madeline.  She is solicitously washing Jesus's "owies" with holy water after her new sister's baptism.

When she was done, she came over and solemnly told us: "He died."

There was something so sweet about her lovingly little action.  She is so little, so she expresses her love as best as she can.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Weekly Round-Up

What I've been up to since.... I don't even know when.

Elizabeth the Delightful was in town from Chicago where she is getting her Ph.D in Italian.  (What can I say--I have cool friends!

Here we are at the Sheldon Art Gallery.

We also hung out at the Raymond Car and Craft...

.... wherein we bought some honey and home-grown popcorn from the Fiala family

.... and checked out some cool cars

.... we also made our own chapstick (more on that later)

..... we made plans for a big marketing campaign for Charlemagne Beard Oil.
.... Belovedest took Monday and Tuesday off work, so we're looking forward to doing a little relaxing together today.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Answer

A. $7.51.

Hence I'm no longer dumpster-diving metal.  It's just not worth it.

I am going to keep collecting pop cans, and I'm going to finish stripping a nice big pile of copper wire, though.  The pop cans are easy and copper will surely go up in price by the time I get through that pile.  (Plus the copper I do on my commute--he drives, I strip, since reading in the car gives me a headache.)

But scooping up random metal things on the curb?  No, not worth it.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Guess How Much

Q. How much do you think this pile of metal was worth?  (The tent poles are aluminum, so that will help a little....)

Tune in tomorrow for the answer.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Puzzle Painting

This baby shower gift took at least 10 puzzles.  Sorting all the pieces was what took the most time.  Assembling the puzzle was only a couple of days.

The proud papa is working on a Ph.D in math, which is why I opted for numbers rather than letters.

 In the picture above I've sorted the pieces from dark to light green.  The idea is that the colors get lighter towards the middle of each square.

Puzzles are supposed to stimulate the mathematical parts of children's brains.  
I hope the baby likes it!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Finishing Up Pottery

The class is over, but the instructor is letting us finish off our remaining projects.

I have a lot of remaining projects!

Here is a finished one.  It's actually a blooper.  It was supposed to be a dainty vase but the lip sheered off during the trimming process, hence the gashes.  Mom hung out with me in the studio a little bit the other day and picked out the colors.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Garden Update

Here's Saturday's harvest....

And here we are attempting to freeze beans without blanching them.... I am pretty sure that they are all going to end up in soup due to texture troubles, but that is not a problem.  

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Congratulations to .....

..... Aurelia Marie, who was baptized last week!

May she grow up in the joyful certainty that God loves her with a love beyond her wildest dreams and her widest comprehension.