Tag Archives: fear

Angst

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For the last week my mind and spirit have been hijacked by the powerful entity of fear, uncertainty, and anxiety.  It invaded my brain, and then quickly took over what seemed to be my soul, leaving me reaching out to anything that I could hold onto.

I’m not shy to talk about my mental illlness, I do so in hopes of helping another, because when all is said and done, I know I’m not alone here.   But I am always leery about sharing too much, because people do treat you differently.   It’s a hard fact.   The talons of mental illness are sometimes ignored, and certainly mistreated, some due to ignorance, and others?  Fear!

The grip this trip was treacherous.  And I didn’t help myself by reaching out to another until last night when others reached out to me.  Oh how potent a secret battle that carries its venom best when we are in isolation from the world.     

My anxiety and fears are very real.  And I haven’t experienced this intensity of anxiety in years.  I will admit tonight, I should have been in a hospital, getting help, but after how many years in therapy, what else is there to say?   I recall a House, MD episode where he walks out of his therapy session and says “You don’t have any answers”.

What amazes me this evening, as I sit here writing this blog, is where my mind was just mere hours ago.  Nothing has changed in my setting, nothing has changed in my reality, except that I did, with the help of many cherished prayers and encouragement from friends, face my fears today.  Tonight I am exhausted, worn like an old penny, and while my anxiety is there, I’m practicing letting it be, letting the anxiety reveal itself, and trying everything I know not to feed it or let it overpower me again.   Feeding it got me into a full fledge panic attack earlier, where I was grasping for breath, sweat pouring off me, and had to sit with my head in my hands for several minutes because I was borderline passing out.  Yes, that awful place I’ve known a few times before.  If you’ve never encountered such, I am both happy and envious of you.

My ditzy little old cat has stayed by my side for days.  Mommy wasn’t healthy, and her steadiness and loyalty clings to my heart.

I really don’t care to share anymore tonight.   As I said earlier, I’m spent, and I’m hoping that with meds I will be gifted with a good nights sleep.  Rest assured I will be on my knees tonight praying that I do not wake up like I have the past couple mornings.   But in case I do, I need a plan.  So I’m working on a little “cheat sheet” note to myself for morning.  And this blog serves as a reminder to my saner, calmer self and conscience.

Earlier I sat down, with John Denver ( my roots) playing in the background, and started painting a small daisy.  Something cheery, something positive before I retire.  Revisiting “Let it Be” was what I needed.  I closed my eyes and let the music take me where I needed to go.  To the many dark places I’ve survived in my life, and that this?  This I’m determined will not have extended stay.  I cannot afford it, physically, mentally, spiritually.

I welcome your prayers, positive energy over the next few weeks as I find my way through this “episode” for lack of a better word.

My greatest wish for myself, and for all, for that matter,  in not wealth, but peace.  I welcome it’s return, and will strive to achieve it and then hold onto it.    Peace.

Peace to you, too.

 

 

 

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Gut instinct

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Something short tonight.    I was reminded of how accurate our intuition is.   Make your intuition stronger than your doubt of it.  We all have been gifted with free will, intuition, denial…  The five stages of grieving identified by a female german doctor who was called “Dr. Death” by the many male doctors that she worked with, Dr. Kubler-Ross.

But I digress.

What I want to say is, don’t stay “stuck” on one thing.  Don’t deny what you are seeing and hearing with your own eyes and ears.   Learn to trust your judgement, learn to trust your gut instinct.  Many of us have been groomed differently, and many of us just brush off things because it may sound absurd, or ridiculous.   Your intuition will guide you, it will protect you and others.  We all have it, innately.   For whatever reason you are repressing it, ask yourself WHY.  What is it I’m afraid it’s going to tell me?

It’s healthy to question others words, motives.   I’m not talking about extremes.  I ‘m not suggesting you walk around like, cynical of all.  But what I am telling you is…  I believe the wisest man listens to his instincts.

Put that in your hat and smoke it!

 

Resistence

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I remember a couple of years ago I saw a famous self improvement guru talking on resistance.   His basic message was, the more you resist something, the more important it is that you fight the resistance and DO whatever it is that has created this unsettling, displaced feeling.  Well, I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching, making some choices, which I am recognizing, for me, it’s harder to have choices than to just trudge along the beaten road you “think” you’re destined to.

I also struggle with commitment, certainly when it comes to relationships, hence why I’ve been single for over a decade.   If I stay away from intimate relationships, I’m safe!  But we all know the truth in that, don’t we?  Love is one of the most beautiful things we are blessed with.  Committing to someone you love, and they you, is pretty special BUT NOT EASY stuff!

So I have been slowly, actively studying my likes, my dislikes, my desires, needs, and am sitting on an opportunity to make major changes in my life.   I believe this.   So as exciting as it can be, it is also frightening to me.   And believe me, when you struggle with anxiety and all that wonderful stuff, it’s VERY REAL to the person going through it.  It can become VERY REAL to those who are close to them, because, well, I call them “demons”.   The demons are real to me.

I have been focusing on that guru’s message, because one thing that I am considering changing is something that in past I HAVE LOVED.   Trying to come out of a severe clinical depression (I wish that were the case for all.  I wish we could just come out of it, and leave it behind, shed it like a snake does skin, but it doesn’t work that way, does it?)  In the hardest times of this I lost a couple friends, and while it hurt, I realize, they haven’t a clue what I live with day in, day out.   The sometimes constant need to correct the thoughts that automatically spew from my brain, it can be exhausting.  But I’m doing it.  And I’m doing as well as I think I can.  Not without some unhealthy coping skills.

Anyway, I want to go back to this resistance I’m feeling about this one thing I’ve had in my life, 1/3 of my life, and have enjoyed, loved.  It would be very easy for me to say “I don’t want to do this anymore”, and chalk the negative feelings I’m having onto that, but I know myself, and I know deep down, it’s not that simple.  I am resisting it because it’s important, albeit, very important to me.

So I’ve been doing the usual things that I know to do, mostly prayer, meditation, seeking help with an answer.  Tonight an unexpected message actually helped me see how much I am truly pushing this away.   If I am being true to myself, and 4-5 years ago I committed to being true to myself, first, then I need to either dissect my reasoning, or even harder, jump in, get my feet wet, and defeat these restricting feelings, fears.

So I decided to write about it, to put it “out there” for myself to look at.  I do this with my artwork too.  I will take a picture and study it on my computer or telephone screen.  This way I am detached from it, and can see where my painting needs honing, correcting.   Whatever works, right?

So, how about you?  Is there something you are resisting?  Something that is important to you but your inner demons have got a grip on your decision making?

 

Hell’s Bells

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Tuesday evening I went and visited a close friend who was going in for surgery Thursday, hoping to offer her support, comfort.  Instead she offered it to me, as I dealt with what is probably IBS, or a spastic colon.   Washcloths on my face, laying on her bathroom floor until the pain subsided.   I pulled it enough together to come home and deal with the last two hours of it.  While doing this, I was also calling my mother to find out what time her appointment was Wednesday, she is being treated for advanced kidney cancer (her 3rd cancer).  MGH (Mass General Hospital) in Boston MA basically saved her kidney, thus her life.  She lost her other kidney to cancer a few years ago, and before that, advanced colon rectal cancer.  She was scheduled for surgery in November, but we had to cancel because I wasn’t fit to drive her.  One of my struggles is insomnia.   They go in and check out the ureter, kidney, laser off any tumors, and place stents.  She gets anxious, and misunderstood that she could now accept phone messages, and they had called her back 8 times.  She deleted them.  So after calling oncall service, I learned that we needed to be there at 11:15. Great.  I can hopefully get enough sleep.

Arrive at my brothers in NH to pick her up at 8:00, he tells us to take his car, because mine has no heat.  That was kind of him.  But my brother smokes in his car, and I get very sick when I’m around it.  But you do what you have to.  We arrive early, 10:45, check in.  We aren’t there too long before they call us in.  I look back at the large waiting room full of people, guesstimated, probably 60 between patients and their caregivers.  Everything was going well, until 12:15 came, and my mother who hadn’t eaten since 7pm the night before was getting irritated (who wouldn’t?).  At 4:30 they came and said “We’re going to take you to the o.r. now.   I wished her well, and hiked down towards the cafe.  The hospital is like a maze and fairly confusing, but I’d managed to learn my way around a few years ago upon my own stay there.  Upon reaching the entrance to the cafe the beeper starts beeping.  I need to go back.  Up I go.  They made a mistake.  It was now postponed until 6:30, then 7:00, then 7:30.  Ended up we waited for a total of seven hours before they took her in for surgery.  I’ll skip the whole ordeal because frankly, I don’t want to revisit it.  An hour and a half later I get a call from her doctor, NO CANCER.  Words most people would be delighted, overjoyed, very grateful to hear.   I was.  For a split second, and then I got angry.  Strange reaction, eh?  One I didn’t expect.

I texted my sister.  “Do you remember when they told Dar (kid sister) she was in renal failure and would fall to sleep and pass in her sleep?”  (If only that happened.)  She was afraid to sleep particularly that first night after being told, the next morning she awoke, and was so angry she was slamming cupboards.    “That anger is what I’m feeling right now”.

Every hospital, every surgery, test, procedure, every waiting room brings back very painful memories.  One would think it would get easier.  I had brought plenty things to keep me busy, but my mother nothing appealed to me, and I kept busy by talking to my mother and trying to keep her from walking out. (She has done that before).    Selfishly also because I knew it would be on me again, if this happened.    I was now in that large waiting room by myself.  They were closing the unit.  Someone came with her bag of things and brought me to another building, another waiting room.  One of the “conference rooms” where they pull you in to tell you dreadful news.   But there was no dreadful news.  I had already heard from her doctor.   Why was I feeling so emotional? So angry?   Where was my gratitude?

A few minutes later someone came to get me, to sit with my mom who had gotten VERY sick upon awakening.  The usual naseau meds that we ask for in the o.r. were no longer enough.  So they administered another drug, but only half dose because they wanted her to be able to get in the car so I could drive her home.  And by this time, this unit was shutting down.  Thankfully it worked. and rather quickly she bounced back, she wanted to be out of there as much as they did.  So I went to go find my brothers car (we use valet, it’s cheaper for patients than the garages), they had closed.  So I went to the parking garage that they advised me to, got the car and off to the Main Entrance to pick up my mother who was VERY uncomfortable.  Starting enroute, I was trying to navigate and help make her comfortable, she was all over the seat, wanting to put it back.  It’s not my car, I don’t know how to do it.  I text my brother, and my phone dies.  It dies.   It had been fully charged an hour before.  Where had all the battery life gone?  And the four year old iphone doesn’t always charge when I want it to.  Every attempt takes about 20 different times before it starts to charge.  Now, in Boston, with a patient, I missed a turn, lost my way, and I’m lost, with no gps (phone).     Anxiety is through the roof.  I’m trying to calm down, I pray, I ask my angels to help me, and my mother needs to now lie in the back seat.  So I find what I believe to be a safe place (?) and she maneuvers the doors and crawls into the back, my whole knapsack and pocketbook spill out on the back seat.   Also want to mention that the drivers side headlight is much less bright than the passenger side, I was having a very hard time seeing.  “There is no need in getting angry, it isn’t going to help, Donna”.  I said “I’m not angry, it’s fear.  I’m petrified.  I am lost, in Boston, without a phone, in the middle of the night with a sick mother”.  This lasted about 30-45 minutes until I found 2A.  During this time my mother wants me to stop so I can get her back in the front seat because she determined how to put the seat down.

I’m on Rte 2, I try to calm down, adrenaline rush that has my head throbbing, and feeling like I was going to get sick.  She is now calmer, lying still, hungry.   30 minutes later I arrive at our normal stopping point, and get out of the car to find the money that once was positioned nicely in my purse, in my knapsack.  We order, I just get a drink.  She is eating, and I’m driving looking for a route to NH that I’ve only driven a couple times. She lives in NH, I in VT.  And she wants nothing of coming to my house, nor would I, I would want to be home in my own bed.   We find it, we think, now mind you, it’s pitch black, no street lights, I know I’m not where I’m supposed to be, nothing is familiar. (As familiar as it could be at dark).  I’m praying, looking for civilization.  This lasted for another 20 miles, finally found the route and brought her home.  I arrived home at 1:45am.

I sit on the couch to unwind, each time I close my eyes I see cars coming at me.  So I try to meditate and release the angst.  Decide on a glass of chocolate milk.   I drink the milk, and so begins the cramping and repeat of the night before.  This time, thankfully, I’m home, on my own bathroom floor.  Two hours later it subsides.  I crawl into bed, turn on the tv, and my legs start cramping.  Up I am again.  At 6am I’m finally ready to fall asleep, which I did. Set the alarm, call my mother at 10 “Go back to sleep, I’m okay until afternoon”.  Three hours later  I wake to the alarm at  and look at my phone which had miraculously charged to 60%.  There is a text telling me my girlfriend made it through surgery, it went well.  I smile, I thank, I praise.  I’m up, jump in the car, picking up her meds, some meals for her, and a freshly baked raspberry pie.

She is happy and grateful to see me, and was thrilled about the pie.  We have a piece together.  Calm, peace, gratitude set in.  And something else, familiar, but couldn’t yet define it.   I get into my car to drive home and it hit me… STRENGTH.   My strength returned only 2 times more powerful.   Okay, all is well, now you can rest, now you can wholeheartedly offer praise, and thanks.   All is well.  My family is blessed with a nice holiday season.  Two more cancers survived this year.  We are fortunate.

I arrive home, look at my cell (which charged up to 30% this morning) “Unknown Caller”.   “Hey Donna!  Calling to set an appointment for your mothers next surgery in six months!

I breathe, mumble about pouring salt in a wound, and then laugh.  I can do this.  I’ve got this.   Thank you Lord!

 

For the times, they are a changin…..-Dylan

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Last week my 12 (she keeps reminding me… soon to be 13) spent the week with me.   She starts school next week.  It is the longest time we’ve ever spent together, and THE BEST TIME I’ve ever had with her.   I feel so grateful for the week.     She is a very special girl.  Very smart, very talented (she loves to paint) and the music videos she creates has me in awe.  Creativity doesn’t lack in this soul!

I dropped her off at her dad’s Friday, and as I drove home Friday night, windows down, older music on the stereo, my thoughts were so filled with love, with desire to spend more time with her.

There was a time in my life when I didn’t have much time to myself.   That isn’t the way it is now, much to my own making.   I have spent, and do spend A LOT of time on my own.  I keep busy, I own a house which I’m renovating on my own (now that the major work has been done by contractors), and I have a business that I need to dive back into.

As the wind blew my hair around, and kissed my skin, I thought about the news of the week.  The flooding in Louisiana, the fires in California, and all the political bullshit that makes its way to my computer screen.   My mind drifted to the Zika virus, as I waited while a pregnant woman walked across the road to a restaurant.  ENOUGH, I said.  ENOUGH!    I can’t take anymore news right now, I don’t want to see anymore election crap, I don’t want to worry about tomorrow, I just want to feel this beautiful place I’ve been over the past week.  A purpose beyond survival.

I feel change coming within me.  I have felt it for a while now.   I no longer want to spend all my time to myself.  I want to look into someone’s eyes and celebrate them, us.  I want to share my life with someone who appreciates and respects mine.

Thoughts drifted to relationships of past.   Each one had their own beauty, a couple when they ended!  🙂   I’ve been single for over a decade.  I’ve dated, but the guys I’ve dated were not even close to who I would spend my life with.  I think today, overweight, covered in painting clothes, I’m the best person I’ve ever been.  A very dear friend of mine, whom I trust with my soul said to me from Australia “Do you know how long I’ve been hearing you say, you aren’t ready?”   She wasn’t criticizing, she was sharing her feelings and it reminded me of the time another friend said to me twelve years ago “There will always be excuses to stay in a bad relationship”.    Both statements have moved me.

I’m not going to race out and join ANY online dating site.  I’m not ready.  But I’m BECOMING ready.     One thing I’ve always loved about twelve step programs is, you’re never asked to do anything without becoming willing, first.

I painted this weekend, and I finally finished a painting that I feared, I could not.   My hands are riddled with pain, but this weekend I had a break from that.  The brush didn’t exactly flow as I wanted it to, but what was different was the way I treated myself when this happened.   Easy does it.  Pick it up, try again.   I don’t know if any other artists struggle with fear of losing the ability to create.   This weekend my inhibitions took a hike, and my weekend was filled with love, memories of a great week spent with my niece, and a painting that assures me, I can still paint.  It feels nice to breathe, to not recirculate within myself negativity.

I’m taking a break from the news, while I don’t want to be ignorant of what is going on in the world, I need to breathe, to feel this happiness, this peace.   I will continue prayers for the world, and for so many friends and family members who need them.  But right now?  I’m going to stay where I am.    It’s a really nice place to be.

My busy time will soon be upon me.   This year I’m starting extra early for me.   I want to enjoy my life, not race through it going mach 80 with my hair on fire!  I am going to start an art blog, and probably, hopefully, start working on the book I have known I was supposed to write for three decades now.   Not sure what that means for this blog.   But that’s okay.  I don’t need to know!

Peace to you, and to world.

“Get out of the damn boat, Donna!”

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Have you ever had a “feeling” stop you dead in your tracks?   Sensed that you were in peril?  That someone you love is?  Or reacted out of character, following a gut hunch?

Six years ago while on a cruise with my best friend and her family, a private tour in the Grand Cayman’s to swim with sting rays was set up months in advance.  I knew I would not step foot off the boat.   A long life of fear around these creatures was “sealed” when “The Crocodile Hunter” died of injuries sustained from one.   It was a rough day to be out, complicated further by a tour director whose boat was nothing like pictured in the ads, nor did he care how old or how many passengers he had, or if the wake was affecting his guests.   Anyway, I digress.

My girlfriend and her daughter piled quickly out of the boat.  I sat, watching.   Her daughter, who is brave beyond brave, reacted unexpectedly to the feel of the sting rays on her legs, or perhaps it was their laser sharp tails that brushed against you when they swam past you.  She started to scream, which did catch the attention of our tour guide.  “You can scream all you want, just please, stop jumping up and down”.    Oh sure, I thought.  Steve Irwin all over again!    As she climbed back into the boat I was surprised at what I was thinking.

Something had my attention.  It was silent to all but me.  “Get out of the boat”.    Like hell I will!   And after a few more minutes I sensed that this adventure was something that I had to do.    Whatever it was, call it sixth sense, sign, I “knew” I needed to get out of the boat and face this fear.   And I did.

I defied the rough seas, mouthfuls of such and made my way out to the area where my friends were.   A couple of times I thought I was going to pass out, particularly when I felt the sharpness of one of its’ tails on my legs.   I stood still, took a deep breath and prayed…  “Whatever I am supposed to do here, get from being here, let this happen and quick!”.    This inner force was telling me that I needed courage.    I remember thinking “Okay, but why THIS?”

I will not say that I ever got totally comfortable with this.  These sting rays were used to being fed, they were stars in what was an obvious tourist attraction.    The smaller ones were male, the largest ones, which we were told could get up to 400 lbs, were females.  But of course!   We were feeding them raw fish.   Sushi, anyone?

Suddenly a very large sting ray was directing my way.  Oh God, this is it, I thought!   The guide came over and showed me how to hold out my arms and actually HOLD this huge sting ray.   They really felt like wet mushrooms against my body, but again, I knew I “had to do this”.   And I did.    I remember looking into its little beady eyes.    I held it for a few minutes, let it go, and then decided I had been brave enough for the day, found my way back to the boat.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been guided by inner voice, but it was surely the first and probably the last time I would swim with Sting Rays.     For the next couple of days, reflecting on that strong urge, I knew it was about courage, but that was as far as I got.   As always, it feels good to do something that you don’t particularly think you can do, or are afraid of.  Self confidence spikes.

Flying home I thought about what a wonderful vacation it was, and I held that experience close in thought.   Who would have thought that I would do something so brave?   Childhood fears can run PRETTY deep!    Upon arriving home I had a routine mammogram scheduled the following day.   The technician took extra slides, and I knew something wasn’t right.  It was eight months prior to that when I had tested positive for the BRCA2 gene mutation.   I honestly thought I wouldn’t test positive because my sisters were far younger than me when they were diagnosed with cancer.   I think I slid past this!

Within 48 hours I walked out to the mailbox to find a letter from the hospital.   My hands were shaking as I was trying to open the letter, and answer the phone at the same time.   “Donna?   We have an appointment scheduled for you tomorrow with your Dr, and prior to that you are scheduled to come back in for more slides”.    I hung up the phone and immediately called my sister, explained to her what is going on.   We decided not to tell my parents until we had to.   But we both knew, this wasn’t just random.

I went in the next day for more slides and met with my doctor who insisted that he felt it was nothing.    I remember watching his lips mouth words “I say we sit on this, and see what the mammogram shows in a few months”.   I swallowed, a hard swallow.   “No, I want a biopsy”.     By this time both the radiologists and doctor are telling me that they would agree to do a biopsy, but neither felt it would reveal cancer.    Three days later I, and four other women were scheduled for needle core biopsy in a small hospital in Vermont.     Four benign, one malignancy.   Guess who that malignancy belonged to?

“I would like a second opinion at Dana Farber, please”.   All confidence in them had been squelched.   And so begins my journey through breast cancer.  I value my “gut” instincts.  And while I may not like what I hear, I trust there is purpose behind the sign.

Melissa ETHERIDGE “I run for life!”

Poor santa

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I just got up and walked away from a painting I’m working on.  If truth be known I wish I had done this 10 minutes ago because I despise what I did to it.   Poor Santa!   I  believe it takes two to paint, and one person to stay “STOP!”     I have been using brighter colors than usual, and I’m excited about that, I think it is tell tale that I am seeing things differently than I did a few months ago, a couple few years ago.

I love Spotify.   When I’m in my car and hear a song I like, I ask Siri to take a note which lists the songs.  When I get home, turn on the computer I download these new songs.    I have playlists for cleaning, workout, painting, for each of my siblings, and people who have departed.   Music is so powerful.  It carries me through the darkness and then gives me a jolt, boost of energy when a song comes on that reflects positive memories.   My best friend went through an ugly divorce and could not listen to music for a couple of years.  I remember thinking to myself, if I did not have music, NEW music at that, I would probably not move.   But I know there was a time in my life when I couldn’t listen to music.   That’s all I want to say about that dark time.

Tom Petty is currently “running down a dream” as I type this.   I hope he dreams that this Santa I’m working on will look better in the morning light!  Music, Music, Music!     When you listen to music, do you sing like a rock star?  Find yourself holding a tube of paint as a mic?    I am not saying I do, just wondering about you! 🙂

This week is not going to be without stress, I’m afraid.   Dr.’s appointments, test results that could change a life drastically.  I have worked hard to stay busy and try to keep my emotions in check.   But it doesn’t take much for fear to jump in, and I find myself in the middle of a panic attack.   Why does life have to be so hard?   Recalling an earlier conversation I had with myself (Hey, I’m pretty good conversationalist), in which I reminded myself it was just a few days ago that I questioned “my shining hours” were actually some of the hardest of my life.   Now isn’t that something?    I was hot and didn’t even know it?  Haha!

If you think of it Tuesday morning, Wednesday afternoon, drop a prayer or send good thoughts my way.  I’d appreciate it!  And I hope you have a lovely Monday!   Is there such a thing???

My dad

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In a couple of months my father will turn 81.  My father, a Navy vet who served his country, sent home money to his parents to help raise his younger siblings.  He is one of six children, the second oldest.

He and my mother had five children together.  Their oldest, my sister Karen, took ill at the age of six with meningitis. From that diagnosis she spent months in a coma, came out of it with the ability to only move her eyes. Intensive rehab brought her back from that, but she started seizing, (Seizure disorder) having numerous grand mal seizures a day, which reared her paralyzed on her left side, unable to speak, walk. The seizures slowly and continually kept taking from her.

My father became an apprentice, and learned to be an incredible carpenter.  He did this so that he could build a home for us.  He (and my mother) built two beautiful homes. He worked more hours in one week then I’ve probably ever put into a job in a month, and I don’t consider myself lazy.  A very meticulous carpenter, and a house filled with four other children, weekend runs to pick up my sister and bring her home and back, proved difficult for everyone, including Karen.  The more seizures my sister had, the more it took from her.   I cannot imagine having a child and having such an awful thing happen to her.  I cannot imagine what it must have been like having made the decision to turn your very ill and medically needy daughter over to the ward of the state.   I remember judging my parents.  Asking them “If I get sick, will you send me away, too?”   Now I cringe at the very thought of asking that.  I cringe at the slightest thought that they could have chosen better.  Who the hell am I to ask such a question?   How much their hearts must have hurt.  But responsibility of four other children, and having worked night and day to pay off medical bills that today would have been covered by insurance, my parents made a difficult choice.  A choice that I believe was right for Karen.  A choice that I now believe gave me and my siblings, a more “normal” life.  If you can define normal.

My father has a wonderful sense of humor.  My whole family does, really.    And no matter whose company I am in, it is with my family that the laughter is the strongest, loudest.   I learned at a very young age that laughter heals.

My father became a plumbers apprentice and then went on to work for a company who sent him (foreman) and his crew many hours away, which they drove back and forth each day.  My father made a good living.  We always had a balanced nutritious meal on the table, a warm bed to sleep in and even “space” of our own.  We never needed for anything, and were taught that it was because of my fathers hard work, that we had the good life we had.    We also were taught that we lived in the best country in the world, and that our freedom is due to the many men (and now women) who served our country, many whom never made it home.  It’s sort of ironic how the man who gave most of his life to a job for his family, had at one point became invisible, absent.  But working for this company enabled him to give his children a good life, a good start.   His absence was only because he was working to give us this.  The company didn’t appreciate him.  They offered his little for pension.  But he kept going, day after day, for his family.  I know not how to live so selflessly.

He was our loudest fan at softball games, my brothers hockey games.   I always knew I was loved, and while I didn’t agree or like some decisions he made, including ending a 27 year marriage to my mother, I humbly have long since realized, I have no right to judge him or her on that, either.  What do I know about

He and my youngest sister, Darlene, were particularly close.   He admitted to the three of us remaining children last year “Okay, okay, Darlene was my favorite!”   He looked at us like it was an awful thing to say, only to find the three of us bent over laughing.   No shit, Sherlock!   The truth is, they were great buds.  They fished together, they did so much together.  It is nice to look at pictures of the two of them together.   The way Dad looked at her, she was “it”!   And this is not to imply he doesn’t love us, or look at us with swelling pride.   They had something very special.     I remember sitting next to my sister when she made the phone call to dad to tell him that her cancer treatment wasn’t working.  She said “I’m so sorry dad”.    I recall a conversation she and I had, one of our last and she said “You know Donna, he came to every ball game of mine”.  She was talking about after my parents split.  “He would get there late from work, but he always came”.   I am teary eyed thinking about her smile when she said that.  For whatever he didn’t do right (you know what I mean), being her loyal, faithful fan made it ALL right.  My sister was an old soul.  There was and would never be any jealousy there.  She was ALL OF OUR favorite.

I’ve spent a lot of time reminiscing of late.     I do not know what it is like to be my dad.    I know what it is like to watch him age, lose physical and mental strength.  I sometimes have to look away so he doesn’t see my tears.  And yet, I know how very fortunate I am that at the age of 53, I still have both my parents.

I always thought I knew it all.   And for a long time I chased “his approval” foolishly.   That ended about a decade ago when I was unpacking my van, having been travel teaching.  He was helping me.  I pulled out a new painting and he looked at it, didn’t say anything, just looked.    I was tired, disappointed that he didn’t respond the way I wanted him to.  “Am I EVER going to do anything that makes you proud?”  I said with the sharpness of a razor.  I will never forget his expression.   His jaw lay on his chest.  It was that very moment I learned, my dad would probably never shower me with the compliments the way I once wanted him to, but he was proud of me.  And the chip I had on MY shoulder that day, hurt my dad.   “Of course I’m proud of you, Donna.  I love your artwork, I think you are very talented and I’m proud of all of my children.”   I have not, nor will I ever again question his pride for me.     I am SO over judging my parents on anything.  Thank God!   And now, I am working on doing the same for myself.   The crap we get into our heads!  It’s static!    It’s all just frigan static!

It’s funny as I age and realize just what an ass I have been in my life.  I’ve put my parents through some major worry, particularly when it comes to depression and mental illness.  I remember my second hospitalization.  My sister was with me at the phone.  She had brought me a teddy bear, I named him “Arthur”.  I think I was 24.   “Dad, I need to tell you that I’m in the Brattleboro Retreat.   I am getting help for my depression”.   “You have to pull yourself up by your boot straps Donna!”.   Of course I took that wrong, and he, being the age group that he was, wasn’t as educated on mental illness as he is now, 30 years later.     I was so hurt and angry.   Now I know, in HIS head and heart he was fearful.   My father “pulled himself up by his boot straps” over and over and over his entire life, to give to his children.    His heart, his head spoke from his experience in life, to hide the fear he had of what I would or have done to myself.  He wasn’t judging.  He was saying the only thing he knew to do!

I’m not sure why it’s taken me all these years to figure out how intelligent both my parents were and are.  And as I watch them losing ground, I am fearful of losing them.    I’ve been single for over a decade now.   My dad has always been there for me, to help me in any and all ways he can.   “I’m sorry, Donna, that I was focused on your brother’s education, and not yours.   I ignorantly thought that you girls would be taken care of, in marriage”.      There was once a time, and probably too long a period of time, that it angered me that I was raised with this mentality.  That the only way I would have a home is to have a husband.   But that has long since passed.   I am responsible for my choices.  I am responsible for marrying children, two of them!  I am responsible for where I am in my life.   If I had to do it all over again, I would have sought out college.   I know I could have made better choices for myself, could be financially secure, but I’ve also come to realize that even that isn’t as important as being a good person.   Doing my best, day in and day out, and living within the morals that I was raised and were taught.    The day I bought my house out from my ex-husband was one of the proudest days of my life.  I AM responsible.   I AM who I am because of the stable childhood I was blessed with, I learned the importance of family, and while I have no children or even husband of my own, I sometimes think about how difficult it is to keep my head above water.   I take pride in caring for and giving my animals a wonderful home.   And that is NOTHING compared to what my dad gave.    I am the strong woman I am today BECAUSE of my experiences.    I understand, now, why at the age of 30 when my 10 year marriage ended, how come that was so hard for me.  Because I felt like I was nothing without someone.    Oh my god have I grown.  Thank God!    And for all the things I thought my mom or dad did wrong, they did TWENTY TIMES that right!

I’ve watched my parents bury two daughters, their oldest and their youngest.  No parent should have to bury a child, but sadly, well, too many do.  I’ve watched both my parents battle cancer, and seen the anguish and hell it brought them to watch their three remaining children battle it too.     My dad has not had an easy life.  Like all of us if he had it to do over again, I’m sure he would have made some different choices, but my dad?  He’s only human.   My dad has led a good, honest life.  He knows what it is like to work hard for your family, to start over, and he will always remain “our father” in worry for his children.  My dad, what a great human he is!  He is visiting with my sister right now in NC.  I know he chose fathers day visit to mask the fact that I am his new favorite!   🙂

I have been blessed in life with an honorable man as my dad.  He really is my hero.    I am very grateful that I have had 53 years with my dad.   I am the good person I am today largely due to the good person my dad is.  Thank you dad.  I love you and you will always be my hero, and I, your little girl.

Commitment

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Alongside intimacy, I have problems with commitment.   If you want to go out to dinner with me you are better off springing it on me that day.  It’s just the way it is.   I have improved some in this department, but am far from “norm”, whatever that is.

I can be in a long term relationship, faithful, and wish to be in another, but in all honesty, that scares me.  Not the faithful part, the intimacy part.  And no not sex, intimacy is much more than that.

Recently I have come to grips with what I need to do for myself, what I need to do to take care of myself.   This involved admission of an addiction to food, and action to arrest it.    I’ve joined OA, which I am excited about.  I don’t have to do this alone because frankly, I can’t, I’ve tried.  My best intentions and attempts landed me in the slump I was in.   

I need to make commitments to myself.   While I have in past struggled with this too, I am much more willing to try, am making changes that will improve my life, mentally, physically, spiritually.   As part of this I brushed off the old treadmill which has been unused for a year, and planned to start using it on the porch where it sits.   Hmmm, this will only last 2 weeks until the heat and humidity set in and then I will have a viable excuse to stop.  So, painstakingly I rearranged my art room, saying goodbye to a piece of furniture that I love, but no longer have the room for.  Fortunately a good friend is taking it, so as silly as it sounds, I will still be able to see it and I know she will put it to great use.   I remember going to my friend’s house and she had an exercise bike that had clothes draped over it.   I said to her “It must be a pain in the ass to remove those clothes every night when you use that!”   Like I have never used an exercise machine as a clothes rack!  Too many!

The treadmill is now where there will be constant air conditioning through to Fall, I can listen to music effortlessly, and if desired, watch television while exercising.     It was a difficult decision to make because first, I don’t like a treadmill right there when you first walk into my front door, but this is where I stand the greatest chance of keeping to the commitment I’ve made to myself to get in shape.  I’m actually pleased with my decision, which reinforces, to myself that I am giving this my all.    The crappy part of all of this is the relocation of many things, including scads of items that were in the cabinet I am getting rid of. 

I have worked very hard to get my house organized.   If you lived in my chaotic mind for the past decade you would probably vomit at the steady rollercoaster in thinking.   Grateful I was diagnosed with ADHD last year and am on medications that have improved the quality of my life, and since then allowing me the mindset, since, of cleaning out every nook and cranny of my house.   My cellar has never been this empty since I moved in 26 + years ago.    I need to get it cleaned and sealed, am not sure I’ll be able to do that with my allergies and sensitivities but the fact that it is almost ready for this is gigantic!     A furniture hoarder, thus the constant flux of furniture in my house, which consequently ended up on my 3 season porch, has ceased.    I have two pieces left in my shed that I am bringing into my house, and I will not be buying anything unless something is removed.   For the first time in my adult life I will have no “unused” furniture to fall back on when I’m in the mood for change.  Still, the peace of mind, the freedom I am feeling in taking these actions is much greater than my desire to continue the “treasure hunt”.    It’s so much easier to clean my house, my little house suddenly is looking more spacious, and everything has a place.  I’m sure most of you will say, well, yeah… but I have not lived that way in a very long time.   It didn’t help to be living with the crazies of active alcoholism for almost a decade and then was in fight or flight mode to make my way back from it all, which too, has taken almost a decade to do.  Still there are financial restraints that I sometimes feel like I’ll never get beyond.  But progress.  I have to look at the progress I’ve made.

I called my bestest last night to vent, purge myself of the feelings of frustrations I was having with once again, having my house in disarray.   As with most projects, one leads to another, to another until almost every room of your, well my, house is involved.    I made a point last night to clean up what I could so that I would not come downstairs and be overwhelmed immediately.  It worked.   I have a lot of work to do, but it is doable.  It certainly doesn’t seem as bad as it did yesterday.

So, here I am, writing about the commitments I am making to myself, the decisions that I’ve made.   Once I make a decision which has truly set into my brain, I’m pretty good about keeping it.    I’m replacing all the negative self talk with positive affirmations, reaching out to those who can and will support me, and I’m on my way.  As we often hear, life isn’t about the destination but the journey, I started this journey with movement, action.   Success doesn’t begin with an hour on the treadmill, it begins at the time of thought, readiness, preparation, arrangements.   I am doing it!

 

Reacquainting myself with my paint brush

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Today’s lesson:   Dump the negative connotations and insecurities that keep me from being who I am supposed to be!

Today’s gratitude:   That tomorrow I have therapy.   Missed all of last week and I feel it.

As I sat here this morning, looking over my shoulder at my paint desk I had a heavy feeling in my stomach.    I always go through this when I haven’t picked up my paint brush in a while, and every January I am so burned out from teaching the past year that I take a sabbatical from painting.    What goes through my head is…. “What if I can’t do this anymore?   What if I lost my ability?”   On and on I can go, but I’ll spare you from it.

So after much self coaching I sat down with the photo of what I wanted to paint.  Deep breaths, couldn’t get the chair positioned right, nor able to open my paints or find the right brush……MORE procrastination, more excuses to keep me from finding out if my fears have come to light.   Of course, I changed my mind a few times as to what I wanted to paint.  Hey, I reserve the right to change my mind, and because I have problems with commitment… I just HAVE to change my mind!

I reintroduced myself to my brushes, falsely told them how glad I was to see them.  Dread.  Fucking dread.    I hate this part of my psyche that I am working to change.    After I got painting, however, the brush flowed, my hands and fingers started to work and I then get excited.   You know, come to think of it, I often confuse excitement with dread….   but that’s a horse of a different color.

I think we are hardest on ourselves, I know I am.   I wish I were a fine artist… I wish, I wish, I wish.  As I tell my students, embrace your heavy or light handed painting… it is who you are.    Art is art.  Everyone’s interpretation is cool… okay with the exception of some of the contemporary stupid statues that take little if no thought… but then again, even that has it’s place in the folder of art.     We are all artists, whether we have found so or not.    When I’m asked what kind of artist I am I say… “Con”.     I wish I could draw a nude man…. hell, maybe I’m just wanting to SEE one! 🙂   Anyway, the talent that go into that drawing amazes me.  I love it.    Perhaps one day I will try it.

Phillip Phillips is playing in my background… “Don’t pay no mind to the demons they fill you with fear!”    Ain’t that the truth!   I am insecure about many things including on some days, my artwork.   When I have seen fine art, I really want to go home and crawl under my bed… why?  Again, because it is something I want to be and I know I never will be… and you know what?????? That’s okay!   I am uncomfortable painting around others, comically I teach… but to design to paint a picture, I like my solitude.   For some reason I think if I’m painting alongside another artist, I’ll be doing it wrong… which is SO stupid, but sadly true.

I am working on a wildlife scene with Canada geese.   Already I see three things I would have changed, but time is of the essence, deadlines are fast approaching…   I need to produce!

Well, I guess it’s time for me to get back to work.   Still, the heaviness in my gut is there.   As a child I wanted to be two things… an artist and a writer…   I recall a couple artist friends who said they didn’t take this on as a living because they wanted a sound financial life… sighs…    Sometimes I wonder, what would or could I have accomplished if I had continued education in art.   But I can wonder all I want, it won’t change my reality.   My reality?  I love what I do, I hate the lack of financial security.    I guess that is “union dues” for being an artist… ya think?

Hope you have done something today that you enjoy doing…  For me, it certainly isn’t watching the Super Bowl.  Couldn’t care less.    Hockey?  Yes….     Have a Imagegreat day! ♥

Today’s artwork:  Hydrangeas painted on a rusty tin pocket…. probably painted a decade ago or more….