Friend/ship

This is funny.

A certain website I needed to access for an important document had been giving me a consistent error message to close out my browser every single time I input my password. No matter what I did, I encountered the same message.

I couldn’t figure out what the problem could possibly be, so I called the company tech support number. I wasn’t angry or frustrated; it seemed like this could be easily solved if I took a deep breath and asked for help.

An hour later, I have a new friend.

She instructed me to close out my ENTIRE browser, not simply the tab that was open to her website.

I said, “Oh my goodness, not that! All those tabs? That’s going to ruin my life!”

She started laughing and told me I made her day, and then I started laughing, and that in turn opened up a conversation about life, the weather (she’s on the east coast), and our kids and grandkids. We shared that each of our moms had lived with us and we both took care of them while they were sick up until they died, and what a blessing it was to have been able to give back some love and kindness.

She asked me why I was laughing about the tech issue instead of getting angry and yelling at her (which is the emotional state she usually encounters) and I explained to her that in the grand scheme of life, this seemed to be a minor blip on the screen of my universe.

She told me she had been depressed and I cheered her up and that in turn made me happy.

Oh, and she solved my access problem so I was able to get into the account and acquire the info I needed.

If I hadn’t had a problem, if I hadn’t made the call, I wouldn’t have connected with a beautiful soul three thousand miles away, and I wouldn’t have been able to shine a light and a laugh into her darkness. In my opinion, this was a win-win scenario.

Photo by Lucas Pezeta on Pexels.com

An outstretched hand.

Friend/ship.

Where I Am: At a Loss for Words

When I can’t seem to locate my own words to express how I feel, I turn to Mary Oliver.
She speaks for me, to me, through me.

Sleeping in the Forest

I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.–Mary Oliver

Photo by Mohan Reddy Atalu on Pexels.com

“I am wonderful.”

Here’s another example of an empowered child, as told to me by my DIL (daughter-in-law).

Two years ago on the first day of preschool (I was there but didn’t witness it personally), T’s friend was holding her mom’s hand and as they walked up to the door, she stopped, threw back her shoulders and declared, “I am wonderful” and walked inside to face the world.

Apparently, no one could figure out exactly where the phrase came from, as mom said she didn’t recall saying it, but we all agreed THAT is the level of self-confidence we should strive for.

We could put that on our bathroom mirror to see every morning as a daily affirmation, our anthem. We are wonderful warriors.

Take a deep breath, hold your head high and say,

I AM WONDERFUL

Wonder full. Full of wonder.

Wonder: a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.

We could hope for nothing less than to be full of wonder: tending to excite wonder; surprising, extraordinary.

It makes waking up every day just a little happier to be full of wonder as opposed to full of anhedonia; reduced motivation, unable to experience joy in any of the things one had previously found fulfilling. In the DSM-5, anhedonia is a component of depressive disorders, substance-related disorders, psychotic disorders, and personality disorders, where it is defined by either a reduced ability to experience pleasure, or a diminished interest in engaging in pleasurable activities.

It’s like living in a world that’s shades of gray as opposed to one that’s full of color.

Colorful/wonderful.

Thoughts about Blogging

(An alternate title could be “Please scream inside your heart” like the signage at that theme park in Japan meant to discourage screaming on rollercoasters and reduce the spread of Covid-19.)

I’ve blogged since the summer of 2012. On one sunny day in June, my DIL told me I was really funny and I should write things down and begin to blog.

I knew nothing about blogs; never even read one, so she took the reins and opened a WordPress account for me.

That was eight years ago, as I was reminded by my WP anniversary.

At its heyday in 2014, my little blog averaged around 7,500 visits a month. For some unknown reason, my highest read posts were recipes.

After attending a BlogHer convention, I was excited and energized, ready to monetize, to grow and expand my brand and my voice.

I’ve always been a writer, especially about things that cause me to wax passionately: saving wolves, rescuing abused animals, finding humor in life from my own lens; researching and meeting and learning about all kinds of people (from Al Gore to His Holiness the Dalai Lama), reviewing cool products, and most of all, I LOVED responding to readers and comments from all over the world.

I still do. I respect and appreciate your time and the effort to reach out to a virtual stranger and engage in conversation.

Now I notice that my posts only have a handful of likes and some none at all.

My overall followers from all platforms is around 3500.

Did I lose my enthusiasm?

Nope.

I know why, I DO, but I still can’t talk about what happened except to say that if you read between the lines on certain posts, you might catch a glimpse of infinite profound sadness, more death than death because I’m still alive and breathing.

The walking dead. An episode of the Twilight Zone in real life. A literal black hole.

As I’m slowly getting back into the rhythm and comfort of writing, finding my voice again, I’d like you to know that I appreciate everyone who has stayed faithful to my blog and continues to read my words, even the ones between the lines.

Much love. Seriously. ‘Cos if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s what love is. And what it is not. On any planet. Stars might be crazy, but I’m not, so I’ll continue to scream inside my heart. And my head. In a princessy way, of course.

 

Three Little Birds

This is one of my absolute favorite Bob Marley tunes, check out the video below.

“Don’t worry about a thing, ‘cos every little thing’s gonna be all right.”

You know how sometimes you hear a song that’s the perfect song for how you’re feeling, and whether it’s a coincidence or a sign or a message, you feel its uplifting energy? That’s this one.

This is my mantra for today: “Don’t worry about a thing, ‘cos every little thing’s gonna be all right.”

And then I took my camera outside to see what beauty nature could inspire me to feel gratitude and peace and this lovely little brown bird followed me around for a while.

“This is my message to you.”

Got it. Message received loud and clear. Breathe.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

sparrow1

sparrow3sparrow2

 

 

Rain and sun, wet and dry, shadow and light

The opposite of rain is sun. It rained all week here in SoCal, heavily at times. We received an official total of 6.20 inches of rain. That’s a LOT of rain for a mostly desert climate.

At times, it seemed as if it would never end. That’s the way a lot of things feel. Sometimes, you can endure so much pain and sadness that it seems as if it will never go away, that you’ll never be happy again.

I think it’s like going through a tunnel. When you enter, the light becomes dark and you are so immersed in it that everywhere you look, everywhere you turn–is darkness. It’s so dark you can’t even see your hand in front of your face. Every once in a while, someone might light a candle and you feel a momentary sharp stabbing pain to remind you of what it used to be like, but then the flame’s snuffed out and you’re thrust back into complete and total darkness. Which way is the exit? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel or will I simply stay here in limbo, in pitch-black inky hopeless melancholy? What’s the point of anything?

That was a heavy detour; my mind devolved and digressed and rambled through a rabbit hole of despondency. So there’s that familiar dark night of the soul too, that black spiraling tunnel of anguish.

Maybe I hit replay too many times on Kesha’s Praying. (see link below).

All I really set out to do with this post was share some pics of how much rain we had and how flooded my gardens were, in contrast to one day later, when we enjoyed a shiny sunny blue sky.

When author Alex Banayan interviewed Maya Angelou, it is alleged that she told him to write this sentence on his notepad and to never forget it. “Every storm runs out of rain.”

I hope so. I really do.

Here ya go:

Thursday’s rain…my arroyo seco, dry river bed, wasn’t so dry anymore!

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Saturday’s sun and the birds are singing:

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Kesha Praying

There is Before and there is After

beforeafterboxHave you ever experienced an event so traumatic that inevitably forevermore all things will be mentally placed in two boxes labeled Before and After?

Like how people always remember where they were on September 11, 2001, or where they were when Kennedy was shot, or when the first man walked on the moon. Or when your mom died, things like that…you know where you were, how old you were, even what you were wearing or what you were doing. These moments are indelibly stamped in your heart and brain as well as the accompanying emotions.

I have my own personal tragic date of profound sorrow that will forever mark my future. There was happiness BEFORE: sadness and confusion AFTER.

My life is split in two now. What was will never be again as I dwell in a mostly perpetual state of grief, of dysphoria, of purgatory, of anhedonia.

That’s not to say there aren’t moments of brightness, moments that bring a smile to my face and lift my heart a little, but then I see a certain date or I remember a certain event and I mentally place it in its appropriate container: BEFORE or AFTER. I say to myself, oh yeah, that was before. Now we dwell in the after box.

If I see a story or read an article about, for example, Yellowstone, that memory goes in the  before box. Ironing perfumed sheets for a homecoming or walking to the beach, Sunday morning buckwheat pancakes–or any one of the thousands of sweet daily memories since 1991–all BEFORE. Don’t get me started going down THAT road. There are actually about half a dozen dates that signify different aspects of after-and those recollections are even more painful to tidy up and allocate to their designated container.

BEFOREANDAFTERBEFOREANDAFTER. I do it automatically now.

For me, it signals panic attack time. I never experienced a panic attack BEFORE–now I know the triggers and force myself to use the tools I went to therapy to learn so I don’t once again spiral into a paralyzing dissociation with reality.

There is so much that is before. Why wasn’t I able to foretell the future? If I had only known. But I didn’t know, I couldn’t have known,  and the abject shock of it all still colors my waking hours–and my sleep.

ravenIn my case, every single day I mourn the death of someone who’s still very much alive.

Unless you’ve walked this same journey, you might not  understand how I can grieve for someone who still breathes and eats and sleeps. Although they aren’t clinically deceased, they are gone, and it feels like a true death in every sense of the word.

And now for me, I will forevermore be tormented by BEFORE and AFTER.

Image may contain: possible text that says 'One of the hardest things you will ever have to do my dear is grieve the loss of a person who is still alive. unknown'

 

What does Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, and depression have in common?

I was going to dip my toe into the world of writing from my gut, shining a light into my tortured personal journey as I stumble through the dark–I was GOING TO DO THAT.

But instead of spiraling down into that sad place, I grabbed my keys and drove into the village, deciding what I really needed was some therapy; retail therapy. Always the joker, the self deprecator; that’s me!

After a very rainy day yesterday, today was warm and fresh and shiny.

As soon as I walked into one of my favorite consignment shops, I spied a box of scarves and hats thrown haphazardly on each other like a pile of puppies. My eyes were drawn to a familiar brown and tan monogram on a scarf. I thought to myself, “it can’t possibly be authentic, but let’s take a closer look.” I picked it up. Hmmm, it sort of felt like silk. I checked the price tag. $12.00. TWELVE DOLLARS? It can’t be a real Louis Vuitton. Or could it?

I asked the salesperson, “Has this been authenticated?” She told me the owner didn’t think it was real so it wasn’t priced as a genuine designer. YES I WILL HAVE THIS, I told myself. Just then, my bad mood cleared up. I was firing on all cylinders.

One of my hidden talents is the ability to sniff out authenticity. Too bad that talent doesn’t extend to people, but that’s another story.

When I got home, I examined it more closely. The monogram was accurate, it was beautifully sewn, and I found a hidden tag that confirmed my suspicions- 100% soie Made in France. Yup, deffo genuine LV. SCORE!!!!!!

I also tried on an amazing St. John’s knit dress that I really really wanted, but even at resale prices, it was a bit too expensive, so I reluctantly put it back.

As I was meandering through the aisles, I spied a wall display. Draped over the shoulder of a red sweater was an oversized black and white houndstooth scarf. My eagle eye spied the logo in the corner: DIOR. Hold on, girl. Acting like it’s not a big deal so that no one else would want it…I grabbed it off the hanger–the original sales tag was still attached. It was 100% cashmere Christian Dior!!! And it was $20.00. TWENTY DOLLARS! How could I say no? This beautiful shawl-like wrap needed to be rescued. By me.

Instead of continuing to dwell on the things that weigh down my heart, these little treasures helped to cheer me up–perhaps merely a superficial bandage, but sometimes that’s all it takes to shake me out of a despondent mood. At least for a little while. Until next time.

(Another) conversation with a human: “Who Misses You?”

Chatting at the table after a yummy and healthy dinner of salad from the garden, veggie kale tofu pie, and blueberry cobbler… my little guy said, “I missed you, Grandma.”

“I missed you too, Theo-saurus”

“That’s not my name. I’m a dimedatron.”

“Ok. I missed you too, Mr. Dimedatron.

“I missed you so much, Grandma. All the time.”

After another bite of blueberry cobbler,

“Why do you go away? I want you here forever and ever!”

“But I go home because that’s where my house is. I come to visit you and Mommy and Daddy and then I go home. But I’m here now, right?”

{Thinking for a minute. Pondering…}

“Grandma?”

“Yes, Mr. Dimedatron?”

“When you’re here at Theo’s house, who misses you from your house?”

Awkward silence around the dinner table. We all looked at each other.

What do I say? The sad truth is that no one misses me. No one at all.

So I replied…

“The coyote and the bunnies and the birds and the lizards miss me very much.”

And that satisfied him. For now. He has more compassion and empathy in his little three-year-old body than most adults.

No one misses me when I go away.

Harsh tragic truth.

A totally full moon post.

Glass half full.

“To sleep: perchance to dream”…

Of course this is Shakespeare:

HAMLET:
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub

Yeah, there’s the rub, that’s for sure.

I used to love to sleep. Sleep came so easily for me. Almost as soon as my head hit the pillow, I could count backwards 5-4-3-2-1 and be asleep. Just like that, *snapping my fingers*. I could fall asleep anywhere. I took blissful, restful sleep for granted.

Back then, my dreams were mostly of my beloved dogs and cats that had crossed the Rainbow Bridge, sometimes bringing happy messages back to me. Or every so often, I’d have a prophetic dream about my son but never really a nightmare.

Last night was a big deal for me.

April 1, 2019 marks the first night I slept an entire night without waking up once in dread, in a cold sweat, without my heart beating a million beats per second ready to jump out of my chest, without the gasp of that split second between sleep/awake and remembering that my daytime reality IS the nightmare, that there really IS hell on earth, and I am living proof.

When I first woke up this morning, it took a moment for me to perceive that it wasn’t 3am, that the earliest of early morning birds had started to sing and there was a faint hint of dawn lightening the sky.

There was no swirling of dreams that made waking up a death unto itself. A shard of glass to slice at my heart and torment me, poking at me with each inhale and exhale for the rest of the day.

There was peace. OMG, so much peace.

I had to help my brain process this miracle of healing, a painfully slow process of realization that FOR THE FIRST TIME, I had slept unfettered by the bondage of painful memories that morphed into night terrors so incredibly lucid that they haunted me during the day.  Sleep was walking into a dark tunnel with not the slightest glimmer of light at the end of it. Depressing, huh?

I couldn’t endure another dream of a gigantic mottled black plague-infected rat with oozing sores climbing in my bed to curl up next to me, no more continuation of the abject panic that permeated my waking life.

No more dreams that weren’t even really dreams, simply the continuing of the day’s macabre horrors.

For more than three years, thirty-six months, 1,095 days, 26,280 hours, and 1,576,800 minutes, I couldn’t sleep, and I’d cry out to no one into the silence of the night to please wake me up from this nightmare, please take me out of my misery; only to realize that there was no respite for me.

“No sleep for you!” said the sleep Nazi (an homage to Seinfeld’s soup Nazi.)

The nightmare WAS the reality.

The dark soul of the night became the abject despair of the day.

There is the saying “follow your dreams” but if I had followed those dreams, I would have ended up in a vortex of Sartre’s No Exit. 

I was in a neverending episode of the Twilight Zone, caught in a purgatory that I could never have prepared myself to endure. Drowning.

I tried everything: meditation, EFT, mantras, deep breathing exercises to control my out of control hyperventilation /tachypnea, conscious mindfulness, and lessons in neural plascticity to nurse my wounded brain. One of the best pain relievers was and is listening to raw binaural beats with headphones. Some nights, that was the only way I could even attempt sleep.

I dreaded going to sleep, the actual sleep, and the waking up from an unhappy sleep.

The simple tortuous action of closing my eyes created a canvas where I’d be subjected to an endless loop of conversations, images, mirages spanning more than twenty years.

I wished for a lobotomy, to be in a coma, to erase all that was etched in my conscious and subconscious.

Through pain and fear and sadness, I discovered that the only cure is radical acceptance. I couldn’t run away from it. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Wherever you go, there you are.

I had to stand my ground and surrender to the pain.
To love it, honor it, respect it, and learn from it.

Now. Right now. I hear a hawk, I hear a scrub jay, I hear the angry chattering of a nesting Bell’s Vireo. Off in the distance, I hear a train. I hear an airplane. I hear a symphony of wind chimes. I see blue sky, I see lush green grass that’s been lovingly tended, I feel a gentle breeze lifting a swarm of Painted Lady butterflies from the yellow marguerite daisy bushes to settle for a moment on the Pride of Madeira. All the rain we had this season birthed an incredible floral display.

Everything around me seems to be conspiring to show me that there’s still beauty after a storm, that there’s happiness to be discovered if you look and listen.

IMG_7039Oh and I see a bunny. Always a bunny.

My heart is wounded and scarred; I’ve been through a war zone,

I had no weapons to fight the enemy that raped and pillaged my life and my innocence. And my heart.

I’m collateral damage,

I’m eternally sad.

But I’m alive, and that’s something to be grateful for.

And…for the very first time in a long time, I slept an entire night and woke up in serenity and peace.

(But that peace wouldn’t last, as I soon learned…)