Backyard Feeder

Backyard Feeder
photo taken through porch screen

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Do Something Nice for Yourself

If you have trouble doing something nice for yourself because you feel like you don’t have the time, don’t have the money, or don’t even know where to start—STOP!

You are looking for fun in all the wrong places. You don’t need to steal resources from the family in order to treat yourself to a bit of happiness. Having done parenting, poverty, and general insanity I feel somewhat qualified to offer a list of ideas to get you started in finding ways to put on your own oxygen mask first—how to give to yourself so that you have something left to give to others.

1.) Nature therapy: go out into a yard or park and actually look at the flowers and the birds and the small animals—it may help you to focus if you have a camera or if you take a sketch pad, but those things are purely optional. A walk in the woods is calming if you have a woods nearby. A walk on the beach is nice too, if there aren’t a lot of people there.

2.) Create a nature sanctuary: a bird feeder or bird house to attract the type of bird that makes you smile could be a very worthwhile investment. You can always make one yourself or find one at a thrift store or yard sale.

3.) You can plant a garden and grow things to eat with your family. Or just grow pretty flowers.

4.) Art/Craft therapy: grab the camera, the sketch pad, scraps of materials, a notebook, yarn, whatever you enjoy working with. Start small or make something that you’d buy otherwise if money is an issue.

5.) Performance art therapy: Sing, dance, play an instrument. Whether it’s karaoke night or guitar lessons or just singing loudly in the shower, perform with all of your might.

6.) Bake: cookies, bread, cakes, or crème brulee. Get creative in the kitchen. I hate having to cook a family dinner every night, but I have fun doing special things. I’ve even invested in some specialized equipment for the kitchen.

7.) Read: The library is a nice source of free books, and there are thrift shops and yard sales where you can grow your own library with pocket change. I used to find books during the library story time—while the little ones were busy listening to stories.

8.) Don’t buy the tools and materials for your next project, borrow them. Check out and share books, small appliances and tools with other people in your area. Just looking at the list of things you can borrow in your neighborrowhood might inspire you to try something new.

9.) Go to and create a whole new life for yourself. You can even create a new YOU. Travel the world at the click of a mouse button and meet interesting people or see the sights on your own.

10.) If you enjoy a nice long hot bath, try adding some nice bubble bath and a few candles around the tub, then lotion and powder for afterwards. Watch for sales on bath and spa items and create an oasis in your bathroom. Watch for after-Christmas sales for supplies. You can find nice sets to do your own manicure and pedicure—much less expensive than paying to have it done.

11.) Pet therapy: if you have a pet in the house, take some time to talk to the animals—petting or brushing a cat or dog is very relaxing (unless you let things get out of hand or you take a long haired dog for a walk in the woods) and even a goldfish will listen politely to all of your problems, never argue with you, and keep your secrets.

12.) Devotions: even if you do a devotional with the family, try getting up a few minutes early or carving a few minutes of time somewhere else and spending the time in prayer and Bible reading. You can get calendars or join an email list to get a verse or two every day.

13.) Write pages: I started doing this when I read The Artist Way. Write three pages every morning of stream of consciousness stuff. This gets all those mangled thoughts and worries out of your head and onto paper so you can deal with them or forget them. I don’t think there is any magic in the three pages that she assigns, but it is long enough that you have to write something more than: “Here I am writing my stupid pages again. I can’t think of a thing to say. Why did I ever decide to start doing this?”

14.) Develop any passion that you might have. You don’t have to make a career out of it, but don’t rule it out. Just take one small step toward your impossible dreams and remember that nothing is impossible with God. Take one class at the local community college, read a book and actually follow the advice, talk to others who share your passion. Tomorrow you can take another step.

15.) Call or visit an old friend. I just found my best friend from grade school online and have been getting reacquainted. It’s easy to lose track of people we care about when we get overwhelmed with our own life. Take a few minutes and look up that old friend and have a nice chat. Or make a new friend—call someone interesting from church or work or the neighborhood.

16.) Listen to music that makes you feel good while you work around the house. Most of the radios in the house are set to my husband’s favorite type of music, but I know where my stations are and I also have some recorded music.

17.) Hang the laundry on a clothesline. I call it my solar-wind powered clothes drier. Nobody bothers you while you hang laundry because they are afraid you’ll get them to help. It’s quiet and outside and it saves on the energy bills. Nothing like a little fresh air and exercise to make you feel alive. My mother always liked mowing the lawn—nobody bothers you when you are mowing the lawn.

18.) Take a nap in the afternoon. The world will probably keep revolving all on its own.

19.) Make a list of things that YOU like to do and find ways of doing them like I am doing with this list. I’m sure there are things that would make you happy that wouldn’t work for me or that I just haven’t thought to include. Make a list of ideas and keep it handy.

20.) Do nothing. My last vacation was spent at home doing nothing. I’ve never enjoyed a vacation more. I watched birds, splashed in the backyard pool, read books under a tree, and ate salads and sandwiches and things my husband cooked on the grill—on paper plates.

Bonnie Rice

Sunday, August 02, 2009


Sometimes it feels like life is going in a million different directions. I really want to hear the voice of God like Samuel in the night--clear and compelling. Instead I hear a cacophony of voices with very little that I can make out or understand. I want direction--not arrows pointing in every direction. No fair.

I feel like I may be slipping into a depression, it could also be the mold growing under the house from a leak in the bath tub drain, or another allergic reaction, but I am not feeling just right. Now sometimes that means that I'm coming down with something, but usually it means that there is a path laid out for me and I'm going in the wrong direction. This is what I get instead of that still small voice that I want--flu symptoms? How is that supposed to work?

I know I've been working altogether too many Sunday mornings lately and that it's not fair to work fewer because the department hours are being divided between myself and one other person, but I just don't function well without my Sunday School and church. I want to have more involvement at the church, but it's hard on the every other week schedule.

Now the family services director position is open at the church and I've been seriously thinking about taking it. Unfortunately, it has become a part-time position and I can't quit my day job to work part-time. Part of me says: go ahead and apply and if you get the job, you can work it out with the manager at Walgreens. Part of me says: you can't apply for a second job when you barely have time for a life already. I really think that I'd like a full-time position in ministry, and that this is a way to get a foot in the door. I don't know.

I haven't touched my resume' in over 10 years and I'm not sure I even remember what I did before Walgreens. I guess my education and volunteer work would probably count more for this position than some of the retail stuff or the homes for the developmentally disabled.

What if the people who are in charge of hiring think I'm crazy to apply--I have to see them at church. I'm on the Christian Education Committee, for crying out loud. What if the pastor thinks I'm overstepping?

Well, I guess I'll work on that resume' and see what happens. What's the worst they can do. If I don't apply I still don't get the job. If I do, maybe....

Pray for me to make a decision for myself.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Mantras for BPSOs

Someone just wrote that one of the lines in a post ought to be her mantra for dealing with the stuff that is going on in her life and it occurred to me that we all go through periods when a little saying or truism that sticks in our minds would really be useful.

If you haven't learned them already, try out some of these lines from a bipolar significant other support list.

I didn't cause it; I can't control it; and I can't cure it.
The truth about mental illness is that it just happens. When you take responsibility for something that you have no power over, you end up feeling guilty and frustrated because you are trying to fix something when it isn't even possible.

Have a great life anyways!
Part of life is the circumstances we live in, but the greater part is in our response to those circumstances. This is the equivalent to the New Testament exhortation to "Rejoice evermore."

I'm not losing my mind, I'm having a perfectly normal response to a totally abnormal situation.
Ok, sometimes you just catch yourself saying or doing something that seems totally off the wall. You've been pushed to your limits and you're pushing back in ways that make you cringe. When dealing with mental illness, you often find yourself in situations that seem a bit surreal: arguments that go in circles, checking up on someone you should be able to trust, struggling to help someone who doesn't seem to want help. Instead of thinking about how ridiculous your behavior has become, consider the cause and you may come to the conclusion that your ridiculous behavior is perfectly normal in that context.

Put on your own oxygen mask before you try to help anyone else.
When you get on an airplane, this line is part of the safety speech before take-off. The natural thing for a parent to do when the oxygen masks come down is to make sure their children are wearing theirs first, but if the parent passes out from lack of oxygen, both parent and child can be lost. Even if the child does pass out while the parent is struggling with the equipment, he will often be resuscitated as soon as the oxygen gets into his lungs. This concept extends to the rest of life when caring for other people. If you allow yourself to get so run down that you can't function, if you don't put your own health and safety first, you may not have the strength to help others.

It's not about you!
When someone tells you that life would be perfect if only you would ______ (fill in the blank), it is easy to fall into the pattern of thinking that all of the trouble in your life is your own fault. While we all want to believe that we have the power to control what happens to us, we have to accept that our power is limited. You may have some self-defeating behaviors, but much of life just isn't about you. There are other factors and other people at work in the world, and in your life, and you may have little or no power to change the situation. If you can see that doing something differently might help, go for it. But if what you are being told to do doesn't make sense or if you really are doing the best you can already--cut yourself some slack. It's not about you.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Final Edits Never End

Love Has Its Ups And Downs is finally finished--but I've had trouble with pages printing properly--the page numbers start on the wrong side of the page--so I've had to look through to make sure there aren't any blank pages that don't belong. Simple process, no?

Every time I page through I find something that doesn't seem clear enough, a rough transition, a word that doesn't feel right.

After losing a few blank pages, the book has become two pages longer than it was. When I write articles, they get shorter in editing, but this book has taken on a life of its own.

I do get a lot done while I'm editing. It's not like writing, when I write I get locked in and write for hours on end: I take lots of breaks when I edit. I finished all of the dishes, including pots and pans that have been soaking; I cleaned up the construction zone in the bathroom and marked tiles so my husband can get motivated to finish the floor; I took photos in the backyard to post on my facebook page; I took my son to get his Social Security Card so he can get his drivers license; I will do anything to avoid editing when I'm editing.

Today I am taking the whole day off. I am not going to work on the book at all. I am going to work on press releases and networking for selling the book when it is available. I'm self-publishing with print on demand, so I won't have advance notice that the book will be available on a set date--it will be available when I get a proof copy that I can approve. I can't send out any announcements until I am sure of that date, but I can write them and address them.

I am reviewing a book that was obviously self-published and it has a lot of punctuation errors in it. That makes the English major side of me cringe every time. I am so grateful to have found an editor who helped me straighten out my commas and dashes and colons. I hope I haven't let too many errors creap back in since I started fixing the page problems. I ought to know better, but I write like I talk and nobody talks with good punctuation and grammar all of the time without sounding like they are reading their lines. I do not want this book to scream "vanity press" when educated people read it.

Time to go out and forget about writing books for a while.


Friday, June 05, 2009

Mania is looking pretty good now..

It gets "better" or worse or something. Yesterday I spent the whole afternoon-from about 11:30 to almost 6 sitting in the hospital waiting for them to admit Troy because his suicidal thoughts are bothering him.

When he finally gets to the part where he signs the paperwork, he tries to back out. They told him that he would have to convince the doctor that he was alright or he would be involuntarily admitted. So he went along peacefully.

I had signed up for a class at the library at 6:00 (medicinal herbs) and Troy told me that I should go ahead and go, that I could miss the 6-7pm visiting hours since we had spent my whole day off at the hospital and I needed the break. He did want me to get some clothes together (he didn't think about that before he went in?) and bring them to him-nothing with strings or anything dangerous-but clean socks and underwear, some jeans and T-shirts.

I'd already washed some things and put in another load before leaving for the class. Told the kids I'd be out for an hour or two and to start dinner without me if they got hungry.

I went to the class on my scooter (I think I am now known as the crazy scooter lady because I drive the thing in all weather unless it's pouring rain when I leave for work-can't work in wet clothes).

The speaker has a bit of laryngitis, so she's talking in whispers and about quarter to seven my phone rings-I run out of the room to answer it-it'sChris wondering if I need a ride home. I'm going to be here at least a while longer, so I'll call if the weather is bad when I want to come home. I'm fine.

I get back to my seat and they are passing around samples of herbs, dried herbs, tinctures, teas, etc. to show how herbs are preserved and used.

She's talking about the things you can do to stay healthy: like limiting stress-doI laugh or cry at this point?-and some recipes for "tonics" to clean out your digestive system and some antioxidants to boost immunity.

Another half hour and I get another phone call-rush out of the room-a cellphone is really loud when the class is being held at a whisper, even with the microphone.

It's Troy wondering when we will be bringing his clothes.He's spent the afternoon in hospital clothes and wants real clothes. I explain that I'm in the class I was planning to go to and that I'd have his clothes in the morning.

I'm really interested in the class, but it's hard to focus. Good thing there are take-home notes. I'm sure the instructor thinks I'm crazy or rude or something, but I just had my husband admitted to the mental ward-it's not exactly a normal day.

By the time the class ends, I am noticing that the rain is slowing down and I'm hoping that I can get home on my scooter before it starts pouring again. I go through some frantic searching for the keys-last time I lost the keys, the scooter disappeared. Deep breaths. Found the keys, got home, the washer didn't do quite the spin cycle it is supposed to do and Troy's jeans are dripping, but I wring them a bit in myhands and toss them into the dryer.

Josh, 16, has found a "salamander" at the park and wants to go to the pet store for food. It's after 8 and the pet store might be closing, besides we have no idea what this thing eats. Pack it up, take it along, see if the pet store people can guess. The only person at the pet store is a kid Josh's age-I'm sure there's a manager somewhere, but nowhere in sight. We buy a bag of tiny crickets and cross our fingers.

The "salamander" turns out to be a skink-after considerable internetresearch-whole different category, from amphibian to reptile, but the same diet-there are a few positive things in my life still. He refuses to eat anything in front of us, but he should survive. Josh discovers that the bottom of our old tank is totaled, so he takes the thing to the neighbor'shouse where they have a big empty tank he can live in for now.I'm tired so I start getting ready for bed.

Realize that it's 11pm and Josh needs to get to bed-not an easy person to wake in the morning for school. He doesn't answer his phone and Dawn offers to go get him from the neighbor'shouse. He comes home in a huff-why do I have to be in bed so early (excuse me?Early? It's almost midnight!) and he slams the door.

A few minutes later Chris goes into his room to ask how the skink is doing and discovers. noJosh. Now Chris is mad and screaming. Runs over to the neighbor's house.Josh reappears in his other brother's downstairs bedroom with even moreattitude than before. I'm too tired to deal with this-could everyone pleasejust get to bed?The alarm rings, I swear, the minute my head hits the pillow.

Time to getJosh up. He seems to be moving, but I have to keep at him or he'll fall back into bed. Never mind-there went the bus.

I drive Josh to school and when I'm just two blocks from home the car stalls at the corner. The gas gage is on empty. I knew that. Why didn't I just stopfor gas? Mind not in gear. Call home. No one answers. A man in a work van pulls up behind me and offers to push me off the road so I can go get help.See, another good thing.

I get home and TJ is just getting up. He has a Jeep with a broken gas gage,so he has a 5 gallon gas can he can take and get gas for the car. Off to thegas station. $10 worth of gas and the thing starts right up. Yep, life is good.

Get home in time to realize that Troy's jeans still aren't quite dry and Ihave to get to work. Set the dryer heavy and ask TJ if he will drop the stuff off when the jeans get dry. I'm pretty sure they are worried that mom will crash and burn at any minute, so he agreed to get the stuff to his dad as soon as possible.

It's pouring rain, so I take the car to work for the first time in months-at least I know it has gas.

Work was pretty quiet-an oasis-until a police officer shows up in mydepartment and asks to talk to me about my son. What son? What did he do now? Is this a conspiracy?

Josh is somehow involved with a cell phone being stolen at school. He didn't steal it and he only knows who did it based on the rumors at the school, but they need to talk to him and he refuses to talk without a parent.

OK, you can talk to him-but do not make him crazy.We've had a hard week.An hour or so later I get a call from TJ-Josh has called the police and told the whole story, including naming the person he believes took the phone.Josh is out of trouble with the police.


I've had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Do you think there's room in Australia?

Just another day in paradise...

I don't know if this is funny or sad or what, but I have to share my day. I knew it would be an interesting day because Troy (bipolar husband) had beencomplaining about suicidal thoughts and was contemplating the hospital.

Iasked him to make me a dental appointment, because I had a toothache and with 10 hour days and no phone that dials out, it is easier for him-so I knew he would call and let me know when the appointment is.

My 18 year old son mentioned that his younger brother had been texting him that he didn'tfeel well and asking him to pick him up from school-he gets there about an hour before I leave for work and already he's complaining before I leave.Yeah, just your average day.

So I start getting phone calls about an hour after I get to work-Troy,telling me that he's going to leave the phone at home if he goes to theemergency room and will take the truck if he finds the keys so I can have the car if they keep him. He's still not sure he wants to go.

Maybe twenty minutes later-Josh (youngest son, diagnosed as ADHD, but doing an excellent imitation of depressive episode these days) whining that his stomach is turning and he's getting a headache and he can't concentrate anyways.

I talk to the school nurse and she tells me that he already has too many absences and he will need a doctor's excuse to miss another day of school. Since I know that depression is not exactly contagious and that what he is describing is exactly what he's had in the past, I suggest that he tryto tough it out, rest in the nurse's office and at least get his homework for his classes and do what he can.

He's not exactly happy, but he'll try.About an hour after that--TJ (older son) calls to ask if he needs to go pick up his brother. I tell him that he's trying to get through the rest of the day and will text him if he needs to come home.

It occurs to me that "home"is not exactly the best place to be since there is already one depressed person there, but....

Troy calls just before lunch-he couldn't get an appointment on one of mydays off, but I have one at 7:30 in the morning on the one weekday next weekthat I work the full ten hours. Not exactly what I was hoping, but you don't turn down a dental appointment when you have a tooth ache. Fine.

Shortly after lunch-Josh calls back, he's not getting better and he really wants to go home. I talk to the nurse and tell her that if he can't beproductive at school, he may as well have his brother pick him up.By the time I get home at 7:30pm, Josh is helping Chris (his 21 year old brother)polish Chris' car. I ask what he's going to do about missing school. Hetells me that it was almost the end of the day anyways, so he didn't call for a ride. Fine.

I come inside, half expecting to see the phone in Troy's chair, but there he is. He tells me that he did get up and out today-took Josh to mow a lawn fora lady from church, took Josh to softball practice-busy kid for being so sick.

Troy still feels depressed and miserable, but doesn't want to go tothe hospital because he doesn't think there is much they can do for him. Suicidal thoughts DO worry me, but his thoughts are not well-formed and he is the one who suggested the hospital, so I know he doesn't want to follow through on them, so he can spend another day in his chair. I don't think dynamite would move him.

I didn't do much of anything today besides working my usual ten hour shiftas a cosmetics clerk at Walgreen Drug, but I feel tired. Can't imagine why.

Bonnie Rice Wife of Troy,BP1 and on Lithium, Depakote, Seroquel and VytorinMother to Josh, 16, ADHD and on Melatonin and Concerta for nowMother to TJ, 19, left college because there was no work in MI (it's true)Mother to Chris, 21, considering the ArmyMother to Michael, 22, married and in WI with his wife and grandmother.Try