Transitioning with Joy, the noun

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emotional health / human experience / Humor / relationships / Uncategorized

IMG_2605 “Once upon a time there was a beautiful, smart woman and her handsome, intelligent husband who’d had a sweet little princess, who we’ll call “Joy”(because I want to and it’s my damn story). Life was good. Joy was happy initially, however as she neared her 2nd birthday she seemed bored with her doting mother and indifferent to her father who worked long hours at his job. The mother suggested that they have another baby. After all, they had so much more love to give, and wouldn’t Joy just love a sibling! It was decided. They would have another child to occupy Joy’s unfulfilling two year old days. To everyone’s, well, joy, this lovely family had a beautiful son! They named him Tom (because next to Dave Matthews, I adore Tom Brady, that’s why).

Tom was the light of little Joy’s eye. She would be Tom’s first unofficial teacher, friend, swimming instructor, craft organizer, opponent in matchbox car racing; Tom’s big, loving sister. Sure she was bossy and overprotective, but she was as much a part of him as he was a part of her from the moment the family brought him home from the hospital.

When Tom cried, it was Joy who placed his pacifier lovingly in his mouth, as much to shut him up so she could watch “Dora The Explorer” as to see him contented. She did not want to see this round, cuddly little infant sad, plus he was drowning out her Spanish lesson with Dora! When Tom was taken on outings he had both a pacifier (binki, sucker, paccie, whatever) and a small blue blanket that he liked to rub between his thumb and forefinger. These he used to soothe himself, especially when Joy was not there with him. Because she was over two years older than her baby brother (two years and eight months she would tell you) she began to spread out her little wings further and further.

At three she joined Gymboree and made several new friends. At four, when Tom was not yet two, Joy began a preschool program where she learned all kinds of things to stimulate a little girls mind. Excited and out of breath, she would race back home to teach little Tom about all sorts of letters that made actual words! Moments later she would leave her brother sprawled out on the floor in a tense fit of anger while screaming “no, no!” at his sister for taking her crayon out of his mouth.

Joy had become overly frustrated and very often emotionally drained due to her brother’s lack of attention to the curvature of the “J” or the perfect roundness of the “O”. In fact, Tom consistently saw the crayons or chalk as fun, colorful objects to be ingested or tossed. She tired of his immaturity. She soon began to desire playdates with peers who could reciprocate in stimulating games of charades, dressing up and building castles with intricate little blocks that poor Tom’s lack of fine motor skills could not adapt to.  Tom just seemed like a baby to her now. Although he was super cute, he often smelled, needed diapers changed and threw objects at her when she attempted to teach him “even simple things”, like how to macramé a bracelet. She needed more fulfillment from her relationships than just the caretaking responsibilities that Tom required.

One evening after peewee soccer practice, Joy sat three year old Tom down in his booster seat at the kitchen table. She explained that their relationship just wasn’t satisfying to her anymore. She stated that, although she adored her baby brother, it was time for her to expand her social horizons. He was holding her back, she added. It wasn’t his fault, but she was super smart and oh so popular among her kindergarten friends. A fellow named Nathan, a first grader actually, was interested in playing with her at recess and….*enter a handful of Cheerios flying directly at Joy’s face*…OMG, you’re IMPOSSIBLE!!  MMMMOOOOOOOM!

Needless to say, Tom was left at the mercy of his mother and whatever drippings of time his older sister could give him when she was able to lower herself to his level (i.e. her peers were busy). Not only was this little “break up” strange and somewhat hurtful to three year old Tom, but he really didn’t understand how come his sister didn’t want to spend time with him anymore. She used to be so pleasant and fun. He was confused, being a boy however, he could easily be redirected onto other things. So he put much investment in his “blankie” and was able to transition from his pacifier. Joy felt a modicum of respect toward her brother for that gesture of maturity while continuing in her pursuit of older, more interesting people and places and things…”nouns, Tom, nouns…can you say ‘noun’?”


“Gah! Mooooooooom! Watch your son please!”

Well, time passed. Tom got older and bigger. At seven he traded in his “blankie” for a baseball glove that accompanied him everywhere. It felt good to him…the feel and smell of worn leather…the way it was grooved to fit his right hand tightly…the autograph from his favorite Phillies first baseman, Ryan Howard…plus it was socially acceptable no matter where he went. He didn’t have to feel embarrassed by having a dirty, ripped up old “blankie” for comfort anymore. He would be the first to admit though, it was a tough transition for him. The battered blue blanket had been his “Transitional Object” for his whole lifetime until his father introduced the mitt. Maybe it was also special because it was his dad who gave it to him.

The mitt, though still beloved, was exchanged for a lacrosse stick in middle school. It kept his hands and his mind busy. He didn’t need to think about tests or social pressures or issues at home or watching his sister take over her world in high school. Lacrosse was cool. You don’t get asked how your grades are when you have the stick in your hand. You don’t get awkward “hellos” from girls, you get dudes respecting with a nudge and a nod, and moms quiet cause you excel at something that’s keeping you busy enough that she’s not afraid of you getting into trouble yet. No questions asked. All good.

In high school Tom flirted with all kinds of potentially harmful things, places, people…nouns. When all was said and done though, he’d hear his sister’s words in his ears about wanting him to be making good choices and loving him regardless. That was soothing to him, as was the baseball mitt he kept in a drawer in his bedroom.  It represented a solid, firm foundation to him.

In college he met the love of his life. They married. They had a family with beautiful children. They eventually divorced. He was devastated. This was not the way it was supposed to be. He needed comfort. He needed to be soothed. He brought women home for sex. Thank you, he would say politely. Later gator, he would think to himself. This is not who I am, he would feel at his core.

Shortly thereafter he met a woman who seemed compatible. They enjoyed each other’s company. He liked her, more than just for the sex. He needed this to work. He needed another transitional object to soothe him, bring him back to the man he used to be. He wanted it to fit badly so he wouldn’t have to be alone. With himself. Without a companion to tell him he was successful and a good provider. Lonely. Alone was okay. Lonely was not okay.

This woman became the transitional (rebound) relationship for Tom. She was soothing as a distraction from what he needed to get back to, which was his core. This core consisted of the child, then the teenage boy, then the adult male that he had been even before the marriage, but to include the time of marriage as his personality was continually being shaped. Add to that his habits and needs. Maybe she could cover over the pain of his last relationship. Maybe she could get him back to HIM.

◊♦◊ Okay. STOP RIGHT THERE! ◊♦◊

Now I’m sad. Had he asked for MY humble opinion, I would have told Tom to invest in himself first and foremost. The odds of the first serious relationship working perfectly after the long term marriage ending in pain, are slim. I say this because he is seeking that comfort and soothing from another human being, no doubt with baggage of her own to bring to the party eventually. What he needs to do is to make things right with himself. Let go of grudges, painful childhood whatevers, choose forgiveness. Take some time to shut some of these emotional doors before opening up another. That is why the redivorce rate is about twenty percent more than the divorce rate (65-70% vs. 45-50% for first divorce), according to Ron L. Deal, President,  It’s like a group of people so excited to jump back into the same pool that they completely forgot that the pool was closed for renovations. They jump rather enthusiastically into an empty pool. Ouch.

Here’s how I’d like to see this story end: Tom spends time with his male friends and makes the time for his beautiful children, who have also “rediscovered” a father they didn’t always get to spend quality time with when he was married to their mother. For himself, he gives the gift of time. He learns to love himself for more than what he can offer others in the form of material objects.  He mourns the old life and embraces the new one. He discovers he is loved, loving and lovable. He has a great deal more to give and it had begun from the first day of his birth. A kiss from his mother, a tear from his dad and Joy.

AND THE MORAL OF THIS STORY IS: Clean your house thoroughly before you invite others over to eat, OR; Don’t swim in an empty  pool. Wait to fill it up with water, then balance the chemicals.  OR, get some therapy would you?!



My Tolerance Mysteriously Tanking, part 2

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Humor / relationships / Uncategorized

There’s a distinct possibility that feeding my fish bird food is not the best practice after all.  Another floater. I’m moving ever closer to the Tolerance Tank….this time it’s….NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! O.M.G! No, please no! Oh…phew!  It’s not Thor, folks!  That’s a relief. Thor with his creamy white shiny gills is as sweet as he is large. Let’s just say he makes a real impression when he enters a tankful of multicolored fish. Aquatic life rush over to my little guy. I’m guessing they think he may actually be a marshmallow.  How precious is that?

Thor…he almost looks like a marshmallow, doesn’t he? That’s why he appealed to my softer side.

But, Awwww Nooooo……*Gently scoops a lifeless floating Pimp Daddy G off the top of the tank – employs 1-finger-fish CPR directly on the corian countertops* ….Breathe! Breathe! Breathe, dammit! Pimp Daddy G, come back to us!  PIMP DADDYYYYYYYYYYYYGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!

I did ‘t even see my child rushing into the kitchen to criticize watch.

“Mom stop!” Number three daughter yelled right into my left eardrum. “He’s getting smushed!”

….”Oh!………what?” I responded (as I had been deafened, for geezums sakes!). He was gone. Now an unresponsive gold-tinted horizontal mass of yellowy flecks, our friend was slightly unrecognizable. He lie there quietly, flattened(ly).  My right pointer finger had flecks of brilliant gold where moments earlier I had given it my best shot. It was all I had to give. *sniff…sniff….sniff…*


My beautiful gold Pimp Daddy Gangsta (shown swimming between Charmaine and Creamsickle – great! now I’m hungry! – The Stepford Wives meander throughout)…how gemtastic you made us all feel….or maybe not ALL of us….

Sure, his name was a bit provocative. He may have appeared a bit intimidating at first glance with his shiny gold coloring. He was but a gem among a grouping of slinky shimmering orange bursts of energy I like to call The Stepford Wives; and spotted tricolored twins named Tango and Ray, new recruits to the Tolerance Tank. He liked rap music and would add some rap to Frank Sinatra tunes. Pimp Daddy’s favorite, “New York, New York” was always a welcome treat among Tolerance Tank residents. Once while hanging at a luau prior to his Tolerance Tank days,  he amused a rather large crowd of haddock with his rendition of Elvis Presley’s tune, “Rock-A-Hula-Baby”, rap style, of course. And boy oh boy didn’t he have a way with the ladies! They were quite attracted to his brilliant gold coloring, I hear. Fisherman too had, on more than one occasion, grabbed at him as he was sleeping on the bottom of the sea. They’d taken him for a gold coin.

Pimp Daddy Gangsta liked to rap to Elvis tunes. He often dressed like Elvis for Halloween parties. I miss PDG already, folks....

Pimp Daddy Gangsta liked to rap to Elvis tunes. He often dressed like Elvis for Halloween parties. I miss PDG already, folks….

I must take issue with the Stepford Wives this day though.  Did they even attempt to include Pimp Daddy into their weekly game of hide-and-seek-swimming at dusk?  Did any of them lend an ear or give Pimp Daddy the respect he deserved as a talented musician, like  Maria had prior to her….well….let’s just say for now, her…a…passing?

When Pimp Daddy seemed slower, more cautious than usual in his final forty-eight hours did Thor (named paradoxically for his lack of masculinity in a tank full of difficult females) or Creamsickle (so named to represent my ice cream cravings; you got a problem with that?!) even give PDG the time of day?   No. I watched.  It appears that he had been counted out immediately upon dipping his fin into a tank almost full of sorority sisters. Maybe they’d heard about his “kind”. Perhaps they blamed him for the unfortunate death of our beloved “Maria”, resident samba swimmer. There is so much we still don’t know.

Was it his name that set the Stepford Wives adrift from Pimp Daddy? Perhaps some of them stereotyped him prior to his ever joining them in the Tolerance Tank. Because Charmaine seemed most hospitable, allowing PDG (full name, Pimp Daddy Gangsta) to swim alongside her, I had wrongly assumed that he’d then had his ticket “in”. I was aware, though, that other Stepford Wives, Bobbie and Sarah, had issues with Charmaine and her attraction to the more deviant underwater Carassius auratus.  Was it because he was originally from the city of Brookefin?  Maybe the other Stepford Wives were jealous of their fellow sister swimmer’s ability to charm a “bad boy from da hood” as the wives called him all in fun. So I’d thought anyway.

All I know is what I saw and what I saw was poor dear Pimp Daddy Gangsta floating atop the Tolerance Tank this afternoon. The girls were swimming around as usual…now even Charmaine was among them. It appears a bit sinister, like it did prior to the Tolerance Tank began inviting outsiders in. There are many questions I have yet to answer, like:

Is this some kind of a cover-up?

Is what happened to sweet Maria, Samba Swimmer, related in any way to Pimp Daddy Gangsta’s untimely death?

Where has Creamsickle been throughout all of this madness (My gosh I’m hungry)?

Why is Thor staring out of the tank “window”?  He appears heavy in thought (or stunned into silence??) Shouldn’t he be at the Fins Gym? He appears transfixed on something. Hmmmmm….could he…be…(gulp)…next?

Or perhaps he’s afraid of the girls and their blatant dismissal of him as a feral male with creamy white skin and light eyes? Could he have had a crush on Pimp Daddy Gangsta himself?  Charmaine maybe? Still grieving Maria?

Might he be planning an escape of some sort? Or perhaps he’s unaware that his only male peer…Pimp Daddy G…is really gone. He could be spiraling into some kind of depressive disorder, OR maybe he offed Pimp Daddy G…!

♦cue soap opera music♦

Friends, I shall keep you posted. I may need to send one of my undercover gill-bearing aquatic craniate animals down to the Tolerance Tank to get the real story. Reporting live from the kitchen, this is Jules giving you the latest waves in The Tolerance Tank.


1. If it looks like fish food but says it’s bird seed, don’t feed it to fish.

2. I was only kidding about number one. Who does that?

3. Don’t judge an aquatic animal by it’s fin hue (or shape).

4. Only the good become self-floatation devices young.

5. Tell those you swim among how you feel before they become a floater.

→RIP Pimp Daddy Gangsta, AKA Bill Goldernbergerfeld of Brookefin, NY←

No one “Rock A Hula” rap quite like PDG.

Blind Sight

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cognition / emotional scar tissue / human experience / relationships / Uncategorized



IMG_1986       I closed my eyes just for a long second or….maybe six. I was driving down that back road I often take home when there is excessive traffic on the main one. My lids wanted to come back up, to see, I guess. They didn’t trust that my brain could navigate the hills and wide turns on it’s own, without using sight.  So I fought this compulsion to open my eyes. I actually argued with myself over it. I could “see” the road clearly, yet it was my memory of it, I’m guessing; that mental picture you view when you’ve done something five hundred times and you know it. And you know that you know it.

And that’s how I know you. And you know that I know you. And you carry on. And I close my eyes and feel you in my brain. Where you will remain until I figure out how to navigate through the twists and turns with my eyes closed. Because if I were to open them it wouldn’t make sense to drive around blindly, would it? But it works for me right now. I need it to work for me.

There are too many variables to drive over to get to the place my heart wants to go.

Open your eyes! He screamed at me. Wake the hell up!  Life isn’t a fucking dream! There are too many casualties in your wake. What is wrong with you? It echoed…that angry voice of his. Where are you going? WHERE ARE YOU GOING?!

I don’t know, I said. My eyes are closed and I can’t see. I’m following my heart this time. I never listened to it before. 

But your heart belongs to me! I own you! You will do what I say!

My heart belongs to no one. Not even me at the moment. If I were to stop and look, I might find that it isn’t even there as it had been before, just beating…beating…beating, without a thought to it’s mission…no passion…no meaning…no more. 

How could it NOT be there!  You’re a fool!

It might be in pieces. I bet it’s in pieces. Maybe we’ll find “hope” somewhere, maybe “forever” in there too. when I open my eyes there may even be pieces of “love” scattered amid the heart shards. I’m afraid I may not be able to put them back together though. That’s why I want to keep my eyes closed. That’s why I need to keep my eyes closed. Maybe you could just listen to me for once.

You are a foolish dreamer. Wake up. Don’t wake up. I don’t know if I care anymore.

I know that about you and you know it too;

Maybe we both need to open our eyes;




Broken. Still so beautiful inside.

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emotional health / human experience / Humor / relationships / Uncategorized



If you are wondering whether my musical friend, Dave Matthews, has taken me up on my offer to collaborate on some of his well written and inspiring musical pieces, I would say exuberantly that he has! However, what you may not be aware of, is that there are approximately 1,748 men in our United States listed by the name of “David Matthews”.  So, yes, I have made contact with one “David Matthews”, however, I haven’t yet been in correspondence with THE David Matthews.  Except for in my dreams…which I savor still…sorry, I digress.

Stay tuned on that one, friends. Where there is a will…

Loose Association Alert: While at spinning class today I thought about all of the folks that had reached out to me after I had peeled off a layer or two a few weeks ago with my blog featuring my childhood voice. I was met by so many who also decided to shed a layer, or at least steer in that direction, because they were made to actually think about their lives and what might be holding them back from feeling truly alive, after reading my verbal projectile vomit. Each individual shared that at one point she had no control over her life or a time that others stronger in some way, took advantage. I was both horrified and touched that I could bring that out. It’s a dark time to revisit. And with that death comes new life. I do believe that. I am happy for these friends…new and old. There is something missing from all this however. It is a male voice.  Is it only the females who suffer? Doubtful. It’s the males who have no voice for it to be heard, or no one pushing them to let the muck flow. No social supports to say it’s okay for a guy to have “girl” feelings.

Bottom line:

strip us all to the heart, though we’re broken to the bone, we’re humans with feelings and dreams and a beauty all our own. Even you big tough he-men who don’t allow yourselves to feel.  It’s in there. If you have a heart you have been born with the capacity to love and be loved. It’s in there. It’s real.

(Dave: you may use that!  Just let me know! *blowing kisses*)

I wish more people would take a risk to let go and be loved; however, it often isn’t as easy as I’ve made it sound. It has taken me years to get through the sludge to the real deal. We get so much of who we are from the family we grew up in. The good and the bad. Boys tend to follow father’s footsteps more while daughters watch their mothers for cues. Don’t argue with me on that one. Dr. Phil supports that line. I know this because I heard it on one of his shows. Take the learned behavior, mix it with genetics and a person’s environment and you get grown up people making decisions good and bad. Everything leading up to today has either been under your control or someone else’s, on your behalf.

♣Take yours. Own it. Make it amazing.♣

My concern is for the male who doesn’t feel socially that it is appropriate to enter therapy, or feel any kind of emotion that may get people confused with them being anything like a female, God forbid. Women are already fairly “weak” so it’s ok if they share their fear or sadness or shame or guilt (trying to prove a point, female friends, relax). “Real” men see those as weaknesses. He brands even himself a failure somehow if he can’t keep it all together and still provide for his family.  He’s not all ridiculous though, he does relate to strength and mergers and acquisitions and power and financial gain and muscles. OR, being in charge, being the protector, being the motivator, being the guide, being the breadwinner, being the BBQer.  Being the thinker in the relationship. The feeler, of course, is played by the female.

THERE IS NO TIME FOR IMPOTENCE. Of any kind. Go ahead, admit it. I’m not totally off the mark here. (however, if I am, I am woman enough to take it, I assure you!)

I thought we females had it bad! At least we can go to the salon and change it up or put lipstick on it or a new dress maybe. And we’re almost encouraged to cry/weep/emote/be silly/”tinkle”/get nervous/screw up directions/chat with our bff’s/take anxiety meds/stay home with the kids/appear ditzy…blah blah blah…truly pros and cons in both boats, however, when I think of the socio-emotional strain on our men I feel truly saddened. Where is it that says that boys are born sans feelings? Stereotypes of boys/men are alive and well and I dare say, largely in the male head –  the one that he is supposed to be thinking with.

On behalf of the women who love the men NOT only because you are often taller and framed differently and wear hair on your face and look very handsome bald and smell nice after a shower and make us feel special when you want sex (yes, we’ve known for years…), I would like to take this moment to thank you for your service in all departments and tell you that it’s ok. We know you have feelings and we give you permission to talk about them and be honest even if it might hurt our feelings. (I may be going out on my very own limb here…I’m feeling fewer females in attendance as I present this sentiment).


We can handle your truth. It’s yours. Feelings are neither right nor wrong, they just are. Get in touch with yours the same way you touch yourself in your TV room and let us know what’s going on up there!  I don’t care if your dad talked to your mom or not. Wake up and be here with us today. Now. I guarantee you there will be fewer stress-related untimely deaths if our men let us in. And we let them be human along with us.

Relax girls, we can still hold sex over their heads! Getting them healthy doesn’t have to take away our power. It gives us longer to use it.

*wink* Am I right, ladies?!

ps. See you in my dreams DM! ♥

What would you say?

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human experience / Humor / relationships / Uncategorized


“Fill up your head.

Fill up your heart

And take your shot.

Don’t waste time trying to be

Someone you’re not.” 

~Dave Matthews

If there is anyone or anything that says real to me, it is the Dave Matthews Band. This man can make something profound out of even the most simple of lyrics. He could make “Go to hell” sound like a great idea. Maybe I’m premenstrual, but these people envelop humanity to me. I know, deep, huh? I’m just certain you were thinking that very thing. It’s of course why you go to his concerts and hum his songs all around your home. Think about it, he surrounds himself in beautiful music played by a plethora of instruments that each own their own distinct sound. It all comes together, all the tools he uses to convey his messages in song co-mingle magically. He has a way of placing flutes with violins and guitars with trumpets, sax with all kinds of earthy percussion instruments in a mix that is vibrant, bluesy and completely free from pretense. His music reeks of honesty. I love the way he jams past so much of his lyrics, most recently to “Drunken Sailor”, from his Away From The World album.  Many artists aren’t as apt to show their musical mastery like this band does. They show their cards. I think I’m in love.


What would it be like if people were able to wear it on the outside like that? Sure there have been comedies created with that in mind, it seems that a hubby must have to endure some kind of traumatic brain injury or make a promise to a disillusioned son on his birthday (Liar, Liar with Jim Carrey) in order to be able to answer even his wife’s simplest of questions with total honesty.  For example, “Do I look good in this dress?” is a staple question, to which he, the normal partner, naturally answers “Yes. Of course,” without so much as peering up from his iPhone. Some of the more thoughtful, aka, manipulative, cohabitants might suggest she turn for him before he says this to throw her off the scent a bit. Appearing more genuine will not only garner more points but will ensure that she doesn’t continue to ask this particular question, leaving him alone to watch the game.

According to movies such as Liar, Liar, men need little less than a gun over their heads or a traumatic brain injury in order to be honest. A “no” to the question of whether the dress looks good or not enters a man into unknown, unpredictable behaviors. Obviously his mate feels some discomfort or she wouldn’t have to ask. She either looks dumpy or everything is too tight, or it’s over-the-top just wrong to begin with. She is of course, appalled and tells him that women naturally prefer that men tell a white lie of some sort rather than actually be honest. Initially it is just easy to say “yes, of course, you look awesome as usual!” and let it go. No fuss, no muss. You grab your coats and head out the door all smiles. It’s all good. And to that I cry “FOUL!” What a mixed message.

Be honest as long as you tell me I look good = don’t be honest. Just tell me I look good. Which could convey into even deeper issues using that same frame of reference → mixed messages.  Note: the woman here is giving off the mixed message. She wants him to approve. It’s the male who is being dishonest. So…how do we keep this from becoming a ten year cycle of resentment wherein both parties are evading issues and promoting dishonesty by letting things go when what they really want to do his shake each other and scream things like:

 “Stop making me late for church! I sit patiently in the driveway for fifteen minutes waiting for you each week. I never complain. Mass begins at 9:00 for the past ten years! 560 weeks of this shit!”

 –response under Dave and my plan: Since I tend to take longer, how about we take two cars to church on the weeks I’m running late?

“I hate it when you yell at the kids because you are mad at me! If you don’t like that I said he could eat in the living room, yell at me!”

–response under Dave and my plan: How about we don’t let this build up like this because then the kids are involved? Take me aside privately, let’s talk about family rules, maybe even monthly.

In more extreme cases people become apathetic to both theirs and their partners needs. Why? Because they are tired of working on something that doesn’t feel loving anymore. They aren’t able to connect, and instead arrive at decisions in a parallel universe. Two people housed together glued in by children, finances, anger, frustration, resentment…when apathy joins the mix it is not worth it anymore. All kids see is arguing and all adults feel is failure. It’s gotten too far. And perhaps it couldn’t have been saved for other reasons…many, many other reasons, some less easily forgiven than others.

Relationships are just plain difficult to begin with. Without honest communication it is THAT MUCH HARDER.  Resentments begin to collect as at least one person in the relationship doesn’t see the point in talking about her/his frustrations because she/he doesn’t want to “rock the boat”, “upset him”, “make him uncomfortable”, etc… whereas had she/he talked about her/his feelings more openly she/he might not be acting them out later in the form of hostility or vices.

Going back a couple of paragraphs, what I detest about this, personally,  is that I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t honestly want to know. I can’t believe that I am the only female who feels this way. Who doesn’t really want to know if she looks like the extremities of a baboon? Is a man’s fear (in this scenario) so large that he’d sacrifice his integrity as well as any credibility in order to be “off the hook”?  How could you, in good conscience, let your friend, companion, spouse, a person who trusts your opinion of  her ensemble-prep leave the sanctity of your residence looking inferior if you are asked? (If you’re not asked then well, let the chips fall where they may, I say!)

You let your friend down, Broski. This is where resentment begins. Watch and learn:

There she goes, walking into the dinner party looking like a 21 year old wanna-be in public. She’s wearing a lovely dress, yes; unfortunately, however, it was purchased in the Jr.’s department and made for someone half her size and thirty years prior to her actual age group all because you, the person she trusted most, were afraid to call attention to her bra and panty lines exploding through the front and backside of her dress? Not to mention how uncomfortable she probably is in that ridiculous get up. Let me tell you what happens next. Our-lady-of-tight-knit-camel-toe-having-butt-hugging-dress sees me at the party and we’re chatting. She says, “I wasn’t sure about this dress, but Darren said it looked great, what do you think?”

This would be a good time for some soap opera music.♦

Shame on you, Darren!  You’ve put both her and me in an uncomfortable spot! (Dave would NEVER have done that!) I’m sorry, friends, I’m not going to lie. But I will try to be nice about it. “Oh, well, that color emerald is stunning on you, but it appears that your circulation might be cut off, in your crotch area.” Honesty.  Not always pretty, is it? And since I’m a helper, I’ll have to add some advice, “Oh, and be on the look out for a yeast infection in the coming days. No air *sad shake of head* I’d probably stop at a corner drug store on the way home from here if I were you. Oh sweetie, don’t worry! My gosh, it happens all the time! It’s no big deal. Here, now just wear my trench coat for now until you leave. Next time just ask me. I’ll be honest. Men clearly don’t get it. Really, great seeing you, Kathy – green is your color!” I leave the party with poor Kathy thanking ME. How crazy, huh friends? To be appreciated for your honesty?

It might not surprise you, but I’m looking a bit deeper than all that pleasing people business.  I carry honesty at my base always (almost). I do this with no excuses (most of the time). It does come at a cost; but usually only when someone hasn’t actually asked my opinion and I feel compelled to give it anyway. Trust me on that one. Telling a fellow parent on the opposing team during a heated volleyball match that his insults aimed at the players is offensive both to the team as well as the sport in general is often not taken well. Men, or women in competitive arenas aren’t open to even pleasant suggestions or conversation, apparently. Hockey games are the worst though. As a Caps fan I sat in front of some angry Penguin fans. When I let them know my frustration with their vulgar language the man beside me suggested I get into an FBI relocation program as he wouldn’t be able to keep them from killing me for too long.

There was another time that, although harsh, honesty was a decent tool. I sat beside a woman I’d never met at a national tournament. I quickly complimented the color choice of her team (I find that colors tend to be an easy ice-breaker, and lies are not necessary if you enjoy various hues). She was clothed in the same high intensity yellow color that housed all twelve teammates faces on large muffin-sized colorful buttons, proudly displayed on the chest and stomach areas of a rather large sweatshirt she wore. Let’s face it, from a distance she looked much like a walking sun with moon craters. Did I tell her this fact? No. She didn’t ask. It was extremely close quarters. I was hoping to be a good neighbor right off the bat. After the compliment I said something about trying not to take up too much space as we were to be neighbors for a good part of the day. I smiled warmly moving my junk pile under my own chair.  Perhaps she misread my friendship offering, or maybe she’d already had a bad day. Possibly the very large buttons were covering up an entire cup of coffee she’s spilled on herself dodging people to get to this fabulous spot. That would have pissed me off too.

Her response was baffling, yet very clear.  She said, “Stop trying to be nice. what’s your problem anyway?” Caught off guard I said I had no problems yet, but would certainly leave her alone hoping to avoid potential ones.  I told you, honesty isn’t always pretty. I did appreciate it in a strange way, however, as it took the pressure off any small talk. If you’ve watched Dance Moms then you know that world of negativity. Of course that is honesty in the extreme and probably with cue cards since it is a television program. But you get my point. Because of her honesty she didn’t have to listen to me babbling incessantly when I really wouldn’t have wanted to anyway.

Could I use some sensitivity training? Always. I accept that. I don’t lie well. Believe me I’ve tried and tried!  On the up side, people don’t ask me questions they may not want to hear an honest answer to. Or newbies might do that. But usually only once. And on the flip side, I, too, want the truth. When you locate friendships that give you that, hang on tight! It’s not always pretty, but it’s what Dave and I like to say is REAL.

Look at it this way: People have paid me very large sums of money to tell them my thoughts on how, what, and why they do the things they do. Sometimes I’m shocked that I get paid for this!  I actually need to be enlightened on reasons why people DON’T respond to others honestly and openly. The people I have polled have actually been unable to tell me. That both baffles and frustrates the hell out of me furthering my inquiry and prompting me to make assumptions that I don’t want to make.

How many times in my practice have I needed to say to a teen, “look, your mother isn’t a piece of china.  She will not break. Be honest. Tell her that you’re _________ (whatever they’re doing/feeling)______. ” I can stand by them and support then, but it needs to come from them if at all possible. Honesty makes them stronger, it eventually (fingers crossed) makes their child/parent relationship closer and it serves the greater good.

The truth is not limited to just words spoken but feelings acknowledged. This tends to be the most difficult part for the masses. So often it is hard to see for oneself. Again, that is where I come in. It is easier for someone impartial to see or hypothesize what might be going on inside from the outside based on behaviors and words said and unsaid. At that point it is what is accepted as truth that is often hard to digest. Behaviors have meaning. People are always  communicating something about themselves even, and especially, without words.

I would die an old, happy, rotund woman if people could just accept themselves in full…the ugly, the messy, the dirty-minded, the cheap, the wholesome, the large, the small, the eclectic, the silly, the nerd, the boring, the hyper, the smart, the hard working, the lazy, the beautiful, the freckly, the sailor-mouthed, the chatty, the meek, the quiet, the silent, the strong, the weak, the sad, the mania-filled.  We encompass all these things at various times in our lives…sometimes many times a day even! Own it. That starts early and it begins with even those little things.

If more people were upfront there would be so much less confusion.  As a secondary gain for me, I wouldn’t look so bad if more people spoke the truth!  There!  Now you know what this is all about: I could look so damn much better being honest if the rest of the world would just suck it up and tell the truth too!

I am endorsed by my friend Dave. And he doesn’t lie either. He puts honesty to beautiful music.

Hey…Dave! Let’s collaborate ♥







She asked. The answer was “No.”

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emotional health / human experience / relationships / Uncategorized



Of  the Seven Deadly Sins she felt she had a starring role in at least five. The first of the seven, ironically enough, she knew all too well.  Lust. It was never about love, it was about desire to her. She’d tried on the love hat too many times. It was always satisfying initially, then grew old and difficult to maintain. It was generally much more work than she was prepared to invest in another human being. Either that or her man was just not doing it for her emotionally, sexually or otherwise.  The day she woke up without desire was the day she made her way out the door permanently. To her it was more about conquering that which sat in wait to be taken. The consequence would be that she would lose the love she had already nurtured, however, she rationalized, what of that was even “love”?

Perhaps it was not the glue she once thought it would be. Maybe Love was only as ambiguous as a cloud or as concrete as a greeting card on Valentines day.  Neither said love to her. Neither was a promise to be together forever. And then she wondered how come couples who were together and professed to be in this love were so much more capable of  treating each other so badly? Partners weren’t even granted friendship passes.  People treated tellers at the bank with more respect than the person who had birthed their seven infants. Was that love? She resigned herself to the notion that lust was far more satisfying to her than love. At least lust carried a sort of passion with it. There was a conquest to be gained, a passion to fill, a vibrancy that she felt very much trumped the idle life of the ordinary couple that were convinced they had this “love” thing down. No, she wanted hot-messy-crazy-laughing-joyous-togetherness where satisfaction was mutual and temporary…

she’d convinced herself that temporary was all relationships could be, or else how to continue and keep the amazing was beyond way too many experts heads.

Gluttony presided over her life in full. There was never enough. She could not be satisfied by adequate amounts of food or drink. The cravings propelled her and immobilized her into overwhelming states of panic. She loved that which she detested with a passion so strong that consequences had no place in that mindset.  Only the greatest amount or nothing at all. Ahhhhhh….maybe that was love.

Greed, her umbrella sin. As with gluttony, there could never be enough…money, sensual touch, taste, smell, things, love, lust, life…she wanted and believed she NEEDED it all. There simply was no satiation to be had. She couldn’t help but wonder when or if this would abate or if the urges will kill her first. Of this she did not fear. She would very simply wrap herself up in all that she could hold on to. It would never be enough. He would never be enough. She would never be enough. There didn’t exist enough.

Laziness and wrath were not within her desires on a conscious level as with the previous sins. In her mind, there was no energy left in her body to bother with laziness.  Since she loved and wanted it all, wrath had no place in her life either. Unless some fool attempted to take from her that which she believed belonged to her. As far as she was concerned it was all hers to have her way with.

Envy was a powerful tool. She used it to get her needs met while believing that she had all that there was to be envious of. If she didn’t have it she would go after it. Nothing was safe from her clutches as she wheedled her way into other’s worlds to create and find that which she had to have. Envy had no place in her mind, although she knew how to recognize it in others who she believed wanted all that she had acquired.

Pride. The backbone of her skeletal system. She was confident and proud. A lioness who’s pretense was startling to people. No one questioned the queen, after all. No one dared not give in to this leader of all that she believed she owned…power, money, men, things, strength…  Her fortune was immense. Her power was directly related to her fortune. she carried herself as if she was a GOD. Yet, she knew she was not God. She could never be God. That was where she knew to draw the line.

As with all that she had previously acquired, she still wanted more. She needed more. She even had the gall to stand up high and mightily while gazing up into the beautiful heavenly sky, so full of stars dancing amidst a moon so full that the night sky had lit every corner in her vision.  She realized she hadn’t acquired it all just yet. She desired something more. Her world on this earth was too ground in emotion. The responsibility was much too cumbersome. People actually cared about one another.  She would never be accepted or accepting.


When all seemed pointless and extreme to her she gave herself the luxury of time. With time and only the clothes on her back she realized that all she truly desired was to be taken care of.  In lieu of that, for surely she could never be expected to reciprocate such a lowly human emotion, she wanted the sun and the moon. She was willing to trade her life for a piece of eternity and begged that she may finally find her peace within the stars.

She relinquished ideals which she knew had never been hers to have had as she had forsaken them for things and experiences that had been contrived in a lifetime of manipulations and greed.  Things like family, relationships, true love, happily-ever-after, dreams, promises, joy, laughter, artistic expression, passion, ecstasy and music had all but been forgotten or lost in her drive to attain without any regard for others.

Give me the sure thing, God. Please. I am too tired and impatient to take from others anymore. The world hasn’t enough to satiate me anyway. I have committed every sin you could come up with. I now must go home among the stars. There is nothing left for me to take here.


And God, pleased to see one of his precious children woken up from her drunken, gluttonous life, smiled. In truth, it had been hard for him to watch this child of his who so wantonly used her one life on earth to self-destruct.

She too smiled, in relief. God was at last listening to her needs! She must be special, she was receiving one-on-one attention! Now surely He would take care of her and she would be able to relax and be one with the galaxy. No more of this earthen temptation and madness caused by frivolous emotion, cares and responsibilities!

No. He said simply without remark.

Never having heard that term before she asked again. This time there was a hint of impatience to her tone.

No. God said. I am the only sure thing. You foolishly draped yourself in destruction. You now ask for more. Do you think that would ever be enough?

She was caught off guard with this declaration. It was frustrating. She felt anger reach from her ears to the pit of her stomach.

But I am done, Lord. I am done with the material world. You love me and I am your child. Please do as I want. 

NO, he said.

With that she shrugged and as if a little girl again. Tears welled in her eyes.  Unsure what to make of the absolute clarity in God’s response, she quietly sat down, and while hugging her knees tightly to her chest, she wept. Looking up slowly amid tear-stained cheeks she tried one last manipulation…or perhaps she was sincere. Even she did not know for sure.

But I have no where to go…nothing to give…it’s all…stuff. I don’t know how to love or be loved. It’s…all so…complicated. I have not one gift to bring to the table. I have used up and destroyed all of my possessions. I choose only to go be with you in the skies overhead. No one will care for me. Only you.

Yes, God said. Life is complicated. If it weren’t you wouldn’t be able to recognize that which you already are IS the gift. I will never give you more than you can handle. I will be by your side always. Go, bring yourself to relationships.

You. Are. Enough.

Stop looking. You’re already there.

You. Are. The. Gift.



The Ten Commandments: Minus the “command” Part

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human experience / Humor / Uncategorized



Disclaimer: I mean no disrespect to our Ten Commandments. I seek better options to improve the ways we understand them.  Here is my sorry pitiful attempt at making sense of words written in the 13th century B.C.

For those of us like myself who really don’t care to follow directions, authority figures, signs, stars, the yellow brick road….what have you, I have taken it on myself to reword the Ten Commandments to sound as if perhaps we weren’t being controlled, but rather have chosen to agree to abide by certain strong “suggestions”.  Join me, will you? As I put my stamp on unveiling the next generation of what I like to call The Ten Strong Suggestions: You Decide Based On Your Desire to Get into Heaven (or just be able to live with yourself).


1. “Thou shall have no other Gods before me” becomes, “You really need to choose one God. I prefer that it be me since a.) I am the only legit one, and b.) I *cough cough* “sign your checks”.

2. “Thou shall not make idols” becomes, “Really? You are attempting to find another to replace me? Did I not send my own son down in this paradise you turned into a crap hole for nothing? Good grief, and I thought I made you all with brains in your heads on the 6th day, perhaps I rushed it and should’ve also worked on the 7th…you have a couple of choices, heaven with me or hellfire with some whiddled wooden piece of art. Not a God. Art. I’m waiting…”

3. “Thou shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain” will be something akin to  “Keep your ‘shit’, ‘dammit’, ‘hell’ and ‘the f’-bomb’ to a minimum.  It just makes you look ignorant; however, I understand how one can actually feel better somehow exclaiming a loud “SHIT!” after stubbing a toe or bumping into another person’s car in the parking lot. I do, however, hope that you will respect the fact that using my name (patent pending or not) is really not ok with me. Use it if you must, but just be aware that I’m probably upstairs using your damn name every time one of Noah’s dogs craps in my garden!”


4. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”  That means to do all of your menial labor-type business on days 1-6.  “Please explain to me how come you can’t take a day, one friggin’ day to spend an hour, a measly sixty minutes, of your time away from your cell phones, computers, dishwashers, laundry, what-have-you, to kneel; hell I’d be happy if you stood, or even sat comfortably, in meditative prayer. Or, how about this? Take a walk, enjoy the beauty you’ve been given, while listening to Christian rock! Take the damn gifts and appreciate them!  That’s all I ask, you morons!”

5. “Honor your father and your mother” would of course be worded more specifically as our kids just don’t seem to get this and we, the  parents aren’t as good at teaching it as our parents were.  It might sound like this (I can tweak it if it isn’t strong enough), “Get your butts off the couch and help with a.) dishes, toilets, sweeping and mopping floors, trash, keeping your room clean, picking up your clothes scattered all over the house, helping whenever you’re fucking asked the first damn time, and for heaven’s sake please get all your hair out of the sink and shower drains! Oh! and would it kill you to say a fairly pleasant ‘hello’ to your parent who took it on herself to wake your sorry ass in the morning? I mean really…”

6. “Thou shall not murder.” I believe this would just be understood, but okay.  How about this? “If you decide it’s a good idea to take another person’s life then you will be directly sent to hell, no last words, no last suppers, no anything pleasant. If you happen to live through the event I (as God) will make your life a living hell. What you don’t know is that I. will. know.
And if I know, then soon you will know that I know and you will make amends, of which I may or may not consider. I will let you know.


7. “Thou shall not commit adultery.” As clear as that is, I might strongly suggest that men and women make better choices. God would hope that I would say that he would say, “Don’t cheat on your spouse. That’s dishonest and cruel.”  I would add that it might be more advantageous to get a marital counselor. If this weren’t acceptable then I would suggest that it might be prudent to get a separation agreement first and foremost, and live separately.  At that point if you feel the need to enjoy the fruits of another’s loins then it might be okay if you are two consenting adults free from the confines of a wedding band. I’m not certain God would appreciate that much. He’d rather you just hang in there.  “Did Joseph always appreciate Mary’s actions?” God might  say, “why, she had God’s child for pete’s sake!  Try explaining that to your spouse!”

8. “Thou shall not steal” would be “Restrain yourself! Get a freaking job and earn some money, go shopping and get the crap your damn self! Who do you think you are? God?!”

9. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor”. Ok, hold on. I have to look this one up. after consulting with Wikipedia for  clarification I’m suggesting that this one read, “Be honest always. Don’t make shit up. Keep to your word and don’t gossip or spread rumors. Be honorable.” Try telling this to my daughter’s junior high class of girls or the mom’s in parking lots at the grocery stores or Bunko! I’m game now though! I have God Backup! 

By the way, this was “Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife”, when I was but a lass. Just sayin….


10. “Thou shall not covet”. First off, when was the last time you used the word “covet”? An update is sorely needed here. Because #9 was altered, so was 10, which now covers all of the “coveting” sins. Well, I take issue with this whole coveting thing. I look at lots of other people’s husbands and things (more often their stuff, actually), and appreciate them. I dare say, I sometimes even want them. Maybe not to have and to hold necessarily, but golly, God did make us human after all! I for one, would love to get my hands dirty in my friend’s beautiful kitchen! Stainless steel everything!  The hardware is to die for! To run my hand over the new countertop would be a thrill in itself! Perhaps control freaks like myself could put it like this, “Look, maybe even touch, but be respectful of others’ and their objects”. How can we even put people in that arena, they aren’t objects to be bought and sold…? Just keep your grubby paws off my man!

Ladies…am I right?!


Tolerance Tank on Empty

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human experience / relationships / Uncategorized



It is a sad day in my kitchen. And today it has absolutely nothing to do with my lack of skill in either the cooking or baking departments.  How I wish this were the case. This is of far more serious importance, with potential for devastating consequences. I woke up to a death.  Not “of sorts”, but a real death.  A heartbeat extinguished. “Someone’s” baby. A dream died right in my very kitchen.

I shall explain.  I have what I now refer to as a Teaching Tolerance Tank.  It is a large fish tank, once filled with all one color goldfish (orange) that swam happily around amongst themselves. I called them The Stepford Wives for obvious reasons. There was Joanna, Bobbie, Claire, Sarah and Charmaine. All quite comfy eating, sleeping, swimming.  They followed the rules consistently. When it was time to clean the tank they obediently hopped into the fish net and waited patiently for a kinder, cleaner bowl. I heard nary a complaint. Fish did what they do and did it rather well. I was proud of them. And I was bored to tears. I decided it was time to add five new “friends” to the mix.

This time I chose more exciting personalities to grace the pool.  I added a speckled gold, black and white fish, and named her Maria because I  found her tricolor to be exhilarating…like a samba dance or something; a sultry all black fish named Blanche (“white” in French, ahhhh…irony…); an all white

Maria, the Samba swimmer

Maria, the Samba swimmer

fish named “Thor” because we needed a male. He’s not very aggressive, and in fact hides behind The Stepford Wives, specifically Charmaine. Yes, I was concerned he may get eaten alive by these ladies, so, in turn, I wanted to give him a name of strength just to be kind. Last but not least, a beautiful all white fish with an orange spot, named “Creamsickle” (I was hungry…so shoot me!) and a gold fish…quite literally. It is gold, not orange like The Stepford Wives. I refer to him as “Pimp Daddy” because I found that humorous.  I thought of him wearing a heavy gold chain and singing rap music to Frank Sinatra lyrics along the coral wall during Happy Hour.

One can only imagine what happened next…at first it was all so unfamiliar to The Stepford Wives. They formed a “pack” of sorts. following each other around as if they had no individual personalities at all…to be fair, they did at least swim independently prior to these minority fish showing up! Now they were seen hiding behind coral and seaweed. They weren’t even “pretend” friendly.  The Stepford Wives weren’t given instruction on how to share their space with fish of other colors. It was hard to watch, friends. While the newbies swam with abandon back and forth and through sea anemones, resting on the red starfish and fraternizing among the sea grass, then joining up for some jellyfish gelato in the Tolerance Tank Café, the five Stepford Wives were hiding out in a dark corner of the tank.

Ok, it was all new.  I understood, perhaps the newbies were a little much.  They joined the tank in such a jubilant state that they may have intimidated the long time inhabitants living there who had regular routines and rituals. I thought it might just be a relatively short  adjustment period. However, looking at our U.S. segregated past, it took at least nine years just to get Brown vs. Board of Education out there and acknowledged! And that wasn’t even desegregation as a whole. Rather, it was merely a step in that direction.

Still…I couldn’t have imagined what I saw the very next morning in the same 24 hour period that the Tolerance Tank held my “friends” all together in the same venue.

It seems that poor dear Maria, my samba dancing fish,

Creamsickle...not because she chose that name, but because I was hungry

Creamsickle…not because she chose that name, but because I was hungry.

was taken too soon. She was a floater. And I can’t tell you whether the death of Maria affected those left behind in such a way as to unite them (as they, The Stepford Wives, as well as the newbies, appeared to be doing synchronized swimming in a string of  “follow the leader”)  or whether it was a cover up of sorts…with The Stepford Wives committing the crime and then using their charm to suggest to the others that if they all unite no one would get fingered. Whatever the case, I was horror stricken upon closing in on the Tolerance Tank.

I do not know the answer to this tragedy. Alas and Alack, I shall never know.

No one is talking.

Stepford Wives mingle with Pimp Daddy, Creamsickle and Maria prior to..."the event". I cannot go there.

Stepford Wives mingle with Pimp Daddy, Creamsickle,Thor (far left, head not showing) and Maria prior to…”the event”. I cannot go there….sigh…


Moral of the story:

a.) When your time is up, it’s up.

                                   b.) A fish brain is approximately one-sixteenth the size of it’s body, has no capacity for empathy, and a memory span of three months maximum. People act much the same but without this excuse.

                                   c.) Maria stood for living a life out loud. She was an individual. She stood out from the rest. Could she have been chastised for this? We should all live like we were floating!

Question: How come those of us humans WITH brains approximating three pounds, equipped with all brain parts in tact, and only using ten percent of what we are capable, tend to act so much like fish?

Think. Empathize. Love one another. Appreciate differences. Embrace life. (as Maria did).

RIP: Maria “Spot” McFish, #SambaDancer


Dying to Self

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cognition / emotional health / mental health / Uncategorized

IMG_0164Flat. As far as the eye could see. Brown with slight deviations of tan. The sand was lying face down along an area that appeared to transcend time. She stood tall against the background of stillness in the middle of nowhere. For as far as the eye could see it was all flat. Nothing more. She heard herself whisper this fact out loud to no one.  There was no one anywhere that she could see or hear. She was fixated on the smoothness of the sand. The vastness of this strange new world was in a desert holding only two elements (three if she counted herself). Sky, Sand and Self.

The very idea that this floor consisted of morsel by tiny morsel of sand all formed together to create a flat, smooth surface was mesmerizing to her. She found that idea both silly and stunningly existential.  She watched what looked like a ripple, a slight tremor underneath the smooth exterior of one small area within the whole of all she could take in.  She was reminded of how things…people…events…often weren’t just what they seemed.  Though she “saw” calm, she intuitively felt that this time and this place for her was anything but. She knew what that was like. What she didn’t know was that on the underside of the smooth sandy exterior was another realm.

People were suffocating and desperately trying to come up for air from down there. They were dying to be a part of the living, breathing, ever changing world of emotions pretty people kept hidden in beautiful little boxes.  They of the underworld too had Pandora’s boxes.  There’s were full of dreams, imaginations, fantasies, an acute awareness and compassion, for they who owned their very own uniqueness knew they deserved better.  To be able to dance to their own music without the pain and stigma of other’s finding out that they were indeed different was not authorized behavior.  They were the judged. They were the “difficult to understand”. They were “the deviant”.  They were “the unlucky”.  The “less than” in the equation. But of all that, she did not know. If only she had known.

Upon this sand she stood and took in all that was available to her…the light, as the sun shifted from east to west; the air that took her breath away; the sand that burned her naked feet.  She breathed the air and wished for a better world.  A place for all types to roam and be free. She felt alive for the first time in her young life.  Embraced by the sun, the sand and herself, she was finally free.

 to just be.

And she prayed.  She placed her small hands together and looked up to the heavens.  She thanked her God for that which she’d been given.  She asked for forgiveness for what she had taken away. Then she asked if he might spare her a second more.  She fell to the hot sand and with all of the strength and courage she had left she asked that God might open the door to people’s hearts and minds.  She thought of those she had known who, like herself, had a heavy sadness either placed on them through others faults or through their own doing, where they fell victim to pain on their already overburdened backs. She prayed that leaders of countries could be led to peace.  That those who need drugs to feel good might see alternatives to their pain; that those who were hungry might forever be nourished and those homeless might at long last find a place to call home.  She pled for a day when the mentally ill could be heard and treated as people deserving of respect and opportunities to thrive just as she had hoped she might have had for herself.

Life had presented her too much pain with too little compassion. When the depression stormed through her one last time she was unable to see beyond it to those who shared that same ambiguous, damaging blow. She’d taken her own life in vain. Too late now, she sees she was never completely alone.

Just as she hadn’t seen clearly the subculture of desperation below her own feet in that instant, nor do people look at what they do not want to see, sometimes throughout a lifetime.

Be kind. Be observant. Go beyond your comfort zone.


Dad appeared to me in spinning class

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emotional scar tissue / Humor / mental health / relationships / Uncategorized

IMG_2489Yes, you heard me right.  My father, now reduced to “cremains” (Blog #1 in my “Ashes” series), just showed up right out of the blue.  It wasn’t odd only due to the fact that I’d never seen him in spandex or even on a bike, for that matter, but that I was humming along to a song about miracles.  He died February 26, 2014. I have been waiting rather impatiently since February 27th to hear from him.  I’ve gotten absolutely nothing.  No tingling sense of his “presence”. No visuals, no words in my head, nothing.

Suddenly with my eyes closed tightly, sweat dripping down my face, into my chest and down my backside (ew), he appeared to me.  He was almost smiling. He had blackish hair with very mild grey at his sideburns. I heard his voice. He said, “Well hiya’ Jules!” in a tenor pitch with his thick Maine accent.  I wanted more from him but some resistance occurred in my brain…like some kind of “technical difficulty” where TV images flash on and off again and the more anxious and irritated you get over the interruption in your viewing, the more scattered with static the screen gets. Negative pictures took over, almost fighting in my head over who got the floor…my negative images of him in my life with the crazed, glazed over eyes versus this snippet of him joining me with relaxed ease.  Granted I have many more negative memories than positive ones, but to snuff out the few positives with a self-induced negative was just cruel of myself.

Why would my very own brain sabotage me like that? Is that how I’d rather see him? Is it victim-induced behavior to perseverate over the crappy parts and gloss over the more tender times?  Or are the beautiful moments too difficult to completely open myself up for? How could I NOT be ready for viewing the good stuff? I’ve already forgiven him for the lousy parts.

I did that at the hospital. It would have been grossly cliché except for the part that I did the forgiving AFTER Dad died.  The actual cliché rule only holds true if  I sat by his bed and spoke to his conscious self, whereby he would have been given the opportunity to apologize to me prior to the forgiving-him-part.  I’m hypothesizing here, but my educated guess is that he would have never actually apologized to me for a transitional childhood filled with an almost surreal fear, countless new schools, emotional and verbal abuse. Rather than set myself up for failure, I just forgave him anyway. Given the nature of the beast, Dad could not have been held responsible probably a good 90% of the time.

Life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got. – Robert Brault

Besides, the way it worked out Dad was, of course, all ears.   Then there was this awful sobbing noise with these obnoxious nose-running sounds the whole time. The kind a nose makes when one tries like hell to sniff up all the thin liquidy mucous; yet it’s so watery and in such enormous amounts that it is really hard to capture fully.  I was only mildly empathetic, as I know how that feels; however, it was incredibly distracting to say the least. Anyway, there was a moment when I heard this and stopped a sec to pinpoint the whereabouts of this poor pitiful creature.  It was 3: (freakin’) 14 in the a.m. for pete’s sake! Who in the hell else was in this hospital besides my sister (currently in the ladies room), the hospital staff, a boatload of sleeping geriatric cardiac patients and I?

Turns out, it was me carrying on like a loon.  The same me that detests soap operas because they are so silly and dramatic — though some of that music could have accompanied the scene rather beautifully in this particular situation.  I actually heard it all as if I was an outsider looking in. Detachment, a bonus attribute one gets from being a survivor of all kinds of unfortunate childhood circumstances has been my protector, my front line, to throw in a football analogy.

Detachment comes in when a person needs to check out for one reason or another, generally trauma of some kind. With detachment I can say I was there without actually being there.  Get it? That defense takes away the sting of the emotion that maybe your brain can’t quite process at the moment.  It takes the “hit”, if you will. In this definition it’s almost a decision one makes rather than a diagnosis; which describes when  one is incapable of feeling emotional connections. It’s a flavor savor of sorts, holding onto it until the brain decides it can digest the information without freaking out too terribly.

I can’t help but get philosophical about all this though.  My brain thinks like this: the calm, disease-free Dad joined me in my exercise class because my mind was currently freed up from the negativity that I tend to favor?!  Nope.  That can’t be it.  Let’s try this again…My father, now in a healthy, heavenly version, joined me in an activity that I so enjoy because it was then that I was most open to hearing him.  I think I just said the same sentiment twice. Must be true then. I do believe that. I believe his soul is finally at peace.  He was there to tell me he’s ok. What a relief that would be to me.  Shall I tempt fate and ask for another showing just to be certain? (that was me who took 57 pregnancy tests per child, remember?)

Dad’s life was anything but simple. The more I learn about Bipolar 1 Disorder, the more I realize that he was powerless against it.  It sure didn’t seem like that to me at the time.  He was extremely good at convincing people he had it all under control until the delusions and paranoia eventually caused such disruptive behaviors that none of us could pretend it away.  His disease sold him out. The cards he was dealt offered no advantages in the form of buffer from his environmental and physical strain. Nor was his genetic package an aid to his denial, which included an uncle, cousin and nephew, each diagnosed with a schizophrenic disorder. The man was born in the 1940’s to boot.  There was so much left to discover about mental illnesses.

There is STILL so much unknown, especially regarding schizophrenia disorders as they relate to bipolar disorders. Bruce Cuthbert, Ph.D., Director of the National Institute of Mental Health Division of Adult Translational Research and Treatment Development and coordinator of the Institute’s Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) project, along with 300 other scientists worldwide, is developing a mental disorders classification system for research based more on underlying causes reported earlier in 2014.  So far they have found that the first evidence of overlap between bipolar disorder and schizophrenia through common genetic variation was about fifteen percent and ten percent between bipolar disorder and depression. Fascinating stuff.


The more I get into my father’s life and times, both prior to the illness and now that he is gone from us, the more I grieve for the man he was prior to this disease getting it’s talons on him.  His childhood environment, with a chronic and debilitating asthmatic condition, placed together with his lack of coping mechanisms to deal with work, financial, and marital stress and his piss poor genetics led to his chronic mental disorder that really by all recollection didn’t begin until his early twenties.  To say someone “cracked under pressure” is only a smidgen of the story in his case. In fact, “nervous breakdown” is yet another term I have difficulty stomaching.  Nothing is ever just that simple.

♦♦Please use stereotypes and generalizations sparingly.  Someone might decide you’re not worth the time to educate and will rather, deck you.♦♦

I forgave my father whether he wanted it or not.  I also apologized for being an adult who wanted nothing more than to forget my childhood, which, in large part, included him. I didn’t know of his struggles as I do now.  I couldn’t have known them then. What I did know I didn’t understand, but I can take his name and his life and build a cause around the need to stop stigma around mental illness.  If he himself wasn’t so ashamed of being ill, he may have had a chance at a real life. He couldn’t accept what he perceived others couldn’t or wouldn’t accept.  And he was correct. At that time and in that small city it wasn’t okay to deviate from the norm to that extent. He was the “crazy townie”. Upon his death I swore I would make something of his life. I wanted him to symbolize something more than just what people saw. That “strange man who walked around the city of Old Town and Bangor, Maine carrying all of his belongings on his back” was a person who meant the world to a few people. He was someone’s uncle, brother, son, father, cousin.

 He was headed nowhere and yet I saw him everywhere I looked.

Every new town I moved to in order to escape him, every new friend knew someone like him, every new experience carried a fear that I might see this man…my father…a sad, pitiful, sometimes scary looking man….who’d not been given an opportunity to work for over thirty years due to the lack of programs available for college educated individuals, who incidentally, were mentally and emotionally handicapped.  What point would there be to managing oneself when he could not even work and be productive in some way?  What happened to his sense of worth? He had none.  He was either bored and depressed or an angry, potentially violent man in a mania episode. Why not become paranoid and delusional…nothing else to do with all that friggin’ free time and no money. And no insight into his illness in order to make necessary changes to his life, even had he wanted to.

Would it have made a difference if I had remained in my home state and given him a reason to struggle for sanity? Or would Dad have sabotaged that as well as he did all his other relationships? Yes. I think it would have made a difference to him. Positive, loving relationships are a huge factor in prognosis. Is that a life I could have handled?  I’m not sure and I will never know.  What I do know is that I can help to make beauty out of my father’s ashes.  Today and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

RIP, Dad. I’ve got your back. ❤