Promise…

Thank you to everyone who has donated to my campaign and has passed it on to their social circles. It means a lot.

In my campaign I promised to keep a blog discussing what I am doing for the Southern Plains Land Trust. I think I am going to do that here and post the updates on the campaign for you to see.

Right now we are gearing up for our yearly Celebration of the Prairie! This is our primary fundraising event for the year and a fabulous evening of dinner, wine, and a silent and live auction. We hold the Gala in the Historic Colorado building and have a fabulous time.

I have been gathering donation items for our silent auction. I am happy to report that there are many local companies who have agreed to generously donate items to this event. We will have a gift certificate from Nooch, Pilates Vita of Denver, Linger, Ophelia, and numerous others.

Thanks to these generous donors we will have some fabulous items to offer our guests at this event!

I am going to continue looking for donors so if you have a business you want to promote, a timeshare you want to donate, a vacation home in the Caymen Islands you think might be fun to visit, please shoot me an email at misty@southernplains.org!

Also, if you want to come to the event, you can do that too! I would love to meet you in person and chat with you about what we are doing to preserve Colorado’s amazing beauty.

Celebration Evite

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Donate and Enter to Win…

From now until October 31st each person who donates to my campaign will be entered to win this one of a kind pair of stunning silver earrings handmade by me:

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Any donation amount made between now and October 31st will enter the donor into the random prize drawing. On November 1st I will notify the winner and make arrangements to ship out the earrings!

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If you are not an earring wearer remember Christmas is on its way. These earrings will come in a lovely black velvet gift bag and gift box perfect for placing under the tree for a friend or loved one.

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Enter today at https://www.crowdrise.com/helpmesavecoloradose/fundraiser/mistyewegen  and pass this contest on to others through your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn feeds.

Week one of my campaign… Tarantula.

I have been touched and honored by the support I have gotten for my Crowdrise campaign. I really appreciate everyone’s efforts in sharing my message and donating to my cause. Please continue to pass along my request to as many people as you can and help me continue to make a difference in the world.

As part of the campaign I am going to feature Colorado wildlife posts each week. This week’s guest is the Colorado Tarantula.

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The Colorado Tarantula is about the size of a coffee cup and weighs between 1 and 3 ounces.

The Colorado Tarantula can live up to 30 years, though most males live only ten before reaching sexual maturity and wandering off to find their mate. (Who will most likely kill them as soon as they have fertilized their eggs. Hmph. Women.)

Each fall, during September, hundreds of these stunning male arachnids leave their burrows in search of mates and they do not care who gets in their way. During my last foray into the southeastern plains the fellow pictured above paid me no mind whatsoever as I took his picture. He just kept walking toward me as if to say “Looking for spider sex lady, don’t try to stop me.

The Colorado Tarantula has barbed venomous abdomen hair that specialists advise against getting in your nose or eyes as the hairs can cause serious damage to these delicate tissues. (Not sure why you are using a tarantula like a tissue but stop it, okay? Go find some cacti to blow your nose on or something.) The spider’s bite is less bothersome than a bee sting, making it a molehill of a mountain as far as poisonous spiders are concerned.

The Southern Plains Land Trust sees these handsome devils all over our preserves and we are pleased to offer them thousands of acres to live on in perpetuity.

Please take a moment to view my CrowdRise campaign and share it on your social network. Your support will help me keep the prairie open and free for the Colorado Tarantula.

The Bakening…

Perhaps it was a coping mechanism for the aforementioned birthday party anxiety but today found me in the kitchen with the impressive goal of baking ALL THE DESSERTS for my party. It may seem nonsensical for a chronically ill person to decide to make their own desserts but I promise there was solid reasoning behind it.

  1. I am a glutard. All pre-purchased desserts are automatically more expensive than regular desserts. Pricing goes something like this:
    1. Regular decent-sized sheet cake available in 17 different flavors: $14.99
    2. Much smaller sized gluten free cake available in 2 flavors if you got there early enough today: $47.00 (Frosting extra)
  2. Gluten free desserts are rarely good. Therefore ordering $120 worth of cakes from a bakery could result in several very expensive iced over bricks of straw. The chance for disappointment is high as is the risk that you will watch your friends and loved ones painfully attempt to eat said bricks of straw while slugging water from a fire hose to moisten it enough for them to swallow. Not pretty.
  3. I make really good GF desserts and so it only makes sense that I should make them for my party. That way I know I will be eating and serving good desserts.

This was the reasoning path that led me to the kitchen at 10 am with the intention of making pumpkin spice cake, carrot cake, lemon poppyseed cake with buttercream frosting and lemon filling, brownies, and oatmeal cookies.

I realize that list makes me look like an insane person.

I’m okay with that.

I am okay with it because I wisely managed my spoons for the day! I slept well last night and rose late and went about baking in a fun and relaxing way. I took breaks as needed and didn’t stress out once. I have completed the delicious lemon poppyseed cake and the spice cake and the carrot cake. The brownies just came out of the oven and the oatmeal cookies are in it now. I decided to put the brownies and cookies into cupcake cups for easier serving and consuming.

All I have left to do is let things cool and frost them and I have several hours left to rest before I need to head over to the party.

I am feeling very proud that I managed my spoons successfully. I may be struggling with managing chronic pain but I am learning how to do what I want within my new perimeters. I may have to plan in rest days and anticipate taking twice as long to do half as much but I can do it. It’s a win.

Today it’s a cake win.

This heartfelt confession has pictures y’all…

Discussions on gun control have been all over the place lately and in joining in them I often take the position that we need to provide significantly more funding to mental health services as part of a comprehensive effort to reduce violence in our culture.

I am a believer that we need to discard the stigma associated with mental health and embrace a culture of support for people who need treatment. I tear up when I follow The Bloggess on her journey with Furiously Happy and I am moved by Felicia Day’s own struggle with anxiety. I tell people all the time that mental health is important and everyone needs help and no one should be ashamed to seek treatment.

I also struggle with admitting my own mental health issues out loud to anyone else. Or even internally to me. Basically at all.

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Of course OTHERS should feel free to seek treatment! They need help!

Hypocrisy, it seems, is more comfortable than a pair of footie jams. Introducing the new Hypocri-jams:

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Coming soon to a store near you.

I have decided to put my reputation where my mouth is and be open and honest about my mental health in the hope that I can encourage others to do the same. After all, if I am going to advocate for a compassionate society for people with mental health issues I should at least be able to speak about my own experiences.

This… is… hard.

Maybe I should just post some pictures of kittens or something.

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Shit. The kitten is just as freaked out as I am. Okay, here goes.

I have been ill in a consistent physical way for nearly four years. As a result my sense of self worth has tanked and along with it, my mood. I have been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

When I was first diagnosed I was like “Of course I am sad and anxious! I am sick ALL THE TIME. Who wouldn’t be sad and anxious?”

Ah foolish me. Depression and anxiety aren’t just being appropriately sad and nervous about the curveballs life throws you. They are the curveballs life throws you. They are the tiny little voices in your head that begin to eat away at your ability to be who you are, do what you want, and generally accomplish anything.

Depression will tell you that you are worth less than other people because of your circumstances. It will cause you to view the things your friends are doing, not with pride, but with fear – because you know in your core you can’t do that yourself.

Anxiety is the feeling that you are living your life precariously propped up on your tippy toes in an ocean of water, your nose barely cresting the surface. It is the feeling that any wrong move will catastrophically end absolutely everything. Except the bad stuff, that won’t end because you deserve it. (Thanks again Depression! God you’re an asshole!)

Depression and anxiety erode you.

I didn’t start thinking that I might need some help until I began to fantasize about how much easier it would be to just take all my respiratory suppressing medication in one go and go to sleep forever. Luckily for me one of my best friends is both a therapist and really easy to talk with so when I mentioned my crazy obsession with passively ending my life she told me I was experiencing passive suicidal ideation and I needed to talk to someone.

I listened, but if I am honest, I didn’t take it seriously.

I saw a therapist for about half a year and went on medication. I got better. Things got easier. I got physically healthier and more interested in life. I stopped seeing my therapist and considered myself better. I stayed on my medication just in case.

Then things got worse. Right now they are right smack dab in the middle of worse.

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Isn’t the black hole of despair pretty?

When my neverending migraine from hell began and all the doctors appointments started up again and I went to MHNI for 12 days of in-patient treatment and … and … and…

Sigh. Excuses.

I got overwhelmed with the physical challenges facing me and ignored the emotional ones. I withdrew from my friends. I quit Facebook. I stopped going to events. I stopped talking to virtually everyone. I hid. I locked myself in my life with very few voices to contradict the negative ones in my head.

In the hospital I learned about managing my “spoons” and practicing self care. I was also, once again, diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I didn’t ignore it but it seemed like such a minor thing to focus on compared to the murderous daily headache problem that I didn’t immediately enroll with another therapist.

In fact, I didn’t start to really think about my mental health until I was re-reading my report a few weeks ago in my doctors office and saw the diagnoses. “Huh! I kind of forgot I had gotten these diagnoses.” I thought to myself. I left the office, I went home. I burst into tears and cried for hours.

Because of course I am still dealing with depression and anxiety. I feel depressed about my worthlessness because I can’t do anything! I am anxious all the time about nearly everything!

For example, my 40th birthday party is coming up. I agonized over whether or not to have a party at all, wondering if I would feel physically well enough to attend, who I would invite, and inevitably, whether or not anyone would bother to show up. Once I finally decided to send the invite and have the party I was on tenterhooks waiting to see if anyone would attend.

(Of course they are attending, depression is a big mean lying bully who steals your lunch money and tries to make you feel you are the worst person in the world, but friends genuinely love you.)

Once people began to accept I relaxed a bit. For like a week. Then people began saying things like “I am so excited for your birthday party” and I began to wonder how upset people would be if I didn’t show up. The thought of going to my own birthday party has caused me to tear open my thumbs up to the knuckle and may be contributing to my inability to sleep.

Because birthday parties are terrifying.

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I lie awake at night thinking about all the things I should do for the party, the people I haven’t heard from, did they get my invite, did I send it to the wrong email (Sorry Mom!), etc.

Instead of looking forward to the party and relaxing about it I am a big hot mess about it.

The dumb part is that I know I will really enjoy it once I am in it. I will relax and have fun and see people who genuinely love me. I will not be eaten by bears or have buckets of blood dumped on my head while I am cutting the cake.

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The thing about depression and anxiety is they stop you from being able to believe the positive stuff. The bad stuff worms it’s way into your mind and heart and sounds so true that the good stuff sounds like a foreign language.

It’s really scary.

Which is why I am writing this post. I am one of the millions or more people in the world who suffer from this scary inner demon who tells me lies all the time about myself and how other people view me. She is like that really awful frenemy from middle school who made you believe you were only liked because she told people to like you. She is that self-doubt voice everyone has inside that whispers “You are a fraud!” except she screams it.

Worst of all, she is the voice that tells you it’s not worth it to get help. It’s too tiring to talk about it. No one wants to listen. She is the voice that advocates for your ultimate surrender.

You should get help to have her silenced and so should I.

There, I admitted it. I talked about my experiences with depression and anxiety. Guess what!? I feel better!

I am sure I will lie awake tonight wondering what effect, if any, me having admitted this will have. That’s the way this mess works after all.

For now I feel good so I leave you with this:

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You aren’t alone. 

Making lemonade…

I am disabled. I can’t work full time, I can’t drive, I can’t go to all the parties, concerts, and events.

I am routinely medicated, stabbed with needles, put under anesthesia, injected with steroids, and tortured by well meaning physical therapists.

I won’t pretend to be happy about it, I won’t lie and say I am okay. I have decided to do something about it.

My biggest heartbreak has been a decrease in my ability to help people. I have had to close down my law practice because the stress makes things worse. I have had to move from an employee to a contractor at work because I can’t go to an office every day. Worst of all, I have had to reduce my volunteering efforts to next to nothing.

I was in crisis this week. I spent a week in medical offices getting treatments and always left feeling worse for the wear. I missed work all week. I missed attending a board meeting, a pot luck, and other events. I am turning 40 and feeling as though I was more put together at 9. I was in dire straights.

So I decided to make a choice. I love working as a volunteer for the Southern Plains Land Trust. I love raising awareness, money, and volunteers. I love protecting my precious prairie dogs and patrolling the preserves during hunting season and putting up fence to protect the land from grazing cattle. I can see the difference I am making with every second that I volunteer.

I am going to work for SPLT for a living. I started a CrowdRise campaign to raise the money for a part time salary for a year. I can work from home and do what I love. I don’t have to give up.

I do need your help. Please view my video and pass it on. If you can donate, even $5, that would help immensely, but passing my information on to others will help just as much.  You can visit my campaign at https://www.crowdrise.com/helpmesavecoloradose/fundraiser/mistyewegen.

Thank you for taking a moment to watch my short video and read my appeal. Thank you doubly for sharing it.

Help me do what I love. from Misty Ewegen on Vimeo.

Home again, home again, giggity gee…

Tracy delivered me safely home and sporting only a moderate layer of southeastern Colorado topsoil.

Our pronghorn protecting adventure ended with me gently coaxing some trespassing hunters from our preserve this morning while Tracy diligently took down license plates and descriptions. We were on our previously uneventful patrol when we saw a truck and camper top rumbling up the hill into the middle of one of our preserve pastures. They went straight past the clear “No trespassing” sign and continued inward looking for prey. We pulled in, I waved them down, and they left with a polite social lie about thinking they were further North. But they left.

Then we visited with other pronghorn protectors, visited some prairie dogs and burrowing owls, and made the long trek home.

Here is some of what we left behind:

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Open range cattle enjoying the wind farm neighboring the preserve.

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Valleys and buttes.

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Scenic vistas.

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A lovely spring.

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Vast open land protected for wildlife.