Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tragedy and Mental Illness: From Fear to Understanding

I had been staying away from the school shooting conversation. It's too much...too tragic...too many emotions to try to muddle through to argue.

But yesterday, I heard sensible people, normally very compassionate and understanding, say terribly insensitive things in response to the tragedy. The discussion was about the mentally ill and even though "they were terrible, they should throw people like him into old fashioned asylums."

Now I know people are looking to place blame. Moreover, I think they are wanting to see someone suffer to bring some kind balance their idea of justice. But I want to talk about mental illness and why situations like these are extremely dangerous to the mental illness community.

When we as a society look at such tragedy, we want a reason, an explanation that is easy to understand. We want something that we can fix so that there is a sense that this type of sadness can be prevented. But when I read the multitude of articles written about closer scrutiny on persons living with mental illness it clearly illustrates a great lack of understanding of those people’s lives.

From the very few articles I've been able to find, the shooter from the Sandy Hook Elementary school had no official diagnosis of mental illness. I omit his name, because I want to avoid glorifying this man by such a dreadful act.

From Huffington Post's Dr. Harold Koplewicz's article posted 12/17:

"Unfortunately, that hasn't stopped extensive speculation that [he] had Asperger's disorder, or a personality disorder, and even obsessive-compulsive disorder. Much has been made of the reports that [he] was a smart but quiet kid who carried a briefcase to class instead of a backpack and felt at home with computers, perhaps more so than with his peers. By themselves these traits do not indicate any diagnosis at all, although we have been quick to dissect them in the search for meaning."

Let me make this abundantly clear, for someone to do what he did, one has to be unbalanced. Your understanding of reality and what is right and wrong have to, in some way, become detached. That break in reality has to be there to do such a terrible thing. But that kind of mental break is not my reason for posting.
To turn the blame away from the person themselves onto an entire community of people with chemical imbalances is staggeringly dangerous. Every morning, thousands of people wake, go throughout their days, work, study, and live productive lives. They experience joy and sadness and confusion and beauty and they work to maintain balance in their lives.

The shooter last week, according to quotes from those who knew him, showed little warning signs aside from social awkwardness. So could this have been detected or prevented? For the average mental health consumer, finding assistance when they need it is often difficult. Our psychologists, therapists and counselors are often overbooked. For a person in need, to see a mental health professional can take weeks. The best option for many who are without a therapist is to have themselves admitted into an inpatient clinic. And having the foresight to get help when it is desperate can be a challenge.

"The effects of stigma and discrimination are profound. The President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health found that, “Stigma leads others to avoid living, socializing, or working with, renting to, or employing people with mental disorders - especially severe disorders, such as schizophrenia. It leads to low self-esteem, isolation, and hopelessness. It deters the public from seeking and wanting to pay for care. Responding to stigma, people with mental health problems internalize public attitudes and become so embarrassed or ashamed that they often conceal symptoms and fail to seek treatment." (New Freedom Commission, 2003).

So then what can we do to help our friends and loved ones? We aren’t helpless.

Well first off, listening can be an invaluable gift to someone in need. Being there to listen and let someone vent or have a safe place to come and explain what they are going through can be the support they need to get through a tough patch, Also, being conscious of their needs, their moods and being able to communicate if you notice a change.

Additionally, education can empower you to inform yourself about mental illness, the signs and concerns to be mindful of to help avoid any tragedy. Many advocacy groups and websites offer classes and provide booklets to help explain mental illness in easy to understand format.
But most importantly, knowing what resources are available can save lives. Advocacy groups and support channels are out there, not only for the consumers of mental healthcare, but also for their support and family members. – NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness has a great number of resources for individuals and their families. - The website for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, the number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255) - National Institute of Mental Illness
Facts about Mental Illness and Violence -

Please be open to reaching out to people instead of fear. Open your arms and hearts, give support instead of anger and you could save the life of someone you love and who knows how many else.

Where has Magpie gone?

Hello all. I know it's been a while since I've posted. I've been a very busy Magpie.

Between volunteering at the Ohio Historical Society and holidays and life, I've been extremely busy, I am working on one massive MoA post so I can catch everyone up on my Month of Awesome and each day's activities. I'm sorry that I got behind, but will be catching up very soon!

I'm also gearing up to round out the holiday's crafting season, so my hands are always busy.

But so this post isn't without something crafty, I'll post a very simple crochet washcloth pattern I've been working on.

Supplies Needed:
H Hook (5.0mm)
Yarn (Cotton preferable)
(optional: Yarn needle to sew in ends)

Ch 30 (or any even number to desired length) turn
Row 1: SC in 2nd ch from hook, ch, skip next ch and SC in 3rd ch. Alternate sc1 and ch1  until end of row. Turn
Row 2-?: SC in first SC, ch1, Continue to 1sc in sc and ch1 until end of row. Turn. (Repeat until desired length is reached)
Tie off and sew in ends.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

MoA - Day 16

Crappy video, poor sound quality, but my point nonetheless. 

I will try to edit the sound to fix the maddening exploding "s". But I hope this helps tell ppeople whY I do this and what it means to me. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

MoA - Day 5

Today, at the office, we wore pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness. 

I know a great many people who have fought, survived or passed from breast cancer and if any thing I can do might encourage a woman to get a mammogram, I will gladly do so. 

Additionally it's a ridiculously small way to express to a survivor that I'm grateful as well for each day they live cancer free. 

Now ladies, go, get a mammogram or do a breast self-exam today!!! It saves lives!!!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

MoA - Day 4

Free burrito day. 

Who says there's no such thing as a free meal?

Not me!

I bought a Chipotle gift card, and wen I cashed out, I asked that thee cashier give it too the first person that walked in after I left. 

Sometimes, it's nice to jut give a few dollars towards someone's meal I am  firm believer that doing a kindness for a stranger is a great feeling. So you feel awesome and have made a person's day.

Double plus good!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

MoA - Day 3

Tonight, I invited the Grove over to my house to get together in happiness and inspiration 

Ideally it was meant to be a divine art night. Where we got together and talked about the meaning of divine art and created sacred tools. 

But what happened was far more organic. 

We ran around my home, looking for ideas on projects, teaching each other and having a great time. Wew played with artistic makeup, lighting, painting, sketch, sewing and sculpting. 

A crane statue was made, I taught Gary to sew, there was drawing and photography and everything. It was a fantastic night of fellowship and art and it was certainly worthy of awesome!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

MoA - Day 2

Today was revisiting old awesome. 

If you haven't heard of, it is an amazing website that allows you to invest in micro-finance loans to help people around the world. 

So what does that mean to you? 

Well, you, being a micro-finance investor picks one of hundreds of borrowers around the world. Then makes small loans, to the tune of twenty-five dollars. And then you get paid back over the course of the loan. Also, after the loan is repaid, you can re-lend it. Again and gain you can re-lend the same twenty-five dollars to people around the world in need.

Why is this awesome?

Well, you can have a hand no only in helping out someone in need, but also this is not a hand out. These are hard working people, who want to make a life for themselves and are paying back what you lend to them.

It is amazing and I have never once regretted any of the donations I've made to this organization.

Also, for now, for yur first Kiva loan, you get $25 for free for your very first loan!

So fro the generosity of other lenders, you can lend for free!!!!

That is simply put AWESOME!

Monday, October 1, 2012

MoA - Day 1

So, to begin this month of awesome, I took part in National Stomp Out Bullying Day.

I wore a blue shirt and talked about my experiences growing up with some of the patients I had. I let them start the conversations, but it was really interesting to hear from people from both sides. I had one gentleman who admitted shamefully that he was a bully in his younger years.

Frankly, hearing him talk was actually more moving than hearing from people who had been bullied. Something about him growing old and genuinely feeling upset by his actions as a young man gave me hope that he was able to teach his kids that it wasn't okay.

I am not going to say that I was the victim of terrible bullying. frankly, I was mostly a pacifist as a kid, wanting desperately for people to get along. But the words people don't think of, especially children can leave long lasting scars. And it is completely something that can be learned at home.

I encourage folks interested in joining in Stop Out Bullying Month, to check the site above and educate yourself and the kids in your life. You can sincerely make a difference in the lives of children around the world!

Monday, September 24, 2012

First Anniversary - Month of Awesome

So, with all the business of Volunteering at the Ohio Historical Society, I completely forgot about the Month of Awesome!!!

I know, *gasp* right? So, I'm moving the Month of Awesome (MoA) to October this year.

What does that mean? Well, it means that I have a week to let you all know so you can join in as well!!!

So, I encourage everyone who is interested, to read through my old MoA posts to get an idea for options for MoA activities.

Now....let's get prepped!!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Heart Bookmarks

So I've been quite busy at the Ohio Historical Society and I wanted a quick project to make something cute without a huge investment of time. 

So when I saw this blog, that recycles return envelopes you get in junk mail. I decided I wanted to give them a try! 

What you need for this project:
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Decorated Paper
  • Return Envelopes
  • Scrap paper

First, you take a piece of scrap paper and fold in half to create the heart template. 
(Or you can find one to print online)

Trace the heart onto the patterned scrapbook paper and cut out heart.

Lay the heart onto the corner of the envelope, trace and cut. 

Glue the heart onto the envelope corner and find a good book!

And enjoy this lovely, easy project!

Additionally, you can make any kind of shape that has a ninety-degree angle as well doesnt have to be a heart. Check out alternatives here. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Historical Interpretation vs Reinactment

When I got ready to take the classes to join the Village's cast of characters, I was not sure if I was considered a volunteer actor, a re-inactor or just someone playing make-believe. As I learned in my classes in preparation, the appropriate term was First Person Interpretation. There are tons of articles, books and sites on the subject, but I wanted put up a quick list of the basic differences between the various types of folk you see in historical sites.


Generally, I’ve seen this very little, since actors usually portray a role with a general script or outline and have not done the research themselves in a lot of cases. This is not a very common situation as I have read.

Historical Re-enactor

The name basically explains the function. This person’s duty first and foremost is to re-enact history. Whether that be a specific event in time, like a certain Civil War battle or a specific person in time, their job is to portray an historical event or persona.

I’ve been told, though no experience personally, that at many camps where guests can visit a reenactment camp, there is no veering from the historically accurate moment. I have also heard that they generally don’t interact with “mundanes” or break character. While this is an experience that can illustrate a very specific time or person, it can be rather difficult to feel involved if you are not a costumed re-enactor yourself.

First Person Interpreter

This is a role that expects the interpreter to take on a persona, usually one they’ve created as a composite of first hand accounts from a chosen time period. Their function is to illustrate what a person of the time experienced and provide a more hands-on method of education. While their roles are more general, the interpreter has the ability to interact with guests, drawing them into the experience of living in the selected period.

Ideally, the interpreter will also not break “character” when interacting with the guests. But, education is key so it is occasionally the case where an interpreter is asked a question that can not be answered in the manner of the character. Involving visitors and bringing them into the moment is essential to the interpreter so welcoming visitors is crucial to their purpose.


Both the Re-enactor and the Interpreter are expected to do a great deal of research. It is quite more involved than “learning about X event”. Many of both groups study a great variety of topics pertaining to their period of choice. The purpose is to give the most authentic portrayal of character possible to achieve their goal of portraying history and educating.

For the interpreter first hand accounts are a great resource to the veracity of their roles. From personal correspondence, to news articles and interviews, they seek a first hand account of life from which to create their composite character and be fully emersed in the world around them.

I will get more into composite character creation in a later post.

But soon...PICTURES!!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Going Back in Time

Going Back in Time: The Ohio Historical Village

When I was in High School, my theatre teacher was always looking for opportunities for us to get out and get experience portraying characters. She mentioned the local Historical Society had an historic living village that was looking for volunteers for the holidays. I had been there several times over the years with my parents and always loved the experience of walking around the costumed interpreters and feeling like I was living a part of history. When the opportunity was presented to me, I could hardly contain my enthusiasm.

Over the next seven years, I would venture to the Ohio Historical Society a few times a year, get dressed up in bloomers, frocks and bonnets and walk around the village trying to convince families to buy song sheets or flowers for a dime. But, what I loved the most was watching that actual interpreters (the costumed characters that had names and told stories about their lives). They would carry on about various topics, chastise young men and women for wearing short-pants that in the mid 1800’s would have barely been considered drawers. Each of them were committed to drawing in visitors to experience life as a man or woman in the 1860’s.

The Mayor and his wife, the leather smith, the school teacher all kept my attention rapt. Their lovely finery and hoops drew me in, but their tales of what life was like for them. I wanted to know more and it was so much more vivid an example of history than the dusty books I was used to in school. I was learning and I wanted to help others find the same interest someday.

When I heard they were closing the Village due to budget cuts, I was crestfallen. This fascinating way to immerse yourself in history was gone and I was terribly disappointed for the generations of kids that wouldn't get to work in a leather shop or have a brief arithmetic lesson in the school house, all the memories I cherished as a child. It seemed like such a waste of an opportunity to teach in a very hands-on way. It felt like not only the city lost something, but I had as well.

But, after almost ten years later, I heard they were opening the doors again. My heart raced and the normal fear I have with reaching out and trying things at which I might not exceed was trumped by the fear I would miss an opportunity. So, I called and got approved for the first person interpretation class. I jumped at the chance to read, learn and create my own character, finally able to be a costumed interpreter who could help children (and adults for that matter) learn. I was so eager to be part of living history that I had created a persona by the end of my first class!

So, if you'll all indulge me, I will likely post a few entries about the last few weekends as an interpreter at the fantastic Ohio Village!

See you back in 1862!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

We have a blogger down!

So, you may have noticed I have been a very absent Magpie. Sadly, my beloved lappy (or laptop to non-magpies) has finally passed into the great beyond.

Despite that setback, life has continued to roll along. I have been able to work on some fun, short projects in the meantime. A cute Mcall's apron in super fun fabrics, some more watercolor experiments and my first wedding anniversary trip with Mr. Magpie!

I will be back in business soon so I can write longer but I hope everyone is having a beautiful summer full of joy and adventures!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day

I wanted to wish all of the readers of Mythical Magpie a Happy Earth day. As a person who reveres the earth spiritually, it is a day to remind me of the connectivity we have to the natural world in a very real way.

I will be heading to a state landmark and spend several hours cleaning and taking care of the space with several local volunteers. I will also be contemplating some more future posts on repurposing items and reducing personal waste.

I hope everyone is able ot get out a little to day and remember that sense of connection to all the creatures and living things on this planet and our responsibility to them.

Have a wonderful Earth Day everyone, and remember:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Streamlining Tags/Labels

So after my huge debacle with editing tags on my blog this past week, I thought I would try to share some of the wisdom I gained in the process. Some of this is general to the process of simplifying a blog and streamlining how to navigate it, and some of these are specific to Blogger.

1) Think of your target audience and label accordingly.

If I could speak of picking a target audience for a moment, I'd recommend taking a look at what I post and to whom I intend to write towards. Obviously, I'm mostly a craft-art-diy blog. And so my target audience is a bit wide. That said, clarifying my tags for ease of understanding of the people I ideally want to reach, is a step towards better marketing to my target audience.

2) Select major themes under which more specific items could nest.

Example: I had watercolor, painting practice, painting, watercolor samples, watercolor classes and the list goes on. Now, I chose to pare them all down into "painting". This makes it far simpler to find anything I've done related to painting and allows me to consolidate them for future types of painting mediums. So instead of six labels, I've now got one larger umbrella label that is not longer lost in a sea of similar topics.

3) Rename some labels to be more concise.

Instead of a tag called "Joe", I changed it to marriage, necklace or watch to jewelrymaking, home made cleaning products and natural remedies to homemaking and so on and so forth. This also allows for people to get a better idea of what are the major topics of interest. So tags like "sculpey" do elicit thoughts polymer clay, really it is more specific than I needed for the job and "sculpting" was far more clear.

4) Stick with one or two simple tags instead of many

Choosing a few general tags makes it much easier to search for than dozens of specific tags, Few people search for that one specific daily project you've made, Instead, many go searching browsers for "crochet'' or "sewing tutorials". You will reach more prospective readers with simple tap.

So, if you are interested marketing to get your blog moretraffie, try this simple tick to clarify your tags.

Future articles, hitting search engines and joining circles.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Taking on tags

Well, first step to re-organizing the blog is to take a look at how I've set up finding previous posts.

When I started this blog, I thought that the more tags or labels, the better and easier to find projects. But the more I've been reading up on marketing and promotion and I've been visiting all kinds of blogs I love, I've seen that my judgement was faulty. I'm taking pointers on what they do well and what I'd like to see reflected in a well organized Magpie blog.

And what I was able to see was that my sidelist of tags was cluttered and hard to follow. It was an immediate priority to make my blog entries easier to navigate.

And I am pleased to announce that after four hours of editing:

I was able to pair down the 267 tags to 38!!

I've discovered along the way that simplifying the many multiple tags has really made me think of specific ways to come up with blog entries now tailored to my new tags.

So I'm very excited for the next few days and the changes here at the Mythical Magpie blog!!

Friday, April 13, 2012


I have a secret....

Over the next week, I am going to change the look and feel of the blog and hopefully will add lots of fun new articles and tutorials.

I am really excited about it and I hope you all come back soon to see the new changes!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Magpie Organizes

So, I have been in a state of disarray after having moved my craft studio to the basement. There is room for all of my crafts and I can work without dragging out tables, projects and supplies into the living room each day.

I must admit, I'm not called Magpie for my ability to organize. So this has been a challenge to pull all my shiny things out and put them in order.

But I am making headway, and after today this is the fruit of my labor. Shelves of fabric arranged by coalor, separated by fat quarters of corresponding colors.

Now, to find a quick quilt project to celebrate!

(Before: A mess of bins and junk)

(After: Stacks of fabric organized by color, separated by fat quarters)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Online Watercolor Class

So I signed up for an online watercolor class at Strathmore Artist's Paper website.

Our first lesson was blending, washes and using different brushes for simple effects

My first "sketch" is here! I will post a picture later with it once it's dry and flattened. I don't yet have the watercolor journal, so the paper I had crinkled a bit.

But here it is!

And here it is dry!!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Back to Basics

It's been quite a crazy few months for us here at Magpie Central. I'd like to say it was all fun and games and art...but it's been sorta rough. That said, Magpie just had a milestone birthday and ready to get back in the swing of posting regularly and making art happen.

So I had our home do a 30 minute art sprint, to do anything we wanted in 30 minutes.

This was my creation:

Here was Mr. Magpie's.

It's a great way to get out of a rut and just make something anything art related. I recommend everyone who is in a craft rut to give it a go!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Practice makes perfect

So I'm back into painting now that the holidays are over.

Here was a little experiment with wet-in-wet watercolor technique. For those unfamiliar, it means you start by wetting your canvass (or paper) before you begin painting. It creates this super watery effect as the pigments spread and create interesting shapes on the wet background.

This was just a quick little abstract piece I did for practice. Oddly, I kinda like it!

I also find that getting back into something creative after a bit of a hiatus can certainly be daunting. But I highly recommend just jumping back in with both feet, even if you don't have a particular subject in mind, like I didn't.

Sometimes randomness can be beautiful. Just set to and see what happens!!

And Happy New Year!