Friday, May 31, 2013

Photo Friday

This week's prompt: Shades of Gray

Not sure which I like better... 

Full color...

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Or desaturated...

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Which do you prefer?

Click through to Photo Friday and check out the other participants!

365+ Rabbits

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Wishcasting Wednesday

Oh yes, a day late & a dollar short, but hey, better late than never!  Perhaps that should be on my tombstone...  XD

What sweetness do you wish for?

Oh how I love this image, delicious pink cotton candy ice cream with sprinkles... and those words in the background... "Serve Yourself" ...they seem to hold a second meaning...

♥ Img Src ♥

Off the top of my head, I wish for the sweetness of ice cream every night.  Every flavor.  And chocolate chip cookies.  And cake with buttercream frosting and brownies with caramel.  And cotton candy, and sprinkles on everything, and pie with whipped cream, and chocolate, and... and...

None of that would really be good for me to have every day.


♥ I wish for the sweetness of summer, long days filled with laughter and lounging in the lake.  (Minus the mosquitoes & other bothersome bugs!)

♥ I wish for the sweetness of success, comfortably & joyfully earning the money for the things we need and want.  (Minus the fear & insecurity!)

♥ I wish for the sweetness of love, from family & friends, and the resurgence of the sweet & easy love between my partner & I. 

You can be a maker of magic and a tender of wishes. It’s easy. Answer the wish prompt on your blog and then add a direct link to your post in the box [at the link] below. Support wishes by visiting other participants, leaving a comment saying “As (insert name) wishes for her/himself, so I wish for her/him also.” It’s that simple. There is great power in wishing together.
~ Jamie Ridler

What sweetness do you wish for?

Full Moon Dreamboard

The Full Flower Moon asks:
“How would you like to bloom? Who are you when you are in full bloom?”

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This month I chose a big hot pink lily in full bloom as my background.  I am still working with Pink for a few more weeks, and this question also seems like one she would ask...

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Who am I when I am in full bloom?  I am The Goddess of Magic, Mirth, and Mischief!  Bubbly, festive, and fiendishly fun.  I am a carefree spirit.  I am love.  I am sex.

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How would I like to bloom?  With money made EASY.  As ME.

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I would bloom with a summer state of mind, all year long.  Reveling in sparkle & color!

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I would be full of giggles, wishes, and polka dot kisses, and filled with love, too.

What are you dreaming under this Full Flower Moon? This is the time when the buds have transformed into blooms, reminding us it is time to do the same. What are your full flower dreams? Who are you when you’re in full bloom? Let’s share our dreams and make beautiful magic together under the Full Moon! ~ Jamie Ridler

365+ Rabbits


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Just a small pink bunny wondering if anyone is still around.

Monday, May 27, 2013

April Full Moon Dreamboard

Yesterday was the Full Flower Moon, and I made a dreamboard, but then I realized I never shared last month's dreamboard, so I thought I'd do that first!

I've been working through the Temple of the Twelve Experiential Journal for a while now (you can read more about it on my Temple of the Twelve blog.), and have been working with Lady Pink this month, so I thought it apropos that last month was the Full Pink Moon, which asked...

“What dreams is it time to tend?”

What are you dreaming under this Full Pink Moon? The name represents the pink flowers that so lavishly bloom in the spring. What an invitation to let yourself luxuriate in your dreams, embracing them passionately, sharing them magnificently and enjoying each precious bloom. ~ Jamie Ridler

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For this dreamboard, I chose an old calendar page of a gorgeous pink water lily with a tiny green frog for the background, and I am sure you can tell that I was dreaming about the sweet summer life.  Pink filled all the images I chose as well, or at least was featured.  One of the first images I chose was the rabbit in the lower left that I tucked under the lily a bit; he symbolizes my dreams of having the time to stop and smell the flowers.

That dream is also echoed in the words at the top of the page, "Sweet Serenity" above the pink bikini-clad pool-lounging woman.  Not only does she represent the dream of time to relax but also my dream of being healthy.

Between the rabbit photo and the top corner is another pink flower & rabbit which illustrate my dream of improving my art and painting adorable, delicate watercolors. In the top right corner, there is a little bee with a flower & heart, peeking from behind the lily again, which represents my honey, and my dream of making her happy. ♥

In the lower right corner, there is smiling woman (in a fabulously sequined top) offering a lollipop -- and the tiny frog has an ice cream cone! -- both symbolizing my dream of the sweet life, filled with laughter & joy, shiny-ness & sweets!  ^o^

On the bottom, there is the word Aloha with its definition, representing both my dream to return to Hawaii someday, and my dream of more "affection, love, peace, and compassion" in my life.  And finally the unicorn, wearing a wreath of fragrant flowers and love, she embodies my dream to always find the magic.

Check back later for the dreamboard I made yesterday!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wishcasting Wednesday

How do you wish to spend your days?

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This is actually something I've been thinking a lot about lately.  The flow of our lives seems to be changing and I am reminded of something I wrote a long time ago somewhere about how my perfect day would go.  I think that the vision I had written about back then is slowly coming to be, and yet I seem to be fighting it.  I have this feeling that life is *supposed* to consist of *going* to work, getting a paycheck from someone else, doing something you might not really enjoy.  So there's a general feeling of anxiety in me about how things are changing.

However, like I said, I think things are lining up to make the vision of the perfect day for me be a reality.

I wish for most of my days to be spent creating: painting, drawing, sculpting... and I wish to spend other days sharing the things I've created, selling them on the internet or having shows, and days when I share what I've learned in creating, showing others they *can* do art.  Of course, I also wish for days of rest and play with my friends and family, filled with joy and love.

You can be a maker of magic and a tender of wishes. It’s easy. Answer the wish prompt on your blog and then add a direct link to your post in the box [at the link] below. Support wishes by visiting other participants, leaving a comment saying “As (insert name) wishes for her/himself, so I wish for her/him also.” It’s that simple. There is great power in wishing together.
~ Jamie Ridler

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Soul Art Day

Recently I took part in International Soul Art® Day with Laura Hollick and I thought I'd share it with you all.

First, there was a worksheet that gave 5 steps to prepare for Soul Art Day:
  1. Start dreaming, write about the transformations you want to experience in your life.  I want my life to feel more peaceful, more safe and secure, more prosperous and comfortable. I want to be confident, comfortable, and secure in my body, as it is now, and on the path to health and wellness.  I want my relationships to be smooth and fulfilling, filled with laughter and love.  I want my business to grow, branch out to new people and places, new opportunities to become more prosperous and support the family.

  2. Mark your calendarYup, I did that!

  3. Gather your suppliesI gather a piece of poster board, glue sticks, magazines, scissors, and crayons.

  4. Decide whether to do it solo or in a groupI chose solo, but maybe next year I'll invite Jacqueline and/or the girls.

  5. Make it sacredDone.

Then there was the Soul Art Journey itself with 5 steps.

1. Intention
How would you describe your current life experience?  Struggle.  Struggle to make enough, struggle to feel comfortable in my body, struggle to communicate effectively with my friends & family, struggle to create my art, struggle to get people to buy it...

What is working in your life?  The minimum.  We always seem to have just enough, even when an emergency happens, we manage to just pull through.  My relationship with my girlfriend is amazing; while it's not 100% perfect -- there is always room to improve -- I feel closer to her than anyone ever.  She supports me so much, and yet we both have room to learn & grow together.

What are your current challenges?  Learning to flow with the changing dynamics of our family as the children grow into teens and adults.  Finding enough money to pay the bills and still have time & energy for joy & passion, play & laughter.  Learning to be comfortable in my own skin and to love and care for my body.  Pushing past my fears to do the things I want to do.

If you could magically change 3 things, what would they be?
  1. I would increase amount of our income.

  2. I would make eating healthy and getting exercise easier & more fun.

  3. I would be fearless in my interactions with others.
If you could sum up those 3 things, what is the transformation you desire?  Security

Write your desire in an "I want" statement.  I want to feel secure.

Now transform your "I want" statement into your intention.  For my Soul Art Journey I want to see how to transform my life from one of fearful struggle to secure joy.

2. Bodymapping
Trace your body or part of your body for a framework for your art.  I chose my hands making a heart shape... ^-^

3. Creative Expression
Brainstorm 5 topics that interest you.
  1. Art

  2. Rabbits Animals

  3. Magic

  4. Mermaids Water

  5. Prosperity
For each topic above, gather 10 images from your magazines, and sort them into 5 piles, one for each topic.  Since rabbits & mermaids were so specific, and my magazines didn't have many images that could be categorized rabbits or mermaids, I broadened the topics some.

Put your absolute favorite image from each pile on the top.

Write one word to describe each one of those images.
  1. Free

  2. Silly

  3. Shining

  4. Soothing

  5. Indulgence
Now take TWO minutes and write a stream of consciousness story.  The title is what you wrote in #5; include the remaining 4 words in your story.


Once upon a time there was a little girl, who lived free in a beautiful country.  One day she was playing a silly game in the fields with sun shining all around her, the soothing sound of waves shushushing in the distance.  All was well.  The End.

Now use your story as a starting point for your art.

Click through to see more...

4. Insight
Decode the message your spirit is trying to tell you in your art.

How would you describe your art?  Colorful; loving; lots of greens, blues, and purples; powerful; magical; lots of symbolism.

How do you feel about your art?  Hopeful, proud, strong.

How would you describe your creative process?  I kind of got lost in it, losing more time than I thought.  It was hard to find images that I felt really represented what I wanted it to, but I think it came out much better than I thought it would.

Ask your art:  What do you want to tell me?  You have the power.  Just go with the flow.  You *will* find the magic, make the memories, and create your dream.  Remember to fear nothing and you will see that it's all within you.

Ask your art:  What do you want to tell me about my intention?  To transform your life from one of fearful struggle to secure joy, you must remember to go with the flow.  You have the power inside you to make it happen.

What insights are you receiving about your intention?  That I create most of my own struggle, by not following the flow.  By not trusting my own power & magic.  By not loving myself enough, by not being joyful and playful and silly.

What do you feel is the most relevant and important insight?  Go with the flow!  There is so much flowing and movement!

5.  Spirit Action
What was your intention for this journey?  To see how to transform my life from one of fearful struggle to secure joy.

What body part(s) did you trace for your body mapping?  My hands in the shape of a heart.

What was your art about?  Going with the flow, playing, being silly, finding the magic within myself.

What insight did you receive from your art?  That I need to go with the flow, relax, stop struggling.  Play more.  Look inside myself for the strength & power to defeat my fears and find the magic.

Brainstorm Spirit Actions you can take to make your insight real & tangible.  What can you do to embody your insights?  Relax.  Stop making everything a battle.  Just Be.  Flow.  Find more time to play.

Pick one Spirit Action, make it clear and specific, and give it a date.  Find more time for play.  I, Diana BunnyKissd Bukowski, am going to learn to dance to Psy's Gentleman by June 15th.  This will be playful for me, as well as helping me be more active, and even helpful for me to find some courage if I can do it at the Shine dance! ^o^

Monday, May 13, 2013

BYOB: Days 10 - 13

I've been a little lazy about uploading and sharing these, but I've been taking them and uploading to the group on Flickr when I can.  It's been a wonderful experience and I highly recommend it!  (Click here to find out more!)

Day 10: Give Our Gremlins a Talking to
I decided that my serious face isn't as serious as I thought...

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Day 11: Savor A Moment.
One of my favorite moments of the day: climbing into bed beside my love and reading for a bit before heading off to the land of nod... This one is SOOC, I played around with it some, lightening it, upping the saturation, turning it black & white... in the end, I really just like this as is. :)

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Day 12: Get Creative with Mirrors
Mirrors on 3 walls of the bedroom, and through a doorway, a fourth, make for some very interesting images... (Some brightening was all this needed...)

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Day 13: The Truth of Today
I was tired and achy and generally feeling pretty low...

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To see my other photos, follow these links:
May 1 & 2
May 3 & 4
May 5 - 9

Or check out my Be Your Own Beloved set on Flickr!

Friday, May 10, 2013

BYOB: Days 5 - 9

I've been taking daily photos based on Vivienne's prompts, but haven't been able to share all week until now!  So without any further ado, here are my self-portraits for May 5th through 9th.

May 5th
...pick one part of your body as inspiration and tell a story that feels positive to you... Share something you feel proud of or feel positive about.

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This Hand
Once upon a time, this hand drew and colored, cut and glued, created characters, cities & towns, continents, worlds, and whole universes, but somewhere along the way to adulthood, the universes, worlds, and continents melted away; cities & towns and characters vanished; cutting & gluing became too messy and drawing & coloring, the avocation of children.

Then something magical happened.  A tiny voice whispered, draw, and the hand picked up a pencil and began.  Dancing women, unique people, special people, fluffy cats and fat dogs, fantastical beasts and ordinary rabbits...  And the drawing became creating with polymer clay, and the creating with clay became painting, and the painting led to collage, and the collage led to ... Rabbits! 

Kawaii rabbits, sketchy rabbits, scribbly rabbits, cartoon rabbits, colored rabbits, black & white rabbits, rabbits of all kinds!  Wherever will the rabbits lead?  (Down the rabbit hole, I suppose!)

May 6th
...explore taking a reflective self-portrait... Seek out a creative spot to take a self-reflection photo today!

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I spent much of the day in the car on Monday, so this photo seemed most appropriate.  Me, reflected off the pollen-covered, bird poop-spattered minivan.  (Heh, behind me you can see why it's pollen-covered and bird poop-spattered.)

May 7th
I'd love for us to get playful with our shadow today! ... Lets let our shadow help us tell our story today!

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Today I visited my mother and was lucky enough to see the crabapple in bloom, petals were already showering the ground, so I captured my shadow covered by them.

May 8th lets look ourselves in the eyes... look right into the lens, simply sending ourselves love.

Wow.  I can't believe how hard this one was for me.  I look into the lens all the time!  But at myself???  Sending myself love???  No.  I am usually thinking of others who will be viewing the photo and what messages I want them to receive, and I usually choose times when I am feeling particularly pretty and in a good mood, which I wasn't really feeling on Wednesday.  But I did it, and I managed to get 2 I couldn't choose between.

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In this first one, I kind of feel like I'm looking a little bored, perhaps even nervous about the photo; I'm not sure if there is love there.

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However, in this one I can see it.  The reminders to be gentle and kind with myself, as much as I am with Jacqueline.  I deserve to love myself, and treat myself as kindly, as I do her.

May 9th
Lets explore how either movement or stillness can be an invitation to be present in our bodies in our photo adventures!

When I read that, I decided I wanted to spin for the camera, barefoot in the yard where all the wild strawberries are in bloom!  So I set the camera on a little stool we have and set the double timer.

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The first shot caught me gingerly walking to where I wanted to stand, we have a LOT of poison ivy in our woods, and it is slowly encroaching on the yard, so I wanted to make sure there was none where I wanted to spin.  And it turns out that I like this one better than the spinning one.  I think it more accurately reflects ME, cautiously moving through life.

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I like this one too, even though I've cut my head off, my body seems kinda awkward, and I'm off center. It's not perfect, and neither am I. ^-^

Stay tuned for more adventures in self-portraits soon!

Saturday, May 04, 2013

BYOB: Day 3 & 4

Yesterday was a busy day here at Faerie Gardens!  Jacqueline & I went out lawn mower shopping and then of course spent some time putting it together and playing with it; and then we went out to dinner - an unexpected treat!  However it was quite late by the time I got around to thoroughly reading my emails and finding the Be Your Own Muse prompt:

"...let's let the sillies out, let's be playful be it in our expressions, our movements or the props we use to help us with this fun task!"

What is really funny is that I had actually already taken some self-portraits that fit the prompt!  You see, I got a great deal at Sally Beauty Supply (I know, not where one finds by lawn mowers, but it was Right. Next. Door!) on a very Lisa Frank-esque fashion set: a bag, scarf, and sunglasses featuring black leopard spots on a rainbow ombrĂ© background.  I ♥ it so much!

But let's be real.

I can't wear sunglasses.  -_-  Haven't been able to since I got glasses when I was 10.  I finally broke down and got some clip-ons (omg I've become my mom XD ) from the eye place last time I got glasses though, but they are no where near as cool as these:

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Am I right?  So anyway, I am going to share the spoils with 2 of my daughters, and since they're both away from home this week, I needed some photos to share with them... And voila!  Photos for BYOB done!  This morning I just played around with the color some, goofing around with edits I've not really used. I think it's pretty playful!  ^o^

Today's photos happened rather unexpectedly as well.  I went outside to get some photos of our tulips and got carried away with what I was doing, looking at all the things I take for granted in my yard: the green green grass, pushing up through all the dried brown growth from last year, the bright yellow dandelions, the un-planted grape hyacinths so far away from the garden, the aspens quickly greening and leafing out, the new growth on the brambles...

And look!  I even found my feet!

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Although the image was slightly out of focus, I really like how it conveys exactly what I was feeling.  Kinda dream-like and filled with color. ♥♥♥

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Merry May!

So many blog post bubbling up in my head, and backlogged in my drafts....  Whee!  I feel like my brain is running so fast, my fingers can barely keep up!

Anyway, let's just take a break for a moment.  *deepbreath*  Ah, yes, that's better...

First, I am doing 2 things this month.  The first is related to my business, Faerie Garden Fancies, and the second focuses on me, with emphasis on play & self-care.

First, I will be taking part in Leslie Saeta's "30 Marketing Ideas in 30 Days" Challenge.  Day One (form an Artist-Mentoring Group) was a cinch, as I am already a member of a lovely group of artists on facebook, and in fact, had discovered the challenge there!  Day Two was to find an old painting, still for sale, and share it!  And so here it is!

Spring Fairy, 6" x 6" Original Watercolor Painting

I love this painting and wish my camera or the scanner had picked up the colors more true to life, but it still makes me smile to see it.  The colorful bokeh-like background, the sparkling fairy, and the tiny opening fern and mushrooms, all convey the magic of spring.

Second, I've been blessed to win from Grow Soul Beautiful a spot in Vivienne McMaster's Be Your Own Beloved self-portraiture course.  It's so much more than taking pictures of myself though:  Lots of good words, support & encouragement, play and self-love.  Wow do I need those!

So yesterday's prompt was to literally take a photo of our first step on this journey.  Well I felt more than a little silly marching around in front of my camera for 12 seconds, but this shot was so worth it!  Please click through to read more about it...

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Today's task was to "explore what nourishes us and tell that story in our self-portrait." As I read the email, the sun was streaming through my front door, I could hear the birds twittering about the feeder, and the scent of the hyacinth was blown right into my room!  I just had to sit and soak it in!  Those few moments of quiet sunshine nourished me, so that's what I tried to capture in my photo.  Click through to see more!

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Oh!  And never fear about the bunnies; they'll be back very soon! ~_^

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Anxiety & Depression

So let's talk about anxiety & depression.

Depression & anxiety.

Not happy topics.

No fuzzy bunnies involved.

I've been debating making this post for a long time, but thought it was better to hide it. No point in dwelling on the negative, and no one wants to read about it anyway.

But I changed my mind.

There's an estimated 1 in 10 adults with depression in the US, and of those, nearly 1/2 are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. That means that there are probably about 12 people who read this blog who are dealing with depression, and 5 or 6 who have anxiety as well.

Well this post is for them.

And for those reading who have a friend or family member dealing with depression or anxiety. (And if you've got 9 of those, one of them probably is...)

And for myself.


We all know the symptoms, right? You've all seen the late night commercials or the ads in magazines for the various antidepressants...
Do you suffer from feelings of guilt or worthlessness? Persistent sadness, helplessness, and hopelessness?

Do you feel anxious or empty? Unable to enjoy the things you used to?

Blah blah blah... Just take this drug & be magically healed!


It doesn't work that way.

I know because for close to 20 years I've been dealing with my own depression & anxiety.

I've tried medicines that made me apathetic, medicines that made my head spin, and medicines that made me break out in hives. I've seen apathetic counselors, therapists that made my head spin, psychologists who cared more about the bottom line than about helping me, and even a priest for a while. I've done tons of reading, checking clinical trials on the latest drugs, and research on the whys and hows of depression & anxiety.

Sometimes, I can forget about it, live and be happy and joyful, and carry on like Everybody Else™. Sometimes, getting up in the morning is hard, (why bother?) but I push through even though most of the day goes by in a grey haze. And sometimes, simple things like making a phone call, going to work, or even to visit a friend, makes me cry and shake, feel filled with adrenaline, heart racing, can't catch my breath...

When things get really bad, I shut myself in my room and try to distract myself from the negative thoughts in my head. (You're so bad.) But it doesn't often help. (Can't do anything right.) They circle around and around in my head, (Badbadbad...) leading me down darker & darker paths... (Stupidstupidstupid...) And I wind up feeling worse.

And truthfully the past few months have been pretty dark for me.

And it's a vicious cycle. I'll have a situation that makes me super anxious, so I'll avoid it, or I'll have a day feeling depressed, so nothing gets done; and then I'll feel bad, because things didn't get done, and I'll find myself depressed and anxious again, and nothing gets done; and so it goes... down, down, down, around & around...

A sketch I did a long time ago; it gives a good visual of how I feel sometimes...
Everyone else laughing & chatting (so loud!) and me locked up inside my own head...
time stopped yet unending, meaningless (like me)...

So what to do instead... How does one dig in and stop spiraling down into despair?

Well, I think it's different at different times and for different people. And that's why you find so many articles out there on how to beat depression & anxiety.

I think the first step, when you are spiraling down, is to realize you're doing it. Recognize that you are sliding into anxiety or depression, and stop your thoughts from continuing on that path.

And that's the hard part. Stopping your thoughts. But there are lots of things you can try, and some might not work for you, and some might not be possible, but here's a list of things I've tried...
  • Tell those voices to stop. Stop stressing (if you're starting to get anxious), stop putting you down (if you're starting to be too negative), stop because it's not true (whatever your head is saying). If saying stop in your head doesn't work, do it out loud.

  • Physically move. Stand up if you're sitting, sit down if you're standing. Lie down. Stretch. Roll your shoulders. Take a walk to the restroom, or to get a drink. Just move your body & concentrate on that.

  • Take a walk. This goes with the previous one. Even in the winter, just going out to get the mail at the end of our driveway is enough to change my mood. Breathe the air, feel the wind, hear the sounds of life going on around you. (It's not that bad!)

  • Put on some music. Something upbeat that you like. No depressing stuff! You can find something appropriate in any genre of music, so find something you like that makes you feel good. Even make a playlist to put on to drown out those voices.

  • Dance! Combine the music with the moving. You don't have to move like Grace Kelly or BeyoncĂ©. Wiggle your butt, flail your arms, shake your shoulders.... Just move your body in a manner that makes you happy!

  • Take a bath or shower. Clean the voices out of your head the same way you clean your body. Scrub-a-dub-dub! Let the water relax you and wash all the negative right down the drain.

  • Find a funny website. Bookmark it, and visit it when you need a laugh. Funny videos, hilarious auto-corrects, adorable animals... whatever makes you LOL for reals, that's the place to go when you need a mental realignment.

  • Cuddle your kitty. Or your dog. Or your bunny. Or spend some quality time with your goldfish. Or even have a chat with your chia plant! Connecting with another living thing can help get you out of your own head.

  • Phone a friend. Use that life line! I know for me this is a really hard thing. Maybe the phone isn't for you either. So instead, try an online chat or text via your cell phone. Just find someone who can listen non-judgmentally, someone you can vent to without having to worry about them trying to fix it or you, just someone to help lift your spirits.

  • Get a hug. Another hard one sometimes. Especially if you're at work, or live alone. But if you can find someone who you can approach and say, I need a hug, and get one. Then do it. It's been scientifically proven to help!

So, now that you've pulled yourself up and out of anxiety or depression for the moment, how do you keep from slipping back into it?

Again, different things for different folks at different times, but these are some things that the experts agree can help...
  • Exercise! Yuck. That's the first thing I think when someone says that. But guess what? It doesn't have to be yucky. All it has to be is you moving your body in a way that makes you happy. It doesn't have to be hard. Click here to read what the Mayo Clinic has to say about depression & anxiety and exercise.

  • Watch your diet! Another yucky one. I feel restricted and resentful and want to eat a whole carton of ice cream just thinking about it. But again, we're not talking strict calorie counting or anything. Just pay attention to it. There is some evidence to support the claims that diets high in simple sugars or caffeine can increase depression & anxiety. I know for myself, when I have a day when I eat things like pasta, rice, bread, desserts, chips, and other refined carbs, I feel more tired and lethargic, and have a lot of aches and pains the next day. It's worth it for me to reduce how many and how often I eat carbs. Also, make sure you're getting all the right nutrients from a wide variety of foods to keep your mind & body working to the best of it's ability!

  • Sleep. Yes, it really does matter. Not getting enough sleep makes everyone miserable, depressed or not. Try to keep a regular schedule of 7-9 hours of sleep, even on weekends, or if you work from home (or are retired). One that works with your natural body clock is best. Sleeping from 11pm - 6am is just as good as sleeping from 3am - noon if that's how your body likes it.

  • Be social! This is another one that can cause a lot of anxiety, but finding people to connect with is one of the most effective ways to keep depression & anxiety at bay. Being depressed and anxious can make you feel isolated, which only gets worse the less you interact with others. They don't have to know you're depressed or anxious, just have a conversation. Say hi as you pass on the street or in the supermarket. Call a friend. Compliment a coworker on their outfit. And don't forget to smile! (Just that alone is said to improve your mood.)

  • Keep busy. Feeling productive is another great way to improve your mood. Wandering aimlessly through life can leave you feeling frustrated and uneasy. Create a routine of daily activities, or choose an achievable goal to pursue to help give your life direction and focus. I know for myself, day after day of not doing anything leads to some depression, and makes me even more anxious when it's time to get back out there and *do* things.

  • Keep a journal. This does not have to be an online public blog. This could be one of those fancy hardcover blank books you can buy at bookstores, or a creative handmade one from Etsy. You can buy a notebook from the dollar store or even looseleaf paper, and you can handwrite it. Or you can create a private online journal or download some journal software if typing is more your speed. From what I understand you can even get one on your smartphone! The point is to get the thoughts out of your head.

  • Be Yourself! OMG HARD ONE! But so true. Don't compare your life to anyone else's. And don't try to live anyone else's life. Doing what someone else says you should do, or being someone you aren't, is a great way to feel like a miserable failure. Make sure you're not letting someone else run your life for you, and that *YOU* are in charge of yourself. If you're finding people in your life who have too much of a negative influence on you, and what you do, then limit your contact with them.

  • Relax! Lots of times we get caught up in really strict thinking; we put all these rules, shoulds and musts, on ourselves & others, and leave no room for wiggles. Things are black or white; no other color. And when we fail to live up to those rules, or when a friend doesn't, or when life in general doesn't, we feel guilty or anxious, angry or frustrated. It's better to relax our way of thinking and how we see things, so we don't get so stressed about things. You ate too many cookies when you were feeling sad earlier? It's ok. You're not bad, just a mistake, move on. Your spouse forgot your anniversary? That sucks, but they love you enough to still be there, and I am sure they didn't do it to hurt you. Remember to pause & then think outside the box!

  • Meditate. Most people think meditation is all about clearing your mind. Letting go of all thoughts, and becoming one with the Universe. Well, that is something that I personally can't do. Thoughts, they keep bubbling back up! And I follow them, one after another, down the rabbit hole! But that's ok. Because that's what everyone goes through. The way to meditate effectively is to focus on one thing, a phrase, a visual focus, your breath, and just Be Present. Yes thoughts may bubble up, but return your focus to that one thing. Just taking a few deep breaths can be a quick meditation to reduce anxiety and ease depression enough to think clearer.

  • Seek help. If you really feel you're in too deep and are thinking of hurting yourself or someone else, talk to someone. Ask your doctor if medicine or therapy could help.

    If things have reached a crisis level, call 911 or visit your local ER, or try one of these methods...