blessed are the cracked for they shall let in the light (15 Things You Can Do if You are Struggling with Depression).

A bright light in our world went out and now my heart feels heavy. With everything going on in the world right now: the unending riots in Ferguson, and the constant ISIS terrorist threats, just to name a few, it is Robin Williams’ unexpected suicide that I constantly find myself thinking about. I feel guilty that out of all of the chaos, death, and injustice going on around the world, it is the death of an actor that has affected me most. I asked myself why that is and I think it’s because his suicide was so unexpected and it is sad to think that someone who brought so much joy and happiness to the world, could be so unhappy himself.

robin williams

The loss of any human life is painful, but something about Robin Williams’ suicide saddens me to the very core of my being. I have first hand experience with depression and feelings of hopelessness that Robin must have been feeling in order to take his life. And while I struggle with being “real” and transparent about anything serious on my blog (or any other of my social media outlets) about my life but I realized that writing posts like this were the reason I started blogging in the first place about 10 years ago and that is: 

to reach out and connect to someone (anyone) who like me, often feels “different,” struggles with depression or anxiety, feels hopeless, like they don’t fit in, that are depressed…

and although I try to hide my struggle from friends and family, I think it’s pretty obvious to the people in my “World,” who try to get to know me, (my friends, family, co-workers, ect), know there is something “different” about me. I’m the friend who falls off the planet for days, weeks, months at a time, the friend who cancels plans and no one hears from, who isolates themselves, sleeps too much… my family and other loved ones kindly skirt around the issue but I struggle with depression and have since I was 15 years old. 

What saddens me so much about Robin’s death is that…no one really saw it coming and I hope that he had people he could trust in his life and who loved him unconditionally- his wife, his daughter and I hope he knows he was loved.

and now finally I am getting to the point of this post….

it’s okay. I promise. I swear. It gets better. I know that’s not much, but I have been there in that dark, hopeless place where there is no light, no exit.

And while I never contemplated suicide, there were so many times in my life that I thought I could never be happy in life- where sleeping was always a better option for me than living life- that the drain of just being awake and conscious was sometimes to much-

just keep going. one foot in front of the other, baby steps. Don’t stop striving to be happy, develop your passions (no matter what they are), and when things get hard or tough, try to remember that (and this is what I wish I could tell the 12 year old version of myself, for the 16 year old version of my self, the 23 year old version of myself):

you are not alone. however helpless or alone you might feel. I can tell you because I have been in that place- a place I never thought I could leave- and I did.

I have come up with a list of 15 things I hope will be helpful for anyone who has ever been depressed:

1. Talk to someone, anyone. A friend, family member, co-worker, or anyone you feel you can trust. It is important to get your thoughts out of your head and also a welcome relief to feel that you no longer have to struggle completely alone. Don’t feel that you have anyone to talk too? There are hotlines and chatrooms created with the sole purpose of helping people struggling with depression: http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=urgent_crisis_hotline has a list of resources. Still unsure? My email address is ourwildpreciouslives@gmail.com, I am here.

2. Laugh. I could (and do) watch hours  of funny youtube animal videos at a time..There is about a 95% chance that if I am laughing while on my phone or laptop, I am probably watching a cat in a shark costume, on a roomba, chasing a duck, or a dog with a bad case of the Mondays.

my dog, Henri, in a shark costume

my dog, Henri, in a shark costume

Whatever makes you laugh, do it: silly dancing, corny jokes, baby kittens…find your happy place and visit it often. Laughing is not only a quick way to boost your mood, but the neurological process of laughing also releases endorphins and gives your body a boost of adrenaline (much like exercising), leaving you in a better mental place.

3. Stop comparing yourself to others. In today’s society, with all of our social media outlets, it is hard for me to NOT constantly be comparing myself to other people. Be content with where you are in life and who you are..stay focused on your own hopes and dreams and remain true to what makes you happy. I am not Kim Kardashian and I may not be at the same point in life where it seems many of peers are, but thats okay and I have to constantly remind myself that it is ok. This is your life, and your journey, no one else’s! One of the hardest things for me to do is to change my negative thinking patterns. I noticed that for me, most days I struggle with starting a new day with a positive frame of mind and I used to find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning…once I realized this about myself (and it took longer than you would think!) I had to start forcing myself to think positively in the morning and started coming up with (or borrowing) little phrases or mantras to “trick” myself into thinking positively. To this day, I still go back to one of my favorite mental health spokespersons:

I'm Sailing!

I’m Sailing!

and his favorite phrases: “I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful” and “Baby steps.” Interestingly enough, when I tell myself this in the morning before I get out of bed, I end up feeling better, greater and more wonderful. 

4. Spend time outdoors/ be Active.

photo 2

Research has shown that sunlight is a natural mood booster and one of the easiest ways to fight depression by boosting serotonin levels in the brain. The sun is also is a rich source of Vitamin D and is also shown to help in bone health, heart health and to reduce the chance of strokes. I enjoy spend time outdoors: hiking in the woods, doing yoga or simply taking the time to be in awe of Nature by listening and looking. I have a habit of collecting leaves, feathers, branches, twigs, stones, seashells..ect…

photo 3

and keep a couple of my favorite ones in a vase by my bed. I sincerely feel that spending time outdoors as one of the best ways to re-focus on whats important and to remember that beauty and life is all around me, all I have to do is pay attention to it. 

5. Keep a journal. 

a page from one of my old journals

a page from one of my old journals

I find this especially helpful, if you are like me and tend to be more introverted and have trouble opening up. It helps me to look back on my journals and to reflect on how far I have come. It is also a great way to motivate yourself and a place to channel your inspirations. It also gives you a place to write down positive quotes, bucket lists, and to keep track of happy memories such as: concert tickets stubs and photos. 

6. Keep a daily routine. If you are like me, or the dog in the video in #`1with a case of the Mondays, this is not easy. I confess, This is one of the HARDEST things for me to do. The idea of a consistent, daily routine always scared me and I still struggle with it every day. I always made excuses for why I didn’t need a daily routine…but sometimes this is a very important step for those who struggle with depression. I love sleeping, I always have and used to put off getting up until the very last moment. But as a result, I never gave myself time to wake up, reflect on the day, focus on what i wanted to get done and to have a general sense of well-being. Even though the initial half an hour or so after I am up is a struggle, I feel better, more calm and more prepared for the day when I have given myself time in the morning before rushing off. 

7. Consider meditation/yoga. (dwell in the moment)

namaste1

 This one fits in with many of the other tips. Giving yourself time to reflect on life, or even to be still and think about nothing but your breath, helps to clear your head and give you a sense of well-being. I scoffed at the idea of quiet meditation for a long time, thinking it sounded to new age or something for me. I also have very little patience and always thought “There is no way I could ever sit still for an hour thinking about nothing.” And that thought is still true! I lowered my expectations and started timing myself of how long I could just “be still.” I don’t think I have ever made it past 60 seconds until my mind has wandered. But if you are intentional in trying and most of all, patient with yourself, you will get better at it and be better for it. 

8. Make plans for the future. Have an old friend you want to visit? (Cassie, I’m coming for you!) or have you always wanted to take a road trip, visit the Lourve, eat real soul food? While spending too much time thinking about the future and not enough time in the present is not healthy, it is important to have something in your life to look forward too. It could be that you are unhappy in your career or with your health. Maybe you have always wanted to write a novel or take an art class. It could be as simple as thinking about something different and fun you always wanted to cook for dinner- just give yourself something to look forward to every day! 

9. Weed out negative influences/people from your life.

photo 4-3

easier said then done right? If you are human, chances are you come in contact with unhappy people or negative situations SEVERAL times a day. At my current customer service job, I deal with many unhappy people and even when I try to remain positive, negativity is draining and wears you down.  There is a difference from coming in contact with negative people or situations and ALLOWING negative people/influences space in your life and brain. Do your best when you must deal with these situations. Be your best self and you will leave the situation with confidence and self-assurance, knowing that you did your best. But, unhappy people, generally don’t like happy  people and may try to bring you down with them (misery loves company). Don’t let them- shrug them off and go your own way (frolic in the fields, hug your dog, laugh with a friend) and don’t waste any more of your time or brain space on them than is absolutely necessary. Most importantly don’t feel guilty about being happy. 

10. Create something. 

DSC02025

You don’t have to have graduated from art school to create something beautiful that brings you and others joy and happiness. Maybe you love baking cookies or always wanted to build a bird house. There is something very satisfying in creating something that took a lot of hard work and being able to look at with a sense of pride (even if it didn’t turn out the way you thought it would when you started) and thinking “I made this.” Even better if you can share it with the people in your life. 

11. Take time for yourself. Again, this ties in to many of the other tips. But I just want to re-affirm that it is okay to take time for yourself, doing something that makes you happy. Many of us have spouses, children, parents, friends, co-workers that we spend most of our time and energy on and that is a good and healthy thing (see #13). But at the same time, you shouldn’t  be walking around feeling like a zombie, drained of emotional and physical energy. You are your able to be your best version of yourself for others, and for you when you are re-charged and re-energized. I would love nothing more than an hour long massage by a professional massage therapist (complete with the aromatherapy candles, oils, and whale nosies playing in the background) every few days if time and money allowed. Maybe it’s getting a manicure or having a glass of wine and reading a good book for 30 minutes after everyone else in the house is asleep. These little moments will re-charge you. 

12. renew your sense of purpose in life. All of us have hopes and dreams and desires for our lives. And as we get older, our lives our shaping up to be very different than what we imagined they would be when we were young and carefree (and that’s okay). While I wouldn’t change anything that has happened to me in my life (the good and the bad), because it made me who I am today..rememembering what I am passionate about gives me a greater sense of purpose in life. Don’t sell yourself short of your daydreams and don’t let anyone talk to you out of what you know you want (unless you’ve always wanted to be a gas station attendant or a tool booth worker…then we made need to talk). 

13. give back/ invest in relationships.

photo 1

Balance in life is so important. Too much time spent on only on yourself will cause imbalance, just as much as too much time spent on others (and not enough time for yourself) will leave you completely drained. I promise there is someone out there who feels lost and who could use you in their life. I also guarantee that there is someone out there that YOU are important to and who would love to hear from you. Maybe you are not ready to open up to people which brings me to my next point…

14. Adopt a Pet.

photo 2-2

The best thing I did when i first moved in to my own place 8 years ago and was feeling particularly alone and easily sad was adopting my dog Henri. There is something so wonderful about always coming home and knowing that my dog missed me and is happy to see me. I don’t argue that pets are a big responsibility and you should always consider your realistic limitations (such as money, time away from home, space). If you are not in the position for a bigger animal, how about a bird, or hamster, or even a fish! 

15. Don’t ever give up. Finally, and most importantly, don’t forget that there is ALWAYS hope. You can and will be happy. Life is a gift. I mean it. We have all made mistakes, but that is what it means to be alive and to be human. Today is a new day. Trust me, I know this mushy positive talk is annoying when you are depressed. But please, if you take one thing away from this post, let it be that, I know you will make it through this and you can be happy. Chances are, if you are like me, dealing with depression will likely be something I struggle seriously with again at some point- but even when that happens, there is hope. 

And I leave you with this beautiful tribute to Robin Williams and his thoughts on the beauty of life: 

“Please, don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this earth. Life is fleeting. And if you are ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky, and the stars that are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting start streaks through the blackness, turning night into day, make a wish. Think of me. Make your life spectacular. I know I did.” 

– Robin Williams

All photos used in this post are mine, unless otherwise noted. If you want to use, just please credit me and link back to my blog. Thank you so much! 

Artist Spotlight Interview: Singer & Songwriter Kevin Andrew Prchal

I’ve noticed a trend in my Artist Spotlight interviews; I always profile individuals who are not only amazing artists but amazing human beings as well.  Kevin Andrew Prchal is a perfect example of the two. Not only is he an incredibly gifted singer songwriter with vocals that will make your cold heart melt but he is also an authentic person and a compassionate and loyal friend. I am thankful to know him and I guarantee you will like him too! I was able to snag Kevin and get him to answer some questions for me which you find below interspersed between some of my favorite videos of Kevin singing:

Kevin Andrew Prchal

Who are you and what do you do? 
My name is Kevin Andrew Prchal and I’m a student, a singer of songs, and a maker of chili.

Describe yourself in five words: 
Polka King of the Midwest

Do you have a favorite piece/song of yours? If so, why is it your favorite? 
I guess I’d say it’s the one in progress that means the most, not the one that’s already been written.

Any tips or inspiring words for other artists? 
Never defend your art. By defending it, you’re acknowledging criticism and by acknowledging criticism, you’re wasting your time. Just create, and let it be interpreted as it will.

Terrified! by Kevin Andrew Prchal shot and edited by Justin Thompson from Justin Thompson on Vimeo.

Can we find your music anywhere on the world wide web? 
Yes, you can learn more about me by visiting http://kevinandrewprchal.com or you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram under the handle @kevinprchal

Any new, exciting projects coming up? 
My new album “Sorrow Sings” will be out this summer! It’s been quite a journey, so I’m both thrilled and relieved to finally have this thing finished.

What is your favorite: 
Color? Magnolia
Animal? Squirrels
Movie? Wall-E
Book? Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

What work do you most enjoy doing? 
Anything that gives me purpose, really. I’ve never been comfortable waking up and doing nothing all day. There’s always something to be doing, even if it’s cleaning the bathroom. Let’s just stick with that.


Name something you love and why?
Finding the candle aisle and smelling every single one of them. I’m partial to pine.

Whats the best advice you’ve ever been given? 
Stay weird.

Name something you don’t love and why? 
Gossip. It’s the poison to this world. It never has, and never will, solve a thing.

What couldn’t you do without? 
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

You’ve been selected to go on an all expense paid drinking binge with one famous artist,  one writer, and one free choice. Who would you choose? 

Tom Waits, Neil Gaiman and my Grandpa Bob. I’d love to see how their collective magics aligned.

Would you rather eat a handful of hair or lick three public telephones?
I’d much prefer to lick three public telephones, but I think it would be hard to find three public telephones. Maybe not. I just don’t want to swallow hair.

Thanks Kevin for your time! I hope you guys enjoy his music as much as I do. If you, or someone you know is an artist and would like to be profiled on my blog just email me at sunlightistheirfashionblog@hotmail.com

Artist Spotlight: Natalie Jean Bauer

by Natalie Jean Bauer 
This “Artist Spotlight” post idea came to me one night when I was thinking of how so many of my friends are talented artists and besides that, they are all also pretty hilarious. This is my little way of exposing the world (or a few hundred people a month) to the amazing-ness that they bring to my world and how happy they make me. And hopefully share that with someone else! So, I came up with some questions (some I borrowed from other art blogs) and asked my friend Natalie if she would let me interview her and post some of her artwork on my blog. Natalie is one of the most humble artists (and also one of the funniest) that I know. I have (selfishly) asked her when she is planning on making prints of her artwork and selling them, so I can buy one…but not yet. I’m wearing you down Natalie! So, hopefully you get some enjoyment out of this post AND…
if YOU or anyone you know wants to be featured in an “Artist Spotlight” post, then email me at forourcity@gmail.com. Send me a couple pieces of your artwork (whether its music, paintings, photography, dancing, stand up comedy..it all works for me!) and answer the questions. I will feature you in the next post! 

 Who are you and what do you do?

I am Natalie Jean Bauer.  I try to paint, draw, and write as often as my big dumb brain will allow.
Describe yourself in five words:
Usually really terrible at this.
Do you have a favorite piece of yours?  If so, why is it your favorite?

No favorites, really.  They are all a labor of love and yet I am my own worst critic.  The entire process of creating anything has always been essential for me, but the second I finish a piece (be it a painting, story, comic, whatever) I still notice every rough edge, every single area that shows room for improvement.  This is good in that it always drives me to further develop whatever skills I may possess, but awful when it comes to confidence in my own abilities.  I’ll probably spend the rest of my life trying to shut this off.  I am ruthless and insatiable.
Any tips or inspiring words for other artists?

Find it in yourself.  Keep fumbling and learning and don’t lose heart.  Surround yourself with books and songs that make you want to scream and explode into a million stupid pieces because of how good they are.  Pile more love and effort on literally everything you’re doing.

 Can we find you anywhere on the world wide web?


Art-wise?  Besides Facebook, not really.  I don’t have a personal website, at least not yet.  I’ve always been intensely private and enjoyed my anonymity.  A bit selfish, probably, but so often I anticipate being critiqued in a way I won’t recover from.  I don’t handle rejection well despite all the practice I’ve had.
What is your favorite:
Color?  The particular shade of green usually limited to chalkboards; grey in the beard of a young man.
Animal?  My dog, Roxy Carmichael, is the obvious answer here.  She has the personality of Gilda Radner, the heart of Gandhi, and the eyes of everyone you’ve ever loved.
Movie?  “Santa Sangre” has been in heavy rotation for me lately.  Otherwise, Martin Short’s “Clifford” never fails to improve my mood.
Book?  I just re-read Virginia Woolf’s “The Waves” for maybe the fifth time and it is always such a task but so beautiful and worthwhile.
What work do you most enjoy doing?

Honestly, it depends on my mood and focus.  It all comes in waves; I’ll sometimes go weeks where I mainly focus on writing and finishing a story and not pick up a brush or pencil at all.  But then before I even know it, the opposite becomes true:  I’ll slave over new paintings or comics before I become conscious of the fact that I haven’t written anything in months.  It’s bizarre.  My Moleskines are erratic at best.

Name something you love, and why?


I love The Voyager Golden Record.  It’s this gold-plated record that was sent into space on The Voyager so that if any aliens ever found it, they could listen to this record and know what Earth was like.  The record had an introduction, greetings in fifty-five languages, and the sounds of our planet — a whale song, crickets, the sound of an earthquake, a volcano, thunder, laughter, footsteps, wind, water, a kiss, a wild dog, heartbeats I think.  It had twenty-seven songs on it from all over the world, including Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Chuck Berry, and Louis Armstrong.  At the end of the record there were brainwaves.  The wife of one of the men in charge of the record got hooked up to a machine and her brainwaves were turned into sound.  She thought all about the earth and the life on it, poverty, suffering, and some history she could remember.  At the end, she decided to make a personal statement.  The very last thing she wanted her brainwaves to send out there, the very last thing on this golden record that we sent into space for aliens to find and learn and judge about us, was what it felt like to fall in love.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

More often than not, I feel I have no truly creative ideas.  And everything I write, think, paint, or say has already been written, thought, painted, or said by many others.  And though I value the wonderful varied perspectives of people everywhere, it makes me feel like poo.  During a public internet meltdown of sorts, I had two people whose brains and artistic endeavors I admire impart two pieces of wisdom to me in such a way that it helped to hear at that precise moment.  The first was:  the truth is that all creativity amounts to in the first place is putting the basic stuff of existence into different patterns.  These patterns have personal meaning to us.  We ourselves constitute a changing pattern in relation to the rest of the universe.  Creativity is either infinite or ‘virtually infinite.’

The second was:  you just worry about making art because you’ll die if you don’t.

I try to remember both of these things in my worst moments of self-sabotage and doubt.


Name something you don’t love, and why?

I hate labels so much.  Here I am not referring to ethnic, racial, or other discriminatory and/or offensive tags (although OF COURSE I hate those, too).  Specifically I mean things such as price tags and the stickers on plastic bins that helpfully note “Sterilite Storage Bin.  For storage.  Store your shit up in this piece, mofo!”  I compulsively pick labels off of everything that is around for even a short time in my life.  This urge is slightly in opposition to my love of text — I like monograms, painting words on walls, having lots of chalkboards and papers and quotes and journals sitting around, just to put thoughts down on.  I guess it’s just that I want to control how many and what kinds of words and text are thrown at me in my home.  Everything outside is so coated in manipulative slogans and advertising (I mean seriously, you can’t even pee at a bar without forty flyers adding to the visual chaos) that I need to be able to look around my apartment without It’sallinside-Nobodydoesn’tlove-Refrescante-Eatfresh-Ownstheroad-Stayclosealittlelonger-Doubleyourpleasure-Choiceofthenew-Camitasmejors-Gentleman’sclub-Whatissexy-It’syourlife-Thenewalbum-Unböring-Unbroken-Undecided-Uncoordinated-Unlisted-Underground-Unrefined blazing across my retinas like Satan’s own stock ticker.

What couldn’t you do without?

It’s so clichéd of an answer, but there’s no way in hell I would have lasted this long without the people I am so blessed enough to call my friends.  I couldn’t have asked-begged-prayed-starved for better people to keep.

.

 You’ve been selected to go on an all-expenses paid drinking binge with one famous artist, one famous writer, and one free choice.  Who would you choose?


Dead or alive?  I think this answer changes daily for me.  So today I would probably go with Odilon Redon because stylistically I have never wanted to emulate someone SO MUCH.  His paintings are pure magic.  Oscar Wilde, because deep-down I identify with the burned-out view and the scathing insight.  And the free choice…  I guess it’d be that neighbor dog with short legs who runs the way shrimp swim. I like when there’s a dog at a party so my social anxiety doesn’t run down my phone’s battery
Would you rather eat a handful of hair or lick three public telephones?

Whose hair?  My own hair?  I think I’d sooner set myself on fire than lick a public ANYTHING, to be honest.  I probably ingest more than a handful of dog hair on a daily basis anyway, thanks to Roxy Carmichael’s proclivity for shedding.  I’m going with the hair.  I think I could better survive that from an emotional standpoint.


a mirthful minute.

Just getting back into the swing of things…ready to start up art classes again.

One of my students said something that made me laugh the other day. We were discussing writing topics, specifically, writing a funny story about someone you knew. Most of the students started offering up suggestions like their little brothers or their grandpa’s. One student raised their hand and said they could write a funny store about Mrs. Sheffield. When asked why they thought they could write a story about me the student replied, “because she makes really funny faces.” :/ Well, at least they are entertained!

Here are some pictures I have found that have entertained me lately:

One of my favorite books, this is the face I make when I read it too!

sleepy!

“Help me baby Jesus!” hahaha
sharing is good! 

Mirthful minute pt.2

I just had to post this pic of my poor little dog Henri! I found his old Halloween costume and made him
Wear it around for a little while. He was so miserable. It was shortly after pulling this sad face that I managed to capture on camera, that I decided he had enough torture for one day! It’s the little things in life right now that are helping me get through more difficult times.