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Monthly Archives: January 2014

When I saw the news of the attack on Senator Creigh Deeds by his son, I thought ‘If the Senator’s kid couldn’t get help, what the hell hope is there for the average citizen?’

The answer is…. virtually none.  If you have watched the news, seen the school shootings, mall shootings, random shootings and so on over the past several years.. and you still do not understand how desperate our mental health care situation is.. then perhaps you need mental health care, too.

It is virtually impossible for the uninsured to find adequate health care in Virginia, and the difficulty increases when the ailment is not considered “physical”, such as depression.  Sure, the emergency room is required by law to stabilize anyone who shows up.  This basically means, “We won’t let you bleed to death in the lobby”.   But, if an individual needs long term or follow-up care, it just isn’t there.

I do not understand how our representatives can claim any kind of morality when they allow so many to suffer in silence, and I am still angry at a system of legislators that do not care until something directly effects them.

However, now that a legislator has been directly impacted, and is willing to talk about it and work for change, he deserves our support.  He should also be commended for putting the blame where it should be– on our system of “care”– and not on the weapons used.

Speaking from my own experience, and my own fruitless pursuit of treatment for depression, I can guess how much it costs in lost productivity.  I, like “Gus”, was enrolled in college… when the depression I’ve struggled with for so many years returned.  When it became too intense, I had no choice but to withdraw from classes, just a few credits short of finishing my degree.  I still do as much as I can to be productive, but depression is debilitating at times.  In fact, it would probably be fairly easy for anyone to look at my history and see exactly at which points my depression was at its worst.  Productivity goes out the window.  And I know there are thousands just like me.

I was relatively lucky.  I entered a profession in which I am expected to be a little odd.  But, for many, lack of treatment leads to worse results, such as substance abuse and even violence.  This costs the state a fortune (more than enough to cover all my student loans, I’m sure).  Yet, the Virginia Sheriff’s Association is objecting to the lengthier holding time for the mentally ill, claiming it will overburden rural law enforcement resources.  I wonder if they have considered that by treating the mentally ill instead of ignoring them, there might be fewer crimes, thereby relieving some of the burden rather than increasing it.  Or, perhaps the Sheriff’s Association needs mental health care, too.

When there was talk of expanding our state’s Medicaid program, I was hopeful.  However, that hope soon disintegrated when the state chose not to expand Medicaid.  Currently, a person only qualifies if they are elderly, or if they have children they can’t afford to feed.  If you do not have kids you can’t feed,  you are on your own.  No help for you.  Now my friends joke, “Let’s make some babies!”.  I could go on a tangent about how this policy actually amounts to our state forcing low income people into having children, just to qualify for help, but that’s a subject for another day.  Back to mental health….

As research for mental illness continues, it is being discovered that the cause is often a chemical imbalance, which is physical.  So, perhaps it is time to stop calling them mental or physical illnesses, and just call them both “illnesses”.

The new legislation Sen. Deeds is proposing has a good chance of passing, in some form.  However, it will be nearly useless for low income individuals who will not be able to find follow-up care after they are released from the hospital.  If our legislators really want to help, they should expand Medicaid to cover the people who are currently falling through the cracks of the system… without making us all have babies first.  In the end, it might even save money for the state.

Seriously.  We can’t afford *not* to reform the current system.

Oh, sure.  The snow is pretty.  But it’s cold.  And wet.  And I am looking forward to the warmer, sunnier days of spring– not to mention all those pretty, colorful blooms!

Listening to the winter wind howl, I’m patiently waiting for the earliest blooming flowers to “spring” to life again.  Here, the daffodils, forsythia, and pink magnolias are among the first flowers to poke out their petals.  It’s just another month or two, I tell myself…  Meanwhile, I have photos to hold me over.  I hope you like them, too.

These beautiful images and more are available, and can be printed to order on a wide variety of useful products at — You can even customize them!

Some readers have noticed it has been quite some time since my last post, and since the website was last updated.  While I’d like to say I was away on some exotic photo shoot or relaxing at an art retreat, the truth is I have been struggling with a severe bout of depression.

When my grandfather passed away a little over 2 years ago, I was able to repress the grief for some time, but then finally the realization came– he is gone.

As a small child, I sat on his lap during church services, drawing on the church bulletin.  He is one of the biggest reasons I eventually chose to study and create art, because those early memories are among the best I have.  Since his passing, most attempts to paint or draw have only reminded me of how much I miss him.  I was on the brink of throwing in the towel, tossing out the art supplies, burning whatever paintings remain, and closing the website, not because I do not want to continue this line of work, but simply because at times it just felt like too much to take on in the midst of depression.

However, my supporters, friends, and clients have been determined to drag me out of my mental muck, and for that I am thankful.  From the friend who reminded me that the portrait of his dog still means so much to him even after more than a decade, to the stranger who ordered some of my ornaments on Zazzle knowing her loved ones will have and cherish them even after she is gone (hopefully many, many years from now), to the customers who ordered lucky clovers to give a boost to their own friends– all of you have helped me to realize… it is not really about me.  It is about leaving the world in better condition than it was in when I arrived, and how my work makes others think and feel.  In other words…  It is about all of you!

So for now, I am putting away my self-pity to make room for more new art & photography, more new additions to the Zazzle store, more auction listings, more 4 leaf clovers, and eventually more “Nonprofit of the Month” posts.  And, the main website should be updated soon, so be sure to check out for the latest art & photography releases and lucky clovers, and for links to order prints of my work from Zazzle.

And, because all of you allow and encourage me to keep doing what I do, you have my eternal gratitude.

Thank You.

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