Monday, June 20, 2022

Black Makes Colors Pop and a Mental Health Update

Stampy Stuff

Today's card began life as a white-on-white card, but the great colors of the butterflies looked anemic on all that white. I switched to a black mat, and the colors now pop!

The squares were cut with the Hero Arts Infinity Squares die set, stamped with Memento tuxedo black and butterflies from Hero Arts Antique Engravings clear set, and colored with Copics. The squares are 1.5", the mat is 5.5" x 2" (for 1/4" matting), and the card is 7.25" x 3.75". The squares are popped up, and though it's hard to tell in the photos, it looks great in real life. 

The speckling comes from watercolor crayons, which I scribbled on a scrap piece of acetate, dissolved in water with a small round brush, and tapped gently over the squares. The speckles add just a little bit of interest and softness to an otherwise rather bold and high-contrast design. 

Now that my stamping mojo is back, I'm trying to use some long-neglected the watercolor crayons I've had for years. 

Neocolor II are water-soluble. Neocolor I crayons are not.

My artistic talent with watercolors may best be described as "minimal," and it's not a skill I feel motivated to improve. So I like easy, straightforward techniques like speckling (or splattering, if you prefer a more vulgar term) for watercolor media. 

Now let's shift to an unrelated stampy topic. I have a question involving clear stamps that have lost their stick. I have a number of older photopolymer stamps that have lost their stick. Most are sentiments. I've washed them with Dawn dish detergent and let them air dry, but they still don't stick well. Suggestions?

Personal Stuff

I mentioned a few posts ago that I'd update you on my mental health. The medication is working! It took a while, but my mood is much improved. I'm less anxious and more relaxed, and getting better sleep. The hormone replacement therapy is keeping the hot flashes to 2-4 a day. 

The doctor figured out the nightmares were caused by melatonin, which ordinarily gives me vivid and weird dreams, but given the heightened anxiety, the dreams went from merely weird to anxiety-provoking. No more melatonin, no more nightmares. 

My therapist and I are spacing appointments out a bit more. We are working mainly on building resilience to anxiety (stamping regularly is a part of that!) and on helping me strategize ways to manage boundaries better when I return to teaching in January. I should NEVER care more than college students about their success. Students and professors need to be partners with very clear responsibilities, or learning doesn't happen. My taking on more emotional commitment than I should doesn't help anyone. 

On a very happy note, one of the students who received an incomplete in May turned in the missing work, so I submitted a grade change to a B. He had a rough semester but got the work done! So yay! 

The other student who was going to turn in missing work has gone dark. I'm not at all surprised. 

The bottom line of my sharing this mental health journey is to help others who might be hesitant to ask for help. The help HELPS! Truly. Talk to your doctor if you're low. Many doctors get that medication can take the edge off, and the good ones insist that medication be accompanied by therapy at the same time. Many health insurance plans pay for psychological counseling, and telecare often carries no copay. I'm doing cognitive behavioral therapy, but other therapies can also be effective with treating anxiety. Your doctor should know where to point you.

If you're just feeling a little blue or off-kilter, consider a Stephen Minister. Stephen Ministers (SMs) are laypersons who are trained to provide one-on-one care for people going through a crisis or a chronic situation. SMs meet once a week for about an hour with their care receivers to listen, encourage, and help them process what they are going through. Most SMs bring only as much religion into the relationship as the care receiver is comfortable with...although that does vary from SM to SM. 

We provide care for grief, divorce, new moms or crisis pregnancies, the unemployed, the aging, the mildly or moderately depressed, and people who provide care to ill or disabled loved ones. We also care for loved ones of people struggling with serious mental health issues, drug use, or alcoholism. 

People with addiction or other serious mental health conditions (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, anger control issues) are not eligible for Stephen Ministry care as they require professional help. SMs are not professionals...we are volunteers with excellent training for what we do and a clear understanding of what we don't do. 

If you need a referral, I can find out what churches in your area offer Stephen Ministry. It just takes a quick phone call to Stephen Ministries headquarters, and I can point you in the right direction.  

In other words, if you're struggling, ask for help. And keep asking until you get it. I practice what I preach, and may my sharing help others to reach out!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,



  1. So much good news here and a beautiful card!! Awesome. About the stamps, I clean all my stamps with cheap rubbing alcohol and have for years and years. Not a single one has been damaged, They look brand new, And the rubbing alcohol on the back and front will restore the stickiness (at least it works for me).

    1. Thanks, Joan! I will give the alcohol a try. You're awesome!

  2. I'm quite surprised by your bold black mat as I would have instinctively gone for a thinner mat. But it so effective in making those butterflies pop!
    Good to hear that you're getting better step by step ... and encouraging others at the same time.

    1. Thanks, Janet. I went big with the idea that if there was too much black, I could trim it down. But I really liked the wider black mat!

  3. The card is quite the black mat and the fact that everything is lined up so well! THAT is my biggest issue...lining up layers so all are straight and even. Yes, I have lots of rulers & a MISTI too... Glad you're making progress with your mental health issues...Sounds like you're in the midst of menopause as well. Hang in will pass. Eventually. A sense of humor is very helpful at this time :-)

  4. Great card and comments. Thank you for sharing! My dad struggled with mental health issues. I believe from World War II trauma. It wasn't easy for a Sailor to watch his buddies who passed away being tossed overboard. Although Dad didn't talk about it often, we knew what he went through. Medication helped him.

    1. Joann, I'm so glad your dad got help. My grandfather had trauma from his war experiences as well.

  5. Thank you very much for sharing your mental health journey! It very likely will help someone else! It also helps to remove the stigma around mental health issues.

    Thank you also for mentioning Noom in a previous post! I'd heard a friend mention Noom. I've been trying to lose some weight for several years with no success and it was creeping up instead of down. I started Noom last week and am already seeing slight progress and learning a lot.

    I also really enjoy seeing all your beautiful cards!
    Thank you!

    Stacy I.

    1. Stacy, thanks for your encouragement. I hope Noom is helping you as much as it has helped me!


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