Arlington R. "Arlie" Brown

Arlington R. "Arlie" Brown, 69, of Camillus, passed from this life July 3, 2016 at Francis House after a long illness. Arlie was born in Toronto, Canada on November 8, 1946 and immigrated to the US in 1963. He was a Master Auto Mechanic and worked at many local car dealerships over the years, most recently at Burdick Toyota. He also owned Brown's Performance, building his own engines, street and drag cars for himself and others. Arlie loved MOPAR and to drag race at ESTA and did so for many years. A 1967 Plymouth Barracuda was awaiting him in Heaven.

My Dad and his 1969 Plymouth Barracuda, 1980s

Arlie was predeceased by his parents, Robert A. Brown and Nina K. Brown. He is survived by his daughter, Diana Bukowski of Oswego; sister, Katherine Chambliss of Alfred; cousin, Nina Bacon of Candler, NC; several nephews and a niece. Arlie is also survived by his adopted "family" consisting of his former wife, Dawn M. Brown, her significant other, Scott E. Cole of Phoenix, and Arlie's dog, Champ, all of whom provided him love, care and comfort for the past 8 years. Also, Arlie's caring and supportive friends, Robert and Sandy Failmezger of Fulton. They will miss him.

My Daddy and me, 1972(?)

There will be no calling hours. Contributions my be made to your local ASPCA, Hospice of CNY or Francis House. Many thanks to Dr. Christiano, Dr. Oguntola, Dr. Riley, the nurses and staff at Seneca Dialysis, CNY Family Care, St. Joseph's Hospital, Hospice of CNY and Francis House for all their wonderful support, love and care of Arlie. May God bless you all.

Please express condolences to the family at cremationservicesofcny.com (Warning: There is music that auto-plays. Click the tiny music notes at the bottom right of the first box in the left-hand side-bar to shut it off.)
Bunny - Kiss

52-Week Photo Challenge

I've been dabbling in photography since before digital cameras were a thing, setting up miniature scenes and photographing them as if they were real, using 110 and 126 automatic cameras to try and get artistic shots... But it wasn't until I was blessed to receive a beautiful 35 mm SLR camera in my late 20s that I really started branching out and experimenting with the different lenses I could borrow from my father.

When digital came along, I was very resitant; the quality was not what it is today unless you got a high end (read: very expensive) camera. When my 35 mm SLR met with an untimely accident, I relented and began using a digital point & shoot. I loved that I could take a photo and see it right away on the screen, which meant I would know right away if I got the shot I was hoping for, and that I could shoot 20 or 30 photos at a time, way more than I ever could with a film camera! I would literally take 100s of photos a day sometimes.

I did a lot of learning, about my camera, about taking good photos, and about editing them with photo-editing software. I've gone through several digital cameras since that time (they seem to deteriorate faster than film cameras) and have not completely familiarized myself with the camera I have had since Spring, and now I am even learning a new photo-editing software! So I want to commit to practicing with both, but know that a 365-project would be a bit too much to handle at this point.

Thus the 52-Week Photo Challenge was born and I am hoping that you will join me on this journey to be a better photographer. Every Sunday, I will be posting a prompt here with my photo and I invite *you* to play with the prompt during the week, and then share your photo in the flickr group I will be opening up. (I'll post the link here on Sunday!) You don't have to edit your photo, you don't have to have a fancy camera, you just have to want to improve your photography and follow the prompt!

I hope to see you there!

Bunny - Kiss

My Beloved Body

I am currently taking part in Dominee Wyrick's Blessing Manifesting Monthly Challenges, and this month is The Body Beloved. This is something I have struggled with since I was a little girl. I started gaining weight before I was 10 and was often ridiculed in school for it, which led to low self-esteem and comfort eating and more weight gain. By the time I was in my 20s I was nearing 200 pounds and had tried many dieting techniques already. I hated that my clothes were too tight, that my boobs were so big, that my thighs rubbed together, that my cheeks were so chubby, that everything wiggled and jiggled and bounced around with ever small movement.

But guess what? I was beautiful. I was young. I was sexy. I was smart. I was funny. I had boys falling head over heels in love with me. But I still felt no good. The voices still echoed in my head, the voices from well-meaning family, the voices from school, the voices on the television and radio. I was fat, unloveable, unattractive. And still those messages play in my head, but I'm learning to see the untruth in the words and tune them out.

A few years ago my weight was approaching 250 and I made the commitment to eat right. I had joined a gym in years past, but they cost too much, and in the end didn't mean more than a loss of 20 or so pounds. So, with Jacqueline's help & support, I started tracking my eating, cutting back my carbs (I am diabetic) and my calories and I got down to 170. I felt great!

But the body love was not there. Wrinkles appeared around my eyes, my boobs were deflated, my stomach was weird. I hadn't weighed that little in a dozen years, but my body didn't look like it did back then. It had spent those years all stretched out and overweight. Think of the helium balloons you keep around until they slowly sink to the floor and shrivel up. That was how I felt my body was.

I gave up on keeping track of my eating and my weight, and slowly it started creeping up again. Today I am hovering around 205. Life isn't nice and stable right now, money is tight, and often my nutritional needs are pushed aside. I eat more carbs and calories than I would prefer, but I am still trying. And this time, I don't completely HATE my body.

I've found a wealth of resources on the internet that are helping me see how normal my body is, how worthy of love I am, from myself! It started with Gala Darling's Radical Self-Love and Ragen Chastain's Dances With Fat blog and it's spread from there. Here's a list, in no particular order, of some of my favorite body-positive and self-love websites (Please note! These are not always SFW!):
  • The Militant Baker - in-your-face body acceptance!

  • Body Love Wellness - Golda Poretsky's website

  • Kind Over Matter - not exclusively about self-love or body-positivity, but often there are posts that relate.

  • Roots of She - also not exclusively about self-love or body-positivity, but very much

  • Big Girl Bombshell - Crafty artistic blog about about change and learning to believe in the attitude of a bombshell.

  • Voluptuous Vixens - a facebook group that promotes a positive atmosphere for women who embrace their curves

  • Curvy Yoga - yoga for those that don't fit the yoga-body stereotype

  • Be Your Own Beloved - using self-portraits as a path to self-love

And on tumblr (definitely not always SFW):

I realize this list leans more toward fat-positive sites, because that's what's personal to me, but I am well aware that thin people have body issues too! I hope that this list can help anyone feeling hateful toward their own bodies; let me know in a comment if you have a favorite body-positive place, and don't forget to check out the Monthly Challenge!
Bunny - Kiss

Anxiety & Depression

So let's talk about anxiety & depression.

Depression & anxiety.

Not happy topics.

No fuzzy bunnies involved.

I've been debating making this post for a long time, but thought it was better to hide it. No point in dwelling on the negative, and no one wants to read about it anyway.

But I changed my mind.

There's an estimated 1 in 10 adults with depression in the US, and of those, nearly 1/2 are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. That means that there are probably about 12 people who read this blog who are dealing with depression, and 5 or 6 who have anxiety as well.

Well this post is for them.

And for those reading who have a friend or family member dealing with depression or anxiety. (And if you've got 9 of those, one of them probably is...)

And for myself.


We all know the symptoms, right? You've all seen the late night commercials or the ads in magazines for the various antidepressants...
Do you suffer from feelings of guilt or worthlessness? Persistent sadness, helplessness, and hopelessness?

Do you feel anxious or empty? Unable to enjoy the things you used to?

Blah blah blah... Just take this drug & be magically healed!


It doesn't work that way.

I know because for close to 20 years I've been dealing with my own depression & anxiety.

I've tried medicines that made me apathetic, medicines that made my head spin, and medicines that made me break out in hives. I've seen apathetic counselors, therapists that made my head spin, psychologists who cared more about the bottom line than about helping me, and even a priest for a while. I've done tons of reading, checking clinical trials on the latest drugs, and research on the whys and hows of depression & anxiety.

Sometimes, I can forget about it, live and be happy and joyful, and carry on like Everybody Else™. Sometimes, getting up in the morning is hard, (why bother?) but I push through even though most of the day goes by in a grey haze. And sometimes, simple things like making a phone call, going to work, or even to visit a friend, makes me cry and shake, feel filled with adrenaline, heart racing, can't catch my breath...

When things get really bad, I shut myself in my room and try to distract myself from the negative thoughts in my head. (You're so bad.) But it doesn't often help. (Can't do anything right.) They circle around and around in my head, (Badbadbad...) leading me down darker & darker paths... (Stupidstupidstupid...) And I wind up feeling worse.

And truthfully the past few months have been pretty dark for me.

And it's a vicious cycle. I'll have a situation that makes me super anxious, so I'll avoid it, or I'll have a day feeling depressed, so nothing gets done; and then I'll feel bad, because things didn't get done, and I'll find myself depressed and anxious again, and nothing gets done; and so it goes... down, down, down, around & around...

A sketch I did a long time ago; it gives a good visual of how I feel sometimes...
Everyone else laughing & chatting (so loud!) and me locked up inside my own head...
time stopped yet unending, meaningless (like me)...

So what to do instead... How does one dig in and stop spiraling down into despair?

Well, I think it's different at different times and for different people. And that's why you find so many articles out there on how to beat depression & anxiety.

I think the first step, when you are spiraling down, is to realize you're doing it. Recognize that you are sliding into anxiety or depression, and stop your thoughts from continuing on that path.

And that's the hard part. Stopping your thoughts. But there are lots of things you can try, and some might not work for you, and some might not be possible, but here's a list of things I've tried...
  • Tell those voices to stop. Stop stressing (if you're starting to get anxious), stop putting you down (if you're starting to be too negative), stop because it's not true (whatever your head is saying). If saying stop in your head doesn't work, do it out loud.

  • Physically move. Stand up if you're sitting, sit down if you're standing. Lie down. Stretch. Roll your shoulders. Take a walk to the restroom, or to get a drink. Just move your body & concentrate on that.

  • Take a walk. This goes with the previous one. Even in the winter, just going out to get the mail at the end of our driveway is enough to change my mood. Breathe the air, feel the wind, hear the sounds of life going on around you. (It's not that bad!)

  • Put on some music. Something upbeat that you like. No depressing stuff! You can find something appropriate in any genre of music, so find something you like that makes you feel good. Even make a playlist to put on to drown out those voices.

  • Dance! Combine the music with the moving. You don't have to move like Grace Kelly or Beyoncé. Wiggle your butt, flail your arms, shake your shoulders.... Just move your body in a manner that makes you happy!

  • Take a bath or shower. Clean the voices out of your head the same way you clean your body. Scrub-a-dub-dub! Let the water relax you and wash all the negative right down the drain.

  • Find a funny website. Bookmark it, and visit it when you need a laugh. Funny videos, hilarious auto-corrects, adorable animals... whatever makes you LOL for reals, that's the place to go when you need a mental realignment.

  • Cuddle your kitty. Or your dog. Or your bunny. Or spend some quality time with your goldfish. Or even have a chat with your chia plant! Connecting with another living thing can help get you out of your own head.

  • Phone a friend. Use that life line! I know for me this is a really hard thing. Maybe the phone isn't for you either. So instead, try an online chat or text via your cell phone. Just find someone who can listen non-judgmentally, someone you can vent to without having to worry about them trying to fix it or you, just someone to help lift your spirits.

  • Get a hug. Another hard one sometimes. Especially if you're at work, or live alone. But if you can find someone who you can approach and say, I need a hug, and get one. Then do it. It's been scientifically proven to help!

So, now that you've pulled yourself up and out of anxiety or depression for the moment, how do you keep from slipping back into it?

Again, different things for different folks at different times, but these are some things that the experts agree can help...
  • Exercise! Yuck. That's the first thing I think when someone says that. But guess what? It doesn't have to be yucky. All it has to be is you moving your body in a way that makes you happy. It doesn't have to be hard. Click here to read what the Mayo Clinic has to say about depression & anxiety and exercise.

  • Watch your diet! Another yucky one. I feel restricted and resentful and want to eat a whole carton of ice cream just thinking about it. But again, we're not talking strict calorie counting or anything. Just pay attention to it. There is some evidence to support the claims that diets high in simple sugars or caffeine can increase depression & anxiety. I know for myself, when I have a day when I eat things like pasta, rice, bread, desserts, chips, and other refined carbs, I feel more tired and lethargic, and have a lot of aches and pains the next day. It's worth it for me to reduce how many and how often I eat carbs. Also, make sure you're getting all the right nutrients from a wide variety of foods to keep your mind & body working to the best of it's ability!

  • Sleep. Yes, it really does matter. Not getting enough sleep makes everyone miserable, depressed or not. Try to keep a regular schedule of 7-9 hours of sleep, even on weekends, or if you work from home (or are retired). One that works with your natural body clock is best. Sleeping from 11pm - 6am is just as good as sleeping from 3am - noon if that's how your body likes it.

  • Be social! This is another one that can cause a lot of anxiety, but finding people to connect with is one of the most effective ways to keep depression & anxiety at bay. Being depressed and anxious can make you feel isolated, which only gets worse the less you interact with others. They don't have to know you're depressed or anxious, just have a conversation. Say hi as you pass on the street or in the supermarket. Call a friend. Compliment a coworker on their outfit. And don't forget to smile! (Just that alone is said to improve your mood.)

  • Keep busy. Feeling productive is another great way to improve your mood. Wandering aimlessly through life can leave you feeling frustrated and uneasy. Create a routine of daily activities, or choose an achievable goal to pursue to help give your life direction and focus. I know for myself, day after day of not doing anything leads to some depression, and makes me even more anxious when it's time to get back out there and *do* things.

  • Keep a journal. This does not have to be an online public blog. This could be one of those fancy hardcover blank books you can buy at bookstores, or a creative handmade one from Etsy. You can buy a notebook from the dollar store or even looseleaf paper, and you can handwrite it. Or you can create a private online journal or download some journal software if typing is more your speed. From what I understand you can even get one on your smartphone! The point is to get the thoughts out of your head.

  • Be Yourself! OMG HARD ONE! But so true. Don't compare your life to anyone else's. And don't try to live anyone else's life. Doing what someone else says you should do, or being someone you aren't, is a great way to feel like a miserable failure. Make sure you're not letting someone else run your life for you, and that *YOU* are in charge of yourself. If you're finding people in your life who have too much of a negative influence on you, and what you do, then limit your contact with them.

  • Relax! Lots of times we get caught up in really strict thinking; we put all these rules, shoulds and musts, on ourselves & others, and leave no room for wiggles. Things are black or white; no other color. And when we fail to live up to those rules, or when a friend doesn't, or when life in general doesn't, we feel guilty or anxious, angry or frustrated. It's better to relax our way of thinking and how we see things, so we don't get so stressed about things. You ate too many cookies when you were feeling sad earlier? It's ok. You're not bad, just a mistake, move on. Your spouse forgot your anniversary? That sucks, but they love you enough to still be there, and I am sure they didn't do it to hurt you. Remember to pause & then think outside the box!

  • Meditate. Most people think meditation is all about clearing your mind. Letting go of all thoughts, and becoming one with the Universe. Well, that is something that I personally can't do. Thoughts, they keep bubbling back up! And I follow them, one after another, down the rabbit hole! But that's ok. Because that's what everyone goes through. The way to meditate effectively is to focus on one thing, a phrase, a visual focus, your breath, and just Be Present. Yes thoughts may bubble up, but return your focus to that one thing. Just taking a few deep breaths can be a quick meditation to reduce anxiety and ease depression enough to think clearer.

  • Seek help. If you really feel you're in too deep and are thinking of hurting yourself or someone else, talk to someone. Ask your doctor if medicine or therapy could help.

    If things have reached a crisis level, call 911 or visit your local ER, or try one of these methods...

Back to School

I know I mentioned this last week, and it's been coming through in my twitter feed, but I just wanted to mention again, about the series the Queer Etsy Street Team is doing to offer some hope to LGBT youth heading to high school or college and afraid of possible bullying. Our next story was posted this morning, and more are scheduled to post weekly through October which is LGBT History Month and includes National Coming Out Day (October 11) and Spirit Day (October 19). Please pass this link on to as many people as possible; we want this message to get through to the ones who really need it...

Back to School

Mosaic Monday Bunday

Welcome back to another Mosaic Monday Bunday! This week, Mosaic Monday Bunday falls on Labor Day, which in the words of the US Department Of Labor, "is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country." So we shall take a look at rabbits and work today, shall we?

From top left by row:

So as we celebrate here with a long weekend and our final farewells to summer, keep in mind the little rabbits and the work they do to make our lives brighter... ^-^

For other Mosaic Monday posts, click here!

The Week in Photos: 08-26-12

  • Lia's got her aerial down pat now! (still from video, sry for LQ)
  • The moon through the pines...
  • Plash of the lake at sunset...
  • Ant builds cairns on the shore...
  • Another of the moon...
  • Wild basil in our yard (not as tasty as one would think...)