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Author Topic: Hello from the Blue Ridge Mountains!  (Read 440 times)

ZukieRen

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Hello from the Blue Ridge Mountains!
« on: September 30, 2018, 09:28:00 AM »

Hello All! I realized that posting my intro here might be easier and more accessable than uploading a .doc. Also, that .doc has typos, heh.

My name is Renee Olson.  I'm an artist and adventurer.   It hasn't always been the name I go by (it's my middle name), but that's the name I've chosen now, and my life has been by many measures, tortured.   I do not say this for sympathy, not directly, and not for me.  I say this now, because like my name, I am choosing something different.   I'm choosing to live a life with more purpose. 

I was once an outstanding art teacher in Title 1 schools, with accolades and awards for both my studio work and my work aiding in creating creative solutions for teaching the core subjects and a leader in classroom management, I graduated cum laude from university... but now I can't even work retail.

The trauma's in my past, which extend from some of my earliest memories, up until a few years ago. I have severe, debilitating and complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Major Depression, and Anxiety disorders.   The symptoms of which manifest in many, many ways that impact my daily life:

It manifests in how it took me a full year to show another artist my portfolio, when I really want to use my art to express myself.
It manifests in how it kills me to not be able to be a social person on a normal basis, when I really crave social interaction.
It manifests in how I can't get myself to be able to complete commissions of any kind anymore when they are for other people.
It manifests in how any loud noises (gun fire (have a hard time going to the range with friends), dog bark, nail guns, loud music, loud games) can send me into an infinite loop of obsessive safety seeking behaviors, locking and re-locking doors.
It manifests in how on bad days I can't even get myself to just walk my dog or do anything that I used to do that would bring me joy.
It manifests in how just the thought of talking with someone who will be my boss in an interview is crippling to the point where I can't leave the house.
It manifests in how I feel like a total failure and validation of all the negative things said and done to me when I can't contribute to the house income (my husband reassures me this is not needed, but I feel it anyways)

I am in the process of seeking additional help/protections through disability, but the process is long -over a year now-  and extremely triggering, and does not look promising (they need doctor's notes, and I find it hard to build trust with more doctors than I already have.)

In March 2017, something awful and wonderful happened: a 40+ foot-tall healthy Red Oak pancaked my 2011 Jeep Wrangler.  I took great pride in this vehicle.  It saw me safely away from my abuser, saw me through nasty VA snowstorms to bring me to my husband, it got me to my adventures in Camping, hiking, and beach offroading.  My literal and metaphorical vehicle of escape was crushed under several tons of what would eventually become firewood.

I had pretty good insurance, and got a good payout, but had to use the money to pay off mounting debts left over from our divorces and buy a new car.   My husband's car was sold the previous October to help with those debts, so we really needed a vehicle and fast before the rental from the insurance company for the Jeep ran out.  I really wanted a 4x4 and needed something on the less-expensive side.  I saw the Suzuki Samurai and absolutely fell in love with it.   My husband was skeptical, but we went through with the purchase of our 3rd owner-1988 Samurai.

Fumes made their way into the cab as we drove it, the interior was carpeted, moldy, and had been the hiding place for stink bugs for who knows how long, it had difficulty getting up to 55 MPH, and made some really weird noises.

Here's the thing. I didn't know jack sh*t about cars.  But we needed it to run.  Winter would be here soon enough, and we needed the vehicle to get us out of our rural rental space. Shop work isn't cheap and was not something we could at the time (and currently) afford.

So, I started fixing her. Fixing her on my own.

And, I've been fixing her ever since. Very slowly, but fixing. I've had to overcome a lot of fear, societal gender norms, and asking for help in situations where I would be terrified to. Zukie still needs work to be a reliable vehicle at 30 years old, but I think I can do it, with help.  I've gotten pretty good at it too, probably something to do with my background in Art.

And in the process of fixing Zukie, I noticed something.  When I can get myself engaged in a project, especially something new or weird different art techniques, it's really healing for my psyche. Maybe it's that it's totally different than the world I had been abused in, maybe it's because I have to spend so much time thinking about all the rest of the stuff that my head can't think of anything else, but the work but when I'm there in that flow state my symptoms fall away.  And I noticed when I was bed-lineing the interior that got through an entire day without taking my at will med for panic attacks and anxiety (on a normal day, I find I have to take the max dose of 3).  And I felt GOOD.   Sweaty, but good.

Then it happened again when I installed a GM Alternator (and the car wouldn’t turn off, even without the key in the ignition)
Then it happened again when the clutch, speedo, and throttle wires all gave out at the same time. (And we were stuck in 1st too - and had to drive around town like that)...at the same time.
Then it happened again chasing down electrical problems (that was an odyssey - car kept turning off while we were driving with voltage spikes - it was a corrupted pig-tail wire)
Then it happened again when I put in new interior lights (I love my Dark-Side lights), new horn, fog lights..


I had no real money to work on things, but we saved, sold stuff on Craigslist and ebay, I found junk-yard materials, or retrofitted products to get the vehicle better and better.

The point I'm trying to make is that, PTSD sucks.  A lot of mine comes from Spousal Abuse (all kinds, financial, sexual, physical, emotional), and Neglect.  And it's not fair.  Not fair to me, not fair that society stigmatizes or just flat out ignores people with PTSD.  Not fair that I have to beg from people on the internet in order to get relief from my symptoms.   

So, I have the beginnings of a plan. I am wanting to start a crowdfunding for helping to continue these projects.  To start a video series about my experiences with PTSD and how 'doing something I've never done before' helps me.  I want to take that money as seed capital to do some more extensive projects on Zukie, and other things, and Ultimately, I want to help others too, as I have found speaking to veterans with PTSD, the effects on the brain and our daily lives is very similar, if not different at all.  I want to be able to support myself, raise awareness for a higher cause, and ultimately pay it forward in trying to make a change in how we as a society handle mental illness. 

Completing the unknown or things I have no mastery in breaks me away from 'safe' patterns my brain has made for me to survive what I've been through. Along with therapy and medication, these projects have helped me grow and become braver when I have to do the same with my 'living memories', to let them pass as just that... a memory.

So, I'll leave off here with one of my posts from my funding page.  Since I think it’s really telling for what Zuks Off Road.com is doing for me, and what you all mean to me:




Gratitude (8/28/2018)
One of the things I'm working on really hard is being grateful and not sorry. As in not saying something like, 'sorry that I put you through this' and instead saying, 'thank you for being there for me'. I've been making it a point every morning as a part of my morning routine to thank everyone who has donated to far. It takes me a while, cause I cry through like all of them, but being grateful instead of sorry really helps me change my mindset for the day.

Just like I keep a journal of all the things I want to accomplish for the day, topped off with gratitude. This is so the negative voice in my head can't tell me that I'm lazy and did nothing today, or yesterday, or ever. Because, that's a lie, and is an echo of the abuse. I have like 3 of these journals completely full. I need solid facts as a part of the way my brain works, and it's been really helpful.

Love you guys.

Now some pictures of Zukie and some of the work I've do e myself :)


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The PHLOOP

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Re: Hello from the Blue Ridge Mountains!
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2018, 10:23:59 AM »

Welcome to the ZORum Ren.
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ZukieRen

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Re: Hello from the Blue Ridge Mountains!
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2018, 03:49:39 PM »

Thank you, PHLOOP :)
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mkyhmltn

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Re: Hello from the Blue Ridge Mountains!
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2018, 09:07:38 PM »

Welcome aboard, glad to have you here.
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Still Zukin

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Re: Hello from the Blue Ridge Mountains!
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2018, 02:52:24 AM »

Welcome and that is a nice looking rig.
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ZukieRen

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Re: Hello from the Blue Ridge Mountains!
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2018, 11:40:00 AM »

Thanks everyone. She hasn't always looked this nice, but I hope Zukie can run and crawl as nice as she looks soon, heh. She deserves it, after what her previous owners have done to her, haha.
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isots

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Re: Hello from the Blue Ridge Mountains!
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2018, 08:06:40 AM »

What is that Jeep mat doing in the back? Was it salvaged from the Jeep? Nice rig.
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ZukieRen

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Re: Hello from the Blue Ridge Mountains!
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2018, 10:30:46 AM »

Yeah, I took my old Jeep's mats and some other stuff the insurance company wasn't going to miss before the tow truck took her away. RIP :( And thanks!
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ZukieRen

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Re: Hello from the Blue Ridge Mountains!
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2018, 10:40:43 AM »

My Jeep after we cleared some of the tree off of her. :( It was crazy. Not a great view ofthe damage exactly, but she's pancaked/ folded in half, frame and all. There are still indentations in our gravel driveway from being pressed like that.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2018, 10:46:14 AM by ZukieRen »
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gribble

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Re: Hello from the Blue Ridge Mountains!
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2018, 12:49:36 PM »

Before I moved to SD, I used to live in your neck of the woods.

Harrisonburg, VA (Broadway, VA, specifically)
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ZukieRen

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Re: Hello from the Blue Ridge Mountains!
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2018, 07:25:07 AM »

Ha, small world! I lived in Harrisonburg for a bit when I went to JMU. Do you have snow yet in SD? Heh :)
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gribble

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Re: Hello from the Blue Ridge Mountains!
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2018, 10:39:24 AM »

We got a couple inches the other day and some drizzle. This year has been very strange for weather. Usually it's dry and pretty hot during the summers, but we had a spring that lasted a long time, and summer was about one week. I believe we set a record for rain too, normally like 15" a year, this year, twice that.
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