Category Archives: Art…the colorful palette of my life

Grief 101

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It’s just over three weeks since my mom died.   A good friend asked me if it’s harder than I thought it would be, the answer is NO.  I always knew it would be hard.  But what has surprised me is the areas in which it is affecting me.

For one, self confidence.   I consider myself to be a fairly brave, very strong independent woman.  And I just realized a couple weeks ago that I’m old enough to be classified as “Senior Citizen” on Wednesdays at JoAnn’s Fabrics.  I’ve traveled up and down the East Coast, all over this country and others by myself.  I would think very little about driving an hour or two here or there to score a good find from Craigslist, or the like.  I don’t feel comfortable doing this right now.  I don’t feel confident enough to do this.  I’m really shocked at this.

I don’t feel safe in this world, since the death of my mom.   I always knew, wherever I was, went, I could call her and she would come to my rescue.  For a couple of decades we have been each others main support, both single women living on little, we helped each other.  My mom was a huge help to me in areas that I many times lack or slack in.   I cannot attribute this to anything else, believe me, I’ve tried.

In every room in my house, there are memories of my mom.   She always rolled up her shirt sleeves and jumped in when it came to cleaning, repairing, maintaining, and a couple years ago, renovating and ultimately redecorating again.  It is s hard for me to fathom that she will never again step foot into my yard, my house, nor spend hour upon hour working in my yard, her flower gardens, because they really were hers.  I haven’t worked in my flower gardens for a couple of decades, she did it all.  Now she loved doing it, and she was very good at it.   Will I take care of them?    Can I take care of them?  Will I know how after all these years?   There’s a little bit of fear here.  I am feeling fear.   Because many things that she did to help me, I had to stop doing so she graciously took over.

I find my tears come in waves, and triggered by many simple things.   I pulled out a folder of my decorative painting designs and my heart sunk.   My mother was a huge part of my success here, she made e prepping surfaces or house or dog and cat sitting.  Back in those days I had five animals for her to care for!

Another thing that is happening that I didn’t expect.  I feel like I need to know everything, because she is gone.    I identify with these feelings when I found out many moons ago I was pregnant.  OMG I need to get my act together so I can be a good parent!  Only now, I need to get my act together because my mom isn’t here to help or assist

Sleep is being affected.  I wake up every hour, only early morning hours offers good sleep.  As a result, I am plum pooped.    I was so tired the other night after finishing things up downstairs that I slept on the couch.  I didn’t have the energy to go up to my bed.   I have been on this journey called grief many times, and I know it’s a hard hard walk.   I either forgot or the loss of my mother is proving to be one hell of a challenge.

I miss my mom.   I miss her voice, her outspoken manner, and more.    I know in time it will get easier adjusting to this new life, life without my mother.   While grateful I had my mom for the first 56 years of my life, it doesn’t matter at what age you lose your mom, for me, anyway,  it’s a colossal loss.

 

 

 

 

 

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New beginnings

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The journey of grief astounds me.    How is it that you can bring your mother to dozens upon dozens of surgeries, appointments, chemotherapy over the course of 17 years, drs. appointments, xrays, emergency rooms, labs, and more and have been told on two (or three counting the last one) occasions to put her affairs in order, have done all that you humanly can do to make her plight through not 1, not 2, but FIVE cancers, and become her voice on her last day alive, be present when she takes her last breath, and STILL fall “privy” to the five stages of grief, including DENIAL?

I have mentioned on many occasions, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s work, a pioneer in the hospice movement, believing in and pushing for rights of a patients “right to know’ they were dying, and studying and talking with dying patients, coming up with the five stages of grieving, and being a woman doctor in a predominantly mans world.  No, that deserves an exclamation point!   So not only is that sentence way too lengthy, it also needs !!!!!!

This female doctor was labeled by fellow male doctors as “Dr. Death”.    Like research and development of cancers, all terminally or chronic illness, death is going to come to us all, at some point.  I remember a dream in which i woke up knowing i had been blessed with a visit beyond.    I was granted three questions.  The first one I asked was “Why are our pets lives so short?”   The answer was, in an average persons life they will have 4-9 pets, or their families had pets.   Their deaths teach us how to accept this hard fact of life, and prepare us for loved ones, and ultimately our own deaths.

I am not here to argue with anyone, I will just say that I KNOW there is more than this realm.  I have had amazing experiences that have developed my beliefs from questioning, to wondering, to KNOWING.  I am a fortunate woman.  And I seldom share these experiences because in a rare interview with 60 Minutes a couple decades ago and can be viewed on YouTube, Bob Dylan speaks of “knowing” your own greatness, your own destiny, and how vital it is to keep it to yourself because others can and will squelch not only your desires, dreams but also that inner voice, drive, purpose stripping you of all.   I’m nodding as I am typing this.    I KNOW my experiences are real, and I’m not going to allow anyone to take them from me.

I am also an empath.   What does that mean?    Well, quite frankly, I read and feel people’s energies, their emotions, at the age of 8 I had my “first” premonition that came to fruition just 12 hours later.    I don’t see dead people!  (The Sixth Sense movie) .   Recently when my mother was passing I knew it was happening long before the doctors did.  They wanted “biopsies, and more”, whether that was for expensive testing income, or if they really didn’t see it happening, I knew it was coming.     I told my siblings this before any doctor even told my mother.  I also texted my sister at the exact time they pulled into the parking lot of the hospital, arriving from an airport.  I smiled when she walked into the room moments later.  “Did you like that i knew you were here?”  I asked.    I suppose they thought I was looking out a window, I was on the opposite side of the hospital with my mother, there was a window but the curtains were closed.  In doing this, I allowed my family to “see” what I “know” on a very small basis.

There will be those who call this blog, and any other that i write or have written on death to be “morbid”, but death is as real as birth (and unfortunately,  taxes!).   Personally, I know there are worse things than death.    Obviously I have never experienced my own (which has been miraculous given the severe depressions I have survived), but I have been on the journey of grief several times.

I was just thinking about my girlfriend Janice.  Her dad was in the hospital, and her family was all there with him, he had cancer, and they were wonderfully, as a family, rallying by his side, telling him it was time to go, telling and showing him how much they loved him.  I had stopped by to bring some hot cocoas and coffee, as they had been there a long time.   Just before he passed I stepped out of his hospital room and stood outside by the door.  I knew it was coming and I felt like it was too intimate and personal for me to be in the room when it happened.,  2 minutes later my girlfriend walks out and says “he’s gone”.  I don’t believe I ever asked her if she had noticed, and I was glad I knew to step out.   For this family, who have always been welcoming to me, this was THEIR experience with their father, husband, grandfather, not mine.

My mother had a sixth sense, too.   She never explored it, because she loved Jesus Christ, and I believe was fearful of blasphemy.   My mother was a highly intelligent woman who led a life that was many times, most times, painful.    But her belief in Christ was strong, and we had many wonderful discussions on such. (again).   Regretfully I suppose, I didn’t share with her all of my many experiences, because I didn’t embrace this part of me until my early 30’s.  Let’s just say when people get close to me, and I allow them to be part of my inner workings, I have been asked on numerous occasions “Are you a witch?”     In which I always reply “A bitchy one, too!”     🙂

I have “known” since the age of 8 that I am supposed to write, write books? blogs?  letters?   I suppose.  And I have kept a blog for probably 7-10 years now, which has been primarily about me and my life experiences.   It has been a helpful healing tool through some mighty painful events and things.  I am about to (re)start my first book.    I have written on and off throughout my life, but I’ve stayed away from ever “finishing” whether it be choice, or being an “optimist” and never (before) backing up my work, and having computers die!  “Blessed are the pessimists, for they have made backups!”   One might think that it wasn’t meant to be, the timing wasn’t right, I tend to agree.  But i would be lying if I didn’t tell you I am somewhat afraid of it, I am afraid of the success, and I am afraid that it will be my final and last purpose here on this plain, so in a twisted, sorted way, I feel like when I am finished writing it, my existence here will end.  The longer I wait, the longer I will live…   LOL.    Intuition?  Premonition?  Or Fear?  Fantasy?   But I want you to notice how I put “my first book”, hoping that this will be the start of many.

I have been very fortunate in my life.   I have been guided, spiritually since a very young age, and have had amazing things happen to and for me.   I will give you a minuscule example.  Driving home one day from a painting class I had begrudgingly was taking with a friend, I “prayed” prayers of thanks for being dragged into this class by a brazen woman who “needed a ride” and in return she would pay for my class.   “I think I would like to start teaching!” I added.       The next morning I received a phone call from a school board member in my small, quaint town of 2000, asking me if I would be willing to teach painting, as part of adult continued education she was working on!     I laugh, because when these things happen, I KNOW I am right where I’m supposed to be.  I am aligned with source, god, whatever you want to call it.  Within three weeks I was teaching a painting class at our local elementary school, and that began a career that spanned 20 years, and which was some of THE best times of my and my mothers lives.  She was largely responsible for my success, she was my greatest supporter, in  MANY MANY ways.   My success was indeed hers, as well.

So now that I’ve allowed you “in” a bit, stay tuned for what may be a huge success or a major disappointment! ha!    I am writing this looking for friends who write, to join groups and blogs where other authors share their talent, hopes and dreams.   Because I believe those that the friendships that come from this are “MEANT TO BE!”

Calling all pens, pencils and keyboards!!!!  Love and peace to all who read this!

 

 

 

LLLLLong Winter

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This has been the longest winter in my life’s time, challenging on too many levels.   BE POSITIVE DONNA!    “Okay, I am positive this has been the longest and most challenging winter in my life’s time!”

I finally sat down to paint last night.   First time this year.  I have a custom I need to get done, and I’m looking forward to doing it, it will be a challenge, but one that reconnects me to my childhood and a childhood friend.   So I need to get my hands in shape so that they cooperate!  I have the drawing done… so I’m 1/4 way there!

I’m thinking about turning my humble abode into a wildlife preserve.  I live in Vermont, this year it will be 30 years in my home. I had a problem with squirrels only one winter season in all those years, and were “taken care of” with rat traps.  Last year I had them in my tiny shed, which is actually a kids playhouse that my mom bought me, a friend of hers had it for his daughter, it’s the cutest building, apparently cute to squirrels too.  They moved in and took over.  My mom and I cleaned them out of there twice, and it was all day projects.  They are awful! Now they are in my basement.

Last year also was the first year I had a problem with mice.   One day we caught 16!   They sure are cute little creatures, but man are they destructive and I swear they poop once a minute!    Mice crap everywhere!    If I had $1 for every poop I cleaned up, I would be vacationing right now! So if you want to invest in something, why not bleach? I’m bleaching my house to rid of all the diseases those things spread.

I have been doing all I know to do, and researching what else I can do to get rid of both, and on limited budget. I make headway, but you have to be vigilant, vacuuming daily, trapping, daily. The smart person would ask “Where are they coming in?” Well they are coming in from right under my front door, which has a small porch. I can’t get underneath it yet because it’s all frozen, and snow covered. I’ve been sealing where I have found cracks in my foundation both inside and out, I have an old house, but still the bastards find their way in. It’s maddening. And then, like I didn’t already have enough to do, I had a flood in my cellar, and my sump pump died.   I foolishly gave my brother my pellet stove when he was in need a couple years ago.    It would’ve helped with the humidity and moisture down there, and now, mold!   I’m taking longer to process things, I think about it before I offer it up.   Big heart, no brains becoming good heart, big brains!  Good news though, it took a good month for all the aches and pains to go away but that month is up!!!

Then I realized I had an infestation of moths which came into my home in a wool blanket that was given to me to use to felt and make pretties out of.  I lost four wool rugs upstairs   They started in a room that I barely go into, and then into my bedroom.    They aren’t the big moths, but small, maybe 1/2″ or smaller.   I am still in the process of getting rid of them. A friend helped get the rugs out, but there are stragglers and on the first floor (with three wool rugs and an investment of wool yarn). So at the moment my freezer is full of yarn. Oh, let me back up a minute; My refrigerator works and then doesn’t, it’s done this for a couple years. It’s old, hell it’s not as old as I feel! But if I play with the plug, it comes back on. I had been away for a couple days and it had stopped running. Everything in my freezer was unthawed. So that’s okay, because it’s a safe place for some of my yarn! Then the yarn for some reason was pushing the door open (um, it’s stuffed, full and my 3 season porch has the remains of my wool and coats, it’s out in the freezing cold so it will kill the larva.

When I took my mom to the emergency room, the doctor asked if she had a DNR. He asked if she would like to be resuscitated should some unfortunate incident occur. Her answer? YES! I looked at the doctor and said “Apparently I’m the only one in this room who wants a DNR”. He asked “are you sick?” I said “No!” The rest of the night he was looking at me strangely. That’s okay, I get that a lot! Oh well.

So tomorrow I’m thinking about offering the squirrels a thanksgiving feast of peanut butter and some more decon!

There’s been a slew of other things going on, that i will spare you from hearing. Your welcome! And then my mother dying. It’s been a horrible winter. I can’t even say I’m looking forward to Spring and summer because I’ve been overeating and gained weight. So I need to put on my big girl pants and start walking.  WHEN the ice leaves!

In the overall scheme of things, I’m sure I have it good. But I’m tired to my bones, and my bones hurt from the cold. Enough whining.  Glad wildlife is having sex in my house and multiplying.   At least SOMETHING is getting a little!!!    %#$@#3

Tomorrow I have a day trip planned with a friend. It will be healing, unless the car blows up! ha!

Hope your winter has been better than mine! Looking for a house in VT really cheap?   And now I have a HOT Saturday night date with my pillow!

 

Familiarity

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My sister left for home last night.     On my arrival home from bringing her to the airport, I found tears running down my cheeks, I had felt it coming, there was nothing I could do or tell myself that would deter this, so I just let it happen.    My mother is gone.  She will never again step foot in my home, we will never work on another project together, we will never fight again, she has passed into the unknown.   I had to DO something, I had to get my hands busy because my mom wouldn’t like for me to get lost into grief again, so I pulled out a frame I had found at a thrift shoppe and filled it with pictures of family members we’ve lost, my mom and my two sisters.   I was happy with the way it turned out, even though it took a couple hours longer than it should’ve, but what else was I going to do?   I cried my eyes to sleep last night while watching Frasier.

The world seems foreign to me now.   Just like it did when we lost our kid sister.   It isn’t nearly as kind or caring, and I have one less source of unconditional love, one less person I could depend on if I needed her.   Everything in my world has changed, again.

Today I drove to Walmart for a few things today, and found myself walking aimlessly around the store.  Going from one end, to the other, back to the first.  I had my list on my phone what I needed to get, and I looked at it at least 4 times while there, and still came home with one thing I forgot to get.   What is this?  What am I feeling?  Why am I feeling like this is “Scatterday?”, I felt familiarity, and as hard as I tried to distract myself, engage myself in things like $1 a yard Waverly fabric, or yarn clearance, I just couldn’t get into it.  My creativity was on strike, and I found myself doing stupid things, unable to focus, unable to make a sound decision on sachets for my bureau.  What the hell?   Looking at things I  had no idea why, and dodging people I knew, it finally hit me.   GRIEF.    This is grief!  Of course it feels familiar.   No wonder my stomach was upset, and when i heard the screaming child in the next aisle over, I felt as if every nerve ending in my body was exposed to this, breathe, breathe, breathe.  I was talking to myself, and found myself saying, thinking “GO, GO NOW!”  Like Hannibal Lechter said to Jody Foster’s character in “Silence of the Lambs”.  Harshly, forcefully.  I went right to the self check out.

It’s been 13 days since my mom died.   Today is the first day I’ve been on my own without the security of siblings since we said goodbye to her.   Today was no longer about the end of my moms life, today is about the beginning of my life without my mother.

I filled the basket with sugar related items, this is how I feed my hurting heart, my aching soul.   It will only last a day or two and then I’ll get mad at myself for doing so, and hopefully, with the help of a tight wasted, uncomfortable pair of jeans, will walk away from sugar and seek water, food, nourishment.  I know there is absolutely nothing I can eat that will take away this pain, or sorrow.   But I will still do it.   Because for a few minutes I feel normal, I feel peaceful, I feel nothing.Spent some time on the phone today with my cousin and sister, also texted with my brother.  We’re all “checking in” on each other.  I’m grateful for that.   And while the list is short today, I did do one kind things for another, which always makes me feel better.  I delivered some lemon frosted shortbread cookies to a friend who is in rehab for a broken hip.  She said “I’m sure you’re in a hurry.”  I replied “No, I’m really not, I’m just not right, and I just want to get home to my cat, my beads, my brushes, my comfy clothes, safe in the confines of my humble little abode.

So now, post sugar fix, my energy level has been depleted, and I will either take a nap, or engage myself in a project like I did last night.    Whichever I do, whichever I choose, I will be kind to myself, and allow myself to feel this pain, to face this loss, this significant loss.

 

 

In celebration of she

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Today we gathered as a family to celebrate my moms life.   My sisters and brothers families were there, we were minus only a handful to make the gathering “whole”.  My mom would’ve loved to have seen us all there together, and as I watched the “goings on” of all,  I know she would’ve been so pleased that so many came the long distance, and at great expense, to honor and celebrate her life.    My parents divorced many decades ago, but my dad and his girlfriend came.   I saw my dad physically choke up once or twice,  particularly when he was watching the slide show that my niece’s husband put together from our combined collection of pictures of my mother.  My parents were married 27 years, they had five children, built two family homes from scratch to finish with very little “contracting” out.   At one point I walked up to my dad and hugged him, told him how lucky we were to have him.  His reply?   “No, Donna, how lucky I am to have all of you!”

Alongside the pictures of my mother playing on the screen, depicting happy times, a playlist I had created for my mother a couple years ago played in the background.   The choice of flowers, white mums, roses, and a spray of blue delphinium, were absolutely beautiful.   My mother would’ve absolutely loved it.  Filling the inner circle of this wreath sat a beautiful urn with mother of pearl enhancements that contained my mothers remains.   My mom loved mother of pearl, abalone, it was her favorite stone.  On the same table were “keepsakes” that mom had saved, postcards, letters, cards, pictures.  It was so tastefully done, and I know my mother would’ve approved.  I know she would have!  Also included were pictures of my youngest and oldest sisters, whom I hope and pray mom is reunited with.

Last night my niece made dinner for all of us, including my dad, his girlfriend, three of my brother’s four children, daughter-in-law,  My sisters husband, both of her children, son-in-law, and two of her grandchildren, my brothers friend, and her daughter.

One of the nicest things for me to hear was “young cousins” playing, laughing.   It was magical for me, and reminded me of my own, our own childhood gatherings with cousins.  It helped give sense to my moms passing – New generations making memories that will hopefully last them a long lifetime.   Oh the truly innocent and silly things they were doing, like making farting noises down a heat vent from the second floor of the farmhouse into the  first floor kitchen where the adults were gathered.    It was their laughter that I hope to never forget, I hope THEY never forget!

I could not be happier with how nice today turned out, the last couple of days actually.  I’m writing this blog so that in the days to come when we are all back to our busy lives, and feeling the loss of my mother, I can come back to this to recall, relive, reunite with the love that flowed, commonality, my family.

My mother was the strongest woman I’ve ever met.   I will always love her and be grateful for giving me life, and teaching me all she did.  I will miss her love, her encouragement, her help, her care when I was ill, her sense of humor.   I will miss her!

Now, personally, the events of this past week, up to and including my mothers passing, has made me realize that I have some work to do on myself.  I will likely share about this in future blogs, because writing is a valuable, helpful tool for me.   But it’s going to be okay, I will be okay, because I know I’m still teachable!

My daily goal, first and foremost, is peace.   In order to achieve this, I need to learn some new skills on how to handle my own emotions, particularly “anger”.    This is probably something most learned in childhood, but I was such an “emotional child” (annoyingly sensitive I’ve been told!)  it was easier for my family to not deal with my emotions, to perhaps “pacify” me.   I am NOT blaming anyone, I believe my parents, my family, myself, we all did our best.     But what worked then (well, it really didn’t even work then either), no longer works and is not appropriate.

I have spent the last couple months stuck in anger.  This wasn’t the first time this has happened, the last time it was this severe was a few months after my sister died.   I ended up hospitalized with such.  I have made many changes in my life, I have consistently improved upon myself, and the quality of my life, my choices, the people in it.   I’ve created a safe, loving, peaceful (for the most part) life for myself.   But what good are these changes,  learning how to set boundaries, recognizing when I’m being taken for granted, standing up for myself, and all the changes I’ve made if I don’t go “all the way” and change my OWN inappropriate behavior?!?    I am the only one who can do this for myself!   Anger scares me – my own and others.    Certainly I can learn new skills!   My life, my relationships will improve.  Particularly when circumstances and opportunities to which the only control I have is how I handle myself!       Yup!   It’s time.

Tell those you love how much they mean to you.  Forgive others who trespass against you.   Forgive yourself.    If you can’t say it, write it, or say it with flowers, or sweets.    To quote Nike…..     Just do it!

Rambling grief

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My siblings have graciously and generously taken care of all the necessary final arrangements.  My mother did not want a service, she was adamant about this.    So they have generously arranged for a private family dinner in which we will celebrate her life.   My brother has offered his home for family and friends to stop by afterwards if desired.   I want to share that I am overwhelmed by all the thoughts and messages, prayers being said for me and my family.

The reality that she is gone hits me sporadically and infrequently.   It’s still not real yet.  If that makes any sense.  I’ve been practicing self care, resting the past few days, working on her obituary, which I must say hasn’t come easily.  I remember an obituary of someone who I knew, and despised, and my jaw was sitting on my chest throughout the whole obituary because it was so uncharacteristically her, and I had thought about becoming an obituary writer after reading it.   Clearly, you can say anything you want, make up things, be anything you want or want them to be in an obituary!   For me, I wanted it to be an honest assessment of my mothers life.   I wanted to touch upon the things that were most meaningful and important to her.  Doing so required sorting through many memories and feelings. and spanned the last five decades of her life that I was aware of.

I look around my house and I’m reminded of how much my mom did for me.  We tackled projects together, including painted furniture that she would strip, fix, and I would paint.    She rarely sat, she was always busy.  Sometimes that used to drive me nuts.  And the things that she did that used to irk me, like leaving cleaning agents in nooks and crannies around the house, today made me smile.  My house will NEVER AGAIIN be as clean as it was then when my mom was staying here or house sitting!   Last night when I did the dishes I remember her saying to me “the warmth on your hands is healing, Donna, let it nurture your hands”.   For the record, my dishwasher also died, and I haven’t yet nurtured my hands today!  And for over a decade now, my mom took care of all my flower gardens, and yard.   Her and my friend Joe who took care of the lawn, both of whom will no longer be doing that.   I will deal with that when the snow is gone.  Perhaps I’ll get back into gardening?

My mother and I couldn’t be more opposite in some ways, and in others we were side by side, I echoed her.  I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, but I know that both of these things were obvious in our relationship.  Sometimes it’s because you are very much alike that personalities clash!

I’m not liking this particular journey of grief.   Actually, I haven’t liked any other either.  But this loss, this is vast.     I can’t even comprehend it yet.  Am I saying it is greater than my other losses?    I don’t know, I just know it’s seemingly different, in the short time since she passed.  As I go through pictures to share with my siblings, I’m also sorting through memories.   My mother would surprise me many times I was away teaching.  I’d come home and she’d have not only cleaned the house but also did extras, things that I was meaning to do just hadn’t yet found the time.   I remember the first time I traveled after my ex boyfriend and I split.  I have mentioned on numerous occasions he was an alcoholic, a binge drinker.  Well, when I started to travel teach, I was weary when I’d pull out of the driveway on a Thursday or Friday to travel to my gig.   I didn’t trust him, and was afraid that he’d get drunk and would lose one of my animals (accidentally) or burn my house down.  So when I came home the first time after we split and my mom had stayed at my house (with my 4-5 animals), I was delighted to come home to a super clean house, new scatter rugs, and other small things that really were appreciated.  Although, she was far more excited over a toilet bowl brush than i was!    Seriously!  I remember thinking how nice it was to have someone “on my side” or working with me with housework and goals.

I am afraid of grief.   I am afraid because it can be such a deep dark hole, an emptiness, a seemingly endless journey of sadness, at least it was for me when my youngest sister died, and when I learned Jim had died.  I’ve been reading articles online how to help yourself, things you can do to help move your grief along if you are feeling stuck.  I haven’t felt stuck because I haven’t yet accepted it.  But I know from experience that there will be a time that I do, and it will probably be when I get angry.  If you’ve never read any of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross work, her writing was amazing, her work with the dying was ground breaking.  Both my mother and I enjoyed her books, and my mother doing hospice work shared many things with me.   It’s time to pull back out the book written by hospice workers that I cannot seem to recall  its title, but I will.  I will probably have to buy it again, which I have done probably five times, because I always seem to pass it along to someone else who was in need of comfort, understanding, who was walking the difficult path of grief.  I want to say “Final gifts”.

I’ve kept fairly alone this week, which works for me.  Once an extrovert, I have long since moved over to the introverts side, and I heal, process alone.    At one point in my life I was afraid to be alone, as if it said something horrible about me that I wasn’t “in love”.    Those days are long gone, and while I long for loving touch, I am comfortable with my life.  I think each person has to define whether coming home to an empty house evokes loneliness or freedom!    And that can vary day by day, certainly when walking through grief.    I’ve gone from having 5 pets, two dogs and 3 cats, down to one geriatric cat who at the age of 18 years old has the whole house to herself.  She was always low man on the totem pole.   All the other animals would pick on her, but now she’s showing them!     I thought I was losing her a couple months ago, i mean, she is obviously showing signs of age, she sleeps a lot, but she had stopped eating, and had become alarmingly thin.   I’m pleased to say she is doing much better, and I love looking over at the second chair in my living room and seeing here there.  I’ve resisted offers and desires to get more animals because it’s just so expensive to have them, and I have been fortunate to have friends who helped me get their flea and tick stuff, shots, and also in putting them down when their quality of life became unacceptable to me.

I don’t know why I’m struggling so with second guessing the pain meds I kept asking for with my mom.    As close as I can come to the fear of it, is that it silenced her.  And my mother was hardly the quiet soul.     She and I had a pact when it came to my animals.   She really was good to them, and my dogs lived at her house half the time because of how much I traveled.  But I digress.   The pact was, if I was letting one of my animals live in a manner that was less than quality of life, she would tell me.  Because I never wanted them to suffer, ever.   So in recalling this, why would I question doing the same with my mom?  It isn’t as if we euthanized her, but my mother has always responded drastically to the smallest dose of most meds.  Was there more she wanted to say?  The fact that I, we had the last word with her offers little comfort from a strong woman who always seemed to have the last word.

Back to being alone, one with myself, tomorrow I am going out to get my hair done. I’m looking skunk (ish) with roots.   I tried doing this the other day, but I couldn’t sit in my own skin while I was waiting for my girlfriend to finish with her previous client.   I bowed out, leaving her a note, because I just wasn’t doing well physically or emotionally.     I hope tomorrow goes better.

Hope you had a nice day, hope you smiled today and shared with loved ones how much they mean to you.  It’s important, and in the overall scheme of life, it goes by so fast.

Love and good thoughts being sent to you .  Thanks for reading!

 

My mother died

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My 80 year old mother died Sunday evening at a local hospital.  Six days before that I had brought her into the hospital via the emergency room, at her requested time – 9pm.  I had been with her earlier for blood work, and the day before I brought her prescription over.  However, before that, I hadn’t spoken to her in a couple of months.   I was really quite hurt and angry with her.  But that wasn’t new, throughout my life we had many times we weren’t talking, what was different this time was, it would be the last fight.

A very intelligent, highly humorous and entertaining and skilled woman, my mother was very strong willed woman.  She rarely spoke of her childhood, and we weren’t close to her brothers or their families.  It was just the way things were.  Her parents both died before I was born, so I never met them.   However, just because we weren’t close with her family didn’t mean we weren’t close to others.  MY MOTHER was awesome at planning family outings.  She and my Aunt Fran always planned the family gatherings.  Both of whom were “inlaws”.   When my Aunt died and my parents divorced, that, of course, stopped.   Pleasantly enough, Facebook has been a way for me to reconnect with cousins and aunts and uncles I lost touch with, and some that I really never got to know.

This blog is not going to be about the things my mother did that upset me.  I will just say, she was a difficult woman to love, and I did love my mother, very much.   I know I was a good daughter, I know what I did for her, and that I was always there for her when she needed me, except for the few scattered months here or there when we weren’t talking.  This blog is also not about pointing my finger at my mother.  I will say to you, as a teenager my grandmother, aunts and friends of my mother would pull me aside and ask me if I was okay.    My sweet grandmother (paternal) once told me she thought my mother treated me the way she did because I was born at a time when my oldest sister became very ill, life altering ill.  I don’t know.  And I don’t need to know.  I have long since accepted her behavior, and learned ways to avoid it, and still be present in her life.  Because I always wanted her in my life, she was fun to be around, helpful, and offered incredible insight and help.

My mother was a hard working woman.  I truly believe  (as does my sister) and know she worked hard to provide her children (my dad too) with more than she (they) had.   Even as an elderly woman, she wanted to do what she could to help improve the quality of her adult children’s life, mine included.   She was a work horse.   When something had to be done, she jumped right in, even if physically she wasn’t feeling well, she stepped right in to help, which she would inevitably take over.  Sometimes that was great, other times not so much.  I have spent a large portion of my life talking very loudly hoping to be heard.  This also happened in relationships I was in, because I repeated this “come close, go away” behavior with partners, husbands, lovers.  I am 56 years old.  I am not blaming anyone for my choices, I am simply pointing out that I have done A LOT of therapy, of self seeking in effort to get beyond frustration, pain, hurt, and a desire to be loved.

My mother loved me.  I know this.   She loved all five of us children, in different ways.   Her love was “fierce”.  (This word was stolen from a post of my sister-in-law who had a love hate relationship with my mom throughout her marriage to my brother).  Even if we weren’t talking, having one of our “bouts”, I knew I could call her if I needed her and she would be there if I asked.   It was the manner in which she conducted herself, and how she got her needs met instead of humbly asking for help that I found disturbing.

In the 80’s when I went to my first “ACAP” 12 step meeting (Adult children of alcoholic parents), my therapist kept pushing and pushing for me to go.   So I finally went.  There I found a list of 20 characteristics of “adult children of alcoholics”.     I remember identifying with 19, in time I learned the one I didn’t identify with was just denial!  “Did your parents drink?”  My therapist would ask on a weekly basis.  “Once a year, New Years Eve” I would reply.   And she would ask me again the following week, in hindsight perhaps wondering if I was in denial of such, too.

My parents are/were both good people.   They were NOT alcoholics.  Though I’ve long suspected that my mother grew up in an alcoholic home, or certainly dysfunctional.  That is not to imply my mother’s issues were the only ones in the childhood house!  I have often wished my mother was raised and was willing to be treated with antidepressants.  I think her life and my whole families lives would’ve been drastically improved upon.  I know this from my own struggles with chemical imbalance, and severe depression.  “Mood stabilization” meds have improved the quality of my life, and allowed me to be present in my moms life for 7/8’s of mine.   12 step groups and therapists helped me learn how to identify feelings, and how to cope amidst these feelings.   Maturity has also brought me a split balance of learning how to deal with such, or the older I get, walking away from it, because I just don’t have the desire or energy to involve myself any longer.

I want to tell you that the day my mother died, I was there with her.  I held her hand, I stroked her head as she took her last breath, and I am so grateful her passing was peaceful, because her life was usually anything but.  Incessant worry, I believe we were actually raised to believe that worry could and would change the outcome of whatever the challenge was.  It doesn’t, nor will it ever do anything but add further injury to my already abused adrenal system.  Years of living in “fight or flight”, dodging the elephant in the middle of my living room, I believe reared me “fibromyalgia” at the young age of 29.  And by that age I already had two hospitalizations for depression.   My 10 year marriage with an alcoholic to my second husband, and 2 year marriage to my first alcoholic husband had both ended.  At 33 I fell madly in love with a guy who was “sober”.  It took only 6 months to learn that his drinking was hidden, that he was a binge drinker.  I can relate to this now because I’ve identified myself as a binge eater.  I painfully ended this decade length relationship 4.5 years before he died of the disease.

When it became clear that my mother was “actively dying”, I had to ask her some difficult questions, many of which I already knew the answer to because frankly, our relationship was one where I shared almost everything with her, everything except for addressing her behavior which I opted to do four months before she died.    In the short time since her death I’ve wondered if I hadn’t done that, if I hadn’t been at my wits end with her and being taken for granted by others close to me, would it had changed the ending?  Would it be easier on me facing her death now?  The answer is, No.   The truth is, I was long since burned out from being my moms primary caregiver in the 17 years which she dealt with five cancers.  My two siblings stepped up to help out a couple years ago when I conveyed that I was just tired, exhausted actually, and needed a break.  That is not to imply they weren’t “willing” before, but 78% of her illnesses I believe I was solely responsible for her care.  Ask me sometime how I came up with that number!

The problem was, I had my own health problems, and challenges.   And it was my mother who was there for me through these.  When I got cancer, (my brother was diagnosed 2 weeks after I was), she moved in and took care of me, going back and forth between my brothers house and mine.   Looking back, I am not sure how she did this.  And when I went through my last severe clinical depression and couldn’t be alone, she came once again to my rescue.  I will always be grateful for how good she was at nursing me (my siblings and her hospice patients) with incredible knowledge, strength, and love.

Let’s talk about the word “Strength”.  I had friends who met my mom and later laughed and said “No wonder you are a strong woman!”     I had no other choice.  And like the long difficult day she died, I was able to be her voice when she couldn’t.  I was able to love her, and ascertain she was being treated with utmost dignity and wasn’t in pain.  She taught me how to do that!   She always taught us about the importance of family, and I love my family, all of them, all of us flawed individuals!   I had a few hours alone with her that day, so I was able to share some things with her (She really didn’t have any choice but to listen! ha), and I had sensed for days that she was going to die, even though her doctors were not saying that, not at all.   So I had asked my facebook friends who had lost their mom “If you had a chance to say something more to her, what would you say?”   I asked this Saturday night.  Contrary to what some may think, I’m not a drama queen.   I ask for prayers from my facebook friends because frankly, it works faster than any other way I know.   I do not belong to a church, but I do have HUNDREDS of friends who pray for me (and I them) when asked.    My painting career has gifted me with quality people, friends, close friends.  I am so grateful for this.

I wish my moms life had been better.  I wish she hadn’t had to deal with the serious illness that stripped my oldest sister of a normal life and forced my parents to make painful, heart wrenching decisions for her care, and for the safety of their other children.  I wish my mom (or dad) didn’t have to bury their oldest and youngest daughters of a disease that one or both of them passed down to their children.   I wished my parents marriage had somehow worked out, because I believe they did love each other, and we could’ve had some nice family time the last few years…if only she would’ve considered treating that which I believe caused so much distress to my family, that to which was “the elephant” in the middle of our living room.

My mother was my friend.   She really was.   We are ALL perfectly flawed.  I have shared a lifetime of memories with her, both good and bad, but always, ALWAYS good when I was sick and needed her.   I think had she not given her life to raising a family, she would’ve made an incredible lawyer, or doctor.  She was passionate, educated herself of things that were important to her, and never failed at anything she put her mind to.  I mean that!   Other than the failed marriage, she had things she started and didn’t finish, for whatever reason, like hair styling school, but that was her choice.  She was a pillar of strength when she made up her mind to do something, and what an example she was for us this way.  “You CAN, and you WILL”, and she would roll up her shirt sleeves, or put on her work clothes, and make it happen.

My mother really did care for others, and she gave particular attention to troubled teens or giving a voice to the elderly or needy.   And that was and will always be honorable.  It’s unfortunate that that she plowed over those closest to her, but I don’t think it was out of anything but love.  A bull in a china shop comes to mind!  But even this has gifted me with my own strength, my own voice, and I, too, plow people over when I feel I’m being silenced.  Perhaps that was her button, too?   Who knows, I will probably never know and that is okay.  Why?

Because my mother had good morals and standards, she knew right from wrong, and she asserted all of these onto her children.  And she loved us.   She loved us with a fierceness that would scare the crap out of others or others who were treating us wrong!   She wanted more for us than she had  or wanted for herself, and she believed we could do or be anything, and she was proud of each of us, but she just couldn’t say that to our face. I’m astounded when friends or people I meet tell me things my mother has said to them about me.  I really had no idea she felt proud of me or my accomplishments.

And I wish my mother had the ability to admit when she was wrong or offer apologies for when she plowed us over.    Her life, our life would’ve been so much easier and better.  But it was what it was, and I’m left with this hole in my chest, with the loss of my mother, my friend, my confidant.  I am going to miss her, I already do.   All the friction that was between us for those few months has been set aside.  I will have to somehow deal with these on my own, and the minute I walked back into her life to be there to help her when I knew she was sick, it became unimportant, and serves now to only help me define and identify areas of my own life that need honing.

I am grateful she was my mom.  And though I hated some of her actions, I was able to share things with her in her final hours, that needed to be said.   And those were NOT about her faults, but about her strengths and her love.    Because you see, I too wasn’t able to tell my mom to her face some things, some good things.   Intimacy was a no no!   So I’m glad I asked the question I did to my facebook friends, and I used them as guidance of things I wanted to say to my mother, knowing from experience that when someone you love dies, the love doesn’t disappear.  It miraculously expands, a true and amazing gift it is!  I made my amends to my mom, and she, with her stoic and ailing self, acknowledged and did the same to me, just before I had to take over her voice for her end of life care.    Everything happened so fast, and my sister was enroute from TX to get to NH, and my brother was in and out,  running to get my sister when she arrived.  We all worked together, via text, to make her last day as painless a day as possible.  I’m trying to work through the aftermath, and second guessing medicating her to a point where she didn’t have a voice, but I did so knowing I was her voice, and with her strength and love and support of my siblings and their love for our mother, we did it, and I’m proud of all of us for that.

I am left exhausted, broken, in a fibromyalgia flare, but very grateful for this difficult woman, difficult mother, my strong willed, flawed mother!    Rest in peace mom.  I love you, I always will, and I know not how to walk this earth without you, but I’m on Day #3 and survived thus far, because of all you taught me.   And as I think about this, I realize, she was also able to teach me how to be humble, how to apologize, even though her own fragile ego didn’t allow it within herself, for whatever reason.      We are ALL flawed.  And a friend said to me something I saved, and this is where I am going in my life.  It isn’t about being “my best” . It is about being at my functional best, without regret, no matter what life throws me!

Battling the blahs and weights of depression

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The past couple days have been very good for me.  I think I’m rounded a hard corner, as I’ve been fighting off (or attempting to in any way i know possible) depression.   I hate going to bed at night because it takes an act of congress for me to find the motivation to get up.   I laughed a lot yesterday and today, worked on a variety of projects, and had time with a girlfriend who had me laughing, snorting actually today.  Man it felt good.

This week I need to incorporate walking into my daily life.  I need exercise.  I think it’s the only thing that’s going to get me over the hump.  It’s been bad.  My depressions aren’t situational or sporadic.   I have had four major depressive disorders, all requiring hospitalization at one point or another.   The last one which was about five years ago now, hit me the hardest and stayed with me the longest.    So I’m very frightful of what this “new one” will be like.    I cannot let this take me down, and I will not.

Daily I listen to music, daily I spend time practicing gratitude, I have to come up with three things per day I’m grateful for, three times a day.    Sometimes I’m grateful it’s bed time and I don’t have to think up three things.     But the past couple days it’s come very easily, so what I am doing is helping.  Honestly, I feel like I’m in a fight for my life.    Having been through cancer, I can say that it feels a bit like that.  I knew I had to act fast, choose drastic treatment options or I could lose my life.  Same now.  I lost three years to the last one, which was my fourth major depression.

So many things going on in my life.  For an average person I’m sure they can cope and deal well with these things.  For me, not so much.  I’ve been inundated with problems at my house, flooding, squirrels, mice, and now moths, not to mention I have been struggling to get out of my own way.   I’ve felt like giving up, and often.   Add to that a fall on the ice, and a fall in my home that has left me with a wrist brace that helps with the pain.   It’s been 3 weeks , I really need to get it x-rayed.   Maybe this week???

My patience has run short, and my desire, even less.    So tonight when I picked up the paint brush and started painting a mallard from a picture, it was the first time this year I’ve picked up the brush.   And as usual, when I take a couple months off, it’s awkward.  Having to find all my tools, get situated.  But it was so worth the effort.    I worked in three different mediums today, and it felt really good!   And tomorrow I can look forward to getting out of bed (I hope) and get back to work on finishing the painting.

I had fun, peaceful days today, got back in touch with myself, the things that I love, and the things that I enjoy doing.    Perhaps i’m on the way up and out of this depression.  I pray so.

Watching Frasier and getting ready to call it a night.     Hope you have had a great day, experienced some joy and peace, and have been blessed with restful, healing sleep.

 

 

 

Clarity

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Answers come to me when I least expect them.  I’m a fairly self aware person.  I also feel and read others energies and moods.  I am fairly adept at this.   I also have a sixth sense that I rarely talk about.  I am very intuitive, and have been called a “a witch” by many people, different times (and not all men! ha!) Problems arrive when I am feeling the negative energies of others, as I have days where it seems every five minutes I have to outwardly, verbally tell myself “not to go there”.    Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s exhaustion, maybe it is just the way it is, but I need much alone time to recoop now after spending time with others, particularly groups.   Teaching exhausts me, I think because I’ve always felt I had to entertain and be “on” when I taught.    A friend posted pics of me from classes I taught and I was happy.  I remember the classes well and I always had fun, and I think I taught great classes.   I just don’t think that’s who I am anymore, and I’ve accepted this, and am okay with this.   What I mean here, is that I simply cannot keep the schedule that I used to, so my classes will be fewer and farther in between, as I have a new direction that I’m headed, in which I am very excited, focused, happy about.  I LOVE to teach, and I want to preserve that love and adoration.  I always want to feel that I gave a great, fun, good class.    So I’m going to minimalize the amount that I do this so that it always feels good, and I can walk away happy, feeling accomplished, self pride.

What I want to really talk about is “the processing” of things, and how this happens for me.    I can easily be consumed when I’m trying to figure something out.  ADHD helps with this!   There are times physically I have no energy or motivation, this is typically when I’m trying to accept or understand a situation.   This happened recently.   What also happened was a whole, draining emotional process that brought back unhealthy, painful behavior or REacting.   I had lost my sense of self, I was doubting myself, and that is okay, the situation was unclear, open ended, unresolved.       Then just when I am at my wits end and totally surrender to “what is”, this magical process happens, and clarity fills my mind and heart.    Uncertainty and frustration has been replaced with gratitude.   First, I want to say that knowledge comes from truth.   This is important to know and accept.  If you are not getting the truth, you will not find a resolution for the problem because you haven’t yet looked at what the problem is!!!    I hope this sounds as profound as it feels.   In short, look to trusted others, non judgemental, loving people to help you get to your truth!     Self centered, serving and emotional vampires will suck the life right out of you if you let them!

I’ve been through quite a bit in my life.    Can always be worse, and can easily find someone in much more dire situations than I have experienced.  The hardships I have faced have helped define me.    I am nothing if I am not strong.  I am one very strong person.  I have joked through difficult times that “I just want to be a feminine woman with painted nails and toe nails, because at times, the challenges and hardships had me feeling like I was becoming a neanderthal.    And once you walk through some major shit in your life, if you are like me, you have little if no time for what I call “luxury problems”, or “drama”.

I’ve been changing at a rapid rate the past couple months.   I’m wiser, smarter than when I started, but tonight I am at peace and I feel hopeful about getting flowers in my near future because I AM PLANTING THEM! ha!!   Trust in the process, trust in yourself, because the answers will come when they are supposed to!   I “forget” that sometimes and get caught in the crap!

Disappointments in people can be hurtful, even harmful.   But when we find our “center” again, when we get back to who we are and what we’ve been through in life, we realize no one or no ones actions define us, and that is a very good thing.  I am not talking about blaming another for your life, or circumstances.  I am talking about taking responsibility for your life, your actions, and if someone has proven theirselves to you, good or bad, believe it!    And then of course there is the giver and taker thing.     Accept who you are, and who others are, take back whatever part of your life you’ve surrendered to places that leave you unsure, or feeling ill about yourself.

Have a lot I’m looking forward to, and have a whole new perspective on life and relationships.    I believe in karma, I believe in the law of attraction, I believe I am the soul author or my destiny!  Just wait and see what I accomplish!  Note to self:  Be humble!

How’s your book coming?  Are you happy with your life?  Are there things you want to change?  Are there painful things you’ve been avoiding?  Because I’m here to tell you, once you face them, once you look at them, your perspective changes, and you’re not the same person but hopefully a better person from your lessons.

Filled with gratitude right now.   It’s a wonderful place to be.   It’s also equally important to be humble AND teachable!

So… the groundhog saw his shadow?

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The past year has brought a problem with mice.   I mean, I’ve killed dozens, my cat caught a few, as did my dog.   Neighbors are complaining also.   The thing is, they’re quite cute little critters.  If you look at them, they have such fine little detailing.  I’m not afraid of them, and I really hate to kill them but if you don’t, they can wreak havoc with much. What a mess they make, totally destructive.   And the squirrel that keeps coming into my basement, bringing nuts from the tree outside???  My biggest fear is wiring.    I set traps, and still the bastard lives.  I caught mice with my squirrel traps!   Ugh.  Okay, so this will probably freak some out, but I saw a mouse running across my kitchen and then it stopped.  It just stopped.  Strangest thing.  I walked over to it, picked it up and it died in my hands.    Yes, I cried.   I did.   I think it’s the same mouse that had been visiting me and my cat late at night in my living room for several weeks.  I don’t know what it died of, and I didn’t provide a funeral.  He went out with the trash.

I’ve always been an insanely sensitive person.   (You wouldn’t have known it by the last sentence in last paragraph!) . Most of my life (that I recall) I was branded “overly sensitive”.   The most recent years have brought interesting, validating reading on “overly emphatic, or EmPaths….”    I’ve actually found tremendous help in reading on it, skills that they suggest to try to dub out some of the things that ‘hooks’ ya, is helpful.   And I have practiced for a couple years, deleting messages and things that I may have or probably would have obsessed with years prior.    Being an artist goes hand in hand with sensitivity, but sometimes I just wish I was a cold hearted bitch who really didn’t care about others.

In the past couple of months I’ve recognized a couple people closest to me who were taking full advantage of me.   Gotta tell you, it hurts.    I kind of give a blanket trust with love, and to learn that I was being used, particularly by blood relatives, has cut me to my core.    I’m working through it, have no idea when or if I will ever get beyond it, but I do know right now I am distancing those who have caused injury to me.    For me, it’s easier to just stay away from them.  I’m far from stupid, and I read and feel peoples energies, which isn’t always fun.    I realize now, what I was feeling a couple months ago was right on target.  I make myself sick thinking about it.    Further complicated by a shifting of loyalty, etc, I’ve been an emotional Reactor.   But today?  Today I finally see that I am powerless over others, and trying to “prove” my righteousness only gets me into a world of discord with myself.  I will no longer defend myself here.  I don’t need to.  I just need to take care of myself, and that includes making decisions and spending time with others who love and accept me, and know who I am.  Basically people, friends, who don’t look to me to gain, monetary or other.

Today for the first time in a couple months I’m feeling like myself again.   Clear on the direction I want to go, stopped listening to outside influences who were telling me I was something that I’m not.   And I’ve just about had it with people taking advantage of me.  So the list of people I spend time with is dwindling.  And that is okay.   I’m finally over whatever bug thing I had, and the only remaining pain from the fall on ice is my wrist.    Progress!

But I want to talk about that little mouse again that died.     Have been feeling pretty raw, vulnerable.   Accepting ugly truth doesn’t come easy for me, or without MORE fucking emotions! ha!     But I digress.     So feeling this discord and discomfort, combined with the cold temps of winter, when this little mouse would come out at night, I welcomed it.   Why?  Even my cat welcomed it.  One night the mouse was about a foot from Chloe, my aging and failing 18 year old cat.  If I can find the video I’ll attach it.  The cat watched the mouse, but wasn’t interested in hunting it.   It was funny but also sobering for me to realize that she just didn’t have the energy to play, so coexisting with the mouse was fine by her.    This little mouse offered coexistence, unity, in what has seemed like a very cold and calculating world to me.   So when it died, I cried, because I would miss it’s visits, and observing it run around like it had won the lottery.

So now, I’m refusing to REact to things, others, or their behavior.    And by doing this, my OWN behavior is back in check.    I’m back in tune with who I am, what I want in my life, and I’m okay with where my life is.  I’m good with myself.   I know my truth.   I’m a good person, an honest person, and I’m deserving of good.  But most of us know that doesn’t always happen!    Thinking of the song “only the good die young!” .      Life just ain’t fair, but I still believe that good is around the corner for me!  After all, today I have peace.  No small feat!

So I’m off to finish up a couple household chores, and then I’m crawling into bed early to watch a movie I’ve wanted to.   Things aren’t perfect, far from it.  In fact, not much has changed in my life over the past couple months, but my insight has!  It’s like putting new lenses in your glasses and seeing the world for all that’s beautiful, not ignoring or denying the ugly, but choosing to keep myself and my life separate from it, as best I can.

Hope you’re having a nice day!     Will I be the only one not watching the super bowl?  Couldn’t care less!   Wishing you peace, love….  Wishing all peace and love.  Tonight I’m embracing gratitude in my attitude !