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With several candidates recently announcing their run for President in the 2016 election, I think it is a good time to discuss this issue.

It’s no secret that our elections have problems here in U.S.A.  First, there is the huge amount of money which corrupts the process.  Then, there is the challenge of getting voters and potential voters to pay attention to the process, not to mention goading the disenchanted and indifferent into taking more of an interest.  Also, third parties and independents are often entirely left out of the process.  Then, there is the potential for voter fraud and low voter turnout.

But what can we do to fix this?

I suggest doing the elections as a “Survivor-style” competition, with free call-in voting.  No negative campaign ads, no campaign contributions, no boring debates, no leaving out third parties and independents.

We can dump all the candidates in the middle of nowhere, and televise it 24/7 for free, while they all fight it out with each other for a few weeks.

“The first one of you to find the WMD hidden in one of these huts can have immunity for the next challenge.”

Viewership would increase, and so would voter turnout.. plus, it would just be fun to watch.

Of course, we run the risk of “the naked guy” winning, but that’s a chance I am willing to take.


First, I apologize for the length of time between my blog posts.  I have had a lot of things to work through over the past several months, and have not dedicated the amount of time to this that I should.  Until I received notes from concerned readers, it had not even occurred to me that some might worry about the extended absences.  I should have thought of that, especially since so many of my entries lately have addressed the less happy side of life, so please forgive my time away– I will try to do better!  Now, for today’s topic..

Several weeks ago, an acquaintance– make that former acquaintance– on Facebook became enraged at someone else for not being a mind-reading psychic, and then proceeded to launch an unwarranted, profanity-laden attack via Facebook, targeting several people who were not even involved in any way, including me.  It is something we all see regularly on the social networks.  If you are thinking it’s incredibly immature, you are absolutely right!  But, that is not what this is about, because using my blog as a forum to return the attack would be equally ridiculous.

Instead, I am turning this into a teaching and learning moment.  What do you do when someone is directing unjustified hostility toward you?

First, it is totally understandable to be angry yourself, after such an attack.  But, as difficult as it might be, stay calm.  No matter how much the other person might seem to deserve it, resist the urge to send a solid thump on the nose, and be above trading profanities.  If you return the other person’s hostility, you are, in the mind of the attacker, justifying his hostility. As a bonus, the calmer you are, the crazier the other person looks.

Remember, their anger is not your anger, and just because they are saying and doing things they might live to regret, it does not mean you have to say or do things you might later regret.

Be patient.  You do not know what someone else is experiencing.  Perhaps they have a mental illness, or are having some other traumatic life experience which is fueling the anger.  Perhaps they themselves have been victimized in some way, and are unwittingly paying it forward.

While it is my belief that we all have a duty to help each other when we can, there are only so many hours in a day and we’re not all psychotherapists.  Weigh the options and make a decision.  Is the person a high priority in your life, and can he be helped by you?

If it is someone you rarely see, or if your presence only seems to make the person angrier, it may be best to walk away and let someone else help him work through the issue.

If you value the person who is lashing out at you, if it is a close friend or family member (or if you work in customer service or health care!), calmly and gently probe for answers.  Try to find out why the person is so angry, in order to defuse the situation.  Often, once you have him engaged in a conversation and seeking solutions, the person will begin to calm down.  However, this does not always work, so above all…

Protect yourself.  You do not have to allow yourself to be the target of anyone’s irrational, misdirected anger.  You absolutely have the right to choose to walk away from a potentially abusive situation, and there is no reason to tolerate abuse from anyone.  However much you might wish to “fix” the person, realize that it is still his anger, not yours, and only he can fix it.  You are not obligated to carry that burden.  Sometimes, the best way to handle it is to walk away, letting the person rant and tire himself out.

Then, after he falls asleep, resist the urge to stick his hand in a bucket of warm water.  Seriously.  It will only make him madder.

It will probably not be a surprise that, as an abuse survivor, I have often struggled with anger. After so many years, I consider myself practically an expert on both what not to do and on finding ways to put anger in its place.

I am often bothered by the bad rap anger has received in recent years. We are regularly told it is unhealthy, it is negative, and clichés, like “anger only destroys its container”. But, let’s be clear. There are different kinds of anger, and how a person copes with it is largely what determines whether or not it is unhealthy.  Anger might destroy its container, but perhaps that is because anger isn’t meant to be contained.

Anger is a natural response to some situations. It is one of the things that tells us something is wrong. Of course, it can also be (or result in) an overreaction, masking the true issue that lies beneath.

When experiencing anger, it is important to pause and ask one’s self if the anger is justified. Is the level of anger the reasonable response to this current situation? Is it due to the current situation, or is it due to an accumulation of past events? Is it a response to the actual circumstances, or is it based on misunderstanding or misinterpretation of circumstances?

What is the real reason for the anger?

It may take some time and careful consideration, but once the real reason for the anger has been determined, it then becomes a matter of directing it appropriately, in the most constructive way possible.

For example, the Civil Rights Movement would probably not have happened if there had not been a large group of people who were angry about the injustices of the status quo. However, if the movement had not been mostly calculated and methodical, and had instead been allowed to deteriorate entirely into violence and profanity-laden rants, it might not have resulted in so many of the desired changes.

Generalized, misguided, misdirected rage is unhealthy, and often results in undesired consequences. It is destructive, and while you might feel better for a moment, it will eventually come back to bite you. Sure, you might be taken seriously if you are shouting and cursing at everyone in your general vicinity, but only to the extent that people will be wondering if they should call someone with tranquilizer darts. Your meltdown will be what they remember, not so much what caused it– unless it was caused by something ridiculously petty; then they will remember you for being an ass– and they will probably wonder about your mental stability.  Moreover, very few of the right people will be interested in helping you with whatever the situation is, if you are constantly lashing out at innocent bystanders.

So, once you figure out the root cause of the anger, it is important to properly address the issue. If you are angry because your boss treats you unfairly, calmly discuss it with your boss and explain your side, or get a new job. If you are angry because a law is unfair, work to have the law changed. If you are angry because someone did something awful to you 30 years ago, work to help others in that situation or work to prevent it from happening to someone else.

If you find that you are carrying around generalized anger from things you cannot change, accept that you cannot change those things, and find a constructive outlet for the pent up frustration. Put your anger into something productive, like exercise or art.

There is no need to stifle anger, or to pretend it doesn’t exist, or to attempt to drown it in disingenuous platitudes. There is a need to identify it, recognize it and its causes, and direct it to make a positive change.

I’ve added a few pencil drawings to eBay.. I know! Finally, right?!

I apologize for the wait, but I think bidders will be pleased that the starting bid is under $25 for each of 5 original pencil sketches, and the “Buy It Now” price is just $75 each.


10% of proceeds will be donated to Annabelle’s Second Chance Pit Bull Rescue.

You can view the new listings here.


Virginia Barn Pencil Drawing

Illustration of a southeastern Virginia barn by S.Lynnette.

Update: I know, I know.. It’s been more than a “couple” of days!  Many humble apologies for keeping you waiting!  The following auction listings will be posted tomorrow!  (That’s November 11.)  Thank you for your patience. ❤


In the next couple of days, I will be posting some drawings on eBay.  Normally, if someone doesn’t claim them before the sealant is dry, I post paintings and drawings for sale on the main website.  But, since I originally started off selling some on eBay years ago, I thought it’d be a nice bit of nostalgia to list them that way again.   And, it’s a way of saying “thank you” to my supporters.   The starting bids will be affordable, and I have not done a lot of publicizing, so there’s a chance to get some deals!

Each drawing is in ebony pencil, on 9×12 sketch paper with smudge resistant clear coat.

Here’s a preview of some of the listings– the “S.Lynnette” watermarks are not part of the drawings.  🙂

Dairy Barn Pencil Drawing

Illustration of a southeastern Virginia dairy barn by S.Lynnette.

Virginia Barn Pencil Drawing

Illustration of a southeastern Virginia barn by S.Lynnette.

Lighthouse Pencil Drawing

Ebony pencil drawing on 9x12in. acid-free sketch paper. Lighthouse, by S.Lynnette

The holidays are coming!  And I have reduced prices on most of the items in my Zazzle store, just in time!


And, those art auctions I mentioned several days ago are on the way.  I’ve finished a few new sketches, and will be listing them for auction on eBay with low starting bids.  Those will be posted in the next couple of days, and of course I will post a blog update when I list them!  It’s my way of saying “thank you” to the clients and customers who have supported me, and it’s how I pay for website maintenance, too, so don’t be bashful about bidding high! 😀

And, since most of us can always use a little luck, I will also be listing a few lucky clovers for auction at reduced prices, even though they are already very affordable and available on the main website at  Happy shopping!

framed 4 leaf clovers

framed 4 leaf clovers

When I first started offering original paintings and drawings online, I started by listing them on eBay with very affordable starting bids.  As the quality of and demand for an artist’s work increases, the price usually increases, too.  Often, the result is that the original works become unattainable for many.  This is one of the reasons I offer prints of some of my work in a store on Zazzle.

But, I’ve decided to go a step further.

The plan for the next couple of days is to finish several drawings, which will then be auctioned on eBay with very reasonable starting bids.

I’ll post the link in a new entry on this blog when the listings are open for bids.  It should be just a few days.

Proceeds will go toward keeping the website running, and toward paying off my student loans. 🙂

Many humble thanks to all my clients and customers– past, present, and future!




Most of us have a tendency to stereotype certain professions.  Doctors, lawyers, police, bankers, artists, teachers, firefighters, plumbers.  For many of us, these words conjure mental images beyond the basic job description.  Some of those mental images might vary from person to person, depending on experience.  If your interactions with police have been minimal or you had positive experiences with them, you might have a mental image of a kind, helpful person who is boldly protecting and serving the public.  If you had bad experiences with the police, your mental image of them might not be so flattering.

Having known many types of people from many different walks of life, I try to avoid labeling individuals according to profession (or any other superficial characteristic, but this is about profession).  Sure, sometimes it turns out that the shoe fits, but often it doesn’t.

Society also seems to choose to label as “unskilled”– and then look down on– a handful of professions.  Many conservative communities (like the one in which I was raised) consider stripping to be an unskilled profession fraught with fallen/wicked/unclean/uneducated temptresses who made terrible life choices– without ever realizing how many of the dancers are just paying their way through college.  And, most of their clientele would probably argue that they aren’t “unskilled”.

The recent fast food strike has brought one of my own biases to the surface, so now I am going to nip it in the bud.

When the demand for a $15 per hour wage was announced, like a lot of people, my initial knee-jerk reaction was to wonder why they deserve so much when others who went to college and are working hard are still not making that amount.  But this reaction is based on some incorrect assumptions.

First, it assumes fast food workers are uneducated and/or unskilled, which is incorrect to assume.  Perhaps most do not have college degrees, but it absolutely takes some skill to deal with the public in a high volume setting, handle the cash and inventory accurately and honestly, and prepare food without making anyone ill.

The next assumption is more insidious.  It is the assumption that if someone is less educated or less skilled, their labor is somehow of even less value than what it takes to earn a living.  For many, the rationale goes something like… “Since even *I* am not making that much money even after working so hard and going to college, *their* work must be worth even less. And *I* have all those student loans to pay off, after all!”– which not only assumes *they* aren’t working as hard and have fewer financial obligations, it also assumes *I* am being paid fairly, when *I* am probably underpaid too!

Should you pay more to your accountant who went to a reputable university, or to the high school kid who is failing everything except gym?  I suppose it depends on which job you want done.  If you need help moving heavy stuff, the kid is probably your best bet.  But don’t hire him to do your bookkeeping unless he can save you enough money to hire a lawyer later.  Whose work is worth more?  It depends what you need to move, but probably the accountant’s work, usually… partly because there are so few great accountants and so many high school kids flunking everything except gym.  So, yes, there is– and should be– some difference in pay, according to demands/needs and one’s ability to meet those needs.

Don’t worry, rich people!  I still think you’re great.  And I’d say that even if you weren’t the only ones in the current economy who can still afford my original paintings.

But how much is enough?  If the high school kid grows up to work in fast food instead of becoming a personal trainer, does he deserve to be kept in poverty by low wages, while the company executives are making record salaries?  If I buy a cheeseburger, how much of that money goes to the person who actually cooked it?  And, at that moment, which did I need more– someone who knows how to cook, or someone who does the bookkeeping?  Do I want the person handling my food to be happy and healthy because he is well-paid and can afford decent health care, or do I want him to be bitter and unhappy because he works a full week in a hot kitchen and still can’t afford even the basics?  Do low wages encourage people to try harder and achieve more, or do they prevent people from achieving dreams because low-income families are too caught up in the struggle for survival and by the seeming hopelessness of it?  Are all these high-paid executives necessary? Maybe the cook should just cut out the middle man and set up a grill in the back yard… Oh, those pesky regulations.  Ok, so we need some executives too, in order to manage all those mountains of paperwork, and navigate all those regulations.  And, of course they deserve to be reimbursed for educational expenses, plus some extra perks, just because they’re such nice people.  But, there seems to be a significant lack of fairness in the division of profits in some companies, and not just in fast food.

Home health workers are now being encouraged to join the fast food workers’ movement, too.  I do not personally know anyone who would argue that those men and women don’t deserve a raise for all they do.  I am eternally grateful for the compassionate and competent care given to my grandfather by his home care workers when he was ill.

Some fear that increased wages will mean higher prices, higher unemployment, and maybe a move to make it the minimum wage, which some fear would kill small businesses.  Historically, yes, there are some large companies which try to use pay increases as an excuse to raise prices.  Also, more people with more money to spend means higher demand, and higher demand means higher prices for some things.  And, stockholders’ demands for more and more money might cause some large corporations to consider layoffs in order to increase profits for those already at the top.  I’ve had some (minimal) concerns about all this too, and have seen it happen with some businesses after other wage increases.  But guess what?  Some large companies will do that anyway, regardless of wage increases.   The same arguments arise every time minimum wage is increased.  And, the dire predictions prove to be mostly wrong.

But, no, wage increases alone will not fix the oversized gap between the poorest and the wealthiest.

The working class and supporters must put a collective foot down.  Refuse to support companies which underpay employees while paying top executives annual salaries that are more than most people will see in a lifetime.  When companies do mass layoffs in order to better line the pockets of the highest paid, boycott them.  Instead, support the companies which share the fruits of labor with the labor, and support small businesses, too.

And, whatever you do, don’t ask why of the 3 professions in the title, strippers earn the highest income.  But, maybe it’s time to buy a thong and consider a career change.

When a friend asked how I thought revealing my personal struggles might impact my freelance work, I had already somewhat considered the risk.  Of course, some people will judge.  But, smart buyers will remember that the struggles of van Gogh did not negatively impact the end value of his work.  And, as an artist, I think it is a little dishonest to present a work of art without also addressing at least some of what created and influences its creator.  Plus, as I have seen from responses to previous posts about this subject, there are many who struggle with depression.  If my experiences can help one person, then it is worth the risk.  I plan to someday leave this world a little better off than when I arrived, just in case the Hindus and Buddhists are right and we all have to come back.

And, I’m an artist.  What is the risk, really?  As an artist, there is more risk in being closed.  I don’t have skeletons in my closet; I paint them and put them on display.  Part of an artist’s duty is to feel, experience, and express.  There are so many parts of the human experience which have been demonized, many people are denied the basic, simple privilege of talking about it.  We have free speech, but if you are an air traffic controller who was just put on psychoactive drugs for something like depression, and you go into work and talk about the freaky side effects around the water cooler, you will probably soon end up with a lot of free time on your hands.  And, perhaps in extreme situations with lives at stake, that’s for the best.  Most of us are not in that position, though.  So, why do so many of us hide it (or at the very least, refuse to talk about it)?

One of the unpleasant side effects of giving one’s depression too much direct attention is that it can feed the depression.  One of the unpleasant side effects of ignoring it is that it goes unchecked, like that giant dust bunny in the corner you’ve been ignoring for months but it’s about to carjack you.  It can be a tricky balance, and perhaps many people hide their depression, due to fear of unintentionally feeding it.  But, there is probably more to it.

When I first started to open up about my depression here, I remembered a conversation several years ago with a friend, in which he was warning someone else against revealing their own struggles.  “People will turn on you and abuse that information. In. A. Heartbeat.”, he said.  Some might, especially in certain professions.  Politics comes to mind.  In my own experience, responses have been supportive, and there have been a lot of “Me, too!” responses– though mostly sent as private messages.  At least.. the responses have been supportive recently.  When I was younger, I was misunderstood more often and the responses were less supportive.  I ended up being stressed out from hiding the depression, stressed out from feeling like I couldn’t just be *me*, and stressed out from all the ugly things some people do when they don’t understand you.

And that was after surviving childhood trauma.  By the time I was a teen, I had learned to mostly dislike humans (though I am now partially cured of that).  Have I really been coping with depression and PTSD for this long?

When I was 6-ish, I was enrolled in the “gifted” school.  I studied viola, art, ornithology, and so on.  How many 6 year olds can tell you what “dendrology” is?  By the time I graduated high school, my grades and attendance were such that the principal, as he was handing me my diploma, told me he did not ever think I would graduate.  One has to ask one’s self… What the hell happened?  Yet, if anyone ever asked, they did not find the answer or a solution.  I asked for help every way I knew how, then I gave up, shut everyone out, and went into survival mode, which later nearly became self-destruct mode.  If I had not eventually somehow landed in college, I suspect the outcome would have been tragic.

I suppose it is a small miracle that there wasn’t enough money to medicate me when I was a minor, otherwise I might have been a “zombie kid”.  As an adult, every time I have sought help for my depression, the first “solution” was always to medicate.  I’m going to tell you all a secret… those magic pills don’t work for most people.  Even according to the makers’ own studies.

Oh, yeah.  Then there are the side effects.

Last time I was put on medication, I kept telling them.. “It’s damaging my memory and I don’t feel comfortable driving while taking this.”  The solution?  Increase the dosage, add another pill, and see what happens!  I finally ended up stopping the medication myself, “cold turkey”.  The warning labels said not to, but by that time, my stable but depressed life had been pretty much turned upside down anyway.  If the worst thing that could happen was sudden death, I was ready for it.  I still sometimes have “zaps” from that, though it’s been a while since the last one.  (One of the lesser known side effects of stopping some medications is “zaps”.. it feels a lot like brushing against an electric fence, and you never know when it might hit.  *ZAP!*  Out of the blue.  Just like that.  Good times.)

Speaking of zaps and depression, a friend in the medical profession recently told me there are studies showing that ECT, aka “shock therapy”, has been shown to help fight depression, possibly even curing it for some.  I suspect those patients are only saying they feel better so the doctors will stop shocking them, but my friend reassures me the patients are anesthetized for the procedure.  I have no intention of finding out.

But, with all this talk of openness about depression, I haven’t been entirely honest with my readers.  Although I have focused largely on the depression aspect, the diagnosis was leaning toward bipolar disorder, and PTSD.  The PTSD might have its own series of posts someday, but not today.

With bipolar disorder, there are also manic states.  And those are kinda fun.  Especially after coming out of a depression.

With more severe cases, the manic half of bipolar disorder can be as destructive as the depression, but I don’t have the “leaping off tall buildings and pretending to be Supergirl” kind of mania.  It’s more like the “she’s having so much fun, I wonder what she’s taking” kind of mania.  And, actually, that’s not always a good thing either, since people really have at times mistakenly thought it was because of drugs.  Seriously, folks, stop jumping to those kinds of conclusions.

A lot of people do turn to drugs to cope with depression, bipolar, and any number of other things.  But, like so many “quick fixes”, the relief only lasts a short time, and most drugs bring their own set of complications.  However, recent research suggests marijuana might be effective for some, in dealing with the symptoms of a number of disorders, including depression, bipolar, and PTSD.  The reports are sometimes conflicting, but that is almost always the case.  Hopefully, there will be more research to clarify, but it could certainly help many who suffer from sleep disturbances and lack of appetite, and has already been approved for such uses in some states.

Meanwhile, here are a few of the things that have helped get me through it:

Remember, not every thought that pops into your head is true or accurate.  They’re just thoughts.  Challenge them.

Remember, no matter how dire things might seem today, change is the only constant.  It may not seem to come fast enough sometimes, but it always comes.  Be patient with the circumstances and with yourself.

No matter how severe your depression is today, do something productive, even if it’s as simple as skewering that giant dust bunny before it grabs the car keys.  Or, give it a name, glue some big googly eyes on it, and teach it to do tricks.

And, the older I get, the fewer things are funny, but always, always keep a sense of humor.  Even if you’re the only one who “gets it”.

If you missed the first 4 parts of “depression from the inside”, check the past blog entries for those. ❤


Ok, maybe “bulk” isn’t exactly the right word, since I tend to think of “bulk” orders as being in the thousands, or at the very least, hundreds.

But, due to several recent requests, I’ve updated the site and added pricing for larger quantities, so now you can order quantities of 25 and 50 individually framed 4 leaf clovers, and receive a lower price for it!

It’s great for events, but please plan ahead.  I ask that customers allow 30 days for a large order to ship, though orders may arrive earlier.  Though they are not color-treated, if you receive them in advance, they will stay green for a very long time (months or even years), as long as they are kept in a cool, dark place.



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