ALICE AND REMEMBRANCE

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Worldwide Candle Lighting

Several years ago my cousin Jackie jumped from the roof of her mother’s high rise apartment building in Philadelphia.To me, it was a very violent, angry and desperate act and even after all the dramatic threats of suicide she had made, I was in shock when her husband called me to tell me she had died. I had spoken with her only a couple of days before, and while she was in distress, something she always was, I never thought she would actually do it. We had had a bit of a contentious conversation that day, and I neglected to say, “I love you”, as we hung up. I always ended our calls with “I love you”. But not that last one. It made me think that maybe if I had…

Jackie and I were not close growing up. She was a few years older than I and our interests had nothing in common. It wasn’t until I was taken ill and moved back to the States from England, that Jackie and her mother, my Aunt Blanche,  reached out to me.  I welcomed the contact and Jackie began to call me almost every day. I was and am a good and compassionate listener and so Jacks spilled out her despair to me all the time. I also knew she was a pathological liar and that truth was only deeply buried inside all her stories. But she was in a lot of emotional pain and I remained sympathetic. She also had a heroine-addicted daughter, who eventually died in a fire that she accidentally started while she was high, and that destroyed Jackie. I couldn’t even begin to imagine the parental guilt she lived with, and the grief.

Jackie became addicted to a sedative that her psychiatrist, knowing she was addicted to it, continued to prescribe for her. She OD’d on it a few times and had to be taken to the hospital. I felt her cries were for help and attention, but she wasn’t getting any of it. For me her pain was palpable, and I listened to her every day trying to relieve some it. But it is impossible to help someone who is hell-bent on self destruction. She didn’t want help. She just wanted an ear and I gave her mine.  Eventually, as her husband said, “She was successful”. She jumped off a roof and her pain was gone.

Lately she has been much on my mind. I wanted to commemorate her birthday in some way and let her know I miss her. My landlady gave me some tealights and I lit one after another all this past weekend. I talked to Jackie. I felt her here. Knowing how much I love her. The ritual felt so good. It felt good to remember, even though it wasn’t entirely a happy memory. I honored Jacks. She deserved that from me.

 

 

ALICE AND THE LIFTING DARKNESS

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For several months now I have been dealing with a deep depression that felt – as they all do – like it would never get better. I have also been dealing with some physical issues as well which was just adding coal to the proverbial fire. But just this week, I was put on oxygen for my breathing problems, and what a miracle it has been! I have more energy, I feel I am thinking more clearly, and the depression has begun to lift. I am coming out of the hole of darkness. And I feel lighter within myself.

This would all be wonderful in itself, but I also feel more creative and eager. I feel some poems coming. I feel The Pet Sitter calling me to write it at last. I feel more committed than ever to the iWonder Sisters and iwondersisterhood.com. I feel videos coming and much more. Kimm  and I have a mission with the website and a message for women that we feel is so important. We are doing interviews regularly now and sharing even more wisdom from people with whom we resonate. It is a very exciting and expansive time for us and both Kimm and I feel a real re-dedication to us!

Now, with this renewed energy, I am more ready than ever I was to leap forward with projects – both creative and organizational and strategic. What a huge difference a little added O2 can bring. I have to  say, as an aside, that there is so much paraphernalia that comes with oxygen – tubing, tanks of O2, a huge and heavy air converter – just a shit load of stuff. In our little casita, with no real storage, my gear is all over the place.

I feel so much gratitude that my insurance covers me for all this, that people – especially Kimm – have been so supportive and curious about it all. I had to have a bronchoscopy 2 weeks ago, which was under general anesthesia, and I was a nervous wreck about it. But Kimmie was there every step of the way and I felt so cared for. The hospital staff were so sweet, as was my doctor, and I didn’t die. I came through it just fine, with only a few rough days afterwards. I am one blessed cookie!

So, in a strange way I feel reborn. I feel refreshed and renewed. I feel hopeful and happy. My little family – Kimmie, Chloe, Dobby, Maxxidoodle, GG, and Dharma – inspires me and holds me up. I only hope I do the same for them.

ALICE AND DEPRESSION

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I am sure that I must have written about this before, but at present, I am in a terrible depression and feel horribly lost. There is a lot going on – some health issues that concern me a lot – a time of reassessing things, feeling in flux and out of control. But at the end of the day, I know this dark place all too well and it is a painful place to be. Nothing gives me joy and things that did not too long ago, no longer do.

The little, crazy family that Kimm and I have created for ourselves feels a bit detached from me. I love our family, and still feel supported, but none of that can eclipse this emptiness. I haven’t been meditating, or writing or doing anything really. I saw my therapist yesterday, and she gave me 3 options while waiting for this depression to lift. One was to just bide my time. Knowing that everything is constantly changing and nothing lasts forever. But that doesn’t work for me. I get too caught up inside my own head, and change is too slow. Two was to give myself a project – like knitting or some such – and just knit until there is emotional movement. The last one was to work on things that have given me joy in the past and even if I only write a sentence, I have accomplished something and am less out of control. I have taken charge.

Number 3 appeals to me the most, as I have a couple of proverbial irons in the fire already – like this blog – and I really don’t want to let them go. Being proactive seems to me the most positive thing for me. The best solution. So here I am, and I do feel better just being on my site and writing. Just the other day, I wrote a “Simple Contentment” piece for the iWonderSisterhood.com website and I had a good day then too. So a bit of pushing myself out of this dark comfort zone is the answer for me.

And yes. When one is in a deep depression, the darkness becomes a comfort. One doesn’t want to do anything! Making any kind of move takes a monumental effort and often that effort feels too impossible. But one thing I do know from my own history, is that I am a survivor. I can only sit around with my head in my hands for so long before I say “Enough!”. Today is the day I say “Enough”.

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Not that tomorrow I won’t find myself back int the dark pit. But probability says I won’t. Because I have reclaimed my Self. This brief entry is enough to give me some control over things. Depression is a living, breathing entity, but I can choose to no longer be part of its agenda. Kahlil Gibran so beautifully says in The Prophet “Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.” Perhaps my depression is merely an inversion of my true joy, and that joy lurks just under its surface. Like my joy is just standing on its head. I like that image.

ALICE AND 2016

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Well, it’s only been 5 months since my last blog post! Ha! So much to talk about, but I’ll keep this one brief.

As you can see, our family has been added to by 2 new fur babies. Dobby, the brown chihuahua, came to us in October, and Maxx, the white chiweenie a month later. They are both rescues from death row, and have brought more joy to the casita. They keep Kimm and me on our toes, and bring us so much love. Just when I think I have no more to give, I find an endless well full of love and compassion. We adore them and they seem very happy with their family.

As for me, I have been up and down. Had to raise the dose of my antipsychotic, loxapine, twice, and had to lower my bupropion because my insurance wouldn’t pay for the dose I was taking. So I got depressed as well as paranoid. Just saw my psychiatrist yesterday and she found a way to raise my bupropion that my insurance will cover, so hopefully I will be much better soon. The extra loxapine makes my tremors a lot worse, but the paranoia is gone so it’s a fair trade. At least that’s how I feel.

Kimm and I still freelance write, but work has been slow and we have been very tight financially.But just this week we launched a new business – auntie kimm Bakes Chloe’s Doggy Delights. We are going to run with Kimm’s recipes for dog biscuits and sell them. When my Social Security and SSI come, we will buy Kimmie some dog bone shaped cookie molds and begin the process.Right now we are taking private orders, but we hope to be in stores as well. We are excited! And we are giving a portion of our proceeds to help animal rescue teams in New Mexico. Like the one from whom we got Dobby and Maxx.

I have also been having some physical issues that I hope to get resolved soon. Breathing issues and leg and hip issues. I am getting an MRI on my spine next Saturday and a CT scan on my lungs the following Monday. A bit nervous about both – especially the MRI.

Thus begins our 2016. I hope to have enough gas money to get back into therapy and money to take Chloe to the vet and groomer when she needs it. And I want to deal with my teeth, which are falling out one by one. I want a cash flow that makes life a little easier for us. And I hope my “episodes” become next to none. They are very enervating. And I have been way too tired lately.

 

ALICE AND “CLOSE YOUR EYES AND JUMP!”

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On your journey you will encounter many precipices. Some will be higher and more scary than others. Some may have bridges or ropes there to swing across the chasm below, and some may just be a ginormous leap into some thing – you know not what. These are the times that define you. Fear will be there. That is a given. But what you do with it will tell you who your are. Listen closely

Moving out of our comfort zones is what life is all about. As Sirius Black says to Harry in the film version of HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN, “What is life without a little risk?” You must take chances, leaps of faith, when your gut tells you something is right for you. Even when others look at you as if you’d just grown another head, you must hear your own music, and dance your own dance.

Going where I know no one and doing something I have never done, both excites and scares the shit out of me. Recently I went to a local wellness centre and took a class called Zen Movement and Sound Healing. I had no idea what that entailed, and I worried about my physical limitations of the moment. Also, I am not good at talking to strangers and thought nobody would talk to me. But I closed my eyes and jumped, feet first into the class. First of all, the class was brilliant and I now look forward to taking the series. But second, people welcomed me and talked to me and I felt part of the group. In time I will get to know them and they me, and I may even make a couple of new friends. In many ways, that was the point of it all. To connect with others. This does not come naturally to me, and I have to work at it ALL the time. But I knew that if I risked nothing I would get nothing.

Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath, close your eyes, and leap into the abyss. You have to spread your wings, fly, float, get to the other side of the chasm, or fall, fall, fall, and land in a new and wondrous world. The truth is that there is a price to pay for everything, and sometimes that price is just letting go. There are lessons to be learned whether your leap or not. But I can guarantee that price you will pay if you don’t risk is greater than you can imagine.

ALICE AND EXPANDED CONSCIOUSNESS

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My evolution as a human being has astounded me. And the growth I experience every day as Andrea – the changes and expansion of my heart and mind – is mind-blowing. I will never need any mind-expanding drugs to give me insight, to show me Truth. I have all the tools within me. At 68, I am living the most thrilling phase of my life! Who could ask for more?

I have always believed that as you age you become more of what you always were. So that if you tended towards pessimism, you would become more pessimistic as you got older. This has NOT been true of me. I lived my life in fear for a very long time. I thought I was a fraud and that any kudos that I got for anything were given under false pretenses. I believed that I conned everyone into thinking I was better than I was. Nicer,more talented, even prettier. I never saw myself through the eyes of others. I never trusted that. I didn’t give others enough credit, which if you think about it, is me having a big ego trip. Thinking that I could so easily manipulate people. But now, in my elder years, I believe it when someone says I am adorable, or wise, or good. I believe it for the most part. Old habits die hard.

When I meditate now, extraordinary things happen to me. My consciousness expands, I am visited by other-worldly beings, I understand more. And what I don’t understand I am okay with. The mysteries of life are fine staying that way – mysterious. I don’t hunger to know everything. In fact, I am very okay with saying “I don’t know.”

My self-awareness grows every day. I have a far greater sense of who and what I am now than ever. My vision is clear. Yes, every now and then it gets clouded by a dark history, but mostly the past is in the past. I don’t carry it around like a heavy backpack. I don’t use it to excuse my behavior. I take responsibility for the darkness that was once my life. I cast no blame. I have let that go, and it is so liberating. I know that my parents did the best they could given what they knew and the experiences that made them who they were.

As my consciousness expands I rest more comfortably in my own skin. There is greater self-acceptance and, as a result, greater compassion for others. I become more giving, and I enjoy that. And there is more Joy and Peace within me. I accept Happiness as my right. That has been a hard learned lesson for me, but I got there!

I wish all this for everyone!

ALICE AND ACCEPTING RESPONSIBILITY

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I don’t believe that I have always taken responsibility for my life, and I think most people have times during their lifetimes when they feel victimized by circumstances. But I have come to know that taking responsibility for yourself and your life is one of the most liberating and empowering things anyone can do for themselves.

Even when circumstance seems random and challenging, owning that circumstance gives one the feeling of being in charge of the outcome. We are, each of us, never powerless, unless we abdicate that power. And standing in your power takes courage. Make no mistake. It is never easy to say, “This situation is mine, and only I can make the changes necessary to make things better.” But once you come to the realization that the power to alter circumstance comes down to you and you accept that, you are suddenly at the helm of your life. It will be a most freeing moment. Relish it for what it is. A release of being the victim.

Once you set victim-hood free, you can act. As long as you remain in victim mode, life will feel static. There will be no flow. You will think you are inextricably stuck. You will blame everything and everyone around you for something that is really of your own making, coming down to the choices you have made. When you are able to let go of being the victim – or  should I say, playing the victim, because it is really a role one takes on – you can suddenly move forward.

Accepting responsibility for your life is an act in defiance of the victim mentality. And as such, it flies in the face of blaming, whining, feeling “Woe is me”, and gives you the sense that you have been set free of shackles that held you down. I know for myself, the moment I took my life back and accepted responsibility for my role in circumstance, I felt like I could do anything. I felt strong, empowered, alive once again. And I realized what a living death I had been in. I could feel the breeze against my skin, the sun on my neck, the stars came out for only me, and I was connected to the Universal flow again. I had a unique sense of belonging to something greater than my self, and while I felt my singular-ness, I felt at peace in my oneness with the All. It was a moment I will never forget. It brought me back from the edge of the abyss.

I still must work at accepting this responsibility every day that things do not go my way. I played the victim for a very long time, and even though that was aeons ago, old habits and patterns sometimes insist on rearing their ugly heads. But the work is no longer that difficult anymore. The rewards of owning my life surpass everything the old habits gave me. The freedom one feels is too sweet to want to to go back.

A big part of me died as a victim. But I have rediscovered and reclaimed it, and feel more whole than I ever thought I could.