Category Archives: Personal Reflection

“When the waters rise, so do our better angels.”*

“Get busy helping someone else and see — over time — the things you might have in common, instead of only the things that might divide you.”

“Remember what can happen when we love our neighbors as ourselves. There are storms that bring us together and storms that divide us. We have a chance now to choose. Harvey already has reminded us what we’re capable of, when we come together.”

Angelic Meowie from CATNIPblog

“The recovery ahead will be long. Our neighbors need to know they can count on us. The families affected will need our help and our attention as the work of rebuilding unfolds. If we hold our focus on the important matters at hand, we can use the power of the people to create that world we all know exists — if we will simply give it life.”  

*Jimmy Carter

Read entire article by Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the United States.

Everything in life ministers to our development. Our lesson is to study and learn… Tests are either stumbling blocks or stepping-stones, just as we make them.

Abdu’l-Baha, The Baha’i World Faith

Dirty Words

 I don’t often repost word for word, much less “dirty word” for “dirty word”.  This was so thought-provoking and well written . . .  well,  read for yourself . . . (words by Sharon, color high-lighting and pictures by me)

Dirty words. Stub my toe on the sharp metal caster and you’ll hear me spew lots of dirty words. Crap, kocker, damn it, dreck. It hurt, damn it, I’m allowed to holler, and I don’t have to be nice about it. In English and Yiddish, I holler all the bad words. Feckuckteh caster.

Lenny Bruce, the rebellious comedian who loaded his dark comedy with language considered obscene, made seven particular words famous by virtue of their being too dirty to speak aloud. So of course he did, and was arrested for his defiance. Cover your eyes if you’re the sensitive sort because I’m going to list them here: cocksucker, cunt, fuck, motherfucker, piss, shit, tits. Bruce’s real crime was pointing out the hypocrisies of our culture but the words got him in trouble. He was too vulgar for polite society, no matter that society was too brutal for the underrepresented and downtrodden. Bruce was no angel, and many people lost sight of his legitimate demand for free speech, the very thing we now take for granted. Today, his seven dirty words hardly raise an eyebrow, so often are they hollered through the night.

An infant’s first word is “mama” or whatever word in her native language aligns with that individual. Fathers have been trying forever to get the first word to be “dada.” But the first word ever uttered by the very first human who found she had a voice box that allowed more verbalization than a huff, grunt, or yowl? It was “fuck.” Had to be – standing small and alone in the African desert, she found the world terrifying, she saw her life in peril, and she said what we all say at such realization. “Fuck.”

Here are dirtier words, much dirtier:  abandonment, abuse, arson, betrayal, bigotry, deceit, drug trafficking, exploitation, false accusation, forced starvation, genocide, holocaust, human experimentation, human rights suppression, human trafficking, incest, lying, misogyny, murder, prejudice, racism, rape, religious persecution, sexism, slavery, terrorism, theft, torture, war, xenophobia – sadly, I’m certain there are more. This is the real dirty language. Still, language is benign. Add music and every word sounds like sugar being spun into cotton candy. To be offended by dirty words but ignore the acts they identify is akin to disdaining the menu but still ordering awful food.

You can put in all the asterisks, ellipses, blank spaces, bird calls, or underlines you want in order to grant your writing a measure of gentility, but face the facts. You may swear upon your holy books, mutter amens and hosannas, grovel on your knees, pledge your honor, and promise repentance. None of it means a thing without follow through. Every writer, humanitarian, philosopher –  every decent person accepts the same truth. Words are harmless, scratches in the dust even when howled under duress. It’s the acts that are horrific, and the reality that these acts take place every single day all over the world – the acts are far worse. More hurtful, longer lasting, intentional.

Writing these words does not make writing a bad act. Writing them brings the implied actions to the attention of a public that often wants to hide behind prayers, lattes, and cell phones. There is no indecency in words. The indecency is in the fact that so many engage in the actions described by the words. When we eliminate these bad acts so completely that to say one of these words engenders genuine confusion among all people – what does that mean? I can’t understand words that don’t relate to the human condition anywhere in the world– then we can label them as really bad words.

Words can lead the ignorant to understand the complexity of past events, so write. Words can warn or instruct, so write. Write the truth in any and every way you can. Employ words that hoist power, and worry little about words that bear no weight. Even if they’re ugly. Worry about acts that injure, abuse, kill, threaten, maim, enslave, bludgeon. If the dirty words you write make someone see the other side, feel the pain, and change their behavior, you’ve done your job. If the dirty words you raise on a poster cause the government to enforce justice, you’ve done your job. If the dirty words you speak arouse the pulse of the apathetic public and encourage them to find out the truth for themselves, you’ve done your job.

Call me a dirty girl. I yearn to be that and more. I will not stand down. The only thing I own is my integrity. Pen to paper. Truth to power.

Here in fact are the very most vile, horrendous, and disgusting words in English, and they can be translated into any language and still carry the same inherent evil. I hold out my hands for the cuffs. Arrest me. These are the dirtiest three:

GUILTY AS CHARGED

(Check out Sharon’s Blog: Ink Flare)

Sneek a Peek into my Sketchy Life – last ditch efforts

Last day of life drawing for this semester.  I’ve missed several classes, something I would have been loathe to do in my high school and college years when I never ditched nor dropped a class.

I distinctly remember the first time I stopped attending a class simply because I no longer enjoyed it.   Wish I could say it was a daring and rebellious move . . .  it was a community college class that I was taking  just for enjoyment.  I was in my 40’s and high time for a bit of rebellion . . . don’t you think?

But I digress . . .  here’s the best of the last sketches . . . in my opinion

Starting with my favorite

Caught the likeness of both his front and his back . . . 

All these sketches were 20 minutes or less.  I’ve discovered that my attention span is smack dab in the national average of 20 minutes.  Ah . . . the things you learn in drawing class.

My Sketchy Life – hatch, hatched, hatching

Ai yi yiii – ever look up a word in the on-line “Urban Dictionary”?

I looked up “hatch” and was “blown away” by the uses . . . many of which I can not put in print on a G-rated blog . . . most of which I had never heard of nor heard spoken.

Why look up “hatch”, you wonder (or not)?  In art class the focus was on hatching – an art technique where lines are drawn in various forms & intensities to create shapes & shadow.

These two quick sketches were done prior to Easter.   Eureka! I thought: Hatching and eggs were perfect for an Easter blog post.

Then I got “hatched” – another fibromyalgia flare-up and I missed a week’s worth of art classes.

I’m still not feeling good and not pleased health issues keep hatching . . . but this chick got off her fibro-inflated rear and went to class this week.  

HatchVerb – To lose it; to get wound up over something; to be upset.

I’ve been hatching . . .

P.S.  Thanks Peggy A. for doing all the scheduled posting on CATNIPblog!  

Sneek a Peek into my Sketchy Life – Life imitates Art

Not too very long ago, I thought that really good artists (writers included) got it exactly right the moment they laid pencil to paper.  When I write posts I spend exponentially more time editing than on the first draft.  When I draw I correct and correct and correct some more. 

Not too very long ago, I learned that this is what 90% of artists, writers, dancers, singers etc. do . . .  adjust, correct, redo, undo . . . and it never will be perfect.  It’s knowing when to stop and move on.

It’s a great metaphor for life.  We keep adjusting, correcting and practicing, knowing we can’t get it perfect . . . just better.

LOVE LOVE LOVE this model.  She has curves.  

Much more fun to draw than muscle & bone.

Warm-up poses, 5 minutes

Am I Addicted to Dairy Crack? (parenthetically speaking. . . )

I’m baaaaaaack . . . sorta . . . missed all my art classes, missed church . . . cancelled The HeART of Spirituality workshop cuz I’ve been feeling puny.  (And when I am feeling puny I eat,  watch the cooking channel, download recipes and read all I can about what not to eat in the hopes that I will follow that advice.)

The only constructive thing I’ve done is work on the NEW BLOG Catnip with my good friend and colleague Peggy Arndt.  

(Peggy is a retired psychotherapist too AND an artist and author.  I’ve never caught Peggy feeling puny and eating since she’s within a pound or two of the same weight she was when we were in high school together.  If I didn’t like her so much I’d hate her.)  

Between the two of us we have amassed decades of information on neuroscience and behavior and relationships . . .  and eating . . . and addictions.  We’re going to share all that on a new blog called CATNIP (but I digress . . .)

While I was researching for CATNIP this article caught my eye . . .   here are some excerpts:

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cow by judy

The Case Against Dairy Crack

By Barbara J. King*

“The average American eats more than 33 pounds of cheese a year.”  (Thirty-three pounds is about the amount of weight I’d like to lose.  I need to stop eating my American share of cheese.)

“This is according to Neal Barnard, physician and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. And that’s a problem, he says, because it’s helping to make us overweight and sick.”

“Loaded with calories, high in sodium, packing more cholesterol than steak, and sprinkled with hormones — if cheese were any worse, it would be Vaseline …”

Some foods are fattening. Others are addictive. Cheese is both — fattening and addictive.”

“Barnard explains that dairy protein — specifically a protein called casein — has opiate molecules built in. When babies nurse, he notes, they’re getting dosed with a mild drug: “Milk contains opiates that reward the baby for nursing.”‘ 

“It’s no different with the cow’s milk — or other mammalian milk — from which cheese is made. In fact, Barnard says, the process of cheese-making concentrates the casein”

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Non-dominant hand, one-eyed, fat-tipped marker, puny drawing

“Call it dairy crack.”

 “Dairy proteins appear to trigger inflammation, apparently by triggering the release of antibodies, which leads to the constriction of the tiny muscles in the airways. By avoiding dairy proteins, the trigger for the [asthma] attacks is gone.”

“. . .  Barnard notes that vitamin D may play an important role in protecting us against some types of cancers. Citing prostate-cancer data, he suggests that because dairy products are high in calcium and calcium intake can slow down activation of vitamin D, cancer risks may increase with cheese-eating.”

“The National Dairy Council (or cows who would rather be milked than molded into meat patties) does not endorse Barnard’s descriptions of cheese . . .  and points to research from Harvard School of Public Health that shows no association between cheese and long-term weight gain.”

“However, if one’s goal is to lose weight, there is something to be said for not teasing yourself with occasional doses of the very food that caused the problem in the first place. (I might add sugar and refined carbs to the list . . . might?) Better to end that bad love affair. If a person is concerned about asthma, migraine, rheumatoid arthritis, or other sensitivities, one soon loses all desire for the food product that caused the problem.” (So far THAT argument hasn’t worked with me.)

(Maybe every time I feel puny  I should picture myself eating 33 pounds of VASELINE . . . )

Read the entire article and click HERE.


*Barbara J. King is an anthropology professor emerita at the College of William and Mary.  Barbara’s most recent book on animals is titled How Animals Grieve, and her forthcoming book, Personalities on the Plate: The Lives and Minds of Animals We Eat,

The Cheese Trap, How Breaking a Surprising Addiction Will Help You Lose Weight, Gain Energy, and Get Healthy by Neal D., M.d. Barnard, Dreena Burton and Marilu Henner

How to gain control of your free time

March 1st will mark two years since I retired.    Now that I have all the time in the world I have much more time to procrastinate.  During retirement I have fine-tuned my procrastination skills. 

I also have a continued quest for self-improvement.   In between TV shows and relaxing I squeeze in reading articles and watching videos that inspire me to develop better habits.

Here’s the latest video which I found so inspirational I turned off the TV.

After listening to this Ted Talk I decided to do a trial run before my actual  two-year retirement anniversary. 

I’m going to treat the things I keep saying I’d like to do like a flooded basement.  (you’ll have to watch the video).  So!  here’s what my emergencies are for this coming week:

  1. Do something everyday (as opposed to doing nothing)
  2. Cut out sugar from my eating “habits”.

I’ll let you know next week . . . or two . . .  how I did.

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Blame game: roosters, virus and my dorsolateral prefrontal cortex

It’s the Year of the Rooster – I was born under the Chinese sign of the Rooster.  Always thought it to be a curse I was born under a sign that wasn’t fertile enough to lay an egg or two.

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According to my friend Sharon Bonin-Pratt (whose last post inspired this post) People born under the sign of the Rooster are hardworking, funny, trustworthy and talented.

I’m not hardworking, at times am funny, almost always trustworthy, and have latent talents that get laid but never hatched.

This Rooster year started off with a cold virus that delights roaming the cozy recesses of my sinus passages.   It’s day 11 (but who’s counting).  I’ve been a total slug – no energy, no resolve which gives me a perfect excuse for not making New Years’ resolutions.

(The truth be told, I never make resolutions for the New Year – learned long ago that when I inevitably fail to keep a resolution it leads to feeling badly.)  

What energy I have has been directed toward resolving to be more creative this year. 

In preparation I’ve been obsessively reading everything I can find on how to break my creative block and stop procrastinating.

Most everything I read about procrastination indicates that we procrastinate when we don’t want to do something that is not enjoyable.   Being a master procrastinator I also procrastinate with things that bring me enjoyment.

For inspiration, I read blogs of people who write, read or draw daily – all things which bring me enjoyment.  I feel badly I’m not like them  which leads me to read articles on procrastination and meeting goals (I know how to set them, just not meet them).

Finally the article below has liberated me! I know what to blame:

My dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is lazy . . . not me.

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Creative block here’s neuroscience how to fix it.

by Elizabeth Shockman

“What is it exactly that helps us be creative? What fuels us when we get into an especially productive work flow? What makes the hours disappear when our brains focus on a task?”

“What, in other words, is happening in our brains when we’re being creative?”

“Cognitive neuroscientist Heather Berlin at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai says we know a little bit about what’s going on. Berlin studies the neuroscience of imagination, creativity and improvisation. And for those people who might be facing writer’s block? “There’s really no prescribed medication,” Berlin says. “There is no real magic pill.”’

Instead, she says, creativity depends on which part of the brain you might be using.

“When [people] are improvising, there tends to be a pattern of activation where they have decreased activation in a part of the brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex,” Berlin says. “And that part of the brain has to do with your sense of self, your sort of inner critic, making sure that your behavior conforms to social norms.”

“Translation? When you’re at your most creative, “basically you lose your sense of self,” Berlin says. “You kind of release your inhibition. The second you become too self-aware that comes back online and you lose that flow state.”’

“In addition to losing inhibitions, people who are in a creative state have increased activation in a part of the brain called the medial prefrontal cortex, which has to do with the internal generation of ideas. In other words, the ideas are coming from within.”

“Some people, when they’re in the flow state … a lot of people say ‘It feels like it’s flowing through me. It’s coming from someplace else,’ you know, ‘It’s coming so naturally I don’t even have to think about it,’” Berlin says. “It’s called liberation without attention. You can only keep a certain number of variables in mind when you’re thinking about something consciously. But if you let it go, you actually can come to a greater understanding because the unconscious can do much more complex processing.”

“For those suffering from creative block, Berlin has some practical advice:”

“You have to take in all the information and then go for a walk,” Berlin says. “Go out, do something else. Because those people who sit there and just obsess over thinking about it too much, using your prefrontal cortex you’re actually limiting yourself. So letting it go can actually help you get over, let’s say a writer’s block or a creative block.”

I’d go for a walk but I have a cold.  Maybe some other time . . .

 

 

The Queen and me

I admit I’m obsessive about steering clear of people who are sick.  I’ve been “known” to remove my groceries off the counter and go to another check-out if I see a clerk sniffing or coughing.  With fibromyalgia everything lasts longer and is more severe so I go to great lengths to avoid people who even appear to be sick.

My husband caught a cold 2 weeks ago and I’ve assiduously washed everything down – counters, door knobs, light switches and my husband – with disinfectant. 

Turns out I was disinfecting the wrong person.

I woke up yesterday with a scratchy throat, a headache and feeling even less chipper than I usually feel in the morning.

The Queen gave me a cold

How do I know, how am I told?

This cold is a dignified one

no snorting, sniffling nor dripping a ton 

My makeups impeccable, not a hair undone

Despite a sore throat and my throbbing head

staying all day, aching in bed

I shan’t complain

For how often does one contract

 a ROYAL pain.

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Queen is feeling better, says Princess Anne

“But at 90 . . . she is exercising caution as she recovers from a heavy cold which she’s had for at least 12 days, (12 DAYS!!!! ) and which is bound to have left her feeling pretty miserable. (tell me about it).”

“She hasn’t yet had an opportunity to go outside and explore her 20,000 acre private Norfolk estate. (So true, so true)”

LONG LIVE THE QUEEN . . . and me too!

P.S. Wash your hands after reading this post – I’m contagious . . .

 

Spinning in control

It’s been a rough year.  Maybe it’s the media bombarding us with political enmity, flood, fire, war, death, illness . . .  but it does seem rougher than usual.   My resiliency is running low.  

To put things in perspective on this last day of the year I remind myself that this earth has been around billions of years and I am standing on a planet hurtling through space and haven’t fallen off . . . yet

NASA archive image, relase date October 17, 2000. This true-color image shows North and South America as they would appear from space 35,000 km (22,000 miles) above the Earth. The image is a combination of data from two satellites. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard NASA’s Terra satellite collected the land surface data over 16 days, while NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) produced a snapshot of the Earth’s clouds. Image created by Reto Stöckli, Nazmi El Saleous, and Marit Jentoft-Nilsen, NASA GSFC Credit: NASA Earth Observatory NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission. Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook Find us on Instagram
NASA archive image, release date October 17, 2000.
This true-color image shows North and South America as they would appear from space 35,000 km (22,000 miles) above the Earth.  Image created by Reto Stöckli, Nazmi El Saleous, and Marit Jentoft-Nilsen, NASA GSFC
Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

The earth is moving about our sun at a speed of nearly 30 kilometers per second, or 67,000 miles per hour.  Our solar system–Earth and all–whirls around the center of our galaxy at some 220 kilometers per second, or 490,000 miles per hour.

“There are anywhere between 200-400 billion stars in the Milky Way and an estimated 100 billion planets. Around one in five stars are like our sun, and astronomers have estimated that about 22% of them have planets the size of Earth in their habitable zone, where water can exist as a liquid. This means there could be 8.8 billion planets within the galaxy capable of supporting life (not accounting for composition of the planet or its atmosphere).”

“God has created the world as one—the boundaries are marked out by man.”

‘Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith

 

21 ways to keep your sanity for the holidays

 Only  15 days till Chanukah!    15 days till Christmas!  22 days till New Year’s!  Time for my yearly reminder on how to keep sane.

Christmas:

  1. Instead of buying  a tree watch your friends decorate (and take down) theirs
  2. Convert to Judaism
  3. Sit in the lobby of a 5-star hotel and enjoy EXPENSIVE decorations.
  4. ADOPT a pig, instead of eating one.
  5. Make dinner potluck, you supply the paper plates and plastic cutlery
  6. Christmas dinner – Start with dessert and forget the rest.
  7. Sit on the beach in Bali.

8.  Go to bed on the 23rd and get up on January 3rd.*

9.  Only buy presents for Jesus.

10. Put a cover on the outside chimney opening so you don’t have to put out cookies and milk.

Chanukah:

11. Watch your friends decorate (and take down) their Christmas tree.

12. Convert.

13. Stay in a 5-star hotel for 8 days and nights.

14. Use credit cards instead of gelt

15. Instead of gambling with a dreidle at home go to Vegas

16. Don’t give presents, do good deeds

17. Go to bed on Thanksgiving and wake up on New Years**

18. Bake potatoes instead of grating them to death

19. Eat macaroons with Ben & Jerry

New Years:

20. *Remember! Stay in bed until the 3rd, unless you’re Jewish.

21. **If you are Jewish, go back to bed.

 

Peace on Earth & Sanity to all my Friends!

Dizzy blond and I ain’t even blond

Friday: Spent all day and evening in the ER.  I was EXTREMELY light-heading, threw up, missed my art class and spent 24 hours in bed thinking I’d feel fine in the morning . . . WRONG.  

Saturday: In the morning the  room was moving and I wasn’t. Every time I moved I threw up and there was nothing to throw-up since I hadn’t eaten anything (You have probably created a nasty picture in your mind . . .  just make it even nastier).  

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Pencil sketch

The ER was even more fun.  Throwing up,  drawing blood, 2 CT scans (to make sure it wasn’t a stroke . . . it wasn’t) and finally, after 4 different anti-nausea medications and drips, I stopped throwing up. 

Sunday: I’m still dizzy and have to hold on to things to walk (it’s a bit wonky to type) but the good news, the GREAT news, is I’ve not thrown up.  The bad news is I’m still dizzy . . .  and  grey-haired.

"Such drama . ."
“If she thinks walking is hard she should try swinging from trees . .”

To my friends and acquaintances who suffer with Ménière’s disease. . . I have new compassion for you!

P.S.  For those of you I confused . .  I don’t have Menieres just plain Ditzy.

 

 

 

My Sketchy Life . . . Albee it

Edward Albee died the other day at 88.  He was a Pulitzer prize-winning playwright.  He intensely disliked it when asked what his plays were about but finally explained:

“If anybody wants me to say it, in one sentence, what my plays are about: They’re about the nature of identity. Who we are, how we permit ourselves to be viewed, how we permit ourselves to view ourselves, how we practice identity or lack of identity.”  Edward Albee

Most of the models in the life drawing classes have been posing for a long time.  They come equipped with props and pillows and strike dramatic poses that I defy anyone in “real” life to take . . . unless you’re an exotic dancer.

Graphite pencil sketch
Graphite pencil sketch
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“quickies”
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Charcoal sketch

Art teachers explain that drawing isn’t about what the hand is doing it’s about training our eye to see what it actually sees rather than the internal image of what we THINK we see.

Right now my drawings are about trying to learn to view shapes and shadows, lines and limbs . . . and hopefully have my hands follow.  Someday, it would be nice to say the same thing Edward Albee said . . . that my drawings are about the nature of identity.

Laughter is the best medicine

The weather is changing

my body rearranging

Help! I’m in a fibro flare

Everything hurts

including my hair.

Sharon Bonin Pratt is a writer, an artist and a dear friend.  I think she also is psychic.  I’ve been not feeling great and the subject of her last post was just what I needed.  AND it’s dedicated to ME!!!!  What an honor!

Shari inspired me to look for a smile (SEE THE VIDEO).  

Here’s a sample from Sharon Bonin Pratt’s Ink Flare:

“Who can laugh without relaxing? Isn’t that why some of us (not me of course, and certainly not you, but other unnamed folks) pee their pants when laughing raucously? Losing all control is not a bad thing, even if you must change your whitie-dities, because when you’re having that much fun – who cares about all the rest? Oh, and it’s contagious! In a good way, not like the flu, but like having enough cup cakes for everyone in the world. So now I not only feel good inside my own world weary bod – I feel good because everyone around me also feels good. Motto for today: Spread cheer – laugh out loud.”

Read her entire post –  Sharon Bonin Pratt’s Ink Flare

My sketchy life – failing my way to success

Sara Blakely’s embrace of failure has helped make her the youngest self-made female billionaire in America.  She invented Spanx (body-shaping undergarments – the modern version of the corset and girdle).

When she was growing up, her father would often ask her the same question at dinnertime.

“What have you failed at this week?”

I was AGHAST – failure!? What a horrible father.  Everyone knows we are supposed to focus on and revel in success.  She went on to say:

“My dad growing up encouraged me and my brother to fail. The gift he was giving me is that failure is (when you are) not trying versus the outcome. It’s really allowed me to be much freer in trying things and spreading my wings in life.”

What a novel idea! Embrace failure as a sign of taking risks, learning and growing. Failure is a victory not a defeat.

“The fact that I had never taken a business class, had no training, didn’t know how retail worked,” she said. “I wasn’t as intimidated as I should have been.”

I read her interview just before my life drawing class.  It was liberating!!  I gave myself permission to fail at trying to draw perfect likeness, perfect proportions, perfect shading.  

Graphite Pencil Sketch
Graphite Pencil Sketches

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My new motto:  Fail Away! 

 . . . it’s never too late to become the oldest self-made billionaire in the United States.

I fail to understand her conclusions . . . that must make me a success . . .
She never fails to confound me . . .

 

The HeART of Spirituality – Journey from Dark to Light

The theme for July is “Journey”.  Held a special 4 hour – yes, count ’em FOUR hours of creative energy – workshop yesterday.  The participants focused on a painful experience, what strengths they developed as a result of the pain and how God’s love or “the universe’s grace” touched them.  

People could share as much or as little as they chose.  It was a wonderful group of women.  (All you men, where are you?!!!!)

Take a look at a sample of wonderful paintings and mini-journals the participants created yesterday!

To see all the paintings and journal pages click HERE!

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Process painting, Journey from Dark to Light

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“Everything in life ministers to our development. Our lesson is to study and learn… Tests are either stumbling blocks or stepping stones, just as we make them.” Abdu’l-Baha, The Baha’i World Faith

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Mini journal – 2- page spread

Sneek a Peek into my sketchy life – nudes and buts

Sorry, I’ve been blogged-out for so long.  I know, I know, yet another sorry-I’ve-been-gone-for-so-long-post.  

BUT I decided today is a brand new beginning.  “BUT” literally and figuratively.  (For those of you who are squeamish scroll down to the nude part because I begin with the BUTT . . .  mine to be exact.)  

Just had a colonoscopy. The bad news – I didn’t have a very good day yesterday.  The good news – I lost 4 pounds.  The bad news – I have wasted today sleeping.  The good news – I don’t remember a thing.  

Now that I’m squeaky clean it’s time for a new start – Going to go back to cutting out (maybe down) on refined sugar & carbs and cutting up on the internet.

Here’s my latest sketches.  I start with my favorite:

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10 minute charcoal sketch
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20 minute charcoal sketch
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10 minute charcoal sketch

Adding insult to injury

I woke this morning feeling like a truck hit me, threw me onto the train tracks where I was run over by a locomotive.

AND lo and behold . . .

. . .  today is National Fibromyalgia Day.  I’m in no mood to celebrate but the Fibro-Fiends that dwell inside me are having a ball!

I’m too tired to write an entirely new post to post on this post so I’ll just post part of a post of a post that I posted sometime ago.  . . . .

Judy's Journal, Mixed Media, Collage
judy’s journal, collage

“I look normalI act normal (relatively normal).  However, I feel exhausted much of the time, my body aches from head to toe and my brain sometimes has trouble remembering or concentrating.  Please don’t tell me to exercise more, eat better, try acupuncture or go to a new doctor.  After 20 years I’ve tried just about everything there is to try that I can afford, swallow or legally do.”

“I don’t even care anymore what you call itFibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, malingering . . . it’s just tiring being tired much of the time.  I push through it otherwise I’d have no life.  But the price for pushing can be days of crashing so I pick and choose my commitments.”

There’s a free on-line Fibromyalgia Summit.  If you’re interested in hearing the presentations click here: http://www.healthrising.org/blog/2016/05/11/three-days-may-fibromyalgia-summit-almost/

________________________________

Confidential:  Send me your prayers because tomorrow I’m leaving for an Unitarian Woman’s Retreat where I’m facilitating 2 workshops.  (I am not planning on taking my Fibro-Fiends with me.  Please don’t tell anyone because if the Fiends get wind I want to leave them home they will be angry . . . very angrrrrrrrrry . . .)

Sneek a peek at my skechy life

What did I learn today in class?  Drawing is just like life! 

I used to think that great artists, good artists got it right on the first pass.  It’s taken me 7 decades to understand that all artists continually make corrections.  Draw, adjust, erase, draw, redraw, erase . . . 

Luckily, it only took me 5 decades to figure out that life was about continually making corrections.  That reminds me . . .  I need a new eraser.

Here’s my sketches for today – One is loose and the other uptight

#CreativeSprint

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Graphite pencil, I shaved his head so he’d be more “hip”.
Vine charcoal
Vine charcoal, Dilly Dolly

Children’s art – the invisible made visible

“Syrian kids who passed through Milan’s Central Station last year did something very Italian: create artwork. While they waited for trains to take them to northern Europe, Save the Children offered them a chance to draw. They could depict whatever they wanted, says psychologist Vittoria Ardino, president of the Italian Society for the Study of Traumatic Stress, who analyzed 500 of these images.”

Scroll down to last drawing to read one of Ardino’s reflections on the drawings.

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“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. 
Without them, humanity cannot survive.”

H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama

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“God has created the world as one—the boundaries are marked out by man.”

‘Abdu’l-Baha, The Baha’i World Faith

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“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”

1 Corinthians 1:10

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“However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you

If you do not act on upon them?”

Buddha

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Here’s one of  Vittoria Ardino’s reflections on these drawings:

“There’s so much happening on this piece of paper — which is maybe a reflection of the child’s chaotic inner world, Ardino says. A flying creature is part butterfly, a common symbol of freedom. But it’s also part gun. A plane dropping bombs is covered by a face that’s half-human and half-fish (or actually, a big fish devouring a smaller one). A flower droops over a series of squiggles, which Ardino believes represent human bodies. All of that points to a child feeling powerless — but “trying desperately to find light,” Ardino adds. The face is surrounded by sun, and an oversized ladder or staircase leads away from the houses. Ardino suggests this is the child’s attempt at answering a critical question: “How can I escape?”‘

Click here to read Ardino’s reflections on all 7 drawings.

 

How ANXIETY can make you SMARTER

I tend toward the depressive end of the “depression vs anxiety” scale.  There are very few things, besides snakes, heights and being suspended in the air in gondolas, that make me anxious.  I rarely worry about them . . . unless I’m on a hike in the mountains, it’s rattlesnake season and the only way I can get down is a gondola ride.

After watching this video . . . I’m worried that I don’t worry enough . . . 

Hacker Appreciation pome

In my life time I’ve been whacked

I’ve been blindsided

and been sacked

Now I’m included

 in the pantheon of the hacked

So if you are my hacker

please know I AM pleased

you used a younger picture of me

as a tease.

IACH Board having fun

"More proof she's losing it . . ."

 “More proof she’s losing it . . .”

Facebook Alert – I’ve been HACKED

If you’ve received weird messages from me on Facebook they are NOT me. 

(well, some of the weird things are from me but they are ALWAYS from a BLOG POST)

Do NOT click on any links saying you have won money or I have won money – It’s a scam.

Here’s the situation and the problem:

  • Someone has hacked into my account and then created a bogus page with my picture and name and sending messages/friend requests etc. to my Facebook friends.
  • I RARELY go on Facebook and have NEVER chatted on Facebook.  (Facebook, frankly, drives me crrrrrrrrrrazier than I already am.)
  • People think I’m on Facebook regularly because my blog AUTOMATICALLY puts blog posts on Facebook without my doing anything.
  • I’ve spent 3 days trying to figure out what to do:  I’ve changed my password, gone over everyone’s profile/page who shares my name on Facebook, sent numerous messages to Facebook, changed my settings, deleted, unfriended, defriended . . .
  •  THANK YOU TO ALL my Facebook friends WHO HAVE ALERTED ME and are still my friend!!

If I can’t get it resolved I will close down my Facebook account and you will have to subscribe to my blogs to continue to receive weird messages from me.

O’ Woe is Me and my Rule of Halves (parenthetically speaking)

My dear Curious to the Max followers,

I imagine there are millions of you (I have a big imagination) who wait with bated breath and quickening heart beats for my posts – I shall call you Group Numero UNO.  You are keenly aware (due to your breath and heart rhythm) I’ve been bloggingly absent.  The rest of you (group 2, small “g”) are scratching your heads (or other parts) and wondering what I’m talking about because your lives, breath and hearts have gone on nicely without my posting.

For Numero UNO:  I just have lost my mojo, my energy, my focus – not interested in writing, reading, gardening, e-mailing, blog posts started and abandoned . . .  I’m giving credit to a fibromyalgia flare-up because fibromyalgia should be good for something.

For the second group: I am LOST, DEPLETED, SUFFERING and you probably don’t care . . .

On a serious note (not that I wasn’t serious before) fibromyalgia along with many other chronic conditions has a mind of it’s own and takes over at unexpected and unpropitious times.  After over 20 years of living with this condition I’ve still not got the hang of it.  When I feel decent I go, do, get overly involved and then crash for days, sometimes weeks (or months, but who’s counting).

The BACK half
The BACK half

To better manage what energy I have I’ve decided to do half of the ten things I currently need or want to do:

  1. Complete half the alphabet for the on-line daily blogging alphabet posting challenge. (I’ve half a mind not to even do the challenge this year and repost what I wrote LAST year).
  2. Brush half my teeth each day (I’ll alternate halves – half in the morning and half before bed)
  3. Clean and dust the half of the house I can’t reach.
  4. Stop watching the Super Bowl at half-time.
  5. Eat half the pan of brownies I’m making (half today and half tomorrow).

That’s half of my plans so I’m not going to write the other five.  

My New Motto (you can borrow it):

Live half my life with gusto, let the other half rest.

"This woman is half-baked as ever . . . "
“This woman is half-baked”

 

 

 

I Resolve to be Resolute about my New Year’s Resolutions

Changing behavior is VERY hard work.  I think conserving energy is very important in this hectic world and that’s why I’ve always tried to avoid toooooo much behavior change toooooo fast.

HOWEVER, as I get older there is less and less time to do all the things I want to accomplish.  So this year I’m determined to keep my resolutions.

My 2016 Resolutions:  

  1. I will think a lot more about how I could get a lot more organized.
  2. I will read more real life stories about how women lost weight and successfully kept it off.
  3. I will focus more on doing things that come easily to reduce the amount of wasted time on figuring out how to do what is difficult.
  4. I will stop dwelling on what I resolved to do in 2015.
  5. I will spend 2016 getting ready for 2017.

Wish me luck!

I wish you a HEALTHY 2016 filled with LOVE.P1040230

"There she goes . . . again"
“There she goes . . . again”

My Naughty or Nice Pome

When you’re stuck in the middle tween naughty or nice

here’s free advice to add some spice

Be sure to indulge in all things obscene

(as long as the police don’t intervene)

You can’t live twice . . . so shake, rattle ‘n roll . . . them dice

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Sneek a Peek into my Journal

Visual journaling is more fun for me than written –  I rarely reread my written entries but can look at the visual pages and know instantly what was happening, what I wanted to express (and things I wasn’t consciously aware of expressing!).

I also rarely reread what I write on the blog but the last post on gratitude stuck in my mind.  So here’s my gratitude page AND the process I used . . . in REVERSE ORDER!

Step 3

Added squiggly lines and pastels

This is the finished page – I lost interest in the left side!
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Sept 3: Added squiggly lines and pastels

Step 2

Smeared gesso (white paint works too) over the magazine images to blur them

Finished page - I lost interest in the left side! Paint, collage, pastel
Step 2:  Smeared gesso (white) over top of pictures

Step 1

  • I don’t like working on a white page so I spread paint on the blank page. Cut out about 20 pictures
  • Focused on my “gratitude” and picked pictures that caught my attention.
  • Pasted them down.  Didn’t matter they got wrinkled – just adds texture!
pasted magazine pictures
Step 1: pasted magazine pictures onto page that I smeared with paint.

Can you figure out what the focus of my gratitude was?

An easy way for you to feel grateful EVERY DAY.

My brother Rick told me about The Greater Good.  Everyday I click on 6 of the sites.  With every click I remind myself to feel grateful to be living in a free country where I have access to things much of the world does not have.

It’s free and every click counts toward making this a better world.

(plus there are some cool free-trade things to buy that help people around the world)

Click on Greater Good and subscribe to get a daily e-mail reminder to be grateful.  Here are a list of the giving sites.

Research shows that feeling grateful doesn’t just make you feel good. It also helps – literally helps – the heart.

judy's journal
judy’s journal

“A positive mental attitude is good for your heart. It fends off depression, stress and anxiety, which can increase the risk of heart disease, says Paul Mills, a professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. Mills specializes in disease processes and has been researching behavior and heart health for decades. He wondered if the very specific feeling of gratitude made a difference, too.”

“He recruited 186 men and women, average age 66, who already had some damage to their heart, either through years of sustained high blood pressure or as a result of heart attack or even an infection of the heart itself. They each filled out a standard questionnaire to rate how grateful they felt for the people, places or things in their lives.”

“It turned out the more grateful people were, the healthier they were. “They had less depressed mood, slept better and had more energy,” says Mills.”

“And when Mills did blood tests to measure inflammation, the body’s natural response to injury or plaque buildup in the arteries, he found lower levels among those who were grateful — an indication of better heart health.”

“So Mills did a small followup study to look even more closely at gratitude. He tested 40 patients for heart disease and noted biological indications of heart disease such as inflammation and heart rhythm. Then he asked half of the patients to keep a journal most days of the week, and write about two or three things they were grateful for. People wrote about everything, from appreciating children to being grateful for spouses, friends, pets, travel, jobs and even good food.”

“After two months, Mills retested all 40 patients and found health benefits for the patients who wrote in their journals. Inflammation levels were reduced and heart rhythm improved. And when he compared their heart disease risk before and after journal writing, there was a decrease in risk after two months of writing in their journals.”

“Mills isn’t sure exactly how gratitude helps the heart, but he thinks it’s because it reduces stress, a huge factor in heart disease.”

“Taking the time to focus on what you are thankful for,” he says, “letting that sense of gratitude wash over you — this helps us manage and cope.”

“And helps keep our hearts healthy.”

Much is required from those to whom much is given.
–Luke 12:48

He that give should never remember, he that receives should never forget. –The Talmud

Three Heads are Better than Two

 I am not a split personality I’m a “thrip”.  There are three me’s.  
Didn’t consciously intend this drawing to be a self-portrait but I believe that any form of creative expression, whether it be visual art, dance, music etc. is reflective of who we are.
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My first thought is the middle head is being squished which is  reflective of  how exhausted I’ve been lately.   
On second thought,  I wonder if the little head is the glue holding together the other two???

 

Wired and Weird – Two for the price of one

Have you missed me?  Have you EVEN noticed I’ve not been blogging?  Well, I’ve been mishuga, fermisht and verklempt.

In my never-ending quest to feel better . . .  

The short version: Went to an endocrinologist because I thought some of my exhaustion might be due to an adrenal problem.  They took a quart of my hard-earned blood and I peed in an “orange juice container” for 24 hours to be told my adrenals are fine but I have Hashimoto’s disease.

Whaaaaaaaat???  I’ve never been to Japan and don’t even speak Japanese. Seems my immune system is eating my thyroid all up.  Put me on thyroid medication and said I should have about 20% more energy.  With my continual state of exhaustion 20% sounded good.

Three months later . . .  maybe 10% more energy.  So endo doc suggested I take Topomax, a tried and true medication, that will put my brain into deep sleep (my brain stays in REM sleep and I don’t get restorative sleep – that’s the main reason I’m so exhausted all the time).  I researched it and checked it out with my fibro doctor who said it was worth a try.

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NOT ONLY DIDN’T THE MEDICATION PUT ME INTO deep sleep it didn’t even put me into REM sleep!!!!!  I was up for 3 nights and 3 days.  Couldn’t even nap.  My brain thought it was a stimulant.  I couldn’t think straight, walk straight or talk straight.  I’m just barely beginning to feel normally exhausted.  

I told my fibro doc what happened on the medication.  She gave me a new diagnosis: WEIRD.

Bob Blobfish sez: ". . . I p"
Bob Blobfish sez: “. . . She didn’t have to get THAT diagnosis from a doctor, just ask ANYONE who knows her . . .”

I may have helped save a life today

Thanks to Carolyn Thomas and her excellent blog Heart Sisters I recognized a heart attack in progress.

In my writing class this morning the woman next to me got up unexpectedly and left.  On return she said threw up in the bathroom.  A few minutes later she said she didn’t feel good, hot and sweaty, and thought she should go home.  Something told me to ask her if she had chest pain.  

I interrupted the teacher and privately told him she had heart attack symptoms. He immediately had the facility call 911.  

P1010944

The woman kept repeating she was ok, in great health, played tennis 4 times a week, no history of heart disease in the family, ate well and would be fine.  Even after the paramedics came she kept questioning whether she needed to go to the hospital.

Because I’ve followed Carolyn’s blog I know common symptoms for women having a heart attack:

Women often have different symptoms of a heart attack than men and may report serious symptoms even before having a heart attack, although the signs are not ‘typical’ heart attack symptoms. These include:”

  • neck, throat, shoulder, upper back, or abdominal discomfort
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea or vomiting
  • sweating
  • anxiety or “a sense of impending doom”
  • light-headedness or dizziness
  • unusual fatigue for several days

This woman had three symptoms PLUS, by the time the paramedics arrived, pain radiated to her jaw.

I insisted she go to the hospital and she could blame me if everything was ok.

Everything was not ok.

Click & Read this: Words matter when we describe our heart attack symptoms

 

 

Write on! – Alls fair

       Assignment from my writing class – An incident when you were treated unfairly or you treated someone else unfairly.”  I think I covered both . . .

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Unfair Treatment – Body, Mind & Me

By judy westerfield

     “More! More!” my mind screams at me. Her desire reverberates throughout my body. Once again, I’m caught in the middle ­ between body and mind, between hedonism and health.

     The three of us — body, mind and me — have been together a very long time. Over the years the mind has grown bolder, louder. To keep the peace I usually do what she says, even though it’s often based on want rather than need. Today is no exception.

     For the second time in less than an hour I retrieve the half-gallon carton from the freezer.

     “More! More!” She is unrelenting.

     “Calm down. “I’m scooping as fast as I can.”

     I ladle from the carton to the soup bowl — 1/3 less fat, 120 calories, $2.99 on sale — spoonfuls of vanilla, chock full of chocolate chunks and ripples of golden caramel. Hard, too hard. I like it soft, just this side of starting-to-melt. Ten seconds in the microwave will do it. I’ve perfected the timing.

     “More! More!”

     “You will just have to wait 10 seconds.” I can be firm.

     It’s creamy, cold, sweet and glides deliciously from the lips all the way down to the stomach.

     “Ahhhh. Mmmm,” the mind purrs and declares it to be an invention ranking right up there with the discovery of fire, the wheel and Tampax.

     The bowl is empty. She points out that there’s more in the carton, purposely left out on the counter, which is now just the right soft consistency.

     “120 calories per serving . . . 12 servings per carton . . .1,440 calories,“ she calculates. “We’ll just skip dinner.”

*   *   *

     “Why? Why?” My distended stomach cries out, pushing painfully against the waistband of my pants. Hips expand, thighs grate together, intestines grumble while impolitely relieving themselves of gas as I walk to the trash to throw away the empty carton.

     The body unfairly treated, yet again, by me. And the mind . . . she’s still screaming . . .

     “More! More!”

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Parrot this! (mimic mindlessly)

“Fear is just excitement in need of an attitude adjustment”

~ in a very wise fortune cookie

Polly the Parrot sez:
Polly the Parrot sez: “Polly wanna fortune cookie!”

The Crossroads between Should and Must

Since retiring I have the time to explore what I want to do – not always the energy nor the money, but certainly the time!  Framing that exploration in the context of “shoulds” and “musts” rather than “shoulds” and “coulds” is one I will have to sleep on.

The Crossroads of Should and Must with Elle Luna

“I don’t want to talk about it”

I should go out in the garden and eat worms.  I’m exhausted.  I hurt all over.   It’s hard not to have self-pity.   I TRY to limit my public and private kvetching because I know it doesn’t help . . . me or you.  There’s scientific basis for the harm we do to ourselves when we talk about trauma – any kind of trauma. 

Acrylic on Canvas, by moi
Acrylic on Canvas, by moi

 If you or anyone you know has a “story of pain” (physical, psychological, social, economic etc) read Carolyn Thomas’ My Heart Sisters excellent post.  Here’s a teeny taste:

Rehashing a traumatic story/event does some of the following:

  • puts our system on high alert
  • triggers inflammation
  • triggers the fight/flight response
  • triggers shutdown mode

On the flip side Carolyn talks about the benefits of sharing with close friends:

“Dr. Laura Cousin Klein and her team found that the credit for women’s unique stress reactions may belong to the hormone oxytocin (also known as the “lovehormone”).  It’s the body’s own wonder drug – released when we nurse our babies, for example, as well as during a woman’s stress response. It’s instinctual, it buffers the fight-or-flight response and it encourages us to tend children and gather with other women instead – what’s called our tend-and-befriend response to stress.  This calming response does not occur in men, says Dr. Klein, because testosterone—which men produce in high levels when they’re under stress—seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin. Estrogen, she adds, seems to enhance it.”

Read the entire post “I don’t want to talk about it“- a Judy’s-Must-Read-Blog-Post.

Giving amnesty to Daddy-longlegs

A Daddy-longlegs spider lives in my bathroom. It might be a Mommy-longlegs as she’s quite petite.  My eyesight isn’t good enough to tell her gender.  Even if I could I’m not sure what to look for . . .

I let her live there peacefully since we have a lot in common.  She’s discrete, I’ve never seen her entertain overnight visitors and quite tidy as I’ve never found any droppings of  left-overs from digested meals.   She leads a very monastic existence as do I (on occasion).

A Daddy Short-Legs Spider
A Daddy Short-Legs Spider

I’m not afraid of spiders (except those bigger than my thumb).  I try to steer clear of them because when I get bitten by one I have a painful, very painful,  allergic response. There is a legend that Daddy-longlegs are deadly venomous spiders which, after careful research, I found not to be true:

“Daddy-longlegs spiders (Pholcidae)There is no reference to any pholcid spider biting a human and causing any detrimental reaction. If these spiders were indeed deadly poisonous but couldn’t bite humans, then the only way we would know that they are poisonous is by milking them and injecting the venom into humans. For a variety of reasons including Amnesty International and a humanitarian code of ethics, this research has never been done. . . . Therefore, no information is available on the likely toxic effects of their venom in humans, so the part of the myth about their being especially poisonous is just that: a myth.”  http://spiders.ucr.edu/daddylonglegs.htm

I hesitate to get too chummy or name her because one day, should she decide to venture down from her post on the window near the ceiling and try to share my counter space, I might have to kill her.

(And with that, I sound like much of the world fighting for and protecting territory.  Perhaps it’s not so mysterious why we don’t have world peace?)

 

“Eat, Pray, Love” – Advice from Penelope the Pig

Penelope and I met a few years ago.  I went for a carton of milk and there she was, an albino pig, in a grocery store.  She was in a dangerous situation – it was only time before she ended up on the meat aisle. (OIY VEY)  So for $9 I took her home with the milk.

I gave her a bit of color and a bow and she went to live in my therapy office.

Very few clients ever commented on her.  I always suspected new clients didn’t quite know what to say and my long-term clients knew me well enough that they didn’t need to say anything.
 
Penelope retired the same time as Freddie Parker but she still has a lot of good advice: 

How to Live Life to the Fullest

by Penelope the Pig, CPT, RET

  • EAT greedily all the delectable things life gives you.

  • WALLOW in what’s soothing & cool.

  • SNORT at those who are not loving.

  • CELEBRATE how delicious you are.

  • PRAY you will not be eaten before your time.

May you all PIG OUT on LOVE,

Penelope the Pig, CPT, RET

Certified Pig Therapist, Retired 

Long Live Sophia, my new role-model

Those of you who are regular readers know I’m a fragile flower.  I blame it on the fibromyalgia (at least fibro is good for something).  My system goes on overload if I watch, read, see, hear ANYTHING that is violent, sad or frightening.  I went to the Minion’s movie and it was too violent . . .

So when I watch TV it’s either HouseHunter’s International (lookie-loo travel), The Hallmark Channel (always a happy ending) or the Golden Girls. Sophia is my new role model.  She is wise beyond my years . . . and we have similar taste in food:

“I hate Jello.  If God wanted peaches to be suspended in mid-air He would have filled them with helium.” Sophia Petrillo

 

It’s SWEEPS “weak”

Haven’t blogged in a while. The last few weeks have been rough – the fibro-fatigue-fiends frolicking fearlessly.  I’m looking for my mop.

mad, sad, fatigue, fear

sweeping away sanity

the broom of my brain

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dust storm of feelings

tiny particles of dirt

blowing through my mind

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wring out the debris 

clean clear water, bucket brain

gratitude mop up

Haiku Horizons - prompt SECRET
Haiku Horizons – prompt SWEEP

 

Know a Narcissist? Blame their brain

I am fascinated by our newfound ability to study the brain in real-time.  For most of my life the only way the brain was studied was by  autopsy.  

For decades, I’ve explained to clients that “feelings” are not psychological constructs but a neurochemical phenomena. I had no proof – just  trickles of brain research I read. Now that I’m retired the evidence is mounting.  I’d love to be able to say “I told you so!”

hypnotized-people-hallucinate-colors-at-will_44927_600x450-1

In psychological “terms” the proportion of outward behavior is a measure of internal feelings.  Examples:  Do you know some one who is a “control freak”?  Of course you do.

The more someone tries to exert control over everyone and everything it is usually (read “always” – I’m trying to be “politically correct, ahem . . .)  a direct measure they internally/unconsciously feel out of control.  People who “feel” in control don’t have to prove they are in control – they can collaborate, give others credit etc.

Know someone who is a narcissist – the earth revolves around them, not the sun?  Of course you do.

The more a person needs to boast about themselves, point the finger of blame at others etc. . . . the more insecure they are.  Read about some interesting brain research that substantiates this that on a neurological level.

Read more: http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2015/07/a-neurological-level-narcissists-are-needy.html

I TOLD YOU SO!

Not on my bucket list, never on my bucket list, but if it were I now check it off

Google Maps Now Lets You Scale Yosemite’s El Capitan Mountain

 by  

“. . . Google Maps users can use Street View for a first-person climb on both the The Nose and a portion of the Dawn Wall routes for scaling El Cap.”

The advantage of Google’s Street View mountaineering is that you don’t actually have to risk anything to do it, except maybe a static shock from your mouse depending on if you’ve been shuffling your feet around on carpeting.”

” . . . Alex Honnold, Lynn Hill and Tommy Caldwell performed the climb used to capture the imagery . . . “

http://techcrunch.com/2015/06/24/google-maps-now-lets-you-scale-yosemites-el-capitan-mountain/

 

My Motto: Don’t call me. I won’t call you.

I never answer my phone.  I call people back when I have energy or e-mail because two-way phone conversations are physically tiring.  Crazy! . . . sounds crazy, even to me.  So I assume it sounds crazy to you.  

Not wanting to be labeled as “nuts” I usually explain  that after 30 years as a psychotherapist, answering my phone knowing that someone is probably calling in crisis, I’ve become phone-phobic.  

You understand phobia’s and their hallmark of being irrational.  You don’t understand neuroimmune-central nervous system-out-of-wack.  Can’t fault you.  I don’t understand it.  Medical science doesn’t understand it.   

Normal stimuli overload my brain circuits and the brains of others who live with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Lyme disease, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, brain trauma etc.  There are a lot of theories but no one really knows why or what to do about it. 

Acrylic on Canvas, by moi
Acrylic on Canvas, by moi

Even though I’m a social person by nature all socializing tires me. One or two “events” a week is my limit.  Social Events?  You are undoubtedly picturing me out-on-the-town, wearing a Dior gown and sipping wine at the opera ( . . .  those who know me are picturing me wearing a t-shirt, Levi’s, Crocs and sipping coffee at Starbucks).

Activities that once were pleasurable now create fatigue:

  • Going to the movies or lunch with a friend (afterwards I nap for 3 hours)
  • Participating in any group activity (afterwards I go to bed early)
  • Walking Freddie in the park.  (I go the opposite direction when I see others walking their dogs.  Walking is taxing enough without interacting with dogs’ humans.)
  • Shopping in stores crowded with merchandise.  (My brain goes on visual overload)
  • Talking on the phone to someone I love.  (Yup, two-way conversations take focus and thus energy.) 

Since retiring I’ve done phone sessions with clients.  The pleasure of hearing their voices, catching up on their lives and the honor of hopefully helping them get back on track far outweigh any fatigue that comes later.  I’ve long ago figured out that some things are well worth the consequences of a nap or a few days of inactivity. 

Please continue to reach out. I will be honest with you about my options and energy.  I don’t want to live as a social recluse.  So E-mail me when you want to catch up, share, or get together because I won’t answer the phone . . .  

Hammy Hamster sez: "Nuts?, Did I hear NUTS!)
Hammy Hamster sez:
“Nuts?, Did I hear NUTS!)

This article prompted me to write this post: Cort Johnson, Social Exhaustion The comments are perhaps even more telling than the article itself.

READ THIS! – There is hope.

This fascinating article helps me understand the Baha’i principle – The “greater good” outweighs the “lesser good”.   I do know that good things are born out of suffering and sacrifice but I must remind myself that this world isn’t instant cup-a-soup.  

Below are some excerpts  

judy journal page - collage
judy journal page – collage

How The World’s Largest Refugee Camp Remade A Generation Of Somalis

“The world’s largest refugee camp is also a giant social experiment.”

“Take hundreds of thousands of Somalis fleeing a war. Shelter them for 24 years in a camp in Kenya run by the United Nations. And offer different opportunities than they might have had if they’d stayed in Somalia.”

‘”Probably the most interesting and misunderstood thing about Dadaab is that the refugee camp has had a kind of liberalizing influence,” says Ban Rawlence.”

“They are a ready-made middle class,” Rawlence says. “Educated Somalis who are ready and waiting to move into Somalia to rebuild the country.”‘

“The Kenyan government wants the experiment to end, soon. It’s pushing the refugees to return to their home in Somalia, though the camp called Dadaab is the only home many have known.”

P1040319

“Habiba Abdurahman fled the war in Somalia when she was six, with her mother and sisters. She had lived in a village where girls rarely went to school. Suddenly she was in a camp where international organizations offered free tutoring for girls to catch up academically. In her village, female genital mutilation was common. In the camp FGM was not only illegal but there were constant messages against it.”

“At 27 Abdurahman was elected a camp chairwoman, under election rules designed to promote gender equality. Last year she went back to Somalia on a U.N.-sponsored “look and see” trip to the liberated city of Kismayo. The trip was meant to assure refugees that parts of Somalia were finally safe enough to return to. But what she saw shocked her.”

“What kind of person would she be if she’d grown up there instead of here in the camp?”

Click here to read the entire article: 

How The World’s Largest Refugee Camp Remade A Generation Of Somalis

by GREGORY WARNER

 

 

Sneek Peek into my journal – Loosely Sparking

Sometimes wanting to be “perfect” stops me from finishing projects.  I’m now too tired to strive for perfection.   I figure it’s time to experiment and remove expectation to get my “spark” back.

I’m comfortable abstractly sloshing paint color around but “drawing” is another matter.  Put a pencil or pen in my hand and I tighten both my grip and expectation.

With that in mind, I purposely held the pencil very loosely and literally scribbled “areas” rather than try to draw perfect lines.  I didn’t bother trying to copy anything, look at any references, decide where the light was coming from or have a plan.  I just scribbled.   I like the looseness of the drawing and taking away expectation of being precise was enjoyable.

Maybe this is a good lesson to apply to other areas of my life . . .

DSCN6281

judy’s journal – Scribbled and scratched in the face with pencil and pastel chalk

Year of the Spark, Carla Sonheim & Lynn Whipple
Year of the Spark, Carla Sonheim & Lynn Whipple

Being tired is exhausting

I look normal, I act normal (relatively normal)However, I feel exhausted much of the time, my body aches from head to toe and my brain sometimes has trouble remembering or concentrating.  Please don’t tell me to exercise more, eat better, try acupuncture or go to a new doctor.  After 20 years I’ve tried just about everything there is to try that I can afford, swallow or legally do.

I don’t even care anymore what you call it: Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, malingering . . . it’s just tiring being tired much of the time.  I push through it otherwise I’d have no life.  But the price for pushing can be days of crashing so I pick and choose my commitments.

Judy's Journal, Mixed Media, Collage
judy’s Journal, Collage

No one knows what causes it or how to make it better.  Looking back, I think I’ve had it my whole life.  But I’m lucky because it didn’t become full-blown until I was an adult.  For teens and young adults it’s really hard. Read this article by teens and 10 things they want the public to know.   Teens who live with chronic illness and the 10 things they want you to know.

I’ve blogged about it before:

The Mask of Invisibility and me

Fibromyalgia, Dx: Hysterical Middle-Aged Woman’s Syndrome

I prefer not to talk about it, write about it, dwell on it.  It is what it is and I’m blessed that it’s not life threatening.  But today is World Awareness Day for neuro-immune illnesses of ME/Chronic Fatigue (CFS), Fibromyalgia (FM), Lyme disease, and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). It’s an opportunity to raise public awareness of these conditions that impact millions all over the world.

It’s a good bet that you or someone you know has one of these invisible conditions . . . if you didn’t before, you do now.

Who said life was fair?

Alas, fair maiden

bereft of  biting remarks

all your teeth are gone

*     *     *

a judy doodle
a judy doodle

Alas, fair maiden

your ears continue to grow

as your stature shrinks

*     *     *

Alas, fair maiden

eat chocolate, drink wine, love, laugh

life is pretty good

*     *     *

Bob Blobfish sez: ". . .  no comment  . . "
Bob Blobfish sez: “. . . who needs teeth?  . . “
Haiku Horizons - prompt FAIR
Haiku Horizons – prompt FAIR

 

 

Are You a Highly Sensitive Person? You might have ADRA2b like me.

Goggle “emotional sensitivity” and you’ll find tons (well maybe not tons, but a lot) of articles, books, survival guides on how to overcome “being so sensitive”.   

About 1 in 5  fit the HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) profile.  I currently rate a 12 1/2 out of 16 traits below.  When I was younger it was 16 out of 16.  (Interestingly, artists and therapists seem to fit this profile in larger numbers than the general population . . . hmmm)

Fragile Fleur by judy
Fragile Fleur by judy

It’s baaaaaaaad:  I cry at dog food commercials and can’t tolerate anything that has a hint of violence.

My husband prefers “blow’em up – shoot ’em dead – stab ’em hard” for his watching pleasure.  He reminds me that it’s “not real” as I lock him in his room so I can’t see or hear what he’s watching.  I watch HGTV House Hunters International, preferring my suspense and intrigue to trying to guess which house the couple will buy.

However, rather than label myself as a “Highly Sensitive Person”, I prefer to think of myself as a fragile flower . . . so much more feminine.    

_____________________

Here are 16 HSP traits.  If you want to read more about each click here

  1. They feel more deeply.
  2. They’re more emotionally reactive.
  3. They’re probably used to hearing, “Don’t take things so personally” and “Why are you so sensitive?”
  4. They prefer to exercise solo.
  5. It takes longer for them to make decisions.
  6. They are more upset if they make a “bad” or “wrong” decision.
  7. They notice details.
  8. Not all highly sensitive people are introverts.
  9. They work well in team environments.
  10. They’re more prone to anxiety or depression (but only if they’ve had a lot of past negative experiences).
  11. That annoying sound is probably significantly more annoying to a highly sensitive person.
  12. Violent movies are the worst.
  13. They cry more easily.
  14. They have above-average manners.
  15. The effects of criticism are especially amplified in highly sensitive people.
  16. They prefer solo work environments.

________________________

The good news! I no longer have to read up on how to overcome, minimize, explain or justify my emotional sensitivity because I must have a ADRA2b gene.

(Now I can blame my mother for my sensitivity – aren’t mothers always the ones who get the credit for how we turn out . . .  or the blame?)

Genes might explain differences in how we experience emotions

“Your genes may influence how sensitive you are to emotional information, according to new research by a UBC neuroscientist. The study, recently published in The Journal of Neuroscience, found that carriers of a certain genetic variation perceived positive and negative images more vividly, and had heightened activity in certain brain regions.”

“People really do see the world differently,” says lead author Rebecca Todd, a professor in UBC’s Department of Psychology. “For people with this gene variation, the emotionally relevant things in the world stand out much more.”

“The gene in question is ADRA2b, which influences the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Previous research by Todd found that carriers of a deletion variant of this gene showed greater attention to negative words. Her latest research is the first to use brain imaging to find out how the gene affects how vividly people perceive the world around them, and the results were startling.”

"Fragile flower . . . I think WUSS may be closer to the truth . . "
“Fragile flower?  HSP? . . . I think she’s just plain melodramatic. . “

Genetic Literacy Project

 

Everyone has a story

Don’t let the cartoons throw you off – this is a real life interview and worth every minute of your time (watch all the way to the end).

“Kay Wang was a strong-willed grandmother who was reluctantly taken to a StoryCorps* booth by her son and granddaughter. Though Kay resisted, she still had stories to tell—from disobeying her mother and rebuffing suitors while growing up in China to late-life adventures as a detective for Bloomingdale’s department store.”

“Kay passed away just weeks after that interview, and her son and granddaughter returned to StoryCorps to remember her gentler side, which she kept to herself.”

“Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 50,000 interviews with over 90,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind . . . “

You can donate to this incredible project and find out where recordings are made, click here for the StoryCorps website.

Beyond the A to Z Challenge, well beyond . . . Eternity

Recently two very close and dear friends died. They were both younger than me – by at least 10 years.  I was hit by painful sadness and simultaneously comforted by a belief:

Several years ago I was depressed.  Life was the color of dirty grey.  I was in a fibromyalgia flare and feeling helpless.  I wasn’t suicidal, just weary, really weary, of pushing through the pain and exhaustion. Half jokingly I wrote to my Baha’i friend and mentor something to the effect:  “I’m ready to leave this earthly plane. Beam me up into eternity”

He wrote back four words which rocked me to my core:  “You are in eternity.”

Judy's journal page, mixed media
Looking Beyond, a judy-journal page, mixed media

You see, I had always assumed life here on earth as a human was separate from the “eternal realm”.  I thought that after I died I would then be in eternity.  It was a paradigm shift for me.  It is strangely comforting to know we are all already in eternity – you, me, my friends.

Believing knowing

we are in eternity

life is never short

Haiku Horizons - prompt SHORT
Haiku Horizons – prompt SHORT