Pony Gods

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Pony Gods
Written By: Maranda Russell

I pray to the Pony Gods.
I don’t know if they listen,
or even if they care,
but sometimes
they do seem to answer.

Why the Pony Gods?
Why not?

I figure the Pony Gods
have just as much a chance
of being good –
or being real
as the human ones.

Moving Sale! Selling a House is a Pain in the…

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So…my husband and I are in the process of selling our home and looking for a smaller, less expensive place. We simply don’t need a big house with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a full basement, and lots of other room just for the two of us. I have quickly learned that getting a house ready to sell is a nightmare in some ways though! Here are a few things we are dealing with:

*This past weekend we had a moving sale. Man, that was rough! Getting stuff ready for the sale, dealing with all the people the day of the sale (two of which got in a heated exchange over a tea cart they both wanted), having people trying to wander off and take stuff from parts of the house that were NOT for sale (one even took a couple pictures off the wall), having to get the leftovers ready for charity to pick up, and throwing out my back so that now, two days later, I can barely do anything.

*My idea of clean is obviously not a realtors idea of clean. I am not an extremely dirty person, in fact, I’m normally quite organized, but I am kind of bad about dusting, washing windows, and other stuff like that I simply don’t think of much. I also tend to have to pick what tasks are most important due to my health problems, so when I do clean, obvious messes, stains and frequently used areas get first priority.

*Having four cats makes it really rough to get a house in showing shape. They constantly make messes, and get cat hair in every square inch of the house.

*Apparently, when showing a house you have to “stage” everything. I’m supposed to take a normal, lived-in home and make it look like the showcase floor of a furniture store or something. Not enough furniture = bad. Too much furniture = bad.

*I never realized there were so many things wrong with our home until seen through the eyes of a realtor! Other people often comment that our house is really nice, but after listening to the realtor, I felt a little bit like I was living in a shanty or something.

*Trying to fix the timing so that we will have a new home to move into at the same time we find a buyer for our current home is stressful. Really hoping we don’t end up having to live in a motel or something in between!

Things I’ve Learned Recently

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Hello everyone! This post is just a little check-in to say hi and let you all know what I’ve been up to. I figured I would make it more interesting by focusing on what I’ve learned recently from this unpredictable thing we call life.

  • After working on a book about nutrition for a freelance client, I’ve realized how much I DON’T know about what is really healthy and how much my own diet could use an overhaul. Unfortunately, I’m still a sucker for anything sweet, which throws a wrench into those plans!
  • I’ve learned how much traumatic experiences from childhood can affect our adult lives and our physical health. It is a fascinating subject, especially if you were put through a lot of crap growing up. I would recommend the book “Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal” (written by Donna Jackson Nakazawa) to anyone interested in such subjects.
  • I’ve learned that it is ridiculously expensive to treat a cat for diabetes 😦
  • I’ve realized that our current culture is engaged in a war on free speech and free expression in many ways. Both those from the extreme left and the extreme right often seem to want to silence dissenters. The same can be said of some companies and many governments. What I thought was once only an issue in communist, dictatorial or radical religious countries is proving to be a much broader problem.
  • YouTube is full of warped trolls (ok, I didn’t really just learn that one, but I’ve been reminded of it several times recently).
  • And lastly, if you are going to date naked, have some confidence!

Life Update: Jobs, Kids, Writing & Bernie Sanders!

 

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“YOLO” collage on paper by Maranda Russell

Hello everyone! I’m sorry that I’ve been neglecting my blog lately. I hope to start remedying that now. Here is a short list of some of the things that have been going on in my life recently, as well as some of the projects I am looking forward to beginning:

  • For the last 8 months I have been working part-time in an emergency room. During that time I have met some fascinating people, but I have also been witness to a great deal of human suffering. I have always been a sensitive, rather empathic person who feels things deeply and in that way, I feel that this job has affected me greatly. I will be leaving the position soon to pursue other opportunities, but I am grateful for the experience.
  • Recently I have begun to take on more freelance writing gigs, particularly in the field of children’s writing. I have found that one of my true passions is taking the visions of other authors and helping them create great stories for kids. I especially enjoy editing picture books or other types of literature for young readers. Mostly I have been getting clients through online sites, but I am open to offers from other clients, so if you have a children’s book that you would like help editing, feel free to contact me!
  • My husband and I are hoping to start doing respite for kids and young adults with disabilities soon. Ever since we stopped fostering kids, I have missed having children around to play with and care for. I can’t wait to get a chance to have a full house again, even if it is just for short periods of time.
  • My YouTube vlog, Maranda’s Toys & Books, has been growing quickly! Ever since I decided to focus the channel mostly on my nerdy love of toys, books and collectibles, it seems to have found its niche and an audience that is a lot of fun to interact with! For that reason, I will probably be sharing my more serious or personal posts here on my blog from now on.
  • Lastly, this is kind of random…but I’m really rooting for Bernie Sanders! Feel the Bern! Even if he doesn’t end up winning the presidential nomination, I am thankful to see so many younger people step up and show they care deeply about the fate of our country. I think what I love most about Bernie is that he is such a humble, down-to-earth politician. It is truly refreshing to see.

A New Look & What I’ve Been Up To Lately

“I’ve Seen Better Days” ink & colored pencil on paper. Pretty much how I’m feeling today.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you probably notice things look a bit different. I figured it was about time to change things up and try a new design. I hope you like it! Here are a few other things I have been up to lately:

  • Visiting the ER with my husband and then trying to be a good nurse while he recovers from another back injury. I never realize how much he does on a daily basis until I have to do it instead! That is one reason why I didn’t do any YouTube vlog videos this week, just too much else going on.
  • Getting ready to participate in the upcoming Dayton Book Expo this Saturday. I hope I get to meet lots of eager readers and share my books!
  • Reading way too much Foo Fighters fanfiction.
  • Brushing up on my art history, particularly the abstract expressionism movement. Looking at awesome art by other people always inspires me to create my own!
  • Figuring out Tumblr (which seems a lot like Pinterest to me). Feel free to follow me on there if you want!
  • Selling some artworks (woot woot), including the one pictured above which I just finished yesterday!
  • Trying to figure out how teachers are expected to pay back outrageous student loans on the pay they get!
  • Munching on Chocolatey Strawberry Pop-Tarts, which are delicious!
  • Dreaming about how cool it would be to be a medical examiner (if I could get past the smells).

New YouTube video – “Asperger’s Syndrome and Social Anxiety – is it learned or innate?”

This week I decided to tackle a topic I’ve wanted to for a while on my vlog. I’ve always thought that my social anxiety is more a product of how people have treated me or reacted to me rather than a direct symptom of my Asperger’s Syndrome. I am curious to see how others feel about the subject. Hope you enjoy my latest video. If you do, please give it a “thumbs up” on YouTube and consider subscribing to my account there!

New YouTube video – how I got my Asperger’s Diagnosis (and how it made me feel)

From the feedback I have gotten from those who watch my YouTube videos, it seems that people are most interested in hearing more about my experiences with Asperger’s Syndrome/high-functioning autism, so I am going to try to focus on that some. I figured the logical first step would be a video talking about how I got my diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome and how that affected me. So here you go…

“The Big Bang Theory” Debate – is Sheldon Cooper autistic?

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(Please note I am just giving my opinion. I do not speak for the entire autistic community.)

Recently I’ve really gotten into watching the tv show “The Big Bang Theory”. I’ve been told for a long time that I should watch it since I love nerdy humor, but I am the kind of person that doesn’t get into things just because people tell me I should. In fact, I am often unlikely to get into something until the popularity of it has died down a bit.

Anyhow, as I watched an episode of the series for the very first time, I could understand right away why many people say Sheldon Cooper is autistic. If he is autistic, it is obviously a high-functioning autism since his IQ is so high and he is able to live a somewhat “normal” life. It is easy to see many Asperger’s or high-functioning autistic traits in Sheldon’s character (although they are obviously exaggerated for comedic affect). He has definite social issues (especially in understanding sarcasm, carrying on a conversation that isn’t within his personal interests, understanding rudeness, showing appropriate emotion, etc.). He has overtly OCD issues where he has to have things the same all the time and struggles to handle even small changes or errors. He is definitely uncomfortable with physical touch or physical intimacy and not entirely due to a germ phobia, although that obviously contributes to the problems.

On the plus side, he has many positive Asperger’s traits as well. An exceptionally high IQ, an amazing gift for his special interests (especially physics), an incredible memory, a unique sense of humor, loyalty to those he cares about and a sweet kind of innocence that is endearing. He is also undoubtedly honest (perhaps brutally so) and dependable. If he does in fact have Asperger’s Syndrome or some other form of high-functioning autism, he is a character that others with the condition may relate to. He may even seem inspirational since he is successful in his career, does have some close relationships and has found a way to not only survive in the real world but thrive to an extent. I find myself wondering if Amy (Sheldon’s girlfriend in the show) may have Asperger’s as well. In many ways she fits the characteristics of high-functioning autism in females (which tend to be a little different than male autism symptoms, typically with higher social abilities).

Interestingly, I noticed that in interviews, Jim Parsons (the actor who plays Sheldon) has said that Sheldon does not officially have Asperger’s Syndrome. The writers and producers of the show say the same thing, although they did explain that the reason they didn’t want to “label” the character was because then they may face accusations that they are making fun of those with the same condition or not staying true to the condition as the character changes and grows over time. I can understand that, although to me personally it would be nice to be told for sure what Sheldon’s issues stem from.

I think it would be helpful in some ways for high-functioning autism to be represented more in media/entertainment in general (as long as it was done respectfully). I personally don’t find it offensive that Sheldon is thought to be funny because of some of his unique personality quirks. Sometimes those of us with autism can be unintentionally funny (even we see that in ourselves at times), but that doesn’t bother me so long as the humor towards us doesn’t turn cruel or mocking.

Either way, I will continue to watch and enjoy the tv show, feeling in my heart and mind that Sheldon is indeed one of us on the spectrum.

A short bit of creative advice

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After a few years of being a professional writer/artist, I have come to a sad yet seemingly true conclusion – in order to be a success in any creative field, you have to adopt somewhat of a f***-it attitude. In other words, you have to stop caring so much what people think. Yes, some people will hate your work no matter how great it is…but on the up side, some people will love your work even when it sucks. Hopefully in the end it evens out.

If you dare to create work dealing with important subjects, you are bound to eventually come under attack from people who disagree with you. Many times it won’t be your work they dislike but your point of view…unfortunately most people are unable to be objective about anything relating to subjects they are passionate about. Learn to shrug your shoulders at the oddities of human nature and let it go.

Remember that in the end it is yourself you must please as an artist. There is nothing wrong with making money from your creations or even becoming popular, but always make sure to stay true to yourself. Make what you love. Make a contribution that only you could make.

National Young Readers Day – bedtime stories, my favorite childhood storybooks

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In honor of National Readers Day on November 11th, I was inspired by Casper, a new mattress company that makes latex and memory foam mattresses, to put together a collection of my favorite bedtime stories. As a child, I was lucky enough to have several family members who would often read to me. My grandmother probably read to me the most. She instilled a love of the written word in me before I could even write my name. My mother and older sister also took the time to read to me, creating warm memories I will always cherish.

Here is a brief list of some of my favorite storybooks back then:

1. I grew up on Little Golden Books and had quite a collection of them growing up. However, two Little Golden books really stuck with me. “Home for a Bunny” by Margaret Wise Brown and “Prayers for Children” by Eloise Wilkin still bring a smile to my face whenever I see them in a bookstore or library. Cracking those books open takes me back to a happy, innocent time I often miss.

2. “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” by Dr. Suess. I had quite a few Dr. Suess books growing up, but this was always my favorite as a kid. I still flip through this book when I see it in my doctor’s waiting room. A couple years ago I even bought some pajamas featuring this Dr. Suess classic.

3. “Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories” by Arthur S. Maxwell. This was the book series my grandmother read to us over and over. It is a collection of children’s stories that focuses on Christian values. I always liked the stories with miracles in them the most. That was like magic to me.

4. “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” by the Brothers Grimm. My sister and I both loved Grimm’s Fairy Tales when we were young. We had an antique book with the entire collection in it. It was not an edited or abridged version, so I grew up listening to the classic dark tales in their entirety. To this day, I much prefer the original stories over the cleaned up Disney versions.

So what were your favorite bedtime stories as a kid? Feel free to comment and let me know!