Original Art from My JRR Tolkien Adult Coloring Book

The past couple days I’ve been in the mood to do some adult coloring. Using my Tolkien’s World adult coloring book that I received from a friend, I used my art markers and other art supplies to finish these two pictures of a raven and a vampire bat, which I felt would fit the Halloween season well:

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If I remember right, I think the raven picture is from The Hobbit series, and the vampire bat is from Tolkien’s lesser known work, The Silmarillion. I like the way both of them turned out and they are listed for sale on My Ebay store if you are interested in them.

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Artemis, the Greek Goddess Who Kicks Butt

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Although I am an agnostic when it comes to the actual physical existence of any kind of God or divine power, I am drawn to pagan spirituality. I love their connection to the earth, seasons, and the cycles of nature. I also happen to love mythology, whether it be classic Greek/Roman, Egyptian, Native American, Eastern, Celtic, Norse, or whatever else there happens to be. I’m not sure if I could believe in the Gods/Goddesses of these belief systems as actual living beings, but I can certainly believe in the archetypes and types of universal energy they represent and the various facets of humanity they project.

Greek mythology is my favorite pantheon and has several Gods/Goddesses I adore. Hades will always be a favorite, as the cool ruler of the underworld. His wife Persephone is right up there as well. Athena is brilliant, and Hecate is dark and mysterious – two things I adore! But my favorite Goddess has to be Artemis (Diana in Roman mythology).

I always loved how Artemis was tough and tomboyish. She determined from her youth that she didn’t need no man! She could take care of herself and find happiness with her nymph friends and beloved animals. The other day I came across a bit of knowledge on GoddessGift.com I didn’t know about Artemis though, which made me love her even more:

“Artemis’ mother, Leto, gave birth to Artemis after a short and painless labor. But then Leto’s labor continued, with her contractions growing weak and painful. Moved to compassion, the infant goddess Artemis, born only a few minutes earlier, became her mother’s midwife and delivered her twin brother Apollo. You could say that, of all the Greek goddesses, the goddess Artemis was literally born to serve as a nurturer and protector!

The Greek goddess Artemis was frequently called upon to nurture her needy and somewhat ineffectual mother. All too often she felt compelled to come to her rescue even though Artemis received little from her mother in return. As a result of her having caused her mother no pain in childbirth, and her successful role as midwife in her brother’s birth, Artemis naturally became the patron saint of childbirth, the protector of children, and the goddess who especially heard the appeals of women.

The goddess Artemis was always responsive to the needs of the vulnerable and the suffering. She was quick to defend the powerless from unjust treatment at the hands of the Olympian patriarchy; it is not surprising that in current times Artemis is seen as the “feminist” goddess.”

What a kick ass Goddess! Right after she was born she helped deliver her baby brother Apollo? And like me, she had an ineffectual (probably narcissistic) mother that she had to take care of all her life? I can totally relate to having to come to a parent’s rescue time and time again, when you get little in return. And being a feminist in a time of overt patriarchy (especially with a philanderer like Zeus for a father)? Artemis, you rock!

 

Dark Thoughts Inspired by Dostoevsky’s “Notes from Undergound”

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I’m currently reading Dostoevsky’s novel “Notes from Underground”, which is a somewhat satirical, but also brutally honest look at the shadow side that exists within us all, whether we would like to admit it or not. As I have been reading, I have found many ways that I can see a glimmer of myself within the neurotic narrator.

For example, like the character telling the story in the book, I too have often considered myself more intelligent and consciously aware than much of humanity. This sounds like pure narcissism, and perhaps it is in a sense, although I have often thought that at least the “awareness” part of it is not something we are born with (like IQ), but something that can be cultivated. However, not many take the time to truly question their own beliefs, motives, philosophies, and the nature of reality itself. To be fair, I often wonder if those people who are more shallow or less intelligent aren’t actually more happy. Attempting to take an unbiased, penetrating look into yourself, the world, and others isn’t exactly always comforting.

Another commonality I share with the storyteller is that I can relate to his feelings of underachievement and difficulty rising to the standards he believes he should. When all your life you have been praised for your IQ, your talents, or your “potential”, it can feel like you are letting yourself and the world down when you settle for a seemingly “mediocre” or “average” life. Perhaps that results from the naive child in us who is told that they can achieve “anything”, and therefore, dreams of fame, wealth, and adoration…and then is horribly disappointed to see none of it come to fruition.

I can also relate to the narrator’s sheer spite in wanting to annoy or derail other people (especially certain people who are annoying themselves) and in taking a strange sort of pleasure in suffering. At times, do I moan and groan for my own satisfaction?  Is there not a perverse side of me that likes to “play” with the nerves of another, much like a cat plays with a mouse? Is it not fun sometimes to watch another explode in childish frustration and throw an adult tantrum? Are we not all ornery instigators at times?

Lastly, like the narrator, I have to ask myself, deep down, do I genuinely care for and about others? Sure, I don’t wish anyone harm or suffering, nor do I go out of my way to taunt others normally, but do I truly want to sacrifice for others? Am I willing to disrupt my own comfort to improve another’s lot, or would I more truthfully rather keep others at a distance to avoid the inconvenience humans always bring?

Many humans seem to be rather shallow in thought and reflection, but they are no different in basic selfishness. Perhaps to my own detriment, I do dig for the selfish roots within myself and expose them to scrutiny, which may be unusual behavior, but I am convinced that others have the same roots, just hiding far down in the shade and often not brought to light. From that, perhaps, stems my reluctance to sacrifice too much of myself for others who have seemingly cultivated no better character than I.

*I hope you enjoyed this foray into the dark side of the human psyche 🙂 I truly believe that before any of us can understand the darkness in the world, we first need to understand the darkness within ourselves!

“Mini Myths”, Kids Board Books Based on Greek Mythology

I love children’s books. I collect many different kinds of books for kids and honestly probably have more books geared towards children in my library than I have books geared for adults. Recently I came across these “Mini Myths” board books that are made for babies and toddlers (written by Joan Holub and illustrated by Leslie Patricelli). They feature characters like Pandora, Hercules, and Medusa from Greek mythology and are simply adorable:

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Here you can see a brief glimpse inside the books:

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I think my favorite is probably Pandora, although I love Hercules’ energy and trouble-making attitude. If you work with or have small children of your own, I would definitely check these books out. They are a great way to introduce even the youngest of kids to fun characters from mythology in a silly, playful way kids and parents will love.

Favorite Song Lyrics – Nirvana Edition

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I’ve been wanting to write a few blog posts about my favorite bits of song lyrics by various bands and musicians for some time. Since I have been on a Nirvana kick lately (my aspie obsessiveness kicking in), I figured I would start with them.

To me, song lyrics are a form of poetry we all encounter on a daily basis whether we realize it or not. I feel that the words to a song matter just as much as the music. A truly great song speaks to the mind and heart and leaves the listener pondering the meaning behind the words even after the song ends. So here are a few of my favorite Nirvana lyric excerpts (all of which make me feel deliciously angsty and young once again):

Hey!
Wait!
I’ve got a new complaint
Forever in debt to your priceless advice

– Heart Shaped Box

I’m so happy ’cause today
I’ve found my friends …
They’re in my head
I’m so ugly, but that’s okay, ’cause so are you …
We’ve broken our mirrors
Sunday morning is everyday for all I care …
And I’m not scared
Light my candles, in a daze
‘Cause I’ve found god

– Lithium

Load up on guns, bring your friends
It’s fun to lose and to pretend
She’s over bored and self assured
Oh no, I know a dirty word

With the lights out, it’s less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us…

Oh yeah, I guess it makes me smile
I found it hard, it’s hard to find
Oh well, whatever, never mind

– Smells Like Teen Spirit

We can have some more
Nature is a whore
Bruises on the fruit
Tender age in bloom

He’s the one
Who likes all our pretty songs
And he likes to sing along
And he likes to shoot his gun
But he knows not what it means
Don’t know what it means

– In Bloom

I’m not like them
But I can pretend
The sun is gone
But I have a light
The day is done
But I’m having fun
I think I’m dumb
Or maybe just happy

– Dumb

Come as you are, as you were
As I want you to be
As a friend, as a friend
As an old enemy

Take your time, hurry up
Choice is yours, don’t be late
Take a rest as a friend
As an old

Memoria, memoria
Memoria, memoria

Come As You Are

What else should I be
All apologies
What else could I say
Everyone is gay
What else could I write
I don’t have the right
What else should I be
All apologies

– All Apologies

Lastly, an honorable mention – the title of their song “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me For A Sunbeam” always makes me laugh and I love watching the live unplugged performance. Seeing a grunge band playing the accordion is just awesome 🙂

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!

Envying Audrey Hepburn

Sitting here watching ‘Funny Face’ starring Audbrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire.  It’s a lovely movie, but then again I love most of Audrey’s movies.  However, watching her films kind of depresses me.  Partly because she is just so elegant and beautiful, she’s full of class and sophistication, something a tomboy like me could only dream of.

Her films often have a sort of fairy tale-like quality to them that makes you wish life could really be like that.  Maybe part of it is just the fact that we all tend to romanticize the past, and the era of gentlemen and true ladies seems to have passed us by, but it feels like something is really missing from the world today when you watch classics like that.

Maybe I am just a romantic young fool with an old soul, but I wish I could wake up in an Audrey Hepburn world and just enjoy the novelty of it all for a while.  Modern life with its many conveniences may benefit our lazy society, but sometimes you just want more.