Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Burnt Out

Christmas 2011 has come and gone.

This is what I have learned about Christmas, there are positively wonderful moments and then there are sad and depressing moments and some in between. THAT IS NORMAL and I have to allow my feelings through it. In a "normal" Christmas without death hanging over, there is anxiety about getting everything done, deciding what exactly "everything" is and plowing forward. I did keep it simple this year, especially with my melanoma experience and George's boards in the middle of it and it was manageable. It was actually really good. I experienced highs of seasonal lights, giving and receiving of Christmas cards, the excitement of my girls, and Silent Night sung in candlelight at church. We had a weekend in New Orleans and it was SO good to get away.

Just got off the phone with the hospice social worker as she had visited with Mary yesterday. I thought I was emotionally "okay" with dealing with Mary, I thought I had "managed" the holidays. I talked with the social worker and she asked how Christmas with Mary went, fairly easy question, right? I started talking and then the emotions came up. In reality the part of Christmas we spent with her which were just visits to the nursing home were dreadful, really really dreadful. It is horribly depressing and sad and one cannot come out of a visit unscathed. But George and I powered through it, we brought presents for the girls to distract them on Christmas Eve before going to church services and then again on Christmas day.

When we walked in on Christmas day, as she was laying face up in her bed asleep, both George and I thought the same thing. Is she still breathing? It wasn't quite relief that she was still breathing. She is now a shadow of her former self. She is bony everywhere, she is in pain. She now has the rash around her mouth area which is a lack of nutrition. She still sits up at times, but there are no positives, no smiles. Her Christmas cards sat unopened. She does pull through to boss me around in small ways, that's how I know she has more life in her.

But if you power through a visit, and put on a protective shield to get through it, the shield has to come down, and I didn't realize I was putting up the shield. Yet it has been coming down the last few days and I fight feeling these sad morose feelings. We are waiting for her to die. We have been waiting for a long time now. She is suffering and we are suffering. I am burnt out. I visit less often especially with the girls out of school and when I do visit, it is tough. It takes a lot out of me to go. This has been going on for too long. Who knew she would hold on in this state. I really want her to let go. The pressure has been ongoing and seems like it will never end.

How long has this been going on? She was diagnosed in September 2010, which was fifteen months ago or 65 weeks or 456 days. Four hundred and fifty-six days of this hanging over our heads. No wonder, I'm burnt out. Her health actually began to decline in December 2009, starting with a case of shingles, unexplained anemia, and weight loss. It became obvious to George and her doctor that it was probably cancer but it took many months to diagnose.

Three other younger people in our community have died of cancer in the meantime. A forty three year old father of three, a fifty seven year old father of two, and an eight year old girl and they all battled the disease for about a year. Why does the seventy nine year old hang on? Her cancer was not as deadly? For two of the cases, I know the aggressive form of treatment is what took the toll on their bodies in the end. There was no aggressive treatment for GaGa because of her age and condition.

All I know is I feel sad, angry, and worn out emotionally. I'm going to leave this post here because I can't wrap this up with a bow. It is healthy for me to say this really sucks, period. I don't have to make anybody feel better. And that is what I usually do and I am learning that I have to break out of what I usually do.

Monday, December 26, 2011

It's Christmas and he looks like Jesus doesn't he?

I came across this on FB yesterday from one of my friends. It was SO timely. I had been knocking around some thoughts about someone I use to be close to and the thing that I do is try to figure out what I did wrong for them not to respond to me (because that has been my habit - it's always my fault, the codependency of I am responsible for your feelings) And at this point, I know there has been very little that I could have done "wrong". I know this for sure. And then I clicked on this seven minute video and heard within the first minute and a half what was going on. It's not about me.

This reminder was so important for me because a) this man's appearance and accent would have been completely off putting to me before. (But actually, he looks like Jesus, doesn't he!!) And b) I believe everything he is saying. I am so happy to be thinking out of the box, accepting someone's words who is different than me, lives in a foreign country and yet, I completely understand what he is saying. These are the lessons I have been learning and he summed some of them up well, (my impatient self did cringe when I saw that it was 7 minutes long- there is always more evolving for me) Acceptance is such a huge part of healing. Acceptance of myself and others. I have learned to accept many things that I did not like before and it is so freeing. I enjoy nature so much more. I go through interactions with people who use to cause me distress, and now there is none. I realize that I am not responsible for other people's feelings. This is huge!
What a wonderful Christmas message!

Friday, December 23, 2011

My "Pretty Room" Updates

Before and After: Here are the latest changes to the foyer area, the white curtains had been in place since the previous owners put them in 20ish years ago and were coming apart. We purchased a new rug and my interior decorator used my old gold Pottery Barn silk curtains to make roman shades. The old PB ones had many, many indicators that kids and cats live here so we do have new rules for the "pretty areas" of the house. No food, no pens, no markers, etc.

And now the Dining Room:

The pictures can't do this space justice but we bought a beautiful new rug of soothing tones,
painted the formerly pale yellow room the same color as the living room and
the ceiling at 50% of that same color, and had new curtains made of a silky blue green
iridescent fabric. They even have pretty little tassels and are lighter in color than the living room
curtains. In the living room, there is one side of shelves where a television use to be and I didn't
know what to do with the space. Emery suggested a lamp on top of books which we walked
around and collected from what I had, and I found other pieces to go there. I LOVE having that
lamp there, it softens the room to turn just it on and makes it cozy. So for now, I am done
with my pretty inside areas and the next step is to the outside of the house where some painting
needs to take place in the front areas. And this will probably involve new gutters which is just not as much fun
but necessary.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wherever You Go, There You Are

I just read last year's December blogs to see where my head was. Being this is the second year of GaGa having cancer, I wanted to know where I was and how I was feeling. We had just finished the addition of the keeping room which went very smoothly but Mary was not doing well and life was overwhelming. In October 2010, she was still living independently in her apartment but really needed help and we had to fight with her to get her the help. And then she fell, was hospitalized and needed better pain management. She ended up going into hospice care and into the nursing home by the end of the year.

This December, she has become less mobile, struggling to stand up, is sleeping more and more, and eating less and it really does seem like we are approaching the end. Now that can mean months or weeks. I never thought that I would be saying every few weeks for for the entire last year, that she is slightly worse. How many variations of slightly worse are there? But at some point her body will shut down because it is not getting the nutrients it needs.

I brought something to her on Monday, and watched as she struggled with her small milk carton. It was like watching a toddler handling it but in slower motion. She quietly asked me if there was room in my house for her? Last week in more of an anxious fit, she asked me to come pick her up and take her out of the jail. Both times I had to reassure her that she was where she needed to be. In the hours and days after, it eats at me, am I supposed to take care of her in my house? And then my logical, rational mind kicks in and says that it is not possible for me or our family to do this. And more importantly, she still would not be escaping her reality. She would still be in pain, still be scared and still be dying.

I am barely keeping up with life with my immediate family as it is. Laundry stays in piles whether is is clean or dirty. I have papers for days around my desktop and bills to be paid. I have more Christmas shopping to be done and wrapping to occur. This is not even accounting for taking care of and feeding the children and getting them to school. And what about planning for a Christmas meal? My own parents' lives are completely focused on my dad's dialysis five times a day now and his precarious health.

It took me a little while to realize that her asking me this twice in a week was eating at me. Rationally I know the answer. But it tugs at me, not to do what she is asking. I have not been very good at taking care of myself without taking others into account. That is called codependence. I learned a lot about this around two years ago. I never had a strong sense of self but all of that has been changing. Yesterday, once again GaGa mentioned something about living with us and I told her that she would not be able to escape the situation that she was in. Her illness will follow her wherever she goes. She replies, "You're right." There's that old saying, wherever you go, there you are.

I wish we didn't have to keep revisiting this lesson over and over again.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

And now, back to regularly scheduled stress...

I had clear margins from my second melanoma skin biopsy!! I am thankful and relieved. And now back to regularly scheduled stress. I asked for prayers from my church, sunday school class, Facebook, and children's school. During the week plus of my active melanoma scare experience I stayed relatively relaxed. I credit this to prayers, lots of deep breathing and this journey to fear less, and love more. I purposely didn't look anything up online because there was nothing I could do about it, and I wanted to sleep at night and not heighten my anxiety.

Here is a clip from Big Bang Theory that I love and happens to be on the subject of prayer, in an offhand satirical way. (Please comment if satire is not the right word for this?) I was aware of a church growing up that wanted to lay hands on my friend to pray her head cold away. I know teetotalers. I also feel sure I know several who would want to pray the gay away.

Not so long ago, I would have seen this show and clip as blasphemous, and now I see it as really freaking funny. I had a really skewed vision of God. I feared God, felt him and the church judging me and was not open to the love coming in. I also felt I wasn't worthy of God's love. All of this is changing.

I wasn't sure if I should put my prayer request out there during "the scare" to ask my 600 friends on FB for prayers or in other places. I would definitely ask them on behalf of other people but not myself. Again, not feeling worthy of asking. Two of my FB friends, said how could we pray if we didn't know? Well, they had a point. I am worthy. I am learning this more and more as time goes on. As well as the fact, that God has a sense of humor. I really believe this to be true.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Settle Into Your Bones

May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.
~Mother Teresa

Beautiful quote! I so love the part about contentedness with yourself and the knowledge "settling" into your bones. That is what I have felt very much in the last months and I have worked really hard to get there. It could also be described as being comfortable in my skin. Whatever description you use, I feel it now. There is so much yin and yang going on for us now. It's the Christmas season and the family gathered together and we put on the Christmas music and decorated our tree and also outside with our "Griswaldish" lawn ornaments. And I'm patiently waiting to hear if my leg is now free of melanoma cells.

Last night, George and I visit GaGa at the nursing home before heading to the festive Ochsner Holiday Party. She asks what year she is born and we reply 1932. She asks what year it is now. Upon learning that she is 79, she says that's too long. She is in pain, can't use her words, can't dial a phone or change a tv channel and told us she is ready to die. The tears fell down her cheeks and when I hugged her goodbye, some fell on my new blouse. She loved my new blouse and was worried about the stain.

I am in the sandwich generation. I see the agony of illness and age and it is contrasted with the energy and celebration of youth. I have come to embrace both. It's not easy but now I know how much to appreciate my children's enthusiasm and energy. I have always been thankful for the miracle of their presence in my life as it did not come easy. But now watching someone fade away, my appreciation is even deeper.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I'm Feel Numb And It's Not Just My Forehead

The last two days have been doozies. On Monday, I went to my dermatologist's office to try out Botox treatment for the first time. I had purchased a treatment at a reduced cost at an open house and decided I might add a little botulism to my life. Why not? I have some forehead wrinkles that I have been noticing more as of late but I didn't really know how I felt about starting Botox. I began wondering would I tell people, would I tell the girls? How does this fit in with the healthy life approach that I have been embracing. And that was the thought train I was on when I arrived at the office. And then...

I got to the clinic and remembered I had a mole biopsy two weeks prior and hadn't heard back about it. Weeks ago, at another clinic that I had been to for laser hair removal a nurse pointed out this mole and said to show it to my doctor. Back at the dermatologist's office, I brought up that mole biopsy and it became the classic scene that I know I have seen in a movie. First, the nurse couldn't find the paperwork, then she found it and said, "Oh, the doctor will be in to discuss this." That didn't sound good. My heart sank a little.

Several minutes later, the doctor walks in and I am hearing although it's bad news, it's good because it is "in situ." Malignant melanoma in situ was the diagnosis and "in situ" is good because in Latin it means "in place." It all sounds Greek to me and my heart sinks further.

What? I'm just stunned. It felt like slow motion just like the time I got in a car accident in Buffalo and I did a 180 on the snow covered highway. Even though I ended up on the shoulder, I watched in slow motion as the other car hit me. My car spinning around freaked him out and he hit me head on anyway.

I immediately had thoughts of being thankful for my vanity (!) that a) I got laser hair removal with a nurse who brought attention to this mole and b) I came into the office for Botox. In hindsight, I was really glad that I was in person to hear the news and could talk to the doctor directly.

She brought up that George could do the surgery or she could. It needed to be done in the next week or two. (I was ready then and there) She drew on my leg what the incision would look like. Sun damage was probably the cause. We would have to be more vigilant and check moles every 3 months for a period of time. And then we went ahead with the botox. We didn't discuss it, and it was already paid for, so why not.

I came home called a few friends and laughed as I said, "I feel numb and it's not just my forehead." The blog title jumped out at me. I laughed more about having discovered this while going for botox. Quite the irony. Laughter really is the best medicine. I don't really care who knows I have had Botox now.

I was not expecting this in the least. I had not concerned myself one iota with the shave biopsy, it was an afterthought that I brought it up. There has been so much going on and now Christmas is at hand. GaGa has worsened slightly. My dad has been doing well with his dialysis at home thus far. George has his Board exam on December 8th. Crazy busy.

So every year for the last few years, I have said I'm going to keep Christmas simple.


THIS... IS... THE... YEAR!

On Tuesday, I had the football shaped excision to remove the proper amount of skin around the mole deemed by the American Dermatological Association. I have a 2 inch incision that I am now tending to. And waiting for the biopsy results. I'm trying to push it out of my mind but the pain of the incision is quite the reminder.

I do feel like we caught it early. This is what the first biopsy results imply but the important results are five to seven days away. I can't exercise or do yoga for about a month. I'm having to rest. I'm enjoying mindless television right now and that is SO okay.

This story is to be continued...

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Again today, I am still feeling blah. I kicked George out of the spare room as he is studying for his Board exam on December 8th which comes around every ten years. I decided to watch tv and fold the massive amounts of laundry that were waiting. I didn't get very far because I had something pull me out of my blahness and into motion.

The spare room is where I have 17 of Oprah's Life Classes on the DVR which are excellent. But what was on live on the OWN channel was Super Soul Sunday which I also tape and it is 3 hours long every Sunday. I have yet to make it through one of these shows as I have to take them in bits because I have to be open to chew on them.

Yet today when I find Oprah talking to the Reverend Ed Bacon, Pastor of All Saints Episcopal Church, I knew I wanted to hear what they were saying. I had heard him on her Soul Series and I was immediately drawn to his message. His church is a liberal activist Church where Jesus is taught as the Savior and Son of God, and what is emphasized more than the dogmatic and doctrinal issues of Religion, is the connection with God, the Spirit, the Cosmos (!), other people and connection with your deepest self.


This woke me up from my funk. It is music to my ears. No dogma or doctrine, it boils down to love. Jesus' message was love, not fear. And when you get connected to your deepest self, you want to turn around and love others. This is God in us.

Oprah talks to Reverend Bacon about a time in 1998 when she was taping a show with Caroline Myss about consciousness. This is what Ms. Myss said about Consciousness that it is "Becoming aware of why we say what we do, why we think what we think. And it is a very challenging part of our lives.”

I am enthralled to hear a neat packeaged definition of what I have been doing these last few years. I have been becoming conscious. Evolving is another description. I evolve yet still watch the Bravo Housewives. Keeping it real.

So Oprah asks how Rev. Bacon defines Spirituality and he says, "the Experience of feeling unconditionally LOVED. So much, so powerfully that you know that there is some power greater than you are, loving you. This love that you are experiencing is coming from a great power and it is filling you so much you want to love other people. "

I get that, I really get that. But it takes time to overcome our pasts, and look at the hard stuff but it is so worth the journey. I had a "normal" childhood but it was not without it's shortcomings. I didn't know that I didn't have a voice. I speak up now as opposed to shrinking away but there has to be a decision about what is important and "picking my battles." Now I connect with my husband, children, and friends in a deeper and more profound way. I drag George along on this journey. I have felt so comfortable in my skin for the last months even though there have been very stressful life events going on. That is an incredible phenomenon and I want to keep moving forward... consciously.

Less fear, more love. That should be a commercial on tv.

Hello there...

On this close to the end of November morning I was feeling a little blah. The weather has been rainy and today it is cold, but I actually like that. We slept in and I finished reading a book. I haven't been into reading that much lately, it felt really good to snuggle with my IPad and escape into another world.
Since it is Sunday, I decided that I would really like to engage with God through nature instead of a church service but that would be difficult due to it being pretty wet outside. I would love to take the girls on a hike or something like that. And then I thought, oh well, the family can do it another day.

In a few short moments I noticed this bloom on my front porch.

Hello God...I see you there.


Monday, November 21, 2011


Twelve weeks ago, I had a facebook "friend" who urged his friends not to watch Dancing with the Stars because of Chaz Bono's participation. So many feelings came up reading his post. I completely and utterly disagree with his reasoning for boycotting the show. Is this a post that I want to engage and disagree with? In finally realizing I have a voice, is this the issue that I want to be heard on?

Expressing my voice and choosing when to do so and when not to do so is still shaky and I will practice this skill for the rest of my life. This particular issue is tangling with the ever judgemental right. And why do I abhor the right so much? They are pretty good at passing judgement and using the Bible to do so. I have much practice with judgment because I have done it to myself for years and now that I am learning to show myself kindness and love in a healthy way, I find myself stopping my critical thoughts of OTHERS when they first pop in my mind. I use to judge others a lot but I did think that issues were grey.

I caught a 2000 Oprah rerun on XM radio with Gary Zukav, the author of "The Seat of the Soul." I think I might have listened to this before and it sounded a little hoo ha. But I now know that hearing it eleven years ago was laying the foundation for me to understand the concepts and further my soul's journey. One idea mentioned among other brilliant ones was when anyone was judging another, the root cause is pain and fear in the judger (and something that needs to be worked out.)

Here is one of Gary's quote that applies:
“When you have an emotional reaction to what you see, you are judging. That is your signal that you have an issue inside of yourself - with yourself - not with the other person. If you react to evil, look inside yourself for the very thing that so agitates you, and you will find it. If it were not there, you will simply discern, act appropriately, and move on.”

Darn it, now understanding this dynamic I get that I am now judging the anti-DWTS (anti-transgender) person. Now, I've got more work myself which I know anyway. This is going to be a lifelong process and I am thrilled to be on this ride. I recognize that although I am fully supportive of gay, lesbian, transgender, bi-sexual persons, and their rights this is a rather new stand for me. It has come around in the last years and reconciling it with what I believe God thinks on the subject. So this is newish. I still have a little fear in my position, but I would rather have a little doubt, than think I know everything!!

And by the way, I think this year's Dancing with the Stars was fantastic at pushing boundaries. Not only was there the first transgendered contestant, but the first wounded war veteran (soap star) and along with the skimpy costumes which I don't like, we did see someone was accepted for who they are and not how they look.

Friday, November 18, 2011

My trip with Ambien

I love "Modern Family." We need stress relief over here and that show provides it in spades. The last couple of episodes have been right on target. A few weeks ago, Cam went on about his pot pie and ended up describing how he just wanted to go home and watch his pot pie go round and round in the microwave. I nearly busted a gut because I had made a microwave pot pie for myself that night and had watched it go well, back and forth. I really love a pot pie. I ate my way through them while pregnant with Mallory. How did those writers know I needed that particular laugh?

So onto last night, Modern Family rings my bell, again. The back story is I went for a three week stretch with poor sleep, waking early. I REALLY don't do well without my 7-8 hours of sleep so I ended up trying Ambien, and liked it so much, I took it for 21 days straight. That is NOT advised but I was scared not to get my sleep which is another story. I began to have side effects which scared me worse than the not sleeping. It wasn't the one below but, this is what they showed last night.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Joe Paterno and Kim Kardashian

I roll my eyes at the power of football. Though I have been to Tiger Stadium and felt it and appreciated it. I know that college football supports a university and all of it's other educational programs as well as the local economy. But the behaviors that are accepted in the name of football really make me sad.

FB is a breeding ground for me to see other's opinions that I do not agree with. And what amazes me is that some people just throw it out there with apparently no thought worrying what others will think. And that is a fairly new skill set for me and I'm still working on it. What do I believe strongly enough in so that if I put it out there in cyberspace, will I absolutley sleep at night, because I have had trouble with that lately. Assertive, schmertive, I need my sleept these days.

Someone commented about how they felt sorry for and also appreciated Joe Paterno and his forty years of coaching for those like her who enjoy watching football. Ewww! I didn't respond but have taken to the blog. What about the children and families who were allegedly abused and who were turned away? Abuse on top of abuse for them and the fact that the alleged abuser could then continue? Paterno admits he felt he should have done more and regrets that. He should have listened to his gut and that is what I'm talking about, not who is to blame in this sad, sad situation.

I wanted LSU to beat Alabama really badly on Saturday night. I will admit that. But we make and I will say we, make heroes out of people who are not. Sports figures and coaches are people with a certain skill set that our society is enthralled with. One of my weaknesses would be actors and actresses, entertainers. But in the last years I have learned to take everyone off of their pedestal and I mean EVERYONE.

I love watching indepth celebrity interviews because those are the ones when I learn they are just people and have issues just like everyone else. And sometimes, I can actually learn something from them. You can read Kim Kardashian the riot act right now but in the end, she is just a girl who thinks she wanted to be married and have kids and she just doesn't know the way to go about doing it, her mother and her are more concerned with branding. I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt because there was no criminal misconduct. She is learning a big life lesson and so is Joe Paterno, hopefully.

And in God's eyes we are all equal, we are all his children. It doesn't matter that he coached football excellently for forty years or that she made a sex tape. I think God cares equally that neither of them listened to their gut. He hopes for the best for all of us.

And I think God hopes that we listen to our intuition, it is God talking to us anyway.

I was going to end it there but then I saw the media coverage this morning, and it was revolting.
When Paterno said to the news reporter at his house after being fired, "...I'm out of it maybe..." That little word, maybe, tacked on to his sentence showed his ego roaring. He is FIRED and still doesn't think he's gone. He has been in power way too long. Wow. The ego is a very powerful part of our minds. Joe's has been built up for years as the "god" of Penn State. We should put no one on pedestals. I continue to learn that lesson. It's a good one.

Monday, November 7, 2011


I happened to turn on Piers Morgan Friday night and Susan Boyle was on and I decided to listen to what she was going to sing. I've never bought any album of hers or downloaded any songs but the little voice said watch it and I'm learning to roll with those little small nudges. I find that there are no coincidences lately.

Susan began belting out "Both Sides Now" and the hairs began to rise on my body. But what the heck does this song mean? I'm fairly exhausted due to too many activities over the last 2 weeks and my brain feels foggy. I google the lyrics and then have to look up someone else's interpretation because just as in Freshman English Literature class, I have no idea what the writer was talking about and this case it is Joni Mitchell.

The interpretations gave me chills again. (No coincidences! Listen to my gut!) Looking at life from both sides now, as a child and as an adult, life doesn't make sense. Life IS a mystery. The more I journey I acknowledge God's presence much more often than I use to and I choose to think of it as the Holy Spirit around me.

(An aside, the description of looking at both sides reminds me of Richard Rohr and his two halves of life which I would reference but I am too tired to look it up)

Also, I feel some friendships fade away and others take their place and it's better to roll with it rather than fighting it like I use to. I appreciate the old friendships for what they were and how long they lasted and celebrate the new. And, I have learned to say I love you right OUT LOUD. Expressing one's feelings is risky but connecting to those we love and who are able to reciprocate is a precious, precious gift.

Awkward transition... Back to Susan Boyle and her story which is quite remarkable. Her 2009 appearance on "Britain's Got Talent" and watching Simon Cowell's jaw drop and eyebrows raise was spectacular. (I tried to post but it was not available.) She was forty seven years old. Dreams can still come true to those who need more time to percolate. And she had chutzpah to stand on that stage in the beginning of the song as they were rolling their eyes at her. She was so brave and then she nailed it, with everything she had.

I am old enough to remember hearing Judy Collins' version of "Both Sides Now" and connecting to it long ago but I had no idea what it was speaking of, the melody was just beguiling. But Susan Boyle's slow version stands out to me now. Her Scottish accent is so thick to me I can barely understand what she is saying but when she sings, it is crystal clear. It seems magical to me when that happens for her and others. I wish that magic happened to my voice!

Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell, 1969

Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I've looked at clouds * that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I've looked at clouds from both sides now

From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As ev'ry fairy tale comes real
I've looked at love that way

But now it's just another show
You leave 'em laughing when you go
And if you care, don't let them know
Don't give yourself away

I've looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It's love's illusions I recall
I really don't know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say "I love you" right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I've looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I've changed
Well something's lost, but something's gained
In living every day

I've looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all
I've looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Each and Every Time

I run into fairly friendly acquaintances and they ask "What have you been up to?" And I try to explain what I have been doing with my time. This is how it goes:
Me: "My mother in law has cancer and it has been very stressful."
Other Person:"Oh, does she live with you?"
Me: "No."
Other Person: "Oh, so you go and see her every day."
Me: "No."

How do you explain a year's worth of being the guardian of a parent, and then becoming their parent?
(And I know that most people just want me to say that I'm fine and they don't want a description and I get that) But sometimes I have to justify (to myself) why I feel so exhausted and worn out.
It is the ups and downs, mostly down, never knowing what is going to happen from month to month, sometimes week to week, and sometimes day to day. And of the challenges and wondering when is "it" going to happen? Watching someone descend into a miserable, painful state of being and yet they are still alive and can remain in the miserable way for an extended period of time.

I thought of how to explain it today.

We have invited GaGa over for lunch tomorrow. She has not been to our house in a while. And a certain level of dread starts to set in. How are things going to go between she and the girls? How much pain is she going to be in? How much thinner is she going to look? How much sense is she going to make as her words don't come to her anymore? Will I have to cut her food like I did last time and then ignore that she is not eating because she has no appetite? Is she going to smile, just once? There is a level of tension so high that it takes a chainsaw to cut through.

It hit me that the description of the "What are you up to?" stress is that when I look at GaGa's frail, shrinking, pained self is that I'm looking at death. I'm not trying to be melodramatic because this is the way it is...

Each and every time I see her.
Every time I talk to her.
Every time I think about her.
Death is always in the back of my mind.

This is not the normal stress of everyday living.

Months ago, when my therapist said she is halfway between life and death, I continue to understand it on deeper and deeper levels. I wonder how much more I have to learn because it keeps coming whether I like it or not. Yet the more I embrace it and examine it, I see God making me stronger. I see little signs, people put in my path that make me smile for a just a moment. And those moments feels oh so sweet.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I laughed and I cried

I have been thinking about Chaz Bono being on Dancing With The Stars from the time I saw a boycott of DWTS on a FaceBook post. All I could think was how brave he is, on so many levels. Another FB "friends" said "HE/SHE IS REALLY GROSS TO ME. I CAN'T STAND TO WATCH HIM DANCE! " and I was repulsed by the words and then thought how very sad for that person and for society. For the very reasons that Chaz disgusts some people, he is heroic to me. And now I know it is okay for me to have that opinion.

I was so moved by this dance, especially knowing his backstory from watching his documentary. He worked to accept himself for who he is, had the courage to change his gender to be in the right body AND that his mother came and supported him after she accepted his transition.

I cheer for his road to authenticity as I cheer my own and anyone else's.

I know his dancing skills are not up there with the best but his spirit shines through. He appears to be a kind, shy man. And afterall, it's a reality show for gosh shakes. Bristol Palin and Kate Gosselin did not stay around for weeks because of their abilities. Chaz will eventually get voted off but in the meantime, I root for him (and a few others!)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

“Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinion drown your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

-– Steve Jobs

I didn't really know who he was until he resigned at Apple. Dunham began using Apple computers exclusively, so George and I have been transitioning our home computers and I have become a devotee.

I had read the above quote before and it was a spark for me but after his death I examined it again.

His quote is exactly what my journey of the last few years has been about. I did not know I was trapped in other people's thinking. I had to really examine hardcore what my beliefs were, allow them to come to the surface. I then being paying attention to my intuition when other people's "stuff" in my head began dying down. The "supposed to's"and "should's" fell by the wayside. And it takes time, but so worth it.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

50th Anniversary of Breakfast at Tiffany's

I have been fascinated by my last name ever since I met my husband. I thought, seriously, that's your name? Are you kidding? And after 15 years of having said name, every time I have to give it and spell it, I wonder what the response will be from the unsuspecting party and they have been numerous and varied.

The best was when an airline ticketing agent made fun of my last name years ago after it was newly acquired, and could tell he hurt my feelings and he upgraded me to First Class. I say make fun of it all you want now my skin is thicker.

I had never heard of the name until I began dating George and my mother made me aware of the movie and Holly Golightly. And then I caught a showing of it on cable TV where Holly signs a note. And I stared at the screen in disbelief, "that's the name" and my fascination begins.

My now deceased father-in-law told the story when I first met him that he had met Truman Capote back in the 50's. Mr. Charlie had attended college at Penn State and he and his buddies would travel to NYC and see plays and they met Broadway actors who eventually became famous. He also reported that Truman had the eye for his tall blonde buff roommate. Charlie was quite the jokester and liked to be the center of attention so I didn't know whether or not to believe him, and it makes a good story.

Over the years, I have tried to read about Mr. Capote to glean where he came up with the name Golightly but I have not discovered anything concrete. I did read of a libel lawsuit again him from a NYC woman named Bonnie Golightly but nothing came of it. I am reading a book about the making of the movie because in its' time it pushed boundaries and especially with Audrey Hepburn as the star. She was not Truman's first pick, he had wanted Marilyn Monroe and wow, that would have been a different outcome. So my fascination continues and it will have to remain a mystery, and sometimes I've learned it's better left that way.

Monday, October 3, 2011

My love affair with Target

One day last week, I found myself at Target alone, all alone. I love Tar- jay. I didn't know how much I despised Walmart until Tarjay came along. My love affair with Target started twelve+ years ago when we lived in Buffalo. It was an instant attraction.

I am that customer that they market themselves to. It's an upscale Walmart or a low end department store, however you look at it. I can buy kids and adult clothes there that are nice and are made well, but I can also buy a CD or a movie or books at great discounted prices. Those kinds of things cheer me up when retail therapy is needed, and Target can do the trick and not break the bank (well, restraint is still needed). That bullseye just draws me in. They don't even need the word Target and of course, that was by design.

I very rarely go by myself because it is something I can do with the girls and save my sacred alone time while they are in school. Yet I do have to go in drill sargeant mode with them. I keep it moving because we can get distracted or bogged down trying things on, not to mention the toy aisles and it turns into a two hour tour.

So I found myself at Target alone last week. It was just the two of us (and the rest of the morning shoppers). It was a sensual experience. I walked slowly and took my time. I tried on clothes. I looked at housewares. It was so quiet, I had thoughts that came to my mind that I didn't know what to do with. I savored every aisle. It was like I was making love to Target.

 Perhaps I need to plan scheduled rendezvous more often.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bone Tired But Soul Stirred

I have not been sleeping well lately. Many things are on my mind. There is the everyday running of a household with two young children and a husband whose surgery practice keeps him hopping at all hours of the day and night. My mother in law has been really ill for the last year and now my father is going to begin dialysis at 81 years of age with a bad heart. Mortality is on my mind.

There is no avoiding it under these current circumstances. The idea of meeting my maker and a reflecting on my own life, cements in me my desire to absolutely be who I was born to be, how God made me, to trust who I authentically am. I have worried about what other people think of me for so many years and acted upon those worries and it was completely unnecessary. I never thought to question them as deeply as I have until the last few years. Figuring out who I am and accepting me for me, I have felt a since of peace and freedom for the first time in a very long time, probably since I was very little...

By my bedside, there is a book by Mary O'Malley entitled "The Gift of Our Compulsions." I have read just a little but know I have got something revealing in my hands. Mary describes when we are born, we love ourselves unconditionally. We live in our bodies, and in our hearts and whoever we are is... enough. That idea alone is worth pondering for a few minutes but I go on, Ms. O'Malley states we "lived in full connection with ourselves and our lives." "Life was a magical adventure." She goes on to say as children, we knew "how to keep the joy of life alive by hugging and snuggling, swinging and twirling, dancing and running." And then we veer off for so many reasons including how we were parented, our environment, our Western culture, just life, period.

It was a total aside that I began focusing on "my inner child" in the first place. I just really, really desired to come to grips with my issues with food. I thought about food too many hours of the day and that is not natural or healthy. I started therapy. I read Geneen Roth and then Eckhart Tolle, Melody Beattie, Richard Roth, Gary Zukav, and on and on. I don't read through all of each book but I read just enough to get the sense of what they are saying and I hear the same brilliant messages again and again using different phraseology and I feel like I am at home. I have continual aha's that give me understanding and clarity. I have also experienced rounds of intuitive eating that are effortless and well, quite miraculous when I have felt controlled by food for the last few years. I am seeing how all of the pieces come together, but also that this journey and the learning will be for the rest of my life.

We are planning my eldest's 9th birthday party. She wants to sing karaoke among other things. After Riley and I sang and danced to a few fun songs like "We Are Family" and "Saturday In The Park" I spied a song that I forget about but I really get into it when I hear it. It is the song "And I'm not Leaving" from "Dreamgirls." I could go on about the Jennifer Hudson vs Jennifer Holiday debate but I went with the one with the better music.

My aforementioned inner child delights in singing and dancing to this song, I come ALIVE. I am still amazed how this happens when music stirs my soul. My pasty white English/Irish self tries to channel any if at all soul diva I have inside of me to belt it out. Riley tells me not to dance while I'm singing and I can tell the teen years are going to be challenging because I have to move when my soul is stirred these days. It is really hard not to move when the music is on.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A First World Problem

I have a bookshelf next to my bed, it's a comfort to me. And I have magazines piled on top of the bookshelf gathering dust and cluttering. This is not a comfort. I have known for a few years now that if I don't read the magazine when it first comes through the door, it is not going to be read. Even with that bit of knowledge, I don't act on cancelling the subscriptions or getting rid of the issues in a timely manner. Why?

I have new cleaning ladies coming in this week for the first time in a few months. So I am running around like a chicken with it's head cut off, trying to get EVERYTHING picked up. And this is how it goes....

I walk into the laundry room to put batteries in a toy for Mallory who is sick at home. I see the cat litter box needs cleaning and make a mental note. I look in the washing machine and there are wet clean clothes. I open the dryer and see dry wrinkled clothes so I turn on the steam cycle. I walk back to the kitchen to wash dishes and Mallory asks me for the toy I put down in the laundry room with the new batteries. I go back to get it and the timer has gone off on the dryer, and then I see the towels that need to be washed. And Mallory has a food request which I take care of and then see the dirty dishes. I remember the clothes that are warm and walk and sit down in my bedroom to fold what was in the dryer and flip on the television which reminds of something to look up on the internet, which I do. And then I go back to the clothes and notice the pile of magazines on top of my bookshelf. This goes on and on and I am mentally worn out.

And I get it, I have to stay on task, and it seems like my anxiety of getting "everything" done works itself out by me running around like that chicken without a head. First of all, I shouldn't be doing the laundry because the laundry has nothing to do with the house being picked up for them to clean. Secondly, I need to pick one room at a time and focus (except for Mallory's needs). So yesterday, I look at the pile of magazines and they are so appealing.
The titles call to me, "Spring Cleaning Shortcuts", "Organizing Solutions for Every Room" "Energize your Life" I love the IDEA of them. The titles CALL out to me. But the magazines lie around and cause me stress. And then when I do work to get rid of them it is in a PERFECT way... First, I must donate them so somebody else can gain benefit from reading them. I choose which ones I can part with, then ask Riley to black out our address, then bring them to George's attention in a pile so that he can bring them to the hospital waiting room.

Why does it have to be so perfectly handled?

Looking at the title, "organizing solutions" I thought... my freaking solution is to dump these directly in the recycle bin and cut out all of the other steps, which is... what... I... did. And it felt good. With some hesitation that I am missing out on some information in those magazines. And I ponder on the idea some more. My answers are not in these magazines. I did stop and glance at the one article that I'm holding onto the magazine for and it tells me nothing new. It's not like I can't find the information somewhere else or on the internet when I really need it. I've already listened to the experts, I've watched Peter Walsh, I've watched Clean House. I just need to get "the stuff" out of my house AND not bring any more in.

But boiling it all down, the answer is in me. I'm looking towards these experts and the external when the answers are internal. I'm putting my faith in some expert out "there" instead of myself. I am just learning to trust my instinct the last few years and getting rid of all of the "should's", "supposed to's" and other faulty logic. The answers have been within me all along. I am trusting myself more and more and the distracting unproductive thoughts are falling by the wayside. And the more I trust me, the more I can focus to think out of the box and find new ways to handle old problems.

(The title is thanks to my good friend who uses this term when our problems are not the basics like food, shelter, running water, etc.)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

For Just A Few Moments

And life with a loved one with cancer goes on. GaGa has started a new medication and she has responded to it, so her paranoid thoughts have seemed to dissapate. We are back to "normal" and she can dial a phone again and call when she is in distress.

GaGa calls, looking to me for the answers and this... is...


She has been in denial of the cancer from the very beginning. I've never even heard her say the word so I stopped saying it. She has been told she has cancer many times over by her oncologist and by George and we have now hit the year mark of her diagnosis. Her mantra is always to want to go back to the doctor to find out why she has this pain on her side. She has been saying this every week, several times a week for close to two years. I finally realized the denial no matter how frustrating to me, who is currently diving really deep into my own muck and faulty thinking, has kept her alive. I just happen to be hypersensitive to inauthenticity right now. My meter is high. My learning curve is that not only do I have to accept myself for who I am, I have to accept others...
Heh, heh, heh.

On a regular basis, GaGa looks to me for answers and in the past, we have gone round and round with what she is saying for me to try to get to the bottom of it. It never makes any sense. Even when I try to repeat back to her what she has JUST said to me, that gets denied. Last week, after a conversation that went round and round, I told her I was confused. I asked are you confused? And she said yes. If you boil it all the way down, through all of her muck, which is very deep, it is that she is scared, confused and in some amount of pain. She doesn't understand what is happening to her or why. I don't have any answers for that. I can't help her not feel pain, anxiety or sadness and I was trying to do that for a long while. There are no answers for why she has cancer and her life has taken a miserable turn.

She asked again to see the doctor, I told her the doctor can't do anything, that she can only take pain medication to keep her as comfortable as possible. And then this is what broke my heart. She finally said okay. I am the parent. She is the child. This is a sucky place to be.

I went to visit her on Friday and she was very calm, coherent and non demanding. This has not been the case for months. I told a story about the girls, and she laughed and that hasn't happened for a while. She had visited with the Hospice Nurse who had told her the same things I did and she used the C-word. GaGa relates that Susie says the pain is the Padget's disease and the cancer. That is the first time I have ever heard the word cancer come out of GaGa's mouth. For this moment in time, she is accepting of cancer and she seems at peace. I don't know how long this will stick but I will remember this moment. Acceptance, even when life brings you misery, pain, and uncertainty, acceptance of these circumstances, brings a sense of peace,

even if for just a few moments.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ha Ha Ha

I'm a horoscope says that my emotional state will vacillate. Ya think? Ha ha ha ha ha.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Finding a Way Back to Love

While folding the never ending pile of clean clothes, I found the movie "Music and Lyrics" on TBS. This is a older movie from 2007 that makes fun of an 80's pop band member who is stuck milking his decades old fame for his current livelihood. I love Hugh Grant and his perfectly timed sarcasm. One of my favorite part is when he injures his hip gyrating. That move is about 25 seconds into the video. It will redirect you to the You Tube website to watch if you are so inclined.

I found myself looking for meaning even in this rom-com movie. A new low even for me. And then I laughed at myself for doing so. A new high for me. It's just cute and funny. Though finding a way back to love is a really good theme....
This is the original trailer.

Monday, September 12, 2011

So Should We Have Another Baby?

Today is my youngest's 6th Birthday. Last night we started watching our home VHS(!) videos (yes, I have work to do) of her birth. It was with great fondness and sentamentality I viewed them as babies. I joked with George that we should have another and I wasn't serious but the idea was a pleasant one as opposed to the terror the idea would have felt to me previously. He told me I was on my own, either because he has had a vasectomy or that he will be 50 in 2 short years. I said, we could adopt...

And then...Mallory decided to remind what it was like to have a newborn. She came into our bedroom on four different occasions from 12:30am to 3:00a.m. and then I finally asked if she wanted me to lay down with her and I did in her twin bed and she twisted and turned. But I was so verklempt that I had a precious girl who was so excited about her birthday, it didn't matter how much sleep I was losing. Until the next day when my brain wouldn't function because I was so tired. But it was a happy tired.

I love the above picture of Baby Mallory and round cheeked Riley. I love watching what the girls looked and sounded like a few short years ago and how they look and sound the same now but just more grown up versions. Certain mannerisms are the same. I also see what I missed back then. There is video footage that I have absolutely no recollection of taping which makes it kind of fun to watch.

I wonder what they will do as they grow up? What high school will look like for them? Where will their interests take them? I think about how I am learning to love them for who they are, not who I want them to be while at the same time I'm learning to love me for who I am. It's a two for one right now and I am ecstatic to be have this journey. It's quite a ROAR!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

New Growth

Yes, that is a nasty picture of my toes. There is a point. I am feeling sick right now, raw throat, stuffy nose, sneezing, watery eyes - a poster child for a cold commercial. I feel bad. I have a strong desire to eat my way through this feeling bad. I had some chicken soup and crackers and drank some tea but I wanted more, like chocolate.

I'm tired of eating to nurture myself when life feels overwhelming. Although I have learned much and have evolved, the desire to eat still beckons mightily. A hot bath is in order, because my body is achey and it will remove me further away from the kitchen.
I noticed my toes in the tub. I had decided a few weeks back to give the nails a break from the polish, and hadn't gotten around to doing anything with them. (And they really need to be cleaned up as you can see. And one of life's big questions, are you supposed to get rid of the hair on the big toe?) Anyway, I noticed that the new clean nail growth is pushing the old yellowed nail to the top.


I have learned many new ways to take care and nurture myself that I never knew how to do before. I'm have begun thinking in new ways. But the yellowed old ways are still there, lingering and waiting to come out especially when I'm feeling sick, and down.

Okay, let's get to the bottom of this, what feelings am I trying to push down? Immediately my mother in law comes to mind. The last couple of weeks have been REALLY difficult. How many times have I already said that in the last year since she was diagnosed? Just when I think we've got the handle on the last level of difficulty, a new one is just around the corner waiting. She's been really confused lately and quite paranoid. Every couple of days we hear what is fresh on her mind: George and I are getting a divorce, he's cheating on me, we've moved out of town (together at least!) and left her, we're hiding something from her, George is dead, we now have three kids, (a boy this time!), and George has us living in a drabby apartment. All of these involve George, but now she has begun to fixate on me and my perceived shortcomings. She believes these thoughts and is scared and frightened. She can't work her telephone, or change the channel on her tv, but she can still move her way around in her wheelchair and make sure we know the television is broken and we are not answering her calls. She looks miserable and she shares that misery with us. It is draining. At the end of 2010, it looked like cancer was going to take her life in a speedy manner but she plateaued. I didn't realize that you can linger in this horrible state in between living and dying. Or I had not come into contact with it so personally.

My tears start falling when I understand that this is what I'm holding onto and not acknowledging and not allowing through. More grief. The desire for chocolate has faded somewhat and the desire to write about the situation springs up. I have put a call into the Hospice Social Worker because I need to talk to a professional who deals with grief on a regular basis. Last time I talked to her, she gave me profound insight especially as she has met my mother in law. I so needed to hear what she told me. This is going to help me more than the chocolate. A little new growth is pushing me.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Coming off a long weekend for Labor Day, Tropical Storm Lee made his way slowly onshore and thankfully it was just windy, rainy overcast days of no real magnitude for us. I was hiding out in our spare room trying to have some ME time, when I found "Eat Pray Love" on cable. Lately quotes from Elizabeth Gilbert have been floating through my awareness, thanks to my FB friends.

I walked in on this part where Richard from Texas tells Groceries this...

“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.”

Shazam. I heard it like I'd never heard it before. I LOVE when this happens.

I think back to all of the quotes I have known about attitude the last 25 years. It's not what happens to you in life, it's how you react to it, etc. They sound cliche to me because I do know when you boil things down, truths ARE really simple. But it is not easy to go through the boiling to get it back to that simple truth. But I'm willing to keep cultivating.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Steel Magnolia

I want to be a steel magnolia. That has just always sounded good to me. This is the definition from Urban Dictionary: A southern woman who is strong and independent yet very feminine. I want to be someone who can take it. I want to be considered strong. I think that is Western society's influence on me. And then there's the movie with Julia Roberts which was filmed in Natchitoches, LA. And I HAVE taken the tour!

And then I think... let me take a look at this again. I need to be myself. That is what I have discovered this whole journey has been about. I need to be who I authentically was born, how God made me. The "supposed tos" and "shoulds" are falling by the wayside bit by slow bit. I am changing the way my thoughts have always been.

I need to take care of myself so that I can take care of the rest of my family, especially now with GaGa's illness hanging over us. That has been the message the last 3 weeks. Maybe I need to take a break for a few hours and get away. What is this strong, tough business? Strong and tough don't make one empathetic and loving. That's who I really strive to be, that is who I really want to be. Holy cow, that is who I am.

I need to be who I am and then everything will feel right in my soul, no matter what is going on around me. I am tough, and I am tender. I am emotional. I am strong. And some days I have nice hair if I take the time.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Some Messages Just Can't Be Received...

I'm still participating in medicinal laugh therapy with old comedy shows. I came across this jewel from "Roseanne" the sitcom. I apologize for the shaking of the picture and the laughter that I am trying to squelch as I tape it and you will need to turn the volume up. I guess this gets my goat because some of my actions seem fruitless lately (but I know they are not) and some messages just aren't going to be received.

Monday, August 22, 2011

"You become. It takes a long time."

From "The Velveteen Rabbit" by Margery Williams...

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

"The Boy's Uncle made me Real," he said. "That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."

Children's literature has been nudging me lately. It's showing up and drawing me in. This is so beautiful and I had only read the board book version to the kids so the longer version was available for free through Nook. So the girls and I started reading it last night. Wonderful stuff.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Laughter, a very good thing...

While I am in the kitchen cleaning and cooking with no DVR to be found, I have found myself flipping on reruns of shows that I have seen over and over like Friends, Sex and the City, or Everybody Loves Raymond. Ones that I know every word of dialogue, know what is coming and they make me laugh. And that is a very good thing because life is incredibly stressful right now. I think the key here is something reliable, and I know what's coming. But these shows are like old friends who show up and the chemistry is instantaneous.

This is a scene from Sex and the City that I came upon recently and it doesn't matter how many times I watch, it makes me giggle. It involves a scary clown at a one year olds birthday party, and a grey hair found "down there." There is some vulgar language, so be warned. But I think God has a sense of humor so it's okay. A few short years ago, I did not want to admit that I watched Sex and the City with my religious baggage, but now, it is my first clip ever uploaded to You Tube. All this therapy stuff IS working...

As this is from Season 6, these two characters are so fleshed out, and the actresses so good at these parts, it's like they are playing music. I hope it might have tickled you a little bit. Did it?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I love Martha Beck

10 Life Lessons You Should Unlearn
martha beck
In the past 10 years, I've realized that our culture is rife with ideas that actually inhibit joy. Here are some of the things I'm most grateful to have unlearned:

1. Problems are bad. You spent your school years solving arbitrary problems imposed by boring authority figures. You learned that problems—comment se dit?—suck. But people without real problems go mad and invent things like base jumping and wedding planning. Real problems are wonderful, each carrying the seeds of its own solution. Job burnout? It's steering you toward your perfect career. An awful relationship? It's teaching you what love means. Confusing tax forms? They're suggesting you hire an accountant, so you can focus on more interesting tasks, such as flossing. Finding the solution to each problem is what gives life its gusto.

2. It's important to stay happy. Solving a knotty problem can help us be happy, but we don't have to be happy to feel good. If that sounds crazy, try this: Focus on something that makes you miserable. Then think, "I must stay happy!" Stressful, isn't it? Now say, "It's okay to be as sad as I need to be." This kind of permission to feel as we feel—not continuous happiness—is the foundation of well-being.

3. I'm irreparably damaged by my past. Painful events leave scars, true, but it turns out they're largely erasable. Jill Bolte Taylor, the neuroanatomist who had a stroke that obliterated her memory, described the event as losing "37 years of emotional baggage." Taylor rebuilt her own brain, minus the drama. Now it appears we can all effect a similar shift, without having to endure a brain hemorrhage. The very thing you're doing at this moment—questioning habitual thoughts—is enough to begin off-loading old patterns. For example, take an issue that's been worrying you ("I've got to work harder!") and think of three reasons that belief may be wrong. Your brain will begin to let it go. Taylor found this thought-loss euphoric. You will, too.

4. Working hard leads to success. Baby mammals, including humans, learn by playing, which is why "the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton." Boys who'd spent years strategizing for fun gained instinctive skills to handle real-world situations. So play as you did in childhood, with all-out absorption. Watch for ways your childhood playing skills can solve a problem (see #1). Play, not work, is the key to success. While we're on the subject...

5. Success is the opposite of failure. Fact: From quitting smoking to skiing, we succeed to the degree we try, fail, and learn. Studies show that people who worry about mistakes shut down, but those who are relaxed about doing badly soon learn to do well. Success is built on failure.

6. It matters what people think of me. "But if I fail," you may protest, "people will think badly of me!" This dreaded fate causes despair, suicide, homicide. I realized this when I read blatant lies about myself on the Internet. When I bewailed this to a friend, she said, "Wow, you have some painful fantasies about other people's fantasies about you." Yup, my anguish came from my hypothesis that other people's hypothetical hypotheses about me mattered. Ridiculous! Right now, imagine what you'd do if it absolutely didn't matter what people thought of you. Got it? Good. Never go back.

7. We should think rationally about our decisions. Your rational capacities are far newer and more error-prone than your deeper, "animal" brain. Often complex problems are best solved by thinking like an animal. Consider a choice you have to make—anything from which movie to see to which house to buy. Instead of weighing pros and cons intellectually, notice your physical response to each option. Pay attention to when your body tenses or relaxes. And speaking of bodies...

8. The pretty girls get all the good stuff. Oh, God. So not true. I unlearned this after years of coaching beautiful clients. Yes, these lovelies get preferential treatment in most life scenarios, but there's a catch: While everyone's looking at them, virtually no one sees them. Almost every gorgeous client had a husband who'd married her breasts and jawline without ever noticing her soul.

9. If all my wishes came true right now, life would be perfect. Check it out: People who have what you want are all over rehab clinics, divorce courts, and jails. That's because good fortune has side effects, just like medications advertised on TV. Basically, any external thing we depend on to make us feel good has the power to make us feel bad. Weirdly, when you've stopped depending on tangible rewards, they often materialize. To attract something you want, become as joyful as you think that thing would make you. The joy, not the thing, is the point.

10. Loss is terrible. Ten years ago I still feared loss enough to abandon myself in order to keep things stable. I'd smile when I was sad, pretend to like people who appalled me. What I now know is that losses aren't cataclysmic if they teach the heart and soul their natural cycle of breaking and healing. A real tragedy? That's the loss of the heart and soul themselves. If you've abandoned yourself in the effort to keep anyone or anything else, unlearn that pattern. Live your truth, losses be damned. Just like that, your heart and soul will return home.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Today, I have planned to see Mary and it is something I dread. When we visited on Sunday and picked up her clothes to wash, I told her that I was coming. Will she remember? I don't know, these days it is a real toss up. When George visited last night, she was glad we had moved back to town. Last week, it was funny that she thought George and I were getting a divorce. The kind of funny that you have to laugh or you will lose it.

Well, this week the dementia has turned even more personal and it's not funny anymore. She is sharing her paranoid thoughts. She asks if George is where he is supposed to be during the day, is he really at work? Is he behaving? Is he doing what he is supposed to do? Then later in the day, she thinks that George and I are hiding something from her.

In my new life skills I would employ boundaries with this person who is coming at me. But she is very, very sick and I am responsible for her so I have to learn to completely detach from what she is saying, like she is a child. She pushed my buttons and I was angry and sad all at once. Then I read this quote on Facebook.

"Whenever you are upset about an event, a person, or a situation, the real cause is not the event, person, or situation, but a loss of true perspective that only space can provide." ~Eckhart Tolle

I immediately knew what was going on, her thoughts were triggering issues that I have with other people. As soon as I realized this, the feelings disappeared.

But the dread goes on.

Her arms are so thin, and she looks so emaciated from the top down but her legs are swollen from her body turning on itself for nutrition. She can't work a television remote or dial a phone. I had to cut her food the last time she came to our house, which was a new low. Her mind is not working right and her confusion is causing her much anxiety. The denial of the understanding of the cancer in her body, that has served to prolong her life for the last year is lifting and she is beginning to give up on her mantra of wanting to go to the doctor to find out what is wrong. We have had to scale back the visits with her beloved granddaughters because it is necessary for both parties and this kills every loyalty bone in my body. It is sad, sad, sad.

But I have now written about it, released it for a few minutes, and the emotional and physical exhaustion of yesterday, the last week, the last month and the last year has lifted ever so slightly and I will hit the treadmill before I go see her, try to get some endorphins going and carry on. I did not know my pledge to myself that I would be as present for her as I could possibly be in this terminal illness would be so incredibly difficult. In the end, my gift of presence to her, will be the ultimate gift to myself. I can't take care of her without taking care of me first.