Thursday, October 25, 2012

"Kitty Wants..." and Getting Our Needs Met

Yo!  So check these little guys out!!!  

In my Children's Book Illustration class we're making children's book apps (for kindle/ipad/etc) using a program online called ""  (not to be confused with Tale Spin).  These are the characters I've made so far for my app!

I'm sorry but I think they're ADORABLE!!!  Aren't they SO cute???  :)  Aw...

Prismacolor felt tip pen and watercolor on 140 lb watercolor paper:

See?  Told you.  CUTE.

I think the story will be called "Kitty Wants..."  or "I Want" or something like that...

It's about a kitty who can't seem to get his wants/needs met.  (compliments on his tail... fishies to eat... friends to play with... cuddles...)  Finally he learns a simple, useful little tactic: asking!

Why is asking for what we want/need SO hard?  Why do we feel so much shame (shame = "I am bad") for asking for things?  Why can't we just say, "Do you like my new haircut?"  Instead of going home feeling sad nobody said anything.  That nobody listened to our great stories.  That nobody cared about our struggle at the dentist.  Usually we find out, if we ask, people are more than willing to tell us, "Oh my gosh yes I forgot to tell you but I love your haircut!"  Or, "Oh of course you can have some of my chips... I love to share."  Or, "I'd be more than happy to give you 20 minutes if you need to talk.  Give me an hour to finish this and I'm all yours!"

Or, we can be like Kitty, and keep trying to manipulate to get what we want, with our subtle hints, and sighs, and silent treatments.

The truth is people in our lives most often DO care.  We are just too afraid to make ourselves vulnerable.  Many of us "codependents" (--you can read my post listing codep. symptoms) have spent so much time somewhere in our past trying to be perfect, rescuing everyone else, meeting someone else's needs like our lives depended on it.  Being the one who needs help is foreign, some of us stopped having needs to stop the pain.  But if we don't take simple little steps to get our own needs met, and take care of ourselves, we're looking at a road of underlying sorrow, resentment, hurt, shame, loneliness, and probably wearing a pretty fake smile.

If you're like I was/still am (there I go being vulnerable yikes!), you feel ashamed if you ask because you're admitting to being weak and having wants/needs/ and not being perfect, AND ashamed if you don't ask because all you see is that you're too weak to be vulnerable.  Haha... so sad.

Finally I had to learn this:

(Besides the fact that I, Ginny, just as I am, am good and important and my wants/needs matter)

1 - By keeping my wants/needs to myself, I was actually being controlling.  I wasn't giving the other party the opportunity to respond or react or choose to be compassionate or helpful or anything.  2 - My therapist pointed out:  If I ask for help, there's a chance I'll get what I want and a chance I won't.  But if I don't ask, it's always always always zero chance.  3 - We discussed in group that although we feel like "being strong" is being happy and perfect all the time, it takes an even stronger person to be real and vulnerable.

We are important!  We deserve good things.  We can ask for help, and we're even allowed to set the boundaries.  "Thanks for giving me this time to talk to you for 20 minutes, but it helps me to have your full attention.  Do you mind if we turn off the TV?"

Bottom line is this:  We can't depend on others to make us happy.  We get to learn to love ourselves first.  Enough to where we can ask for help without fear of rejection, because then the rejection, though it may hurt and that's okay, can't send us spiraling back into the ground.


Oh... well... It may be a while before I get this down... I'm still really bad at it.  But eventually we'll get there!  I'm finally inviting the Lord back into my life to actually help with my issues, letting Him know straight up that I'm not perfect and can't do it on my own, and guess what?  Progress is finally picking up pace.  :)

Thought of the day:

"You matter, you matter!  Make your needs fatter!"

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Color Comps

Funny thing happened.  I took my painting and two others ready to start on into my advisor, Don Seegmiller, and he said, "Great, but, you need to do tiny color compositions before you continue on in your paintings.  Trust me, it'll save you loads of time in the end!"  Don is always right in these instances so... here they are.

Color Compositions!
(Done in prisma colored pencil... the images came out a little greenish on the computer but just work with me)

So here are different ways to do hippo:
(figuring out the sand color was hard... then I wasn't sure about the hat color, and then the hippo color!)


So my big questions are:

Pink or green hat?
Blue or purple hippo?


You Should You Should thought of the day....

"Grown-ups don't have shoulds.  
They have CHOICES."

Monday, October 15, 2012

YouShouldYouShould: The Story Behind the Story AND Painting Number ONE!

(To read Codependency Symptoms, skip/scroll down to the bottom of the page)

Painting number ONE!!

(I'm starting from the middle of the book so by the time I paint the beginning and ending, they will look their best!)

The glorious moment of first-born assertion!!!  You go, Hippo!
Acrylic on Canvas


Why did I write "You Should You Should?"

(Ginny takes a deep breath...)

INTRO:  You Should You Should is about a passive, people-pleasing hippopotamus who is approached by different animal characters who tell him what he should do, none of which are things he actually wants to do but does anyway.  He eventually learns that through being assertive, the animals love and appreciate him for just being himself.

(New comers can read "You Should You Should" here)

Many have asked how the story "You Should You Should" has come about.  Those who know me even a little bit cocked their head with a smile and said, "Ginny... is this a story about you?"  (You smarties!)  Some who suffer from codependency and anxiety have read this story saying, "Yep!  I know this feeling exactly."  I'm going to take a moment to finally explain the story behind the story.

Well, it all started when...  (go ahead, picture me on one of those couches)

I was in the midst of anxiety, depression, counseling, support groups, and studying self-help literature about something called "Codependency."  As I became a Senior in the Illustration Program here, it was time to think about my Senior Project - we all have to do one of those in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program to graduate.  I decided I'd like to write and illustrate a children's book!  Duh.  ;)  But first I needed a story idea.  Learning and working hard to become a person who does NOT eat sleep and breathe for the purpose of pleasing other people was my main focus at the time, and I happened to also be thinking about how I rarely live by choices, I live by the demands of shoulds.  I was thinking about how I use to do anything just so people would like me, even painful and uncomfortable things, all with a smile.  I thought about how learning this lesson of giving merit to my own wants and feelings as a child might have saved me a lot of grief.  As I came to understand more, I also thought it might be cool to possibly write a series of children's stories teaching concepts and skills that I'm just barely learning now and wish I'd learned years ago. Hence my first story about an awkward passive hippo who learns to say no, to be assertive, to value his wants as well as the choice to simply be himself.  :)

So.  Codependency.  This term is complex and difficult to explain, and I'm still making sense of it in my own mind, but I'll be briefly discussing this more in future posts.  It can exist between spouses, parent-child, friends, roommates, etc.  We'll start with a list of characteristics for today. (Mental Health America) gives us this short list of symptoms:

A Few Characteristics of Codependent People

  • An exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others
  • A tendency to confuse love and pity, with the tendency to “love” people they can pity and rescue
    • ("You're too emotionally stable so I can't love you.  You don't need me to fix you.")
  • A tendency to do more than their share, all of the time
    • ("I'll buy.  I drive.  I'll clean up.  I'll write you a million love notes.  I'll give you a hundred back rubs.")
  • A tendency to become hurt when people don’t recognize their efforts
  • An unhealthy dependence on relationships. The co-dependent will do anything to hold on to a relationship; to avoid the feeling of abandonment
    • ("I'll spend all my money on you, skip class for you, take work off for you, text you all the time, and sleep 2 hours a night since you cry and tell me your problems, it if it means you'll be my best friend")
  • An extreme need for approval
    • ("I rearranged the furniture... are you SURE you like it?  Are you sure it's okay I came along on that trip last weekend?  Is this shirt alright?  Oh, ...should I not have laughed at that joke?  Because you didn't...")
  • A sense of guilt when asserting themselves
    •  ("I don't really want to do that... wait but unless you want to actually never mind I love that idea let's do that because I'm not that important, just kidding, I'm sorry I mentioned it!"  "I'm sorry-...  Oh sorry-...  Sorry...")
  • A compelling need to control others  
    • ("What are you doing tonight?  I'll give you a ride.  Have you eaten?  What's wrong?  Do you need money?  Sit down and let me make your life better and make you happy, so that I can be happy.")
  • Lack of trust in self and/or others  
    • ("You said it's fine and you still love me... but I don't believe you."  "I'm going to stay miserable because I can't trust myself to get my needs met.")
  • Fear of being abandoned or alone  
    • ("Why didn't you say goodbye before you left?  Why didn't you call?  Why didn't you like what I cooked for you?  Do you not like me anymore?  Are you going to leave me?  Forget it.  I'm leaving you before you can leave me!")
  • Difficulty identifying feelings  
    • ("I'm fine ... I'm always fine ... I'm always happy ... unless you're not fine then I won't be fine until you're fine again ... gee I wonder when the last time I cried was besides the times I saw you cry)
  • Rigidity/difficulty adjusting to change
  • Problems with intimacy/boundaries  
    • ("Yes you can come over.  Yes you can use my stuff.  Yes you can be in my personal bubble.  Yes you can take advantage of me because I can't say no.  And I'm fine."
  • Chronic anger  
    • (depending on which stage we're in - anger took me a while in therapy to feel but once I learned to accept emotions and feel, I was ALWAYS angry)
  • Lying/dishonesty 
    • ("Yeah, I like this movie" ... "I'd love to babysit your cat" ... "No,"-smile-"I don't mind that you're bailing on me for the 50th time, it's fine.")
  • Poor communications
  • Difficulty making decisions 
    • ("I don't know"  "I don't care"  "What do you think?")
  • And I'll include from other places I've read... Codependents are known to "should" on themselves. 
    • "I should always be happy.  I should make everyone else happy.  I should do what people tell me to do.  I should be perfect.  I should I should I should..."  Oy!  No wonder I have anxiety.
Now, to put simply, CODEPENDENT means believing "I'm dependent on you being dependent on me."  AKA:  "We love each other because we need each other" instead of "We need each other because we love each other."  Aka:  "I need you to need me."  Yes, codependency is considered an actual behavioral addiction, and as a result we lose contact with ourselves, our feelings, our needs, and feel awful shame if we try.  

In future posts ALONG with my art :) I'll discuss more about this people pleasing disease.  Such as who it affects, where it comes from, why we have it, how we behave, more symptoms, a questionnaire, how to treat it, anxiety, etc, and how children are related to all of it!  I'll only be speaking from my own learning and experience, and I do NOT claim to be a professional by any means.  Hahaha... yeah definitely not.  I'm still in recovery so... yeah.

I have a goal to write fun and playful children's books that teach skills to children and parents, skills that if are developed in childhood could save us a lot of grief and anxiety as adults.

Why children?

For one, I absolutely LOVE them; dude, kids are COOL people!  Also, my therapist explained a theory which states that the lenses through which we perceive our world develop by the time we're 6.  (I know right?)  I'm not saying ALL people who struggle with codependency or any mental illness start at age 6.  But at least, the seeds are usually planted in childhood and the behaviors are often learned from example.

You Should You Should's quote of the day:

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

--The Serenity Prayer

Saturday, October 6, 2012

We Are Artists: Featuring YOU

I'm SO grateful to all who submitted "art" and gave permission to post.  I'm so VERY excited to show you all off!  There are some really great things here!  Please enjoy the art-stroll, and if you still have something you'd like to share, I'll be more than happy to stick you in!  Just email me -

Thanks Again!


Spencer and Ben Allred
"Allred-y Films'" features on Discombobulate TV:

The Movies

You're Scaring the Ducks

Aimy Wombwell:

Karen Ohlinger:


Will Terry:

Sandra Pfeiffer:

By Alisha Geary:
Rise through darkest slime,
extract of fear—eager demons
claw. I slide through the grasp
of talons—shards of shadows with
raw red edges.
Words echo, scream, sing, dig
at soulstring’s tender 
fleshy heart.
Evil lurks, breathes in curl of ear
sits on shoulder, stains footprints
that try to rise 
and rise 
andshatter like light streaming in through
morning’s window—

Adam Dove:


Getting My Mouth Washed Out

Once my grandmother got very angry
when I argued with her.
I was a five year old
who did not know her place.

So she told me to open my mouth
and then she put a bar of soap inside.
Forty-six years later,
I still remember
that awful taste.

But I didn't stop arguing
with her or anyone else.
I've argued with teachers, parents,
rabbis, politicians, and bosses
if they try to limit my freedom
or curtail other people's rights.

I've lived long enough
to see some reforms.
So here's my advice
to other rebellious kids:
If someone threatens you
with a bar of soap,
keep talking so fast
that no one can ever wedge
a stopper in your mouth.

Copyright Michigan Reading Journal, 2009; rpt. in Janet Ruth Heller, Traffic Stop (Finishing Line Press, 2011); rpt. in Janet Ruth Heller, Folk Concert: Changing Times (Anaphora Literary Press, 2012).  

Alicia VanNoy Call:

Short story you can read or listen to the audio recording at WileyWriters online:

Mom pulled us out of school the day before the attack. She told us to get our handhelds, favorite holo discs, bedding, clothes, books even. She took us down to The Cave. That’s what we called it back when Dad was building it, when I was little. Down under the house, through tunnels, a vertical ladder and a two-door airlock. We hadn’t been down there since it was finished.
“Maybe we’ll never have to use it,” I remember Dad saying. But he and Mom had looked at each other in a way that said, Maybe. Maybe not.........

Micah Larsen: