It’s Really Okay

Nothing could console me the other day. I was heart-broken about life in general and dear family friends whose demise was absolutely shattering. There didn’t seem to be much happiness in our lives (with the exception of our kids) and not one blessed thing could cheer me up.

I initially thought I should try to shake myself out of this mood but the world was an evil place, life was not fair. I thought things were supposed to work out in the end, I had believed that all my life, not anymore. Things don’t work out many times and even though I may root for the underdog, they don’t always win. There was is way too much random sadness, unhappiness and sickness, things, often, don’t work out.

First, I tried to justify things, to try to explain them to myself. That didn’t work, there were no answers.  There was also no need for me to try to cheer myself up. So, I stopped.

I realized it was perfectly okay not to try to make myself feel better. It is really okay to feel bad.  What’s wrong in feeling crummy once in a while? I never got dressed, I wore my long black V neck T-shirt that falls to my knees and didn’t even take a shower. I stayed in bed not that I felt particularly sick or winded, I just felt blah. No one ever said  life was perfect so I decided to have a mental health day and be alone with my crankiness and cuddle with my sweet dog, Lexi.

Lexi didn’t care if I was in bad mood, she still jumped up on the bed right next to me.  She always keeps me company. I can count on her to be there for me, that’s the wonderful thing about dogs. Unconditional love. She doesn’t have to give me pep talks or call me on the phone like a friend would have to do, she knew I needed her and she put her head on my stomach, even our breathing was in sync.

I’ve noticed lately that my friends don’t even call anymore. They text. I find this horrifying. When did my generation start doing this? I make my kids call so I can hear their voices but my friends now text? Insulting.  They can’t be bothered, either? What’s next? I’m sure I won’t like it.

It’s a very hard world out there and I used to be such an optimistic person but I’m not anymore. Life, as we know it now, has changed me. Part of me feels like bursting into tears this very second and the other part won’t let myself. I’m not sure if I could stop if I let myself cry….. I keep trying to hold it in and hope it goes away. I know that won’t last. Life is tough, really tough and the older I get, the more difficult it becomes.

I have no more expectations that things will get better. Why should they? They haven’t been good for a really long time and yet still I try to be grateful for the good things I do have.

It doesn’t change the world but I don’t want to become a bitter, cold person. I know it won’t change my circumstances or any one else’s but it keeps me focused on the good not the evil, most of the time, it’s hard work.

When I was young, my mother used to sing this song:

She never did promise me a rose garden, but I always thought there was one anyway.

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For Just A Night

 

Never before have I gotten so emotionally involved in the world’s problems as I have been these past few months. Sometimes, I read The New York Times, other times I watch the news on television. Now, I panic.

I used to live with my head buried in the sand, not knowing what was going on in the world and that was a delightfully safe place; an artificial place but a comfortable one. On the other hand I have worked myself into such a frenzy now that all I imagine and see are horrible images and bombs and in my mind I’m questioning “but what if….?” That is not healthy for me either.

Thank heavens for The Food Network Channel, my go to place when I need to unwind or if I have watched too much news and can’t settle down. The cheery shows on The

English: Logo for Food Network

English: Logo for Food Network (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cooking channel as well bring me entertainment, not that I have learned to cook from either one of them. The only show I refuse to watch is Cutthroat Kitchen with Alton Brown and its element of nastiness and unmasked sarcasm. (See my blog “Cutthroat Kitchen” for that review.)

Today, I am starting off with a smile. I know what is happening in the world, I know there is sadness everywhere but I am trying to focus on my tiny corner of space. My daughter is home, safe from Spain, where she had a wonderful time. My husband is as happy as he can be without being employed but he is healthy and so am I. Tonight, our son is coming home so our family will be together for a few nights.

I really can’t ask for more than that. I appreciate it and I am grateful for it. It happens less and less these days as they are both in their early twenties. It was hard to get used to but even I, mother hen, have grown accustomed to the separation, they know I cry whenever somebody leaves. I have always cried when somebody leaves me. It’s who I am.

Tonight, at dinner, I will watch my family and try to soak up every detail, every single exchange in our own tiny part of the world, for every second it lasts.

For that, I am deeply grateful. I can’t ask for more.


 

Yellow Magic Madness # 51

sunflower in the dark

sunflower in the dark (Photo credit: ekkiPics)

Enhanced by ZemantaLove the contrast of the deep black and the almost fluorescent glow of the bright yellow sunflower. I can practically feel the lush softness of the silky petals, so delicate.
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Notice, if you look very carefully, the petals, each and every one, has darker shades or orange in it as well as bright yellow. The night and the light, together.
I reach out my fingertips to touch the flower and shrink away, better to leave the fantasy.
Photo Credit: ekkipics.

Kellie Elmore: Free Write Friday 6-29-13

who am i?

who am i? (Photo credit: Beni Ishaque Luthor)

(things can’t let you down, unless you let them)

“It’s easier said than done, I know that. You know that, right, Son? All this psychobabble about “life’s has its ups and downs, just go with the flow?” Sure, I know that in my head, but when something creepy, or scary or even startling happens, man, that goes straight, directly to my heart and it’s a sure fire hit. There are no stops, no waiting, or hesitating, it’s a missile like an emotional heart attack. It always has a trigger, like now, people are screaming behind me are making me tense, uptight, upset. You have to understand I’m not like you and your generation, it’s hard for me to “just get over it.” I get so depressed and I just want to put my head in my hands and my body starts shaking. My stomach clenches and it’s trying to ruin my day and I feel myself getting hooked on sadness like a slippery snake, going in and out of my brain to my insides. I  try to stop it but I can’t.

I’m lost, that’s how I can describe it, I’m lost. I’m really nobody now. Sure, I’m someone’s husband, brother, father, but who am I? I’m really not sure anymore.  I used to know but now everything is cloudy. What I thought I knew for sure is shaky, what I thought I knew about you is different.I was YOU, a long time ago. Listen to me. It’s easy to push things into those dark recesses of your mind, I’ve been doing that for a long, long time. There’s safety in comfort, I know that. But, how much comfort is worth it? When does comfort become settling or even just plain old vanilla laziness? I’m the wrong one to ask. I stay safe, too safe, and I stay still. I’m not happy, not ever. Probably never have been happy.

Some people like my old friend Jon are adaptable, whatever happens he adjusts. He doesn’t worry, he doesn’t panic, he goes with whatever comes his way with his cool, jolly attitude and his big goofy smile and things always seem to fall into place. I wish I had been like him. I have NEVER been like him and probably never will be. There’s only so much you can do to change yourself, sometimes you born and labeled damaged goods. I can thank my own parents for that.

At least I tried I to face my fears and do things anyway which in itself is a big step. It’s okay to be fearful, everyone is probably afraid of something but making the attempt to overcome it, that’s like a pile of birthday presents you give to yourself, all wrapped up in silver and gold. It’s a birthday cake with your favorite filling, I choose vanilla cake, with chocolate frosting and chocolate cake with vanilla frosting, I’m not messing around here. I’ll even throw in some oatmeal raisin cookies and chocolate mint ice cream.

Life is a crap shoot. I admit, I am sometimes scared of the future, especially now that I am older. I was young once, just like you. I was young with hopeful thoughts and ideas and daydreams but I have lived a long time and Life has changed me. I hope it doesn’t change you too. Keep being positive and loving, honest and trusting. Even if you get hurt, it is worth the journey to experience that love, that excitement again. Take chances, as many as possible and don’t hesitate to try new things. If it doesn’t work out, move right on to something else. Don’t be like me, please, I beg of you, don’t be like me.

I’ll keep trying, in my own little corner of my world, but I don’t expect too much and that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of reality thrown in to the mix anyway. I am who I am, some good, some bad, just like we all are. No, I’m not giving up anytime soon, I’m still teaching you, my boy, my darling boy.”

Deep sadness - old man [3]

Deep sadness – old man [3] (Photo credit: Zuhair Ahmad)

Should We Take A Moment To Mourn Together?

Mourner. Could be Isis mourning Osiris

Mourner. Could be Isis mourning Osiris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Invisible Illness Sufferers:

I’m conflicted. I want to say that we have lost a part of ourselves, a physical and emotional part, do you think it is a good idea to get together in real or computer time to say good-bye to the people we once were? Have we done it ourselves? Or do we just accept and let it go? There is the before Fibromyalgia or Diabetes or CFS, Virus, Autoimmune OR fill in the blank disease________ and after. Think about it, it would be an acknowledgment of our former selves, our loss and our lives now. We mourn people we loved; I am not the same person I was before my father died, I view my life “before he died” and “after.” Maybe we should have a ceremony together for the people we became after our loss, as simple as being silent for a minute at a designated time?

I guess this begs the question: do we ever really accept it 100 percent? We make do, we understand but it’s a way of life that we have lost, forever. I don’t believe that it will ever get better in my lifetime or that there will be a cure. That’s just my opinion. A wonderful approach is given in a book by  Toni Bernhard called “How To Be Sick” which is a Buddhist inspired way of living with your illness. It will teach you things, no other book will teach you.

It has taken me years to truly accept Fibromyalgia, chronic pain and an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, my activities are now severely limited. Part of my energy used to be used defending myself to people who thought I was out of my mind or a pill popping junkie. Sigh. I can reassure you I am neither of those. Realistically, who would WANT to be like us? Does it sound glamorous to have no energy and to be in pain constantly? It’s not like we take magic pills to make us feel great, there are no pills that take away the pain. In fact, we don’t even remember what pain-free feels like. Of course there’s Fibro Fog but that’s a whole other blog post.

After the imaginary designated time where we mourn our former selves, we give our thanks,  grateful for the life we DO have, for the cyber friends that are in the same situation that UNDERSTAND and for the body that still exists and for the many blessings we hold in our hearts.

Tell me what you think, I’d love to hear from you.

My Definition of Wealth

Automatic Pool Cover.

Image via Wikipedia

Fantasy Wealth vs Reality Wealth

Wealth, to me, is just a fantasy. It is an incredible amount of money that you win and don’t earn. A game I play if I drop a dollar or two on the lottery. In my mind I see big houses overlooking the water in different places, being able to redecorate without first looking at the price tag. Designing a swimming pool so that at night when I went to bed I could picture its beauty and smile into my fancy pillow. It’s not ever having to think about money for anything. Travel? No problem, I would have a private jet. Drive my car when I am scared to drive at night? I would have a driver. Lovely, original art on the walls, gifts to nice

Handkerchief

people who I don’t even know; giving to family and friends is of course, a given.

I realize it’s a fantasy, I know I’m never going to have the money to buy such things, ever, but for a dollar per dream, it’s worth it to escape reality. Wealth, in my fantasy, is never having to worry about money ever again. Wealth in my reality is everything I have, a loving family, some great old friends, my gorgeous nine-year old shelter dog and an old handkerchief that belonged to my father when he was alive, soft, thread bare but always with me in my pocket.

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The Sweet Scent Of A Perfect Peach

Helianthus annuus (Sunflower). Taken at garden...

Image via Wikipedia

In my imagination I think we would be friends if only we lived closer together. I would give her, and only her, the true secret ingredient to my super moist banana chip/raisin bread. Her mouth would smile widely and crumbs would spill happily from her mouth as she ate it with delight; her big doe eyes would nod in agreement. I can’t compete with her cooking of course, she was born baking and cooking but there is no competition between friends. We laugh together at my lack of cooking skills and she constantly admonishes me and tells me she will force me to learn. Knowing her, I have a feeling, she will make me follow through.

On the side of her house I imagine her large garden where she picks her own deep, red  tomatoes from the vine and takes a big bite of one warmed by the sun. She has sunflowers, big tall, brown, vibrant orange and yellow, about fifty of them, near the rows of green peas and lettuce and carrots hiding in the moist soil. Next to them, sweet butter corn  grows tall and stretches to the sun like a morning yoga pose. Wildflowers grow nearby, purple, yellow, pink, white and the blue of a delicate robin’s egg. There are so many vibrant and intense colors in her garden, it’s like staring at a painting by Matisse.

I’ve never had the actual opportunity to meet an idol, someone I’ve cherished since I was a teenager, but I came close, by association, a few weeks ago. I spoke with her warm and friendly assistant and it was such a pleasure. Melissa, her assistant, told me something I will always remember. “She liked your writing and wants you in HER group.”  That lifted my spirits for days. While I could not go to the current workshop she was holding I hope one day to meet her and attend a different workshop.

I read her first book about one hundred times; a book that still sits on my living room shelf now,  forty years later. I share my house with my husband, a son who is soon off to college for the first time, a daughter who will now be a senior in high school and a nine-year old adopted shelter dog named Callie who is sleeping on top of my feet. That first book has been carted from my parents’ apartment to college to every city I have lived in.  We grew up together, she and I, for a forty-year time period, she just didn’t know me.

There’s no doubt in my mind, from her first magazine article in the New York Times that she would grow up to be an amazingly talented, gifted writer. True to herself and her family and friends. She grew as a writer and as a person, I wonder if people expected her to stay nineteen and if that was hard for her? We all change and grow, make mistakes, learn; stagnant is boring.

I think she would be warm and funny, intense about her work and friendly, she probably just baked apple muffins with a crumb topping and served it with sun tea. There’s a colorful tiled table that holds chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies that she whipped up in a spare hour;  sharp, white cheddar cheese and crispy pita chips would be nearby. Family and friends are always invited to her kitchen; there are always people and animals nearby.

I imagine sitting on a large white patio, rocking slowly on our rocking chairs and exchanging whispered secrets and watching the red sunset fall slowly into the water to form three lines of color, orange, dark green, ultimately black. I remember when my family and I used to go to Cape Cod, when our kids were much younger, at every sunset we would sit on the sand, other people around us, and we would wait for the sun to set. When it did, everyone clapped. That is my idea of heaven, living near the ocean, watching the sunset with strangers sharing stories, listening to Reggae music provided for free. Sitting still in front of nature as if we were in a theater waiting for the curtain to rise.

At night, in my imagination, we would creep down the stairs and meet in the kitchen unplanned. We would burst into giggles when we found out we were there for the very same thing.  I always snack after I am supposed to be asleep and I eyed a bowl of ripe peaches on a small, round table that she had recently repainted in pink-rose paint. That first bite of that juicy peach would make me happy, so happy I  can’t even describe it. This peach, this wonderful gift from nature was just perfect. It was ripe, juicy, sweet and had a silken texture. The juice rolled down my chin and I groaned with every bite of happiness. It was the sweet scent of a perfect peach with my new friend, laughing into the dark night.

Dedicated to Joyce Maynard and Melissa

An Author I Admire (Plinky Prompt)

Joan Didion at the 2008 Brooklyn Book Festival...

Image via Wikipedia

Joan Didion

I read her memoir: The Year of Magical Thinking about life before, during and after her husband died. I would ask her where she got the strength to carry on day after day. I would ask how she could distance herself so emotionally from the situation to write a book that does not seem too emotional but more like a step-by-step account of the little things that went on when her husband died; the little details, the reading of the newspaper, the steps to overcome. What happened after you finished the book? Did your perspective change? Was life different? If you had to write the same book over again now, years later, what would you change? What new advice could you give? Were there things that you would have done differently? How has your life changed and what is your life like today?

With great respect,

Yours Kindly,

Hibernationnow.wordpress.com

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The Somewhere Tree

Wind Damaged Tree On E. Knapp Street

Image by Shamanic Shift via Flickr

I don’t exist, at least in the same way I have existed before. You won’t recognize me; I’m hiding out. I am a thick, sturdy, massive tree and maybe I am folding someone deep inside me or around me, or in my sturdy limbs high up into the rich, blue sky. I won’t tell you. I have disappeared because this is where I want to be. I don’t know if I will come out of hiding sometime or will stay behind these thick brown roped off curtains I made myself that contain me; comfort me. If I am hidden no one will steal my heart or break it into shards of mirror glass and take advantage of me.

Maybe my silhouette or the swing of my wiry tree hair show as the wind passes by my burlap sap and brown cloak. I intend to blend in with others, or maybe hide behind them for as long as I choose; for as long as I need. I felt a lot of things that I don’t feel anymore.

It’s as if I am out of my body looking in, trying to remember who I was and why I was that way. My heart was way too open, and too big for my body. My emotions were on overdrive, my thoughts obsessed with sympathy and kindness. I sat up once, curled into myself, sobbing. This was not my fault, these were conflicts I should not have been allowed to witness. This was NOT something I did; I am innocent. Something, somebody should have been there to protect me, to draw me back out of the wind, to rescue me but no one did. This attack felt like a tsunami or a tornado.

My eyes peek out behind the outline of my shadow. They dart back and forth, to the left, to the right and then they close.  It is all black and rosy and peaceful when my eyes are closed. I choose not to see anybody. I am now a tree that has stood proud and tall with missing branches from the high winds; limbs cut off, dangling in the middle between life and death. Too many people in this world judge others, that’s not how life is supposed to be. Sit with me on the grass and listen.

Life is hard, we all know that. At my age I have experienced hardship as well. There is no age limitation on pain, physical and emotional chronic pain. Back off, please don’t try to touch me; I can almost feel you near me and I don’t want to. I will shrink and cringe if you approach me. I will go inside out.

I have helped you from my heart but that same heart is no longer here. It cracked into bits and never put away. It was not like a picture puzzle; the pieces don’t fit in the right place anymore, and they won’t. Once you have lost your heart, or it has cracked, your heart will never beat in the same way again. You will skip a beat or you will have an extra irregular beat but it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t take away the love that was in your heart; I am protecting my heart.  You can also feel that you are being hit, again and again, until you gasp with pain and have trouble taking a breath. I am a tree in a blizzard, fighting to stand strong, my limbs are moving, my bark is now unattached, flying into the air, everywhere but home to me.  You can still see the tree but it is not the same. I tried to show you who I was but you left, not noticing that the tree you once loved was now completely different. You walked away.