Cursing the Darkness

I curse the darkness.

I know I’m supposed to believe. I’m supposed to visualize good things and make vision boards. But in the end, you’ll find me yelling profanities out my window-maybe not literally, but figuratively I do curse the depression.

You will not torture me!

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light…-

Dylan Thomas

There are three common responses to abuse. Fight, flight, and fawning. Fighting, raging, not trusting anyone, that’s how some handle life. They walk taller, live faster, and work harder than others. But a cockfight is not my first tendency.

My first response to problems is panic! I freeze, like a fawn. I’m a deer in the headlights, and my mind stops functioning. I swear that running would be healthier.

Depression, that deadly chill, is why I curse the darkness. It’s a night which can swallow me, and I hate it. But, I force myself to face its ugliness. I build massive fires to fight the chill.

I curse the darkness. I use any of the tools I have. I love music and watching movies. Writing and studying my ancestry are more than a distraction; they bring me joy. These are my bonfires. My friendships. My family. Memories of favorite moments. I’ve stockpiled a cache of fireworks for whenever I need them.

I refuse to live in the darkness of my fears.

Do not go gentle into that good night

Dylan Thomas, 1914  1953

“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

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The Fallow Time

Nothing lasts forever whether it’s my favorite socks or my longed for weekends. I’ve been studying ghost towns recently. Those once booming-with-life places that either suddenly or slowly settled down to rest.

The fire truck was questionable with a flat tire, but one township still had a hundred or so people living there, enough to keep active a post office and a fire station.

I’ve noticed in the ghost towns where no one is left, all you can see is the foundation of buildings. You try to guess if it was a house, a church or a merchant. An almost impossible task. Bring a psychic, maybe?

Nature reclaims the land eventually. Grass grows up from the ground where the model-Ts drove. Where beautiful dancers might have once swayed, their long legs moving to a rhythmic beat, now a tree is growing. We can be sad, or we can say it’s another season. The ground is resting.

Fallow years, similar to crop rotation is a technique which farmers have used for centuries to keep the soil active. Overstressed earth is empty.

We use the word to talk about any unused resource, and it started as a work about land. Fallow comes from the old English word for plowing and refers to the practice of leaving fields unplowed in rotation — when a field lie fallow, the soil regains nutrients that are sucked up by over-planting. Definitions of fallow.

Should we rest?

I think we push ourselves to produce when we are empty when our reserve is low. Is it possible to find time to draw in more nutrients and wait with the bodies we have instead of wanting a perfect body?

“I am the rest between two notes which are somehow always in discord.” R.M. Rilke | Poetry & Random Thoughts 

Primal instincts drive us. In cold weather, we long for comfort and sleep. We enjoy spending more time with our family. Physical tasks seem like drudgery. Our energy is low. We crave more food and alcohol than usual. People tend toward depression. It’s seasonal. Yes, Spring is around the corner.

Winter is the season for rest.

Get Well Meme

My mom had surgery. Watching her deal with pain, watching Dad’s emotions, his helplessness, grief, and feelings of failure and remorse have been exhausting.

The decisions leading to the surgery for my family have been tricky. For years, Mom has ignored her neck issues and pain as well as any arthritis. I didn’t realize she’d been using a heating pad every day as her method of treatment. There was a cortisone shot many years ago. Also, a few significant falls. All of this information, would have been useful for doctors to know, but she denied everything. She believed her recent fall caused her problems.

Decisions are difficult. Cutting is not something to jump to as the first solution. But my parents were so scared of surgery they were avoiding it to the cost of Mom’s enjoyment of life. Her hands were gone. Clasping a cup, the sense of holding a hand or feeling a face was gone. She felt nothing. All was numb. And her grip was based on sight.

Dad took over the cooking and cleaning. This is the role change many families go through. He’s helped her walk from bed to the chair and the table. And in all of this time, there has been this hope she’d get better. Until she didn’t. She kept falling. It was emotionally difficult for both of them.

After multiple attempts to see the doctor and pounding on that door to find out what Mom needed, surgery became the only option. She has rheumatoid arthritis in her cervical spine.

They finally operated early Friday morning. Both of my parents are surgery virgins. And after seeing Mom fresh from surgery, Dad broke down in tears feeling he had harmed his wife, the love of his life.

I keep reassuring them that it will get better. The first days after surgery are the worst, but that might not be true. I’m not sure. At home, there are no nurses to move you or bring you Sprite.

One thing I know is what her doctor said, if she hadn’t gone for the surgery she eventually would have become paralyzed losing the rest of her mobility and dying. Maybe this isn’t as real to her as it is to her children and grandchildren. We got it. We were there encouraging her to see the doctor. My kids were cheerleading her forward.

She is loved. If love can speed recovery, she will fly through this.

#family #pain #loveyourpeople

featured image from The Girl God

Find An Ally

My mom has been trying to schedule an appointment for surgery for months, but she’s been waiting for the doctor to call her. Dad, during the first round of doctor’s visits, said to wait. This is how it always worked. The old insurance operated this way. They’re still waiting.

My parent’s previous coverage dropped because the insurance decided to lower cost. It was terminated according to where you lived. Insurance companies do this to ’shake off the excess,’ and they’ll open to the area again at a later time. It’s a mind fuck.

There are clunky systems in our world and maybe there have been for a very long time. If you’re not paying attention, then you’ll still see squabbling and politics. It is that. But there is an underlying feeling of contrived chaos. Unnecessary red tape.

Why is healthcare so difficult? Expensive? Protocol. A ridiculous amount of hoops to jump through for doctors and hospitals. With each year, restrictions are added for the sake of saving costs. My job is to work through those requirements so the insurance will pay, helping patients in the long term.

We need a better way and I don’t necessarily mean universal healthcare. Our system is inside-out. I am concerned even alarmed. I worry for the people who can’t keep up with the speed of change. I also worry what will happen when I am my parents age? If it’s this bad now, if nothing improves, will I be able to navigate such a Maze?

I work for a company, but who is working for the people anymore? We’ve forgotten to love our people.

Who is watching the Watchers?

What Color is Your Power Drink?

I just finished reading the book, Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, by Amy Cuddy. I’d watched her TED talk previously and I was impressed. Her book is every bit as inspiring. My friend had told me about a recent episode on Grey’s Anatomy that demonstrated the Wonder Woman power pose in their show even, which I’ve put at the bottom of the blog. Wow, does this stuff permeate through our society or what?

Closing the Door

When I’m feeling overwhelmed and needing to find my strength, I close my eyes and picture an emptied space in a room. I mentally push everything away from me, leaving only a void. Emptiness. I can breathe. Think.  I become still. I find that space inside of me. That’s my space. No one can enter but me. This is one of my coping strategies. Amy has others.

Lessons Learned

An incredible lesson I’ve learned over the last few years is, I can’t control my downstairs neighbor or my co-worker who wears too much perfume. But I can take actions to protect myself. I do empower myself. I protect my interest. When things get chaotic, such as overtime at work or if I’m not feeling well, I know I have to take care of my health. I take a day off. I turn off my phone. I tell people no. I ask for help. I negotiate with my boss. I talk with my coworkers if something is bothering me. We’re all human and we need to work together. Remember, you have rights too. Use them. Ask for what you want without a guilty residue.

The Secret Life of Amy Cuddy PBS 

Pick Green or Red or Any Other

Whether you like a green juice or you want to do a victory stance wearing the colors of your home country, it doesn’t matter. You don’t even need colors. Strike a pose such as Amy suggests. Hold that pose for at least two minutes. Try it. You’ll be amazed. Remain OPEN. Calm. Relaxed. Empowered. Alive.

Check out my book, Get Your Life Back Now, if you want to know more of what I have to say on the subject of self-empowerment.

Next week I’ll to talk about Nudges and Retraining our minds. I hope you have a great week!

Slam the Door Shut

Women talk. They tell me about their relationships, their spouses, and sometimes how incredible their husbands are. Maybe it’s just in the game of connecting, and I’m not playing it right, but I feel I’m left with a gap, uncertain of how to respond other than with a pat response of, That’s wonderful. You’re a lucky lady.

Envy

There was a time that I would have been envious. But I’ve surprised myself lately. Their life looks more like another variation of the same old song. That tune’s overplayed and I already turned the dial on my radio. No envy, desire or lust for eventually having it all someday.

Old Shoes

It reminds me of the Caroline Myss story of the old shoes. I’ve mentioned this in a previous post called, Old Shoes. Do you want the old shoes under her bed? Most of us want the envelope she has that contains the money, but no one cares about the old shoes that she keeps beside her bed. They’re ready for the trash bin. They’re dirty, worn, faded, and there’s a hole where your toe will stick out. Your desires don’t go out for them. Nothing draws you to them. No clamoring or yearning. They sit there, and you don’t give a damn. That’s how we know if we’re losing our power to someone or something. If it has a hold on us, we feel that tug. We yearn. We desire. Our door is unlocked, and we don’t own our power. When we look at that other person’s life and what they have feels like old shoes, worn full of holes, ready to go in the trash, then we know we hold our life. No one’s life is better than yours. Hold your own power and slam your door shut.

On a side note

I think it’s bad juju to be flashing your stuff for all to see. That’s just my opinion. But throwing it all out there in the wind is just inviting trouble, I think. Why advertise if you’re not selling?

Blogs I found along the way:

The Core Stories – The Truth About Costumes – I could quote the whole blog and be happy about it. 🙂

I remember my first favorite pair of shoes. I was about ten years old, so it was sometime in the early 2000’s, and they were Skechers sneakers. They were shiny black patent leather with sparkling silver glitter and chunky white platforms….

KickAss Witch – Book Nerd Weekly

“What you may think of as your ordinary attributes are not a fair indication of what spiritually extraordinary attributes lie within you. The obvious is never the whole truth.” -Caroline Myss

Are You Just Sitting There Doing Nothing?

Sit in the middle of the day, in a public place, not with a cup of coffee or a book, just sit. Someone will stop and ask you if you need something. They’ll worry. Are you okay?

People don’t know what to do when someone is just sitting. And pity the homeless person sleeping on the grass or the steps. We poke them. Are they alive? I work downtown, so we see a few in the week.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how out of control most of our lives seem. Or maybe it’s just mine. I posted a while back the conundrum that I have or shall I say the elastic stretch, between medication and being well. Slowing Down to a Human Crawl The medication prevents the illness, but it also causes fatigue – in degrees. The fatigue and the spinal issues have caused me to reevaluate the heads down, let’s push through to make it happen, bull-headedness of mine. I’m a bit stubborn. I like to win. I like to get things done. I’ve been known push until it hurt. Well, I’m rethinking. Recalculating even.

How Leisure helps take control of our lives.

“Leisure lives on affirmation. It is not the same as the absence of activity … or even as an inner quiet. It is rather like the stillness in the conversation of lovers, which is fed by their oneness. – Brain Pickings How leisure helps us reclaim our human dignity in a workaholic culture

Open House for Butterflies by Ruth Krauss (July 25, 1901–July 10, 1993) click on picture to see the entire book

I’ve been trying to discover this new life I have since I’m walking instead of running. The colors are different. Sounds and tastes also. I’m kidding a bit. But I am adjusting. It’s been a year of weight loss. My styles have changed. My wardrobe has changed. Today I just purged my closet. I should feel excited, but I don’t. I feel off beat. I keep walking hoping that at some moment along the way it’s going to feel alright.

Here’s the truth of it. There are life changes that I want to make that aren’t happening yet. That leisure I talk about is my way of saying that I need more relaxation in my life. I’ve had to push for it. When others were demanding I work overtime; I was pulling away. I had to respect myself over the job. This stuff isn’t easy.

I want to fill my space with music, my walls with color, and my life with people who know how to enjoy living this life to the fullest – however it may look.

Slowing Down to a Human Crawl

How much does it cost to feel well? What are you willing to give up to be free of pain? We know that healthcare doesn’t come cheap. Vitamins are expensive. Organic food is a bit extra so we weight the cost. Is it worth it for us? What about the medicine we take? That’s been my dilemma. But not so much about the cost. The medicine I’m taking, Topamax, helps prevent migraines. It’s also been helping in preventing my neck pain. The side effect for me is tiredness, fatigue. With each increase in dosage comes a bit of slowing down. So, my cost/ratio question is, how much pain prevention is it worth for me? How much slowing down can I adapt to?

All glory comes from daring to begin.

John Brown, a poem by Eugene Fitch Ware.

For a while I didn’t know if I was going to make it each time my doctor kept saying, we’re going to try upping your medication. But on the flip side, I didn’t know if I was going to make it with the fire-like pain that was radiating up the nerves in my neck and my skull. I trudged and braced myself, hoping I could make it through another day, then the week. Sometimes there was a reprieve. Until now. I’ve had a full month without headaches. That’s darn good. Freakin’ amazing! It’s been close to 9 months since this process started and now I finally see the progress. The slowing down is worth it.

We live and change

This article though is a little disturbing to me. The trend towards constantly rewarding our happiness button, or shortening our attention span a bit more, is increasing instead of decreasing. I think we’d be happier as a species relaxing our attention and letting go, but that’s just me. Check out the article if you wish here, What would you pay to be happy? The Guardian.

…the poet Guillaume Apollinaire: “Now and then,” he advised, “it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” That’s worth a T-shirt.

William Davies’s The Happiness Industry, from the above article.

 

Yoga challenge – Can you be still? A Sequence To Challenge Distractions.

 

 

Take a Breath

I’m sure that as this week went by you remembered to get plenty of rest. You took your vitamins and drank enough fluids to stay hydrated. Of course, to me the most important – did you take time for your mind to reset to its normal speed? For myself, I like the analogy of the vinyl, is your speed a 45 or 78? As a sidenote, most of our podcasts are running at 1.5 times their normal speed. So for those that feel life is rushing by a little faster, it might just be.

I hope that you are, because I’m challenged in these areas. I’m handicapped, if you’ll forgive me for misusing the term. I grew up thinking that if you ate your vegetables, you could have your dessert. It’s the reward system. I even believed that if you saved your money, it would still be there waiting for you when you needed it. And of course we believed these things, because even our Grimms’ Fairy Tales had been edited for children’s innocent ears. If I sound a little down, it’s okay, I’ll take a nap and be fine in a bit. Sundays are good for that.

This week I must take care of myself first, as in, put on my own oxygen mask first. Yeah, I have to remember this because it’s important. More important than jobs, money, houses, cars, spouses or even other people.

“You are your best thing”

Toni Morrison, Beloved

The Straight Dope: Why are Record Speeds 33 45 and 78?

Speed – Radiolab Podcast

‘Lord of the Flies’ comes to Baltimore – CNN

I’m Pressing Restart

Over the last few years I’ve discarded obligations and reorganized my life. A lot of these things happen because of age. It’s natural. Just like a snake sheds his skin or a tree loses its leaves, people change their habits. It doesn’t mean we’re fickle. We grow. We change. If I can’t do something anymore, I know that it’s time to let someone else do it. Mostly though, I’ve made a conscious decision to change my focus in this part of my life. In the past, I’ve been helpful. I’ve been nice. And somewhere deep inside of me it seems as if I’ve tried to make up for some unknown mistake or atrocity, which I can’t remember committing from my past. It’s as if I’m afraid of being selfish even. Whatever it is, real or imagined, it doesn’t matter, I’m moving on. Nice is too flimsy.

Are you feeling stuck? If you’ve found yourself in the middle of the road, and feel you’re not going anywhere, maybe it’s time to reevaluate what you wanted when you started walking. It’s possible you started strong, then lost your focus. Stop whatever you are doing and ask yourself, am I doing this because I want to do it? Or because I feel an obligation? If you want to do it, then keep on going. If you feel you should do it, it might be time to let someone else take over. Worthy causes need someone who can give to them passionately. That’s hard to do when you are not enjoying yourself.

What makes your heart sing? You’re going to make mistakes. You will look silly. People may even wonder if you’ve lost your mind, but that’s alright. You’re about to have some fun. I’m asking myself these same questions now.

For all of you who have matured and feel comfortable in your life…don’t get too comfy. Life is full of surprises and you never know what’s around the bend. If you want to keep your mind and heart healthy you need to think young. It could time for you to learn a new hobby or take up a new challenge. We want to stay unstuck throughout our lives. Stay nimble.

I want to start with some simple ground rules that apply to all of us;

  1. It’s time to get quiet and clear your head.
  2. Get an idea. Whatever brings you delight.
  3. Do what you value. If your heart isn’t in the work, you will have difficulty completing the task.
  4. Take one step towards that idea.
  5. Take the next step.
  6. At first don’t ask anyone’s opinion.
  7. If anyone wishes to give you advice tell them you will consider what they said and
  8. Just keep walking
  9. If no one supports you, support yourself
  10. Express yourself in some way, whether it’s with a sticker on your car or the shoes you wear.
  11. Read inspirational stories. They come in many forms; books, magazines and blogs. Feed yourself inspiration.
  12. If you’re feeling stuck, do one thing differently.

A book I just read: Success Through Stillness by Russell Simmons