Remembering Bandit

I love these photos of Bandit because as sweet as she looks, this girl took absolutely no shit from anyone.

One minute she would allow herself to be stroked and loved and her long silky fur brushed, and seemingly for no reason at all, except maybe to herself in her weird kitty brain, she’d lash out and inflict serious damage with her teeth or claws.

Late in life, Bandit was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and chronic renal failure. With the help of a great vet, we did all we could to extend her quality of life as long as possible, but on July 26, 2010, at the age of thirteen, there was no denying that her journey as my spiritual kitty daughter had come to an end. The doc came over and assisted her transition over the Rainbow Bridge.

Bandit is the one I still dream about; freaky lucid dreams as if she’s still here with me.

Rest in peace, my furry little soulmate.

Melancholy

There will always be a hole in my heart for all my loved and departed souls.

I had a dream about my Border Collie and I thought of “melon collie”, our joke because Victor loved to eat almost anything including cantaloupe and watermelon, and then I saw this.

Sometimes this is exactly how I feel; a void left by grief, sitting on a bench, adrift in sadness.

I’m updating this post to include some research into this sculpture because I feel it’s relevant.

Albert Gyorgy felt intense sadness and isolation with the loss of his wife and went on to create this beautiful piece of artwork as a way to cope.

This hole represents the massive void that we all feel when we lose someone dear to us, and many people have expressed their appreciation for this sculpture for it portraying the exact emotions they feel, but perhaps haven’t been able to quite put into words.

Curated from: https://www.penwellgabeltopeka.com/Blog/6245/Melancoliesculpture

Toska: Russian Despair

Russia is front and center in the news these days; I wish men all around the world would stop using violence and bullying to solve their personal issues.

Toska is a Russian word roughly translated as sadness, despair, melancholia, lugubriousness (lugubrious is one of my favorite words); also a dull ache of the the soul, a soul pining, spiritual anguish.

One of my grandfathers was born in Russia and maybe that’s why that emotion resonated with me.

According to Vladimir Nabokov ,“No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause.”

I wonder if it’s similar to anhedonia, the inability to feel pleasure, a common symptom of depression.

I found a spa, restaurant, and other businesses named Toska and wonder if the owners realize that they branded their business with a word that translates to despair…not sure if that’s the message they wish to convey.

Photo by Lucas Pezeta on Pexels.com

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

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…)

 

Kesha: Poet and Visionary

It’s SUPER HOT today with a fierce Santa Ana sort of heat where every breath is so tortuous you can feel it bone deep, so I’m drinking tons of water (really), working on a few indoor projects, and listening to music.

Since I never really grew up or adulted successfully, I used to sing along with Ke$ha’s TikTok  or Your Love is My Drug and I Kissed a Girl with Katy Perry–I know, I know, can you imagine how embarrassing it was to be that grown up professorial child of mine as a captive audience on the way home from college when I picked him up from the airport?

Gotta vision of me singing?  Love these lyrics: “Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack–Popo shut us down” lol…

Tee hee. Oh well, like I told him a few dozen times, one of us had to grow up, and he was IT!

Somewhere along the way while I stayed in this perpetual state of adolescence–immobile, stuck in amber like a 40 million-year-old fly…Ke$ha became Kesha and grew up.

This song.

These words.

This real anguish.

Listen hard. Feel her.

I get it. Oh yes, I get it. Way too much. Way too real for this fantasy-dwelling-timid-forest-creature-rose-colored-glasses wearing grandma. Maybe there’s hope for me and one day I’ll grow up too.

Nah. That ain’t never gonna happen.

Check out these lyrics. Poetry and pure angst. Beautifully painful. Painfully beautiful.

Praying
“Am I dead? Or is this one of those dreams? Those horrible dreams that seem like they last forever? If I am alive, why? Why? If there is a God or whatever, something, somewhere, why have I been abandoned by everyone and everything I’ve ever known? I’ve ever loved? Stranded. What is the lesson? What is the point? God, give me a sign, or I have to give up. I can’t do this anymore. Please just let me die. Being alive hurts too much.”

Well, you almost had me fooled
Told me that I was nothing without you
Oh, and after everything you’ve done
I can thank you for how strong I have become

‘Cause you brought the flames and you put me through hell
I had to learn how to fight for myself
And we both know all the truth I could tell
I’ll just say this is I wish you farewell

I hope you’re somewhere praying, praying
I hope your soul is changing, changing
I hope you find your peace
Falling on your knees, praying

I’m proud of who I am
No more monsters, I can breathe again
And you said that I was done
Well, you were wrong and now the best is yet to come

‘Cause I can make it on my own
And I don’t need you, I found a strength I’ve never known
I’ve been thrown out, I’ve been burned ([Live version:] I’ll bring thunder, I’ll bring rain)
When I’m finished, they won’t even know your name

You brought the flames and you put me through hell
I had to learn how to fight for myself
And we both know all the truth I could tell
I’ll just say this is I wish you farewell

I hope you’re somewhere praying, praying
I hope your soul is changing, changing
I hope you find your peace
Falling on your knees, praying

Oh, sometimes, I pray for you at night
Oh, someday, maybe you’ll see the light
Oh, some say, in life you gonna get what you give
But some things, only God can forgive

I hope you’re somewhere praying, praying
I hope your soul is changing, changing
I hope you find your peace
Falling on your knees, praying

 

Death. SO VERY BIG.

 


Before I was Princess Rosebud and Rowdy Rosie, I was a little girl who loved to dance in pink tutus and satin toe shoes.

A sweet and innocent little girl who was very gentle and sorta clueless about life.

Who loved animals (especially wolves and coyotes and foxes and mountain lions and bobcats) but all animals really.

Who never had to face life’s seriously sucky tribulations, cos life was pretty good most of the time.

Especially when there were seashells to pick off a sandy beach. Or someone thought about me and brought home a handful of seashells from one of their vacations.

Seashells make me happy. Butterflies make me happy, too, but that’s a different story.

This is about death. DEATH. Not a metamorphosis.

D.E.A.T.H.

Death is pretty final in a lot of ways. I mean in this plane, on this Earth, when someone dies, stops breathing, heart stops beating…well, that’s pretty final.

Why do some deaths hit us harder than others?

Randomly searching for something on the internet, I discovered that a friend and business associate I hadn’t seen in a long time had died of cancer five months ago, right around my birthday.

I didn’t know. No one told me. How did this happen, that I didn’t know?

The death and the not knowing shocked me, rocked me to my core. I was sobbing. Not him, I thought. Not him. Good men like that should live to be one-hundred-years at least.

(I could tell you how it happened that I didn’t know, I could elucidate, fill you in on all the deets, but then the story would be all about me and not a way, however small, to honor this fine, fine man.)

I heard him say this one thing a thousand times, “Hey guys, here’s just another rusty brain idea I’d like to run by you.”

He was one of those true-blue, honorable, faithful, simply noble, ethical, principled, reliable, honest, trustworthy, dependable, SALT OF THE EARTH men.

They don’t make them like that any more. Trust me on that. It’s really so simple, when you think about it. Not a difficult way to live one’s life if you know what’s really important.

All men (and women) should aspire to conduct their lives to that standard. A decent man with character and a deep commitment to his wife and family.

A never-give-up kind of man. The very definition of what a man should be.

If you needed anything, Steve was there. Especially if there was food involved. Oh yes, Steve loved to eat, that’s for sure.

I sent his wife a letter expressing my sorrow for her loss and apologized for not knowing and not attending his memorial service.

She wrote back almost immediately.

True to form, he never told anyone of his battle with cancer. Thinking back, I remember he was always showing up with bandages all over his face and head from skin cancer surgeries, but he brushed aside all questions about his health. The cancer spread and though it was quite painful, he never complained.

One day he collapsed and died in his wife’s arms, the only place that was ever really home to him.

I honor you, Steve, and I will miss you forever. More than you could know. This is a big loss, a big death, and my heart goes out to your lovely family.

sunset8

 

The Beauty and Healing of the Shamanic Experience

According to Awakening to the Spirit World by Sandra Ingerman and Hank Wesselman, “Shamanism is the first spiritual practice of humankind and dates back tens of thousands of years. The fact that this spiritual practice of working in relationship and in partnership with the helping spirits is being widely used today speaks to the potency of the work.”

Shamanism is a practice that involves a practitioner who reaches altered states of consciousness in order to perceive and interact with a spirit world and channel these transcendental energies into this world.

Hold on a sec…yes, you’re on the right blog, I’m still Princess Rosebud, still Enchanted Seashells haha, just doing a little ENCHANTED exploration with the spirit world in addition to gluing seashells to any available surface. With a nature. land, and animal connection, how could it be anything but good, right?

Let me clarify…I’m not a shaman. Did you think I was? Nope, but I met an amazing woman who is a shamanic practitioner,and I’d like to share her story and my experience with you.

I met Carmen in January. I had undergone an emotional and total body 10.0 earthquake, a tsunami of pain that ruled my life so unbearably for a couple of months until I was so devastated that I was literally unable to function (I’ll tell you all about it when I can.)

A very good friend suggested that I seek out the support of a shaman for healing from these deep heart wounds.

Always a skeptic, I was so far out of my mind and spirit and soul that I would have reached up to the sky to pull down a star if that could have helped me work my way out of depths of despair.

Serendipity, divine guidance, luck, coincidence…who knows what it was, but I found Carmen located in my own little town and booked an appointment.

I had no preconceived ideas about what to expect. I didn’t even Google “shamanism”–I don’t remember how I drove to her office.

I walked through the door with shoulders hunched, tears streaming down my face. There was a candle burning and the scent of sage. I don’t remember filling out her information form…why are you here, and later I saw that I had written, “to save my life”.

Between bouts of sobbing, I told her what had happened to my world; it felt like a death but no one had died. I felt like there was something strangely wrong with me; not a medical issue, although I had absolutely suffered some health issues due to this seismic shift-but more internal, cellular, organic. I felt like there was a toxic or malignant entity inhabiting my body, causing me an incredible amount of despondency- I was tormented.

What is a shamanic journey?

In shamanic practice it is believed that part of the soul is free to leave the body. There are various times the soul might leave the body, during dreaming or to protect the soul from trauma. When a shaman is initiated onto the shamanic path, they usually learn how to send their soul forth intentionally, on the soul flight which is commonly called a journey or the shamanic journey. In early shamanic societies, many shamans were initiated because of having a near death experience. Death being an experience when all of your soul leaves the body, the near death experience is thought to teach an individual to travel with the soul.

The shamanic journey occurs by shifting awareness or consciousness in order to allow part of your soul to leave the body. The drum or rattle is frequently used. The slow repetitive rhythm shifts the individuals “rhythm” so that he or she can journey. Just the way a soothing song can help an someone achieve a calmer state. The rhythm of the drum puts you in the right state to journey. The drum beat used is very close to the frequency that is measured from the earth, and has proved effective for the majority of people. [From https://www.shamanlinks.net/shaman-info/about-shamanism/the-shamanic-journey/]

I’ve learned that everyone’s journey is different. Mine involved an out of body and trance-like dreamy experience —  meeting my spirit guides and my spirit animal (a wolf, of course), and a feeling of release of toxins and pain–and a sort of rebirth. I felt as if I was physically still in the room and simultaneously travelled away from my physical body. When Carmen brought me back from the journey and I regained my awareness of the present moment, I felt completely changed from the person who had walked in two hours before. Lighter, less burdened, less desolate, less weighted down by a thousand ton boulder crushing my heart.

Are you asking yourself if I exaggerated or if it was as intense as I’ve shared? Yup, it was, and even more so.

And all I know for sure is that I felt better walking out than I had walking in, and for the most part, that’s stayed with me, along with a renewed sense of purpose, and maybe even healed a bit.