life, love,art. heart failure and assorted ramblings

life, love,art. heart failure and assorted ramblings

Don't Talk Like That...

I write to find out what my heart thinks....
I am here to celebrate my life, to uncover my fears, to hold on to love, to grieve my losses, to laugh long and hard, and to learn how to live a full magnificent life with heart failure. I am honoring my creativity, and exploring all of my emotions out loud ...before anyone can say....."Don't talk like that!"


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Sunday, June 16, 2019

The more you love who and what you are....

As I continue through this process, this is the first most amazing set of feelings and emotions that I truly recognize!  I have known pretty much from the beginning, illness and death is a solitary activity.  As much as friends and family want to, they cannot share in the pain, fear, and grief that I go through.  It is not a fault, it is a fact and maybe, in the end, a blessing.  My heart and my body may be getting weaker but the emotional struggle is making me a more powerful source of strength. I no longer need attention, validation or approval from anyone, I am learning how to do that for myself. I control my own peace and it gets better every day.


"It's Amazing" Jem

Friday, June 14, 2019

Remembering Carter

Happy Birthday friend, student,  teacher, one of our creative tribe and the only woman that made me laugh so hard that I wet my pants. There are no words that can tell you how much you have been and will be missed! xoxox

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Nice ?


My entire life being “nice” was the first thing I was taught to be…if I wanted to be liked and/or loved and  I wanted that desperately, I suspect most of us do! My mother walked out of my life when I was 5, in a young child’s mind I had clearly done something terribly wrong! The only way to atone for this was to be nicer.  Honoring myself, having boundaries, being authentic about my life and feelings was NEVER a part of this equation! 

Recently, after several years of masking my own discomfort and struggles so my loved ones were not uncomfortable and saw me as “nice” and well and in no need of their concern, I am at the stage where I can no longer keep up the performance. Forced (and I am a redhead, force
does not go easily) into a space of self-care I cannot guarantee that being nice has happened, but being motivated by love for myself, my own heart is forcing a whole new perspective on how I live and love.

"What I Am"  Eddie Brickel

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

A perverted version of the “Wizard of Oz”

Prepare for serious GROUSING:
45+ years ago, we got a marriage license. This does not make much sense now…but believe me, it will!

In 1974 we lived and went to an Episcopalian church where we were going to get married, in Orange County. At the last minute, the priest we were receiving (pre-marriage)  Cana Classes from informed us that the Bishop’s dissolution of Skip’s first marriage was likely to be declined. In other words, the church did not feel his legal Texas divorce was valid under Episcopalian rules. The wedding I dreamed of in the Episcopalian church that I loved and grew up in, was going to be denied. However, he had a minister-friend, at a Presbyterian Church in Altamonte Springs that performed weddings for couples like us…and we did just that. If I could… I would track down that pompous Episcopalian Bishop to show him how wrong he was. I have never truly forgiven him or the church…

Fast forward to last week, while filing for Skip’s Social Security Retirement and Part B Medicare and, by the way, surviving a SS fraud scheme, we had to produce 2 more pieces of documentation to finish the process. A statement from his employer that he was indeed covered under a company health insurance, to avoid penalties for not signing up for part B during the regular enrollment period and….a certified copy of our marriage license. I insisted, that surely a certified copy of our marriage license was unnecessary since they already had 45 + years of filing and paying taxes as Married Filing Jointly on the computer in front of him. That should certainly be enough evidence of marriage! My sound reasoning fell on deaf ears! What was I thinking? This is the US government where red tape and confounding bureaucracy is the motto! We were advised, not to worry, it was easy…."go back to the county where we were married and request a certified copy at the courthouse". Back to the beginning of the story….we were married by the minister-friend of the Episcopalian priest, at St. Marks Presbyterian Church, Altamonte Springs, Seminole County. (I bet some of you have already figured out the problem that is about to occur, unfortunately, we did not!)

Seminole county said we would have to go in person to the archived records building, in a warehouse district in Sanford, out close to the airport (45 years was too long for their typical records department at the courthouse, nor were they able to confirm by phone, our records were there) …and so we followed instructions and went in person. The woman behind the desk, who looked suspiciously like a “Munchkin” and was surrounded by more than a dozen plus stuffed animals tucked in every corner of her cubicle along with miscellaneous pet rocks, opened up a drawer and pulled out a microfilm cassette marked 1974 and plugged it into a viewer. After a thorough 2-minute search announced that our marriage was not registered in Seminole County. WTF!!!! Simultaneously our brains go into overload, smoke erupting from our ears trying to figure out why our marriage was not registered when the eccentric micro-film Munchkin asked was it possible the marriage license was APPLIED for in a different county. It is NOT the county we were married in…it is the county where the marriage license was applied for..

An hour later we arrived at the huge downtown courthouse where there is no available parking within blocks, no available handicap parking anywhere and I swear, from a distance that building could be a dead ringer for the Emerald City if it were green. To make matters worse, neither of us got through the metal detector on the first pass. He for a pocket knife and I for a metal fingernail file and the defibrillator implant. Finally, through the metal detector and a courthouse pat down, we found the records office and after a short computer search by a records secretary…. there it was, our original marriage license, in the Orange County archived files!

It feels like we have been in some perverted version of the “Wizard of Oz” today. We have been in the land of Munchkins, down the yellow brick road, survived the “flying monkey" metal detector, and thrown water on the Wicked Witch of the West. She has melted, and we have the BROOM (or certified marriage license) the wizard has demanded! Now…it is back off to the Social Security office aka “the Wizard of Oz” tomorrow with our “certified marriage evidence”

…but I remember what happened in the movie! If there is a hot air balloon in front of that Social Security office….I quit!
"We're Off to See the Wizard"

Monday, June 10, 2019

BUT….What if the circus keeps coming to me


Yes BUT….What if the circus keeps coming to me???  It has felt like the proverbial “Big Top” parked in my front yard recently! Going to the circus has not been a choice.  However, learning which “acts” to participate in and which ones to walk past has been an eye-opening experience.

I have found that the moment the clowns (drama, illness, confusion, chaos, turmoil) begin, I just need to stop for a moment, NO immediate reaction required unless you are standing in traffic!  A deep breath and a few very simple questions to myself….What am I trying to accomplish here?… How do I want this to end?… What makes the most sense?  

The first thing is to identify and clarify specifically and simply what I need in this situation.  It is really nothing more than small short-term goal setting.  I cannot allow any emotions at this point, they only tend to confuse and redirect right now.  I need to determine who, what words or which actions will move me closer to what I need to accomplish? Regardless of the situation, getting emotionally hurt, angry or making everyone happy rarely moves anything forward, in fact, I think it does the opposite, expending great deals of my own energy while accomplishing nothing.  I do not want anyone to think I am a focused robot, but what I do know is that there will be plenty of time to cry, lament, laugh etc. etc. afterward. 

Although I have a less than typical goal-oriented life, using the Daniel LaPorte’s goal techniques of “Desire Mapping” and core desire feelings I will admit there are some immediate situations that require the more traditional goals.  So…bring on the circus….I can do this!

"The Tears of a Clown"  Smokey Robinson

Sunday, June 9, 2019

RED FLAG...RED FLAG


I fancy myself as fairly internet savvy!  But I may now be technically classified as a gullible old fart!  I know there are “bad” people out there!  I am very cautious! I have up to date security software on my phone and laptop. I check my bank accounts daily (actually I subscribe to a daily activity email). I only use a credit card or PayPal when purchasing online …gives me a chance to dispute charges and get my money back. But for all that I thought I was doing right…this one caught me way “off guard”!

Clicking on a link on the official Social Security Association Website, “redirected” me to a site that was not SSA, but it looked exactly the same. Then I made an appointment to meet with a SS counselor for some specific filing SS guidance and advice. We were to meet 2 days later via a very official but off-site email scheduling program, at the Library meeting room a couple of blocks away from the Official SS office…First RED FLAG and I missed it.  When we got to the library, there was no SSA counselor, the library staff had never heard of such a thing….RED FLAG is now waving vigorously.  The SS office was just a few blocks away, we opted to go straight there to figure out what was going on.
 
They were aghast! We were horrified! The next 3 hours my phone (with all of the pertinent contact info from the nefarious site were located) was examined by the SS office.  Scrolling back through the SS office noticed the official website address had changed from SocialSecruityAdministration.gov to  SocialSecruityAdministration.US.  Now that RED FLAG is flapping wildly and I finally get it….We have been caught up in a scam to get our SS numbers.  The wonderful and very helpful people at the Official SS office were proactive, awesome and reported to SSA FRAUD and FTC through their offices… but instructed us to follow up with second personal reports when we got home.  We also needed to freeze our credit on all 3 bureaus.  It was a full day of “undoing”.  Even though the guy did not show up, and it does not appear that the scam was successful, we were instructed to take every precaution!

I suspect I may now be truly qualified as an official gullible old fart!
"What a Fool Believes"  Doobie Brothers

Friday, June 7, 2019

Patience and pine needles!


Bending over to pull out the pine needles out of the new pond makes me so light headed!  The fear of falling over and drowning in an 18” deep glorified puddle is NOT how I want to leave this world! Coming up with creative tools have filled a good part of my time!  Zip ties and pool noodles are the most amazing things!

In the real world, I have spent a lifetime with the mantra, “you cannot stop until the job is finished!” Anything less is a failure. As I get older and sicker things get harder and I began to rely on others who offered to help.  Unfortunately, that means I am subject to their judgment of what I am doing, their willingness to do something they really do not want to do, interfering with their own plans and time, and if all of that is not enough…I just plain feel guilty, weak and worthless when I have to ask.  I hate doing it.  I am disgustingly hard headed and for the most part, have specific ways of doing things… (except when it comes to creating!!!)  My independence is one of the most important things I still possess. I am a classic control freak!  If I am asking anyone for help, you will know…I am beyond desperate.

My body no longer asks for a break it just flat out crashes, same goes for my mind. So, I plan thoroughly, then take more time and of course, grouse about it!  But I am still getting “most of it” done or paying for other parts to get done (when I can afford it).  I am getting heavy doses of learning patience with myself!

Honoring myself is more about patience and the creativity needed to hold on to and expand my independence than anything else. I am so happy that I am creative and tough.  The day I give that up or NEED others…is the day you will know I am finished!
"Sunshine" Jonathan Edwards

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Armored up and strong....

Holy Crap…REALLY?  This continues to be the most difficult thing for me to do.  I was raised to believe that emotional weakness was one of the worst characteristics anyone could have.  If you were a woman you were allowed a very small amount of tolerable emotion, but there was a definite limit.  I was “trained” be the strong one, never show emotion, or let anyone see your weakness. I grew up in an incredibly dysfunctional family, and to just survive was truly grueling but it may have been the one thing that saved me.  It was an incredible unintentional strength and armor builder!

This vulnerable thing turns out to be one of my many major flaws and one I have consistently been aware of and working on.  I have read and studied this ad nauseam.  The single one consistent issue all of the experts seem to agree on is that “the only answer is recklessly discard more armor” or the emotional equivalent.  I have tried, and tried and tried.  Every time I open up, let it out, let it in…it all but destroys me emotionally.  And so I continue to remain armored up and strong.
"All That We Let In"  Indigo Girls

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The first time... I truly do not give a "rats ass" !


I do not care how calm, mastered or controlled I think I am…it all goes down the toilet when the cat brings a live rat into the house!  All bets are off and out and out panic reigns.

Self-control is strength….Calmness is mastery…my ass!  This is full-on panic as  “NOT MY CAT” the cat (yes that is really his name)  and the now loose rat run through the house both running head-on into walls and furniture like a live pinball machine.  Our best butt-crack of dawn, pre-coffee idea of getting the rat out is to set up some kind of pathetic makeshift gauntlet with anything handy that has barrier potential including brooms and bar stools forcing the cat-rat pinball show out of the wide-open front door with every inside and outside light on. In the midst of this genius idea, he barks “the front door is wide open… neighbors are going to see us!” Although I use the phrase regularly, it is the first time that I can sincerely say “I do not give a rats ass!” who sees us! Just get the rat out of here!
"Taking it to The Streets"  Dobbies Brothers

Monday, June 3, 2019

TA-DA!

There have been so many “to-dos” recently, actually perhaps most of my life it feels like there have been more than my share of “to-do’s”!  WARNING: Grousing ahead…. When I was working, taking care of children, house, and husband I watched friends and family managing all of it so gracefully and have the time and resources to still take time off, go on great vacations, go out to dinner, date nights, yard services, new cars, and homes….etc…etc..  I hid my frustration and jealousy and soldiered on with the implied promise that if I kept my nose to the grindstone and shoulder to the wheel that all of those good things would come my way.  In addition to that if I did MORE there would be MORE. That is not how it always works and I had this ongoing oppressive feeling of being pissed off all of the time.  The “official rules” were if I did what I was supposed to-do, when I was supposed to-do it…I should have more! 

Finally, I think I am beginning to figure it out.  All of this time I have been waiting for other people to tell me how good I was, other people to give me more money, other people to give me more time, appreciate me more or all of the other things I felt like I should have earned through my ever-expanding list of well accomplished “to-dos”.  I was living for and expecting accolades!
I wanted someone else to give me all of the things I was not willing to give to myself.  And I did not truly appreciate all of the intangible amazing things that I did have!  It is not now nor do I think it ever will be about doing more, but appreciating, celebrating and “ta-da-ing” regularly all that I do have!!!

Stand back….There are going to be a whole lot more “ta-das” in my life!
"Carry On" Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Saturday, June 1, 2019

That Wretched Voice!


Continuing to push outside of my comfort zone as I submitted this work to a local museum for a humorous summer exhibition.
 
It does not matter how long, how bad (or good) I am...that voice in my head STILL comes SCREAMING  at me….”WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?”  That wretched voice seems to get even more colorful and aggressive as I get older and further and further outside my comfort zone with
“Who the  F***ING HELL, do you think you are”?

Interpreting the show title literally, “Cheeky” simply plays abstractly on the distinctive communication of cheeks!  Cheeks tell their own silly or serious story…we all have them!

How did I miss that?  Sometimes what we see or do not see is a matter of choice.  Choose your blindfolds wisely or be completely bold-faced and go naked!

The Curmudgeons! They are everywhere! Grousing, complaining and nitpicking! But really, when you look carefully, they are just talking heads with little or no substance!

"So Much to Say"  Dave Matthews Band

Friday, May 31, 2019

…if you find yourself or loved one in this kind of situation…find your caseworker and make him or her your friend!

Skip and by association, me…. have had a crazy couple of weeks, but before I get to the grousing part of this post let me say that Skip is doing great!  It really is just short of miraculous about how well he has recovered from a Pons or Pontine stroke! The doctors and rehab therapists are all amazed and we are so incredibly grateful!

The grousing portion is not about the quality of care, or food, or the room, although this is an older hospital all of those things could use some sprucing up and of course, the Adventist Hospital system has a long-running notorious horrible food reputation.  My principal complaint, although perhaps I should wait until the bill arrives, is about something that truly would cost them nothing, it is nothing more than just coordinated communication.  Entering a hospital through the ER with this kind of situation is already scary, but it seems to grow exponentially more frightening for everyone when the communication is so disjointed. I understand that diagnosis and immediate treatment is the primary ER objective, but I feel some amount of communication would be so helpful, if for no other reason…. blood pressure!   We were challenged in comprehending the what, when, why, how bad, test results, possible treatments, etc., etc, about a medical condition that we were not familiar with.  After diagnosis and admission, the stroke team…. Neurologist, PT, OT Speech therapy, then a hospitalist, case manager and all of the nurses were communicating with one another, but their ability to communicate in a linear coherent way with us about Skip’s condition and course of treatment was truly lacking. Each of these professionals came into the room daily (of course the nurses more often) performing cognitive, coordination and speech tests, but not explaining or sharing the results with us. I did find some solace in our frantic but always full of information caseworker.  She was overworked, awesome, helpful, always understanding and a great advocate.  If I did not understand something or treatment plans changed without us knowing about them I would track her down.  I was concerned that I might soon be known as the caseworker stalker!  She was always happily willing to explain any question we had and when possible, she answered in non-medical person speak!  So, the lesson I would like to share is…if you find yourself or loved one in this kind of situation…find your caseworker and make him or her your friend!
"I'll be There for You"  The Rembrandts

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Adventure happening soon!


Tomorrow will be a week since Skip’s stroke, and he is doing so very well!  Still lots of appointments here and there but for the most part his physical health is spectacular.  What is left in the aftermath of this week is….where do we go from here?  There are so many big things that need resolution!  Some we knew would come and had chatted about, but never with any thought of needing to press any of those plans into effect any time soon.  So, as we slog through all of the medical necessities of healing, there are also huge forced decisions about retirement income, future health care/Medicare plans and if that is not enough there seems to be a huge emotional part of all of this that stages unexpected sneak attacks!  Our mantra this week has been, identify the priorities (Skip’s Health) and then walk through the rest of it when clearer heads prevail!  Clearer heads may be a bit hopeful, but at least a better ability to focus will be nice! I am putting out into the Universe, we are ready for a GREAT ADVENTURE and I do mean a great big ass fun adventure because we have already done one hell of a job of  “something gone wrong”!

"Changes" David Bowie

Friday, May 24, 2019

Slow Motion....


No easy way to say this….Skip had a stroke last Sunday.  There were a couple of days in the hospital that were a whirlwind of CAT scans, MRI, x-rays physical, speech and cognitive exams.  There were lots of tests and endless meetings with the stroke team members that quite frankly felt more like a cast of thousands.   Skip is doing as well as we can expect, it was not a big stroke, there is some brain damage but a full recovery with good rehab therapy is possible, so, for the most part, we are out of the “scary” woods. But there is going to be some hard work ahead of us!

It was our Sunday journey before the hospital that I feel like I need to share.  As a person without any experience with strokes, my only brush with that info was quite literally from PSA TV commercials!  Apparently, strokes can happen rather slowly, it can begin with a simple loss of balance, or slight almost undetectable slur in speech….and in this house, Sunday morning before coffee, neither of these symptoms rose to the level of concern, in fact it could almost be noted as quite a normal before coffee Sunday morning function.  As the morning progressed those slight symptoms seemed to be increasing, not by huge leaps or even consistently, but it was growing more obvious.  Every once in a while, per the TV and internet recommendation, I would ask him to smile…  His smile was big, even, with a touch of sarcasm but no typical evidence... he could smile like Alice in Wonderland’s Chesser cat.  However, he did become restless, not wanting to sit still, moving from couch to chair to porch. It was beginning to look like he felt like he was a caged animal, slightly losing his balance, catching himself on the furniture as he passed by it…it was then that I did notice a slight droop in his lip…although I will say again, he could still smile evenly on command.  I was trying very hard to put a good spin on this, how can this be really happening, but I finally knew ...this is not normal…this could be the beginning of really bad.

Off to the hospital to and what became an organized frenzy!  The slow motion all of the sudden became light speed! In the stroke world…this was a small one.  We are home 4 days later, and that improves the healing exponentially.  He still has a little slurred speech that phases in and out and an occasional struggle with balance.  We begin therapy next week…but all in all he is good and getting better.

The lesson for me is that not everything happens just the way it is expected.  There is no standard stroke symptom speed but the symptoms are there…

"All Star" OrtoPilot

Saturday, May 18, 2019

polite silence is NOT capitulation




I try so hard to be respectful with my words and deeds (although I have been known to throw rolled socks at the president on TV).  I vote, I look into issues, I form my own opinions without great public fanfare and I do not look for intelligent political discourse on Facebook anymore.  It scares me!  But there are times that my silence feels like I agree with or worse no longer care about politics.  I wonder if people think the current illegal policies and proposed legislation no longer upset my sense of dignity and justice. The atrocities continue.  Day after day separating children from their parents, not holding the President responsible for his actions, legislating women’s bodies, ignoring automatic assault weapons legislation, denying environmental issues and the list goes on and on while our democracy and people suffer.  I wonder if some think my polite silence is some kind of capitulation?


"For What it is Worth" Buffalo Springfield

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

…whatever that is???


Pieces and Parts… hoping that they fit together!  Had the most amazing afternoon with a “real” sculptor.  Watching her creative process move from an idea in her head, through her hands and into tangible reality!  It is about as close to magic as anything I can imagine!  Although I have played with and worked in clay for life studies, I seem to have slipped back to my beginnings of making clay “puzzle pieces” then assembling them.   Untrained in sculpture, sometimes I just need to go with the flow…whatever that is???


"Fear" Jasmine Sullivan

Fitting in vs Belonging

I have had this nagging struggle but did not even understand what the struggle was...just that it was terribly uncomfortable, aggravating, frustrating, never could be achieved.  It was ever present feeling of not being good enough failure!!  Then this woman comes along and describes it so simply and perfectly!  Perhaps understanding the problem is where the healing begins!

I HATE BEING VULNERABLE!  DAMN IT!
 
"Closer to Fine" Indigo Girls

Monday, May 13, 2019

Not Rattling My Chains Anymore!


Maybe it is age or maybe it is where I am in life or maybe I am finally just getting smarter (well, maybe not) I have learned that 90% of the anger, aggravation and hurt was of my own doing.  For all of the grousing I have done about other people’s expectation of me…I have realized that I had my own unreasonable expectations of other people.  Even when their actions or words really had nothing to do with me, I would feel the need to insert and defend my beliefs and opinions concerning the situation.  Maybe it made me feel like I was smarter…or if everyone did things “my way” my life would be so much easier…NOT!  I am slugging through life like everyone else and making enough mistakes for me and 3 other people.  I am finally at a place where other people and situations just do not rattle my chains anymore.  It is not that I do not care I just choose to not engage…saving my love, my life, my energy on happy and positive.  I know it sounds kind of hokey…but it is working!
"Times Like These" Jack Johnson

Sunday, May 12, 2019

the significance of the safety pin….


For what it is worth....I have for 2+ years and will continue to include the image of a safety pin somewhere on my FB posts as a personal gesture and a silent protest against the sitting president, his policies, and the Republicans that are up for re-election, that continue to silently encourage and support hateful, divisive and immoral legislation.  Although my voice is not loud, I want the world to know that I was consistently against hate every day!


"For What it is Worth"  Buffalo Springfield

Saturday, May 11, 2019

After she lets go....

I will not lie….my Mother and I had a turbulent relationship!  Life choices that we both made created a difficult, if not impossible Mother-Daughter relationship to develop.  But then there was another element that entered into the difficulties…we both had preconceived notions about how and what a Mother-Daughter relationship should be.  Without the emotional tools to develop our own unconventional relationship, we both depended on an unrealistic version of a combination of a religious Madonna and “Leave it to Beaver” definition.  It was an impossible task to live up to and we both failed miserably.  When we finally were able to admit to ourselves and each other that we were truly inept at this Mother-Daughter thing we were able to forgive and forget and move into an adult friendship that we could define on our own terms.  It was not perfect but, oh my it was so much better.  Letting go of other people’s expectations allowed us to enjoy each other as fallible adults, more than I suspect most typical Mother-Daughter relationships are capable of.  The friendship was amazing but I will confess it is the Mother hugs that truly live on in my heart and give me such strength.  Here's to you Mother....your favorite!
"Take Five" Dave Brubeck

Friday, May 10, 2019

A little booty shake!

It has been kind of a scary week or two…there have been changes…I hate when that happens!  There has been a big increase in med dosages to counter the latest changes and I just had a 24 hr check to see if/or what effects it is having.  The official report is…drum roll please…my heart rate has responded just the way they hoped it would, now we wait a couple of weeks to see how my body adjusts. This is a good thing!  There will not be any holy crap, immediate celebrating or dancing in the streets just yet…but an extra nap here and there and a little booty shake at the front door can’t hurt!


"Dance With You"  The Beatles

Thursday, May 9, 2019

A New Realization!


A few trump trolls slipped through my “back door” on to my FaceBook page! I have systematically eliminated all bombastic hateful negative political speak on my page. However, I will confess to posting political satire cartoons and publicly and positively supporting candidates and policies that I admire.   

I am surprised at how personally harmful it is to be exposed every day to such negative irresponsible posts and was ashamed of myself for being drawn into their conversations, defending another (my) point of view, which they rarely, if ever, acknowledged as a valid opinion.   I am a firm believer in and I love participating in active political discourse, but those discussions must first be rooted in a healthy respect for the truth and facts.   They are damaging (I suspect they already know that) and I have to protect myself from their evangelical hate and negativity.  

At the risk of making an ugly generalization, it always feels like mob mentality and it is always the same group of insecure uninformed egotistical old white men. Everyone has a right to express themselves, but when that expression does not intellectually recognize opposing views has no purpose other than demean and belittle anyone that does not believe the same, I have to remove them from my daily exposure.

Here is a new realization…an “unfriended” person’s post will continue to show up on your personal page if and when the post is a response to another one of your “active” friend’s posts….and that is how those ugly comments slip through the “back door” …more “unfriending” to do!

"Ants Marching"  Dave Matthews Band

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

A craving to experience and expose



Writing, blogging, journaling, I believe, is a practice that teaches me better than any other activity the elusive art of solitude and understanding how to be present with myself, witness my thoughts, experience completely, and fully inhabit my inner life, especially as my outer life declines.  I’ve always had an irresistible fascination with the personal diaries and writing of other artists.  They let me know that “it is not just me”.  Well…sometimes it isn’t just me.  I love that creatives will admit to feelings that most people are afraid to even think about.  I suspect that may be part of our creative inspiration, whether it is visual or written creativity.  I recognize, just like in journaling, a craving to experience and expose.

 "Something to Talk About"  Bonnie Raitt

Monday, May 6, 2019

Her real name....


Anger is ugly, negative, foul, disagreeable, hostile, and aggressive.  Anger is never something I wanted to experience and so I did not. Did I short circuit the grief process? I am still not angry but I do feel guilty. And then grief sneaks in without forewarning as fear.  As I have mentioned so many times before…there are so many web sites and support groups for those that are mourning and grieving the loss of a loved one.  Why can’t we have the same for those of us that are grieving and mourning the loss of our own lives that an illness has made us give up and will never have?  The sorrow is overwhelming sometimes.

"Overkill"  Colin Hay

Sunday, May 5, 2019

There must be something to it!


Maybe I share too much!  But there is something magical about getting the thoughts out of my head and into the tangible world.  If you can accept that digital is tangible…  “Seeing a feeling” is freeing!  Sometimes it might be a simple as getting a negative out of my head.  A negative feeling on paper or a screen often weakens the fear, anger, frustration, and it loses its power over me.  The opposite holds true for celebrating, laughing or examining the absurd.  Actually, seeing it gives me the opportunity to enjoy it, laugh or have a second, third, fourth chance to revel in gratitude again.  Either way, I am not sure if it is a “creative” thing or not, but people have been journaling for years there must be something to it!
"The Story of Your Life"  Matthew West

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Celebrate Me Home!





Simple, peaceful, cheerful is where I am heading…. not just in the house and garden… but in my life.  Surrounding myself with it…. Allowing my feelings to spill out into the physical space and as always love creating with new “materials” and from a whole new and different point of view!  Looking forward to culling out old plants and then placing the healthy (weed free) potted plants back out there today. 

I am sewing happy new chair cushions and pillows to replace the old faded ones and the porch is now “Alexa-fied”!  Enjoying spending time and resources on making a healing comfortable (easy maintenance) space!


"Celebrate Me Home"  Kenny Loggins

Woo-Hoo! Tad-Poles on the way! 
The pond has only been in the ground 2 nights and already the frogs have laid eggs in the frog pond...The Frogs and tad-poles are our mosquito control...it is a whole ecosystem that we did not plan....It just happened!  But it is grand!

Friday, May 3, 2019

I am sure it knows what to do!

This is just what I needed to read!  All of the fear, all of the bad memories, the guilt, the anger, and the pain are (for the most part) only in my mind.  However, this does not mean that those memories are not capable of initiating the very same unbearable damaging negative feelings that they conjured up originally…

I want desperately to let go of the memories, that still “cut through me like shards of glass” and keep me from enjoying life now.  That old pain, guilt, and anger can be even more damaging.  I am smarter and wiser now, I know what went wrong, I learned the lesson.  But that is the rational brain. The emotional brain works differently. Regardless of the intelligent rationalizations, the destructive emotions are as real and damaging today as they were originally.  Because I think I am "bigger than the memories, I do not expect them to have residual emotional power....but boy they do!
Perhaps it is time to just acknowledge them, allow myself to feel the emotion, to let it wash over me, and then remind myself it is not real anymore. Convincing my mind to let my heart take over…. even though it is broken, I am sure it knows what to do!
"Faith of the Heart"  Rod Stewart

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Not just funny… but necessary!


In the midst of my latest “feel sorry for myself” blog episodes, I came across this post.  After several minutes of rolling on the floor laughing, I recognized just how much I needed to laugh then decided that I am definitely stealing this one!

Through the course of recent real estate history, my little house is now perched approximately 2 miles from a Baptist Church and a Jehovah Witness Kingdom Hall.  What they both have in common is a very active and aggressive door to door proselytizing program!  Clearly, they do not want to stray far from home and I get regular, and I mean almost weekly assaults from these strolling Bible toters, although lately, some arrive in carloads.  I have tried all of the things I thought would frighten them away…some work…some do not.  Not answering the door, if you see them coming is the best one, but every now and again they manage a covert approach and I am caught off guard.  And here is an agonizing lesson I learned the hard way…if you are caught off guard…here is the #1 thing NOT to do!  Do NOT under any circumstances announce yourself as an atheist, agnostic or member of a weird cult.  That is almost like throwing raw meat into a starving lion’s cage!  You immediately become their god project and the pursuit to “turn” you becomes overwhelmingly obnoxious. They will return over and over again, even send in backups to accomplish the mission of saving your soul for Jesus.  Mix this in with the typical (although not that many, compared to the God Squads) door to door solicitors and it makes a sign like this seem not just funny… but necessary!

PS.. In season...I will add  political door knockers to this list
"NO"  Meghan Trainer

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Shake it Out


I have been whining a lot lately…sometimes I seem to need to shake this out and dig into the dark that frightens me.  But I also have to remind myself that there is no light without dark…this is just part of it.  What shocks most people is that I talk about it and it is uncomfortable…It is uncomfortable because IT IS!  And not talking about only keeps me afraid. 


"Shake it Out" Florence The Machine

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Raw & Scratchy


Ok….” survivor” may not be the best portrayal of my current situation, but it works for me and I will proudly wear that label.  I related immediately to the opportunity to write and to “define my own reality” in this quote. The current reality is so different than anything I could have possibly imagined! Really, I never considered how I would die, how long would it take, would it hurt, how would my family and friends handle it.  Never once did I ask myself,  how would “I” handle it.  Most of my life has been wrapped around taking care of others, anything less than made me a bad mother, a bad wife, narcissistic and an ugly person.  Figuring this out for me is very strange.  I am really not looking for anyone to agree with me, understand me, feel sorry for me or help me through it.  I am just trying to figure out how to do this, for myself…out loud. It may sound selfish; it might make some feel uncomfortable and for that, I do apologize. I am doing the best I can, by the seat of my pants and it is raw and scratchy!

"Message to Myself"  Melissa Etheridge

Monday, April 29, 2019

"Protect whatever is left within..."


I have been accused all through my life of “not letting people in”.  I am not sure I really ever understood what that meant.  But I do understand this quote…  

I know and understand that there are family members, friends, doctors, and religion that I cannot afford to risk losing myself to.   And as I just proofread that sentence back to myself, I realize how silly it must sound to most of you.  It would have sounded silly to me several years ago, too!  Several years ago, when I felt so strong, I would let toxic people close to me but I was strong enough to firmly establish my wall.  My emotional defense wall is failing to protect me now.  I am finding weak spots and cracks in my walls and that scares me.  

Many have advised me to drop my walls, to be vulnerable, ask for help and be open.  I do, in my way, expose myself, by writing behind a “digital curtain” and paperback book covers.   But anything more...means risking my ability to hold on to me…to who I am...to letting others in.  Others have no idea how difficult this is!  Not even those professionals that write the “self-help” books! They are psychologists, medical people, loved ones, that want to help....or sell books,  but not one of them really knows what this feels like.  They can only guess, they are not the ones dying!  We, the ones that are knowingly dying, none of us know how to articulate this!  I was never taught that death was an option, although we all know it is, we just will not talk about it!  I know, I know... I could be making a huge mistake. 

I do not want to feel needy and weak and right now more than ever I have to be me, be strong, I have to “protect whatever is left within”.
"You've Got to Hide Your Love Away"  The Beatles

Sunday, April 28, 2019

The Inner Warrior


The game changed this week…and I am still trying to figure out how to “snatch my power back”. That endeavor has ALWAYS ALWAYS been about MOVEMENT!   Getting up, trying something new, pushing past what I thought was possible and the biggest one….being afraid….. and doing it anyway!  The more, the bigger, the better!  Things are changing and although I want desperately “to do”….this body is speaking louder than my longings.  As I negotiate this latest decline, I have had to turn down 2 invitations that a couple of weeks ago I would have jumped at. 

Now my only choice is to wait patiently, watch and hope that soon, very soon that the “plateau” will arrive quickly and I can begin navigating my new normal. 

Anyone that knows me will know how difficult patience and waiting is for me!!!
Send in that inner warrior….QUICK!!!
"Strength, Courage & Wisdom"  Indie Arie

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Stories


It occurred to me, that not only was I trying to live up to the “stories” of my past but that I find myself still listening to the stories of others and thinking I need to be a part of them, too.  Other people’s stories are just that, no more, no less… just stories.  They are someone else’s idea of who I am, how I should act and what I should do. Some are hurt that I do not fit in their story, others delighted that I am finally figuring this out.


 I confess I got a pretty great "default" story but it was by sheer luck! However, as I get closer to finishing it, I realize I want to finish this story by design…not sheer accident!

 "Thank You"  Alanis Morrisette

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Do unto others...


It was just Easter Weekend, the holiest day of the Christian Religion.  I know, I used to think it was Christmas, too!  Christmas definitely got a better marketing program!  But Christianity is wrapped up in the miracle of the resurrection of the crucified Jesus. It is the foundation for the entire religion. I will not argue the validity of resurrection that is strictly a matter of faith.  You either believe or you do not, there are just as many reasons for as there are for against. But there is NO reason, religion, belief, or faith that should keep any of us from practicing one of the most important tenets of this religion and all others.  Do unto others...


"If You Could Read My Mind"  Gordon Lightfoot

Thursday, April 18, 2019

but there is a definite possibility!

I have always chalked it up to my gypsy DNA, never really considered this could have been “wine” induced…. but there is a definite possibility!

There are no words that can describe how wonderful and exciting my years on the art festival circuit were, nor did I truly appreciate them until they were gone.  I have really thought about “why” they were so great because they were fraught with some of the most difficult physical work at the most ungodly hours.  I always wondered if there was any amount of money that was worth it.  This work, for what I am certain that if I added up the materials involved would have paid less than minimum wage. But as I look back…I only remember the challenge, opportunity, the adventure and lots of wine sipping.

And even if my work did not sell there were many people that would tell me how much they liked and appreciated my work!  I was validated as an artist regularly with words and dollars.  Sometimes the words were more valuable than the cash.  But make no mistake…every weekend was about seeing and spending time surrounded by the phenomenal works of art created by other artists, making new friends and sipping wine…. lots of wine!
"Spill the Wine" Eric Burden and the Animals

Sunday, April 14, 2019

I miss my gypsy life!


Last night was an art opening and I ran into a couple of art friends I had not seen in years and years…and as all art conversations go, we began with “the last time I saw you…you were doing…”  And then a torrent of questions begin about how we did/survived the art show circuit and how they tried it and hated how much work was involved.  It was always hard and incredibly physical but somehow when you have a good show it is worth it!  And we had so many good shows, but that was because we rarely did anything in this area.  We learned early on to do the bigger shows (more possible patrons) and to do our “demographic” median income homework before submitting applications.  It made a huge difference and the hard work was always worth it!   I realized to be good at this, you truly need to be part gypsy and love the lifestyle, be ready and able to fix anything with rope, baling wire and/or duct tape.  Believe me, something will always break.  It was always a challenge and no one will ever really understand just how much I miss this life. Even with all of the blessings I still have and how hard I focus on gratitude, there are days that I would give anything to have my gypsy life back.  

"Gypsy Woman"  Brian Highland

Saturday, April 13, 2019

That is the hard part!





Not so sure it is the anger that is hard to let go of, I feel like I am really quite good at releasing my anger….but the emotional exhaustion, hurt and pain caused by feeling, recognizing and dealing with that anger in the first place that wears me out, before I ever have a chance to let it go.  Is there some way of not experiencing the anger at all?
That is the hard part!


"Let it Be"  The Beatles

Thursday, April 11, 2019

...but all of a sudden they are everywhere!


I do not intentionally collect angels but all of a sudden they are everywhere!  I can trace back the beginnings of this and many other of my own weirdness to my Mother.  Every Christmas she would include a wonderfully “tacky” angel as part of my gift.  I loved their irreverence so much that I kept them out all year and eventually they were incorporated into the “heart” mobile she made for me that hangs over my bed.  It just seemed appropriate that she, the angels and the hearts watch over me as I sleep. The other angels were gifts or I bought them and one I made.  As a card-carrying agnostic, I never intended to collect angels.  I do not ascribe to the religious existence of winged singing people that fly around making profound announcements.  However, I can wrap my heart around imaginary little beings that watch over me and spread smiles and love.  And the fact that they are all odd, unusual, and quirky makes them even more wonderful.  
"In the Arms of an Angel" Sarah McLachlan

YIKES! ... the angel post follows my swearing post...a little accidental ironic balance...

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Swear wisely and with intention!


I remember the first time I swore…I was about 12 and I called Tommy Snyder a dumb ass!  He was trespassing on my favorite “kick the can” hiding place and would not get out!  I was so angry that it just came out of my mouth.  I expected a much more horrified reaction from him…but he just told me to shut up! I decided then and there it certainly did not get me the results I was looking for, and swearing was highly overrated and not worth getting punished over.

When my sons came home from the service, the Navy and the Air Force… I began to understand the saying “swore like a sailor”.  They were both horrible, and I became the language police! 

But then on occasion when I really wanted to make a point, I learned that a well placed swear word got the perfect attention I was looking for.  It was kind of like magic; the boys would literally stop what they were doing and cringe at the pure shock of that coming out of my mouth.  However, I need to warn you, if used too often it loses its shock value.  So... swear wisely and with intention…And I do!

Ah.....F#_k  It

Monday, April 8, 2019

I need some expiration dates!

Well, that is my stack of baggage!  I was mentally filing through them, trying to select the bag that held the most amount of my “damage” when I realized they all do!  How could I possibly pick just one or two of them?  In fact, I am still in awe of the theory (or fact) that we really can carry all of these negative feelings around all of our lives AND they continue to have such an effect on our behavior, even now!  Shouldn’t they have some kind of expiration date or just plain wear out after a while?  I mean, my head understands the who, where and why of most of my negative issues so I should be able to control them but somewhere inside of me those overwhelming feelings still exist and the buggars will erupt in the most unexpected ways and when least anticipated!  Is there a “totally unexpected” old shit suitcase?


"Unwritten" Natasha Bedingfield

Friday, April 5, 2019

I choose....


"Hold On I'm Coming"  Sam & Dave

The Medical System is broken!

I finally made it to Medicare!

Medicare is mine and the government's joint funded health care program that has 4 basic component health insurance parts.  I have paid into Medicare Part A my entire working life through years of my Medicare withholding income taxes and there is no cost to me at this time for that one (it has already been paid for).  There are 3 other parts with out of pocket costs.  They offer higher and more specific health coverage.  Pretty easy concept…. right????   But as typical government red tape, they can confuse the hooey out of even the simplest concepts but throw in a mysterious Managed Medicare “middle man” and insecurity and chaos take over!

All of the sudden there was a massive inundation of unsolicited sales phone calls, mailed advertisements (2 and 3 a day for months), even salespeople knocking at my door (ala fuller brush salesmen) to “help” me make the “right” Medicare choice (theirs of course).  Every major health insurance company and many I never heard of were aggressively pursuing me and my Medicare business. I had to stop and ask myself why?  Some of these were the same companies that canceled my coverage and turned me down because of a preexisting condition.  Chronic advertisement, TV, mail, salesmen’s commissions, and other sophisticated marketing programs are huge business expenses.  They all tell you their service “costs you little or nothing”!   Why are they putting the “full court press” on me (or any 65 yr old) unless there was significant profit to be made over and above these costly marketing expenses?

So…. who is paying for their services?  How do they get paid?  There is no such thing as “something for nothing” and my suspicions kicked in. WHY are these companies pursuing me so aggressively?
Here is what I learned…and it scares me!  These Medicare management companies have negotiated with large healthcare service providers at a significantly reduced price.   Hospitals, doctors, independent testing facilities, outpatient surgical centers, etc. etc.  have agreed to accept lower fees for services.  These healthcare facilities are depending on the increased volume of patients and tests that are submitted through these specific Medicare management providers to make up the financial difference.  It is “wholesale” healthcare! There is a great deal of money to be made from medical testing, necessary or not.  Guess who keeps the difference in the 2 numbers (the payment the testing facility, doctor, etc. etc. has agreed to accept and the amount of money Medicare has agreed to pay)?  The answer is NOT the doctors, not the hospitals, or testing facilities, here is another hint…it is not me or you either.  It is your Medicare management company.   If you are of an age…and all of the sudden your “Managed Medicare Doctor” is recommending many more medical tests and smaller procedures… more than you have ever had.  It is probably not your health and/or welfare that they are concerned about, but now you need to begin paying for their services.   This is how the managed Medicare company is getting paid…at your health expense.

When we ask and complain about the price of healthcare, it is the managed care companies and insurance companies “in the middle” between you and the actual medical diagnosis and health care that are all making a profit from our health issues.  And since medical tests have the least amount of medical-legal “liability” to both medical and managed care companies, they become a financial bonanza and you will be getting a lot more of those.   This is how you pay for your managed Medicare services. Can you believe they are more concerned about your health or is it their profit margins?  The system is broken!
"Doctor My Eyes"  Jackson Browne