Tag Archives: United States

Hello, friends. This is my friend Mel. Mel does a lot of good for our community and we’re hoping you would take some time to pay it forward with a vote for her Upcycling and Thrift Boutique. She has entered a video into this contest and we need as many votes as we possibly can get, so pretty please follow the link, vote for Mel’s Thrift, and share this. You will be doing a great service to the people Mel helps. Thank you.




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addiction (Photo credit: Alan Cleaver)

I’m currently in addiction therapy attempting to manage my bipolar disorder. Whether a person’s doing meth, popping pills, smoking crack, shooting heroin, snorting coke, enjoying a beer, drinking coffee, eating paint chips, or sniffing sharpies, addiction is addiction. What is an addiction? A habit that is difficult to stop doing because it’s amplified by cravings.  People go into treatment for addiction because some of the substances they crave lead to self-destruction. With bipolar disorder, I want to avoid addiction and need all of the help I can get.

First Salad of the Season

First Salad of the Season (Photo credit: Chiot’s Run)

When one goes to treatment, what is it that person is expected to do? Forget about the sharpies and accept aroma therapy as an alternative. Using meth? Time for regular urine analysis! Like pills? Try meditation! Want some crack? Come to excessive meetings to discuss addiction instead! Need heroin? How about learning some breathing techniques? Wipe that powder off your nose and pursue an interest! Stop drinking that coffee, opt for Green Tea or decaf and don’t even think about that beer or those tasty paint chips, choose to eat a salad instead. In other words, it’s a trade-off because the addiction is still there; it just takes on a different form. I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around the thought of a person dealing with a situation that makes him or her angry and emotional, then ending up furiously chewing a salad in order to stave off some sort of a craving. Don’t get me wrong, this is a nice thought; but, is it realistic?

A depressed man sitting on a bench

A depressed man sitting on a bench (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have to say that I’m doing the best I can to participate in the group therapy adequately; however, I’m saddened to report that going to group therapy has proven to be a trigger which makes me want to drink. This last session, it was a lot of work to get the gist of the information offered to me while experiencing skyrocketing anxiety levels. The topic of the discussion was the expectation of flexibility in exchange for NO COMPROMISE. After a 90 minute lecture presented in an “it’s my way or the highway” format, I came home from group therapy feeling quite teary and depressed, so I withered away into my bedroom.

Another reason why addiction is so difficult to beat is because when one is an addict, finding a substance to abuse is fairly easy. If an addict has a substance within his or her possession, then it’s simply a matter of using it. In many cases, the substance conforms to the user and is far more convenient than attending a regularly scheduled group to conform to. To put an addict in treatment is to require that person’s “presence” and participation. Often times, an addict will relapse following treatment because once treatment is finished, then the structure is gone. Why? Because the user is no longer required to be “present” and his or her problems still exist; therefore, this leaves the addict with a doorway of escape.

This is where continuing individual therapy picks up the slack. Personally, I do much better with individual therapy depending on the therapist. Individual therapy goes beyond the over simplified “what’s in the box, what’s not in the box” exercises in group therapy; however, I have a tendency to see both sides of most situations. My therapist told me to once a day, at least be aware of my presence. Yesterday, I sat on my back patio admiring the plants I have in containers and counting my son’s tomatoes. Then, I looked at my hands and noticed how my middle-aged skin is wrinkling up. I became aware that where I’m living doesn’t belong to me and the patio isn’t mine, either—even if this place did belong to me, it’s something that can be taken away. In fact, everything in my life can disappear. I felt extremely vulnerable and began to swallow a large lump I felt welled up within my throat. Then death began to speak and said that if I could die in this moment, I could be content. This is “what’s in the box” right now.

Grim Reaper (advertisement)

Grim Reaper (advertisement) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What isn’t in the box anymore is my life prior to 2007. I was in a marriage I didn’t feel valued in no matter how I tried; but, the lights of my life have always been my family members. I grew very tired of the situation and decided to attend college as an alternative to feeling worthless. My then husband didn’t support my decision to better myself and the marriage ended. I think perhaps he was fearful of the student loans I would amass and he had no faith in my ability to achieve a degree while suffering from a mental illness. He greatly underestimated my intelligence and what he didn’t realize is that I needed an alternative to depression.

I witnessed how treatment for my bipolar disorder added up to a very large sum over the course of just one year. I walked away from a ten-thousand dollar, three-day hospital stay with a costly prescription, a recommendation for ongoing therapy and a diagnosis for an expensive, permanent disease in which I was left to manage with no education and no budget to do so.

Becker College Class of 2011

Becker College Class of 2011 (Photo credit: Office of Governor Patrick)

Although the structure of college classes was also costly, it was useful therapy as it added up to a degree and I walked away with something; however, graduating is as if I dropped out of therapy and now that structure I came to depend on is all gone. Currently, I find myself no better off with a degree than without it. On a positive note, I would likely find myself in this exact same predicament had I chosen the medical route instead of a degree. I feel I made the right choice; however, I find I’m able to score employment within low paying, highly stressful environments filled with conflicts in which I have no capability of handling or provide input to help control –and I didn’t even need a degree to be hired. What’s worse? I’ve concluded that my wages are likely going to be low anyway, so I’m willing to let go of some stress for an even lesser wage; however, those are positions in which I’m over qualified.

Overqualified (novel)

Overqualified (novel) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What I neglected to think about when I enrolled in college is that having a degree in no way offers any means to manage real-world anxiety better. I’m not sure that drugs or ongoing therapy will either, as I’ve attempted these routes with little success.

Fortunately, my individual therapist isn’t a big advocate for medication and I feel there should always be alternative treatments. My perspective is that in medicine, a patient walks away with an expense in exchange for a chance of “feeling better” while a practitioner walks away with his mortgage payment. My entire motive for getting an education was to contribute to society rather than sucking away from it one prescription at a time. My perspective is that I have a responsibility to accept the fact that I have a permanent condition known as bipolar disorder and attempt to work with it because there is no drug in the world that can change it. Not everyone who has bipolar disorder is unmotivated. What one may see as delusions, another may perceive as hopeful inspiration or creativity.  What one may be viewing “inside the box” are solid items, whereas another observer may notice a distinct relationship between the very same items. Just because there appears to be empty space between the items doesn’t mean the space itself doesn’t exist.


Pie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think perhaps I need a different type of group therapy; although I’m not sure what. I do know that I’m tired and my resources are limited. I very much dislike someone else dictating to me what is and what isn’t in order to prove a point; for example, having someone point out that everything I see in the box is actually a trigger; yet, for the sake of convenience and correctness, not all places that sell alcohol are triggers. A gas station that sells beer is not the same kind of trigger as a liquor store because it sells gas, snacks and other things; therefore, it isn’t in the box and not a trigger. On the other hand, a person who eats paint chips and a meth user are both addicts and it’s one in the same. All addicts are addicts, so a trigger is a trigger! How is telling a struggling addict an opinionated idea of what is and is not a trigger helpful? It isn’t. A pie is a pie, no matter what flavor it is or how you slice it.

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Steve Stones, artist in Ogden Utah

Steve Stones relaxes in front of Ogden High School. Stones is a native of Ogden, Utah, and has been known to buck the dominant local mores on several occasions.

If the community was a parent and Steve Stones it’s child, Stones would be the black lamb of the family who everyone wants to keep quiet about. Stones has graced the pages of the local newspaper on numerous occasions due to some of his shocking content. His latest censorship occurred two summers ago in the very conservative community of North Ogden, and consequently he made the front page of the Ogden Standard Examiner over the word, “Sex.” Despite his Latter Day Saint upbringing, Stones is openly a critic of religion to the point of Atheism. Stones states the reason for this perspective is “I’ve seen how religion chokes people’s perception of life; if people are ideologically entrenched in their beliefs,  it causes them to look at the world from a very narrow perspective. Gay marriage and women’s right to contraception are examples of how religion is a way of controlling thoughts and behaviors. Religion doesn’t coincide with creativity.” “Our previous president [George W. Bush] stated ‘God told him to go to war,’ look at what this has led to. He put both wars on a credit card and it has changed our whole capitalistic system because now the American People are having to pay off that debt and had caused companies to lay people off.” Stones continues,” Think about it, if there’s a God, would God really want people to go to war? If we’re all Children of God, then would God really want one child to kill the other? It doesn’t make any sense.”

Crucifixion of The Hamburger Messiah [Ronald McDonald] y Steve Stones

“Crucifixion of The Hamburger Messiah” was painted in 1998 by Ogden Artist Steve Stones. Stones deconstructs iconic symbols to get viewers to reconsider their meaning and what these icons communicate.

Also a critic of capitalistic culture, Stones’ perspective is seen in his artworks as well; for example, although it seems funny to some, here’s one of his coveted pieces entitled, “Crucifixion of the Hamburger Messiah.” “We are a culture obsessed with symbols,  when you see symbols used in contemporary culture they typically have nothing to do with the products they represent. It’s just an eye-catching way of getting the consumer to pay attention to the product.  Symbols become iconic, just like religious symbols” Stones says. English: Enlargement of the 20-dollar bill. En... Although I have a better tolerance level for religion, many people including myself tend to agree with Stones. It’s no accident that “In God We Trust,” is the motto printed upon the American Currency, or that McDonalds ranks #1 in the American Food Industry, despite exposure of questionable ethics and the potential consequences of its global popularity.

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My sister traveled to Europe for her 40th birthday and brought back several photographs and souvenirs. I truly appreciate the fact that I was on her mind while she was among such a wondrous environment. I’m very grateful to have such a loving, caring sister. She works very hard and deserved every second of that trip! Additionally, the photos were just awesome and I found myself asking how the environment smelled, what the temperature was like, how was the humidity, etc. (you know, questions about all of the other senses that can’t be duplicated).


Venice (Photo credit: Arian Zwegers)

Some of her photos were mini-videos. We’re so lucky to live in an age when communication is so easily accomplished with the advances of camera phones! My sister played one of the videos; I admired the crystal clear, high resolution motion picture of her riding with her husband at the back of a boat in Venice. Her amazed expressions were childlike as the boat floated along canals dividing intricate buildings connected by bridges which were centuries old. I was reminded of what a foreign exchange student said once in a college class a few years ago when one of my fellow students had inquired about culture shock, she simply stated “One of the biggest adjustments for me is the fact that you don’t have buildings in America as historical as we have in France and all of Europe.”

 As I lay in bed that night, it occurred to me that perhaps America is missing something, and it isn’t even our fault.  We don’t have the intricate, centuries old buildings they have in Europe, or any of the appreciation. What is the importance of these structures? I believe they keep us in touch with our humanity. One can look at a historical structure of Europe as a tangible echo erected by the hands of some civilization who trod the very same ground ages ago. Here in America, we have centuries and an ocean between ourselves and our humanity.

The values between Europe and America differ greatly; for example, Notre Dame Cathedral still stands centuries after its groundbreaking during the year 1163. Here in Ogden, Utah where I live, the distinctive Mormon Temple which was dedicated in 1972 was recently demolished mere decades after it was built due to the structure “being architecturally out of style.” Here in America, it’s out with the old, in with the new and capitalism reigns supreme. If something breaks, we throw it away and buy another.

As my sister continued with her fascinating presentation of photographs, she came upon photos of her nephew being trolleyed away on a gurney after dislocating his knee while exploring Paris. Sadly, the young man had to be sent back home to the United States and his European trip was cut short; however, the entire medical expense was only around 100 American dollars. There was no waiting for ages to be seen by a medical professional and the whole process was very smooth.

It’s pretty sad when one can get injured on foreign soil and be treated far better in that country than if the injury happened while a citizen in the United States. We are a country of misguided consumerists, who push our elderly off into nursing homes and forget about them. We cannot wrap our minds around the thought of actually caring for our family members in their times of need, let alone caring for our fellow citizens; instead, we try our hardest to sidestep any sort of responsibility, from one human to another.

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Healthcare Is A Human Right!

Healthcare Is A Human Right! (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

My boyfriend, who happens to be an Adjunct Art Instructor at Weber State University, has recently endured a drastic reduction in his work hours. While many of his tenured colleagues are away relaxing on paid sabbatical leave, we’re informed that the primary reason his teaching was cut is because of Obama care, which requires employers to provide health insurance to employees who work for 30 hours or more per week. Unfortunately, due to an acceptable “loophole” to employers, many across the United States have now opted  to simply CUT employee  hours in order to  to meet these new regulations (rather than actually take care of their employees, it’s cheaper that way). As a result, my boyfriend  has had to take a low paying job doing yard maintenance for Weber County. I’m saddened to report that just six short days into his new minimum wage job, he took a spill on some wet mud and suffered an injury to his knee, which may effect him for the rest of his life.
Now fortunately, my boyfriend’s employer has Workman’s Comp, which pays for some work hours lost (which isn’t much) and medical treatment for his work-related injury (which FAR outweigh his earnings).

Fake lips.

Fake lips. (Photo credit: gak)

Recently, I accompanied him to one of his visits in which he received an MRI. While I sat there in the lobby waiting with him,  I noticed a magazine with an article displayed on the cover which was entitled “Systemized Feng Shui” (don’t ask) peeking from the bottom of a stack of random magazines. I was a little dismayed to see the title called “Healthy Utah“, which displayed a beautiful woman on the cover (don’t get me wrong, I have no problems with beautiful women); however, this model obviously has had the $urgical works to become that way. Fake veneered teeth, botox lip$, brea$t enlargement$, you name it, $he has obviou$ly had it. I was even further disturbed when I began to thumb through the pages, seeing ad  after ad, which touted some kind of surgical procedure to remove some type of  undesirable part of one’s physique. I began to wonder,   “Is THIS what is really perceived as ‘healthy’ in Utah?”


Remember (Photo credit: Clapagaré ! (Les chiquitos))

While some are primping in  mirrors, counting calories, binging on cake, guzzling diet soda and debating on where they”ll have liposuction next, there are actually malnourished people standing in line at the local charity desperately waiting for a box of full of food.

What is health? Is it the way a person looks? Is it how an individual will critically perceive him or herself the way others might; therefore, use his or her good fortune to conform to another’s, or perhaps the media’s ideal? Or is it a state of mind where one can use his or her good fortune to help others? Health is beauty, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What is beauty to you?

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It was early September 2007 when I drove to the bank while contemplating my divorce. My intent was  to open my own checking account in order to begin separating the funds so I could start saving money for a new place to live. My home of nine years was no longer my home anymore.

After parking, I exited my car and was ready to start my new life when I heard the most terrified, desperate cry. I looked down to see a skinny, little black kitten, whose pupils were so large that the color of his eyes couldn’t be determined. I bent down to pick him up; however, he was so scared that he ran and hid in a nearby bush. There was a very busy intersection uncomfortably close by,  and my main concern was that this kitten would be killed.

For that moment, my looming life changes meant nothing, even though for months my thoughts were overwhelmingly occupied with how disappointed and bitter I had felt over my failed marriage. Wearing my favorite dress, I got down on my hands and knees, crawled through spiderwebs to the kitten, then I scruffed the little guy. I carried him to my car, sat down, and closed the door. Realizing that I hadn’t accomplished what I had intended to, and utterly puzzled as to what had just happened, I scratched the kitten’s  chin and said to him, “Oh great, what am I going to do with you?”

I then moved through the drive up teller and while I was cashing my check, the kitten perched himself upon my shoulder, rubbed himself on my head  while purring loudly in my ear. I asked the teller,  “Would you like a kitten?”

But, the teller met me with an answer I neither expected nor understood; she simply stated,  “I hate cats.”

I drove the kitten home and have had him ever since. This kitten has grown to be a very important companion for me. I look forward to coming home after my long work days. No matter how my day has been he is always very warm, welcoming, and filled with love.  I must say I’m thankful that he came into my life and rescued me.

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