July 10, 2014
I just completed my last required course toward my certificate in botanical illustration at The Denver Botanic Gardens. Unfortunately, I missed the deadline to graduate in 2014, but after I complete a portfolio review class, I should be graduating in the fall of 2015.
My website is still under construction, but I do have a few pages up and completed. Swing by for a look some time, won't you? www.MarjHopkinsNatureArt.com Thanks for your interest. I will go over and see how many of my links still work and come by and say hello to any of you who are still blogging out there. Hope you are all thriving!
January 11, 2012
This Blog Is Officially Closed
"Blood Flower & Monarch" Copyright 2011 Marj Hopkins. All Rights Reserved.
UPDATE: Thanks for all the concern and well wishes for me, my family and our son. We still have him on random UA's to test for drugs and he has come up clean now for months. Thank God! We started him on an anti-anxiety and antidepressant medication as he seemed to be using the pot and synthetic pot as a way of self medicating. His work with his therapist is also going well.
My work in botanical illustration also continues to go well and I am enjoying it. The Monarch butterfly and milkweed image above is a piece I produced in a class I took this past fall. I also have started work on my first paid commission. Yay! Maybe, someday in the not-too-distant future, I will put up a link to a new website featuring my artwork. Thank you all for your interest in that as well. I hope you all are thriving as well as surviving. Blessing to you all.
Read more »
September 26, 2011
Falling Through Fall
What I want to do here is an update on how my son is doing. After he came up dirty on a UA for pot, we put our son on random UA testing. He goes in and pees in a cup every seven to ten days on a random basis. I thought that he was making wiser decisions and we were in a period of rebuilding trust. Unfortunately, on Friday I got the results back for another dirty UA, this time for synthetic THC.
Friday was a hell of a day. Not only did we get the dirty UA results, but my son got a $250 graphing/geometry calculator stolen out of his backpack, too. So, the boy's house where he was at is now off limits, and so is that entire geographic area, near the local mall, etc.
But, I want to use this opportunity--if anyone is still reading this blog at all--to tell you about the synthetic THC. It is bad news. If you are the parent of a young adult or teenager, I urge you to educate yourself on this nasty substance.
Here is Colorado, it is often called "Colorado Chronic." It also goes by the more common names of K2 and Spice. It is sold as incense and is still legal (even for minors!) in some states. It consists of some kind of "organic" material that is sprayed with JWH-018 or some other chemical form of synthetic cannabinoid. It is usually many times stronger that the THC found in marijuana. It causes rapid heart rate, anxiety and sometimes delusional states that have lead smokers to violence and suicide.
When states try to ban it, the chemists go in and tweak the formula, rendering it legal again. Many states are struggling with the loop holes that this street drug slips through. I have heard that there are also "bath salts" on the market that kids are smoking as well. The two main reasons why these drugs have become so popular, especially with young kids and people in the military (or other situations where they undergo drug tests regularly), are as follows: 1) The drug often does not show up on routine drug tests. 2) The drug is sold as incense or some other legal substance and is available even to minors.
Luckily, my son's therapist has found a drug counselor here in town who will send urine samples in to the Redwood Toxicology Laboratory in Santa Rosa, California, and they do, indeed, test for synthetic pot.
For all of you who have shown your concern and support, I thank you very much. I want you to know that my husband and I are very much involved in our son's therapy and in being aware of what is going on in his teen-aged life, providing structure, limits and consequences as appropriate to help him get back on track. God, I love that kid!
Labels: anniversary, awareness, breaking the cycle, child protection, special needs kids, therapy
July 27, 2011
Oh well. I haven't had the energy to do all my survivor advocacy stuff I used to do in the blogosphere, either. So I guess it's just one of those trade-offs of life.
As many of you know, my son has special needs and raising him has brought me the most love I have ever experienced, yet tested and challenged me more than I think I can bear sometimes. Up until recently, my son has not had much of a social life, in real life anyway (outside of gaming online and Facebook). Now, this summer, he has started to hang around kids who have way too much freedom, are smoking, doing drugs, etc. He finally feels accepted and I have always longed for him to have that and I know how important it is. I just hope he can come to realize the value of feeling accepted by kids who show more responsibility, make better choices and have stronger values.
So, with the help of his therapist, we've had to come down pretty hard with structure and consequences around here. We now have to up this part of the parenting game even more, as he just came back with dirty results on a recent UA for pot. I wouldn't be so upset about it if he were in college or something...but he is only 14 years old!
I feel amazingly fatigued just sharing this much right now. I'll try to get back and share more later. Any positive vibes, thoughts and/or prayers that any of you can send out there right now would be greatly appreciated.
Labels: attachment, being human, breaking the cycle, community, overwhelm, support
May 16, 2011
Life Goes On...
Labels: appreciation, Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse, child parts, comfort, connection, inner child, therapy, triggers
March 18, 2011
Finally...The Final Blog Post
I thought about a few different things I would write for this post. Then, I had a little get together with a group of my friends that we sometimes call the "going deeper" group. It's a group of people that tend to have very little tolerance for idle chit chat and bullshit. We like to talk about "deep things." During our last get together, we drank wine and read each other our own obituaries that we had written for ourselves. Here is what mine said:
"The major accomplishment in the life of Marj McCabe was breaking the cycle of abuse. It was a cycle of child abuse--sometimes insidious, always heinous--that she was forced to inherit and had gone on for generations on both sides of her family of origin. Although this accomplishment took the excruciating work of therapy for much of her adult life, she never could have done it without the patience and love of her amazingly supportive husband. She never would have embarked on the perilous journey in the first place, had it not been for the immense love she felt for her own offspring. And while it never received the fanfare or recognition of other achievements having such great potential for positive impact on future generations, Marj could grasp its significance. And for her, it was enough."
Since writing that "obituary," I've thought a lot about just what is enough for me. One of the main reasons I started writing a blog is to find meaning for the abuse I suffered as a child. I'm not sure I've done that, but I have done a lot.
It was a very different world just five short years ago. Blogging was fairly new. When I first conducted a Google search with key words like"survivor," "thriver," "thrive," etc., I found very little out there. Most of the mentions about "survivor" were for the popular network television show of that name. Most of the results for "thrive" were for the insurance company who uses that word as a slogan in it's advertising campaigns. There was absolutely nothing when I looked up "thriver."
So, I got to take that name. I became Thriver. I used it on message boards and in forums, and I was the only one using that name when I first joined Twitter.
In the last five years, many more blogs and websites have started up about surviving and even thriving after child abuse, sexual abuse, sexual assault and rape, domestic violence, etc. Many books have been written on these important subjects. Many of us have been out there raising awareness and acting as advocates. There are some great advocates linked on Twitter, if you care to follow them as I do.
Now, when you google "survivor" or "survivors," you get results in the millions. The same is true for a search for "thrive." I'm happy to say that "survivors can thrive" brings back hundreds of thousands of result listings and even "thriver" will give you tens of thousands of results.
Another thing I've accomplished over the last five years was founding and growing The Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse. In June of this year, it will also be celebrating a five-year anniversary. I feel really good about that. Although I no longer maintain the carnival, it is going strong. You can follow it by clicking on the many links on the handy blog carnival widget you see on my sidebar.
So, what I'm doing now (in addition to the ongoing, ever-present therapy work) is taking classes and working on my certificate in botanical illustration. You can read about this dream of mine which is coming true in these posts here and here.
Yes, I'm finally following a dream of mine that I first had when I was an art major in college, 30 years ago. And, yes, I'm moving on with my life.
I guess it finally doesn't matter whether or not I find some "hidden meaning" for my abuse. I guess I've decided that finding meaning in my LIFE is enough. Going on with my life (after evil people tried to break me) is enough. Living a full life is enough. Enjoying a life of meaning and fulfillment is enough. All these things are more than enough for me. And I'm okay with that.
Labels: abuse, advocacy, anniversary, awareness, Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse, breaking the cycle, child abuse, domestic violence, family of origin, healing, journey, survivors, therapy, thrive, Twitter
January 17, 2011
The Whole Harrowing Story
It was the perfect birthday present: a botanical illustration retreat in Gateway Canyons, Colorado. Everything that could possibly go wrong, it seems, did when it came to this retreat I had been looking forward to for months. I won't go into the boring details of the other things that happened in the retreat debacle story. But, it culminated with me totaling my car just three miles before I would have made it to the beautiful resort.
I should never trust Mapquest. They are always wrong about at least one...or a dozen things. If it's not the map itself, it's the directions, or the time duration of the trip (those don't seem to ever be even slightly accurate). The Mapquest directions I had printed out for this drive said to go straight at a "T" intersection where my only alternatives were a right or left turn, of course. I got lost.
I had planned on making it to the resort with plenty of daylight left. Instead--by the time I finally find the correct route again--I'm driving down this twisty-turny, beautiful, two-lane canyon highway as the sun is setting behind the mountains. It was gorgeous, but I started to worry.
I saw the "deer crossing" and "bighorn sheep crossing" (yes, we have those out here in The West) signs right away. Ironically, I didn't pass any "elk crossing" signs and I didn't see any deer, or bighorn sheep. But, I did see a ton of elk. First, I saw a few scattered individuals, then I saw a herd that must have been at least 50-strong, in a valley near some water. "Oh, great," I thought to myself, "the animals are going to be coming out of the trees to my right, crossing the damn road, and then going down to get a drink of water and do their evening grazing to my left. I better drive slow and look out." I really did not want to hit an enormous elk with my car.
As much as I was annoyed and frustrated that I would have to slow down and arrive at the resort even later, I felt this was the safe thing to do. I turned off the car stereo and concentrated on looking out for deer, elk and bighorn sheep at the side of the road and/or crossing the road. I hardly saw any cars, people, or man-made structures of any kind. Sometimes, here in Colorado anyway, you can get some great photos of elk or bighorn sheep when you see other cars slowing down for them or stopping to take their own photos. You can also avoid the mule deer we have here (named for their very large ears) in this same way.
By the time I crashed my car, it was completely dark and black as pitch. There were no street lights in this remote location, and no light coming from any nearby buildings. All I had were the headlights of my car. I had just come around a corner and there he was, caught in those headlights. It was a huge mule deer buck. He was standing, right in the middle of the road, in my lane, perpendicular to the line of my car.
It's strange, the things that can go flying through your mind, in a matter of a few seconds at times like these. My first, weird thought was, "Huh. He doesn't look like the proverbial deer in the headlights at all. He looks more like a sedate cow, chewing its cud."
I noticed, however, that he did appear frozen to the spot. Once it was apparent he wasn't going anywhere, I noticed his big rack of antlers. I wondered if I should "T-bone," or broadside this huge animal. I figured the damage to the car would be worse and I had horrific pictures in my mind of this deer's antlers coming through my windshield and skewering me.
I put on the breaks a bit and turned the steering wheel to the left to see if I could just clip him instead of broadsiding him. But, it was like skidding on ice or hydroplaning on the pavement when there is a lot of water. I was aware that I could roll the car and I wanted to avoid that as I knew the damage that could be done there, from hearing about the experience when my sister rolled her car while hydroplaning years ago. But, I knew, no matter what I did, it was going to be bad. I was not making it to the resort that night, that was certain.
I remember the impact of my car hitting the buck. I felt the impact and I heard it as well. Then, I was careening off the road, watching trees whip past me. "Oh, God," I prayed, "please don't let me hit a tree!" I don't remember the airbags deploying (but they did) and I don't remember hitting the tree. (The state troopers told me later--at the ER of the Grand Junction hospital--that I had, indeed, hit a tree.) My life didn't flash before me, but I know I was praying. "I don't want to leave my husband or my child," I prayed, "please, God, don't let me die!"
The next thing I remember, everything was still and quiet. All I could hear was the car's radiator hissing. I had come to rest in a narrow, deep ditch. My first thought at that point was, "Thank you, God! I'm alive!" I was amazed that the windshield hadn't shattered. I looked down at myself and I held out my hands in front of me. There wasn't even any blood anywhere. It was a miracle! But, I was also very scared even though, I'm sure, I was still in shock. I saw a lot of smoke pouring out of the crumpled front end of the car, from under the hood. It was emitting a terrible, noxious smell. I was afraid the car might burst into flames or something; I decided I should get right out of there.
Between the smoke and the dark, I couldn't see very well, but I felt around for my purse. It had gone flying, and my cell phone had flown out somewhere to unknown regions. I unlocked the car doors, I unbuckled my seat belt without any problems and also opened the driver's side door without any trouble. Amazing! I was thinking, "I've got to get away from this smoking car and get to the road to flag somebody down." I didn't have much hope of that, however. I was, literally, in the middle of the beautiful, picturesque nowhere. Somehow--pure adrenalin I'm sure--I marched up the steep incline, out of the ditch.
Miraculously, I spotted a car coming quite soon. It seemed like only about five minutes, but I'm not sure what my perception of time was at that point. I saw the headlights and didn't worry too much about getting hit by the oncoming car. I stood in the middle of the road and waved the car down with everything I had. It was a woman driving a white van. She slowed down. I stepped out of the way. But, she passed on by. "Oh, shit!" I started praying again. "Please, God, make her turn around!" Mercifully, she did. She was the local pastor's wife and I felt that she was an angel. She wondered, at first, what was going on, who I was, and where my car could be. Then, she saw the smoke and figured my car was down in the ditch and she should turn back to help me. Bless her.
She parked the van at the side of the road and walked back to me. She asked me all the questions that I just indicated she had already figured out for herself. Then she asked, "Are you okay? Are you hurt?"
It's ironic that the auto safety features that saved my life were responsible for my only injuries. I had some really gruesome looking bruises that came from my seat belt's lap belt, I had a bruise across the bridge of my nose from the airbag and the shoulder harness snapped my clavicle. But, it really is a miracle I am alive, and I am grateful.
The next day after my accident, my husband drove out and got me. We went to the vehicle tow lot to get my luggage and other stuff out of the totaled Subaru Outback Legacy wagon. The front end, all the way up to the windshield, was smashed in so completely as to be unrecognizable. You could see lots of broken-off branches and sticks from the tree and the round, broken spots on the windshield where either the buck's antlers or hooves had impacted. The tow truck driver pointed out where the clumps of deer fur were still stuck to my car.
He said he had a "hellava time" getting my car towed out of that deep ditch. He, and everyone else I had met the previous night, kept asking me, "How did you get out of that ditch?" How did I get out? I don't know. That was a miracle, too, I guess. I'm lucky and I'm happy to be alive. My bruises are gone and I'm healing from my collar bone surgery. They put in a plate and some screws to hold the two broken pieces in place, with one final screw between the two portions as a bone graft.
I'm sleeping better now and I've weened myself off Percoset. I am currently weening myself off of Vicodin, which my doctor put me on because, I guess, it is less habit-forming. But, both have side effects and uncomfortable withdrawal effects. I still can't lift much, but I'm doing my assigned physical therapy exercises and I'm getting stronger on my left side again. I can type with both hands now but it is slow and a bit painful. I make a lot of typos. Thank God for spell-check!
And thank you all for your thoughts and prayers, get-well wishes and healing vibes sent. I start my botanical illustration classes up again in the middle of February and I'm looking forward to that. I hope that the winter isn't being too hard on you and that you have something nice to look forward to, too.
Labels: gratitude, healing, miracles, trauma
January 04, 2011
Something In The Meantime
Saw this today through a link on Twitter. This one really made me cry. Powerful.
Labels: abuse, advocacy, breaking the cycle, child abuse, child labor, child protection, human trafficking, sexual slavery
November 16, 2010
the 5-year anniversary/last official blog post has been delayed due to an unforeseen medical emergency. i have a broken collar bone and can't really type right now. i am using the one-handed, hunt-and-peck method here and it is soooo slow. i am okay and i will be back with an update as soon as i can.
get those posts in for the blog carnival, won't you please? i think the details and links are in my last post below, or you can use the bc widget there on my sidebar. thanks! talk soon.
Labels: advocacy, anniversary, Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse, blog carnivals, trauma
October 28, 2010
A Big Milestone & A Big Decision
But, I have also made a big decision. So, on that anniversary celebration day, I will also be sad. I've decided that, on that day, I will write my last official post for this blog.
I've been thinking about it for a while now, but I didn't want to make this decision final--much less announce it--until I had someone to take over for me as the blogger who maintains The Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse. I've asked Tracie at the FromTracie blog to let me pass the blog carnival baton to her. She thought it over for a while and has now agreed! Yay, Tracie! I know you will do an excellent job running the carnival.
Splinty, (Splinteredones over at Twitter) who runs the SPLINTEREDONE'S BLOG, has committed to hosting the November edition of our carnival. I will make sure to help Tracie and Splinty organize, promote and run this carnival edition, whether it takes place before or after my November 14 anniversary/last-official-blog-post date. As I told Tracie in a recent e-mail, I will continue--especially for the first several months of transition time--to help her with any maintenance issues, promote the carnival over at Twitter (although I'll continue to reduce my presence there) and even submit some old posts I have in my SurvivorsCanThrive coffers to monthly editions.
I will not be pulling down my blog or my Survivors Can Thrive! dot com site. I will leave them both up indefinitely. I want them to remain available on the Internet as a resource for anyone who might be able to use them. I will restrict my blog posting, however, to a once-in-a-while personal journal entry when I'd like to scratch out a therapy poem or otherwise hit the keys to do my journaling rather than put pen to paper the old-fashioned way. That is what "blog" stands for after all: web log, as in journal. I know a lot of folks who use their blog simply as an online journal, and I think I will now be okay with that for myself, rather than feeling any pressure to post weekly or on any kind of timeline at all.
The thing that I will be the most sad about--severely restricting my presence in the blogosphere--is not spending more time with my bloggy buddies and advocating for child abuse prevention and survivors. Over the last five years, the people I have met through blogging have become quite important to me, in addition to my ability to stop the silence, silence the shame, and break the cycle of child abuse.
But, in the midst of my sadness, I will also be celebrating. Not only will I be celebrating the work that I've done here at Survivors Can Thrive! and the wonderful survivors and survivor advocates I have met along the way, but I will also be celebrating my journey toward thriving and where it is now leading me. I think the journey to becoming a Thriver is somewhat similar to the goal of becoming more Christlike or being more like The Buddha. It is probably not something that many of us actually completely achieve in this lifetime, but it is something that we can make strides toward every day. This is where I am on my Survivor-to-Thriver path.
I will continue my therapy and working toward achieving Thriver status. But, now that I am finally feeling like I truly am thriving more every day, I will stop and take time to enjoy the things that make me feel like I'm thriving. Right now, a big one of those things is my work toward my certificate in botanical illustration. I am about a third of the way through the educational program at The Denver Botanic Gardens and I've got my work in a show for the first time ever. I'm hoping to continue to show my work in exhibits more down the road. And, eventually, (in addition to completing my portfolio and earning my certificate) I hope to start making some sales. *fingers crossed*
So, folks, the bottom line is that I don't know whether or not I will ever finish writing the book that I began, with the working title of "Survivors Can Thrive!" I want to see where this botanical illustration path will lead me. And, I'm feeling more comfortable right now with the decision to use my creative energy and time (that I would have put into finishing my book) for becoming a professional botanical illustrator. What this will, hopefully, mean (and I've had a lot of folks ask me what this will mean) is that I may, some day, have some of my illustrations published in a book similar to this Plant Select Guide. And/or, I may illustrate some seed packets for a company such as Botanical Interests, who uses illustrations instead of photographs for their plant seed products. Maybe some day I will even get represented by a gallery, have my own one-woman shows, and sell framed illustrations and prints made from my original works, just like one of my instructors who has this website. She is an awesome artist and so inspiring to me!
As you can probably tell, I'm very excited about this. And--even if I'm illustrating plants instead of blogging and otherwise writing--I will continue working every day toward thriving. It's the same journey, just down a different path now. Thank you all for your readership, support, bloggy and tweety friendship, and survivor solidarity, as well as your commitment, involvement and promotion of The Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse over these last five years. It's not even possible that I would have come this far on my Survivors Can Thrive! journey without all of you and I am truly grateful. During the next three weeks and before I write my last official blog post, I will come over to visit your blogs and thank you personally for everything you have done for and with me in bloggyland.
In the meantime, don't just survive...bloom, grow, THRIVE! ;)
Labels: advocacy, anniversary, Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse, child abuse prevention, gratitude, healing, inspiration, self-help books, Survivors Can Thrive, therapy, thriver
October 20, 2010
October Blog Carnival
Tracie, from the blog From Tracie, has graciously offered to be our host again for the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse. She will host the October edition on Friday, 10/22.
Submissions don't have to have any theme this month, but hurry! The deadline is midnight tonight (U.S. Pacific time)--that's Wednesday, 10/20. Don't forget our regular submission categories of Poetry, Survivor Stories, In The News, Advocacy & Awareness, Art Therapy, Aftermath and Healing & Therapy. You can use this handy submission form link here.
Labels: advocacy, aftermath, awareness, Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse, blog carnivals, child abuse, Poetry, therapy
October 15, 2010
While The Blossoms Still Cling To The Vine
I've been continuing my morning walks and trying to keep that weight off that I lost over the summer. The weather here has been unseasonably warm and beautiful lately. There are still flowers blooming and tomatoes ripening on the vine, as it has not given us a real, hard frost here yet.
After the poem I wrote and posted on my last blog post, I felt amazingly better in the emotional department. The grieving I've been doing has been cathartic as well. I really feel like I'm healing--instead of reeling--this Autumn, and that's a much-needed and appreciated change of pace.
I hope that The Fall is treating you all well. You are all in my thoughts and I'm sending well wishes.
Labels: comfort, feelings, grieving, Poetry, therapy