Happy Monday

My growing wood collection

Today is supposed to be veterans day so I figured I should talk about that. I probably have just as many conflicting emotions on the topic as the average American. Obviously I don’t want wars or people to be hurt. I want the quality of life I have for everyone and if that group has to be narrowed, then I’d want it for every American and accept that steps have to be taken in order to keep this ship afloat. They’re usually ugly steps. I subscribe to the belief that one of the core ideas of capitalism is that in order for one person to make money, someone must not be paid their worth or is over paying for a good/service. This is not a rant on politics, but merely saying you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet. What about when those eggs are people?

It’s tough, for some people it changes the situation and for some it doesn’t. For me, I just wanted to be a soldier. I didn’t think about any thing more than that when I joined, I was 17, my world was pretty small. I remember cartoons and stories about king Arthur and the knights of the round table. I wanted to be a knight, well I wanted to be king but that’s a highly competitive position so I’d settle for a knight. Leading comes pretty natural for me, but I’ve said before that I wanted to be great, so a great knight or soldier as an individual. A king can be judged by his people. 

Honestly, the Army was that simple for me. I like fighting and action, I was born in America so that’s the side I fought for. It really wasn’t until I got out that people exposed me to wider ideas of war and to the second and third effects of my service. Which you know, what am I supposed to do about it by that time. Yeah it’s wrong for the military to recruit children, but it’s wrong to persecute a person all their life based on the decision they made at 17. Most people don’t say more than, “Thank you for your service” especially now that I live in the South, but I’ve been called a murder by people that knew nothing about what I’ve done, these were friends too.

All I’m trying to promote is that people take care of themselves and the others we share this life with. If you can extend that reach around the world, that’s great, but if not, at least don’t hurt those near to you. You may be right from a philosophical sense, but the smartest person in the world stands alone on a pile of ashes.

Grooving and Moving

It’s Sunday morning, close to about noon, but I’m just getting around to this. I don’t really have anything in mind to talk about so it’ll be a little stream of consciousness in the river of consciousness that is my blog. Everything’s going well, this weekend has mostly been about relaxing, my wife was supposed to go to a conference in Atlanta, but stayed home to recover as well. Oh, last night I turned the heater on in the green house at night because I don’t need it when the sun is out, but I couldn’t see and am new to this heater so I thought one click will set it to the low heat setting. Instead it was set to the fan setting and it got pretty cold in there last night. Thankfully still above freezing so that’s good, but these are the tiny details that I’ll be learning and why I’m doing this stuff now. 

I’m so used to a problem occurring and then I figure out what it needs to be solved. By then damage is usually done. What I mean is I’m figuring out the kinks when Fall is in the early stages rather than the thick of Winter because a slip like that in January could mean some dead plants. I’m also extending the idea to life in general. I guess part of getting older is developing your abilities of foresight. There’s a 19 yro in my woodworking class who still doesn’t appreciate foresight like I do now, which is typical of that age. I’m trying to help guide him to spend more time in planning and save him time fixing mistakes, but I know it’s hard to take other people’s advice at that age. Mark Twain has a quote I’ve always liked, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”

Special Report

I don’t exactly look like this right now, but it’s a good characterization

Recently my wife and I had a tif because I ask for her opinions about what I’m doing here. I love my wife and I’m happy I can trust her to be honest with me, but I was hurt by her saying my morning pages seem muted since making them public. I want to be humble and take criticism, so maybe there is some truth in there that I didn’t want to see. That brings me to these writings, I’ll throw caution to the wind and be loud, this is a thesis on depression. How hard it is and how much I hate myself. I don’t know why I hate myself, but this feeling controls my life. I swear for years I’ve felt asleep and I’m starting to wake up. I want to do things in life again, hell I want to live again. That alone I thought was unattainable. As I sit here and fall apart again, know that we can always put ourselves back together and honestly it’s easier when you have the help of other people. I want to be a great man and I never would have thought that means being apart of a community rather than one person standing above the rest. 

I really am doing quite well to even be able to think about how I felt then, but it’s like The Hero with A Thousand Faces has to enter into the underworld to return home with a magical gift and growth. I feel like I’m growing. 

Veteran’s day is Monday apparently. I’ll probably get pretty trashed because that means I’ll probably be thinking a lot about my one Army friend that killed himself. I recently heard from another old friend that he’s getting kicked out of the Army. He’d been in around 10 years. I hope he doesn’t kill himself. I want to help him out as much as I can and that means I have to be stronger with helping myself out. Well I’m outside and my fingers are getting cold so I guess I’m done typing. Thanks for sticking with me and hey if you read these regularly, feel free to say hi. I’m Chris, here’s my internet hand shake and smile.

Slow and Steady

Holy monstera

I know I promised to get caught up on my life details and in this post my intention is to talk about fitness and gardening. Of course I’m always an artist and my writing is therapeutic for me, but I’ll try to stay on those two tracks for a minute. First the picture above is of my monstera adansonii, or swiss cheese plant. It is called that because as the leaves mature they develop holes and slits in them, well I noticed my monstera’s first holes! I can’t believe how excited I was when I saw them. I had been eagerly waiting for them to happen, it’s grown from a regular plant to officially swiss cheese. Yesterday was also the first real frost where we’re at in zone 7b of TN, USA. I was pretty afraid for my plants in the green house because while they do have that little protection, it was getting down below 30 degrees F and anytime we’re at freezing, I worry. I ended up moving the peace lilies inside because they have special meaning that maybe I’ll get into in the future and I don’t want to take any chances with them. If the rest of the plants die, I can rebuild, I’ve done it before. I don’t want to start from scratch though so last night I ran a space heater into the greenhouse. Hopefully this wasn’t bad for the plants as I didn’t want it to be too drastic with heat on them, but the low temp in the greenhouse last night was 42 degrees and I’m ok with that. The greenhouse is still a learning experience and heating is just another facet.

The other big news relating to fitness is I stepped on the scale today at 184.6 lbs! I’m 31 years old and I haven’t been below 185 since freshman year of high school. I was incredibly pumped by that this morning and it gave me an extra kick to have a great workout. You know ya boi was wearing a tank top today. I’m pleased with what I’ve accomplished and how I look, over the moon with excitement. To give some more stats for where I’m at, I’m about 6’3” and over a couple years have coming down from 235 lbs. About a year ago I got to 190, then gained 10 lbs and sat their for awhile. It’s hard, and for me is a constant struggle, I love to eat, the food doesn’t even have to taste good, I’ll still lick the plate. Hunger has become my friend and this is where it bleeds into the rest of my life. A friend once shared this quote with me from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, “Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.” If I stay hungry I’ll work harder. If I want it, I’m coming to get it. 

I want to make sure to congratulate myself on my success and without taking away from that I have a goal of reaching 176 lbs, according to my calculations that should put me around 6% body fat. I’m so close now that I can’t give up. At this point every pound I lose reveals more definition and that helps drive me. Part of what caused my relapse at 190 lbs though was I felt close and I ramped things up; exercised more and ate less. Of course that burned me out. Now is the time to stay the course and not to lose sight of my goals.

Do I have your attention now?

My dog in the rain

I’m so sorry morning pages, I’ve turned you into an evening page today. I don’t have much time, my wife and I are going out to have a fire with another couple any minute and I’m trying to sneak this in while she gets ready. I’ve got so much to tell you that I could probably write for an hour, but if you’ve been paying attention by now you know that I’ve got an endless amount to tell you. If you’re reading this right now, I want you to know that this blog is a journey into the human soul, you won’t get this anywhere else in the world because most people aren’t even exploring their souls. I want you to though. 

Ask yourself, “Who am I?” Let your brain pause and don’t continue until it has been forced to give an answer. If you just said your name, try harder. What do you enjoy, what do you know you’ve tried and it isn’t for you. Do you like catching butterflies? Have you imagined your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow with the detail that it deserves.

I just want you to know that I’m still here and I’m going to keep being here day after day until I get to the end of that rainbow. You should do the same, we’ll be stronger together. Sorry, here I have to shamelessly plug that you should follow me on any social media platforms you use, but it’s for that very reason. I push you, you push me and I won’t let you down. The reality of my situation when it comes to my battle with depression was my self worth is so low I don’t take care of myself, but if I’m taking care of someone else I will fight to the end of the world to make sure they’re safe. I’ll be able to fill you in on more of the details about my life this weekend, but just know you rock and I rock!

He said he said

My first talk show guest

What is happening morning pages. It is currently 5:30 am, I’m going to go back to sleep for probably an hour, but on Thursdays my wife wakes up early so I’m up to make her coffee and toast. I just wanted to get this out of the way since I have a habit of not writing my morning pages on Thursdays and I want to stay committed. Write it first thing and I won’t have to worry about it later. Today and tomorrow I have my woodworking class and I’m usually too tired to write when I get home. Though I was talking yesterday about how easy these are to write and I just think. Well I guess there’s still some effort or maybe at the end of the day I’m tired and don’t even want to type.The real challenge would be to draw when I get home, but I think I’m still a little ways from doing that.

Yesterday I may have figured out a good format for my twitch stream when I’m not drawing. My name is drawing my life away and that’s what I want to do as much as I can, but I also like to talk, even if it’s with myself. Above is a picture of the show I was doing, interviewing my self portrait. He gave a pretty piss interview if I’m perfectly honest, but I was pretty good. Did about three hours of streaming yesterday and was still pretty good about constantly talking. My body and mind does feel like it paid a bit of a toll today though and I don’t feel too much like talking right now. That’s probably good because I figure, do all this talking, all these activities, so my brain will be tired and finally relax. I’d like to relax my mind one day, it sounds nice.

A Star is Born

He’s Winnie the pooh and I’m Christopher too

Good morning pages, I’m feeling pretty good today. I just got back from the gym, it was leg day. I always feel as though I’m the sorest two days after a workout, so it’s not tomorrow I fear, but Friday I won’t be able to walk. It was a pretty good workout, I haven’t been regularly going for about a month and now I want to push myself to go, when I can. Of course I mentioned yesterday that I felt drained, that’s a cue for me to relax and it worked! It’s the whole accountability thing I’ve talked about with social media. I have goals I want to reach and if I don’t reach them, now they’re public. The tough part of that when it comes to social media is goals take time to reach. If I post a body shot one day, the next week I want to post another picture and look drastically different, but that’s not real life. I think accountability is great for me, but I already have a habit of setting unrealistic standards and burning out, so it’s something I personally have to keep in check and it’s why right now my online presence mostly consists of me being me. Everyone should always be themselves, but it’s also real life to acknowledge that people go to these platforms for entertainment. 

I did my first twitch stream yesterday. One of drawing and one of just hanging out. A part of me that has often been used against myself is I have a very active brain, it never stops chatting away. When I’m depressed, all that chatter really beats me down, but on something like twitch where usually the best advice is, “keep talking” then it’s a gift. Even in these morning pages, I’m just typing as words come into my head, there’s very little editing and sometimes I’ll get 300 words in five minutes. This is me. On my stream yesterday I recorded about an hour and 20 minutes and at no point did I feel lost for words. I was just by myself until maybe the last 10 minutes talking and at that point I was just standing in front of a camera yapping on. Now you don’t know me especially well yet, you will if you follow me, but I’ve been known to tell a joke or two so hopefully it was entertaining content. I did get my first follower on there, so that’s pretty cool. I don’t want you to think that I’m forgetting about wordpress for twitch, you’re all my life blood, that’s just my stage.

Shoot, I almost forgot I wanted to introduce you to my dog. He’s a vizsla named Winnie and standing next to some horseradish I’ve got growing in the picture above. Thanks for reading!

Tuesdays are for Therapy

Sorry but it doesn’t seem like I have a picture for you today, and why should I, I don’t even know if you want pictures, so I’m not going to go out of my way to serve someone who might not exist! I figure I’ll try and post a picture from the day before, if I took any. The only picture I took yesterday was to show my wife a piece of mail from the IRS. It was nothing big, just a “If you logged into your account, do nothing” message, but I’m not going to advertise whatever account numbers are on that.

 Yesterday was pretty good, I didn’t get as much done as I wanted to, but I realized that what I wanted to get done is a level of energy that I’m setting my goal for. Maybe I could do it for one day and then crash for the rest of the week, but that’s not what I’m after. I want to be a productive human everyday and that is going to take time, but I went to the gym, did my morning pages, read, drew and continued learning how to work twitch. A couple months ago I would have been happy just going to the gym in a day. 

This morning I decided not to go to the gym because I was pretty exhausted last night and I know from past experience that going today would lead to a depressed Chris and a night full of nightmares. I’ve also got two therapy appointments today, so no need to push myself. I have what people might call PTSD and really bad social anxiety, which is why I think social media, if done right, could be good for me. Test out the waters of talking to people when they don’t really exist. I was in the army infantry for about five years. I started seeing a therapist through the VA a couple months ago and more recently that led to group therapy where we learn coping and de-stressing skills. Group is every week and my individual appointment just happens to land on today, so it’ll probably be a pretty emotional day without me adding anything extra. 

That’s all I need to write today, but if you are reading this I’d like to say thank you for caring about a random blog out of the millions on the internet. I appreciate having a space where I can free my mind and seeing someone liked it lets me know I’m not alone. I’m doing this for me, but I want you to be the best you possible and hopefully I can help with that.

Ghosts of Past Plants

Entrance to my happy place

Good morning pages, I’ve made good on my promise and brought a picture of my greenhouse for the class today. I don’t know if I have too much to say about it right now, maybe someone will see this and ask a question. I’ll let you know that I’m not the type of person that knows plant names. I usually get into things because I like doing them and it’s almost like I don’t know anything about them. Someone could ask, “What’s that tool you’re using?” I’ll say, “I don’t know, it’s the one that does this thing, that’s how I remember it” I can probably talk about each plant and tell stories about how they relate to me and my life or what I like about it(that’s a pretty good idea for blog content). I guess I’ll go into my history with plants.

Growing up my mom had a shelf of plants that by my standards now I would describe as struggling, but that was what I was used to then. Looking up at that shelf, thinking about these organic creatures trapped in our brick walls. For as long as I can remember I’ve been interested in bonsai trees. About six years ago I was walking through the woods of the Wissahickon in Philadelphia and came across a young tree, probably less than a year old, so I scooped it up and put it on my mantle where it promptly died. I knew nothing about light requirements and watering for plants. I was in denial of my dead tree and I remember my friend saying, “They’re called evergreens for a reason.”

Now I feel the need to address and idea I’ve gotten push back from in the past, that is taking plants. For a lot of the plants I own I will take a cutting and grow that. My first big success with a tree was a fig cutting I took from a tree at home depot. Of course there’s the anti theft argument, and I’ve had the argument that if everyone did that the plants would be destroyed, but I say no. If everyone did what I did, that is take one plant and make it into two, we would have a whole lot more plants in the world and I think the number of plants we have directly correlates to how we’re doing as a species. I’ve talked long enough for today, so I’ll have to continue my plant history another time.

Batten Down the Greenhouse

Secured with bubble wrapped

I remember from my days of answering questions on Quora that answers with photos would get significantly more views than those with that. Given that, I figured I would try and share a picture with each post. It’s not that I’m only after getting more views I can, but if I’m going to put my art out in the world, naturally I want people to see it and it would be a bonus if people were interacting with it. Does that mean I have to take a photo everyday? Maybe, I like the idea of it, photographically documenting my life like these writing, but a different medium. I can’t promise a high quality photo, obviously I’ll aim to make it clean and relate to what I’m talking about in my morning pages, but here’s my plan for how I imagine using these different social media accounts. Instagram will be the best photo from that days drawing practice. I’d like to be drawing everyday, then in time if I got that down, maybe I would add an additional photo with rotating subjects of my other hobbies each day. To let you know those hobbies I wrote down include my dog, plants, woodworking, exercise, cooking, what I’m reading, and other art mediums than drawing. I would also share the same content as instagram on the facebook page. The morning pages are a more in depth, backstage look at myself, so I feel the photos I share here should align with that. Then I’d also like to stream when I am doing my drawing practice on twitch. Trust me, I can talk nonstop, so I’m interested to see how I’ll like streaming, I’ve never tried it before. All of these usernames are drawingmylifeaway124, so if you’re reading this then you may as well follow those. All of this is a larger plan, mostly with the goal of having some accountability for myself with that daily drawing practice; the life goal is to become a great portrait painter. 

With all that said, on to today’s picture. Yesterday I wrapped some bubble wrap around my greenhouse. It’s a 7’x7’x12’ greenhouse I bought on Amazon and it has six windows on the side. Because of the windows there is a slight breeze in the greenhouse and I’m afraid it lowers the temperature, so this is my first attempt to stabilize things. This is my first season with a greenhouse, so there are a lot of learning experiences, I’m still figuring out where each plant needs to go on the inside. Maybe tomorrow I’ll share a picture of the inside, there’s about 200 plants in there.

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