A Daily Dose

I stumble out of bed, (too old for bouncing), and start the day with mine and Mia doggies’ daily doses of pills, powders and liquids. Once a week I carefully load up my pill caddy, checking and double-checking, knowing it is a necessary chore because morning and night, every day, I take my medications. Some I have to hold my nose to drink, some I just pop in my mouth and swallow without water; with food, without food, one in the morning and one at night or as needed. I have the dosing and directions down pat because my medications are for chronic conditions that I have had for at least several years. If a new medication is added or one is taken away I get twitterpated because I have to adjust my routine. I don’t like taking my numerous medications, but I don’t like the results if I don’t take them even more.

Mary Poppins sang “ A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down….” and I don’t think she was referring to the sugar in alcohol or candy, although I have tried these sugars and others to help lifes’ medicines go down. Take your medicine, it will make you feel better, but it won’t taste good and may cause side effects. Oh, those side effects!! Lots of things we know are good for us, don’t necessarily feel good right away. No pain, no gain.

Some pills can make us high and some pills can kill, we can take too many and overdose. We may try to end pain and in the process kill ourselves. Lives are saved everyday by medications we have created. There’s the good and the bad, the use and abuse, and the therapeutic dose and overdose. We hope the pills we take on a daily basis maintain our health. If our pill bottle has a skull and crossbones on it that’s not a good sign, but sometimes poison tastes really good and psyche poison may be especially sweet. What am I putting in my body and in my mind?

It’s best if we are an informed consumer and question the physician about what medications we are on, why we are on them and what to look out for. So I ask myself: “A daily dose of what?” A horse pill of anger and resentment is a big pill but I can get it down. It makes me nauseous and self -righteous and the most common side effect is continued victimhood. All too often I prescribe this nasty pill to myself, it’s been in my medicine cabinet for years and I am afraid to just stop taking it for fear of withdrawal. Who would I be without resentment? If I am “popping” pills I need to consider what results I am aiming for. A daily dose of gratitude will do more to promote happiness than a daily dose of negativity. A daily dose of self-compassion will give me a chance at loving myself, while a daily dose of “I am not good enough.” is not likely to help me feel better. What else am I dosing myself with?

A Daily Dose

Crazy Quilts

Crazy quilts are usually made with rich, shimmering pieces of fabric, cut in odd shapes and sizes and joined together with contrasting thread and various embroidery stitches. It doesn’t bore the eye with order, it is beautiful in a haphazard sort of way. Memory quilts are made from pieces of fabric from the makers clothing which were worn at special events or were every day favorites. Put them together and you have a crazy, memory quilt that depicts a lifetime and a timeline. I want to start gathering my quilt pieces, arrange them in a pleasing way and begin to sew them together and embroider with the threads of my life. There is more to come but inventorying what I have now shows me the colors and textures I have collected.

I pick up the pink nubby fabric that was my Easter dress when I was 12, I wore it with a white brimmed hat and black shoes with a bow and a tiny heel. Yes, Easter was really all about new Easter outfits and not some silly resurrection from the dead. I remember looking around the church and comparing my pink empire dress with others’ dresses and thinking “Not too bad Danita, but Pam’s outfit is better.” I made my senior graduation dress, a royal blue polyester knit A-line with puffy sleeves and Nehru collar. I spilled a cup of whiskey and 7-Up down the front of it partying on graduation night. I was such a sophisticated senior.

 

Denim is scattered through out my quilt: blue jean bell bottoms with legs so wide small animals could have nested in them and the Jean Jacket that was part of my tough Danita wardrobe. I was with the wrong crowd for awhile and I loved it until the wrong didn’t feel right anymore. A bit of karma, the jacket was stolen from me! All these different shades of denim through the years, bleached out, dark, striped and black. Oh, the styles! Bell-bottoms, skinny jeans, boot cuts, straight legs and zipped up. And I can’t forget the historic stars and stripes jeans from my freshman year in college. Let’s call them my hippie protest jeans. Somewhere in this style history were hip hugger jeans with zippers about 3 inches long and my “skinny” jeans and my “fat” jeans.

T-shirt’s and more T-shirts. Roger and I had a communal pile which we grabbed from in the early morning heading out for our walks. Mostly grays and greens(CSU) and whites. I picked up T-shirt’s by the bundle at the thrift store and we laughed when people asked us if we liked Hawaii or whatever race the T-shirt advertised! After Roger died I asked my son to donate all the T-shirt’s he had in his closet at the care facility. I knew I would smell Roger in them and I would never wear them. Lots of soft t-shirt fabric in my quilt and in my memory.

My purple velvet skirt and vest was one of my favorite outfits from high school. This fabric is perfect for crazy quilts. My bright yellow windbreaker, which covered my butt would be a punch of bright shiny fabric too. Corduroy, lots of corduroy in rich colors and textures that made a swishing sound when I walked. Lace tops, lacy mantillas for church and lacy underwear will add the girlie touch.

So how to stitch all the quilt pieces together? There has to be red thread for the blood I shed each month and giving birth to my son. Red for heart and love. A cross-stitch embroidery stitch would be nice in red. Blue, lots of blue thread for my blue eyed family, my son Tyler, Roger and me and my parents and 12 siblings. A blue running stitch flowing through my quilt like a winding river sounds just right. Gotta be lots of green thread for all the hikes and walks taken. Gold thread for bling and all the treasures in my life….

Crazy Quilts

Be Happy, Damnit!

Everyone wants to be happy. “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands!” “Don’t worry, be happy!” “Happy”, the song that made me unhappy after hearing it 1 million times. I have read through entire sections of Self-Improvement at several bookstores. I have been therapized for most of my adult life and been on anti depressant drugs I don’t remember the names of. Caveat: Anti-depressants can be life savers, as they were and are for me, but they do not make you happy, they bring you to a level of health and the getting happy is still up to me and you. I have ran, meditated, danced, walked and wrote and although each are wonderful they did not make me happy. I am loved and have been loved but even this does not make me happy. Alcohol and illegal drugs for sure did not make me happy and that’s not for lack of trying.

Should I give up on being happy? I never give up, but lately I have been seriously questioning how well “never giving up” has worked for me. Try and try harder, that’s how things get done, right? Getting happy must require a lot of work and attention, otherwise everybody would be happy. My favorite dead politician, Abe Lincoln, said: “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” So I just need to make up my mind to be happy—-no problem! My mind got me into this place of dissatisfaction and my mind can get me out. What about if reality sucks, how can I think differently if reality does not change. Another of my favorite fellas, Shakespeare wrote these words for Hamlet, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Seems like both Abe and Hamlet were on the same track: the mind is a horrible thing to waste if you are aiming for happiness. Turns out that choosing our thoughts and focus, and making a commitment to seeing the positives may indeed be the road to take to happiness. Is the glass half full or half empty? If we see the glass as half full we have the advantage in the pursuit of happiness.

I make observations and judgements that are true only to the extent that I believe them to be true. I can focus on gratitude or victimhood. I can use my thoughts to beat myself up or to cultivate self compassion. I never liked my Mother’s lame suggestion: “Count your blessings.” Maybe, just maybe my Mothers suggestion wasn’t so lame. If I am focused on my blessings I don’t have the mental energy to tally all my curses too. Blessings in, blessings out or curses in, curses out, my mind can be programmed either way. I do get to choose what thoughts I entertain so why not entertain thoughts that help me feel better instead of worse.

Sometimes when my focus is on the current moment I can be overcome by beauty. This morning I was laying on my sofa, crocheting and cuddling with my doggies. The sun was shining through the patio door, shadows were playing on the wall and my orchids were reaching for the sun. Now that’s a miracle—-my orchids love me and bloom several times a year and have so many blooms at a time. I am so grateful they offer their beauty to me. The birds were singing and it seemed a happy song. I was thinking about this blog post on happiness and counting my blessings. I suddenly realized that this, this moment in time, was a moment of happiness. Tears filled my eyes and I said aloud “This is happiness. I see it and feel it!” And then the joy I felt broke into a million pieces, too many blessings to count.

Be Happy, Damnit!

I’ve Been Hacked!

I was hacked! “Your password has been changed to your online banking, if you did not do this call immediately” Ping, ping, one message after the other, I watched as the money in my accounts was emptied out. I didn’t even have time to call to stop the invasion, and the
deed was done. Long story short, with the help of a very kind banker and my very kind son, although I am still currently without funds, the claim is in process and money from heaven will be arriving in the next few days. I felt violated and angry that someone was invading my privacy and I was not safe. While on hold waiting to file the claim, the banker shared pictures of his first grandchild, a little fellow with big eyes who was very alert. John, the banker, plays guitar and plays around town, so we talked stringed instruments, as in guitars and banjos. Hard to imagine, but I enjoyed our conversation and was grateful that he was on hold for an hour with the fraud department so we had time to chat. My son came over on his white horse/in his white car and saved the day by helping me change all my passwords on my iPad. I am not happy I was hacked, but I did have some enjoyable time cleaning up the mess. Go figure!

I grumble. I like that word, it’s so perfect for the action. Anyway I grumbled today when it quit snowing and blowing and I got dressed to shovel my driveway and sidewalk. I called my friend across the street and she asked who had shoveled for me! I peeked out the door and lo and behold it was clean and shoveled! I was once again struck by the kindness of others. I don’t know who did it, but I am so grateful. I hate to play the age card, but sometimes I just feel too old to do some of the physical stuff I used to do.

There are moments of grace and kindness sprinkled throughout my days, if ( a big if) I pay attention and get out of the way. To give or receive kindness requires an open mind so there is a channel for goodness. When I am totally self absorbed and obsessed I can’t offer kindness to anyone and may not recognize kindness if it hit me over the head. I know I want to be a kind person, but I also want to pick and choose who I am kind to. If I like them and they are like me, then I will be kind. There is something wrong with this line of reasoning but I resist challenging it. Kindness can build bridges between people who are very different,  but building new infrastructure is much harder than crossing a bridge that is already built and in use. It’s the perceived differences between”them” and “us” that “Trump” our similarities and our desire to be kind.

Kindness is not earned, it is offered. I can choose to be kind to a person I don’t like and even offer kindness to myself when self recrimination is the activity for the day. Accepting kindness from others is not always easy for me, I want to write up an I.O.U. I am sure there is no ledger for kindness and kind acts, but I want the books to balance. Offering, allowing and accepting kindness frees you and me to be the best we can be. Pass it around.

 

 

 

I’ve Been Hacked!

Blankety, Blank

I won’t be writing a blog post this week. I just don’t have anything interesting to say. My creativity is on a road trip and I’m just a tiny figure in the rear view mirror. Sometimes self-discipline will compel me to sweat out some bloggy type words, but even discipline is a no- show. So that leaves pretty much nothing, unless you count boredom and passiveness and I don’t really care if you do or don’t. There’s no wind to blow me “which way” so I am not a body in motion that will tend to stay in motion.

It feels kinda good to take the writing week off. Writing is highly over-rated. I have personal time I can use. It’s a “staycation” in the dead of winter. Stringing profound and life changing words together is really too much work for me. I don’t even want to answer yes or no questions, I would need to think and thinking hurts my head.

As a matter of fact a nap sounds pretty good right now. There is no amount of coffee that will rev me up enough to write a few words. I might drink my coffee and stare out the window and watch the birds. I can daydream, but I don’t want to write anything down on paper. Who does that anyway? I mean actually write on paper and not type on the keyboard. I have never taken a typing class, or I guess they call it a keyboard class now. I only type about 25 wpm so even typing wears me out. So it’s not penmanship anymore it’s keyboardmanship. These are my important and irrelevant musings. You can think about it if you want, but I have already lost interest.

A stupid movie or a stupid book? It’s a good day for stupid. I am not “like really smart” or a “stable genius” like some stupid presidents we won’t mention. I have nothing of substance to offer. Why waste your time and mine? I’m pulling the plug on my blogpost today because it’s brain dead. There is no evidence of any brain activity or imagination. Take 2 aspirin and call or text me in the morning and see if I care. I might have to get back to you later because I will be writing my blog tomorrow.

Blankety, Blank

You Too?

I thought I was the only one!  Terminal uniqueness: My belief that no one else could understand how I felt, surely I am the only person in the world who has ever felt this way. There is an element of reverse arrogance in terminal uniqueness, i.e. I am so special because no one has had it worse than me and no one can possibly understand how I feel. If I believe I am terminally unique then I will separate myself from others and not share my feelings, this is the perfect storm for isolation. No thanks, I’ll just stay here by myself, stare at my belly button and cry.

Today I know that I am not terminally unique and my life is infinitely better because I have been a member of several peer support groups for many years. The miracle is that once I ventured out of my isolation I discovered how we are alike in our humanness . The “support” in support groups comes from this reality: your words are my words, we speak for ourselves and for each other. I have found compassion for others and myself in peer support groups

Why did I wait until my emotional pain was almost unbearable before I sought solace in a community of peers? My little dog Roscoe likes to roll over and beg me for a belly rub: vulnerability be damned! His behavior says “I trust you.” I feed him and take him for walks so I am a good, trustworthy human. Roscoe doesn’t care if I’m old, gray and fat. I however have trust issues. I’m not likely to expose my vulnerability until I can feel relatively certain that I am safe. Finding out if someone is trustworthy is risky behavior, trial and error of the heart. I stick my neck out and share my truth and I’ll be treated with respect and compassion or NOT; it’s the not that scares the shit out of me! But I persevered, kept going one tiny step at a time, and now I can share honestly with fellow members in my support groups.

It’s the shared realities and vulnerabilities that allow people to eventually trust each other. Easier said than done. Your outsides look a lot different from my outsides, but inside we can recognize a fellow soul. I am afraid, you are afraid. I am lost, you are lost. I don’t feel worthy, you don’t feel worthy. We can both laugh so hard our bellies hurt. We can love fiercely, celebrate love and grieve when a loved one leaves us. The tears that fall from your eyes are the same tears that fall from my eyes into the river that flows between us. Your smile is my smile. You bleed the same as I. We need never stand alone. Can you hear the bell tolling?

 

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.        By John Donne

You Too?

2018

I resolve to make zero resolutions for the new year. Besides the one I just made! I am hoping for an underwhelming year. My mantra will not be ”I am so overwhelmed.” I am saying NO to lofty goals, NO to dreaming big and a really big NO to self-improvement. I realize this is heresy, but I am willing to be labeled a heretic. You might ask what will be my motivation to get out of bed if I don’t have goals and/or planning to do? I’m thinking I will want to get out of bed because I will be so curious what a day without striving and trying will be like.

I will need to talk to myself in a new language, the verbal whips of “I am not enough.”, “Try harder,” or “I should _____(fill in the blank) will be defused by a gentler vocabulary of self-talk. My sister Aileen has coined a new word “overwhelmtion”, the disease of too much to do and too little time to do it. It’s very contagious and there is no vaccine for it. Some people are immune to overwhelmtion, they follow a diet of nourishing self talk . What if I answered the social/polite question “So what are you up to? with “I have time to do the things I want to do and to explore new areas.” Would the conversation end? If I am not “too busy” do I have any justification for being on the planet. I am afraid that living life at a slower pace may bring me face to face with loneliness. “Too busy” crowds out loneliness, surely if I am rushing to and fro I must be a popular, important person.

Sometimes I feel like I am leaning so far into the future that I could fall flat on my face. I want to meander a bit, stop and look, maybe double back and eventually amble into this moment or the next. The future is really just a “now” that hasn’t happened yet. I don’t want to be famous——o.k. just a little famous would be alright. I want to be a good writer, a good mother and a good friend. I may not be a big splash, but I might be the rock that skips across the water three times.

So what will 2018 be like for this underachiever? I could get a part-time job with Consumer Reports rating how comfortable Mattress A is compared to Mattress Z and all in between. This is a big contribution to my and mankind’s need for a good nights sleep, but I get tired thinking about how many mattresses I would need to rate to meet a quota. I guess I don’t want to live up to my potential and my second grade teacher had me nailed after all. I don’t want to live up to any arbitrary measures i.e. too fat or too skinny, too smart or too stupid, and conversely scrubbing toilets is not “beneath”me. Allowing myself to simply be, and accepting my growth or lack of growth, is my Grand Experiment for 2018.

Wishing all of you a New Year filled with love and joy.

 

No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.”

― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own / Three Guineas

2018