2016 Timeline: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Seems like everyone is writhing in pain, talking about the horror show of 2016.  I think we're all just getting more cynical, because even though I have my fair share of whines and gripes, I have also had some flat-out amazing things happen this year.  I've done so much journeying, I've learned so much, I've met probably the finest people (and reconnected with some amazing ones) so I thought I might summarize it all in a timeline-esque form, trying to go as chronologically as possible.

-I became the proud owner of Luis Sera, my first car!
-I traveled to Sweden and became a Swedish resident.  Thanks Sweden, for -20F.  That was nice.
-I celebrated Valentine's Day alone with a hot dog, which I dropped on the ground as I exited the car.
-I left the abusive, sexist workplace I'd been in for over a year.
-I worked briefly as an armed officer and dealt with sexual harassment on a whole new level.
-I got the most amazing job offer.  And accepted, of course.
-I traveled to Vegas for Derik's birthday and we had a blast.
-Which is where I jumped off the Stratosphere a second time.
-I ended a really toxic relationship/friendship/something??  Why do we waste our time on people?

-Flemith was diagnosed with a congenital peritoneal-pericardial diaphragmatic hernia.
-He was subsequently treated with a lifesaving surgery thanks to the help of some amazing people.
-I turned 29.  I don't like it.
-My favorite presents were a tablet from Derik, my birthday flowers, and a Mad Max bracelet.
-My boss allowed me to assist in teaching EMT class and I LOVED IT SO MUCH!!!
-My workplace/boss assisted me in re-certifying as an EMT.  I am so grateful for them!
-I ran away to the mountains and spent some time emptying my craziness into the earth.
-I went to Tennessee and visited my family.  I also visited (sort of) Ghost Town in the Sky.
-I participated in a bonafide pin-up contest and had quite a few cool costumes and looks this year.
- I helped a friend leave an abusive marriage, which I'm happy for and proud of.

There's not much else to say about this year...like I said, a lot of good, a lot of bad.  The ugly has already been cast out like garbage, so I can't complain about anything else.  Luckily 2016 is winding down on a positive, if subdued note.  I'm working through the holidays and will be at work to bring in the 2017, business as usual.

One last note--I wanted to showcase some art I've done this year.  I felt completely and absolutely useless artistically, but after putting together a few sketches it looks like my severe artistic constipation is on the upswing, at the very least.  I'm not a fan of most of these works, but at least they're palatable (I think.)


2016 Seasons in Review

So, there will be a few more 'year in review' posts I vomit out before I torch this strange, awkward, Saturn-infested year of 2016 and never look back, but I really wanted to put a spotlight on actual seasons--the passage of time means so much to us measly skinbags, but it's just another turn for mother nature.  Since I go to Silver Lake so often I have photos taken as early as April and as late as November.

Here they are, in order, all taken in 2016...this is what Cottonwood Canyon was doing while we were spazzing out and arguing.  Enjoy a gorgeous year's worth of natural, beautiful seasons!


2016 Looks in Review

I thought it would be fun to break down my year by way of a few different series topics....today I wanted to share some of the awesome costume work/dress up I was able to do in 2016.

I didn't get as much done as I'd like...I wanted to go to about twice as many car shows but my work schedule has been something else.  I'm really happy with how much work I got on my Valkyrie costume, which still isn't finished, but overall I have no complaints on the fun dress up year it was.

Maid Photoshoot
I had a blast and got in the mood for Halloween (it's never too early, haha!)  Costume was a rental, I made the shirt myself.  Marcus was my photographer--check out the post here!

Beriet's Haunted Pin-Up Car Show
Hair and makeup by me!  The dress and parasol were purchased at Retro Betty, the most amazing local shop.  This day meant a lot to me for personal reasons, and I even got to go enter the contest after a twelve hour midnight to noon grave shift, haha (lucky me.)  

 Urban Arts Pinup Contest

My very first bonafide pinup contest!  This was such a hoot to prepare for, and riiiiiidiculously too expensive! I actually went to a salon for my hair (but the style was my own vision) the dress is online, I forget the retailer whoops, the gorgeous mint petticoat was from Retro Betty, and the shoes and stole were thrifted.  One of my friends at work helped me put together the outfit which is great because he's this like, manly hunter and country type but he has the BEST fashion sense ever. Thanks Chadwick!  

Snowbird's Oktoberfest
Spoiler, this was my favorite dress up all year.  I have longed after the beautiful German dirndls only my entire life.  Even as a kid reading Heidi I saw the look and was like THAT'S HOW I WANT TO DRESS EVERY DAY.  I would legit wear this every day if I could!!! The dress was bought on Amazon and it's actually quite nice quality, for the price.  I paired it with some Alpine boots and white leggings.  Alas, it was still too cold for September in the Wasatch mountains.  Oh well, worth it.

Halloween Valkyrie
Looking at these chronological photos it's almost like my costumes got bolder and more outlandish every time, haha!  It's actually kind of true, I got more and more comfortable dressing up and once this idea popped into my head for Halloween, I was working on that helmet like some madwoman in a fever dream.  The mask was made by me, the shoulder piece/torso (like 10% finished) was made by Allyn, and the shield and dress were bought and erm...customized.

I am already planning quite a few costumes and car shows for 2017, so things can only get better!


December Goals

I would be lying if I claimed I wasn't excited that this is the last set of goals I'll be writing for this taxing, strange year.  Let's do it!

WOO BEST TIME OF YEAR!! The snow has already begun falling in Utah and I am already way busier than I should be.  But I can't help loving this season and all of the good in it.  My obnoxious elfishness is tempered by the sadness I feel over the Tennessee wildfire and tornadoes.  Both of these are very close to my home and I have no way to contact my Dad if anything happens, so I just keep updated on the news the best I can (and nag everyone who lives near home on Facebook daily.)


Send Henri's birthday presents SUCCESS I AM A BEACON OF ADULTHOOD.
Progress in physical therapy SUCCESS I've been going a lot and it's been helpful.  Very helpful.
Figure out homemade Christmas presents FAIL  Whoops shit I better get on that.  To my credit I did buy a bunch of cute boxes to load food up in, haha.
Post a vlog about my costume FAIL I did try though.  The video/audio sync is off.  I'm thinking I might just do it on my phone and upload it, because I'm not sure what else to do.
Write a poem SUCCESS it wasn't great, but I wrote it.  Haha, I hate writing poetry.
Get tickets to the Nutcracker FAIL I've decided unfortunately, that it isn't in the budget this year.
Get back to the diet center FAIL I totally forgot about this.  Damn.
Give Charity her present FAIL This is happening this month! (ALONG WITH OTHERS LOL)
Go to my hair extensions consultation FAIL So, funny story.  I set up the appointment. I commit.  Then get a message abruptly from the gal saying she's moving out of state and cancelling my appointment and to call and ask for so-and-so if I still want to get them done.  Haha, was it not meant to be?  Now I'm debating on getting salon extensions or just buying clip ins.  Meh.  Why can't my hair just grow to about three feet long?!

Really? 3 successes and 6 fails? What the actual hell, November???? I actually only wrote four posts the entire month as well, although if I do say so myself the quality of the posts was on point--my costume, Tennessee scenery, an entry on PTSD and a 'catching up' (and griping about blogging) post.  Most importantly this month I learned that I'm going to be an aunt!!! My older sister Amanda is having a baby and I am so thrilled I could eat my hat.  I have to stop myself before I text about 200 times a day begging her to move to Utah.

Other meatspace things I did during the month include going to the symphony, seeing a Pink Floyd laser show for the first time in...forever? Getting some early Christmas shopping done, a halfass crappy portrait painted, and beginning to learn to unicycle.

This picture is actually my ultimate favorite because I had no idea that my little Flemith was in the window watching me, with that very worried expression, haha! "Mom, you are so going to get hurt and then how will you pet me and give me catnip?!" 

Anyhooter, forward.  After looking at this list I am confirming right now that I am insane.  


Send my dad a gift  I am not sure what.  But a care package would be nice.
Complete the following paintings:
-Chadwick's Christmas present
-Charity's Christmas present
-Lacey's Christmas present
-Interior landscape (hard to explain...)
-Snake painting (...also hard to explain) 
I've been slacking in the creative department and it's time to crank out some creative gifts and also expressions before I start a new year. The last two are personal paintings that popped into my head and are awaiting execution.

Learn to unicycle I've alllmost got it, I swear.
Go to the diet center
Make a (secret) costume for cosplay karaoke and attend the event It's the last one! I've never been...
Make Christmas food for people LOTS. OF. BAKING. IN. STORE.

And now, a special blog section, because I can:
Pick a word and theme for 2017 and blog my resolutions!
Do a year in review post
Do a costumes of the year review post

As always, linking up with Autumn (I seriously love her blog.)


Life Lately // Bloggy Brunch

I am so sorry for the erratic posting schedule and topics, friends.  Actually, that's one of the things I'm going to talk about today!

A word on blogging
Blogging sure has changed.  I'm sure everyone you know has written a post about it lately.  I haven't weighed in on it, but I sure have been thinking about it a lot.  There isn't really a place for bloggers anymore.  It's all about the 'gram, or the Facebook, those fucking algorithms, or the web store, or the links within the blog and how many clicks they make.  I didn't care for the sponsored Modcloth cringe even back when twee was the big thing, and it's kind of not a big thing anymore and I like it even less.  Nice dress and matching socks...next?  I put out nothing sponsored, nothing paid...and I feel like it's pointless sometimes.  I don't know what to do anymore.

I just want to hear about people's lives.  I want to see pictures of the crap they've been up to, even if it's binge watching Bates Motel (which everyone should do.)  I want the kind of conversation you get when you go out to coffee with good friends--some catching up, some deep thoughts, some mindlessly eyeballing the hot male barista.  I keep wanting to really GET INTO BLOGGING! but it's really hard.  So many quiet, personal blogs just slip off the face of the earth, while these sponsored content machines and lists of 10 and clickbait titles dominate every dashboard.  Am I alone in this? Buhler?

Actual Life Lately
The second part of my ponderings comes from me rearranging half my house just to put the computer next to my room in hopes I'll use it more.  In one phase of life I was glued to the computer and did all kinds of neat things.  Web and graphic design and blog posts and fiction writing, and other writing, and moderated websites and was a member of forums...it seems like lately I can't find time to tie my shoes, much less do any of that stuff.  I am spending more time with others, as well as more time outside, but it kind of bothers me that I'm not creating the way I did before.  If I had a drive to get back into writing or blogging, it would anchor me to that (very important!) part of me...but I don't have the drive.  And I keep telling myself that it's worth it...spending time with friends is important.  Gardening and cleaning is important.  Therapy appointments, physical therapy, important.  Being in the lives of those around me, important.  I'm more stable now than I ever have been..stable, grounded, and turning into a boring piece of shit.

So what have I actually been up to? The above.  Dinners, outings.  Symphony.  Pink Floyd laser show.  Drives through the mountain (until we reach the 'hey idiot it's winter, go home' signs...) Cleaning my house.  Working.  Stressing about money.  Does it ever change?  I feel like I'm in a rut, even though the time I spend is, to me, well spent.  The problem is I don't know what to do to get out of it, because I'm doing everything I should.  I am taking care of my body and mind (see, the weekly therapy) and I am working at a great place where I feel needed and respected, and the people in my life are of the highest caliber and the time we spend together is wonderful.  So, what is my issue?  Why do I feel like a zombie anyway?  How do I shake myself out of this....when I have no reason or cause for it and don't even know what it is?

Skyrim Remastered

I used to play a TON of video games and just fell out of the habit, same with writing and my other computer work (and to an extent, painting.)  I still love games, but just felt I didn't have the "time."  Today, Sunday, I started a new game on the fresh shiny remastered (WITH MODS!) Skyrim for XBONE.  And wow, what a wonderful feeling, to be back in beloved Skyrim with my two-handed Nord ginger girl.  I needed that.  I don't know how it all connects together, but I really did feel refreshed after gaming for a few hours.  I found out the painful, ridiculous ten step procedure on a console for getting screenshots, which you see here.  I will probably be making more Skyrim screenshot posts; I just wish they were better quality.  Oh well.

It may be that I need a certain type of creative stimulation.  I've never really been one to get "sucked into" TV shows.  I enjoy them, but they lack something.  And I gave up reading after a very long string of very bad books...I used to read ALL THE TIME so it was pretty disheartening to go through like ten novels of absolute trash and say, finally, "time to move on."  These days I don't know if I have the concentration to read--the last book I actually finished was "The Gift of Fear", which is a damn pop psychology book, albeit a FANTASTIC one.  But it definitely didn't put any 'spark' in me.  Just a fascination for more body language studies.

So, do I read more? Game more? Seclude myself more? Sleep more?  What's the secret to a balanced life? I have no idea.  Join the linkup.

Bloggy Brunch


PTSD and Chronic Pain

Today, we're going to talk about something a bit different, but relevant--it's been front and center in my life this month.  PTSD and its connection to chronic pain, as well as my (very recent) experiences in treating both.

(For further reading on this blog: PTSD and Dissociation  // PTSD and Eye Contact  )

On Chronic Pain I have chronic pain.  I can't remember a time I didn't, as an adult or even a teenager.  The thing is, chronic pain can have a million different origins, or no pinpointed origins at all.  What I've learned about my own pain is that at least part of it is likely a side effect of PTSD.  It was a long road to understand this, as it's hard to even describe chronic pain.  (Unless you have it, and you understand if you do.)  You ache.  You're tired.  Everything hurts.  Whatever burst of energy causes you to do something great like clean the entire house, ends up biting you later on.  You pay for every exhausting thing you choose to do with your body.  As I said, there are a million causes, so unfortunately those with ailments like diabetes, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and so on, know all too well what I'm talking about.  

PTSD and Chronic Pain

One aspect of PTSD-related pain should be pretty easy to understand--the trauma itself can cause pain,  Surviving combat leaves a body scarred.  Physical abuse can break bones, and so on.  These things are obvious, and usually to an extent, treatable.  What I'm more concerned about is how trauma and stress actually affect the nervous system.  The very action of vigilance puts the body in an excited, non-stable state, ('amping up' for survival.)  But after fight or flight has passed, we are left with tense muscles, a rapid heart rate, sick stomachs, and god knows what hormonal imbalances. This article succinctly states concerning PTSD: "these diagnostic criteria are primarily psychological. Nothing is mentioned about the body: the chronic pain, muscle tension, movement limitations, outbursts of energy followed by listlessness, not to mention consequent illnesses of the cellular pathways in the neuromuscular, digestive, cardiovascular, hormonal, and immune system." 

The same article talks about how pain, as a symptom (or an ailment in itself) is often ignored in mental health patients.  I have very limited experience in this from a medical practitioner standpoint--as an EMT I'm not necessarily required to 'get to the bottom of the pain' but that is truly a good summary for most doctor visits.  Pain has to come from somewhere, and in the case of a mental illness, whether it's depression or anxiety or PTSD or whatever--the answer always defaults to "you aren't mentally well."  We're led to believe and think, even as providers, that if a mental patient can just fix their brain with the right therapy or pills or religion or whatever, then bam, the pain will go away.  It's just the nature of medical deduction and problem solving, but it is unfortunate, because the chronic pain can be dismissed as "in your head." That delays treatment, which worsens symptoms....you get the idea.

My Story

I personally don't remember life before chronic pain, but I also don't remember life before chronic trauma and abuse.  As many probably do, I thought as an adult that it was normal to be in pain constantly.  I forget who it was, probably a chiropractor, who told me at some point that pain is not normal, and constant pain is really not normal for an 18 year old.  Cue massages and adjustments and workouts and painkillers and years of treating something that I didn't even really understand.

But everything always fell short.  I would be hurting hours at most after that relaxing massage, or injure myself again and again no matter what weight and reps I cut down to.  I accepted that my body was broken and hated me and moved through it, years of debilitating pain that has likely contributed to episodes of depression and lethargy.  Even when I had energy, I would pay for it later with twice the amount of pain after something fun like hiking or biking.

After understanding that I had post-traumatic stress and seeking treatment for it, I began to understand more about how the body actually works during stress and wondered if that was part of this fog of painful exhaustion.  My current therapy sessions include some somatic awareness--in other words, while talking of a trauma or an emotion, either I will notice or my therapist will point out that I have pain or stiffness in a certain body part.  I actually tense up and bristle when certain triggers are even insinuated.  The pain that comes from tensing your neck and shoulders hours at a time cannot be stated enough!  The shit hurts.

So I had enough, and went into a physical therapist for evaluation.  I didn't mention PTSD beforehand, just that I had been eating a good 1000mg of ibuprofen a day for ten years, and then we did a bunch of tests--range of motion and all that.  After years of hearing "you're young, you're strong!" or getting shrugged off by doctors who looked at blood charts and said I was good to go and figure my shit out (paraphrasing here...) I got sat down and told that my pain level was intensely high, and my mobility was low.  My muscles were tense and my joints likely ached (you bet your ass they do) and I would receive treatment at "the same level we go for fibromyalgia patients."

It took a lot to not cry during that visit.  The therapist completely validated everything I'd felt my entire life, physically.  I got told that I wasn't crazy.  It wasn't my fault.  It wasn't normal, and I was suffering.  After a session I did fess up and told him I had pretty bad PTSD and he wasn't even fazed. I do feel better since starting, though it's only been a few weeks.  The important thing is that I'm treating pain in addition to PTSD--I don't know that I'll ever fully heal, but instead of getting cracked and having every chiropractor scratch their head why I'm tense and broken again 4 hours later, I understand why I need to focus on my mind and body.


Valkyrie Friends

I made a vlog about the costume making process for this, but I'm still working out the audio lag issues.  For now, I thought it was a good idea to share photos of my Halloween costume.  There's only two things I want to mention here; both inspiration for the costume, and inspiration making it.  Not surprisingly, because I am surrounded by amazing people, they were both inspired by friends.

Inspiration for the Valkyrie:  I've been very into costuming this year, for whatever reason.  I've also been studying up on Norse mythology, which came about at a really strange time considering I have been away from my second home of Sweden awhile now.  Regardless, the idea to dress as a Valkyrie was thought of when a close friend actually said I reminded him of the mythological creature, and he asked me to (metaphorically) protect him with my shield and courage.  He said it in a much more poetic way.

I was so touched by the compliment, and his faith in me as someone who can help and protect.  I have been doing a lot of soul searching lately about the 'warrior' aspect of my personality--why it exists, how to utilize it, and when, and its motives.  I'm still arriving at conclusions, but I figured that a friendly shield-maiden who watches over her loved ones and stabs who she wants and transports them to Valhalla to await Ragnarök and serve them mead, pretty much sums me up on my best day.

Inspiration for costume making:  I've only dabbled in craft foam before, and have zero confidence in my ability to do anything with it.  I'm an artist, not a maker of crafts--I try to leave that to the Martha Stewarts and mormon mommies.  When the idea entered my head to make something for Halloween, I had no idea the scale it was going to end up at (and the costume isn't even completed yet!)  I sketched out some things, tentatively, and was really aiming low on the creation scale, like a circlet with small wings.  I showed it to my close friend, who is amazing at making, well, anything.

Any artist can tell you how exciting it is to collaborate with someone who sparks that creativity in you.  Well, it doesn't happen to me often (probably my fault for isolating myself and only interacting with an uninterested cat) but when it did, apparently I turn into Level 100 Blacksmith for a day or two.  This project kept my mind busy during my 10 day workweek, before I ran off to Tennessee and god knew what.  I am so thankful to my friend for inspiring me, keeping me inspired, and teaching me all the tips and tricks and tools of the trade.  (and letting me borrow his tools!)  It really is a wonderful thing to have such a person in my life.  I'm very lucky.


Tennessee Photos: Scenery

A week into November still counts as an on time post, right?

I went home three weeks ago and I'm still reeling from happiness and the bittersweet feeling of being reunited with my home, my family, and a part of myself that I had been neglecting for far too long.  I always wanted to go, on my own terms, and quietly revisit some of the places that defined my childhood in a good way.  I finally had the opportunity to do so, and though some of you have seen these on Instagram or Facebook, it's time to give them their proper spot on the blog, aka, my digital heart.

So, they're a bit out of order and discombobulated.  There aren't really enough words for me to describe what all of these photos mean to me, but they sort of speak for themselves.