I Went to an Art Class and Learned to Paint a Valentine’s Puppy

I Went to an Art Class and Learned to Paint a Valentine’s Puppy

I felt intimidated about getting into the art world, but, as the instructor for this class said, “You can’t take a picture of a puppy with a tilted head too seriously.” This acrylic class made the perfect introduction for me because of that. It took place at Pinot’s Palette. Here’s a link to their list of locations, if you’d like to try a class.

I learned the wet-on-wet painting technique, of painting with another color over one that hasn’t dried yet. We painted the hearts white while the red paint underneath was still wet, which turned them pink. When we painted the nose, she said that it would be better to start small and need to add to it, then to do it all at once and think its nose was too big. I’m already a little more confident in my artistic abilities now.

There are some things that I wish I did better with my puppy painting, but since I’m a beginner, I’m trying not to dwell on it. There’s still a little red from the background heart showing through its white face, its nose is misshapen, and the outline around its face is a little too sloppy.

It was my idea to add the white dots to its eyes. A little white in the eyes makes a work of art look more lively to me.

I sometimes fell a little behind throughout the class, but at least I managed to finish the painting. I’d like to take more classes there in the future.

What I Learned From a Money Management Class (Newbie Level)

What I Learned From a Money Management Class (Newbie Level)

Does it feel like your money is in control of you, instead of you being in control of it? If so, I’m passing along the highlights from the money management class “Give Yourself a Raise,” taught by the nonprofit, SNAP. The volunteer who taught the session I went to, on February 2nd, works at a bank.

Have a long term spending plan, instead of spending money randomly (SNAP). Build your plan with SMART goals: specific, measurable, agreed upon (meaning that you truly want to do it), realistic, and timed (SNAP). For example, I just checked when my bill for running Psychology Plus is due, and it turns out that it’s in a couple of months. The bill will be around $100 (for the year) and, since it’s about 10 weeks away, I’m saving a little over $10 per week so that I can maintain my WordPress plan. It would’ve been easier if I had started saving from the first day that I signed up for it, but at least there’s still time to salvage it.

Write down your spending goals, sources of income, and purchases that you’ve made (SNAP). I agree with her about writing all of this down, because food, bills, household items and more add up so fast that we just can’t keep track of it all in our heads. I tried to wing it, but sometimes, I miscalculated. When that happened, sometimes companies like CenturyLink would try to run my card without success, which must have been frustrating for them. I’m lucky that I still have my internet, phone, and most of my other services (I did lose my Meetup organizer account. Oops).

I’d say that if you have multiple sources of income, and/or your income fluctuates, it’s even more important to keep that aspect of your budget written down. If something changes, such as a cut in food stamps, or a raise at your job, write it down quickly so that you don’t forget. As soon as you sign up for another service that will charge you monthly or yearly, write it down.

The volunteer poked fun at “ostriches with their heads in the sand” who just hope everything will work out instead of taking an objective look at the numbers of their income, expenses, and financial goals. I was that ostrich, but I’m easing my head out of the sand. I’ve written down my disability and food stamp amounts, as well as most of my bills, such as my cell phone bill, which is $38.45 per month with tax. I still have work to do on it, but have made progress.

Budgeting can be unnerving. Overall, though, it’s less scary to know exactly what we have to work with. If you’d like to take a money management class, I found out about this one on a library’s events page. Good luck.



Works Cited: class designed by Jay MacPherson, financial counselor with SNAP’s Financial Access program

Image: by Shae Dennis (me)


Due to Shopping Anxiety, I Hired Someone to Take Me Grocery Shopping Once a Week, and it has Made Life Easier

Grocery shopping on the bus was really hard. When I managed to go, I couldn’t put much food in my rolling cart. The bus route for where I live gets so crowded that I worried about the extra space that my cart took up. Since I couldn’t carry much on the bus, I had to choose between not having enough to eat, or making multiple trips per week.

A lot of times, I starved. When I did manage to make multiple trips, just getting food consumed hours and hours from my week. I’d rather put that time into things like working on my blog and job search.

I sometimes ate at nearby restaurants, ordered delivery, or bought way overpriced food at nearby convenience stores. I couldn’t afford to buy enough food from any of these places to fill the gap from my shopping difficulties, so I still often went hungry. My orders from these places wiped out my savings. I was hoping to use my savings to pay off my school debt so that I could return, turn my blog into a business, put together a decent wardrobe, get a pet from a shelter, and finish furnishing my apartment. Now my savings are gone, and all of those things will take way longer.

I tried a couple of grocery delivery services, Instacart and Shypt, but neither of them took food stamps. Trying to get an agency caregiver was a nightmare. Recently, it occurred to me to look up resumes on Craigslist and hire someone myself.

I got lucky with the first person I contacted. I can put groceries in the back of his truck, so now I can get enough food in just one trip each week. That has given me more peace of mind, along with not having to worry if people on the crowded bus resent me for taking up space with my cart of food. A nice bonus is that it has been fun having him to talk to on the way to the store and back, such as when I got to hear about his experience working with farm animals.

I wish I had thought of this sooner. It could’ve saved me thousands of dollars. My back pay went almost entirely to my food crisis. I’m so sad and ashamed about that. I feel stupid. It could take years to bounce back from this financial setback to pay off my debt, make my apartment look nice, etc.

At least my shopping problem is finally solved. Although my back pay is gone, going forward, I’ll be free to spend my regular money on other things besides just trying not to starve to death.




Grief and Overcoming Resulting Housekeeping Challenges

In September of 2018, my mom suddenly died. At first, I still kept up with my housework.

Then several people magnified my grief with the hurtful ways they treated me. Some criticized me for, in their opinion, not doing a good enough job handling the logistics of her death. Some kept pushing me to go faster, even though I was already drained from my mental illness and various other traumas that had happened before, and her sudden death happened when I had barely had a chance to start recovering from that other stuff.

Others steamrolled my boundaries. Also, I was more prone than usual to making mistakes for a while after her death, such as forgetting an important item at home, and at times, people were ruthless about it.

The added layers to my grief and trauma ruined me. The feelings that ruined me, in turn, ruined my home. I was so out of my mind after these additional awful events that I stopped cleaning my apartment or even throwing anything away properly.

Now, I’m surrounded by garbage in my apartment. Even being in bed is uncomfortable, because there’s garbage there, too. I’ve had so much to handle and so little support that I’d just weakly open my palm when I held a piece of garbage and let it drop to the floor, barely registering it. Other times, I’d set down garbage, nasty dishes, etc. on whatever furniture was close by. My apartment is infested with bugs.

I have to act…if my landlord finds out that my apartment has gotten this bad, she’d have to evict me. I’ve already dealt with homelessness before, both as a child and as an adult. I fear what it would do to me if I had to endure it yet again. Not again. Not again! I need to save myself.

I hope to later have an update, readers, with a picture of a clean, organized apartment, a picture that I won’t be ashamed to share.

If You Need Experience, Practice, or a Reference, Consider a Job Training Program

Have you been unable to find a job or keep the ones you’ve had so far? Have you struggled so much in your relationships that you don’t even have any personal references to offer an employer or volunteer coordinator? If any of that applies to you, maybe you’d find a job training program helpful.

Even someone who’s simply hiring for an odd job or a volunteer job will probably want to see some record of accomplishment and at least one reference. I’ve read that an inexperienced person will typically put classes and clubs on their first resume and list teachers or other people who they know as references. I didn’t do well in any of my classes in high school or my previous attempt at college, and issues like my social awkwardness and anxiety have gotten in the way of having even personal references. If you’re facing similar barriers, but want to work, you still have options, and the option that I’ll focus on in this post is job training programs.

Since job training programs are designed specifically for people with difficulties finding or keeping a job, I think that their supervisors will often be more patient than supervisors at a paid job or even a volunteer job. For example, I just started my barista training program yesterday, and I remembered my schedule incorrectly, so I showed up thinking I was on time when I was actually an hour late.

Someone in a more official position might have been harder on me or even fired me. My supervisor, whose role is a blend of barista manager and social worker, was very gentle with me about my mistake. I apologized, but then froze. She was also patient about my anxious moment and smoothly moved the conversation along. The rest of my shift went a lot better. Since this job is practice, not an official job, it was a low-stakes way for me to discover that I still need to work on my organization and not freezing up when I make a mistake, which are issues that I can bring up to my therapist before trying to work or volunteer again.

I think that having someone, such as a therapist, to talk about progress and setbacks with during your job training program will lead to even better results than doing the program alone.

I found my program through an organization in my city that helps low income and/or homeless women. Job training is one of many services that they offer. You may be able to find an opportunity in your area through a charity like this one. Other places that may offer this service include D.V.R (department of vocational rehabilitation, specializing in people with documented disabilities), Goodwill, mental health agencies, or Job Corps (if you’re 16-24).

Good luck!

I Started Writing My First Book

Yesterday, I started writing my first book, which shares my experience and tips about dealing with grief. I’m calling it The Valley of Grief. My mom recently passed away, and I’d like to offer a written companion to others who are dealing with a similar struggle.

She was the number one supporter of Psychology Plus, so it seems fitting for her to inspire my first book. I’m going to dedicate it in her memory. I wish that my first book could’ve been born in a happier context, and that she could’ve been here to celebrate it with me, but I’ll have to settle for this more poignant reality, and for her spirit witnessing this project from the other side.

Video Games and Grief

Video games were a fun part of my relationship with my mom, and they’ve been helping me work through my grief.

While she was in a coma, and dying, I told her some cheesy jokes from the game Word Search. She had tried it a few weeks before she died. As a very frugal person, she was hesitant about buying the Nintendo Switch. Since I’m somewhat less cautious with money, she liked to use me as a guinea pig for products she was interested in, which was a role that I enjoyed. I had joked to her that it was like she was a queen and I was a taster to make sure that she didn’t get poisoned. I told her that I was enjoying the Switch, which piqued her interest enough to try Word Search for a few minutes.

During that same visit, she also traded an egg into my Pokemon Y game for the 3DS that hatched into an Eevee, my favorite Pokemon. I didn’t think that it was possible to like Eevee more than I already do, but I do like it more, because it’s the last Pokemon that I got from my mom. She really liked Eevee and its evolutions, too.

I’ve been playing a game called The Last Day of June for the Switch, which is about losing a loved one. The main character, Carl, loses his partner, June, in a car crash. He travels back in time to try to save her. I have similar feelings about wishing that there was something that I, or someone, could’ve done to save my mom. So far, I’ve learned from the game that a cause of death can be very complex, and any one thing wouldn’t necessarily have changed the outcome. I don’t know yet how the game ultimately will end, though, but I know that in real life, there’s nothing that I can do to bring her back.

What I can do is honor her memory through things like activities, memories, reflecting on lessons that I learned from her, and prayer. Playing video games is one of the activities that helps me continue to feel connected to her, since we were both gamers. The games help me work through my feelings while having some fun at the same time. Since my mom liked to end our conversations with, “Go do something fun,” I feel like it suits my situation well.