An Artful Vacation & A Letter to YOU ~~ !

Linda recently wrote: 

Hi Kira:  I check your website everyday and lately I noticed your have not been around and I am wondering if you are alright.  I miss your postings.  Hope things are good with you.

Dear Linda, 

I am fine. Better than fine, actually. Here’s what happened: 

As like when I arrived in Florida, I was hit with a massive FMS flare-up when I arrived home. My equilibrium was off. What was this strange place, so familiar, yet so foreign to these newly-opened eyes? Every normal movement felt off, strange in only the way new perspective can change things. I rested and remembered and pet the painting and pages I’d created with friends. Did you know I met them both online? Roben-Marie and I have been fast friends for years, but I’d only chatted with Carissa via text messages & on Instagram. Yet it worked. I love the universe, sometimes! 

And then I had a good day — a great day! That was one of the things I learned in Florida….that I can have fabulous, wonderful, low-pain days filled with adventure and art and friendship. I can enjoy things and be happy and dance in the rain. I can wander the back alleys of a town and not know where I am and revel in the thought of being completely, utterly lost

I brought a typewriter home with me! On the plane! I bought a big, beautiful vintage suitcase called Jupiter, put the typewriter (in it’s case!) inside, nestled among my clothes, and checked it. Of course the TSA opened my suitcase! But it made it here, my little $8 find at the magical thrift, and I’ve been writing poems on it every day (I’m challenging myself to 30 poems in 30 days as a way to collect the bones and breathe life into that Wild Self deep inside). 

On that good day, I brought it to the typewriter repair shop near my apartment that I learned about on Sunday Morning. Bill was an excited little kid trapped in an older man’s body, and we giggled over the magic and wonder of old typewriters and the grace of their mechanics and profiles.  

And then the good day ended, and I woke up with a migraine. Remember how I started getting migraines? My doctor has told me they’re related to the concussion I suffered in March, and that it can take 12-18 months for the brain to fully recover. OUCH! This migraine had me down and out for 6 days. 6 days! Physical pain I can handle — have handled for so many years. But pain in my head? You can’t dream right, when your head is attacking you. Everything becomes filtered through the pain and you can walk and move but nothing connects

When that passed, I started collecting the bones. 

No, no, not real bones! No, these are deep inside. I’d already started shedding this skin, rather, my old skin, my pre-Florida skin, before I left. I knew I was going through a transformation. It isn’t so much that I’ve changed — okay, yes, I have! — Rather, I’ve become more myself. There are always parts you hide because you’re afraid of how people will react, or if they’ll stop liking you, and I feel like I trapped myself in a corner I couldn’t escape. I wasn’t fully expressing all the wonders of ME for oh-so-long! 

That’s what my vacation taught me. That I CAN be all the ME I am! And people will naturally be drawn to that authentic light shining from deep within.

I feel freer, now. I am connecting with my Wild Self and writing poems about moonlight and wolves and whispering trees. About the Old Self I shed and the New Self I’m still discovering. Remember how you were when you were a child? It can be hard at times because we’re so concerned with being ‘grown-up’ or ‘mature’ that we start to forget the times we would run around catching fireflies long past our bedtimes, or the faerie kingdoms we used to explore. We let those things remain in childhood because we thought they had no place in our lives, now. 

Oh, but they DO! 

That is where I’ve been, Linda. Exploring the wild forest of myself, building up this new skin, clarifying what am I am and who I am and where I want to go. I want to have Everyday Adventures and meet new people and spread joy and tap into my intuitive gifts. 

But now I’m ready to start taking you along for the ride. I do hope you’ll come with me. I may sound different and have a new haircut, new make-up, a twinkle to my eye. But I’m happy. Genuinely, completely joyous, even on the hard days. 

Now, I need to be off to write a poem or two, and play with my typewriter, and make stickers of my art for my supporters and friends and people I haven’t met yet! 


Talk & Type

When I got home yesterday, there was a little surprise waiting for me on my laptop. My brother had, while I was out at the printer testing color matches, updated my laptop to the newest version of Mac OS. While looking through all of the features of this new operating system, I found out that it was enabled with Dictation, which is how I am writing this entry right now. It’s kind of odd to sit and talk to your computer and expect it to type everything that you’re saying, and when you turn dictation on, it tells you that, in order to do this, everything that you say is being sent to Apple in order for them to convert your speech into typed words.

Oh, and apparently you can only talk for so long before it just stops taking down what you’re saying and puts it on the screen.

But for someone with growing carpel tunnel problems and arthritis developing in their hands, having dictation on my computer makes it so much easier for me to type blog posts, emails, and comments to all of my lovely readers and followers. I know this isn’t a colorful blog post, or tutorial teaching you something new, but I just wanted to share something that is going to help make my life a little easier to share with you.

Playing with packaging for the Etsy shop!

So let’s get to some fun stuff. My Etsy shop has been open for two days now, and I am amazed with how many people have ordered prints, or even multiple prints, from the shop. I am overjoyed and so grateful for all of you have ordered art, and if you’re planning on ordering some in the future, say on payday, I appreciate your continuing support of my new artwork (remember how scared I was of sharing it with you in the first place?). 

In fact, today, I headed to the printers and put down a lot of my own money in order to fully stock the shop with multiples of each piece of art available. This was a scary thing to do, and as she was filling out the order form, I started to second-guess myself in my head. Is it really worth it to spend so much money to make sure my store was stocked with high-quality prints done professionally, rather than here at home with the printer I have? But that loving voice in my head kept telling me that this is going to work out, this is the thing I need to do, that it is finally my time to shine.

Wow, having this dictation program take down what I say and then only having to go back and edit has made writing this so much easier!

And lately, things have been going so well! I almost feel like a real girl, a girl who can go out and spend time with her friends. To hang out to make art, to explore new places, to meet new babies, have dinner, and even see a good movie together. For a girl who’s spent so much of her life limiting herself to avoid pain, having such amazing, supportive, and fun friends this week has simply made me smile, and inspired me to continue going for my dreams. In fact, I’m off to another friends house, a new friend, who will be cohosting tomorrow’s live vid chat with me. I’m so excited to go and see her, and it promises to be a fun afternoon.

I’m learning to live with new limits, pace myself properly on the computer, take time to create artwork for myself every day (no matter how much pain I’m in!), and discovering more about who I am what I want to achieve. And how I’m going to present all of this new stuff to you, here, in this online space. 

I think that’s enough talk-typing for tonight. I’m off to go play in my art journal, plan out tomorrow Journaling Deep post, and enjoy one of my favorite TV shows (it’s Suits, by the way). Love you all, and catch you tomorrow on the web chat.


PS. Check out my article in the new issue of Artful Blogging! I talk about how telling my Story about having FMS and reaching out to my Spoonie sisters (and brothers!) has deepened my blogging and connections (& my name's on the cover again!).

Growing From the Sand at My Feet...

Last night, I sat down and wrote a blog post. It’s a monster of a post, at 1,535 words, and goes into detail about what I’ve been dealing with for at least six weeks. Or more. I don’t really keep track, as such things can be a bit depressing. Best to forget about it until nighttime rolls around and you’re reminded that, yes, fuck, you can’t fall asleep

But I don’t want to share that post because it’s depressing. And in the past. I’ve gotten sleep over the last three days, more sleep that I’ve gotten in the past two weeks, and I’m all about forward momentum. Let’s not dwell on what has (hopefully!) passed. 

An excerpt from my Morning Pages this morning:

 Everything’s just been such an uncontrollable whirl-wind for me, lately, that the world is still spinning a bit even when my feet once again hit solid ground. I can’t hit it running; rather, I need to take baby steps to regain my footing and balance that hands from helpful friends gives me. I can’t mend bridges overnight, but I can take those first humbling steps to begin the process of rebuilding those relationships worth saving. 

On Sunday, I had a major panic attack/breakdown. I don’t remember much of it, other than I was shouting, “What’s the point!” a lot and hitting my head while saying, “This isn’t my brain!” 

It was scary. 

Really, really scary. 

It’s only happened to me twice before, but never like this


Sleep issues morphed into insomnia. 

I’d sob as I watched the sun rise and I still wasn’t asleep. 


No matter what I tried — no more caffeine, calming music, medication, no sugar or HFCS — I simply could not fall asleep

This wasn’t all that bad in the beginning. I just dealt with it. Went to class, did art, ran errands. Was always tired, but what could I do? 

As time went on, I felt myself unraveling. A thread being pulled. 

Sleep is imperative to manage my FMS symptoms. When sleep went, the pain skyrocketed. I was forced to take 3 of my heavy-duty painkillers every day just to get through it. The only problem was that my pills give me energy instead of making me drowsy

You can see the problem here. 


And so, after five weeks and two medication tries, I found myself a zombie. My brain wouldn’t work. I couldn’t focus on things longer than five minutes. Words escaped me. I was always in pain. I took to the couch, hoping to distract myself with mindless TV. I sketched my portraits — my only savor, the only connection I had to the thread swirling around me. 

The second medication sent me into such a deep depression, I was suicidal. 

(I’m not anymore.)

I’ve smiled on the outside. Feigned happiness. On Facebook, my true self came through a few times, and I often deleted status updates the next morning. I learned who my real friends are and who are fair-weather friends. 

But inside there was a maelstrom.  

I was falling apart. 


I called my doctor and told him I was so desperate to fall asleep, I was going to bash my head into the wall until I knocked myself unconscious. And I wasn’t joking. Wasn’t embellishing. It would distract me from the fire that had become my body, flames of pain licking at the last cool solace in my mind. 

Deadlines passed. Emails weren’t answered. Content wasn’t prepared. Art wasn’t made past the sketches in pencil. 

There was nothing I could do. I was gone. I didn’t care. I couldn’t — to care would mean to un-numb myself, and then the agony and frustration of my condition would hit me. 

And I was afraid of what would happen. 


Friday, we tried a new medication. I was warned that, at higher doses, it would have an interaction with my omg this medication cost half a month’s pay meds that I need to stay on. We were confident this wouldn’t happen.

It did. 

My father ordered me to bed. Brought me tissues. Gave me something to help me relax. Checked on me. 

Everyone was scared. 

Me, most of all. 

So that’s where I’ve been. And I’m sorry if things fell apart. If I owe you something and it never materialized. I’m sorry that the plates up in the air crashed down around me. 


In the middle of it, I had no idea why God would hate me so much as to throw all this at me. To break me into pieces

Maybe it was so that when I finally pull myself back together, the armor isn’t so thick. 

The art can pass through it more easily. 

And I can know where true support is (clue — it isn’t really Facebook but my friends on there).

We all have things we are dealing with. Problems and deadlines and obligations and families. But when you’ve shattered apart, cursed the heavens, finally snapped, none of that matters. Only a hug. A call. A text message. Something


But I’m rebuilding. 

Growing again from the sand at my feet. 

I’m a different person. I’ve gone through that dark night of the soul and am walking towards the light. I’m not there, yet. I’m still on the final med and walking on eggshells, afraid that I’ll go into an attack at any moment. I don’t want to — Sunday was my Darkest Night and I never want to go back there. 

Things may be different around here for awhile as I regain my footing. I’m painting more. A lot more. Working deep in my journal. Smiling as I realize how far I’ve come. Looking over my portraits and wondering who’s hand drew those. (Mine.) My smiles are real. I’m happy. Not jumping-up-and-down happy, but faithful happy. And I think that’s better than anything else. 

I’m kinda excited about where I may go. 

(And that means I’m not totally numb anymore.) 

A Saturday in the Life...

Yesterday, I thought it would be fun to snap pictures throughout the day as one of those cool "A Day in the Life..." things. I don't usually share this many pictures a day on Instagram, but it was an interesting experiement! 

So here was my day yesterday! 


This was the temperature at 11am, when I went outside to sand & prep some wood I picked up on Friday. Sadly, this thermometer is in the shade. 

All prepped! I sanded the edges were the saw left things jagged and painted on a coat of clear gesso. 

There was a package in the mail for me -- Carin sent me "Life Disrupted" (which is my next read!). On Thursday, Teresa sent me "And the Story is Happening." Check out Kelly's blog for a review I think you all should read. I am so blessed by thoughtful and amazing readers!

I spent a few hours sketching a concept drawing for a painting, then transfered it to one of the wood boards I prepped. I don't want to reveal the entire thing right now, but after nearly two hours of work, I needed a break, and snapped this detail shot!

As the sun set, I took a break and headed down to my apartment complex's pool. It was a balmy 100F (it feels like 94, said the Weather Channel!) and a birthday party had taken over. We "borrowed" some noodles and floated in the deep end, letting the water relax us. My forward-fronting camera won't work with Instagram, so here's a blind cropped shot. I was told my hair made me looked like an alien. 

I've been feeling fantastic and blessed ever since the Ning opened, with new members of Journaling Deep and a couple ambitious souls ready to work with me one-on-one, so I texted with Becca to meet up for dinner. I felt I deserved a big drink after all the work I did last week!

Becca and I are nerds, so we each took a shot of each other and posted them on Instagram. Here's mine of her...

...and here's hers of me, from her stream.

After a bit of an emergency (I didn't want to be snapping pics during it, but everyone's fine!), we returned to her place to do some painting and journaling until I headed home around 12:30am.

So there's a Saturday in my life! What did you do this weekend? Feel free to share shots over on the Ning community!

Looking Forward (into 2012)


I’ve never really been one to do resolutions. Oh, I’ve made them, sure. But when it comes to the following, well, that’s where this whole thing breaks down. 

I think most are the same no matter who you are: better health/exercise, more time for the things that truly matter, quit smoking/drinking/obsessively going on the internet and wasting time on tumblr (mostly seen on tumblr, and reblogged by said people who are, in fact, still on tumblr), perhaps something about going outside more and appreciating nature. We all want to become more organized and devote more time to a hobby we’ve neglected in the past. Go on Google and ask it what people are asking for this year, and all the lists look the same.  

But I think I’ve figured out the problem. These are all things we feel we should be doing because society sees these things as admirable traits. Don’t we always praise the organized mother of three? Nod and say, “Good for you!” when we hear a friend hits the gym regularly while we keep putting it off? We congratulate people who achieve these things because we know how hard it is to do just that. And the problem, my dear readers, is that while we feel we should do these things, we really don’t want to

Because of this, I’ve decided my resolutions are going to be things I actually want to do. Screw society and their lofty judgements as to what is a “good resolution.” If I’m going to have any success with this, I’m going to add in those things I may already do but want to do more consistently, or failings in myself that truly need improvement. Bah, those generic goals. Here’s what I’ll be striving for this year. 


 1. Become better at communication. I’m a terrible emailer. I’ll go through and clean my inbox about once a month, spend two hours answering months-old notes, and then become lazy again until the next time my inbox tries to drown me in digital letters. I want to answer things the day they come in. I want to respond to comments on my blog, business ventures, and even tweets, in a more consistent manor. However, I don’t want to get sucked in to the internet. 

2. I don’t want to get sucked in to the internet. I’ve been on the computer since around one o’clock, but you wouldn’t know it from what I’ve managed to do. I seem to find myself falling into the black hole that is Tumblr way too often, as well as Facebook and Twitter. I was IMing with a friend and said, “Working from home is lonely.” I think I keep going to these sites because I’m seeking the comfort of human contact while my ADD brain pings and bounces around in my head. I’d say I want to focus better, but I’m pretty sure that’s setting myself up for instant failure, as, oh, look, someone’s replied to an IM….

3. I want to paint daily. Oh, this may seem easy, but the reality is I often look at my paints and groan as they start complaining about how much they miss me. Pshaw, paints! On New Year’s Eve, Becca said to me, “I haven’t painted in awhile.” And I said, “We’ll make each other. C’mon, let’s get up and do this.” Took us another half hour to actually move, but then we were off and creating for hours. I’ve often said the hardest thing about being creative is getting up, and this is something I want to work through so I can, you know, paint more. Or do something creative every day. 

4. I want to be more sporty. See what I did there? I didn’t say I want to exercise more or I want to ride trails. Yes, I want to do both those things, but I also like the idea that taking a long walk or doing a photo hunt can be considered a tally in the WIN column for 2012. I actually enjoy exercise once I get into it, and find I’m able to sleep better. Oh, that reminds me…

5. I want to conquer insomnia. This may seem a setback from my previous goals —I said conquer — but this is merely a reflection of my intense hatred of that beast I call Kira is not sleeping despite the burning desire to be fucking asleep. I rarely get to sleep before 3am, which means I then sleep until 11am, and I hate it. I HATE IT. I am getting so frustrated with myself, I’m ready to scrawl words across my walls in big letters. Or carve stuff into them. Because I want to sleep. So my resolution is to do whatever it is I can to get back to a sleeping schedule that is most agreeable to me. 

6. I want to cultivate more experiences. I keep seeing the same idea in quotes wherever I go: it’s not the years you live, but the life in your years. Something like that. I often beg off social engagements due to fatigue or being sore (which I am today, oh, so sore). But when I think back on those things I did manage to get to in 2011, I realize I often have a great time and come back with a lesson learned. I want to live more, do more, and be more spontaneous. 

7. I want to keep up my streak of being the only member of my immediate family who hasn’t gone to hospital this year. This may sound silly, but I’m scare about this one most of all. I had a health issue when I was younger, and I’m starting to see signs of it repeating, and I have no health insurance. I have tried and been denied by everyone. Anyway, I’m scared of what could happen, which sounds like a massive waste of energy, but I’m often not sleeping at night, so have a lot of time to worry. Now that worrying about money’s been taken care of, this is the next avenue my mind goes down. I really should start meditating, again, to clear my head… 

8. I want to grow my art and business. Obviously. But I’ve mostly been passive when it comes to such things. I don’t push things down peoples’ throats, or promote myself nearly enough, and have been pretty shy about putting up paintings around town, or sending in another book proposal after being shot down a couple years ago. I’m really tame about it all, especially in person, so I want to take a more active role in my career this year. This includes inquiring about office/studio space, writing up that rate sheet I promised someone in August, creating videos more often, and writing to the blog at least 4 times a week. 


Are my goals specific? Not really. But that’s the point — they’re more attainable this way. And yes, there are more things I want to do in 2012, but these are the big ones, the scary ones, the ones that require more effort on my part because while I want to do these things, I’m hitting the most resistance with accomplishing them than anything else. Subject to change, of course, but for now, let’s just focus on these eight and go from there. 

And I’ve checked Facebook twice, Tumblr once, and chatted on IM while writing this. Number two is going to be a bitch to accomplish

But worth it, in the end.  

What are you looking to accomplish or improve upon this year?

{On the Comforts of Tea + True to You 2 INFO}


Up until about three months ago, the only tea I’d touch had to either be a. iced, or b. green. And not the green tea you get in bottles at the gas station, with honey or lemon or any other method of sweetening. I like my green tea bitter, thank you, as intended. After you’ve had ceremonial green tea, that thick, soup-like froth so vibrant, it seems unnatural and magical at the same time, regular green tea is practically tame

I’d drink some in the morning, a boost of caffeine on the harder days when my chronic fatigue decided to swoop in and keep me in bed, or in the afternoon when I needed an extra bit of energy to get work done. And since I’m allergic to the oils in coffee, I can’t drink it (except for decaf, and iced, and cold-brewed, and a very light blend -- a combination I don’t expect to find in a cafe any time soon), which severely limits what I can get a a coffee shop. I frequent them enough to need something, and lately have been adventurous when it comes to what I have the girls at the local shop ice, going mostly off their recommendations.  

Last time I was outside -- doctor’s appointment at 11 or so this morning, a short visit, adjustment, medication adjustment -- it was about 104F (40C for my international readers), and yet I’m sitting here with a hot cup of Darjeeling; milk, sugar, until it’s a warm shade of light brown. 

Realistically, my new need for tea -- and around 4pm, to be proper -- comes from the insane amount of BBC programming I’ve been watching as of late, ever-thankful for Netflix and the internet for providing me with a wide range of accents (I have discovered I adore Welsh accents, unless it’s Janette, who is adorable and wins all the awards). There are only so many times John Watson can ask, “Tea?” before a girl has to go find some herself. 

But there’s something more to tea. 

As a student of Japanese culture, I’ve been to several traditional tea ceremonies, both in Chicago and Takamatsu (Kagawa, Japan). There’s a subtle grace to the moments of the ceremony, each designed to bring you closer to the present moment, to clear your mind. It is meditation enhanced by the senses, and each tiny movement has a bigger purpose. Take, for example, the turning of the bowl. When your tea has been poured, the bowl is turned so the design faces you, a way of showing respect, of connecting, without words, for a moment in time. When you finish, the bowl is then turned back towards the practitioner, your thanks for the wonderful tea. 

And I think, in my modern, insanely-hot-but-I-have-air-conditioning world, that the act of standing and going to make tea is a deliberate decision. After hours on the computer or at the desk creating, I pull back to myself, collect the mug, the tea bag, and let it steep. I pour in the milk and watch it swirl. Spoon in some sugar and stir, the click-click of the spoon hitting the sides of the mug a delicate, breakable sound. 

The mug is warm against my hands, and I close my eyes to savor the taste -- sweet and bitter at the same time, a balance known only by my hands scooping the sugar -- reconnecting with myself and the ground, solid, beneath my feet. 

For a few minutes a day, my time is mine and nothing else matters.  

And that, my friends, is priceless. 

It seems, as I sit here, that Drake likes tea just as much as I do. Perhaps we both need a break, a shift, a subtle change in the day that says, “Hello, world. I am here. I am alive. And I am paying attention.” 


You asked, and I'm answering -- click here to download a PDF with all the details about True to You 2! 

The start date is being pushed back until August 1st to allow for all the time I lost while sick! But keep in mind -- if you sign up before July 15th, you'll get it for $44! 

AND! If you haven't taken the original True to You but want to, you can now get it for $20 with the purchase of True to You 2. I'll send a refund via PayPal for the price difference. 

Drop me a line if you have any questions!