Goodbye Pat and Goodbye 2015

Weeping Quote

I have never been so relieved to have a year come to an end!  For the most part it was a good year but the end was one of the roughest times of my life.  The whole month of December was kind of awful for a myriad of reasons but the toughest moment came the day after Christmas when our good, family friend Pat passed away.

My family moved in with Pat who was around fifty at the time, when I was a little girl.  We had just moved back from California and had no money, no prospects and no where to live.  Pat was at that moment, and for the rest of his life, our guardian angel.  He was unfailing kind and generous, sweet and playful.  He was the best of friends and the best of people.  He lived with my family for the rest of his life and died in his own bed at my parents house.

He was what some might consider an unremarkable man who lived a remarkable life, filled with tragedy and loss and ultimately redemption and love.

The thing that was so very remarkable about Pat once you got to know him  was how happy he was with so little.  In our modern view, the gifts that life gave him were so pitifully few, he was never in love (the one date he ever went on ended with getting kicked out of his house for dating) he never had children or a high powered career, he wasn’t famous, he didn’t change the world.  And yet in all the time I knew him he never shed a tear (he said he had cried all his tears when his mother died), he never complained about the life he was given, he never forgot to say thank you for even the smallest gesture of thoughtfulness.

I’m not really sure if understanding the life he lived makes his unfailing contentment more or less amazing.  He lost his mother at age seven and was sent to an orphanage with his brother.  A couple of years later he lost his father as well.  He continued in the orphanage until he was adopted by some cousins but even that  was shortlived and he time and again ended up homeless on the streets of Detroit.  He though about becoming a priest but was disillusioned by the hypocrisy he witnessed while working around the order.  He went into the army and was one day away from shipping out to Vietnam when he contracted double pneumonia and was eventually given an honorable disability discharge.  He had a mental breakdown a few years after he left the army and was diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent some time in an institution.  He moved to Colorado and ended up buying a house for his beloved poodle Blackie.  That was the only reason that he bought the house because he wanted his dog to have a home and a yard and so he provided them.   Some time later he started going to the church my father worked for and that was how we met him.  When we moved back from California, homeless and desperate, we found out that his dog had died and he was terribly lonely and heartsick over his dog’s passing.  The pastor of the church thought it might be a blessing for him to have some companionship and it was undoubtedly a blessing for us as well.  From that day on he was a part of our family.

Time and again life gave him obstacles and problems that he saw for what they really were, gifts.  The pneumonia that wrecked his lungs and was the foundation for a life time of lung problems wasn’t a curse it was the blessing that saved him from the horrors of war.  The death of his beloved pet was the reason our family came to stay and he finally got the love and friendship and the home that he had never had.  It didn’t make him bitter that life had been so hard because he knew the worst that could happen, he’d lived through it, and the qualities of character and personality that caused him again and again to seek a life of service and a purpose in helping others, helped him to remain happy and positive and unfailingly grateful.

There have been so many lessons I’ve learned from Pat in our life together but his last lesson and gift to me (and one that I needed more than ever as I dealt with the loss of him) was that this too shall pass.  Pat lived a life blighted by pain and suffering for the first two thirds of his time on earth but the last third, though it maybe didn’t make up for or remove those lost years, did give him something he’d always wanted, a home, a family and unconditional love.  I imagine it would be all but impossible for me to experience the amount of loss and devastation  in my life that Pat suffered but even if it did, the memory of how he dealt with that loss and the knowledge that it did eventually get better will stay with me through anything.

So goodbye Pat, I loved you and I will always miss you.

Lincoln Quote

 

You Are What You Think: Likes, Dislikes and Change

Mentalist

Have you ever had something come up and you instinctively disliked it?  Was this dislike based on an actual reason, or was the dislike merely because it wasn’t what you were expecting?  Why does something changing have to be about liking or disliking?

Humans have a complicated relationship with change.  We can find it disturbing if it comes upon us unexpectedly, but if things stay the same for too long we get bored.  If we don’t have any perspective or control over our reactions to the changes in life; than we spend our time constantly rocketing from one reaction to the next, a helpless passenger on the roller coaster of life.

I was told recently that you have to divorce yourself from the outcome of a situation and focus instead on doing your best and that is the only way to come through a troublesome situation unharmed.  It was exactly what I needed to hear.  The situation I was going through seemed completely dreadful at the time and I really had no control over it, or any way to make the bare facts of it better.  The sad part, for me, was that I had been looking forward and working toward this moment for quite some time, and now it here it was and it was not at all what I was expecting.  My only option at that point was to try and focus on my attitude toward the situation and not the situation itself and that is what I tried to do.  I will admit that I could have done a better job, as it was I stayed pretty distraught about it for a few weeks.

Looking back now my instinct is to be hard on myself for this lapse but that would be starting the cycle over again.  So instead of beating myself up and disliking my reaction to this change, I’m gonna think about how to do better next time.  Life is never going to stop changing and I’m never going to stop working on myself and those things combined give me something to look forward to.  So bring on the change, life, and I will try to see it for exactly what it is, neither good nor bad but possibly exciting!

You Are What You Think: Judge Not

What  you think is the true basis of your whole personality, it directly informs your feelings, words and actions.  In this series that  I’m calling “You Are What You Think”, I am going to explore why what you think about is so important and the causes and consequences of different thought habits.

Character

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote this quote during the 19th century and it is as true today as it was then and for a very obvious reason.  What we think and how we view things are completely intertwined. A liar, for example, is unable to trust others because he always suspects others of being as deceitful as himself.  Ken Keyes put it another way during the middle of the 20th century…

Mirror

This is why it is so important to pay attention, not only to what you say about others and what you say about yourself, but to what you put into your brain and what you think about or how you process that stimulus.  If you continually let your baser impulses run wild, if you don’t repeatedly and thoughtfully pursue empathy and rationality, you really have no basis on which to judge others or the world in which we live.  You cannot say “I am a good person and that person is bad”, because your own perspective is biased.  Thoughtfulness or mindfulness in your approach to life is the only way to be sure that your perspective is as accurate as possible and when you view the world in this way, you are often less inclined to judge others, because of your increased awareness of what you do not know about that person’s feelings or motivations in acting the way they do. To round this quote session out, here is one from a favorite TV show of mine from the 21st century…

asshole

When you act or speak in ignorance of what another’s circumstances might be, you reveal that ignorance to the world around you.  Or to put it one last way, from an even older source than Emerson, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” Another problem with spending so much thought energy on judging or disparaging a situation or another person is that you are wasting time and energy on a thought process that will ultimately leave you, in no better position than when you started out. A better use of your time might be to acknowledge the issue and then turn your thoughts away from the problem itself and who’s to blame and toward finding the best solution to the problem going forward.

Good News! Never Underestimate The Power of Hope!

Chant BeautyWould you have clicked on this post if the title had been bad news?

I turned on NPR this morning just in time to hear a gentleman say that you will never get someone to change their mind by yelling at them.  That comment tied in perfectly with this blog that I was already planning.

So would you click on a bad news link?  Maybe and maybe not, but don’t we all have enough negativity in our own situations without getting more of it from others?

Life is too short to be constantly focused on the bad stuff but unfortunately it’s human nature to obsess over the things that go wrong.  It takes effort to focus the mind on the good stuff.  It takes effort to count your blessings.  The reward from that effort is that you eventually train your brain to see the good without effort and you train the people around you to think of you as a source of inspiration and positivity.

When I became a stepmom I did a lot of research on child rearing and one of the suggestions I came across repeatedly was to not overuse the word no.  Instead of constantly harping on what the child is doing wrong and the dire consequences that will follow their mistakes, try to tell them what the right thing to do would be and the positive consequences that result from good decision making.  If you are only telling them what not to do, you leave them with no way forward, they are stuck knowing that what they did was wrong but with no information on how to make it right.  This same principle applies to every sort of human communication in our lives. It would work quite well in romantic relationships too.  So don’t be a nag, be a cheerleader!

The take away is this: if  you have a message that you want to get out there to the world, if you want to change peoples minds about an issue, I would suggest you take the advice of the quote above.  Don’t lead through fear or righteous indignation.  Don’t tell people what they shouldn’t do.  Tell them what they should do and why it would be better for them if they did!  Never underestimate the power of hope!

True Love – What It Is and What It Isn’t

True love isThe quote above is meaningful in so many ways. So let’s start at the very beginning, it’s a very good place to start.

“True love is not just physical”…  It’s not just physical, although the physical is a huge part of it.  Of course when you hear that love is not just physical, you interpret it to mean that it isn’t just about lust but I think it goes beyond that.  The definition of physical from the oxford dictionary is.. “of or relating to the body as opposed to the mind”.  So in a deeper way it means that true love is about the mind or rather the mindset as well as the body.  If your attitude or mindset is negative toward the object of your affection than it is not true love because either this person is not right for you or you are not willing to do the work to keep your mindset positive.

“Nor romantic”…  One of the oxford dictionary’s definitions of romantic is “of, characterized by, or suggestive of an idealized view of reality”.  Don’t get me wrong, this viewpoint is important!  You should think that you are the luckiest person in the world and you should view your relationship through rose-colored glasses but what this quote says is that you need balance.  Romance is not the only component of true love.  No person or relationship is 100% positive all the time and you need to be able to see the down side of your mate and your relationship and still think it is worth it.  Which leads us to the last part.

“True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be and will not be.”  This last part reinforces the need for more than a romantic viewpoint, because to some extent you need your love to be rooted in reality.  If you are waiting for your love to change, to become the person they should be, so that you can be with a “perfect” partner, than it isn’t really true love because you aren’t in love with who they are, you are in love with a figure that you have made up in your own head.  If you know that your love doesn’t want kids and you do and you are just hoping down the road they change their mind then you aren’t respecting them or their views in a way that you should with a true love.  When you talk to people that have been together forever they will all have stories about times when they were disappointed or frustrated and their relationship was on the rocks.  The one thing that made their love last was not that it was perfect, it was that they valued it enough to hang in there.  They valued it enough to accept it for exactly what it was and still hang in there.  That’s what true love is.  It’s seeing yourself and your love as clearly as you are capable of and still knowing that you wouldn’t want to be with any one else.

Understanding Anne Frank: Be the Change

Anne Quote 2

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” is actually a quote from Gandhi, but it’s a sentiment that I think Anne would have agreed with.  Perhaps she didn’t know it at the time but the words she was writing in her diary were destined to improve the world.  She was living the principles she was writing about and was providing an example for generations to come of how to grow up, how to think for yourself and how to become the person you wish to be.  She was constantly evaluating herself, constantly being honest about her faults and constantly striving to do better.

Though the changes that the average person makes to themselves and their circle of influence may not become as well known and influential as Anne’s has, every little change adds up and slowly but surely things change for the better.  Anne herself had no idea the impact her words would have, she was simply trying to be the best she could under mundane, tense circumstances.

I would build upon Anne’s words and say that every moment is a new chance to change the world and that is why you don’t need to wait but also you shouldn’t wait!  There are no words to describe the sense of personal power and pride that comes from real and honest effort to better yourself.

Bettering yourself is the first and best way to better the world!  It is impossible to spread joy or kindness to others if you don’t feel that way yourself.  So take care of yourself and then spread that to all the people in your sphere from loved ones, to co-workers to strangers and you will be amazed at the changes you can make in the world!

Lollipop’s Guide to Love: Finding It, Knowing It, Keeping It

Lollipop Love

All you need is love right?  That’s what they say and if you believe that’s true then you might be interested in my guide to love.  Read on for my insights into finding love, knowing it when you do find it and hanging on to it!

Step One: You’ll Find it When You’re Ready / Don’t Be Desperate

My Mom always told me she found love when she stopped looking for it and that was my experience too.  How’s that for a frustratingly smug and vague opening? But wait, it’s true!  When you make finding love your soul focus, you lose sight of all the other aspects of your life.  You lose the enthusiasm and passion that make you attractive to a potential mate.  You also tend to jump at every opportunity when you are desperate for love and no one wants to feel that the reason someone is interested in them is because they are around and have a pulse.

Step Two: You Have to Love yourself For Someone Else to Love You

And the clichés keep on coming! This one is true too.  Confidence, happiness and a dash of self-aware humor are all attractive qualities and are unable to be achieved if you don’t feel good about yourself.  The thing that you have to remember during this stage is that you don’t have to be perfect for someone to love you, although always striving to be your best self can’t hurt in your search for love.  The key is to strive to be the best you, not the best version of some ideal that has nothing to do with you.  There’s an old saying that goes: “For worry, work is better than whiskey”.  This means if you really hate something about yourself, address it and work on it, don’t avoid it and let it fester.

Step Three: You Have to Put Yourself Out There and it Has to be The Real You

The other reason why loving yourself is so important is because if you don’t love yourself you will find this step impossible.  You truly have to believe you are worthy of love to risk putting yourself out there.  Guess what, it is really hard to find love sitting on your couch and watching TV or not filling out that online dating questionnaire, or not talking to that cute person at work.  In fact I would go so far as to say it is nearly impossible.  If you’re super stumped about where the love of your life might be found, there were a couple of good suggestions two sentences back and if neither of those options appeal to you than just do what you love but do it with other people.  Another idea is to think about what kind of person you would like to be with and go where those people might be found.  That last one is tricky though and requires thought about the Real You.  If you want to meet someone who is kind and community oriented but you absolutely hate DIY and getting sweaty maybe don’t look for love by volunteering at Habitat for Humanity.

Step Four: You Have to Have Standards, They Aren’t Just For Every Other Aspect of Your Life

As Cher from Clueless said “You know how picky I am about my shoes and they just go on my feet!”.  She may have been clueless about many other things but this one she got right.  If you don’t have some idea of what you want in mate, how are you supposed to find them?  Perhaps instead of trying to hook up with every rando that comes along, you should be alone for a while and think about what you want out of life and a life partner.  I’m not talking about physical attributes or fairy tales about how you might meet.  I’m talking about qualities such as “family is important to them” or “they have a decent job”, or “they are capable of being selfless”.  Obviously you can’t always judge a book by it’s cover and some people may seem nicer than they really are, at first.  But if there are clues, like they are really nice to you but really mean to everyone else, that they are perhaps not what they at first appeared, have some self-respect and hit the bricks.

Step Five: You Have to Find Someone Capable of Independent Happiness, Being Needed is Nice but at Some Point You Might Need Someone Too

This is one of my examples of knowing what your needs are and making sure they get met.  Standards people, they are really important!  If you are anything like me you love to be needed and there is nothing so attractive as someone that needs and appreciates you.  The thing you have to be careful about with this noble intention, is that there are folks out there who are incapable of being happy by themselves or indeed happy at all.  You will spend all of your time and energy trying to prop them up and talk them into seeing the world as a halfway decent place.  The only and inevitable result of this will be that they will continue to see the world as they always have and you will be exhausted and unhappy yourself.  Toxic attitudes are like any other contagious disease, no matter how strong your immune system if you keep making out with someone who has one you are gonna end up sick and tired!

Step Six: Is It Love?  The Three L’s You Need to be Sure Are There

So, say you have found someone that is in fact a decent person and everything seems to be going really well.  How do you know if this relationship has what it takes to last?  Let me introduce you, dear reader, to the three L’s.  And the three L’s are, drumroll please, Like, Lust and Love.

Let’s start with like.  In order for a relationship to work you must like the person you are with.  This seems really obvious until someone comes along that is absolutely drop dead gorgeous and you are in lust city, until you realize that every time they open their mouth you want to die.  This is a situation where you have lust but no like and that is not gonna work out.  The person you are with should be like your best friend and you should genuinely respect their opinions and have fun in their company.

Let’s talk about lust, baby!  If you cannot picture yourself kissing someone much less doing anything else to them it’s not gonna work.  On the flip side if kissing and stuff is all you do because you have nothing in common it’s not gonna work.  Keep this in mind as well.  If you end up with this person forever, there are gonna be times where they and you are not at your best looking and you are still going to have to kiss and do stuff with them, so make sure that sounds like fun before you commit.

Lastly, love, but wait isn’t that what we are talking about anyway?  How can love be a requirement for love?  When I say love I mean the kind of love parents have for their children.  The kind that makes sacrifice seem worth it and would have you gladly leaping in front of a bus to save them.  Hopefully your love story will not require you to die in order to prove your devotion but it will require you to put your own needs aside on occasion to be there for your partner.  It will also require you to tell them hard truths and see them at their worst and if you don’t feel that all-encompassing, selfless kind of love for them; then, say it with me, it’s not gonna work.

Step Seven: Once You Have it Don’t Take it for Granted 

Yay!  You’re in love, love with a big L, love that lasts a lifetime!  How do you hold on to that love in the crazy world in which we live?  Step number one: don’t take it for granted!  Don’t just assume that it will continue along perfectly fine without attention or upkeep because that is true of absolutely nothing in life. And if you are this far along in this article, one might assume that love is important to you, so take care of it.  Tend it, tend your partner, tend yourself, make it a priority in your life!  The definition of husbandry from which the word husband derives means: the care and cultivation of something.  So care for and cultivate your relationship and ladies just because you are not a husband does not let you off the hook.  I know society would have you think that you are doing your partner a huge favor just by being with them and putting up with their manly, ridiculous ways but, spoiler alert, society is full of it and men need just as much care and support as anyone else and if you can’t be bothered to figure out what that means to a man, to your man, than I can honestly say you don’t deserve him.

Step Eight: Don’t Give Up

We’ve come to the end of our road.  We have found love and like and lust and we are trying to not take it for granted.  So, what else do we need to make sure it works?  In short we need to not give up.  If all the steps above have been followed, it sounds like this relationship has been built on solid ground and includes two awesome, amazing people, so don’t give up on it!  Don’t do it, it’s not worth it, if you break it you’re just gonna have to start all over again and guess what, if you are a giver upper you’re probably gonna do that the next time too.  So don’t put yourself through that.  Nobody is perfect and things will happen to test the relationship and each of you individually but take breaking up off the table.  Don’t threaten to leave just to get your way.  Love is tough at times but it’s worth it so, please, don’t give up!

Understanding Anne: Words of Wisdom from Anne Frank Part One

Anne Quote 1.jpg

I have read the Diary of Anne Frank several times throughout my life and each time something new jumps out at me as being so wise.  I remember the first time I read it was in school, while I was right around the same age she was.

The wisdom that stayed with me from this first reading, was the part where she talks about the difference in perspective between her and her mother.  Her mother believed that you should be aware of how bad it could be and is not and be happy that you are being spared for the moment.  While Anne herself thought you should look at how beautiful the world is and be happy that things are so good.

I remember thinking at the time that they were both right and you should do both things.  Be grateful that your world is so beautiful and be aware that it could be much worse.

It made me sad at the time, that Anne had such a difficult relationship with her mother, when both of them had very valid viewpoints.  I wished so much that they could have seen the wisdom in the other and in that way have grown closer.

I will say that seeing the issues that drove these two women apart, helped me in my own life to avoid the anger and hurt that many teens feel toward their parents and my mother and I formed a relationship during my teen years that provided a wonderful foundation for the extremely close bond we still share.

This post is the first in a series that I am going to do on all the many insights and wisdoms to be found in Anne Franks Diary.  She was a gift to the world during an extremely dark time and I can’t help but think that she would have been proud that she achieved her fondest desire; to go on living in the world’s memory long after her death.

Tribal Patterns: A Lollipop Twist on a Current Trend

One of my favorite trends right now, is the tribal patterns you seem to see everywhere these days.  This is not the first time this trend has been popular but it has been modernized this time around with a muted and sophisticated color palette.

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DSC00309The earrings above are certainly a perfect example of this gorgeous trend and I love this combination of colors!

DSC00284 DSC00299The layering of a shorter piece on top of a longer one lends a sense of movement to the earrings pictured above.  I love the more colorful turquoise version and the neutral friendly white.

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These earrings are inspired by a rain stick and also have an animal print vibe.  They are super simple but super chic!  All of these earrings are available on our Etsy store: http://www.etsy.com/shop/FunkyLollipop

“I Don’t Need Anyone”, The Great American Lie

McLintock

I was watching Benny and Joon the other night with the husband and at the very beginning of the movie, one of benny’s friends is talking about a conversation with his wife, where the wife asked if he needed her, and this apparently really freaked the friend out.  That got me to thinking about why a married person would be freaked out by the idea of being needed or needing someone else and I realized that this whole idea of needing other people, is kind of a touchy one in our society.  We are all supposed to be rugged individualists, bravely facing each new dawn, certain in our ability to handle life’s challenges unaided and unafraid.

This adoration of self-reliance is really one of the founding concepts of American life.   In the beginning we decided to strike out to a strange new world far away and once we got there we decided that we didn’t need anyone telling us what to do and American history has been about a series of new frontiers and expanding boundaries ever since.  We as a people love the frontier and in our minds these frontiers are populated by tough people who don’t need anyone.  But the story of our frontiers are not stories about lone people doing it on their own.  They are about groups of people, couples and families and communities surviving together and helping each other.  Those families needed each other in a way that is completely foreign to us now.  They literally could not survive and certainly could not thrive alone.

In this day and age, needing people is seen as weak. If you’re truly successful you’ll know it by how independent you are.  If you have everything you want what need do you have for another person?  After all everything you want you can provide for yourself.  It is one of the most unfortunate aspects of modern society that we are so afraid to need someone.  How can you be a real team if you don’t trust or need the other members?  Yet we try over and over again to form relationships where we refuse to need and feel trapped when we are needed and we wonder why they fall apart.

I love the quote above because it’s so real.  Those lives aren’t built on standing alone and yet also living some fairy tale happily ever after.  It’s talking about life and work and how rewarding those things can be when you have someone else to stand with you.

Lean Into the Pain or How Avoiding Unhappiness Won’t Make You Happy

Avoiding UnhappinessI was having dinner with a friend of mine and her parents a couple of weeks ago and they were asking for advice on quitting smoking that they could pass along to their son who is a smoker.  The only thing that I could really think of to tell them was to lean into the pain.  A couple of days later I was watching a movie with Funky called Hector and the Search for Happiness (which is completely awesome I highly recommend it) and there was a line about how avoiding unhappiness is not the road to happiness.

The thing is, unhappiness is just a part of life.  Without unhappiness how would we appreciate happiness?  How would we even know what happiness is?

Having a risk averse way of looking at things gets in the way of being happy!  Why would you pursue a route that is hard but ultimately rewarding if avoiding struggle or moments of unhappiness is your main goal?

In fact, I would even go so far as to say that surviving unhappiness is one thing that can make you really happy.  When I look back on my own experiences I see this play out over and over again.  If there was a project I was dreading because it seemed really difficult or I was insecure about my ability to handle it, I would put off dealing with it.  I was a classic procrastinator.  The result of this, was that I went around with this thing hanging over my head and in the back of my mind, worrying me.  Then I would put the thing off so long that some kind of deadline would pass and the situation would get much worse and much more complicated.

When I finally disciplined myself to take care of the dreaded thing right away, no matter how much it sucked, I would be rewarded with a sense of accomplishment and renewed faith in my own abilities.

Here’s another way of saying the same thing.  I was watching a show called The Mentalist and the main character on the show told someone that they would be a lot happier if they didn’t think so much about what they do and don’t like.

I completely agree.  Just by saying, I don’t like being unhappy, you are ensuring that you will be unhappy.  It is a self fulfilling prophesy.

For example: people think, “I don’t want to quit smoking because it’s going to be really hard and I won’t like that.”  Then they finally talk themselves into quitting and they think “yep, I was right this is hard and I don’t like it”, then they start thinking “Is it worth it?  I’m so unhappy and quitting smoking is supposed to make my life better but it’s making it worse because it’s so hard and I’m so unhappy.”  Then they start smoking again and guess what?  They are still unhappy, because they are doing something that they know they shouldn’t be doing and the cycle starts again.  The only way to free themselves from the cycle is to lean into the pain, to just accept it and go through it and pursue their only chance at happiness which lies on the other side of unhappiness.

I’m not saying people should pursue unhappiness for it’s own sake or that they should wallow or obsess over things that make them unhappy.  I’m only saying that sometimes unhappiness is unavoidable and in those situations it might be better to submit of your own free will and truly experience it and then move on, instead of avoiding it and thereby allowing it more control over your life than it deserves.

The Thing about Quitting Smoking is…

landslideThat it’s like the Fleetwood Mac song “Landslide”.

“I’ve been afraid of changing cause I built my life around you, but time makes you bolder even children get older and I’m getting older too.”

This song fits so perfectly with my story because I started smoking at fourteen while still a child and have lived over half my life as a smoker.  I would wake up every day and plan everything around smoke breaks.  I looked forward to them and got pissed when they were delayed. If I was having a shitty day the one thing that could turn it all around, or so I believed was having a sweet, sweet smoke.

But here’s the thing I am getting older and smoking half a pack a day at at thirty makes you feel a lot more of a hag than smoking a whole pack a day did at twenty. Add to that the toll it takes on your face and energy.  I may be getting older but I’m still young, I shouldn’t get winded after playing on the playground with the kiddo for five minutes.  I should’t get constant headaches from not drinking enough water and smoking too much.  I shouldn’t choose to smoke at lunchtime instead of feeding myself and come home hangry from work.  I’ve always considered myself bold and nows the time to put up or shut up.  I know this, it takes a landslide.  The very earth beneath your feet has to move in order to root out something thats been putting down roots for seventeen years.  When you look at it that way you see it can be an opportunity to turn your whole life around.

When you remove the central focus of your life it leaves a vacuum. A void that in the past I filled with depression and despair and I inevitably I went back to smoking, to save myself from what seemed like the more immediate threat.

The key to my success so far this time around is that I’ve filled the void with changes I’ve always wanted to make anyway.  I drink water constantly and suck on vitamin c drops in the car.  I get up early with my hubby to eat breakfast and work out instead of getting a morning smoke in.  On breaks at work I eat veggies, fruit and nuts and suck down even more water.  In my head I worked up to quitting by reminding myself of all the ways smoking was making my life worse and now I meditate on the opposite.

Wouldn’t you know it, everything in my life is actually better because I don’t smoke!  Even more amazing the sky didn’t fall, my personality didn’t collapse, I didn’t turn into a raving bitch and my smoker friends still think I’m fun. Goes to show what crazy lies we tell ourselves when we really don’t want to change.

Nature Inspired Products from FunkyLollipop

More red cap toadstools!

More red cap toadstools!

I love these nature inspired products with a little FunkyLollipop twist!  The earrings above with the cute, retro-looking graphic on the geometric background is one of my favorites.

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These butterfly earrings are so chic!

These butterfly earrings are from a vintage, French, natural history print and I just adore them!  I found several others in the same style so more are coming soon.

The seventies are back and beautiful!

The seventies are back and beautiful!

The seahorse in these earrings are from another vintage natural history print, I love the way they pop against the colorful seventies inspired background!

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These earrings and pendant come from the same medical journal illustration.  I love the dark wood against the parchment colored paper.

All of these styles are classic Funky Lollipop!  They are beautiful and bold and a little bit odd, just like us!  Come over to the shop and check out what other new styles we have to offer.

The Thing About Quitting Smoking is….

Me on the last day of school in 2002, with my bestie Jessica, in the park next to Columbine.

Me on the last day of school in 2002, with my bestie Jessica, in the park next to Columbine.

You’re not just quitting cigarettes. You’re quitting the thing that made you feel better the first time someone broke your heart. The thing that kept you company while you sat on your balcony at 2 am and wrote poetry and listened to music. The thing that helped you bond with your shipmates when you went away from home for the first time and worked on a cruise ship in Alaska after high school. The thing that bonded you to almost every close friend you’ve had since middle school. The thing that you had in common with your mom at an age when most people hate their parents.

It’s not just quitting cigarettes, it’s quitting the person you used to be. It’s acknowledging that those times and versions of yourself are gone and they aren’t ever coming back.

That’s the hardest part for me. I’m a sentimental person, I get attached, and when I’m attached I really hate to let go. But that’s growing up isn’t it?

Change is a part of life and it can be a really good part. I’ve always believed that we change whether we like it or not and the wiser course is to make conscious decisions about how and why you change; so that five or ten or twenty years down the line you recognize the person you’ve become and more importantly you like the person you’ve become. So this is me, being the change, and trying to be better. Wish me luck!

Cliche Day: It’s Always Darkest Before the Dawn

It’s time for another journey into the land of clichés, to uncover the deeper meaning behind oft heard and possibly under explored sayings.

Todays cliché is: it’s always darkest before the dawn.  The quote is attributed to theologian Thomas Fuller and is usually thought to refer to having hope during the dark times, that they will not last forever and relief will soon come.

In reality, it is darkest at midnight and not right before the dawn.  This fact lies at the heart of my issue with the common interpretation, which makes it seem as though both the darkness and the light are things that happen to you and that you have no control over, just as you have no control over the sun rising and setting.

This attitude is too passive for me.  I think that it is darkest before the dawn because people often have to hit rock bottom before they decide to change things!

As human beings we often interpret hardship or struggle as bad things happening to us, when really those things are necessary for us to achieve our true potential.  Whether that be physically speaking, where the struggle of working out and controlling our diet lead to a better attitude and level moods as well as looking better and having more energy.  Or emotionally speaking, where through almost losing someone you have increased gratitude for that person’s presence in your life or when going through hardship you have increased support from friends and family.  Or intellectually speaking where study pays off with a larger share of wisdom and understanding or hard work pays off with a more satisfying and fulfilling career.

Without darkness there would be no light and vice-versa.  Ultimately whether you walk in the light or the dark is up to you and your attitude, if you want the light you will seek it and you will strive to banish the darkness.  But at the same time keep in mind that the darkness is necessary and if it has descended upon you perhaps it has done so for a reason.  Perhaps there is some lesson you need to learn or some mistake you should try to avoid repeating.  It is only by learning from the darkness that you can regain the light.

So the next time you experience a dark night of the soul don’t simply wait for the dawn to come; change, struggle, learn and find something in the darkness to help propel you toward creating a new and brighter dawn for yourself!

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True Daring Comes From Within: Unleash your Inner Badass

DaringA few months ago I was watching The Talking Dead with my hubby and indulging in a little daydreaming.  For those of you that don’t know The Talking Dead is a show that airs after a new episode of The Walking Dead, where people discuss the episode you’ve just seen, this is my version of porn, I can’t get enough!  “Wouldn’t it be cool” I said to the hubby, “if I blogged about The Walking Dead and it became so popular that I got asked to be on this show?”  His answer surprised me, he said “No, I don’t think you’d like that at all.  You hate being the center of attention and you don’t like to speak in public.”

I have to admit I was a little bit offended.  I just knew that if I ever got an opportunity like that, I would rise to the occasion.  It reminded me of when I got my first supervisor position at the theater, back in the day.  The theater had so few supervisors at the time that they just decided to have a meeting and anyone that showed up would be given supervisor training.  I showed up and I became a supervisor, but I found out later that several of the managers doubted that I would be able to speak up enough to lead people.  What they didn’t know is that when I have the authority to tell people what to do, I have no problem doing so.  I just don’t like telling people what to do when it is not my place.  I knew that I was capable though and I went on to be one of the best supervisors and was promoted repeatedly after that.

Looking back I don’t really blame those managers or my hubby for the lack of belief because I hadn’t shown them my potential.  I had grown too comfortable in my comfort zone and hadn’t pushed myself.  That is one of the drawbacks of being a self contained person, people don’t know you because you forget to let them see you.  You forget that your rich inner life is not something other people are privy too.

I’m not really as shy as I used to be because I’m much more confident in myself and my abilities than I was as a younger person.  But I didn’t just become confident in my social skills by accident or overnight.

When I was nineteen I decided I needed to get over my fear of people I didn’t know and start having adventures!  So I went to work on a cruise ship in Alaska for six weeks.  I didn’t know a soul and it was the first time I had traveled anywhere by myself.  The thing that surprised me most about the experience was how easy it was.  Don’t get me wrong, working on a cruise ship is not easy.  It was thirteen hours a day, seven days a week of really hard work.  The easy part was getting along with strangers.  Once I got past the fear, once I threw myself into the deep end with no buffer and nowhere to hide I learned that people liked me, even when I wasn’t doing things for them.  People thought I was funny and all those feelings of inferiority and insecurity where just in my head.  The people on the boat had no idea that I was shy or insecure.  I showed them a side of myself that I hadn’t shown before, a strong side, a confident side and they responded to that.  After I came home from my little adventure I used the lessons I had learned to become a better version of myself and when the opportunity came at the theater to be a leader, I knew I could do it even when no one else did.

So take a moment and think about the person you feel you are deep down and the person your friends or family might say you are.  Do those two people match?  Are you showing the world the real you or just the habitual you?  If they don’t match then maybe you need to push yourself a bit more or just focus on communicating better with the people around you.  Don’t be afraid to be brave, to unleash your inner badass and let the true you shine!

Vintage Alice in Wonderland Pendant: Our First Etsy Sale!!

Our very first sale!

Our very first sale!

After a year of preparation and almost a month of being on the Etsy site, Rachel and I are proud to announce our very first Etsy sale!

It has been a year full of ups and downs and a tremendous amount of hard work!  I can tell you that each day that passed with no sales, after the store opened on July 4th, was a dagger to the heart.  It is so hard to keep faith and keep working when you aren’t seeing any results yet.  Not that we, for a moment, thought about giving up but who doesn’t love a little instant gratification!

We have achieved so many of our goals for the beginning of our company, so here’s to reaching one more, may this sale be the first of many!  And a huge thank you to all the people who believed in us and supported us along the way!  This first sale may be a little thing but here’s hoping it turns into something big!

The whole, first sale experience was super fun but my favorite part, other than getting paid, was preparing the item for shipping.  I’ve had my shipping supplies ready from day one and now I finally get to use it all!

We always want to add a little something extra to our orders as a thank you to the customer for shopping with us.  Our first customer will receive the sweet, little box below!

This adorable bird box will hold our first sale!

This adorable bird box will hold our first sale!

I used some yellow packing material to cushion the gift box and pendant in transit.

I love that it sort of looks like a nest!

I love that it sort of looks like a nest!

We sealed the box with our custom Funky Lollipop sticker and it is ready to go.

Lovely and all ready to go!

Lovely and all ready to go!

Now all I have to do is print a label and get a padded envelope from USPS and our first, little baby will be winging it’s way to it’s new home.  The grow up so fast, lol!

And in case you are interested in buying this adorable, vintage inspired pendant for yourself, we will have a new one on the site soon!  You can always convo us on Etsy and ask for it if you just can’t wait, but in the mean time here are some other little beauties that are on the site now or will be coming this week!  Check out our Etsy shop here:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/FunkyLollipop

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Here’s another vintage Alice in Wonderland illustration featuring the white rabbit!

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I love this vintage, inspired cameo piece!

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These lovely earrings match the pendant we sold!

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Woodland creatures are so on trend right now and this fox is a beautiful example of why!

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Here’s another vintage children’s book illustration. I love the fairies, the cherry blossoms and this shade of blue!

Take a Walk on the Wild Side!!

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I love animal prints! Ever since I was a little girl, I have been obsessed with all kinds of animal prints, but the most popular being the zebra and the leopard (of course, hahaha!). I would not want an actual animal pelt, but I have become pretty accomplished at creating my own. Like these fantastic beauties!2piecezebra006

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These fabulous earrings are hand-painted zebra print. Two wooden squares dangle from their own chain on each earring, creating a little bit of a wind-chime effect as they swing together from your lobe. These earrings are almost 5 inches long! Almost long enough to touch my collarbone–which is totally my new thing, hahaha! These earrings do draw attention to your neck though, hahaha! The black and white color combo allows these earrings to easily match with most ensembles! And, just like in the wild, all of my animal print pieces are entirely unique–no two will ever be exactly the same!

Now, for some awesome fun facts about the zebra brought to you by my search on http://www.onekind.org!!!

  •  Zebra can run up to 65km/h. They combine this fast running with excellent stamina and zig-zagging motions to try and evade predators that chase them.
  • Although they may appear to be badly camouflaged, when they are in a herd the zebra’s distinct stripes merge into a big mass and make it hard for predators to single out individual animals.
  • Massive herds consisting of tens of thousands of zebras perform one of the world’s most awe-inspiring migrations across the Serengeti plains.
  • In Native American shamanism, the zebra is the symbol of balance, agility, clarity without filters, and sureness of path.
  • Zebras’ stripes are associated with harmony in some cultures. The black and white blending and balancing of opposites mimics the Eastern yin-yang symbol.

I highlighted the last two, just in case you are interested in what kind of metaphysical qualities these particular earrings can offer you! 2piecezebra001Available at: https://www.etsy.com/shop/FunkyLollipop

Dissecting Understanding: Part III–Ruby

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I am currently reading a novel called Ruby by Cynthia Bond. Oh my goodness, what a horrific book! Cynthia Bond is a very descriptive and almost poetic writer, and it took me awhile to discover her groove, but now that I have, I am hooked! Hooked, appalled, unnerved, horrified….yeah….pick one.

The book is set in the “Colored” town of Liberty, Texas, in the early-middle of the twentieth century. Slavery may have been abolished, but racism still ran rampant through this southern area. The main character, Ruby, is the byproduct of racism, sexism, religious fanaticism, and child abuse. Which is the reason I have included it in my understanding section of Philosophy Sunday.

As far as I know, there are not any slave-owners in my genetic history. However there are plenty of salty characters just the same. But I never really understood why there was such a delineation between the races and why there was still a lot of hate. This novel, who cares if it is fiction, has opened my eyes to what it may have really been like to not be Caucasian in the south during this time period….and if it there is any chance that it is an accurate portrayal of life as it was, then I can understand the hate.

Ruby Bell is a former high-ranking beauty, born from an odd family, but one of the greatest beauties of her time. However, she left for New York, after working all of those summers for that highfalutin “White Woman,” and came back a loon. Ruby is introduced as thus:

“Ruby Bell was a constant reminder of what could befall a woman whose shoe heels were too high. The people of Liberty Township wove her into cautionary tales of the wages of sin and travel. They called her buck-crazy. Howling, half-naked mad. The fact that she had come back from New York City made this somewhat understandable to the town.

She wore gray like rain clouds and wandered the red roads in bared feet. Calluses thick as boot leather. Hair caked with mud. Blackened nails as if she had scratched the slate of night. Her acres of legs carrying her, arms swaying like a loose screen. Her eyes the ink of sky, just before the storm.

That is how Ruby walked when she lived in the splintered house that Papa Bell had built before he passed. When she dug into the East Texas soil under moonlight and wailed like a distant train.

In those years, after her return, people left Ruby be. They walked a curved path to avoid her door. And so it was more than strange when someone walked the length of Liberty and brought a covered cake to the Bells’ front porch…”

Right away you get a feel for the town itself (we will leave Ruby out of it for the moment)….obviously it is a small town for them to have the ability to weave cautionary tales about one lowly individual. It also indicates a deep seeded religious aspect, if they are so worried about sin. It also seems as if these people do not leave their town very often, if they need to have warnings about travel–especially about that hedonistic pit of Hell known as New York City! Also, there seems to be a great deal of gossip going on there….boredom does weird things to your brain! “Years after her return…” key word being years! This poor thing has been wailing in the moonlight for years, and all these people do is just watch her? Well, I mean, if they helped her and she got better, what would they have to talk about?

Now let’s talk about Ruby–came back from New York a little cuckoo, huh? Howling at the moon and digging in the dirt? Why? What is she doing? And if she is so crazy, why is someone bringing her a piece of cake? (Spoiler: I adore that person bringing her the cake! He is a simple man, but maybe that is what makes him such a quality man! He doesn’t have the mental capacity to see anything other than what his heart feels. No excuses or justifications of asshole-actions! Just beautiful!)

Now, I don’t want to give too much away, and I have yet to finish the book anyway, but I need to tell you that Ruby acts that way for a reason! She was turned into crazy, and she tried her hardest to keep a hold of her sanity, but it was literally ripped out from her straining grasp. Poor little thing….

For example….here is what her highfalutin white “employer” told her…

Tanny and Ruby were the only Colored girls with Miss Barbara. Miss Barbara once said, “You girls are important here because gentleman can do things with a Colored girl they simply can’t bring themselves to do with a White girl.” Ruby knew that the White girls were always good girls, even when they were bad, but Negro girls started bad and couldn’t be anything after that.”

Guess how old Ruby was at this time? Like six, or something!!

“The things he did to her hurt worse than anything she knew, than any way she imagined she could be hurt….”

Ruby’s tales of woe only continue. I cannot really say that it gets any worse, but only because I feel as if that is probably one of the very worst things that could happen to any child. Grown adults using children for their sexual gratification sickens me. And what “Miss Barbara” said about those two girls!? That they could do things to ‘Colored’ girls that they couldn’t bring themselves to do to a white child? Is that how it really was?

What about adult women? If and when they had sex with them, would they do things with them that they could never bring themselves to do with a white woman? If that is how it really was…

Of course, Ruby did not only have to fear the White Man. Members of her own community used her for all that she was worth! Even being as buck-crazy as she was…just wipe off the bits you want to use and don’t touch the rest. At least the white men paid her!! (Two-bits, most of the time. A quarter! I mean, I know it is 1939, but don’t you think traumatizing a child is worth more than $0.25?? Can she say, “Excuse me, I was making that when I was six…” UGH!! Too much to even contemplate!!)

Without giving too much more away, the point that I am trying to make is that there is a lot of misunderstandings to be found by reading this book. First, my naive interpretation as to what the world was like before I was born. I don’t know what it was like. I don’t understand what it meant to be “Colored” in that time period. Hell, I don’t know what it is like in this time period….however, I pride myself on being an outsider, so I do know what it is like to not fit in with the social norm, the status quot, as it were. It isn’t much, but it helps being poor and weird. Second, there is usually a story behind crazy. Mud-caked hair and vacant eyes are usually hiding a pain the likes of which most people cannot even fathom. Third, gossip sucks. And when hate is being flung by those hiding behind religion, that is even worse. Branding poor Ruby a Jezebel, a devil, and a loon, when it was one of their beloved pastors who took her to Miss Barbara to begin with. Fourth, things are not always as they seem. Like I said last week, there are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth. Better have your facts straight before you go charging on some holy mission of redemption or condemnation. Fifth, and lastly, just because you are bigger, doesn’t mean you have the right to use your power over somebody else.

My mother was a bra-burning hippie and quite a feminist. In her early twenties, while in California, she was in a bar one night playing pool. A guy came up and joined her. She beat the guy. He took mighty offense to being beaten by a woman, so he followed her home. She put on Benny Hill then went to the bathroom. He was there when she opened the door. He smacked her in the face (you could feel the chip in her jaw), then stabbed her three times in the throat. Afterwards, he violated her bleeding dying body. The cops told her she shouldn’t have been dressed like such a slut. Yeah…he was never charged.

I do not know what it is like to be attacked like that, but I do know what it is like to be raised by a parent who was. She also had an “Uncle” who was overtly fond of little girls. And an ex who almost succeeded in killing her, but instead slashed the throats of her two beloved Great Danes, Azar the Great and Attilla the Runt. All of this, and more, happened before I was born. In fact, I am not even supposed to be here. The stabbing and the rape that followed was too traumatic. She also wasn’t supposed to talk. Which just goes to show you that miracles can happen.

I have about 50 pages left of Ruby….I just hope it has a happy ending. But where it stands right now….

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Even Oprah approves!!

A “Rachel Sandwich”: A Funky Creation Inspired by a Food Truck Sensation!

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So I had to title this a “Rachel Sandwich” because that saying has been a staple in my group’s vocabulary since all of my little “brothers” were in high school….so almost 10 years!! Back in the old days, when I had 1-7 teenage boys traipsing through my kitchen after they got out of school, I made a lot of sandwiches, because they are quick and easy. But because I am who I am, they were not just simple meat and cheese, no, there were sweet peppers and garlic in the mayo and sauteed onions and broiled peppery tomatoes on top!! Hence making a “Rachel Sandwich” a special treat all on it’s own!

The inspiration for this particular sandwich occurred at the end of May, when I accompanied my Aunt to the Creedence Clearwater Revival concert at the beautiful Hudson Gardens. Even if you have never heard the name CCR, they sing such classics as Bad Moon Rising, I Put A Spell On You, Run Through The Jungle, and Who’ll Stop The Rain. I am absolutely sure you have heard at least one of their songs in your lifetime! Even if you have seen Hocus Pocus, then you have heard Bette Midler cover I Put A Spell On You, hahaha! Anyway, awesome show!! They can still rock it!

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Now they had about six food trucks at this concert, and I started off the night with some seriously delicious salted caramel sweet potato fries, but I was having a hard time choosing the main dish. Although the Filipino food truck really had me gunning for some authentic Pansit, it was a different truck that eventually caught my eye with its delightfully clever dish names! “Not Your Mama’s PB & J!” Say what?? Seared pork belly topped with a Thai peanut slaw and a smear of jalapeno jelly! Count me in!

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Salted Caramel Sweet Potato Fries

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Not Your Mama’s PB & J

Unfortunately, it turns out that I don’t like pork belly!! (Sorry BFF-brother-in-law!! Although, I feel like you just said that you loved pork belly just so Desiree and I would try it, lbvs!! Well, I did!) But I absolutely adore the idea! So I had to figure out a way….

Ingredients:

Coleslaw (unprepared, either in a bag, or finely chop both cabbage and carrots)

Thai Peanut Sauce* (either prepared or recipe follows)

Bacon–at least three strips per sandwich

Bread

1 jar Jalapeno Jelly

1 cup Brown Sugar

*Thai Peanut Sauce (Remember that my recipes are approximate):

3/4 cup peanut butter (I used 1/2 creamy, 1/4 chunky)

1/4 cup water

3 Tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 Tablespoons lime juice

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons chile-garlic paste

1-2 cloves of garlic finely diced or mashed (I kept mine kind of chunky, but I love raw garlic)

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (I used a ginger and soy sauce sesame oil)

Directions:

Prepare your Thai Peanut Sauce by combining all of the ingredients and whisking them thoroughly.

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Prepare your slaw. Whether you are dicing the cabbage and carrots yourself, or simply opening a bag like I did, combine the veggies with the Thai Peanut Slaw, making sure it is thoroughly saturated. Cover, and put in the fridge.

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In a separate bowl, combine about a cup of brown sugar and 2 big dollops of the jalapeno jelly. Mix well and set aside.

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Preheat oven to 350-375 degrees F.

Cook your bacon….

A few years ago, a very dear ol’ friend of mine taught me how to make “bacon quilts” for your sandwiches. *Explosion* Mind blown!! Perfect size for the bread and it keeps the bacon together inside! If anyone out there is a BLT fan like me, this method will change your life!!

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First, take your super long bacon strips and cut them in half, like this:

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Toss the half strips in the brown sugar and jelly mixture, making sure that every piece is coated.

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While they are marinating, spray your shallow baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. I like to have my bacon elevated from the pan, so I put a cookie rack on top of a baking sheet that has slightly raised sides–this prevents the bacon grease from getting everywhere. Spray the rack too, if you’re using one.

Quilt the bacon! Do you remember those old DIY potholder loom kits? Where you had to weave each band over and under the other bands? Well this is basically the same idea!

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Remember Me??

Start with three pieces, and lay them out side by side (if one end is thicker than the other, then alternate the direction of the pieces so that it is not lopsided).

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In the opposite direction, add a fourth piece so that it lays on top of the outer pieces and under the center piece.

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The fifth piece will be the opposite, under the outer pieces and on top of the center.

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The sixth and final piece will be the opposite of the fifth, the same as the fourth.

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TA-DA!!! You just made your first bacon quilt! Repeat the process until you have the desired amount of quilts for your sandwiches.

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Bake your quilts until desired crispness. You can flip them, if you want, but be aware that the jelly/sugar mixture has made them quite sticky and you do run the risk of “fraying” the quilt.

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Once your bacon quilts have reached the desired crisp-ability, it is time to make the ‘wich.

Toast your bread. I used this delightful loaf from Sprouts:

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Smear desired amount of jalapeno jelly on one side of each of the slices of toast. I like the heat, so I used a healthy dose.

Lay your chosen quilt upon a slice of jellied toast.

Top with desired amount of the Thai Peanut Slaw and the other piece of jellied toast.

Slice it in half, if you would like, and ENJOY!! I served mine with both Sriracha french fries and regular fries!!

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I definitely preferred the bacon quilt over the pork belly, but I would strongly suggest trying the REAL Not Your Mama’s PB & J, if you ever run across it!!

DIY Styrofoam Head Project

I was at Hobby Lobby the other day, which is a shocker I know!  Hobby Lobby is doing something new these days and providing little pamphlets that offer different ideas for crafting projects.  I saw the image below and thought, what a great idea, but I could do it better!  I just happened to have a Styrofoam head at home to work with, so I went home and got started right away.

I love decoupage so this was right up my alley!

This was my Hobby Lobby inspiration!

The thing I didn’t like about the example the pamphlet showed, was that the way the paper had been torn seemed so random and because of that, the features of the Styrofoam head were pretty obscured and the yellowish color of the music sheets made it seem dirty.

For my version I choose three different kinds of black and white paper, one that leaned more to the white side and two that had more black in them.  I cut them into strips that were pointed at one end and than widened out so that they resembled very long, thin triangles. I then prepared a water white glue mixture soaked them and conformed them to the head.

I mostly used the whiter paper so the blacker paper would stand out.

I mostly used the whiter paper so the blacker paper would stand out.

I had to use some matte modpodge while it was sill wet to make sure the paper stayed on tightly.  I made a kind of starburst pattern with the pointy ends of the triangles meeting around the nose region and then filled in from there. To finish the back and sides I used more rectangular pieces.

Once I had covered it completely I let it dry and then realized that I could do more with the really dark, black paper to create designs on the figure.

After I added more black designs but before I added the lips.

After I added more black designs but before I added the lips.

Once I finished adding more definition around the eyes and on the sides, I decided to add some lips to really make the features clear.

It's perfect for displaying my DIY fascinator from my wedding!

It’s perfect for displaying my DIY fascinator from my wedding!

I love the way it turned out and I will use it as a prop for taking good product photos of the fascinators I want to add to my Etsy shop.

I think it's beautiful and who knows, maybe I will make some more of these to sell as well!

One last photo!

I think it’s so beautiful I might make a few more as décor or perhaps to sell!  Let me know in the comments if you would buy one!

Dissecting Understanding: Part II–Three Sides To Every Story

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found on pintrest

This Sunday I wanted to continue dissecting the meaning of the word understanding. This time, I want to discuss the idea of different sides. There is always another side, another heart to be broken, another viewpoint to be seen…and can we truly understand the other side? Can we honestly know what it feels like to be on the other side??

After last week’s Philosophy Sunday post, I received a text message about it from a very good friend, Sarah. Sarah is a very intelligent young lady; she is logical, introspective, analytical, opinionated, and deep. I love her! The questions she posed to me following last week’s post combined with the novel I just finished reading and a spot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 3, will be the basis of this weeks post.

Sarah First:

Sarah: I love your blog post for today. Such an interesting question. Do you think understanding means to be known by others, or to be known and appreciated/respected by others?

Funky: I think understanding is the acceptance of others, even if they don’t know you. Understanding that you can’t understand everything. And offer respect, because you accept.

Sarah: Understanding that you can’t understand everything. I like that. Because I don’t feel like I understand other people in the sense of what their motivations or intentions or desires are. Or how to respond to others, lol.

Funky: That is one of the hardest things to understand! And most people cannot even answer that question for themselves! “Why did I do that? Honestly?” I’m slowly beginning to accept that I won’t always know the why,,,

Sarah: That is probably true but so frustrating to my analytical brain! Haha a guy actually broke up with me because I asked him why he did/thought/said something too often. And because I’m not Christian, but minor details :p

Funky: You’re telling me!! This former Christian really wants to understand the REASON of life, the meaning, the method, the why’s-this-(bad word)-so-hard….but no. And ha, I had this guy quit being my friend cuz I asked him why he broke up with me, too often. He never did give me an answer. That was my first bf.

Sarah: How is it so hard to just give an answer? That’s so annoying haha.

Funky: Maybe they don’t understand the question?

Sarah: I think a lot of people in general just don’t care about their deeper feelings and motivations. You, Megan (Lollipop), and I are more introspective people by nature, so we’re more able to articulate and understand our feelings.

Funky: Oooh! Very wise!! Too true. Eh, I understand that people suck, generally, haha!

“I don’t feel like I understand other people in the sense of what their motivations or intentions or desires are…” This is so unbelievably frustrating, don’t you think? I have no idea why my first boyfriend broke up with me, and I have little to no idea why I am single now, hahaha! Maybe it is, as it may have been then, because I ask too many questions. I ask too much of people. I want to know people, through and through, so that I can understand their motivations, intentions, and desires. Why does the question, “Why?” bother so many people? What does it really take to dissect your own intentions so that you could possibly give someone else a reasonable answer that they could understand? Of course, I also know that other-side to this particular coin, when you get the straight answer and it is so far beyond what you want to hear that it breaks your little heart…For example: “Why did you not want to go out with me?” Sad eyes and gaping mouth from the young man I posed this question to, “Is it because I’m fat?” …….”Well….yeah….” Oooh! Burn!

I also like the last statement Sarah made, that “a lot of people in general just don’t care about their deeper feelings and motivations.” Very sad, but probably true! Sometimes searching yourself for the deeper meaning often brings to light some unsatisfactory realizations about yourself. Like the young man I just spoke of, he found out he is a shallow jerk, hahaha!

The Dark-Hunter Series by Sherrilyn Kenyon **Possible Spoiler!!!**

“There are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth.” One of my favorite fictional characters, Archeron Parthenopaeus, consistently gives this advice to the men he leads; which is ironic only in the sense that he did not take his own advice and he is a topic of conversation in this blog. “Everyone creates their own reality,” a bit of advice from Archeron’s twin brother, Styxx. This means that every single event that happens is dissected, assimilated, and committed to memory on an individual basis. You and I might witness the exact same thing, but my memory of it will be different from yours, and because my past is different from your past, this new information will affect me differently than it will you, and our own emotions will color the memory differently as well. So, you will have your side, I will have mine, and the truth is that middle ground, what actually happened if we were to abolish the individual perceptions.

I have read several Sherrilyn Kenyon novels, including most of the Dark-Hunter series. If you have never read any of her books, do not start with Styxx! Ugh! Such a good book! But you definitely need the love and respect for Archeron before you hear Styxx’s side of the story. All of these books include at least one Greek God, and whatever pantheon that the new Dark-Hunter hails from. Styxx starts out waaaaay back in the day, when Atlantis was still a city to be respected and feared. In fact, this book gives a pretty plausible reason as to why the city of Atlantis is no more. The reason I say that it is plausible is because, according to this book, it was destroyed by its own gods–whom seemed to be every bit as back-stabbing, vengeful, and spiteful as the Greek gods! Anyway, this book made me cry about 100 times, and it is the epitome of the three-sides-to-every-story mantra!

So Styxx and Archeron are twins, born to the King and Queen of Didymos, but their birth wasn’t the happy occasion that it should have been because the gods were involved. Archeron, having obvious signs of his true parentage, is basically discarded. Taken in by his horrible Uncle Estes, he is on the outside looking in at his perfect brother who has everything that Archeron could ever want–most especially the love of their father and the title of Prince of Didymos. Obviously Styxx’s life is perfect and beautiful and he is nothing but a spoiled little brat that doesn’t want for anything and doesn’t appreciate it; while Archeron is treated like the unwanted excrement of the worst of whores. Lo and behold, Archeron doesn’t know jack! Styxx’s life is not good! Not beautiful! And he is not a spoiled arrogant little prince, and in some ways, Archeron has it way better than Styxx does! For over 11,000 years (because they’re immortal, duh), these two are wracked with hatred and pain! They’re twins, it should be brother’s, always and forever…but it wasn’t.

Eventually, they know how the other feels, felt, and survived. I don’t want to give too much away, because I totally recommend reading this book, but I was literally yelling at the characters to listen to each other, to stand up for the other, and to just say it!!! I swear a little communication goes a long way! When someone actually stands up for Styxx, I celebrated! Bah! Terrible, uplifting, nightmare-inducing, laugh out loud, horrifyingly beautiful book. Full of revelations and people learning the sometimes terrible consequences of actions made in anger. So, read Styxx, by Sherrilyn Kenyon, but don’t make it your first Dark-Hunter Novel, or else you will just hate Archeron, and he is special and beautiful, even if he was absolutely horrible to his brother.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 3, The Introduction of Faith

Here is another prime example of three sides to every story! Here’s Buffy, the one and only slayer…in Sunnydale, California, that is. Just in case you have never seen the show, there is supposed to be only one slayer born every generation. Once one dies, the next is called. What’s special about Buffy is that she did die, but she didn’t stay dead. She had drowned, but Xander was able to revive her. However, she technically died, so another slayer was called…and that one died in season two. Sorry Kendra! The end of season 2, Buffy had to kill her true love, Angel. This put her in such a bad head-space that she bailed…totally ran away from everyone and everything. So when she came back, all who were left in Sunnydale were mad at her, hurt by her. So not only is Buffy dealing with the loss of her love all by herself, everyone is stand-offish and mistrusting. Buffy feels justified by her leaving, and the gang feels angry and alone. It was hard to reconcile! And then, here comes Faith, the newest of the slayers! She is a frisky little slayer who, like Archeron, was on the outside looking in at Buffy’s perfect little slayer life–a mom who knows and cares, friends who help, and an obvious bond with her watcher. All Buffy sees in Faith is everyone’s joy at having a new member of the group, who is cooler, hotter, and more interesting. Both Buffy and Faith forgot to look for the bad. They forgot to look beyond their own jealousy to actually see what the other’s life is actually like. As a result, Buffy and Faith have a tumultuous relationship, taking them almost four seasons to truly appreciate one another.

There are three sides to every story–yours, mine, and the truth. The truth is the hardest one to see, because we, as human beings, see everything tainted with our own emotions. Is it possible to see? I mean, I will never be able to see the world from your eyes, so is it even possible for me to truly understand it? If I heard the truth of the matter right now, would I accept it? Or would it be tainted as soon as my brain processed it? I just don’t know.

So, as you go about your business this week, think about these things; especially if there is some sort of altercation! Try to remove yourself from the equation, and look at it as if from an outsider perspective. How did you come across? What did you do from their perspective? Why did you do that? What were your motivations and intentions? How would you feel if you did this to yourself? Trying to be an outsider looking into your own life is rather difficult, but understanding our own motivations might help us understand others…

Tin Can Upcycle Decor

To start off I removed the labels from the cans and painted them white with house paint.  I liked the spotty paint job, it made it seem antiqued so I didn’t do a second coat.

House paint is thicker and stayed better than acrylic or craft paint.

House paint is thicker and stayed better than acrylic or craft paint.

I used craft paint and stamps to apply the decorations.  The craft paint was thin enough to work with the stamps really well.  I used a brush to apply the paint to the stamps and that created less mess than dunking them in paint like you would on a stamp pad.

The craft paint worked better than the acrylic.

The craft paint worked better than the acrylic.

I started with several stamps but the butterfly and vintage stamp got the best results.

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Paper plates: the poor man’s palette!

I think they came out super cute!  I do want to work on a polka dot one as well once I get the right brushes.

Maybe try mixing and matching the colors!

Maybe try mixing and matching the colors!

Now I use them to organize my many craft supplies.  Cute and functional, my favorite combination!

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Cubano Rolls: Tasty Treats Inspired by a Delicious Restaurant Dish!

My Inspiration: Crispy Cuban Rolls from The Cheesecake Factory.

My Inspiration: Crispy Cuban Rolls from The Cheesecake Factory.

The inspiration for this dish came from an appetizer I had at The Cheesecake Factory while out to dinner with the family.  I don’t have a deep fryer so I had to adjust the wrapping.  I used crescent rolls and they worked just fine!

I bought some pre-cooked pork so I wouldn’t have to take the time to cook it.

This was the only pre-cooked pork that looked right and it was quit tasty.

This was the only pre-cooked pork that looked right and it was quit tasty.

I sliced the pork, swiss cheese, ham and pickles into strips to fit easily into the crescent rolls.

The ingredients: pork, swiss cheese, ham, crescent rolls and mustard.

The ingredients: pork, swiss cheese, ham, crescent rolls and mustard.

I stuffed the crescent rolls with my strips of food and added the Dijon mustard.

Stuffed crescent

Stuffed crescents.

The food hung out of the end of the crescents but that just made the cheese all brown, crispy and delicious!  Once the crescents were done I brushed the outsides with more of the Dijon mustard, just a little tip I picked up from Masterchef!

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Looks Yummy!

Looks Yummy!

I made these twice, once for dinner and once as an appetizer for a cocktail party.  Lets just say that the appetizers were gone in about fifteen minutes!  They look tasty but they taste even better!

Cliche Day: Taking Things For Granted

I love cliche’s, so every once in a while, I’m going to delve deeper into a cliche to understand what it’s really about and why it may be cliche but it still has value.

Today’s Topic: Taking Things For Granted

Usually taking something for granted means you don’t appreciate it as much as you should. Where does this come from? Why would you take something for granted? You might be so used to having something that you cease to value it, but I think there is a deeper cause to this attitude. That cause is pride.

According to dictionary.com when used as a noun “granted” can mean “something granted, as a privilege or right”. I think that this speaks to the root cause of the problem. Taking something for granted is what happens when you stop seeing something as a privilege and start seeing it as a right. You might subconsciously think that the good things that others do for you or the good things that happen to you in life are your right. You see this often in spoiled children; the thing they want they feel they deserve to have, not because of anything they have done to earn it but because of who they are. They’re special so of course life should be everything they want it to be. Even though we, as adults, should have more wisdom; whom among us hasn’t been frustrated or angry that things haven’t gone their way. Another aspect of taking things for granted is all about seeing the negative side of things while not acknowledging the good. I rarely hear someone comment that traffic was great or the line at the DMV was super short but I always hear about it when traffic took forever or the lines were huge. After all doesn’t the universe realize that those long lines or traffic jams are interrupting our day and that we are too important to have to deal with these inconveniences? If you recognize yourself in these thoughts or comments don’t despair, there is a cure. The antidote is gratitude.

It occurred to me that in my home the dinner table was often a scene of venting about all the things that went wrong that day. My husband and I are just seeing each other for the first time after work and we want to share our frustrations. That’s a pretty natural thing to do.  But what are we teaching our daughter about how to view the world? To address this issue I’m going to  start having dinner be about all the good things that have happened to us that day. How I had a really fun conversation with a cute family at work or how my husband met someone interesting. Gratitude is one of the many things we take for granted but gratitude doesn’t just happen on its own; it’s something we have to consciously think about and strive for each day. I urge you to take some time at the end of the day to think about all the good things that have happened to you and truly count your blessings, but that is a cliché for another day.

Adventure Thursday: The Sequel!

Railey and I had another adventure Thursday this week!  Last week we went shopping at Joann’s during their 4th of July sale and Railey picked out some fabric for our activity this week.  This Thursday’s activity: learn to sew a pillow!  A pillow is the only thing my grandmother ever taught me to sew, so I thought that would be a nice beginner activity.

Railey's fabric.  She loves pink and owls!

Railey’s fabric. She loves pink and owls!

She has been so excited all week to learn to sew and finally the day arrived.  We pulled out the fabric and cut it into a rectangle and then folded it over so she only had to sew three sides.

Then I pinned all the sides together and marked a line along each side, so she knew where to make her stitches.

Finally the work began!

Sew fun!

Sew fun!

She stitched up one side and then Daddy came home, so we decided to finish the other two sides on the machine.  She sat on my lap, I worked the peddle and she helped me guide the fabric.  Then we turned it right side out and stuffed it up, she really enjoyed that part, and I sewed our little hole shut and voila, her very first pillow was complete!

Not half bad for a first attempt!

Not half bad for a first attempt!

She certainly loved it and cuddled it for the rest of the day!

Their both so cute.

Their both so cute.

Finally after a job well done we decided to celebrate by painting a butterfly on her face and playing with balloons.  Another Thursday gone, another adventure complete!

Happy Adventure Thursday!

Happy Adventure Thursday!

The Thing about Quitting Smoking is…

You just have to do it.

Seems simple I know but I have “tried” so many ways to quit. I’ve tried cutting down in number of cigarettes a day (I am only allowed six cigarettes a day) except I always smoked more than I planned on. I tried controlling where and when I smoke (I’m allowed to smoke at work but not at home) but I broke that rule too.  In previous attempts at quitting I used the gum, the patch and Chantix.  Nothing stuck.

I finally admitted to myself that “trying” to quit smoking was just an excuse to keep smoking while getting points for “trying” to change. The worst part was that in order to get through the time until I could smoke again, I was doing a lot of snacking and getting snarky with my family and friends. In short, all of the things I hate about quitting, I was already doing, and I was still smoking! That’s just crazy!

Eventually I realized that in order to be successful I would just have to quit as in, never smoke again, so that’s what I’m doing.

It’s scary at times and It’s definitely hard, but I’m managing my symptoms and when the hard times happen, at least I can feel better because I’m actually not smoking, not even a little bit and that feels pretty good!  After all, as Yoda says “Do or do not there is no try!”

This says it all!

This says it all!

Critical Thinking Vs. Being Critical

Thought Quote

I often worry that I am too ready to be critical of others. When asking myself why that may be, I rationalize that people are encouraged to think critically and that this is seen as a good thing. So if it is good to think critically, why do I feel so bad when I am critical? How do you think critically without being critical? I turned to the internet for some definitions and what I found was that thinking critically and being critical were not really related at all but in fact were completely opposite ideas.

The definition I found for critical was “inclined to find fault or to judge with severity, often too readily” (dictionary.com), whereas for thinking critically I found this… “Critical thinking is self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way… [People who think critically] are keenly aware of the inherently flawed nature of human thinking when left unchecked…   They use the intellectual tools that critical thinking offers – concepts and principles that enable them to analyze, assess, and improve thinking.   They work diligently to develop the intellectual virtues of intellectual integrity, intellectual humility, intellectual civility, intellectual empathy, intellectual sense of justice and confidence in reason.   They realize that no matter how skilled they are as thinkers, they can always improve their reasoning abilities and they will at times fall prey to mistakes in reasoning, human irrationality, prejudices, biases, distortions, uncritically accepted social rules and taboos, self-interest, and vested interest.”~ Linda Elder, September, 2007 (found on criticalthinking.org).

So in essence being critical means judging someone else without putting much thought into it and thinking critically is all about being thoughtful, putting time and energy into examining the way that you think and whether or not your perspective of a given situation is accurate. Being critical is judging things outside yourself and thinking critically is examining a set of facts without prejudice and with the aim of finding the truth in your own mind.

My husband always says that I make everything a moral issue and I do. Why would I do any different? Why wouldn’t you think about what the right thing to do is and then act accordingly, instead of acting without thought and then rationalizing why it was the right thing to do, when in truth, it is merely what you wanted to do and whether it was right was never considered.

To answer the question that brought me here, the only way to avoid being critical, is to think critically. In order to think critically you must remove yourself from the question at hand and examine the issue rationally, with clarity and empathy. That last bit is the important part in my mind and the key to not being critical. If you truly strive to understand what might be motivating the other person’s behavior you might be more willing to give that person a break just the same as you might with your own behavior when, for example, you know you’ve had a headache all day and you snapped at someone for being too loud.

In my opinion the best way to avoid being critical of people, especially people you love, is to give them the benefit of the doubt. In the end the only thing you can really change about a situation is your attitude about it. Why not take a moment to examine your own mind and motivations critically and to decide if your criticisms might be better left unsaid.

Yay Independence, Yay America and Yay Colorado!

Today is the big day!  Independence Day has come for Rachel and I!  But the truth is, we have merely claimed our Independence, we haven’t yet finished fighting for it.  The first battles have been fought but the campaign is only beginning, and we have a long way to go before we win the war.

The history of our country and our state is filled with tales of people that imagined a better life for themselves.  Call it the American dream but it is the Coloradan dream too.  Those settlers that stopped here on their way to California and saw the possibility of a good life and decided to stay, were hardy folks.  We are hardy folks too.  We will not be dissuaded, we will not be distracted or discouraged.  We are pursuing our dream, come what may and it’s success or bust for us.

That’s why we choose today to be the launch date of our enterprise, why we choose it as our D-Day.  Because as we celebrate the people that made our nation and our state great, we strive to emulate them and join their ranks!

I have no doubt that like our fore fathers and mothers, we will persevere in the face of hardship, and prove ourselves worthy of the legacy of the pioneers that first called themselves Coloradans and Americans.

So here’s some new product from Funky Lollipop that pays homage to the great country and the great state that we live in!

These pretty little things are brand new, so we haven’t added them to the Etsy store yet but head over to our NOW OPEN shop at http://www.etsy.com/shop/FunkyLollipop and check out all the cute stuff!

These Colorado Aspen earrings are not for sale on our Etsy site yet but they will be soon!

These Colorado Aspen earrings are not for sale on our Etsy site yet but they will be soon!  

These patriotic earrings aren't on the Etsy site yet but they will be soon!

These patriotic earrings are not for sale on our Etsy site yet but they will be soon!

TigerChainz, Spunky Punx, and FunStix: Available TOMORROW!!

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As most of you already know, Funky Lollipop opens it’s metaphorical Etsy doors TOMORROW!!! Happy Independence Day to us! (www.etsy.com/shop/FunkyLollipop) So to prepare for this momentous occasion, we decided today’s post will be all about some of the exciting products that you will find in our little shop! These three are recently finished, and they are definitely some of my favs! I honestly believe that the hardest part of this business will be letting go of my work, hahaha! I would wear every piece I have ever made!

The first pair I wish to discuss is the TigerChainz!

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I LOVE animal prints! I always have. However, the real inspiration for the tiger print is my home life, hahaha!  In case you are unaware, my brother’s name is Tony, and, of course, his favorite animal is the tiger…Tony the Tiger! (Mmmm Frosted Flakes!) This past Halloween, Tony and his girlfriend tried really hard to come up with a cute couples costume. Personally, I think they did amazingly well! Can you guess? My brother went as a tiger, and his girlfriend, the Tiger Tamer (think circus, or Siegfried and Roy). From then on, “tiger” or “tiger tamer” has been a frequently used term. It was then that I realized that I had never even attempted tiger print! I got right on it. Although I am not as impressed with my tiger as I am with my zebra, I still think that it is pretty darn pretty! And these are my favorite so far!

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These are post earrings, not hooks. I decorated both the literal post, and the backing of the earring. This creates the illusion that you are wearing more than one pair! These earrings are fairly lightweight, and would definitely be a unique and wild addition to any look!

The Spunky Punx

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These are my absolute favorite! They are post earrings as well, but the super special thing about them are that they are asymmetrical! Both earrings have three skulls and two spikes, but the placement of the pieces and the color of the skulls are different, and one earring is just a touch longer than the other. Some black chains and some silver chains also give it a little more flair as well. One has more chain on the front, while the other is heavy in the back. Spunky fun with a punk-y flair!! I randomly found these pink and black skulls, and I had to have them, use them, and love them! They are so intricately detailed right down to their little teeth! Also, like the last pair, both the front and the back are decorated–meaning that there are four individual pieces! These little gems certainly make my outfits look better!!

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Where did the skull obsession come from?

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Elvira! Of course!

The FunStix

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Oooh! I love these little polka dotted quirky earrings! Green with pink polka dots, purple with aqua, and yellow with orange polka dots. The sticks go from smallest to largest and so do the chains. These are hooks, and they dangle pretty far down, but not far enough to touch your collarbone (unlike quite a few of my earrings, hahaha!). The sticks are wood, so it makes these earrings surprisingly light! They are a little “I Love The 80’s” hahahaha! These earrings are so fun and flirty, and would brighten any drab day!!

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So please come check out our shop tomorrow! Find beautiful pieces from both Funky and Lollipop, and see if you can tell which is which! (Probably pretty easy, hahahaha!)

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See you Soon!!!

Meow Wolf: Sometimes Epic Adventures Involve Cats & Dogs & Itchy-O

 

So readers, your dear Funky went on a pretty darn amazing, life-altering, trip at the end of March. I found another local band to love, and I followed them all the way down to Santa Fe, New Mexico just to see them play in the infamous (in my crowd) Meow Wolf. Looking back at my own stories, I am very surprised to see that I have yet to discuss the band, Itchy-O….SHAME ON ME!!

Itchy-O is an experience. Whether you are trying to just listen to them, or looking them up online, or you are actually there, you will never be really ready for what you are about to encounter. The way that I describe them, is, “They’re a marching band on crack…and acid.” To put it another way, they are like a marching band on steroids, and their vibe is cerebral, to say the least. There are about forty members in the band, and every single one of them wears a mask–complete anonymity. (I happen to now know several members of the band–they have been unmasked–but I am not allowed to publicly mention their names, haha.) The main instruments are drums and computer-generation-manipulation of sounds. Most of the band members invade the crowd, their “instruments” being mobile–some carrying their drums like on-the-front backpacks, others with a “table” strapped to their chests to hold their laptops and giant amplifying speakers on their backs–or just being creepy wraith-esque figures dancing/ crawling/ disturbingly still tucked in a corner to startle you. The only exception to the rule of them all infiltrating the crowd are those with the BIG drums–they are usually on the stage or somewhere where they can be the central focus.

I have been to several Itchy-O concerts….you could say that I am something of a groupie, hahaha! And the show never gets old, honestly. My favorite part? When you suddenly stop being an individual and become part of the whole. It was rather startling the first time! I mean, if you have read any of my blogs, then you know that I am a dark, proud, daring individual; I like being able to stand out from the crowd. But an Itchy-O concert is different…

It really is hard to explain, but the best similarity I can think of is how a crowd feels during a ceremonial practice. I know, I know…there aren’t a lot of those in our mainstream world anymore, so look it up, haha. Check out the Maasai Adumu Ceremony (don’t forget that I work at a museum, hahaha!). Anyway, there comes a moment during an Itchy-O concert where the individual ceases to exist. You form one consciousness, move together as one–feel every soul and molecule of energy converge into one giant seething mass of feel-good unity. It’s breathtaking!

Although no mere words could ever be enough to truly capture the experience that is Itchy-O, lets move on to Meow Wolf…where again, no mere words could ever be enough to adequately describe that experience.

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Meow Wolf is an “art-collective”, nestled in Santa Fe, New Mexico. According to Wikipedia, it was established in 2008 by a collection of artists who desired to provide their city with a unique art house and music venue. But I did not know any of this when I headed down there, so let me attempt to explain the experience in my own words, while still keeping the mystery alive enough that you all will have to venture down there yourselves, without any spoilers…

I will start at the beginning: I woke up the morning I was supposed to leave for my trip, to my brother panicking that he couldn’t get out of the driveway because of snow! What? I admit it, I was stressed TFO! Well not to mention that up until that point, I was dealing with my father’s health issues, I had gotten into that age-old trap of being annoyed and complaining about my job and therefore hating it, and “The One” (see https://funkylollipop.com/2016/08/11/can-i-read-my-book-please/) came back and left twice since November and this last breakup was over the trip to Meow Wolf–so yeah, you could say I was very close to a breakdown, haha! In any case, the panicked wake up call started the day off bad, and then an insensitive text from my brother’s boss to my brother, but recieved on my phone because his phone doesn’t work at our house, sent me over the edge! Basically, I responded rather harshly and then immediately apologized (in a mean way) but my brother’s boss must be an amazing person because he felt that I “seemed stressed”, so he bought me a giant bottle of wine and made my brother promise to make sure I had a great weekend. This, of course, made me bawl like a baby, lbvs! So from that moment on, I promised myself that I was going to do just that–have a great stress free weekend.

By the afternoon the snow had cleared up completely–yay Colorado! So, four people and a dog left Colorado around 10:00 Friday evening, in a nice little rental car, because all of us drive older cars that we do not trust to take out of state, haha! We headed south, (I left my stress and pain at the Colorado State line) and after a few–sometimes questionable–rest stops, we made it to our buddy’s hotel room at around 4:00 am Saturday morning, in Santa Fe, NM. We had a lovely two-bed room, and five people and a Scruffy to sleep in it. I got to share a bed with only one other person (who happened to be a handsome fellow) and the dog, so I was happy.

The next day we went to lunch at a vegan-friendly Mexican restaurant for our newly vegan boy (it was yummy, haha, even though I still had meat.) Then half of us went to peruse the random shops, while the boys and the dog went to sniff out that skate park! (I found an awesome shop called “Mira’s” but it might as well have been named “Rachel’s” it was so perfect.) Around five, we met back at the hotel to greet the three new-comers who would bring our hotel-room occupants total up to eight people and a dog!! Talk about a packed house! Thankfully, these three brought an air mattress for them to share, hahaha!

The best part was that our hotel was within walking distance of Meow Wolf, so I dug into that gifted bottle of wine, before we headed down. We showed up a little bit early, so we could traverse the venue…but little did we know, we could have come as soon as they opened, and still would not have enough time to catch it all.

Built in an old bowling ally, Meow Wolf is vast and full of mystery. Around every corner, in every nook and cranny, through every hidden fireplace and cupboard under the stairs, a new wonder waits to be discovered. Even the bathrooms were a place of fantasy and visual excitement. Several worlds merge into one under the high warehouse-esque ceilings, and stepping over the threshold imbibes in you the sheer joy and innocence of a child on a Wonderland adventure.

Then you add Itchy-O, and you suddenly have a heady mix of mystique and euphoria.

At one point, one of our buddies had a bit too much fun, and we lost him. What could have been a major bummer that we were missing some of the show, ended up being a blessing in disguise, since the hidden recesses of Meow Wolf were abandoned for the Itchy-O show in the center. We discovered rooms that we had missed in our quick inspection before the show. My favorite room, of course, was the Eyeball Room, in which singular orbs of every size and description graced the surface of the rounded cave-like room. But that wasn’t all to see….

The amazing night ended, and we all trooped back to the hotel, and we found our lost friend soon thereafter, so everything was good. After a quick dip in the pool with some fellow Colorado pals and customers at the same hotel, we all went to bed. Eight people and a Scruff, two beds and an air mattress–one big happy family.

After a scattered morning, the eight of us (and a Scruff), left in our respective vehicles, to head home. We stopped for a quick bite at an Indian vegan restaurant (yes, readers, I ate a meal without meat…), then got back on I-25 for the long trip home. This time, I was the one who drove first (I did drive about an hour in the wee hours of Saturday morn), because my car-mates had a little bit more fun than I did, haha, so they all fell asleep, leaving me to enjoy the drive by myself. Which I certainly did, for it had been a very long time since I’d had that much time to think all to myself. Deciding I was happy driving, I drove the whole eight hours, while they mostly slept.

I had several epiphanies on that drive. Again, if you have read any of my blogs, then you know that I am very capable of dark, painful thoughts. I’ve seen some things in my lifetime that have left me sad and fairly broken. But I have also always said, “Everything happens for a reason.” Well, either I believe that theory, or I don’t. If I do–and for sanity’s sake I think I better–then every single bad experience was meant to be, meant for me. Lessons learned, life taught….every death, every bad relationship….was meant for me to make me who I am.

For example, all of the breakups with The One–meant to be. I had buried my heart in anger, after my mom died. He was the one who helped me find it again. (“It does exist!”) I didn’t know how much I actually wasn’t feeling. I mean, I know I love my friends, and I enjoy all the good times that we have–but I wasn’t actually feeling it. It was like a facade, window dressing on an abandoned building. And what would it take to break through my healthy coating of anger? Love and pain, of course! I cannot fault him for anything though. Once I left the pain on the state border, all I was left with is love, and that is what I brought back with me from Santa Fe. Love–love that actually hurts with it’s severity and sincerity–for everyone and everything. Even my anger at “the powers that be” has left me. It also made me realize how scared I actually was. I have been on a lifelong search for love, but it scares the heck out of me, and it always has. For to love, you become vulnerable to that person–the absence of their love can hurt you. Death is an old family friend, and he comes often for a visit. Because this is what I know, my impatience to start living the “happily ever after, ” is expounded! So I have the impatience, but I am terrified of loving someone, so I don’t actually tell them, but then I have ridiculous expectations in which they must live up to. *Sigh* I had no idea I was so confusing, lbvs!

The moral of the story is….sometimes adventures are weird from the get go. Itchy-O = Weird, Meow Wolf = Weird. Itchy-0 + Meow Wolf = Best Weirdness of Your Life!! And sometimes beauty is born out of that weirdness…life-altering beauty.

I had such an amazing trip, and I strongly suggest visiting Meow Wolf and witnessing Itchy-O live. It will be something you cannot forget.

 

These Big Strong Hands

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Copyright Adagio Teas http://www.adagio.com

 

“They look like big strong hands. Don’t they?” ~Rockbiter from The Neverending Story.

I think of my mother’s hands every time I hear this quote, or any phrase containing the words, “big strong hands.” She had beautiful hands, and they were big and strong. My mother was 5’11”, and every inch of that large frame was pure strength. However, I loved her hands the most. They were the hands that soothed me–their vastness covering my entire head as she played with my hair until I fell asleep. They were the hands that I watched intensely whenever she was teaching me something new, whether it be sewing or cooking or cleaning, whatever. While being a waitress (different times, but that is the term she used proudly), they were the hands I watched handle those giant, food-laden trays, like they were nothing more than pillows. The hands I witnessed her wash, at least fifty times a day (food industry! I am a victim of this habit as well!) The hands with long strong fingers, with which she would thump me if I were getting out of line. Piano hands, they were once called, although she never really learned–despite grandma’s dream of turning her five children into a real life Partridge Family Band. (The youngest got the accordion! But she was an award-winner, so you can’t poke fun.) Strong nails, of which I was so jealous, strong hands, that I thought would be around forever….I miss those hands…

Every woman in my family has beautiful big strong hands…except for me, hahaha! Well, they’re certainly strong–fair warning if I clutch your hand or arm for any reason, I could possibly break it, lbvs–but they are definitely more on the little side. For years I watched my mother, her sisters, and their mother, cut potatoes and the like–in their hands–with ease! I tried this method this past weekend (corned beef and potatoes, duh!) and it certainly didn’t work out the way I wanted it to! I didn’t cut myself or anything, but my quartered potatoes were all different sizes…which doesn’t cut it, according to all this stuff I watch on Food Network, hahaha. But the experience made me think of my mother, and how much I missed her big strong hands….

So here’s to all the women who possess big strong hands. Whether they are used for comfort, for child-rearing, for music, for cooking, for expression, for kneading the tar out of some homemade noodles, or for manual labor–I salute you!

Amber: My Sister Through My Eyes

amberAmber’s life began on June 28, 1975.  As soon as she could walk and talk, her enthusiasm for, sweetness to and curiosity about other people were immediately apparent.  She never knew what a stranger was, if you turned your back on her for a moment you were sure to turn back and find her striking up a conversation with whoever happened to be passing by.  I can picture her as that little girl and I can picture her by her mothers side always wanting to help, the true personification of Mothers little helper, always wanting to be of service.

These two qualities that defined her as a child, the interest in others and the genuine desire to help them and make their lives easier, continued to define her, no matter what hardships she endured, throughout her life. 

There was another side to her greatest strengths, as is so often the case with all of us, they were also her greatest obstacles.  Amber’s selflessness and self-sacrifice caused her to perhaps give too much while not asking for enough in return.  The great stores of energy she drew on to work an increasingly demanding and exhausting job, while raising her kids, and caring for her family were eventually drained.  Her body was more frail than she realized and her will alone was not enough to sustain her.  In addition her innocence and her complete lack of guile which allowed her to see and expect the best in others left her vulnerable to hurts, a heart like hers could not make sense of, and she at times blamed herself for the failings of others.  But no matter what the cost she would not abandon that innate loving kindness and sweetness.  

It is no wonder that, as her health began to fail and she could no longer keep up with the demands of her Title Insurance job, she went back to school to work in healthcare.  After graduating first in her class she decided to pursue working with cancer patients and in that she found what she considered to be her true calling.  She choose healthcare because she cared deeply and passionately about all those who crossed her path and because she had suffered she had vast stores of empathy and compassion for others who were suffering.  She became a true friend to her patients and their families and she liked to think that she, in some small way, shared their burden and by doing so made it lighter.  When her health continued to deteriorate to the point where she could no longer do that job she mourned it for the rest of her life.

Even this loss did not take away her sweet spirit and she continued to pour her love and care into her children, her family and her pets.  She became quite active on social media and was a tireless cheerleader for others, always striving to make them feel loved and celebrated.  She was, in the last months of her life, contemplating writing a book in order to share her triumphs and tragedies, letting people know they were not alone and still trying to help as many people as she could.

Amber’s life had its hardships and was far too short, but all those that knew her felt blessed by that knowledge. Her sweetness , her kindness, her innocence, her lack of guile and her generous heart were so special they could not be ignored.  She is gone from this world but her influence remains with us and if we can, through her example, open our hearts to love freely and to treat each other with compassion and forgiveness, she will have achieved her true aim in life, she will have helped forever all those she loved.

Amber’s life ended at home surrounded by people and animals she loved, her parents, her son and her beagles.  She will be so sorely missed.

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Can I Read MY Book, Please?

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(Hahaha, Philosophy Sunday on a Thursday! Thought I’d shake it up a bit!)

I love reading. I always have. My mom taught me how to read before I went to kindergarten; before I was five years old. She encouraged this passion, and I indulged in it to an almost ridiculous degree. In fact, if and when I did get in trouble, my mother threatened to take away my books, hahaha. That was the trigger, the threat, that I would need to get myself in line.

I have tread the literary waters a bit, but the genre my attention gravitates toward the most is the fantasy/horror/paranormal romance bit (are you surprised?). Dragons, unicorns, fairies, ghosts, vampires, and werewolves–these are the creatures I desire in “my world”–the world in which my imagination thrives. Magic and mayhem, death and eternal life, frightening situations and battles to the death. A world where true love–for forever love–exists, flourishes, and never dies–even if they have to battle through hell itself to save it.

Hmmmm….I wonder why I have such high expectations for my love life….

I love reading. I love books. I love traversing the various paths of the fictional wonderland illustrated in the pages. I escape into my books. I fall in love with the characters, and crave to know the ending of their story. I love how books highlight the necessary information–how the good authors will only tell you something if it is important. Irrelevant information is not included, unless it is simply a tool to take you in the wrong direction to give you a surprise ending. I love that. I love the foreshadowing. I love getting little snippets of one’s past, bestowed like gifts so you may understand the character a little more; fall in love (or hate, for that matter) just a little bit more.

I love relating to the characters. I am currently reading the final book in the White Rabbit Chronicles by Gena Showalter. In the first three books, Alice in ZombielandThrough the Zombie Glass, and Queen of Zombie Hearts, Ali Bell was the star. Written in first person, you literally saw the world through Ali’s point of view. I thought she and I were two peas in a pod….until I started reading the fourth book, A Mad Zombie Party. In this book, the viewpoint changes, and multiplies. Now we are seeing the world through Frosty and Milla’s eyes. Thought to be secondary characters–I mean, Frosty is Ali’s boyfriend’s best friend and her best friend’s boyfriend, and Milla is the rival “gang” leader’s little sister–a gang I wasn’t even aware of really, until the third book–they suddenly take center stage, and I’ll be damned if I don’t relate to those two even more than I did with Ali Bell.

See, with Ali, she had lost her entire family in an accident that she felt was all her fault. Blaming yourself for a loved one’s demise–whether it be literal death, or something just as life-altering–is a gig I have been playing for a long time. I blame myself for my mother’s death, my grandmother’s death, my brother’s addictions, my father’s health… Whether or not any of it is valid is beside the point. That is the way that I feel and it is a heavy burden to carry. So I connected with Ali in that sense. Also, at the time I began this series (about two months ago), I was embarking on a new love affair, and the connection between Ali and violet-eyed Cole seemed to be on par with mine. (I’m sure that this didn’t help during the inevitable end of my love affair. Cole and Ali were “meant to be” in their world. Even when they broke up and eventually got back together (ok, Cole never let her go, and again, awesome books let you know why he did what he did)…part of me is still waiting for the reconciliation in my life, and I find that expectation painful.)

Cut! Bring in the next feature, and you have Milla and Frosty. Milla seriously messed up in the third book. In fact, Queen of the Zombie Hearts, ends with a strong feeling of hatred towards little Miss Milla! And Frosty, a volatile character to begin with, has gone off the deep end by succumbing to his shattered heart. I connect with both of them. Frosty doesn’t want to cheer up, because to him that would be doing the memory of his loss a disservice. To actually live without that person is a gross injustice. It has taken me a long time to realize that that is what I still do with my mother. I will forever be the sad little girl who watched her mother die, if I cannot find the desire to live without her. Truly live. As far as Milla goes, she committed to the horrific plan that was literally the cause of Frosty’s pain, for an excellent reason–in an effort to protect her brother. Of course this resonates with me, since my brother is my “air”–I need him in my life! I’d do anything for him.

Another reason I identify with Milla–guys tend to hit it and quit it. No one ever stays. And although Milla has a decently strong concept of her self-worth–she knows she’s pretty dang awesome, especially with zombie slaying–her self-image is tarnished by these boys’ rejection. Yup…I get that. Can you really be that awesome if people are willing to leave you? It makes you focus on your faults and hold yourself accountable for every wrong deed you have ever committed. (So bad if you’re the type of person who takes the blame for everything!) See, even the universe thinks you deserve nothing but loneliness; punishment for your crimes against humanity!

Which, in my usual roundabout way, brings me to my point. Can I read my story, please? Funky’s Story, The Story of Rachel Campbell? Can I know the important clues, the relevant incidents, that will lead me to my destiny? Which signs am I supposed to follow? What can I do to get what I want, and is what I want actually what I need? What I deserve? Do I not deserve it? What is my life path?

I have been avoiding blogging. First, because I was wrapped up in my new love affair; then because of the violent end of that love affair. I knew I would write about it, and I am, of course, but hopefully I do it in such a way that it doesn’t leave me more broken.

See, with this one, the signs were there. Ok, ok, I can find the signs anywhere, let’s be honest. I can fall in love with someone’s potential loooong before they deserve it, and long before I will even admit to myself that I am in love. If you have read any of my blogs before, then you have a basic idea about “the ex”, “the one who hurt me the most”, “the one who hurt me first”, and the one who is just plain mean. Now there is the recent one, the legend, that I am just having the hardest time getting over.

So earlier this year, as some of you know, I was fed up with the reconciliation with both the mean one and the one who hurt me first. I was also fed up with my self-imposed celibacy, so when I received my invitation for a wedding in another state, I decided then and there that I would be getting some tail. Little did I know it would be the best man, and that I would actually find out he’s amazing.

We meshed right away. Our conversations were good, and we seemed to genuinely enjoy each other’s company. We had similar beliefs, similar experiences, and similar “life goals.” Granted, those goals weren’t the healthiest of ambitions, but we were on the same page nonetheless. I’m not sure what he thought about me, but I just thought he was one of the sexiest men I had ever seen in real life. (I should have realized then that I was already trying to fall.) I had gone into the situation thinking it was a one-time affair (both times that vacation, I thought it was a one-time thing…hahaha), but lo and behold, we actually lived in the same state. In fact, we lived 16 miles away from each other.

Looking at this from an avid reader’s perspective, (and an incurable hopeless romance enthusiast) this was the first really big sign. How do I travel to another state, to find a guy that actually lives near me? And even there, guests at the wedding asked us if we were together, because we “vibed” so well. (I think it was the fact that my hair matched his hat, hahaha!) Maybe if we stayed out there, we could have lasted…because all we did was come back home to the demons we so forcibly left behind…

I didn’t expect him to call when he got back, but you can bet I was waiting with bated breath, hoping that he did. Well, he did. The connections continued. In the stories I read, introducing someone to your friends is a pretty major thing. Well that was the first thing he did, and it was an afternoon of “your girlfriend” jokes, and me being awkward and shy around his people. Then the next call came, and the next. Turns out we also have similar political views, and we have some of the same darkness running through our veins. We could hang.

Then came the BIG signs–the ones that I consciously look for/ recognize: His hometown state is the same one that my uncle was from–the only man my aunt ever loved. Also the state that my BFF is currently residing and where she met her hubby. (You can bet that I imagined us traveling up there together to visit both of our families.) His initials are the same as the actress who plays my all time favorite television star. He is into motorcycles. We both have a degree in video production from the Art Institute, and we both are doing nothing with it. We both also have the same pipe-dream for what we would like to do with that degree. Music, movies…we clicked. He also had the sense to hypothetically worry about his parents possibly dying–something I encourage since I know first hand that it can and will happen, and it sucks. Best to mind those relationships while you can.

And we talked about the big stuff too. Like marriage and children. I’m not sure how long it has been since I have touched on that subject with you all, but I recently have come to the conclusion that I desire neither. My world lost four children this year–two did not have the chance to really grow even inside the womb, but it still hurts. And the other two…one was a three-year-old who drowned, and the other was a month old and passed from SIDS. I had only met one of these kids once, the three-year-old; but their parents are important enough to me that every single one of these deaths hit me like a pile of bricks. If I can’t handle my friend losing their child, then how can I possibly attempt to bring my own into the world? Point being, I won’t. Mr. Legend had the same viewpoint, essentially. No marriage, no kids. I mean, that right there was the real kicker for me, because how are you supposed to tell a man that you desire neither his name nor his seed?

But something went wrong. Somewhere we lost it. But here I was thinking, subconsciously mostly–it really hit me when he broke it off–that I had found the one. Not even two months together, and I have to admit that I honestly had that thought. And the end was violent (not physically, but emotionally. It was meant to wound, to sever) and mean. Not as mean as it could have been, but I was so confused by the ending to begin with, it crushed me. I was seriously angry too.

But it has been a whole month without him. If he missed me, he would contact me, right? Granted, I miss him and I have behaved myself admirably! (Ok, I did send the last three messages, all unanswered. Two at the end of our fight, and one on the day of the only date he ever planned for us, and took away. I couldn’t help it then. I can now, because even my pathetic-ness has limits.) But I can’t stop missing him…

And this is where the desire to read my own book comes in. I want to know what I did wrong. I want to know if I misread the signs. Because this one felt different. Oh, I know, “they always feel different!” I’m not the only woman/man/human to have ever felt like this one is different, that this breakup is wrong…but it just feels sooooo wrong! I know I am also obsessed with wondering why. I have been asking the universe for years why this world works the way that it does. Why people suck so much. Why do I have the life that I do? But I also know that, because I don’t get the answers I crave, I blame the universe–fate–for hating on me! I feel like Perseus in The Clash of the Titans, sometimes. The whole, “God doesn’t give you what you can’t handle,” makes me want to scream, “I am not Superman!!” However, I am beginning to realize that this is a problem as well…how can fate reward me if I don’t have faith in its plan? If I don’t trust it not to screw me over?

So, is it me? Was it my own self-fulfilling prophesy that started the end? Was it him? Did I miss the red flags? Am I ignoring them? Focusing on the good? Yes and no. My scale of bad differs from most, and do really try to focus on the good. Was it the fact that I can’t not find myself attracted to an addict of some flavor? (Again with the signs–and this one Lollipop disagrees with wholeheartedly–I feel like my one is an addict, because that would explain why I have soooo much experience with addicts. Lollipop feels that I don’t have lasting relationships because I only date addicts. But I get addicts, despite my lack of qualifying addictions.) Am I still too hurt from my mom’s passing? How can I expect someone to feel like they can’t live without me, if I want to live without me?

Can I just read the test, so I know what lessons I should be learning? Skip to the ending and just scan it so I know what to look out for? Or can I scan his book so I know how he really felt?

Was it fated to end as such?

Ugh…needless to say, this past month has been rather hard on this old heart. (I turn 32 real soon!!) However, I will say that the entire month and a half long relationship was a good thing. A necessary thing to happen. It has stirred up some stuff in this noggin, and maybe ripped a band-aid off of my heart–I had promised myself that I wouldn’t feel that kind of loss again, after my mom died. It seriously surprised me that I grieved for Legend. It is actually nice to know that I can feel that way for someone who is not my mother, lbvs. It is nice to know that I am capable of falling in love with someone who didn’t know my mother at all. Or even know me when I had my mother.

Just give me a clue to get to the end of this chapter, please…

 

Dissecting Understanding Part X: Lover Not A Fighter

 

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It has been awhile since I have written a Philosophy Sunday post, but a lot of stuff has happened in the meantime…

It seems like an odd topic, considering that it is Independence Day Weekend, and it was nothing but fighting that allowed us to keep this awesome country of ours! I probably should be writing a blog about just how awesome this country is–but with all of the political hullabaloo…I’m just not into it, lbvs! (Laughing but very serious.) So love it is…

I fall in love very easily. And not romantically, either! (Hahaha, you could potentially wait years for me to even admit that to myself!) I fall in love with people easily.

In my heart of hearts, I love people. I know that I jokingly say, “People Suck!” quite frequently–and sometimes they do!!–but overall, people are my favorite hobby. I love how different they are. I love to meet new people, to try and figure them out–why are you the way that you are? I like to find people from all walks of life, just to see what their stories could teach me…

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everydaypowerblog.com

I’ll own up to a little bit of prejudice in this area, however. The people I really love are the weirdos, the eccentrics, the artists, the musicians, the nerds…and I am a total sucker for darkness. This, of course, can make for an awkward conversation: “So tell me about the worst thing that ever happened to you and how it has affected your life…” Lucky for me, most of “the weirdos” have all seen tragedy, thus making them weird!

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t love every single weirdo I have ever met–I have met some seriously interesting people!! (Most of them at bus stops.) But for the ones who do manage to slip underneath my wall…they tend to be very beautiful–at least in my eyes.

I love a person with an expanded consciousness–someone who can’t actually “think inside the box.” I love a person unafraid to stand up for what they believe in (as long as they’re not an a-hole about it). I love a person unashamed of their art (without being pretentious). I love a person who is unable to hold strong opinions because they are too busy learning new things, and seeing both sides, to really have the ability to commit to a limited point of view. I love people who see beauty in the world around them. People who would rather get lost in a forest than a mall. I love a person who believes in themselves. I love a person who has seen the devil and has lived to tell the tale. I love your scars. I love the messed up people. The people who have tried to drown their sorrows, and the ones that still do.

I love the imperfect people…

I came to the realization that I am not perfect a long time ago, and I never strive to be. I am definitely the type of person who wears my weirdo on the outside, so that you are aware of it’s existence as soon as we meet.

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~Lydia Deetz—Broken, Beaten, and Scarred But Not Giving Up via Facebook

 

We are all imperfect, and we should be unashamedly so!

So here is your challenge: try to love people instead of judging them and fighting them on their beliefs. This doesn’t mean that everyone then becomes a part of your world…no, not that. I just mean that you should take a moment, take a breather, and just appreciate that person for the effed up individual that they are…because everyone is beautiful…

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What’s the Event? Specialized Makeup From Your Favorite Funky Artist

If you don’t already know, then I will say it again, I work at a museum. I love my job! But my favorite thing about it is that they encourage my job-dedication-through-my-face-mantra, meaning that they love how I do my makeup for work. (They may cringe just a little during Halloween, hahaha!) They love the animal prints–especially since we are a wildlife museum! But they also love the special looks that I create to support our special events! Here are just a few:

#1: Dog Sled Race Day

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Of course, Iditarod-themed makeup is not one that I have the chance to practice for all of the time, haha! However, I don’t think that my Siberian Husky and dog-sled are too horrible, and the kiddos seemed to love it!! The first picture is of Lollipop and I with Ghost from the Colorado Wolf Adventures!

#2: Princess Bride

For this one, I simply looked up the cover that I liked best, and tried to replicate it on my face. Yes, it was hard! There is no easy way to make legible letters on your own face using liquid eyeliner and a mirror! The only tip I would give, which may only apply to me, is to not overthink it. Another tool that I used was my silly fascination with writing upside-down and backwards!! (Thankfully for my brother, my upside-down-backwards handwriting looks like his normal handwriting, hahaha!) I never did try to flip the pics to see if it was also legible upside-down, like the actual title is…

#3: The Terminator

The Terminator was actually a super difficult movie for me to get an idea for makeup for!! I may be fairly talented, but even I can’t imagine trying to put the metal monster on my face!! Maybe I will try again, someday… So instead, I tracked down Bill Paxton’s character, and put tire tracks on my face!! This movie is still one of my all time faves, and my number one favorite love story! (Yeah, I don’t know why I am single either!)

#4: The Little Mermaid

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I know that I did a specific blog for this makeup, so I won’t go into too much detail. This one, like all of the Disney Princess looks that I do, started with Google, and finding an image I want to replicate. It is very very difficult to copy an image onto a face–it is not a flat piece of paper! It is especially difficult to copy it from a mirror onto a face, but practice does make perfect!

#5: Aladdin

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Now, the movie Aladdin has many different characters in which to choose from. Part of me wanted to stick with Jasmine, since it was a princess party. Another part of my wanted to do Aladdin, since he is the one for which the movie is named for. But there was also Abu, Iago, and Rajah…I do love the tiger print. In the end, however, I went with the real star of the show, Genie!! Most especially because Robin Williams was one of the greatest actors, comedians, and all around good person! I love him and his is a tragic loss.

#6: Frozen

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I saved this one for the last of the Disney movies, because this one was definitely the most difficult to recreate. Most Disney movies are regular 2D cartoons! Frozen is not. The CG characters have more realistic features, and you cannot imagine how difficult that mouth was! But here is my facial rendition of Elsa! Not the best, but I think that that is okay!

#7: Spring Celebration–Bunny Brunch

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This year, I got an extra treat, because I was asked last minute to be the face-painter for our spring celebration event! Of course, I put a ton of pressure on myself, haha! But I managed it! My first time ever painting someone else’s little face turned out to be a success! Every time I even tried to explain how it was my first time, the person would say, “Well you do your own makeup, right? This should be easy!” Hahaha, it was a blast! Of course, I had to make an example out of my own face, though!!

Famous in a Small Town: Kyle

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If you are a follower of my blogs, then you will know that I have recently fallen in love with my small town again. I have had a love/hate relationship with my town for the entirety of the almost 25 years that I have lived here. Recently, I have discovered that I appreciate the quiet, the open space, the abundance of wildlife, and, in my case, the virtually drama-free state of my little cultisac. I mean, it is already well-known that Colorado is one of the coolest states ever, (that is why so many are flocking here), but there is so much more to the red-state than the majestic Rocky Mountains, our Superbowl 50 Champions: The Broncos, and legalized marijuana! Sometimes it may seem to be hard to find, but nestled away in little pockets all over the state, are these tight-knit small-towners who have known each other for most of their lives and still tend to cluster, still think of each other as family–The Elizabethians!!

Now I am absolutely sure that my small town isn’t the only group of people who still claim their hometown friends, still live with their hometown friends, and who only seem to party with their hometown friends–no matter what city they are in, or whether they intentionally ran that far away just to escape the hometown friends! Despite everything, Elizabethians still tend to travel in packs. We gravitate towards each other, and we cannot seem to escape nor forget. There may be different groups scattered here and there, but when we gather, we GATHER!! And I love it.

Me “loving it,” wasn’t always so. It was another of those love/hate aspects of being an Elizabethian. But, like several other characteristics that I had once loathed about my town, I have very recently come to absolutely adore this quality. How? Where? At one of the most unlikeliest–or at least surprising–of places: A fellow Elizabethian’s funeral.

Exactly one month after I passed the 6-year anniversary of my mother’s death, the Elizabethian community suffered another loss–Kyle. (I will not include his full name, nor his picture, out of respect for the family’s privacy.)

Kyle was honestly the most genuinely joyous people that I had ever met. Witty, outgoing, and a bright engaging goofy smile that you just couldn’t help but return. He was a jokester, and he had a knack for making people laugh despite their best intentions. His own laugh was hilarious all on it’s own–a pure chortle that just invited returned giggles. Even when he was getting into trouble, he’d manage to make the authority figure laugh, or smile, or at the very least, take away their fire so as to make them slightly guilty instead, that they have to punish such a likable guy. In fact, the former in-school-suspension-supervisor was the pastor for his funeral, and there was nothing but love from his lips. Yes, pastors are supposed to only spout love, but knowing this man personally, I could tell that he genuinely liked Kyle. But who didn’t? Kyle was golden. A truly beautiful soul. Obviously not perfect, but just one smile or stupid joke, and he could melt the coldest heart, ease the most bitter pain.

The turn-out was utterly amazing for this guy! It was a sizable church, and we had it packed! A lot of people had to stand. A lot of tears. A lot of familiar faces. But what really surprised me was the generational span of Kyle’s mourners.

Three years separated Kyle and I in age, maybe four in grade, but I was not the oldest of his high-school acquaintances, and Kyle’s age group definitely was not the youngest. If I had to venture a guess, I would say at least twelve years of Elizabethian graduates attended! I mean, I am Class of ’02, and I recognized some of my brother’s class, which is Class of ’10, and even younger. How can a person be loved by that vast of an expanse of ages? Because he was Kyle. And because we are Elizabethians. And this particular faction of alumni, is one of the largest and close-knit. I cannot even begin to comprehend how many hugs I gave and received yesterday. How many, “Oh my gawd! How have you been?” ‘s that I heard. It was beautiful. And I know that there were a few bad feelings for particulars–grudges–that have endured throughout the years for a few of this giant group of people, but it did not matter. None of that mattered, because of Kyle. At least, that is what I think. We were all united in the loss of Kyle, and we were united in remembering Kyle for the type of person he was.

I’ll admit, I was not as close to Kyle as most of the people there (I was on the outskirts of the cool kids until my brother initiated me once he became a cool kid, hahaha!). Kyle and I rode the same bus. However, what got him a permanent place in my heart, was that he never forgot me and never turned on me. Whenever I saw him, I was rewarded with his bright goofy smile, and an embrace that made me feel like I was loved and cherished. Maybe he really did love and cherish me–or maybe he was just that awesome, that he made everyone feel loved and cherished. Which in turn, made people love and cherish him. Never before have I seen such an amicable anything (least of all service), with that diverse of a crowd. Yeah, we all know each other, but still…

So Kyle, you have once again performed an act of beauty–you made me love being able to call myself a part of this particular crowd of Elizabethians. We probably are one of the craziest groups–wild and weird and down for whatever. Thankfully, by putting ourselves in the situations that we have, we are even more connected because we have seen each other at our very worst, and we still have love. Thank you Kyle. You will be sorely missed by so many hearts. To truly know you, was to love you. Just can’t help it.

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