I Fell in Love Today

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I fell in love with a glimpse of you today…and you never even knew.

But there you were, sitting cross-legged, Indian-style on a gravel walkway winding through a field of scattered tombstones. You wore a grease-splattered McDonald’s uniform and were happily occupying your own world. Your head was down, but bobbing slightly to the rhythm of whatever music was streaming through your earphones.

Was it simply a short break or was the work day done? What was it like to leave the circus that is the home of Ronald McDonald, only to take shelter in the land of the dead a few hundred feet away? The image of you, of all that you represent washed over me and still remains in my mind’s eye – a jumbled collage of America, commercialism, youth, morbidity, and the ever-present hope of eternity.

On the Railway

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On the Railway
Written by: Maranda Russell

On the railway,
no one studies your face.
No grief is given,
but neither is grace.

The wheels are loud,
and the engine is hot,
bringing to mind
all things better forgot.

With the changing landscapes,
and nature’s colorful hue,
remember this thought
that will always ring true:

On the long ride back
from wherever you roam,
never return the same person
as when you left home.

Depression & Suicidal Thoughts

I’ve been dealing with depression a lot lately, mostly due to unresolved childhood trauma I believe. Today I finally felt at least well enough to make a video talking about some of the things I am going through and wanted to share that in case it might help anyone else struggling. I am also going to share the written version of the poem I read in the video here:

Suicidal Ideations
Written by: Maranda Russell

If I only had a dollar
for every time
I have looked down
from a great height,
shook a full bottle of pills,
held my breath under water,
or inhaled exhaust fumes
while thinking

I could actually do it,
I could end it all –

I would have more
than enough
to pay for all the
therapy sessions
I obviously need.

Repaint the Ceiling

“Repaint the Ceiling”
Written by: Maranda Russell

Waking up,
I lay there and wonder
how long it would take
to repaint the ceiling?
Maybe a subtle, powder blue,
or a rolling green sea?
A buttery yellow,
or a soft and gentle lilac?
Something to take the edge off
on the nights I’m cut open
and bleeding on the carpet.

Video: New ACEO Artworks! Lots of Mixed Media Collages!

Hi everyone! This is just a short post to share a recent video I made showing off some of my newest ACEO art trading card artworks (both those I make and sell and those I have collected from other artists!) I love the world of miniature art and hope others get into the hobby too! It is an affordable, space-saving way to collect and display original art! Lately I’ve really been into mixed media collage artwork, which I’m sure you can tell from the video:

 

My New Second YouTube Channel, “Nerdy Agnostic”!

Hello! This is just a short post to alert all my followers that I have started a second YouTube vlog channel entitled “Nerdy Agnostic“. The main reason I started a second channel was because my primary channel, “Maranda’s Toys & Books“, has a significant underage following and I wanted a separate channel where I could discuss more mature subject matter without worrying about kids being exposed to inappropriate material.

My new channel will be about a variety of subjects, but will likely focus largely on religion and secularism (hence the title “Nerdy Agnostic“), philosophy, social issues, politics, my own personal struggles (depression, Asperger’s, chronic illness, etc.), and anything else that I want to share with a more mature audience. If any of this appeals to you, please check out the channel and subscribe!

Here is the introductory video for my new channel:

Simplify! Do the Minimalism Challenge with Me in May!

Hello everyone! I decided for the month of May to do the Minimalism Challenge! This is a 30 day challenge in which you give away a number of items each day (1 item on day 1, 2 items on day 2 and so on). I will be donating my items to charity. By the end of the month, you will have given away hundreds of things, simplified your life and helped out others who may need the things you weren’t using. For more information, check out the video I made about the challenge:

New YouTube Video – “Behind the Scenes of My Foster Care Book”

This week’s video is a “behind the scenes” look into my popular book about foster care entitled “From Both Sides”. In this vlog I discuss the inspiration behind the book and share a few short excerpts.

I hope you will check it out! Feel free to comment and let me know what you think. You can also suggest future topics if there is something you would like to see me talk about.

Revolting against the misery of poverty

"The State Lottery Office (The Poor and Money)" watercolor painting by Vincent Van Gogh.
“The State Lottery Office (The Poor and Money)” watercolor painting by Vincent Van Gogh.

On social media and in real life, I hear a lot about how the poor “take advantage” of the system and how they “waste what they have” or are “just plain lazy”. Of course, these comments always seem to come from people who are at least close to middle class and have never once gone truly hungry, been homeless or lost everything they have through some cruel twist of fate. Having grown up in a mostly one-parent family that did accept government and charity assistance on occasion (even though my mother often worked MORE than full time), I see a different perspective.

Sometimes the decisions that the impoverished make do contribute to their own problems, but often this is due to poor foresight or desperation. They may make rash decisions based on immediate needs and not long-range goals…but that is because they are worried about survival right now and fighting for survival tends to occupy all your attention. When every day of your life is spent wondering how you will eat and find or keep shelter, there is not much energy left for self-help philosophies or economical posturing. Glimmers of hope might break through here or there (a better job, higher education, etc.), but often these desires are washed aside by the necessity of making it through this month, this week or even this day.

I will admit that on occasion the impoverished may seem to purposefully waste money. Buying a lottery ticket, cigarettes, alcohol or junk food may seem like a huge waste when someone is down to their last dollar. So why do they do it? I think it is like Vincent Van Gogh once observed, they are attempting to “revolt against the misery” of poverty. They are laughing in the face of danger and saying that this miserable world isn’t going to steal every bit of enjoyment from them. It is not really wise, but it is an emotional reaction to a life that often seems to have no hope or end.

Perhaps it is for the same reason that so many employees (even those in low paying management positions) steal from the big, impersonal corporations they serve, even if all they take home is a box of ball point pens or a few rolls of toilet paper. I’m not saying stealing is right, but in the human mind, there is always the desire for the underdog to score a triumph (even a tiny one) over who they see as the big bully on the block. All of these seemingly poor decisions are really just a way for those who feel ignored and despised to give this unfair, greedy world the middle finger. A way to quietly rebel, even if no one notices.

My New Year’s Intentions for 2015

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Happy soon-to-be New Year everyone! Around this time of year, I always like to pause and assess my life. I decide what is going good, what I need to leave behind and what I might want to work on. I don’t like to make “New Year’s resolutions” because that phrasing to me seems to have guilt built into it. When people make New Year’s resolutions, they tend to feel guilty if they fail or make a mistake and eventually just give up. I like the phrase “New Year’s intentions” better because it doesn’t have that stigma to it and to me, intentions are about trying to do the right thing. Sure, we all mess up and even epically fail sometimes, but as long as we keep getting up and trying, I don’t think we truly ever lose.

So here are my three New Year’s intentions for 2015 –

1. Focus on health. I have many health problems that I can’t do anything about, however, I do have control over some of my health and unfortunately, I often ignore the importance of taking care of myself. So for 2015 I plan to try to exercise at least 3-4 times a week (even if I can only do light exercise like walking and yoga). I will not push myself too hard or make myself do things that cause real pain, but I can try to work within my physical limitations. I will also try to eat better. I won’t force myself to give up things I love (like chocolate), but I will try to consciously pick out more fruits, vegetables, lean protein and healthy grains at the grocery store (because if I buy healthier foods, I will eat healthier foods).

2. Be more social. A few years ago I had to be more social. But now that I work at home, have taken a break from fostering kids and my husband resigned from being a youth pastor, I don’t have to be social. I can hole up at home and be a hermit. To some extent I have done that. We still go to church, but now that my husband isn’t working for a church we get to pick and choose what to be involved in instead of having it decided for us – which is great, except that I have to remember to actively look for things to do and ways to serve. It is far too easy to ignore social activities because I feel that I am not socially proficient. Sometimes I get kind of depressed seeing how easy it is for others to connect with people and make friends. I just don’t have that kind of personality.

Having Asperger’s Syndrome can make socializing uncomfortable and awkward, but I still want to make a difference in people’s lives. I want to care about others and have them care in return. The only way I can do that is to make myself reach out more. So this year I hope to reach out more to others, whether it be by saying a simple “hello” and learning someone’s name or by making myself go out a little more often, even when it is easier to stay home and veg out on the couch.

3. Stop letting people hurt me. In the past few years there have been a few people who hurt me deeply. They may not even realize they hurt me (in fact some of them think I deserve to be treated badly and have said so). In most cases, they were people who never really got to know me and then misinterpreted things I said or did. Instead of approaching me and clarifying what upset them, they either shut me out entirely or told other people a lot of bad stuff about me which isn’t actually true. By the time I knew there was really an issue, damage had already been done. I tried to work things out with some of them and find out what I did to upset them, but I was either ignored or told everything was my fault.

Maybe my lack of social skills in some areas caused the problems…or maybe they never really liked me to begin with. I don’t know. What I do know is that I’ve allowed these people to make me feel bad about myself and wonder if I am unlikable. It really dealt a blow to my self-esteem in some ways. At this point, I want to build my ability to trust others again. I want to not let a little meanness or misunderstanding hold me back anymore. I have already chosen to consciously forgive, now I want to let myself learn from any mistakes that were made and move on.

So there you have it, my list of intentions for the coming year. What would you like to change or work on this year?