Keep calm…

… do yoga, follow a mindfulness class, meditate, relax, ….

As I have a year of blogging behind me, I want to go back to the basics, to that thing that pushed me towards blogging, my burnout.
I suffered from the symptoms long before my doctor ordered me to stay home, told me I was sick.
There were the crying parts, the shouting to anyone and no one in particular as long as they “caught” me in the wrong moment, there was the tiredness, the hyperventilation, the fears, the panic attacks, the “what am I doing” phenomenon, the mistakes, the angriness about these mistakes… you name it, I got it!

It was high time somebody called an end to that.
But it’s much easier said than done, as a matter of fact it’s huge, it’s difficult, it’s suffering, Burnout and mental problems are challenging their victim over and over again. Not in the least because the world around you doesn’t “see” there’s something “wrong” with you…  A mental health problem doesn’t show like, let’s say, a broken arm…  Especially also because people having such problems, most of the time put great effort in not showing…  It’s a vicious circle.

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I’m almost 2 years later now, and time has a healing power of its own.  The memories of the job I wasn’t up to anymore that had caused the melt down, have faded in the meantime. Burnout, meltdown… they go well together don’t you think?
I guess minds are made that way: what’s been horrible, they tend to push away or hang on to, or a mixture of both…
The hatred (I don’t use that word often or lightly) towards the people who did that to me  – for sure I wasn’t the sole responsible – faded too, a bit anyway.
But I will never be the same again.  Not only because I couldn’t anymore, but because I don’t want to go down that hectic, workaholic, manic road again.
When I look at myself back then, I’m looking at “somebody that I used to know”.

Does this mean I’m totally cured now? Not by far.
Things got better, other things came in its place.  The diagnosis Fibromyalgia for instance in November last year.
After a long and winding road, from one doctor to the next, there finally was a name for all my aches and pains.  Did it change much? No, not really because there isn’t a “one cure fits all”.  There isn’t a pill you can take that makes it magically go away.
It’s a learning process and I’m right in the middle of it.  Searching my new me, a new rhythm, peace and quiet.  Getting to terms with the fact that I can’t do anymore what I used to, that everything has to be done in small doses, and that sometimes – many times – there is a huge difference between what I planned and what I can accomplish.

I’ve never been the one who can keep her calm in every moment.  Gosh how I admire people who can.
But, I  have to learn to accept that I have my own temperament, my own dynamics.  I’m a terrible, terrible perfectionist (in case you wonder where the title of this blog comes from…), a control person, and hyper sensitive.
So, in order to cope with the fibro problem in combination with my personality, I have to learn… learn hard and work hard.
Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t.  And when fears or worries hit me once again, they hit hard.

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It’s rather funny actually, as nowadays you can’t open a magazine, put on your tv or someone – preferably a psychiatrist – is telling you that mindfulness is the solution to all problems, that you have to create “me” time, that you have to “let go”, relax, go with the flow, meditate, do some yoga in order to be happy…
Did you notice too that we have to be happy like alllllll the time, that we have forgotten how to be sad, that we aren’t even allowed anymore to be sad….  That we get unhappier because we are not able to feel happy all the time…  All that happiness is making us crazy!

Well I think I’ve tried all those things, learned a lot, bought and read tons of books and picked something up here and there that lasted.  There’s the Morning Pages (Julia Cameron) I try to do as much as possible (except when life interferes), there’s the much slower pace for everything (from cleaning to driving), there’s the not trying to panic when work didn’t get done…
And then there’s yoga, that I picked up since December last year.  It helps.  It helps me in a way no other relaxation program did before.  All other stuff started with: you feel heavy, you feel relaxed, you feel your muscles let loose, think of nothing, don’t let thoughts interfere….
My gosh, I felt more insecure, incomplete and a total failure after every exercise.  I didn’t feel any of those things, not really anyway.  My thoughts didn’t just halt, they just kept coming, no matter how many boats I fantasized to float away with them on that river of tranquility…
And when the exercise was “done” and my therapist asked me “And? did you feel the warmth? Did you feel how your arms got heavy?…” I had to say “no, not really”…  Again, I failed….

But yoga made me realize that I don’t ‘have to’ feel anything, that my thoughts won’t stop and – what’s important – that thoughts are normal, they’re o.k., I’m o.k….
What a difference!  I finally feel normal again, people’s minds don’t come with a “thoughts on/off button”, I have thoughts and am allowed to have them, as long as I acknowledge it, and can refocus… even if it takes a hundred retakes, it’s still fine.  Isn’t that great?

Well, I guess I will never become the calmest person in the world.  To myself I picture this as a football career.  Apart from Cruyff, Ronaldo, Messi and a handful other super talented guys, born with football in their veins, there are players who learned to become great.  They learned techniques, they learned to deal with all kinds of stuff and they became world famous players, but they will never become Cruyff, Ronaldo or Messi no matter how hard they try, or learn, or work.

And that’s my lesson for this year and many to come: learn the techniques, practice yoga, meditate and accept that I’m not perfect, that I’m not born with a natural calm and ease, that my  “go with the flow” will get easily interrupted by other flows…  And when those moments of weakness do come, panic might get the better of me again, hyperventilation probably will strike again…  But I will also realize that I have not totally failed.  That it was just another moment and that this too will pass.
For me that will be pretty awesome goals to reach, especially the acceptance part.

Wow, this was a long one.  For those who are still with me here, thanks for so much attention.
But I guess I just had to write this, from my heart…

Thanks guys! Have a nice weekend!

Marleen

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Pastel-ish

By now everybody visiting my blog now and then – for which I thank you all, I’m so grateful for that – knows that I follow some of Kim Klassen’s classes.  She is a constant source of inspiration.
For the moment Kim is all into a series called Downton Abbey.
I had to look it up because over here, in Belgium, we don’t know this series… yet.  I guess it will come soon.
It obviously is that good that it inspires Kim to make a texture series around it.

This week’s mission: use at least one of her new, Downton Abbey inspired textures.
I dove into my archives where a lot of pictures lie waiting to do something with them.
The one I used for this Texture Tuesday, dates from summer 2012, and the quote that accompanies it might do with a little explanation.  If only because it’s in Dutch ;-)

Our former queen, Fabiola (still alive), wrote a fairy tale book when she was still a young girl and not yet a queen.
12 Very beautiful tales that I liked to read and listen to when I was a little girl.  The book is called “The 12 wonderful Fairy Tales of Queen Fabiola” (free translation; the original title: “De twaalf wonderbaarlijke Sprookjes van Koningin Fabiola”).  One of them, about Indian Waterlilies, is depicted at the fairy tale garden, Efteling, in Holland.

The book also has wonderful illustrations and my mom’s favorite is a drawing of a young girl’s portrait.
When I was a kid we swapped friends books (we called them Poesies and they actually were Facebook avant la lettre) and every time I started a new one, my mom was always the first to draw something in it.
Her favorite quote to accompany such a drawing was: “Jeugd droomt het leven schoon” and it also appeared in Fabiola’s book.
I thought it looked nice on this picture.  A free translation of this quote: “Youth dreams life in a beautiful way”….

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How it was made?

  • a little tweaking of levels in LR, then brought into PS
  • added 3 layers of Kim’s Downton Abbey texture, Isobel.  2 x at 100% soft light blend mode, 1 x at 37% multiply
  • the three layers were treated with a little gaussian blur, to remove the brush structure a bit.

What I particularly like about the use of this beautiful, kind of rainbow colored texture, is that it gives the image’s background such a soft pastel coating.

I hope you like it too, and that it does justice to the series.

Marl1een.

Time for some striking colors

Lately I’m into soft tones, pastel hues, “light” light…
Harsh colors, deep reds have never been easy for me to capture, although I admire the more than beautiful tones of African tissues, Indian red-orange-purple satin fabrics.  I adore them.

Texture Tuesday prompted to make a picture with “popping” colors.
I tried different photos, from nature’s fresh tones to the deep folky colors.
I hesitated, edited a few but then remembered: stick to your first idea.

That’s what I did, and here it is: striking reds, purples, yellows and blues…. Hope you like it.

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How it was made?

slight exposure tweaking in LR
– added Kim Klassen’s Peony texture, as I wanted to keep the texture “in tone” with the rest of the picture.  And I was happy to see that Kim’s texture added some nice vignetting to it.  Blend mode: Color burn at 49%.  This rather strong blend mode made all the tones deeper and profounder.
– some slight dodging and burning
– little sharpening after down sizing for web.
That’s it.