I hope life's been treating you all well! It's been a while since you've all heard from me, and since I recently finished a new painting, I decided to share it with you.
I started with this painting back in 2016 with a lot of enthusiasm, but it took me a long time to finally finish it. Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I struggle with Bipolar disorder type II and that means that my moods fluctuate between bouts of severe depression, hypomania, and a few weeks where I feel "normal" when I am not depressed and hypomanic.
When I am hypomanic, I am ridiculously creative and the creativity flows continuously (I get only 3 hours of sleep throughout the week because I keep creating and creating and creating till the wee morning hours). It's usually in this hypomanic episode that I take on new projects (or pick up new hobbies like learning how to play an instrument, etc) and this painting was one of those projects. Whilst painting this I was also writing a poem at the same time; I was all over the place and driving people insane with my continuous, quickly swerving babble and noisy presence.
Hypomania usually lasts 4-7 days and after that, you really crash - hard! It feels like speeding in a car and crashing into a cement wall. In my case, after hypomania comes depression that lasts several months and in these months I have a very hard time functioning, and my creativity is nowhere to be found. In this period I very rarely paint and my projects are catching dust. As was this painting for many months.
Not long ago I entered another hypomanic episode and I was finally able to finish this 1920s lady in sepia tones. It didn't really become what I'd hoped and expected but I am not entirely dissatisfied.
I have also been doing smaller projects on the side, and I have also started combining watercolor painting with hand lettering; I am totally addicted to it actually. I am a big fan of beautiful quotes, so combining these three things is an absolute pleasure for me and works very relaxing.
Ordinary life does not interest me — Anais Nin
What I fear most, I think, is the death of imagination. — Sylvia Plath
This post contains products that have been sent to me for collaboration
This year I got the opportunity to collaborate once again with the lovely Karen for her retro clothing shop Miss Poppy Wear. This time it was not only me who got the opportunity to model some lovely vintage style clothes, but my beloved boyfriend Ben as well. It was his first time as a model and he did a stellar job!
On the photos, I am wearing the Roxy-Lee Fox print stretch top by Miss Candyfloss. I absolutely love foxes and count them among my favorite animals, so it's no surprise that I am in love with this cute print. The top is made from a very comfortable stretchy material (97% cotton and 4% spandex), has long sleeves, a double collar and a sweetheart opening made from a soft jersey fabric.
I count this top among my favorites ever since I wore it for the first time; it's figure hugging and very comfortable.
The skirt I am wearing is the Fallon pencil skirt by Miss Candyfloss in marine color; a comfortable high waist skirt with adorable frills on the back, a zipper on the side, and a small sexy split on the right.
I usually tend to shy away from pencil skirts as I am not always sure if they suit me. However, these doubts were gone as soon as I saw and wore the Fallon pencil skirt. The skirt is made of a firm fabric (63% polyester, 35% viscose, 2% elastane) and feels very comfortable to my body. You can move easily in this skirt (which is not always the case with pencil skirts in my experience) and also became a new favorite in my wardrobe.
Now, you should know that Ben is very picky if it comes to reproduction vintage clothing. Usually, he only wears clothing originally from the 1930s or 1940s, unless it's reproduced really well.
This set, skillfully made by Vecona Vintage, however, made him very enthusiastic. The fabric and cut resemble the clothing of the 1930s very well in his opinion and especially the pants are as if it's an original 1930s one. Ben is a tall guy (1.90m / 6'2") and usually has trouble finding good quality reproduction clothing that fit him well, especially trousers, but there were none of these problems with the Swinging Savoy set. It all fits beautifully.
These high waist pants with pleats are very elegant and made of a comfortable airy material, which makes it perfect for seasons such as spring and summer. You can move freely in it, as this set is made for dances such as the Lindy Hop. It's a really beautifully made set and well worth the investment for your wardrobe.
Do yourself a favor and have a look at the stunning collection available through the Miss Poppy Wear website, especially since they have a 10% Valentine's day discount going on at the moment! Treat yourself for Valentine's day, or surprise a loved one with some beautiful retro clothing Miss Poppy Wear has to offer. Use the code "POPPYLOVE" on all non-discounted items.
I still like to draw a lot of inspiration from bygone era's for my look these days, and Frida Kahlo, considered a bohemian in her days, is often one of them. I have evangelized my admiration for Frida Kahlo a lot before; the way she tried to fight through her daily and painful struggles and her deep and meaningful art (even though normally, I am not a huge fan of surrealism) in this post and also mused about her in this post where I showcased a dress with her print on it. Well, what can I say? I just admire the woman a lot.
One of the things of Frida's look that inspire me the most, is the way she wore her hair. With the center-part braids, flowers and intertwined colorful ribbons, et cetera. When I freshly dyed my hair I love to wear it this way (only when my hair is freshly dyed, as I think center braids with a blonde hair outgrowth don't look so charming).
The unhappier Frida was, the more adornment she wore. Frida loved to receive people in her bohemian and artistic home and when she was not feeling well, she would still get all dressed up in her iconic look. She refused to go downstairs in her pajamas or leave the house without her famous hairstyle. The way Frida looked was considered very unfashionable and ridiculous in 1940s Mexico, but Frida couldn't care less. It made her happy and that's what mattered to her.
Since I am suffering from quite a tough to beat depression lately I have a hard time dressing up and especially receiving people in my home (I actually also have a hard time receiving people in my home when I am not depressed - but that's a whole different story about me being an introvert ;-)), but I look up to Frida's persuasion in finding creative ways to make herself happy. She never gave up and she kept fighting till the bitter end.
Whenever I can I use her technique of 'the unhappier, the more adornment' on myself when feeling unwell, and yes, it really does give me strength when I find the willpower to drag my body out of bed, dress it glamorously and take care of it and participate in the world; it's quite a task when you have no energy left, and it doesn't always work, but when I did it, it feels all the more victorious! The flower crowns help a lot with it, they really cheer me up just like they used to when I made them from common daisies with my friends.
Do you love to wear flowers in your hair?
I think we can all agree on the fact that 2016 was a really bumpy year. A nasty year even. I have cursed it, I have despised it, I have hated it, I was frustrated with it and I have screamed at it. I have shed many a tear and wished for 2016 to be over... but I have also loved 2016 and received a lot from it. It will be hard to give a summary of this year that will not turn into a book volume, but allow me to try.
For me, and many people in my environment, the year 2016 was centered around death and illness. I lost quite a lot of loved ones this year, as did many other people in my social circle. Not to mention the fact that so many wonderful and amazingly talented famous people left the earth - of which Alan Rickman (famous for his role as Severus Snape in Harry Potter) was, to me, the most devastating of all. I was -and am- a huge fan of him and I will sorely miss his handsome face, presence and beautiful voice in the movies.
Alan Rickman 1946 - 2016
The year 2016 also gave me and my family a really, really painful stab in the back in its last month. As if the year wasn't bad enough! We received the news that my younger sister Melissa is diagnosed with an early stage of cervical cancer. She's only 28 and you can imagine the immense shock this brought. The year 2017 is going to be very, very tough for her, but she's incredibly strong and positive and my family and I will be with her and support her évery step of the way.
The year 2016 was also the year where I took a break from blogging, quite early in the year. I did not regret that choice for one moment. Blogging started to drain me and my content showed it. Although I promised myself to just blog whenever I feel like it instead of posting every day, I can say that blogging started to appeal to me again and it gives me energy like it used to when I started.
Although 2016 was a frustrating year for me, it gave me good things as well: I grew as a person. I grew to understand myself and nothing gave me more calmness than finally understanding myself. I am quite a complex person, for others, but certainly also for myself. I still receive psychotherapy and 2016 was the year where my treatment really, really came to fruition. We had a breakthrough, so to speak, and I learned a great deal about myself. With this new insight into my character, I could work on myself to become a better and happier version of myself. We still have a long way to go, though, but that's ok!
The year 2016 was also the year where I picked up my brushes again and started to paint on a daily basis. As a child, I simply loved watercolor painting and this was the technique I wanted to continue with and it feels so good. I feel happy when I finish a painting and with support and encouragement from family and friends (and even strangers!) I decided that I want to start selling my work so that I can support my hobby and continue to make beautiful things.
Another highlight of 2016 is the fact that I started to shed my vintage look altogether. Although I have loved it every single day of the 10 years I dressed vintage, I feel so much better in my skin now that I stopped wearing it. I still love it; I still find it beautiful and I still follow all the lovely vintage ladies and gents on social media. I also still watch the movies, I still collect old Hollywood autographs, et cetera... but it somehow stopped working for me to wear vintage at this stage of my life. I now find pleasure in wearing the boho style combined with just my very own twist to it, which fits my unconventional, individualistic and free-spirited character.
If you are an avid reader of my blog, you might remember that I set up a few goals for myself to work on in 2016. So, what about those?
Living healthy was one of the things I mentioned. Did it work out? Well, not as good as I had in mind. Granted, I live quite healthy, am a vegetarian and 80% completely plantbased in general, but unfortunately I suffered a major depression (which is linked to my Bipolar disorder) and when I am depressed I can't be bothered with healthy stuff and good looks. I gained a bit of weight because I ate unhealthily and rarely left my house. I am still recovering from this depression and am working very hard to get my health plan back on track. So I am taking this goal with me to 2017.
Expand my food photography was another goal. Although I grew in my photography skills and practiced a lot, I did not practice my food photography as much as I'd loved to. But with the depression going on I rarely felt the energy to cook up something marvelous and photograph it, too!
I also had in mind to make Miss Lindsay Lane, the blog, bigger. Ironically enough, a month after I made that goal I decided to put blogging on the back burner.
Let the past be the past was also a goal I made. And this one was a bit of a paradox this year. In many areas, it worked out wonderfully but I also had times where my past was, unfortunately, dragging me down. Of course, I realize that in my case, I need more time to work on this and so this is another goal I am bringing with me to 2017.
And that leads me to another goal: Work on my trauma's and let them be a thing of the past. Unfortunately, this was also placed on the back burner. Because I suffered a major depression, my therapist and I decided to give priority to getting me through the depression first instead of continuing a treatment for my trauma's that can worsen a depression for time being. But of course, working on my trauma's is a goal I am bringing with me to 2017 as well.
Staying creative, I think my favorite goal for 2016, worked out quite well. I picked up painting and sketching, started writing again, and practiced my photography skills in nature and also whilst traveling. And it felt so damn good.
Also, in one of my hypomanic episodes a few months ago (a symptom of my Bipolar II disorder) I bought a traditional Russian instrument, a Balalaika, with the intention of finally learning to play a musical instrument. Even though I am not in a hypomanic episode at this moment, I decided I still want to try and learn how to play the Balalaika and find a creative outlet in music as well. A new goal for 2017!
Another goal was to be less of a slave to the Internet and my smartphone. And that worked out as I had planned. I was still active on the world wide web, but definitely less so, unless I was in a hypomanic episode. When I am in such an episode I am practically all over the world wide web, but apart from that, I felt less of a slave to the Internet and my smartphone this year and it felt really good.
MY NEW GOALS FOR 2017Then this: as you might have noticed, I talked freely about two of my mental illnesses (Posttraumatic stress disorder and Bipolar II disorder) and especially in this blog post. And that's not without a reason: I want to contribute to FINALLY remove the stigma that sadly still hovers over mental illnesses in these modern times. I realized that, in order to do so, it starts with yourself. I want to talk openly about it and show people that there is no shame in having a mental illness. It really is no different from having a physical illness.
The truth is that anyone can develop a mental illness at any time in his or her life! Not everyone will develop one, but no one is immune to developing a mental illness at some point in their lives. And when that happens, wouldn't it be devastating if people view you as a monster rather than see you as someone who has "simply" a chemical imbalance in their brain?
I realize that stigmatizing happens largely because of people being uneducated on the topic. The views on mental illness are ridiculously antiquated. Which is sad, if you realize that more than 3 million people in my small country alone, the Netherlands, suffer from a mental illness at one point in their lives. The chance that you know one or two people in your social circle struggling with mental illness is very likely. Ask yourself: do they deserve such a stigmatizing treatment?
And to those people who stigmatize mental illness, making fun of it and shaming it I want to say: shame on you! Shame on you! You should stop it because it is mean, outdated and you are poison to the human spirit. There is no excuse to be uneducated on a topic like this in times with Google at your disposal.
Start educating yourself on the topic, because the chances that you are deeply hurting a loved one struggling with a mental illness who does not have enough courage to speak up about it because of your outdated and mean stigmatizing views is very likely. The dramatic consequences of stigmatization are devastating, and why on earth would you want to contribute to that? Do you think it makes you look like an amazing, cool and kind person if you drag others with an illness down? Do you also make fun of people with Diabetes? Epilepsy? No? Then why make fun of someone with, for example, Agoraphobia or Anorexia Nervosa?
If you think you might have a mental illness, please seek help. Do not feel ashamed; there is simply nothing to feel ashamed about. You deserve help and you owe it to yourself! If you need someone to talk to, please feel free to contact me!
I have cursed and hated my Bipolar II disorder diagnosis, especially in times of depression, but I do realize that it is a part of me and it makes me who I am. There's no need to be afraid of me, I am not dangerous to other people. I am not a murderous maniac. Quite the opposite actually!
And you know what? I am in very good company: Marilyn Monroe, Vivien Leigh, Carrie Fisher, Sylvia Plath, Mel Gibson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Gene Tierney, Vincent van Gogh, Virginia Woolf, and many other famous people had and have Bipolar Disorder.
So yes, that is a goal of me in 2017: help de-stigmatize mental illness, starting with myself; talking openly about it without shame and also educate people on the topic. Because stigmatization is outdated, devastating and so unnecessary in these modern times.
I want to end this "epistle" by quoting one of the most badass princesses ever, namely Carrie Fisher, famous for her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars, and who sadly died at the age of 60 yesterday!
"We have been given a challenging illness, and there is no other option than to meet those challenges. Think of it as an opportunity to be heroic - not 'I survived living in Mosul' heroic, but an emotional survival. An opportunity to be a good example to others who might share our disorder." — Carrie Fisher
PHYTOTHERAPYAnother goal of me that I want to pursue in 2017 will be that I am going to completely dedicate myself to Phytotherapy and herbalism and will follow a study in it. From my teenage years on I have developed a huge love for herbs and their healing powers. I work with herbs for a long time now and I decided that getting a degree would be a logical next step for me and, hopefully, someday in the future have my own Phytotherapy practice. It will absolutely thrive in my anthroposophic hometown, that's for sure!
For now, it is time to knit an end to this enormous post. But not before I have said this: please be kind to one another in 2017. Have a little compassion for people a little different than you and try to understand them! We are all unique. Make the world a better place with your compassion and your loving heart and understanding and also realize that the earth was created for all forms of life; not just human life. The world in itself can be a toxic and hateful place... don't contribute to that!
I want to wish you all a marvelous New Year's Eve and I hope 2017 will bring you lots of love, insight, happiness, creativity, and courage.