Let’s Talk January 25, 2017Posted by thejinx in life, Uncategorized.
Tags: anxiety, bell, depression, let's talk, mental illness, stigma
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I suffer from anxiety.
That’s one of the first times I’ve said that out loud.
Why is that? I don’t think I will be ostracized or maligned for admitting it. I don’t think I’ll be treated like I’m diseased or insane. I won’t be locked up or force-fed medication that will erase my personality.
The people I know won’t tell me to suck it up, or that I’m faking it, or that I’m just trying to get attention. They won’t tell me to just get over it, or try to convince me that other people have it worse and I have no reason to complain. They won’t belittle me or try to cut me out of their lives.
I won’t be made to feel that I somehow failed as a person. I won’t be made to feel like getting over it is as easy as just thinking positive thoughts. I won’t be made to feel like this struggle is trivial or invalid. I won’t be made to feel like I’m not allowed to show it, or that showing it means I’m weak.
So why has just admitting it been so hard if I don’t have any of these struggles?
Because these things have happened, and that’s where the stigma of mental illness comes from. Even though I’ve never experienced such reactions, years—decades—of such responses have created an unconscious reflex to keep it to myself. People who cannot and will not understand what it’s like to live with mental illness have dictated how people who do will look at it, even to themselves.
So let’s put the dialogue in the command of people who actually suffer from it.
My name is Catherine Fitzsimmons and I suffer from anxiety. I can’t control it, it impacts my daily life, and I am not ashamed of it.
24 days of tea: Week four December 21, 2016Posted by thejinx in life.
Tags: 24 days, advent, calendar, davidstea, herbal, infusion, leaf, loose, tea
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And now, the final week of my DavidsTea advent calendar. Again, for those keeping track, it is a day late, this time due to opening night for Rogue One. Anyway, on with my reactions.
This one was… interesting. ‘Sweet’ certainly is apt. I’d say cloying. It wasn’t bad to start, but I can’t see myself enjoying this one long-term.
It had a wonderful French toast aroma dry, but prepared the only flavour I could really pick up was the cinnamon. Kind of a shame.
I’ll be honest, I drank this one while I was fairly distracted with a few other things, so I didn’t really take in the flavour properly. Suffice to say, while I enjoyed it, it didn’t stand out. If I want something spiced apple flavoured, there were other blends in the set that I enjoyed more.
Well, this may be a tiresome litany, but my hopes were low on this one because I don’t like toffee. Alas, this blend delivered on toffee, so I barely made it two sips in before it planted firmly in my bottom three with Genmaicha and Coconut Cream Pie. Moving on…
Not bad. While I like the taste of chai tea, I tend to find the flavour a little… overbearing? But this one was milder and so I found it enjoyable. It’s possible I didn’t steep it long enough, as it still looked fairly light, but following the same instructions for all the other blends yielded quite dark tea – which I generally prefer – so I think this one just isn’t as strong. In a good way.
It’s pretty hard not to immediately love a tea blend that includes tiny candy cane-shaped sprinkles before even tasting it. I think I steeped this one a bit too dark, as the peppermint and vanilla flavouring got a bit lost in the black tea. It wasn’t bad as it was, but I’m reserving final judgement on this one until I prepare it properly. It does make a very suitable conclusion to the set.
At last, I come to the end of my tea journey. It’s been fun trying out new varieties, and I’m certainly going to enjoy revisiting many of these blends as I finish what came in the set (the Irish Breakfast in particular goes very far). What I have learned is that I can’t trust the aroma of a tea blend by itself, which is usually the main selling point of a blend in a store like DavidsTea.
Would I buy a set like this again? I don’t know. It would have to be very different from this year’s for me to consider it. There were only a few blends I really loved, and they mostly seemed to be fruity/apple-flavoured blends. Perhaps my tastes are a bit narrow, but I didn’t feel like I got a wide palette of tastes out of this set.
I guess I’ll just have to keep trying more.
24 days of tea: Week three December 14, 2016Posted by thejinx in life.
Tags: 24 days, advent, calendar, davidstea, herbal, infusion, leaf, loose, tea
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Over halfway through my DavidsTea advent calendar and on to new tastes! For those keeping track, it is a day late. Didn’t get home from my event Sunday until practically bedtime. After a nine-hour day followed by a 90-minute drive down half-plowed highway, I just wanted comfort tea rather than experimentation. But I digress.
As I am not a big fan of caramel and not at all a fan of creme, and the dry tea smelled strongly of both, I was not expecting to like this one. Fortunately for my taste, the prepared tea didn’t taste nearly so strongly of either and I found it drinkable. Not one I would go back to, but not my least favourite of the collection so far.
For all my growing enthusiasm for loose leaf tea over the past year, this is the first regular tea I have had in loose leaf form. Very nice. I steeped it a bit too dark, but it still had a very pleasant, smooth taste.
… yeah, let’s just leave it at I don’t like coconut and move on.
Also, after taking fourteen pictures of the same thing, I decided to spice this one up a bit.
… Indeed. What can I say? It both smelled and tasted exactly as advertised. It actually tasted better than I expected, considering I’m not a big fan of parfaits. (This week is a bit more of a miss for me.) It’s hard for me to say I want something that tastes of parfait, but I did rather enjoy it. Although, I happened to look at the nutrition info and found a rather worrying statistic for this blend…
It’s nice. Has more flavour on the aftertaste than on the initial sip. I enjoyed it, though not enough that I’m likely to pick it up on my own.
I get the impression this is one of DavidsTea’s signature holiday blends (though admittedly, the first time I had really been in a DavidsTea store was when I went to buy this set). Nice and very complex flavour. At first, about all I could taste was the cinnamon, but as I continued drinking it, the fruit and nuts came out. Part of me was thinking that the blend is trying to be too many things, but after finishing the cup, I found I enjoyed the journey.
Just one week left now. To be concluded!
24 days of tea: Week two December 7, 2016Posted by thejinx in life.
Tags: 24 days, advent, calendar, davidstea, herbal, infusion, tea
It’s another week of tea-related adventure with my DavidsTea advent calendar!
Pretty much lives up to the name.
It has a nice flavour, though the spice is strong enough that it’s not something I can enjoy often (I’m weird about spiced tea like that.)
Has a nice fruity aroma dry, but prepared I could mainly only taste the ginger. It’s a blend I would love to have around when feeling under the weather, but not something I am likely to enjoy on a regular basis.
Oh, I like this one! Not as nutty as the name would have me believe, but the mixture of apple, cinnamon, and almonds gives it all the delightful flavour of an apple tart without any of the sugar. Would definitely go back to this blend.
I braced myself for something I wouldn’t like when I saw the name, but actually, I enjoyed this blend. Pretty fruity taste and mild green tea flavour. While I’m not likely to pick it up on my own, I did enjoy it in a sampler pack.
Day eleven: Hot Chocolate
Actually a fairly passable substitute for hot chocolate. Rather lighter on flavour, not surprisingly, but that’s probably more than a little due to the decreased amount of sugar. Not bad.
Day twelve: Bear Trap
So fruity. It’s the fruitiest. In other words, I’m a fan, especially since only one of the many fruits in this blend has sugar added, which makes the sugar content in the prepared drink negligible. It is aggressively fruity, for those who might not enjoy the flavour as much as I do. Probably also tastes very nice iced.
Stay tuned for more next week!
24 days of tea: Week one December 1, 2016Posted by thejinx in life.
Tags: 24 days, advent, calendar, davidstea, herbal, infusion, tea
This year, I’ve been increasingly enjoying loose leaf tea. So, in an effort to try out some new varieties, I decided to pick up a DavidsTea advent calendar.
It’s a cleverly packaged assortment of teas and herbal infusions that can also double as a really neat craft supply/loose part storage box. Each tin holds about enough tea to make two cups. In the interest of sharing my discoveries (but mainly just so I can remember what the heck I drank) I thought I would keep something of a log as I go.
Cute presentation. Vanilla-y scent was a bit of a turnoff, but the only distinct flavour I picked up in the drink was a pleasant minty taste. Of course, given that the ingredients are pretty much chocolate, chocolate, sprinkles, and peppermint flavouring, it’s not exactly friendly to a diet. Probably why I enjoyed it so much.
Wow. They’re not kidding when they call this a stimulant. With two types of high caffeine tea and four types of whole coffee bean in here, this thing has enough kick to replace my morning coffee. Has a pleasant coffee, nutty taste. I am concerned that a theme is forming, though, as it does also contain white chocolate. I like tea because it’s not loaded with sugar…
This was one of my concerns with getting a set like this, as I don’t generally care for green tea. But, I try to have an open mind, and after all, at one time, I didn’t like tea at all. Alas, despite the rice mitigating the green tea flavour, I didn’t enjoy it.
Now this one I liked! Fruity teas are right up my alley, so this blend definitely struck my fancy. Lovely fruity aroma straight from the tin, but there was also a pleasant spice to it as well. This is one I would go back to.
This blend smells stronger than it tastes. In this case, that’s a good thing, because it has a powerful aroma. Not a bad flavour for the most part, but the sugar from the candied fruits made it a little too sweet for my taste.
Not technically apple cider, but it is mainly made with apples. Nice aroma dry, even better prepared, and in fact tastes like a watered-down apple cider. Considering most I’ve drunk have been heavy on flavour and heavier on sugar, that makes it a win. It’s cozy, comforting, and the perfect accompaniment to falling snow and a warm blanket. Delightful.
More to come next week!
X-Wing Miniatures: Death Star trench run November 26, 2016Posted by thejinx in life, photography.
Tags: board, board game, death star, game, gaming, homemade, miniatures, minis, photography, photos, star wars, table top, tie fighters, trench, x-wing
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I took some shots this week of a custom made scenario my husband constructed for Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures and couldn’t resist sharing them. Enjoy!
The game board was constructed of wood with a printed graphic overlay. The turrets were printed on heavy stock paper from a free downloadable template, with painted balsa stick barrels. Backdrop is a star field Gripmat and of course the ships themselves are from the game.
On self-image November 22, 2016Posted by thejinx in life.
Tags: appearance, beauty, confidence, esteem, image, looks, self
A few weeks ago, I was walking through a shopping mall when I passed by a kiosk selling face cream or some such thing. A salesman tried to stop me as I walked past, but I waved him off. Then, the other salesman decided to try his luck on me with a different approach.
“Miss, there is a small problem with your pores.”
He was obviously leading into how their product could help, but I didn’t break stride. I tried to inject some lightness into the situation when he told me not to be shy and I called back, “It’s not shyness, it’s laziness.” It’s not a lie; I find a lot of personal care stuff to be a hassle and don’t bother with it.
But a number of years ago, a comment like that would have devastated me.
As a teenager, I hated getting my picture taken, even avoided looking in mirrors. I had a laundry list of aspects of my appearance that I felt looked ugly, though the worst of it was my many (cosmetic) skin problems. Coupled with teenage hormonal depression, it was all I could see when forced to look at myself and I was very self-conscious about it.
Largely, due to the aforementioned laziness, my method of dealing with it was to avoid mirrors and cameras and not think about it, but occasionally, I tried to do something about it. None of it worked. A certain multi-step acne treatment did nothing, despite my dilligently following the system for a month. I even tried putting egg yolk on my face when I read that that would help.
Eventually, I gave up. Although I wasn’t any happier with the decision, I accepted that nothing I could do would help.
I don’t care anymore. I can’t care. I was more miserable trying something that promised results and failed to make a difference than if I just accepted that I couldn’t do anything about it.
Eventually, this led to acceptance of myself, though I don’t kid myself that it was all a matter of attitude. I was very lucky. My depression gradually faded in my early 20s, letting me build my own self-confidence, some of my skin problems cleared up naturally, and I married someone who tells me I’m beautiful every day – and while I didn’t believe it at first, I ultimately realized it doesn’t matter because I knew he does.
I’m no longer afraid of mirrors and cameras. But I look back at the person I was and the person I could have been if any number of things had been different, as well as the many, many girls and women who struggle with the same self-image issues, and a tactless comment like the one from that man only trying to sell a product rankles me. That’s the kind of careless remark that can keep someone up at night in tears, thinking they’ll never be pretty.
The worst part for me is that given all those lucky factors that contributed to the self-confidence I have today, I’m not the right person to be giving advice on the topic. So to anyone who might face that type of casual belittling, I will just say that you are not alone.
And to anyone who might use such a tactic to sell something, I would like you to know that no matter how you intend it or how politely you phrase it, a comment like that can be very hurtful. Dangerously so, in the case of someone with depression or another mental illness. Wouldn’t it be better to make a sale based on a positive experience rather than a negative one?
Breaking silence July 21, 2016Posted by thejinx in life.
I don’t usually post about social or political issues (as anyone who has followed this blog, or indeed, any of my online presence has probably realized). I call it cynicism, because I honestly don’t feel like anyone who fundamentally disagrees with my opinion will be swayed to think differently by anything I could say, and otherwise I’m just preaching to the choir. I do what I can to work through my feelings the only way I can, through my art, but it doesn’t seem like talking about it will accomplish much. I also don’t want to deal with the backlash anything I say might provoke, because arguing such topics is exhausting, particularly because I don’t feel like anyone’s opinions will change.
But now, as I sit here seething over yet another black man shot by police, I can’t contain myself any longer.
It doesn’t matter what the colour of one’s skin is, or what is in their record. What matters is that yet another innocent, unthreatening civilian was shot by police when complying with police instructions. It makes me physically sick that this has happened so often so recently. It tears me apart inside that anyone would blame the victim for these unwarranted assaults – even murders – against unarmed people who were doing as they were told.
And frankly, it makes me scared for my upcoming trips to the U.S. As a white woman, I am far less likely to meet with such hostilities, but this atmosphere of unprovoked violence that seems to be permeating the U.S. is terrifying me. I don’t care that the colour of my skin protects me – that makes me more disgusted, not less. And it doesn’t protect me if some situation escalates beyond the next innocent person targeted.
It is wrong. It is horrible. And it is sickening that this keeps happening.
I don’t mean to blame all policemen and -women, either. I know that not all – or most – police officers would act that way in those situations. But the frequency with which these attacks are occurring is soul-crushing.
I believe Black Lives Matter, because all lives matter – and these lives are being targeted. Something has to change. I don’t know what; all I can do is talk about it.
Bibliophiles and other locutions August 13, 2015Posted by thejinx in life.
Tags: book, books, collecting, collections, shelf, shelves
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As a book seller, I have spoken with many people who have told me about the sizes of their book collections. Little surprises me now, and personally, I can easily understand how books can take over a closet, a room, a basement, or even a storage locker. Books are delightful and memorable and avid readers can amass them quickly, particularly those who have been collecting a lot longer than I have.
Of course, I am partial to collections. There’s something immensely satisfying about the sight of perfectly even row of books arranged on a bookshelf. Or a cabinet of DVDs and Blu-Rays. Or a shadow box of figurines. Or–I am probably dating myself here–a rack of CDs. (Although admittedly, ours is in the basement and I almost never take any out, having ripped them all years ago.)
Shortly after moving in to our current home, I took an afternoon and went through our books. I arranged the books on our two kinds of bookshelves by format, genre, and then author, got rid of all the books I no longer wanted, and managed to fit what remained almost perfectly on our bookshelves. I really only keep them all strictly for love of the collection itself; much as I might have adored the books on those shelves, I simply don’t have the time to go back and reread them all, and most have only been read once. I just like having all those books I enjoyed lined up there, and even if I wanted to get rid of more, I would never be able to decide upon which ones to part with. And perhaps there is some paranoia that maybe someday I will want to read a particular one again and will be disappointed that it’s no longer there. These are the same reasons that I don’t like to re-sell the video games I have played and enjoyed, and probably will never play again. But I digress.
For a while after rearranging the shelves, I didn’t really buy any new books. I never have bought many books, as the cost and the sheer number of books that potentially interested me, never mind not knowing where to start with many epic fantasy/scifi series, made it too difficult to decide. I have also read enough mediocre or downright bad books that I have become very selective about my books, and usually want to read at least some of a book or at least an author’s work before investing in something. I also went through a period of reading mainly free ebooks I received through promotions or utilized what turned out to be a pretty impressive library within walking distance of home. On top of all this, at the time that I re-sorted my book collection, I simply didn’t have much time or energy to read, being busy with an infant.
Eventually, I began buying books again. Very slowly, as I am still quite selective about my books, and most of the books I have bought have still not been read yet. I still frequent my library and download a lot of ebooks, and between the two, I have little need to buy books. I still generally shy away from list price, unless it is the latest instalment in a series I am actively following. Generally, those books I have bought are clearance rack finds at my local chain bookstore or books from author friends that have particularly piqued my interest. Even the number of books I have bought over the past few years has gone up and down, as I pass along books I have read and am no longer interested in keeping.
But gradually, my collection has increased. And now, after picking up a couple new books at Gen Con, I am finding myself facing the problem that so many book lovers deal with at one point or another: not enough shelf space.
Being an artist and a mother April 7, 2014Posted by thejinx in art, life, writing.
Tags: art, baby, budget, budgeting, child, hobbies, interests, motherhood, new, photography, time, writing
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New parents live in the moment. The demands of such a tiny, fragile, and utterly dependent life form are so immediate and encompassing that there just isn’t an opportunity to think about the future. That’s why those early sleepless nights seem insurmountable – because it feels like there will never be anything other than that moment. That might be part of the reason post-partum depression hits so hard, along with inadequate sleep. I know it played a large part in my baby blues.
Of course, there is something to be said about the inspiration derived from the transformation of this helpless, squalling, troll-like armful into a sapient, problem-solving miniature human, but that’s not the purpose of this post.
This post is about time.
When I was pregnant, I tried to get as much done as I could, since I was pretty much giving up the idea of getting anything done until my daughter was going to school. I have always been far from even attempting to be supermom, but she only gets one chance to grow up and I wanted to do as best I could to help raise her to be a smart, disciplined, and loved little girl.
Consequently, I didn’t get much done. Sure, I managed some tasks – I completed and published Halcyon and, more recently, Enduring Chaos, and opened up Brain Lag for outside submissions – but plenty others fell by the wayside. Those five images I posted over the last month encompassed the entirety of completed (drawn) artwork I’ve put out since I gave birth to my daughter. Prior to the quilt square I decorated over a year ago now, I had done no art more advanced than a sketch since before she was born. Things like updating this blog and posting photographs of subjects not including my daughter dropped to occasional dabbles or ground to a halt. I chose to use what little free time I had to focus my efforts on writing and publishing, and I believe that was a wise choice.
2.75 years later, my daughter is well-behaved, getting much better at entertaining herself, and communicating her needs and wants (a very welcome development).
Does this mean I have more time to focus on my own things? No. Sure, I have naptime, and after she goes to bed I rarely have to do anything else with her. But then, that’s been the case for almost two years. And when she’s awake, despite that she can play by herself pretty well, I tend to get frustrated if I’m interrupted in a task/hobby I’m doing for myself, which is unfair to her. So I still have very limited time to do my own things.
But it’s not about how much time I have, is it? It’s about how I use the time I have. Budgeting time – that’s the key. And it’s not something I’ve been doing very well of late.
The problem is one that’s afflicted me for years: I dabble too much. I just enjoy playing around in too many different media and forms of entertainment, such as:
And that’s just the hobbies I’ve dabbled with in the past month. That doesn’t include the ones I am still interested in playing with but haven’t tried in years, including various other media of 2D and 3D art, and those other things like “spend time with the family” and “six month old kitten.” This is why I refuse to attempt things like knitting or sewing: because I’m afraid I’ll enjoy it and it will be one more hobby clawing for my attention.
So how does one budget very limited free time among so many interests?
Well… the same way everybody else does, I suppose.
I’m not any worse off than anyone else with a day job or a child, and let’s face it, I’m a lot better off than many, given that I have only one child to handle and a well-behaved one at that. I guess the real issue is that I’ve never had to budget my time for my own pursuits before. I could just do whatever I felt like when the fancy struck me, evenings were longer and weekends meant something. I have much bigger obligations now than I used to, with a daughter to care for and a business to build.
But if I still want to do all these things that interest me, including those things I haven’t attempted in years like sumi-e paintings and sculpture, then I need to figure out a way to make it work.
Well, only time will tell.