Gratitude 20July17 Another Suicide

Another suicide. Chester Bennington, 41 of the band Linkin Park. Just a few months before, it was Chris Cornell, 52 of Soundgarden.

They were close friends. Bennington has ended his life journey on what would have been Cornell’s 53rd birthday.

chester-bennington-4Words of shock and accolades are filling social media and the airwaves.

How can this be? Someone who has everything?

Mental illness does not discriminate. It matters not what race, religion, how much money you are worth.

We live in a society that is shocked by suicide but is unwilling to acknowledge or take mental illness seriously. It is still the embarrassing illness. “Girl, you know she’s crazy.” “Yay, man. He just isn’t right in the head.” The stigma is as strong as ever.

We are witnessing history and the value our government places on the well-being of the mentally ill. All health care benefits for the mentally ill have been eliminated.

As a person who has a diagnosis of recurrent severe depression, days like today are especially hard. I am reminded of my mortality. I am a rare statistical survivor for the number of years I have fought this illness.

I am not Wonder Woman. Mental illness does, like today, win the battle.  #gratefulsurvivor

People wonder how any one could possibly commit such a horrendous act.

Mental illness is the disease of a sick brain. When a person gets to the point in their thought process that death is the only option — like a stage 4 cancer — it has poisoned a brain to a point that it is no longer capable of rational thought.

I guess it is callous to say don’t take it personally. But, those close cannot. That’s the heartbreak of it all really. You watch, you help, but you can’t save them.

Today I am thankful

  • I splurged on a pedicure. It was delightful. I now have funky blue toes.
  • A heartfelt thank you to each of you who reads my words and takes a moment to hit the like button or a minute to leave me a DM or a note below. Your support is invaluable.
  • I am reminded with each passing day, an action is worth so much more than words. To you who take the time, thank you.

My heart goes out to all those affected by the approximately 121 suicides that happened in the United States today. *American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

My heart goes out to all those affected by the loss of Chester Bennington. Sadly, most people are more loved and famous in death than life.

Before I close, please, I beg of you, if you or anyone you know is thinking of hurting themselves, call the National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255.

affectionately yours, Laura

Gratitude 19July17 Loud Red Bird

For the past week and a half, I have had an unusual guest peeking into my home and observing my life.

A loud red bird has been sitting in the tree across the street from my home. The perch he has chosen as “his” looks directly into my house where I sit to do my writing, reading, and television watching.

He is not quiet about his presence. In a matter of fact, if I didn’t know better, the way he struts about and hollers, he wanted me to know he is there.

So, I got out my binoculars and gave him a good look back. It would appear I have acquired a handsome male Cardinal admirer.

There is a poem by Victoria McGovern that says “Cardinals appear when angels are near,”

The word Cardinal comes from the Latin word cardo meaning hinge. Some perceive this to mean in a bigger sense that the Cardinal acts as a “hinge” between the earthly world and the spiritual world.

There is the belief when life on earth ends, that you exist in a spiritual realm and you become a form of energy. As energy, you can present yourself to your loved ones in the form of say a living creature or do something like, turn the bathroom lights on and off.

In that sense, many people will say, I felt her walk by, I swear I smelled his cologne or I felt how he would tickle my neck. If we did become a source of energy, that would be possible. 

Given Cardinal’s coloring and volume, he might be a good choice for a spirit to say, “Hey! I’m thinking of you!”

Cardinals live in one location year-round. It turns out that he is renowned for that loud chirping and singing. And it wasn’t my imagination when I thought I heard him singing “Cheer-cheer” as I drank my coffee!

He has one partner and they tend to mate for life. Male feeding of the female is part of the Cardinal mating ritual. I like that.

Cardinals are known to be feisty. Their breed is known for health, strength, vitality. They say the crown on the top of the males head is evident of their fiery personality. When in a defensive posture, the crown will turn to flames of a fire.

More than just the spiritual piece, the Cardinal is an interesting creature.

Today I am thankful

  • One day away from getting out of the city for a few days.
  • It’s a beautiful Minnesota summer day. I treasure each of them.
  • I finally got my Book Writing program software downloaded. What an adventure that was. Major operator error.
  • Some days are just harder than others. I value the days that my soul is free and my brain is clear.

I had a chat with Mr. Cardinal just so we had an understanding. I am not sure if he is a spirit or just a bird?

But, just in case — it’s my mother or worse, my dad in bird form — life goes on in Lauraville as always.

I have actually grown a bit attached as the days have gone on.

affectionately yours, Laura

Belly Dancing Moves

I am a bit shaken up.

All resulting from an unfortunate encounter with my hassock, WiiFit board, and living room wall.

This whole situation started because of a posting on MeetUp.com about Belly Dancing.

Seeing that got me thinking about a friend who is a great belly dancer.

With her encouragement, I accomplished one of my bucket list items and belly danced at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival.

Tonight, after a glass of wine and rewatching my memories, The wine said: “Laura, I bet you don’t remember any of your moves.” Challenge accepted.

I dug out my belly dancing scarf, threw on some funky jewelry for effect, and Spotify music.

Shakira would have been impressed. As the song says “my hips did not lie.” Okay. The wine maybe could have said that, too. I was having a blast and shaking my coins until my unfortunate stumble.

You see, what happened was I got carried away with the whole coin shaking thing.

On the scarf you tie at your hips, are coins. As you shake your hips, they make these delightful melodic noises. I got to shaking my hips, listening to the sound and BAM.

It all happened quickly as falls do. Over the hassock compounded with a baby toe stub, major trip on the Wii Fit board, reach for the wall to steady myself, misjudge distance and slide down the wall.

Holler from next door neighbor, “You alright over there?” “Everything’s fine” as I checked for a concussion and broken bones.

Today I am thankful

  • A life lesson, one stumble should not stop the joy of the dance.
  • Beautiful summer day.
  • Many summer events are happening.
  • My favorite summer dress with flip flops.

Life is one adventure after another. I just might look into novice belly dancing classes again.

My belly dancing moves were soothed by soaking in Epson salts, and ibporphen is my friend.

To my belly dancing friend wherever you are, I am sending you love, good wishes, and always the joyful sound of shaking coins on your skirt.

affectionately yours, Laura

Gratitude 13July17 Rise and .. Nope

I woke up this morning and did my usual prayer, stretch, and mantra. Then I got up and tried my best to get a “Rise and Slay” attitude. Go forth into my day and really kick ass.

Alright, forget the “Rise and Slay,” I had a cup of coffee and downgraded to “Rise and Shine.” Go forth into my day and accomplish a lot.

A cup and half of coffee later, I have decided maybe “Rise and Shine” is a stretch. I am going to settle on “Rise and Give Thanks” today. I am going to do the best I can.

Some days are like that. Not every day is a “slay it” day. Oh, I know. I see the blogs and the posts that encourage me to perform at warp speed every day to get ahead. And I admire those that can accomplish at that pace on a daily basis. That is just not me.

As I type, I have texts and emails lining up encouraging me to slay.

I should call my senators on the ACHA. I can’t forget to nourish my creativity and register for a painting class this month. My energy level is full on Duolingo for my French lesson. The least popular message popped up from my Wii Fit reminding me I haven’t been on to weigh-in.

Umm .. yeah .. I think today I will prioritize my top three things and then do the best I can with the rest. I am being mindful of my well-being.

Today I am thankful

  • A sense of calm that everything is alright.
  • A delightful time with a friend last evening.
  • I am excited to get a new writing program and begin some editing.

I don’t see today as a bomb. It’s just a different level kind of day. I mean, after all, I have my Wonder Woman underwear on, and I am feeling special.

If no one else has given you permission, I do, toss that guilty away and be grateful for what you can do, at your pace, to the best of your ability every day.

affectionately yours, Laura

 

 

Gratitude 12July17 Oh, SNAP

I saw a post on Facebook today that had gone viral that caught my attention.

A Philadelphia comedian, Jay Jay McGuire, was going around posting signs at stores with a message for people who use EBT cards.

Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards are used for the purchase of food on the program Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.

Thirty-nine years ago, I was a single parent of a one-year-old with a full-time job while going to college part-time. During that time, I was also the recipient of the State of Minnesota food stamp program.

I was extremely grateful for the benefit it provided myself and child at the time.

There seems to be a large misconception about the average person who utilizes the SNAP program. And ignorance is in abundance as this comedian is a testimony to.

These statistics are from 2013: Of those receiving food assistance, 48.7% are children, 8% are elderly (60+ and older), 19.8% are disabled, non-elderly, and 23.6% are a non-disabled adult (18-49) in a childless home.

Of that 23.6 % able-bodied adult group without dependents, they receive only 3 months of benefits in any three-year period, unless they are working a minimum 20+ hours per week.

It is important to note any household gross income, in order to qualify, must be at or below 130% of the poverty level. In 2017, the 100% poverty level for a one-person household is $13,670. So, you need to be 30% below that.

In 2013 the House of Representatives passed a measure that cut 40 billion dollars from the SNAP Program over the next 10 years. The 2018 Budget is looking for another $193 billion in cuts over the next decade from the program. Or roughly — 25% of the program’s budget.

The irresponsible rhetoric of “Get a job” when the majority of people receiving food assistance do have jobs. Children, elderly, and disabled are unable to work.

I can’t imagine the embarrassment and discouragement a sign like that would cause for someone struggling. I think of myself 39 years ago seeing that sign as I walked into that store.

For a very short period of time, food assistance gave me a step up until I could carry myself.

Today I am thankful

  • I am so blessed to have what I have.
  • My time with my grandson this afternoon. A Santi day is always a good day.
  • Oh, Lawd, my little studio is hot today. I am thankful for my ceiling fan. I need to get my air conditioner in.

Please, in the days ahead, pay it forward if you can.

affectionately yours, Laura

*Forbes | Who Receives ‘Food Stamps’? And Why It Is Critical To Continue Their Support | Beth Huffman | September 23, 2013

*Mother Jones | Trump Takes a Big Bite out of His Voters’ Food Stamps | Jenny Luna | May 23, 2017

Gratitude 11July17 My Safe Place

SiReNJuLy2008A dear lifelong friend of mine and her husband owned a cabin in Wisconsin for many years. Countless wonderful memories were made there that will be treasured for the rest of my life.

There was a spot up there, that became my “safe” place — literally and metaphorically — their dock. It wasn’t an extraordinary dock, just your typical wooden one that docked boats and folks fished off.

When I visited them, I liked to go during the week when no was around. I could have my friends all to myself. On the weekends, they were in high demand.

My favorite thing was to go out on the dock, listen to my music, watch the boats go by, write, daydream, and hang out. I saw many sunrises, high noons, and sunsets sitting on that dock.

It was really quite serene. I felt such peace and so safe in that spot. My friends were always the kindest of hosts and allowed me my space.

Often in therapy, as a tool, they will tell you, when you need respite, to go to your safe place. A metaphoric place you create in your mind that you can meditate on or focus on to soothe you and calm you.

When you go to that place, you identify one thing from each of your five senses.

Tonight, without cognitive thought, I went to my safe place in my thoughts, as I often do. I was back on the dock. In the serene setting of the calm lake while the sunset.

The sound of the water on the shore. The feel of the breeze. The smell of the lake water. The beauty of the colors of the sky. The taste of wine on my tongue.

Today I am thankful

  • I was blessed. I didn’t have to create a safe place. I have a memory of one I will never forget.
  • The gift of friends and memories.
  • Breakfast with someone I adore today.
  • A busy computer and reading day.
  • I am enjoying a breeze coming in through my windows. Awesome sleeping weather.

The first place I went after I hugged my friends was the dock, and the last place I visited before I left was the dock. My safe place.

One time my friend’s husband asked her, “What’s she doing out there?” They’ll never know. Rumors of topless sunbathing, however, may have merit.

affectionately yours, Laura

 

 

 

 

Gratitude 7July17 Reverse Bucket List

On my Pinterest site, I have a Bucket List board. I frequently add to it and scan it. Being a dreamer, I often have to adjust a few with my reality. An example would be climbing Mount Everest when I have an increase in heart rate going up in an elevator. Probably not a good idea.

I will often copy one or two of my bucket list pictures then post them on my Instagram to motivate me to achieve them. Recently I did achieve several, so it does help.

reverse bucket listI recently read an article that looked at Bucket Lists in a different light.

It looked at Bucket Lists as a way of listing all that you have to be grateful for in your life by creating a Reverse Bucket List.

You go through your life and list all you have accomplished. If you are like me, you might think, “That’s not much.” But once you begin documenting, remembering, and giving yourself credit for accomplishments — you will come away in awe and filled with gratitude.

Ideas I started with were; life roles, where I lived, visited, education, livelihood, activism, health challenges, exercise accomplishments, goals, successes

 

Today I am thankful

  • I am still smiling from time with friends last night
  • I keep singing a song I sang to my babies. A good memory.
  • A wonderful breeze coming in my window.
  • It is always a good feeling to have a day at home writing and reading a good book.

This exercise in gratitude left me feeling content. I think we do focus so much on the future that we forget to appreciate all of the positive things that we have accomplished.

Have a delightful weekend. Stay healthy and safe in the heat.

affectionately yours, Laura