Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Work on Designing your OWN Interiors (find your soul)


I understand that Mercury in Retrograde just ended on the 22nd. Well, things haven’t picked up much for me since then. Not from my current perspective anyway.
If you're unfamiliar with the lunacy that occurs, please have a read. Also you might want to be aware of when the next cycle is due to hit this year. You know, so you're prepared. 


So here's what's going on in Penny-Land:
Earlier this year I went into business for myself. I landed a few clients and in doing so I was able to leave my nightmare of a job at a "celeb" interior design firm within 3 weeks. A new gig was totally priority numero uno for me in 2016. I was completely burned out and beyond frustrated with how the firm was being run or more accurately, not being run. The stress brought on frequent migraines and I was seeing a doctor regularly for those as well as my depression which had grown so bad I'd spend entire weekends in bed.

My idea was to teach design firm owners how to successfully put into place procedures that would eliminate much of the stress for both the owners and their staff.
It's a tried and true plan and I have had so much success with these practices, most of which were learned over many years of trial and error.
What's that saying though? You can't teach an old dog a new trick?
Well, that completely applies to one of my clients.
This past Tuesday night after several psycho emails from this client (aka design firm owner) I “fired” her.
I did.
And I lost twenty four hours of pay a week by doing that.
How did this happen?
Why did I intentionally wait one hour (to really mull the sitch over) before I responded to this designer’s emails and still cut her loose?
Has nothing changed and am I still a "quitter"??
Cuz I don't wanna be a quitter!
AND I just don't believe that my own craziness was a factor in this.
My "Crazy" has been sitting quietly on the sidelines throughout 2016; she's been a good girl.
Ahhh, but has she come out to play again?




A bit of background:
I've worked in the design industry for many years. It's had its ups & downs, no doubt, but for the most part I have found the work to be rewarding even in times of absolute chaos, up until two years ago that is. (Chaos, by the way, is one of the best ways to bring my depression on full force so at times it was quite the struggle to get through those situations.)
I've been fortunate enough to meet some amazingly gifted designers who are generous with both their time and resources. The designers and firm owners I admire are not only beyond talented and dedicated to their clients, but mentors to those coming up in the industry. Running their businesses in an honest, open book kind of way. These designers (and many like them) can still be found for sure, but over the past ten years  I've watched the design world take an ugly and unbelievably tacky turn for the worst.
These are my experiences.


WTF Happened?!?
HGTV and the "Do-It-Yourself" generation. Martha Stewart. 
Bravo introducing Jeff Lewis to the masses as well as Million Dollar Decorators.
Oprah bringing Nate Berkus right into your very own living room! 
It was all brand new & exciting for the viewers to see professionally designed rooms and catch a glimpse inside a designer's life. So glamourous designing a rock star's home!
They ate that shit up!
Then this crop of designers started receiving lucrative licensing deals to develop products. These lines would introduce an entire lifestyle of luxury at prices most could afford. There was tons of promotion in both print and on television. Book deals followed complete with whirlwind tours so the celeb designers could meet their new fans across the country.
And the consumers bought it all!
All of the sudden designers everywhere went mad! They decided they wanted a slice of that pie right along with lots more zeroes at the end of their bank balances!
No one actually seems to understand just how much work it takes to be any of those celeb designers.
No one takes a moment to consider the consequences any of this fame seeking will render on their existing business or just how slim of a chance anyone has of becoming the next Kelly Wearstler.
We are now stuck with an industry full of self absorbed, prima donna wanna-bes and talent ain't necessarily a prerequisite.
The Kardashian phenomenon has oozed into our culture like none other.
-Sidebar: Nate Berkus (if the word on the street is correct lol) is as decent of a human being as he is talented, but Oprah wouldn't ever knowingly introduce us to an asshole, would she??? Nah!



In the past our clients were the celebrities and a designer was considered for a project based on their body of work or what style they were known to excel in. You were hired based on your reputation and enthusiastic references from previous clients. Yes, yes....there have been very well known designers over the past one hundred years, but I'm pretty sure my mother couldn't pick Dorothy Draper out of a "Deceased Designer" line up. My next door neighbor has no clue who the fuck Arne Jacobsen is. I just asked.




Not anymore. Clients want "The Famous Designer from that TV show".
And even if you can't afford to hire a designer, you most likely can recognize them now.
Interior designers are to the new millenium what comedians were to the 1980s-ROCK STARS!
Why?? 
Is the client in love with that particular designer's eye for style OR does it simply feed their ego hiring a celebrity/semi-celebrity designer?
I get it if you truly dig their portfolio of work, but how would people feel if they were aware of what goes on behind the scenes at some firms?
What would a client have to know in order to bring their project to an equally talented, but better run firm that will yield the same result they want, on schedule, at or below budget? Famous or not.
What's the priority here?
Does anyone give a shit?

Why doesn't it seem to matter anymore that, often times, the designer being hired does little to no work on your project? Yet you're still being charged $350 an hour for fifteen hours of "designing" they've done each month. The bottom line is that their underpaid, overworked assistant designer made 95% of the selections you approved for your home. The celebrity wanna-be designer no longer has time for those decisions because they're way too busy coming up with cool names with their PR gal for a new line of sofas! 

It doesn't seem to phase potential clients that many of these firms are completely disorganized, and that they are going to be billed for at least four times the amount of hours it should take an experienced, focused team to accomplish a task. Keeping a seasoned designer on staff is yet another challenge. They like to split after six months because they're fried from working twelve hours days with little to no design direction because the firm owner has been out of town for weeks at a stretch doing photo shoots and interviews in order to promote their new line of poorly made, overpriced accessories. When the promo work ends the designer then usually requires a vacation somewhere that isn't their design office due to their exhaustion. It's never ending.

It should matter to a client that some designers are marking up what they sell to them based on how low the designer's bank balance is that particular week-especially after dropping 60k at Barney's on clothes for those photo shoots. 
One must Keep Up With the Joneses on those promo tours, darlings!
Fame, fame, fame.....is it any wonder?

Here's some horror stories to skim if the mood so strikes ya:

Interior Design Scams

NY Times-The Secret World of Decorators-Charging by the Glance


I totally understand uber temperamental artists, but it does not give anyone free reign to be a prick to everyone around them. Sorry, it doesn't. Try to keep in mind how you would feel having your self esteem eroded day after grueling day. Imagine how doubly devastating that is when it's coming from someone you had nothing but respect and admiration for in your industry. I know too many people in the design business suffering from debilitating anxiety and depression after years of this abuse. Therapy, anti-depressants and mood stabilizers have become our crutches in order to get through another day. Amazingly enough so many co-workers I've encountered grew up with at least one narcisstic parent & I wonder if that's what allows some of us to continue on and accept being treated like shit. We are all dispensable to the the firm owner. We're all just bit players to their fame and fortune seeking now.




In Summation:
So, no, I'm  not a quitter. No, the "crazy" hasn't returned to play. I just will no longer tolerate people who refer to themselves in the third person, compare their celebrity status in life to that of Madonna or Barack Obama (Two different designers made the comparisons, but one hundred percent true), speak to me as though I'm mentally challenged or who lash out at me via phone, text, email or Post-It. I will not be kissing anyone's ass in order to get along and collect a paycheck. I am well aware of what the difference is between excellent and piss poor business ethics and I will not be involved with the latter no matter how much you pay me.

A decision has to be made by some in this industry. Do you want to stick with residential/commercial design or do you need to dial it back and become a boutique firm in order to put the time necessary into honoring your licensing agreements? In most cases, your residential clients are the ones paying the price for your lack of availability. And guess what? They're pissed off because they don't like being ignored and they're complaining about it to all of their friends.  Oh, and FYI-most of your staff is interviewing elsewhere on their lunch hour. 
Seriously, designers, check yourself. The egos are so far out of control! Most of you are living way the fuck beyond your means to keep up the illusion of wealth.
Stop spending your client's money on shit for your country house you can't afford (the shit AND the country house!) and order their damn window treatments like you're supposed to for the love of mohair! Hold off on the 10k yoga retreat, sister, and go on an installation, look over a floor plan. Your clients would like to see you once every ninety days.
Show some self restraint because you only have $25.00 left in your Money Market account.
In other words....GROW UP!
This is a damn business.
Is it about the notoriety or the work?
Start acting like your name's on the door, bitches, or close the damn door!


At the end of the day I have to be able to close my eyes with a clear conscience.
I'll never comprehend how some people in this business sleep.
Wait, I know the answer to this.....
On 1000 thread count sheets from Frette they bought after gouging their clients!


 I believe I'll stick with my Nate Berkus 300 thread count sheets from Target, thank you very much!





Looking to get out of your nightmare of a job? Make a plan and do it!
Life is too short to spend it working for pretentious narcissists. (aka assholes)

Check this out:


xoxo
Penny









Saturday, February 20, 2016

I Have Embraced the Flame, Forever & Ever


I had to share the lyrics in this beautiful song with you.
It brought tears to my eyes, but not for the reasons you might think.
I am able to sing these words now with so much gratitude in my heart.
I will never allow anything to ever take this away from me.
It is mine.
It is powerful.
It can also be yours.

Lyrics "Heaven" by Depeche Mode


"Heaven" Depeche Mode


If your journey has been an arduous one, PLEASE know that I have walked (sometimes crawled, literally) down the same path.
I was ready to permanently end the journey in order to stop the pain.
It was all consuming.
My judgement had become questionable, at best. 
Which was really frightening considering it was never stellar from the get-go.

That being said, and with approximately one ounce of strength left in me, I finally reached out for the help I needed. 
Not to a lover, a friend or a family member. 
Nope.
This gal knew she was in dire need of the type of assistance that only a professional, with lots of degrees from prestigious universities hanging on their office walls, could provide. 
Well, that and the fact that I had pretty much sucked the life out of everyone around me.
I managed to exhaust a lot of wonderful people who loved me. 
I can be quite unlovable. 
Some of them left my life, never to return.
They'd endured years of not only my depression, but my self created, endless dramas. 
I had to find an alternative to the life I was living and I use the word LIVING very loosely.
I could not handle one more day of the never ending loop of disappointment, sadness and regret that had become my life.



These lyrics speak to my life as it is now rather than just being some distant place I believed existed only for the "happy" people.
The depressed, the abused, the addicts & your all around fuck-ups weren't allowed to buy tickets to that destination, by the way.
It's amazing that the peace that was so unattainable to me is now my truth.
Don't misunderstand me...my life is not filled with lollipops & puppies and rainbows!

I have learned & put into practice better coping mechanisms.
I have accepted the fact that I can't "fix" the chemicals in my brain that are a little haywire.
And I am damn proud of me.

My wish is that YOU never give up hope.
Believe that your heaven is close by and I promise, you'll turn a corner.
It will always be waiting for you to take a step out of the darkness. Always.

Be fearless!

XOXO
Penny



Sunday, February 14, 2016

Heartbreaker, Don't You Mess Around With Me


Today is that special day of the year for us single people to revisit the carnage we left in the wake of previous relationships.
For better or worse, richer or poorer, I've always secretly loved the drama & chaos of a fabulous break up. 
If you are interested in experiencing the full gamut of your emotions, there's nothing quite like it. 
Swinging from anger to depression to elation and back to anger again. 

I especially enjoy instigating the break up after contemplating the purchase of a crock pot or discussing life insurance policies with my significant other. The mere thought of buying a home & being locked into a 30 year mortgage makes my skin crawl.


I've questioned this behavior of mine for many years now. Why do I actually derive more pleasure from ending a relationship than the initial dreamy, falling in love part?? Here is, based solely on my experiences, what I have been able to determine:


  • I hate monotony.
  • I suck at compromise.
  • I love adventure.
  • I require spontaneity.
  • I become paralyzed with fear at the possibility of losing my sense of self. I value personal autonomy. 



On the other hand, I love monogamy & long term relationships. These build trust and have allowed me to be myself completely with a partner. Unfortunately, I have never been capable of reconciling the things I cherish about long term anything with my personal "demons".

So where am I going with this you may ask? 
This loon seems seriously at odds with herself, right?
Nope.
I've learned, after many missteps and heart wrenching, unhappy endings that my feelings are mine. They are justifiable & they are 100% real.
I don't give a shit about how others view them & I certainly don't need your unsolicited advice or approval.
I have experienced mind blowing highs & lows when I've been in love.
I wouldn't change one damn thing.

We should never allow ourselves to feel remorse over being a square peg that couldn't fit into a round hole. 
We can put up a helluva fight attempting to make it work out, but choosing to leave a partnership, that is no longer beneficial to one or both parties, can be the most fearless decision a human being can make. 

The relationships weren't at fault and neither were we. 
We must evolve, we must choose to embrace our emotions and our feelings as our truth
We can stop punishing ourselves. 
Seek out others who truly share your outlook on life.
Seek out those that "get you". 

I'll be able to recognize him now if I happen upon him.
I don't even know if he exists, but that's cool, too.
Settling is just no longer a viable option.



Happy Valentine's Day, to all of you beautiful heartbreakers!










Monday, May 25, 2015

Wait....Where's My Depression??





What have I been up to for the past three months?? Well, I've just been enjoying my non-depressed life, that's what!! Still settling into my new place, still overworked at the office, but I am feeling pretty damn good these days! My eyes are on the look out for "true love" while I openly embrace this peace that has miraculously come my way after decades of living in a constant state of duress and sadness.

Very excited to report that after years of searching I have found an unbelievable doctor that I genuinely dig, but more importantly whom I have complete trust in. I am putting in the work necessary to move my ass forward and it seems to be paying off!


Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.
Rabindranath Tagore


Something strange has accompanied my new found happiness; for the first time I can recall, I don't feel compelled to write. I am unsure if this is simply because I have been too busy basking in being free from that cloud of darkness that had followed me around for so long or what...I don't know the answer.

What I do know is that I miss connecting with all of the kind souls I have met blogging here so I am posting today to simply say "I miss you and I continue to send good thoughts and so much love your way!"

xoxo
Penelope

Thursday, February 12, 2015

I Sometimes Drown in the Deep Blue Sea




And on occasion I sit alone with my thoughts and wonder when will this pain dissipate. Sometimes I use my last remaining ounce of energy in order to send forth any love or strength, but are any thoughts on me? 
Overwhelmed by the prospect of inevitable change and doing my best to stand tall.
There are days filled with so much beauty and those that submerge me in the deep, blue sea.
Today is one of those days I choose to speak from the darkness and
yet tomorrow holds still another tale for both you and me.

Much love & peace always,
xoxo
Penelope


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Can I Get a Little Love???

If your mother did not know how to love herself, or your father did not know how to love himself, then it would be impossible for them to teach you to love yourself. They were doing the best they could with what they had been taught as children.

THAT statement speaks volumes to those of us who continue to self sabotage throughout our lives. So, what comes after we realize and embrace the fact that our parents were ill equipped to teach us how to love ourselves? What are some things that can move us down the path of self-love and acceptance? We are obviously on our own in this venture so let's explore some options for healthier living through loving ourselves. Let's attempt to figure out how the hell to do that after years spent mistreating ourselves, shall we?

#1- What the Fuck Are You Eating???



Seriously, what are you putting into that body of yours? Chemically processed foods, GMOs, refined sugar. Nope...not good, my friends, especially if, like me, you suffer from depression. When I eat well, I feel well not just physically, but emotionally, too.

At times when I fall into a funk I've been known to binge eat junk food-McDonald's, Taco Hell, donuts, candy bars and my personal favorite: French cream horns (I live for them!)


Sugar absolutely destroys my sanity! I mean that wholeheartedly. Nothing can push me further down the rabbit hole faster than a few days of shoveling processed sugar and empty carbs into my body. It's a vicious circle you can get trapped in and it is UGLY!

I have to STOP, get a grip and gently explain to my strung-out self that I am single-handedly making my depression that much worse. Loving yourself means you are willing to make proper decisions when it comes to nourishing your physical and mental states of being. CHOOSING to feed your body well is a vital step towards learning to show yourself love. Your body and mind will thank you...in soooo many ways!!

Nutritious Foods to Help Fight Off Depression

#2- Shake That Thang

9 Health Benefits of Dance by Madeline Knight
1) Boosts memory
2) Improves flexibility
3) Reduces stress
4) DIMINISH DEPRESSION
5) Helps your heart
6) Lose weight
7) Balance better
8) Increased energy
9) Make friends

I've always been one who enjoyed dancing since I was a toddler. I am certainly not claiming to do it well, but who cares when you love something...DO IT!!
Getting up and moving can be a grueling challenge when you are all funkified and blue, feeling like civilization would be better off without your sorry excuse for a human being. I am here to tell you that if you can drag yourself off that damn sofa that your ass has been glued to for days, turn on some music you love and just start slowly shaking your groove thang, I PROMISE your depression will diminish. Dance, be depressed, repeat!


Play this video...I dare you to not start grooving along. 
Oh, please....you know you love Abba!! lol



#3- Let's Make Some New Friends

Listen, the very last thing on our minds when we find ourselves locked in yet another battle with our depression is finding and making friends! OK, I totally get that, but self isolating is making the sitch that much worse for us, so what can we do about this? I had to do some serious thinking on this one because most of the suggestions I've read to date truly were lame. Sorry, I'm not looking to join depression anonymous or a church group. Hey, if it works for you then God bless, but neither are my thing...sorry, just being honest here.

I'm thinking more along the lines of really sitting with yourself and getting tuned into what your interests are. Not just activities or hobbies you may already excel at, but shit that you absolutely suck doing. Nothing bonds two people faster than bowling three straight games of gutter balls or admiring your pottery ashtrays that were actually meant to be vases! What brings people together more than being able to laugh at themselves??? AND those are EXACTLY the type of friends we need.

Just sign up for a class and then see what happens. Most of the depressed people I know are some of the funniest muthas I've ever met so you should have no problem making friends. The real challenge here is going to be making yourself actually ATTEND these classes on the regular and that's where this love yourself thing comes into play-
Ask yourself this question:
"Do I want to get better or do I choose to spend the rest of my days in this foggy, sullen haze?"
If you answered yes to the getting better part: sign up for something, ANYTHING right now! No one cares if you miss half the classes. I'm still giving you an "A" for effort, pals!!

Oh, and if you decided you'd be better off staying in your depressed state, well you are probably going to remain friendless for a while. lol
You'll get there, eventually.
C'mon, show yourself some damn LOVE already!!

#4- Fill That Brain of Yours With New/Old Ideas
So we are eating healthy, dancing, taking classes and making all sorts of new acquaintances....what next? What should we do now? How about some old fashioned thinking?

Depression has a way of knocking us off our original life plan. We get slammed around by the illness and lose our way. That's just how it is, comes with the depression package, no worries...if you are still here, there's still time to get back on track.

Try to recall your passions (I KNOW this is no easy task, trust me) and begin to pursue them again. Baby steps and know this is a loving thing to do for yourself. Let joy slowly return to your life.






#5- Why Do You Continue to Work at a Job You Loathe?

Ugh. I'm facing this dilemma as we speak, readers!
A paycheck? Health insurance? Being capable of paying the bills on your own? Sheer terror of being unemployed??


I really don't know why many of us waste so many years stuck in jobs that make us ill almost on a daily basis. My job stresses me the eff out. I want out desperately. I think I'm loving myself enough to make this happen, BUT not without a solid plan and that does not come together over night.


I am currently giving this much thought and consideration. As we age we naturally question what our current state of affairs is doing to prepare ourselves for future happiness.

***How do we set ourselves up to be comfortable and yet at the same time at peace? I welcome your opinions as well as your story on how you personally have made the transition from job-you-hate to I-love-what-I-do.***



I conclude this exploration on self love by sending you my best wishes in finding and expressing the same always.

Hoping you enjoyed them!!

We can do this!!

xoxo
Penelope






Sunday, February 1, 2015

Death by Match.Com

Match.Com....hmmm.
Yes, I have gone on a couple of Match dates.
Yes, they both sucked.
And yes, one guy did show up (first date no less) with a bag of creams and lotions from Bath & Body Works as a gift for me which creeped me out to no end, as you can imagine.
So the Match experience was not a good one for me previously.



Tuesday night after a long and stressful day at the office I decided a few glasses of Pinot Noir were on the agenda. Off I wandered to a nearby establishment. Alone. As I sat at the bar inhaling my wine and crab cakes it is brought to my attention that there is a Match.Com mixer starting in this room in about twenty minutes. "Holy shit!" is my immediate response upon learning this surprising twist to my evening as I wipe pieces of shredded cabbage from my lips and request yet another glass of wine be brought my way.

First two men wander in. I eavesdrop on Hopeful Henry and Negative Ned much to my amusement. Henry feels this mixer is going to change his life. Ned? Not so much. No ladies have even come through the door yet and he's already poo-pooing the night to death. Ned has glasses on that make his eyeballs appear four times larger than they actually are and I cannot figure out for the life of me where he thinks he's headed with that shitty attitude of his! Henry, on the other hand, is a gentle, soft spoken man with a kind laugh and I appreciate his tolerance of Ned's negativity. Henry will be fine, even if he does seem a bit timid.

Scene of the crime


So I am taking it all in for about fifteen minutes mesmerized by how the place is filling up with Matchers! Pouring through the door! They are mixing it up; lots of chattering and ordering of cocktails. It's a fucking study in sociology for me!! As I suck down my second glass of wine I notice out of the corner of my eye a woman standing at the end of the bar. Alone. I realize I now have a mission.

"Why are you just standing here?" I inquire. "Because you've been to these mixers before and they suck?" Laughter. Jenny lets me know she has not had much success with these mixers or through the on-line dating site. She has found after several months that while some of the men are looking purely for companionship (friendship) not one has been interested in a relationship and that, unfortunately, is exactly what my new bestie has in mind and she isn't about to stop her search now.
I continue not quite certain where this is headed.
"I say we work this room! If you see someone you are even remotely interested in, we stop and chat, otherwise we just keep moving, ok?" My new friend Jenny seems to buy into this and off we go!
We spoke with 90% of the crowd including my conversation with lighting salesman Tom that ended with me reprimanding him: "Please stop staring at my rack."


The women clearly outnumbered the men three to one. I'd say since the room was at capacity, at least a hundred men and women turned out for the event. Impressive on a week night. I started grilling the women as they provocatively sucked on their straws (it was weird, really). My top question? "Why would you come to one of these mixers?" Hope was the numero uno response. These women continue to roam about our fine city never losing faith. They get off work, freshen up, reapply the make-up and head on over to the next Match.com event. Remaining ever hopeful as they coat those lashes with yet another layer of deep black mascara. 

Three hours and two more Pinot Noirs later I'm dying from boredom and outta questions. We form a Soul Train line and encourage those with the pleading  "Please help me escape this conversation" looks on their faces to join in. By far the most fun of the evening. Dancing truly does bring the people together! My new friend Jenny is dancing her ass off and chit chatting with everyone in a ten foot radius. My work here is done I think as I slip on over to the coat check girl who proceeds to confide to me that not one of these male "Matchers" has given her a tip tonight!! SAY WHAT? Cheap on top of boring sure isn't helping your cause, fellows!! 

On my way out I catch a quick glimpse of Hopeful Henry chatting up a pleasant looking, middle aged gal. (AND yes, she too is sucking on that straw for dear life!) Good for you, Hank, good for you!! Negative Ned is nowhere to be found. Hmmm....maybe attitude really is everything....especially at a Match.com mixer!!



Sending you much love & strength!
xoxo

Your still single,
Penelope



Thursday, January 29, 2015

Guided Self Meditation


For those of you who have expressed interest in beginning a meditation practice I thought you might find this helpful.

The exquisite Veronica Krestow has guided me through some rough patches over the past four years and I know she will resonate with some of you as well.

Enjoy!!

xoxo
Penelope


Friday, January 23, 2015

What Music Can Do for Your Soul




It's been awhile, (over a year actually!) but this past week I had a few friends over and made sure I had the obligatory background music on during dinner. I noticed after about an hour we were all feeling the groove of some classic R&B. All the bullshit of life--job stress, depression, anxiety, money woes, relationship issues fell by the wayside. 
I basked in the warmth of friends smiling just watching their shoulders drop as our worries disappeared for a brief time. Well, except for one friend who couldn't stop looking at her cell phone the entire night....oddly enough her shoulders never dropped.

I made a comment to the group that I wasn't incorporating enough music in my life. Mine was formerly a house where music played from sun up until I turned in. I woke up to it, jammed and sang my heart out in the car to it, relied on it to soothe my very soul. Somewhere along my journey I cut music out. Why would I eliminate music from my life for the love of all that's holy? When the funk did this occur?
Someone who got so absolutely excited attending shows in small venues, discovering a fresh new band with which to fall in love with and here it's been two years since I even added any songs to my itunes playlist!! What's up with that shit???

After announcing to my guests that I had all but banished music from my life, my sweet friend Stacey speaks up and lays a quote on us all that will have a significant impact on us fellow diners-
 "The function of music is to release us from the tyranny of conscious thought." 
Wow, yes....so fucking true!! 
Conductor Sir Thomas Beecham really knew his shit!!



So what specifically does music do to your brain? What happens to your soul when you go without those sweet sounds? I decided to investigate all the pluses involved with basking in the sounds you love, but I also set about discovering why I 86'd music, something that had always brought me so much joy since childhood.

Gettin' Down: Penny-Age 2

"Scientists have found that the pleasurable experience of listening to music releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain, important for more tangible pleasures associated with rewards such as food, drugs and sex." 
-Dr, Robert Zatorre/Neuroscientist at The Montreal Neurological Institute & Hospital-The Neuro at McGill University
(Read more-http://earthsky.org/human-world/listening-to-music-releases-same-brain-chemicals-as-food-drugs-sex)

The Depression Cycle
The symptoms of depression can bring about some drastic changes in a depressed person’s life, daily routines, and their behaviour. Often these changes can perpetuate the depression and prevent the depressed person from getting better.
For example, a lack of motivation or a lack of energy can result in a depressed person cutting back on their activities, neglecting their daily tasks and responsibilities, or leaving decision-making to others. 
Have you noticed these changes in yourself when you are depressed?
When your activity level decreases, you may become even less motivated and more lethargic. When you stop doing the things you used to love, you miss out on experiencing pleasant feelings and positive experiences. Your depression could get worse and this becomes a vicious cycle.
Similarly, when one begins neglecting a few tasks and responsibilities at work or at home, the list may begin to pile up. As such, often when a depressed person thinks about the things they have to do, they might feel overwhelmed by the accumulation of the things that they have neglected. This might result in them feeling guilty or thinking that they are ineffective or even, a failure. This will also perpetuate the depression and the depression cycle. 
-Center for Clinical Interventions/Washington


Why Give Up On Things You Love?


I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with you, Mr. Marley. The INTENSE pain one feels in their heart upon hearing a song that was part of a past relationship that ended with you being in an equal amount of intense pain can and will stop you dead in your tracks. I have literally had to pull my car off to the side of the road as my tears were preventing me from driving safely at times when one of these songs came on the radio. Music is so completely powerful!

Let me point out that these freak outs on my part are zero indication of how I currently feel about these former partners. It's more that at the time, while you're in that relationship, you believe it's forever and somehow hearing those songs after the wreckage has been cleared makes you feel duped. I believed in "happily ever after", but the years teach you otherwise unfortunately. I will do just about anything to avoid these tunes and that includes not ever listening to certain radio stations that I feel could possibly include them in their playlist. No, I don't get nostalgic-more like overcome with emotion.

There are some things you love that one most give up on if for no other reason than preserving your sanity. Life has a distinct way of teaching us to become discerning creatures for our own self preservation. Closing yourself off from all the beautiful experiences out there should never be an option. Please don't allow yourself to shut down in those areas. You'll miss out on so much! Hmm....about time I heeded my own advice!


 

What I realized the other night at dinner is that I'm over it. I'm done denying myself access to so many things that bring me joy because of some fucked up belief that true love no longer exists. It does exist, but one will never stumble upon it again if they choose to stay locked up in a house filled with sorrow and regret and distrust. That was the past. I've learned innumerable lessons and I'm done. I'm fucking over heartache and melodrama...well, perhaps a little melodrama every now and then!



xoxo
Penelope

p.s. Thank you, Stacey, for inspiring me. Love you!


Here's some links to some very interesting reads on the power of music. I hope you'll check them out :)

http://blog.pickcrew.com/the-magic-of-music-and-what-it-does-to-your-brain/

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/24/using-music-to-lift-depressions-veil/?_r=0


Saturday, January 17, 2015

We're All In This Together


I can't write when I am uninspired. If I have a blah, nothing kinda week, what's there for me to say? Can I still pull something from deep inside of me to share with another? If I cannot hear my own voice am I still speaking?

This week it occurred to me that rather than always believing I am unhappy due to my depression (or perhaps being unhappy is the cause of my depression, who knows?) I may want to face the very real possibility that I am just sad. I'm fucking sad. I stare back at my reflection in the mirror and my eyes are dead. No more gleam and I think back to a time when I actually believed I possessed some sort of magic. I did. I used to believe that I was magical. Didn't we all long ago?

Not all of us are resilient. Some of us are ill prepared for the challenges life throws at us. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger? No, sometimes it just kills you. On those days when reality slaps you upside the head you may not have the strength to pull through by yourself. That brings me to my next topic: Intentional alienation

Why do some of us choose to purposely withdraw?
I, personally, do it as a favor to others. Seriously, I don't think anyone should be forced to spend time with me when I'm feeling funky, blue or in one incredibly catastrophically foul mood. Unfortunately, my bad mood has been going on for about four years now, but that's really another story for another time! Lol.




Here's what I learned this week-I am looking forward to starting therapy in a few weeks. I have gone as far as I can go on my own and am looking forward to the support. I welcome it and you have to be honest with yourself and admit that sometimes you might need a little help :) The self help books, the inspirational videos and the meditation definitely make a huge difference, but I am hoping that through therapy I can see even more of a difference. I don't want to spend the vast majority of my life in a haze of sadness and negativity any longer. Unfortunately I can't see the trees through the forest right now or however the fuck that saying goes.

I am grateful that I have been able to admit that I am needing some guidance above and beyond my own capabilities and in my opinion a fresh perspective is exactly what I am needing in order to take my healing to the next level. After researching many doctors in my area I truly hope I made the right decision because I don't know about where you live,  but there's a two to three month waiting list to get an appointment with a reputable doctor where I dwell. AND that's WITH private health insurance as some docs do not accept anything state funded. I also discovered that many doctors aren't accepting insurance period, cash only, people. I spent $450 out of my own pocket for one visit last fall as I was desperate to get an appointment and didn't feel I could wait the minimum amount of time to see someone in my PPO plan.

This experience with our health care system has caused me to think about how many people out there in similar situations have mental illness that goes untreated. How do they make it through some days I wonder!! When you are suffering from major depressive disorder, just doing an on-line search of doctors can be overwhelming. Trusting that once you begin seeing a therapist regularly that you have put yourself in capable hands is yet another can of worms. I plan on sharing my experience with you in my blogs in that respect.

My idea is to start a support group for those who are hanging on, waiting for that elusive doctor appointment. A place where you can roll in in your damn pajamas with no judgement. A group of people who completely get what you are feeling and are there for no other reason than to be supported and supportive....maybe not always on the same day!! A coming together of folks sharing their opinions on local doctors and medical assistance. Some days just watching a comedy with a bunch of other people who aren't really in the fucking mood to chit chat, but are in dire need of being around others. I'm thinking a yoga night, game night, meditation and a place to gather resources on getting the help you may be requiring. It is completely unfair how our health care system makes desperate people, who can barely make it through one more day, wait endlessly to get in to see a doctor. Ridiculous really.




So I am working on finding a space to hold these meetings. I can't stress how much value this type of group could possibly hold for so many others struggling. I cannot even begin to explain how beneficial a support group of this nature could be for me as well.

Asking for strength and good wishes to be sent my way (sending them right back to you!) in locating a space to conduct this group and SOON!!

Check out Patrick Kennedy's Site:
http://www.patrickjkennedy.net/


xoxo
Penelope