Like a House of Cards…

Last night I cracked my head on the floor.

It was the first panic attack I’ve had in over ten years. 

Maybe it was in light of recent events. Perhaps it was a whole host of mess that’s been building up for a while. 

All I know is I have to write this here & now to get it out of me and into my safe place here. 

I’ve been planning on sharing over at Stories about PTSD, since I had never spoken in-depth about it before. The little bit I have shared though, has helped people along the way.

I got a phonecall a few days back from my sister who lives many states away. The voice on the other end was desperate.

She wanted to move back up here to her original home, but I’d have some convincing to do on her behalf with some family members.

She’s been abusing drugs and engaging the kind of behavior where she could end up dead.

Her erratic/nervous tone over the phone had me sensing this wasn’t going to go right.

She sounded just like my mother at a certain point in time and it frightened me. It also took some of my old wounds and yanked them right back open. 

The worst part was another family member’s reaction. It hurt them. Deeply. I think this is what put me over the edge.

Needless to say no one feels comfortable bringing her up here. Though we still want to help her someway/somehow. 

She just has to truly want the help.

Before I could talk to family members, she posted some drug-infused rant on her Facebook page saying most of her family with the exception of me never cared about her. She went on & on. Of course people saw it. I’ve always told her watch what she blabs out there on the internet.

Now, I can’t hold back.

This may seem insensitive and selfish.

Until I cracked my head on the kitchen floor from the weight of it all. 

I started hyperventilating out of nowhere for about five seconds, my vision blacked out, and I went down like a load of bricks.

When I came to 

my name was being called & I was being asked what happened.

My son and his father had seen me go down quickly, but it was one of those things you couldn’t stop. 

My legs were shaking. I was shocked and embarrassed. I started sobbing hysterically like a two year old.

I was a blubbering mess. 

My son was concerned. “Mom did you slip? Are you okay? You hit your head really hard.”

I’m okay now.

Aside from my tail bone, elbow, ankle, and head hurting like hell.

But what do you do? When your anxiety that you thought was dealt with, comes back and bites you in the ass this hard

I think its time to go back to therapy.

I’m not going to let this knock me down.

I’ve got way too many great things to share with you this 2016. 

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A Year in CardCastles: 2015

CC 2015 Highlights Badge Icon

Twenty-fifteen will go down in my rear-view as the year that played Russian Roulette with my emotions.

There were unforeseen highs and uncertain roads. I saw a closing of doors and an opening of many others. My friends and I suffered some devastating losses, but I was reminded to be thankful for those that are still here.

Then one of my biggest influences passed away, and my life took a turn to carry on old paths and forgotten dreams…

These are the moments that made, (and almost broke, but ultimately…well, you’ll see) CardCastles in 2015.

 

 

CardCastles 2015 Highlights

January

We started off small and quietly. I shared about fears in Ashes over at Stories That Must Not Die, and reposted it here since the story tied in to some past thoughts shared.

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February

There was a  l o v e theme.

Window to the Heart

Then, I was blindsided by change. The future of CardCastlesInTheSky hung in the balance. A former large part and driving force of my site used to be the gallery. By clicking on the gallery you used to be taken to my Twenty20 Store where my designs could be purchased in many forms. Just shy of three years I decided to part ways with this company due to a shift in ideals.

You can read about the gallery closing here~> in All Good Things Must Come to an End 

This post was one of my Top 5 viewed this year.

If you’re curious as to why I decided to stop selling my artwork and designs/home décor, you can read some of the reasons in, Blowing the Doors Wide Open .

 

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March

Repeat The story of the gallery closing had a happy ending/new beginning on March 1st. I first premiered my new gallery home at the base of my new project Snapping Turtle Publishing.

You can read about the gallery opening in, Blight and Blastoff. *This was among my Top 10 viewed posts this year.

You were all so welcoming and supportive of me going out on my own!

I went into uncharted land and climbed out on a limb. Once outstretched on that branch I jumped into the fire.

You cheered me on every step of the way.

 I will forever be grateful for that.

Sight

 

The stats climbed as I started to delve into touchy topics like in Stuck On Repeat.

Don’t let the page “Likes” fool you, this post got quite a few views across the internet. My Twitter stats reflect that this post made over 1,000 impressions in less than a day.

Even with all that, your favorite post that month was Sleepy Sundays: Strange Hope.

That new variation of an old design brought some more attention to my artwork than ever before. It started to shock me, really. It brought in a lot of art lovers and new followers and readers to the site. By the end of the month, we even had some celebrity readers and fans in the music industry.

I felt like I was in some strange dream.

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April

We spread acceptance.

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My dear friend and Stories family member Matticus shared an important discussion topic over at Stories and we shared it here as well. You can read that post here~> in the end, it’s just an opinion

There was a photo journal of a trip to NY and you all loved it. Those were among some of the most popular posts that month.

Soon after the stats jumped even more.

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This was only mirrored in other posts throughout the months. We shared more at Stories and I passed it on here. Now it was just a matter of waiting for our friend to return home and join the rest of her friends.

New readers poured in all finding me through common interests. I started to make detailed reports combining the Statistics here with the CardCastles Twitter and Google Analytics.  The results gave me insight on what people came here for and how to plan for the future of things here.

Then some hurtles started to show themselves, and it was almost like something could be felt in the air.
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May

Then it all went silent.

I lit a candle for the second time to pay respect to a friend.

We had lost somebody dear to us, and for a while, it all didn’t make sense.

Heart Light

Friends along with the Stories team mourned this loss and gathered together.

We wore blue to stand with our friend in some form. I wrote about my own experience the day of the funeral in Sleepy Sundays: Old Friend. The piece remains one of the most complemented renderings this year. 

I lent my artwork over to Stories so Matticus could vent his feelings of grief. He was the mouthpiece for the rest of us that only echoed his feelings. 

Then something happened through that grief.

Love

A family was solidified. A community rallied around that family, and they slowly lifted us up.
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June

The request for this piece set into motion the beginning of self-employment. My first steps out on my own as an artist, free from any former companies. You can read the story behind that here. ~> Paint On the Walls

Kiss the Sun From that point I was fully and officially out on my own with this art business. This freelance thing has been uphill (and stressful, but mostly uphill) ever since.
I started getting more interest and emails asking about features and guests, so we set plans in motion for July.

We Regrouped & Recouped and then we Disconnected with a little help from Estelle. 

It was a heavy month, but we went out on a high note. 

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July

This month, although seeming promising from June’s point of view, managed to deal another blow.

Despite the tone, The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ got the most comments this year.

After processing that upset, we paved the way for better times.

Better times arrived.
We became a legit business. Now we can toss around business cards and stuff. 

Har har.

~~~~~

We Celebrated 3 Years!

We set plans.

We Broke Records!

My Creepy Reads and Local Legends post featuring author J.P. Pollack and his book Death On the Devil’s Teeth flooded CardCastles with the most views ever in one day and most views in under 30 minutes. 

It still holds the top spot. 

I learned a valuable lessons in planning when the CardCastles Artist Spotlight bombed.

We Moved On

…and may have broken the internet while we welcomed home a friend.

I shocked all of you when I lifted the veil for the very first time over at Stories in To Paint a Picture. I’m just sorry it was under those circumstances, but I regret nothing.

July was like some erratic squirrel, but in hindsight, I grew tremendously from it. 

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August

Roadside garnered quite a bit of positive attention.

We planned again in the Summer’s End Approaches and you liked it. This was among the Top 15 viewed this year.

And this one…We Could Be Heroes

and then some more bad news.

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September

It started with bad news, and me writing this~>Dare to Dream: A Tribute to Wes Craven

and the idea for 31 Nightmares was born.

It was planned for the entire month.

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October

The 31 Nightmares Series

31 Nightmares
#31 Nightmares Series
Myself and guests shared horror-inspired works in honor of film legend, Wes Craven.

 

New York Comic Con

I took a trip to see friends and ended up with one of the greatest experiences of a lifetime. This group of buddies that have become some strange family, all knew each other for close to five years. There’s a few crazy stories how we all got to know one another and they all involve gaming, of which we are avid fans.

 The stars must have aligned because the one year I was able to go, the developers of one of our favorite games were hosting a panel.

The entire time blew my mind. Warframe liked our tweets about it too!

October was liberating and therapeutic any many ways. 31 Nightmares brought in so many new people I’m planning on resurrecting it next year. Here’s how crazy it went with numbers:CardCastles Twitter Stats Oct 2015

October yielded 11.7 thousand impressions. I’d say we left quite a mark!

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November

Out of nowhere I started getting requests for my services. Book illustration, logo design, book covers, animation, intro videos, website design, you name it. I was so excited and overwhelmed by it all I may have said yes to too many things.

This was all, however, a blessing in disguise. It’s teaching me to plan better & manage anxiety.
I got to joke around with one of the stars of one of my favorite shows. 

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December

 The year-end posts I made on social media said it all. You all make this place what it is. 

There is so much left out of these highlights & I could go on for days. Just know that you all made this a special year of healing & change for me.

Thank you deeply for reading, sharing, viewing, and staying with me through such a rough & trying (but triumphant) year!

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See you next year! 

 

Dare to Dream: A Tribute to Wes Craven

“Who is your favorite famous person?”

It is a question many teachers ask around the first month of school in an attempt to get to know you. I was in first grade when that question got thrown my way. The other kids all said names I heard on the TV every day, but didn’t care much about. Shyness that sometimes consumed me started to creep up. It was my turn.

“Wes Craven,” I said. All the kids laughed and whispered things about me. I knew it wasn’t the popular answer, but I didn’t care. It was the truth. None of the other kids knew who he was, but I certainly did. I could’ve written a book about him already. At a time in my life when I felt so very alone, he was my hero.

Nightmare on Elm Street was the first horror movie I had ever seen. Right then and there, a lifelong horror fan was born. I became fascinated with mostly everything the genre had to offer. At five years old, I read, researched, watched, and learned. (Yes, I was a strange kid, you need not remind me.) My knowledge on film production, direction, writing, and special effects began to grow. 

Many people didn’t and still don’t know Wes was also a gifted writer. When I first heard him speak about it, I soaked up everything he had to say.

A seed was planted. I realized I wanted to do something in this field. Every time Wes came out with a new movie, from that point on, I would almost “take notes”, because I recognized him as a brilliant man with a special talent for what makes us scared. I remember an interview he gave a while back where he said he would write down his dreams, especially the bad ones. The next day I started keeping a “Dream Journal” complete with illustrations.

The list of influences he’s had on my work is extensive and detailed. I could go on for days about the genius of this man.

So I will.

Throughout the month of October I will be paying tribute to Wes by creating one horror-inspired something every day up to (and including) Halloween. The horror art series I was already planning for October will be worked into this. It will be titled: 31 Nightmares.

Some of my favorite Wes projects:

  • Nightmare on Elm Street
  • The People Under the Stairs
  • The Last House on the Left
  • Nightmare on Elm Street 4
  • Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
  • Scream
  • Scream 2
  • Cursed
  • Red Eye
  • …and just about every interview or documentary he was ever involved in. He is very interesting to just sit back and listen to. 

Wes Craven’s full filmography can be found here: Full Filmography and Credits

 

In Loving Memory of Wes Craven
Photo of Wes from his official Twitter page. Collage by Daydreams.
 
 

To all of my horror fans out there reading this, I’m there with you. This one hurts. We lost the Godfather of Horror, but I have no doubt, a lot of us will make him proud.

Lost

Join us at STMND and send some #RawrLove to one of our Stories contributors, Alicia.

Stories that Must Not Die

The following is the second submission from one of Rara’s friends on the inside. After Alicia’s initial post,a story about loss and a corresponding poem – the Stories team printed the comments that were left and mailed them to her.

Alicia responds with the following:

“Thank you so much for posting my story and poem and also sending me the comments that people sent – it touched my heart in such a deep way. I’ve never had so many people care. It means the world to me that people could relate to me and take from my strength. I’m glad that I could help.”

Lost

Alone in this dark

place, I feel so

incomplete, Lost

in this Image,

I could no longer

See, longing for

that day when

I could finally

fill complete.

Any comments you leave below will be printed and mailed to her once again. Please note…

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Sleepy Sundays: I’ll Light a Candle for You (Part 2)

Heart Light Heart Light

This is a “card castle” in its truest form. If you’re not sure what I mean, perhaps you should read how CardCastles got its name. I purposely left this image untouched, grainy, and blurry because it reflects how I feel about all of this right now, yet it is still a striking visual that conveys the message. This will probably be one of my most somber Sleepy Sundays posts to date.


It is with much sadness and a dreadfully heavy heart, I relay this message here. A dear friend to so many of us has passed on. For those of you that know of Stories That Must Not Die, our team family there now has a hole in it. It’s a considerable space that will never be replaced. We are all still in shock and trying to make sense of it, but more importantly – another friend is in need.

I’d like to take this time out to pause from my normal storytelling and ask all of you reading that know Rara, please shower her with your love and support. Even if you don’t know her, and you’re a friend of mine – consider writing a short letter of condolence. Let her know she is loved and people are thinking about her.

Rara’s Mailing Address:

Radhika Jaini WF0124
CIW LA 249 UP
16756 Chino-Corona Road
Corona, CA  92880

I’ve aligned this remembrance today with a tribute I did for my mother in 2013 titled: I’ll Light a Candle for You

It seemed all too appropriate for this time coinciding with Mother’s Day. Like these two dedications suggest, please consider lighting a candle for Dave today as well.

This is my favorite picture of Rara and Dave. Image courtesy of The Queen Creative.

This Sleepy Sundays post is dedicated to the monumentally talented, Grayson Queen and my mom.