Power Over

Is there anyone who hasn’t been oppressed, or been an oppressor? In small or large ways domination shapes the mammal world.

Who’s the boss? Our parents often oppress us rather than guide us well – with a mix of aggression or passive neglect. Lucky are those who have balanced parents – they’re in the minority.

Teachers, police, employers: all oppressors, unless we’re self-taught, self-regulated, and self-employed.

I oppress myself, hard-wired as I am from even the prenatal stress of my father’s battering my mother and my older siblings, continuing until we escaped at the end of a loaded gun.

Well did I learn that my being was subordinate to others. I was made ripe for predation.

I am resilient. I did survive, but I didn’t thrive.

Drinking and drugs were a fantastic escape, until they weren’t – and I’m lucky – I didn’t drop down into hell, but swirled in purgatory – unable to stop destructive behavior, cowardly in both suicide attempts and pursuing life.

My half-hearted suicide attempt during my last drunk set in motion a stay in the hospital’s mental health unit, which, while little more than a warehouse for the acutely mentally ill, I found a thin title I walked by several times, eschewing the idea it presented, until I finally picked it up. The title: Living Sober.

No white light, or heavenly choir filled the room as I read, but I was struck sober, finally willing to entertain its contents. Nearly every word I read I could identify with. I had wanted to stop drinking for several years, teetering on the line between stopping of free-will, or tumbling into unrelenting addiction.

It’s been four months since I last drank, and the first month was free. I’ve earned the last three. It’s not a craving, like I might crave chocolate, it’s more the idea that I can’t anymore. It’s an inner tantrum, and it’s exhausting.

I’ve gone to AA meetings, and while I appreciate, and can relate to stories, the cult aspect chills me. Having lived in a cult, I hear the ‘us vs them’ mantra & many variations of ‘we’ll die/fall apart/suffer’ unless we attend meetings, get a sponsor, work the steps, do service & never leave. I was in 12-step recovery for ten years, and nothing subdued my mental illness.

I understand Alcoholics Anonymous works for many, but not for me. SMART recovery is few & far where I am, as well as SOS, Rational Recovery, or any other secular, non-cultish program.

Two meetings I regularly attend don’t push god like they used to push drugs. The spiritual aspect came to me in that dingy room, turning each page of Living Sober, more and more certain I was done drinking. I was free, but remaining free while mentally ill is challenging.

The only power I have over this is the power to not pick up the first drink, and to not romanticize drinking, but remember my last drunk, or any time I said ‘I’m done’, but wasn’t.

Two ideas from AA remain: I will find myself without defense against the first drink, and in order to remain sober, I need to work with another person seeking sobriety. I have already met and surmounted – so far – besting my defenselessness, and my goal is to find something that works for me that doesn’t require relinquishing my hard-fought autonomy.

I’d love to hear others’ experience of being sober without AA, and thriving rather than merely existing.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

 

 

 

Love Legacy

Fiona Sargeant, who moved to South Africa from England to teach ballet, has very little time left fighting cancer, leaving her ballet school, in an extremely poverty-stricken township, shuttered without our help.

The good news: many are doing what they can to help. The tough news: we have a long way to go to make sure her legacy continues.

Our team is #MishaBearsLovesCherryPieBombs in this year’s GISHWHES – What is GISHWHES?

Please donate on here: Crowdrise Change A Life

Here’s a message from some of the dancers: Zolani Dancers call for help to further their education

Another: Misha Collins talks about supporting Fiona Sargeant’s school

If you’re moved & willing to do this, please use the Crowdrise link to donate & you are so amazing.

Thank you.

 

Another Perspective

I can continue to be tunnel-visioned, or I can take the long view, and the long view is that my friends didn’t seek to harm me with their votes or their perspective, regardless of the actuality.

Yeah, I have to fight harder to keep equilibrium and try to keep our Democratic Republic, but their ignorance is just that – not malice.

They see all things from their religious perspective, and that blinds them to the long view, but the long view is still wrapped in their dogma, whether they choose to see it or not.

The fabled Jesus overturned the tables of the money-changers, saying: “It is written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” – Matthew 21:12-13 NIV

So the long view shouldn’t be on whether their elected officials will vote to try to stop abortion, but on who they are – on their fruits – and their fruits are rotten.

There is separation of Church and State in our country, and I realize they are working to end that, but it shouldn’t be eroded. We have a unique position in the world that we are not forced to anything, but come to choose freely. If they make our nation a theocracy, we become subjugated, regardless of our beliefs, and often forced to live a lie.

Religious people are free to practice their faiths, but not to demand anyone else do so, and if they could see the beauty of this system of checks and balances, they’d want the corruption out of our nation.

They’d fight to end Citizen’s United – to get money, that root of all evil, out of politics. Then we could have true stewards of our nation again. We could vote in actual public servants rather than the current corruption we’re witness to.

Yeah, there will always be those seeking power, and ways to game the system, but there won’t be so many, and disallowing corporations as ‘people’, and foreign money from campaigns, will help greatly in getting back to sanity.

This didn’t start with how any of us voted this past election. This started when money became king, when banks started writing the rules, when the Supreme Court decided Citizen’s United vs. the FEC.

Meanwhile, love surpasses all things.

My struggle is about acceptance vs. approval. I need to accept the loss of solidarity I thought I had with those friends and focus on our commonalities – on what made us friends, or like each other to begin with. We support each other in every day struggles. We laugh, cry, and enjoy each others’ company. We trust that underneath conflict is kindness and care, and our connection contains more healing than hurt.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Last Treatment

Two days prior to my last session was fairly horrific with a huge dip in mood & return of hopelessness.

The return to despair was devastating because I had counted on TMS to help me even though I thought I removed expectations for or against.

My usual technician, Nick, who is really lovely & has been a steady presence during treatments, didn’t oversee my last treatment. Instead the intern, Mel, who is also kind, and competent, was there with Kim, the other regular tech, who is also fine, and I had a previous connection with Kim outside of the practice so I felt comfortable enough, but neither have the ineffable presence of Nick, so it was a tough last treatment.

The NeuroStar representative was also there, so the room felt a bit crowded, and toward the end of the session, another assistant I’d never met before came in, increasing my stress.

Thankfully, I saw Nick upstairs as I was leaving and got to hug him & say goodbye as he’s also leaving for good in August. It was all I could do to not burst into tears right there, but made it to my car before breaking down.

Andy, my S.O., tells me he sees a difference in me, and I do feel somewhat better, but it’s like the difference between an overcast day and a stormy one – there’s still no sun in the sky.

Another unfortunate incident happened a few weeks into my treatment when I tried to get a form for medical transportation because paying the gas in the car I’m borrowing is costly, regardless of my appreciation for the favor. The form would have allowed insurance to cover the transportation cost, but insurance denied the request.

The psychiatrist asked me why I couldn’t use public transportation and I told her that it wasn’t easily accessible, and was still costly. I later worked out the math, which would have been twice what I paid for gasoline for the car, and even if I could have found a convenient bus there, I’d have had to transfer to their town’s system, having to transfer to 3 buses, and it would have cost me double the fare.

When the form was originally submitted it was denied because Kim told me I hadn’t given a medical reason. I was a bit stunned, and didn’t know how to respond. What the fuck was I going there for? I’m not a medical provider, I don’t submit the forms, so how was I supposed to know what should be on the form outside of financial difficulties, and inadequate public transportation? And the sole reason I was there was because I have intractable depression, and TMS treatments are not offered anywhere closer, but the providers didn’t know enough to note that on the form?

The psychiatrist and the TMS team should have known better, and it sucks when those in helping professions don’t understand the poverty issues that go hand-in-hand with trauma, or can’t be bothered to work just that little bit more on behalf of those they purport to help.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

Summer Scent-iment

Riding with the windows down from my TMS appointment today, the earthy scents of fields and pungent brook waters hit my brain in a nostalgic wave as I drove down the rough country road, longing to get out of my car and run through the meadow down into the brook, if only private property and ticks didn’t exist.

Summer days of childhood in the woods with friends crossed my mind’s picture screen for several seconds before receding back, refusing further examination, as though it were a dream I was straining to recall.

Perhaps it was a dream, and this is all illusion. If so, it’s a very good spell. I really feel like I’m here, like I exist, like this is a meaningful journey. Maybe life’s meaning doesn’t derive from the delivery mechanism, but I sure wish I could figure out what it means to me.

I’m still worried the TMS isn’t working, 21 visits in now, when I’m supposed to notice a difference.

I feel bereft of my old companions and our easy friendship. I wish depression didn’t exist & the elusive mind and life fuckery it creates. But that’s like wishing heart disease, or diabetes away. It’s not going to happen. I need to manage it, regardless of how exhausting the task. Eventually we heal or we succumb, and I have no idea which way it’s going to go.

Ease and balance are important, and I strive for them – try to cultivate them – and drain friends who know they can’t quell my demons so they’d rather not hear about it. I supplicate to whatever gods might exist, so far, to no avail.

I’d like to sink forever into that sweet summer dream: running through the meadow, cooling my body in the water, or exploring the woods – forgetting that time or otherness exists.

The upside is that I’m still here, illusion or not, and I get out of bed every day & make it. Coffee remains a pleasure and a boost, and I redirect my thoughts hundreds of times a day, just as I adjust my posture when I notice I’m slumping.

That’s something, isn’t it?

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

 

Wednesday to Saturday

I’ve always liked Wednesday because of the Addams Family,

https://giphy.com/gifs/60s-1960s-the-addams-family-FYOxEpdW8K1H2/

although Thursday and Saturday are my all time favorites. Maybe I like the way Thursday looks or sounds because why Thursday? Wouldn’t Friday with its weekend association be a more likely candidate for favorite?

Saturday is a day you can like! It’s in hundreds of songs; it implies fun, adventure – ready for action – couched as it is between the end of the typical work week and the start of a new one. And let’s not forget the classic Saturday Morning Cartoons!  They’re not as great now – especially since they’re little more than a marketing tool, but they were so good in the ’60’s & ’70’s. No one has ever topped Mel Blanc for cartoon voicing, and caricature.

http://www.craveonline.com/mandatory/1047625-voice-actors-behind-many-of-your-favorite-cartoon-characters

Although Saturday is just another day for many in the service and health industries, my feelings about Saturday formed as a child, when school was the biggest responsibility I had. Even if I had homework, or chores, or later in my mid-teens and twenties, when I was a waitress (now server, of course), or a cashier, or department store clerk, Saturday still held magic.

We might leave for the weekend on Friday afternoon, but we had all day Saturday to enjoy.

Saturday is still special in our household as my S. O. has most weekends off, and we can sleep in or get up to work our agenda rather than someone else’s.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

Second Chances

I’m nearly three months sober, and started a new depression therapy two weeks ago: TMS, or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. The therapy uses focused magnetic energy to target the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, thought to be a dark alley depression emanates from.

On my first visit, the tech & doctor mapped the specific area of my brain using the Neurostar stimulator, and I’ve been adjusting to the five-days a week treatments.

NeuroStar_TMS_Therapy_System
http://www.kurzweilai.net/images/497px-NeuroStar_TMS_Therapy_System.jpg

During the mapping, the pulse was painful while they determined my treatment threshold. The treatment lasts 38 minutes and several seconds, for me. Others have generally less time than I do, but not by much, and typically a lower pulse threshold than me, which I attribute to my redheaded-ness.

Forty pulses delivered in four seconds feel and sound like a miniature jack-hammer – or an eager woodpecker – but the computer prepares me by chiming a few seconds prior to the pulses. After about four rounds of pulses I don’t feel it as intensely, but I’m always glad to hear the ‘ding-ding-ding’ computer chime signaling the treatment’s end.

Worries about whether the treatment will work are thick due to continued suicidal thoughts, but TMS takes about twenty or so treatments before brain changes are apparent. That means I have another week to go before I’ll know it’s working. TMS has helped about 85% of patients, which is good news, but I’m a redhead, so we’ll see what category I fall into.

Today I was going through some papers I’d put aside nearly a month ago and found a notepad I had written goodbye letters to my friends and family when I tried to off myself. It’s hard to read my sadness between the lines of gratitude for their friendship, and while I’m not as low as I was a few months ago, I know I’ll get there again, and I can’t tolerate it anymore.

An AA meeting I attended tonight was on positive attitude, and gratitude, and how that’s the way to pull yourself up and out of yourself and into acceptance, etc. – and for those that works for, brav-fucking-o! But, for those of us who write our gratitude lists, and pray, and think positive, and carry on with positive intention, and ‘choose happiness’, and still want to die, you’ve got a non-patronizing friend in me.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

Songs We Used To Sing

Music is life – for all of us. We all have our stories: where we grew up, what we heard, what we sang, what ran through and through us, and continues to. Because of a recent trip visiting a friend, I now hear Sia’s I Love Cheap Thrills, among others, in a new context, and my friend is with me when I hear it.

My history continues in song, being a vocalist, or even just interested in music, but I doubt there is anyone on the planet who hasn’t experienced some form of music. If so, I’m sorry for them. Music is an entity unto itself, and I’d be sad for anyone who never experienced music’s transcendence.

My older brothers cued me into The Beatles, and other mid-sixties music that my parents found irritating and banal. They appreciated the swing and ballads of the 1940’s and 50’s.

I grew up in dire circumstances, not only in my personal life, but in the world around me. Vietnam was raging, my oldest brother escaped my family horror to fight in that war, and other family members went as draftees or joiners.

Music accompanied life’s tension: releasing and building – crying out and pleading – or ignoring the larger world for personal circumstance, or love and romance.

I understand the far-away look in my mother’s eyes when she heard the songs of the late 1940’s and the 1950’s that touched her heart and soul. You Are My Sunshine brought tears to her eyes, and because of that it brings tears to mine – a learned sentiment.

Driving home tonight I heard several songs from my youth, but one in particular: Love Hangover, enveloped me, and I time-traveled like a boss. A friend, long passed on, was with me as the dulcet tones flowed out of the Honda Accord’s inadequate speaker system because we needed that shit turned UP. She was there with me, feeling the beat, vocalizing, and jamming out, and then she was gone.

I was in my driveway, loathe to turn off the radio and take the key out of the ignition in case another song came on calling her back, but the DJ interrupted the moment, so I turned the few clicks releasing the key, and sat in the silence – hoping she’d materialize – speak to me – something – but the empty air grew colder, so I went inside.

My life has reached a weird divide where the past barely matters anymore. That’s good – fantastic even – but also a loss. My brain has changed and my memories aren’t as vivid, except situationally – like tonight in the car – but I feel like I’ve lost something important.

Maybe we’re designed this way. We slowly let go of what no longer matters and now I can focus on what’s in front of me.

I’ve heard that the past is gone, the future is unknown, but now is an alive & vibrant gift – that’s why it’s called the present.

I understand that sentiment, but I still miss friends and acquaintances, and our place in time that’s quickly receding. I’m becoming not even a footnote in history, among other barely-footnotes that I appreciate more and more.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out There

One of the wonderful aspects of being away is the perspective change, especially when the scenery is so drastic.

There's Your Sign...

I immediately found myself afraid and battled my fear to become curious. I’m visiting dear friends in the southwest – Arizona – and I’m finding myself again assimilating my life’s experiences and what it all means to me.

Watching my dear friend work and interact with the people of her life here is inspiring, and helped me open myself up – just that bit more – to not assume the worst in everyone.

It’s tough particularly now, in our heinous political environment, trusting that there are good people who deeply care about others’ lives. When I’m in unfamiliar territory, everyone is the enemy, and I’m hyper-vigilant, trying to stay safe.

My childhood friend is so open & loving – and not consumed with worries of things she can’t control, where I seek control over things I can’t stop worrying about. It’s not that she’s immune, or willfully ignorant, or tuned-out; she knows how to prioritize or allocate her emotional resources.

I came out here to step away from my life back east. I don’t know how to balance what I want and need with the wants and needs of my significant other. I didn’t come out here because of that, but it helps to be so far away when I’m so troubled about my personal life.

There are good reasons to feel as I do, and there are reasonable solutions which allude me more often than I’d like, leaving me feeling powerless and as though I’m consenting to less than what I desire. We do communicate, but there are always issues that hang in the air – never resolved – just sublimated, until the next time I try to stake my claim for my desires.

I’ve remembered, out in this vast, open, unfamiliar, and harsh landscape, that wherever I go, there I am. Will I succeed, or fail, or some combination I can live with?

It’s as if the stark contrast between the rocky peaks jutting into the sky and the cacti and other desert life dotting the valleys reveal life as it is rather than life as I wish it, but there’s still the ability to thrive. There’s still beauty and variety. There are abundant paths to choose from, or room to make my way – even this late.

Fear can stop me, or I can function beside my fear.

Walking out of the squat main office building, I turned right onto S. Veteran’s Memorial Highway, camera in hand.  The Galiuro Mountains to my left, and the Santa Catalina’s to my right, I felt prey for the vultures – avian or human. Walking briskly while the steady, and sometimes fierce, chilling winds pushed me along, I finally turned back after a few miles, where the wind gleefully made my uphill journey more aerobic.

The Saguaro sentinels greeted me in uneven intervals, sometimes solely, other times clustered, while Organ Pipe, Agave, and Prickly Pear cacti covered more ground among the Mesquite trees, and other desert plants.

San Manuel 1

The Long, Not Winding, Road

fuzzy Saguaro

Organ Pipe cactus

San Manuel sunflower

img_0087

Galiuro Mountain Range

I forgot what it was to see so far out, and while I wouldn’t want to live here, it’s been a gorgeous and welcome change of pace.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

The Timing Sucks

Several years ago, when my son was in his late teens, karaoke was getting popular again, and I started going nearly every week. I used to go with my friends weekly back in the late 80’s. We had so much fun then, but life happens and we moved on, and karaoke fell out of favor for a few decades.

Getting back into it was a blast, and it was free! I made friends with several regular singers, and we began spending time at each other’s houses, or going dancing, or on a road trip, and it was a great distraction when my son headed off to college – even though it didn’t cease my depression or PTSD.

We lasted several years as a group, but little by little it fell apart – although karaoke is still going strong – so we come together for that once in a while now.

Karaoke turns out not to be a great basis for lasting friendships, sadly, and worse, my drinking increased, and even worse, my personality change when drinking nearly caused my S.O. & I to break up several times.

I know I have a problem because while quitting is easy, it’s the staying quit that’s hard. As Mark Twain quipped about quitting smoking: ‘… it’s easy! I’ve done it thousands of times.’

Seeing a video of me drunk was uncomfortable, but it gave me the boost I needed to stop.

Sadly, I’ll miss all the drinking games every time the President says something stupid, but then I’d never be sober, and I need to focus…

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Weak Sun Still Shines

Waking is dangerous this emotionally tenuous time of the year. The world we occupy, the new/old challenges surrounding me, our country, and everywhere, & I wonder if slitting my wrists would cause too much pain? Where would I do it? A stream bed in the woods, so romantic and peaceful sounding, until the age-old question of ‘if a woman screams in the forest in the moments before her death, and for being a dumb fuck, will anyone hear?’ Bueller? Anyone?

So, I wrench my lagging self out of bed and get fucking dressed, because that’s what we’re doing, and the inner three-year-old is not in charge today.

Sure, the world’s falling apart – literally in some places – and, yeah, life sure doesn’t match up to the brochure, but, then, so few things do.

You’d think people would stop procreating, but honestly, sex is about the best thing on the planet, that’s free – often…

So, on with the day. I’m dragging my ass through my life, but momentum is forward, today.

There’s no dress rehearsal. This is it – whatever that contains – but all that matters is the end. Am I in a tragedy, or a comedy? Life ending on a high note is preferable, thus, comedy it is.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

Back To School

The way forward has become clearer in the last few months. Becoming an organizer, public policy maker, lawyer, or other community leader has become attractive. I’ve always cared about social & economic justice, but I’ve not had much personal power.

I’ve read four books in the last few months that have been very illuminating & instructive. Thomas Frank’s, Listen Liberal, helped me see how we got where we are, along with George Packer’s: The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, which details through personal narratives how America lost it’s center, while Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J. D. Vance reveals another facet of America’s slow, and not-so-slow, decline.

My favorite book, however, and the one which drives my ambition to organize is: A Force More Powerful: A Century of Non-violent Conflictby Peter Ackerman, & Jack DuVall, which is available on film as a PBS documentary.

As I’m boycotting Amazon, I suggest streaming online using iTunes, or Hulu, or borrowing the books and film through your local library. Amazon has become a predatory company with abysmal working conditions and unfair pay for many, if not most, workers.

The Woman’s March was affirming, and there are more planned marches in the works as the new authoritarian regime takes shape and we stand to lose ever more of our Constitutional rights.

Democracy requires participation, and while subtle stripping of our rights over the last few decades in the name of ‘fighting terrorism’ quieted many, we can no longer complain from the sidelines as we see bolder disassembling of our republic by those elected who follow their own agendas rather than the majority’s consent.

We can’t have everything, and we do need to compromise and find common ground where possible, but we resist attempts by the monied class and other interests to ruin our environment, or remove our Constitutional guarantees to seek redress for wrongs, to peaceably assemble, and for free speech.

https://www.monticello.org/sites/default/files/uploaded-content-images/Declaration_Engrav_Pg1of1_doctored_0.jpg
https://www.monticello.org/sites/default/files/uploaded-content-images/Declaration_Engrav_Pg1of1_doctored_0.jpg

Power is derived from the governed’s consent as our Declaration of Independence reads, in part:

“…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Sounds Of Summer

Summertime - and the livin' is easy
Summertime – and the livin’ is easy

Summer’s constant buzz and song fills my house.  Crickets, cicadas, grasshoppers, and a myriad of other bugs and birds create a constant background hum – either that – or I have horrible tinnitus.

These muggy August nights feature crickets’ constant ‘chee, chee, chee, chee’, while tree frogs sound their ‘bdrrrrr, bdrrrrr’ calls echoing around our hill, quieting close to sunrise, continued by the crickets until long after sunrise when other insects and birds take up the daytime chorus.

The oppressive, humid air makes sleep nearly impossible, even with the fan on high, but I rarely need moisturizer this time of year!

Wisps of hair curl up near my temples and forehead, and a cool shower takes down some of the night’s heat.

A long ago Key West morning suffuses my memory.  I’m stepping into a slightly chilled saltwater pool at our motel in Islamorada.  The surrounding air, so much like this morning, makes me long for the palm tree setting, while nostalgia’s softening gaze helps me forget any of the stress or conflict of that trip as I feel myself cutting through the cooling water of the pool on that lovely morning.

Islamorada Pier - Guy Harvey Outpost
Islamorada Pier

That memory is a happy place I will call to mind as I attend to today’s stress, work and monotonous chores.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

Tell Me

So many things I’d like to know – please tell me about your life. You think I worry too much, or that I think you’re in trouble all the time, and I’d like to change that.

Are you happy?  Is your life as full of joy as it is of challenges?

If I start asking the right questions, maybe you’ll know that I want enough for you, in all your life.  Balance is key.  Laugh, love, sing, dance, study, question, believe, cry, fail, succeed, care, think, and act.

I trust you and your life path, and that replaces my fear.  Believing in you, believing that you won’t waste this short life, or that if you do, that’s your choice, and it’s your prerogative.

My only ‘job’ (I wrote ‘joy’ by mistake, first, but I think it also applies) is loving you.  For sure, ‘love’ is a big word.  It encompasses all of life – not just the easy or joyful parts.

Life is learning.  That never stops, so I’m still learning too.  My emotion self is still immature, but my life experience is ever evolving.

Thank you for increasing my growth opportunities, and my dearest hope is staying connected – even as you wander further away.

I am grateful.

The Day You Were Born
At the beach
At the beach
Austen & me June 2009
High School Graduation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Man/ Boy and Mama Aug. 2012
Summer Before College Graduation

 

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Love To Andy

In the time that’s gone by, I tried to see a reason for us, but ‘it’s one of those things’ is said, and ‘be glad you found it before you’re dead’, and I am.

I am.

Thousands of songs and poems say why: ‘it’s not the colors in his eyes, or the way he wears his clothes, or how he knows the things he knows, but it’s in how he thinks of and looks at me.’ It’s how he loves me so thoroughly – it’s so new.

I keep deciding to pull away, to leave and find my life another way, but I’ve started asking what I’m running for, because I truly know that there’s no better than this.

But this is not all there is, I know, and we don’t live to make the best in show; we have found happiness and joy, a port in a storm, a bond I won’t destroy – again.

So settle down I tell myself, this love we’ve found is real and precious.

You are the compass that points true, you are everything I needed but never knew, and if I tell the fear to leave me be, then it will always be you and me, together.

This is my song to you – to us – to love – to life’s joyful expression amidst life’s agony.

Thank you for your love, for your steadfast care and hope, and for giving me a chance to truly love you too.

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Andy & me at Yaquina Head light, Oregon, June 2016

 

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

Earth Day 2016

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http://img11.deviantart.net/ea36/i/2010/152/f/d/my_blue_marble_by_vileyonderboy.jpg

It’s your day, Earth.  We set one day aside to honor you – kind of like Mother’s, or Father’s, Day.  I can only speak for mothers, but I know most of us work hard all year, but it’s one day for special notice.

And like the aforementioned days for recognition, you’re pretty much taken for granted the rest of the year, Earth.  We trust there’ll be breathable air, livable land, and drinkable water every day –  no matter what we do to you.

But more people, who wouldn’t call themselves tree-huggers or hippies, are waking up to the Earth’s needs – regardless of motivation.

Lots of trees were planted today, and many people cleaned up road and river ways in your honor, Earth.  Children danced and sang, wrote stories and poems, painted pictures, and marched in parades.

But what happens tomorrow?  Making every day Earth day is a significant challenge, and I am as bad as anyone because I drive, and use electricity, and eat, and breathe, and use unsustainable goods.

How do I change – impoverished me, who can’t go buy a hybrid vehicle, build a ‘green’ home, has no regular public transportation, and deals with chronic pain among other issues, making biking or walking everywhere unrealistic?

I suppose my carbon footprint is less by virtue of my poverty, but if I were wealthy, would I care?  I hope so, but I absolutely would do more if I gain wealth in my life.

I’m grateful for others’ creativity – those addressing problems of our industrialized world: industrial and agricultural pollution, rubbish, mindless consumerism, etc.

Cows are one of the major methane producers, and I wonder if an enzyme could be put into their feed to reduce their gas emissions, much like Bean-o does for humans.  There has to be solutions to help us and Earth without going back to being hunter/gatherers. I have no interest in beating my clothes against a rock in the local brook to clean them.  I don’t think life has to get harder to get better for all of us.

Maybe oil-based materials and products will use new substances, known, or as yet undiscovered, that won’t require oil, coal, tar, or other noxious materials to create or operate.  ‘Plastic’ can be made from plant fibers, for instance, that will degrade without as much damage to the world as current plastics are.

There are many smart, driven, compassionate, and caring people who can tackle these issues, but government needs to provide funds for success much like it did with the space program – a program now focused on getting humanity off this polluted world rather than solving pollution issues.

Maybe humanity screwed up other planets in the solar system a long time ago, and luckily found a livable planet here, but pretty much directly started destroying it…

My father thought we were the scourge of the universe and ours is a penitentiary planet – keeping us from serious interstellar harm.  I think we’re an immature species, smart enough to get ourselves in real trouble, but not insightful enough to stop ourselves.  So, until that happy day when we’re mature, we suffer the consequences of our actions rather than celebrate how far we’ve come.

Who knows how long I’ll live, but I could reasonably live another forty or fifty years – and I’d like to use whatever time left giving back to this beautiful blue interstellar marble, and do my best to decrease my destructive tendencies and do more good than harm.

Regardless, I wish all a beautiful Earth day, and hope it will carry all through the year.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

Through A Glass, Clearly

One of my first experiences of body appreciation was by reading Peanuts. That’s right, my philosophical beginning came through a comic strip.  Not to diminish Mr. Schultz’s worldly observations, but I was a 5 or 6-year-old reading Snoopy’s exploits, or maybe it was Charlie Brown’s? – giving his legs and feet a pep talk, something like: ‘feet don’t fail me now’, as though they had brains of their own.  It was revelatory for me to think about my legs and feet as maybe failing me, or that they deserved recognition for their constant work on my behalf.

Flash forward more decades than I wish, reluctantly wearing reading (in this case, writing…) glasses, experiencing appreciation for what was.  I was going to eradicate aging though, merely by believing I could.  Hey, the cultists told me we only age because we think we’re going to – that it’s all attitude and belief.  That I’ve aged merely indicates my lack of faith…

One of my sisters needed glasses her whole life, so I guess she was spiritually lacking from the get-go.  Idiocy aside, aging means diminished ability – no matter how well we eat, or how many vitamins and minerals we take to slow the process.  The only way to stop aging is to die.  That’s it.  Plastic surgery doesn’t stop bodily degeneration, unless we start implanting baby organs, and stem cells to replenish our damaged cells.  And there’s a bodily cost for those ‘interventions’: getting surgically sliced and diced causes damage too.

Fighting the inevitable – outside of being my Native American, or, First People, name – is exhausting.  Acceptance feels like giving up.  I know it’s not, but my emotional self says: ‘Screw you! – you’ll never take me alive’.  And my body replies: ‘Well, that’s the intention…’.

So I extend my gratitude backwards.  My body served me well, and still does.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

Songbird Sings

This winter is easier than last, but the chill and fierce wind still keeps me indoors.  I was part of a songwriting group last winter given by Robin Lane, called A Woman’s Voice, through her non-profit: Songbird Sings.  We met for several weeks of songwriting and recording at The Salasin (Women’s Resource) Center, in Greenfield, MA.

We started meeting around this time last year, and what helped as much as songwriting was the wonderful and resilient women who participated.

Sharon Brody from WBUR.org came to Robin’s recording space last summer to interview those of us who wished to, and to talk about Songbird Sings, and how we were helping heal some of our trauma through song writing, and through connecting with other survivors/”thrivers”.

In an interview with Robin, several participants, and myself, some of my song, February Day, plays after I speak, and in the background.

I seem to write best, and most often, in a group, and hope to continue song writing, as well as blogging, fiction, and non-fiction writing.  Snippets of two of my older songs, Listen To Me, Rock of Gibraltar, and our collaborative song, Free Your Power, can be heard on the CD Baby site: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/robinlane.

So much work lies ahead to realize my dreams, and being a singer-songwriter leads more to lots of gigs in lots of coffee-shops, bars, and out of the way places, than to vaunted halls of music, but at least I’m trying, and that trying keeps my hope – and so far me – alive.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

Body Positive

I never really thought much about my body except for the flaws I saw and felt – or the flaws others ascribed to me, or worse, that I assumed they ascribed to me by ways others (mostly men) have responded to me, but that may have had little to do with me.

I had decided I wanted to live several years ago, coming from the brink of suicide – and I wish I could say from that resolution on it’s been clear skies and calm seas – but what has stayed with me are many overt and subtle ways I treat myself, and my desire toward self-care and love.

I’m of two minds here, as I sip my delicious mocha (made by me with left-over brewed coffee from this morning, high quality hot chocolate mix, dry powered-milk, and close to a tablespoon of half and half.)  I understand that the sugar is not good for me, but the drink warms my insides, warms my hands as I hold the mug, enlivens my senses through touch, feel, taste, and enticing scent, along with the four Trader Joe’s, Triple Ginger Snaps, and a quarter cup of unsalted cashews…

What is the measure between how much shit am I putting in my body, vs. how much the satisfaction increase my happiness?  I feel I’m snacking fairly healthy – understanding I’m likely eating GMO wheat, and refined sugar, along with the maligned dairy products of the half and half, powdered non-fat-milk, and the butter in the cookies.

I’m more conscientious about what I eat – and I’ve always been careful – and I try to find non-GMO products, but even organics can have GMOs in them if the seeds were GMO but grown organically.

Balancing mental/emotional well-being with best-practices for physical well-being, especially being impoverished, is a tough job.  This time of year (cold winter) I love comfort food, and my body would like a thicker layer of fat as nature intended, thank you very much, so my habits are a constant challenge between healthy eating and feeling consoled through food.

Paying mindful attention to my body is a great help in feeling better.  I usually just towel off after a shower, put on lotion, brush my teeth, get dressed, and go, but being mindful about this ‘chunked’ process has had some positive effects.

It’s silly to anthropomorphize my limbs, relating to them as though they have a separate life without me, or maybe just feeling like I need to appreciate all that still works well in my body, but as our largest organ, I notice how often I’ve taken my relatively sound, healthy, skin and my limbs for granted, and this new mindfulness toward my body’s individual parts leaves me feeling more connected to myself, and with less pain.

That could be the drugs, though.  Hmmm.

Kidding!

I do PT exercises for chronic pain, and that does alleviate about 80 – 90% of my daily pain, but when depression kicks in it’s tough to engage in what’s good for me.  I always feel better when I’ve exercised, so it’s worth pushing through my Eeyore persona to channel Tigger.

If you start trying body mindfulness, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it.  Cheers!

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

Gratitude & Happy New Year

Happy 2016 WordPress!!!!

(and all you fabulous WordPressers)

 

Happy 2016!

I am very thankful for all who have read my blog, have become friends – regardless of how often we make contact – I know I have your support, and I hope you know you have mine!

Many new readers have stopped by this year, and some of you have subscribed, and I appreciate that so much.

Depression sometimes absorbs so much time, so I don’t respond as often as I read your, and others’, blogs, but I appreciate the wealth of viewpoints and creativity here on WordPress, and other sites as well.

I have learned so much from so many bloggers, and I appreciate the different perspectives and topics you bring.

You never know how much a random thought, a poem, a fictional work, personal challenge posts, songs, other art, and especially humor, have helped me throughout the year, and will continue to.

Thank you all so much!  Your interest means a great deal to me.  Your comments are precious, and I hope you all find what you need and hope for in 2016!

Rock on, WordPressers!!

Cheers!

Jerri  aka Abstractly Distracted & seekingsearchingmeaning blog.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

November, Present

The balmy morning, so unusual in the Northeast for November, beckoned me outside, even though the heavy grey clouds threatened rain.  Chancing a walk, break-through sunshine rewarded me with its warmth as I stood with upturned face, grateful for the bounty.

Do the trees, and hills, and sky feel my appreciation?  Is there a quantum transfer leaving us both changed?

I sit, watching the mill brook water rush over the ledge and rocky stream bed on its way to a river, which will eventually deposit in the sea.  A rush of ochre-hued oak leaves tumble into the flow – most being swept downstream – while many other leaves jam up on an exposed ledge, several breaking away when the rock can hold no more.

How many years has this pattern continued, and how has the ledge been worn by the water and weather’s destruction?  I’m not looking at the same stream bed I saw last autumn, I know, but it feels unchanged except for the knowledge that new leaves are falling into new water.

A tree trunk lies along the stream bank – had that been there last year?  Was the slim, young birch pulled over like that, appearing as if to sip from the clear pool below it?

Another, older birch, its white bark illuminated, shines like a sentinel among the dark wooded oaks and pines, three thick, crooked branches jut into the air, appearing like a trident, perhaps, forgotten by Poseidon.

The dank, musty air, particular for autumn, stimulates undefined memory, and I thank the land for making me richer this rare day.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Back In Time With You

I missed you more intensely this year.  Remembering our trips to the library every year, you picking out books you wanted to read, or have me read to you, and me picking out scary and fun Halloween stories to read together.  I miss how you’d cuddle up on my lap and play with my ear as I read to you.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m so glad you’re grown up and handling your adult life beautifully, but sometimes I feel like we’re near strangers, and I struggle knowing what to talk about now.  Wanting a separate life with little contact is understandable – I remember being your age – although I can’t know your perspective as a man.

Life changed when I had you.  My life was no longer solely my own, and becoming a parent changed me in ways you can’t know unless you become a parent.

The struggles we endured as you grew have not faded, but I think I handled them well.  An image flashes of you at fourteen standing stock still while I hugged you, telling you I love you, and even though you were changing, I was not.  You did, at least, allow me to hug you.

We got through those dark times, even if sometimes the memories still tear me up, and I wish my best memories with you were more current, but I’m reminded of our sweet and happy times together every year.

Holidays heighten my old loss with you, that necessary loss we all experience, and even though I’ve spent time reading to other people’s children at a play-group, or with the children I cared for, it isn’t the same.

The sadness only lasts a few days, and sweet memories are there too, but missing you pushes out better feelings I try to invoke, and it’s OK to feel this – especially as I have little control over its insistence.

Shame that I’m not wiser, happier, better, more emotionally balanced, presses in, and my best weapon is non-resistance.

This is depression’s scourge, my trauma brain – whatever – and minimizing my reality by suggesting I ‘choose happiness’, or other platitudes, only increases isolation.

It took all this to say I miss our connection; I miss the boy you were, even if I celebrate the man you are.

Halloween, S. Portland, ME Photo credit: Jerri Higgins

I hope you had a fun Halloween.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

California Morning

San Diego via www.marriott.com
San Diego via http://www.marriott.com

You know those moments you have: you step outside and the scent, and feel of the air, the time of day, the light’s slant,  and shadows interplay, perhaps – or the trees, and several things in your surroundings at once – brings you through time?

I could have been back in 1995, San Diego, California, yesterday.

My ride dropped me off, and as I stepped out, swirls of mist rose in the morning sun steaming off the pavement and walkway ahead of me.  The warm day, odd for this time of year,  added to the sense of somewhere else, and the aroma of damp leaves and earth, the look of the concrete steps and iron railing – the experience’s totality – was remarkable. (Thus, I am remarking?…)

The moment was imbued with the best of my experience of that time.  Heading to the Small Computer Repair course I was taking then, I passed the handsome coffee-cart guy every day, and more often than not, two or three leggy, beautiful, younger, blonde girls were flirting with him while he made their lattes or macchiatos – whatever was hippest to drink back then.

So it was surprising that he paid any attention to me at all.  The times I could afford a coffee, he chatted me up rather than vice-versa; asking me questions about my classes, how it was going, or wishing me a great weekend on Fridays.  I passed by him every day and he never failed to say hi, or wave if I was rushing to class that day.

I sometimes wonder if I had had more money to spend on coffee if it would have ended in a date with the cute barista, or if I was refreshing because I wasn’t the typical beauty vying for his attention, or because I didn’t fawn over him.  If only he knew that it was that I didn’t consider myself in the same league, having been told directly by more than one guy I wasn’t anything special. Their jerk-factor notwithstanding, I felt I was attractive, I just wasn’t spectacular.

So much of my time in California is a blur now.  I remember being there, but don’t remember day-to-day feelings, especially when depression threads its constricting tentacles around and through me, dulling my memory as well as my present.

Being granted that visceral time snippet helped me remember I am fully alive, that I have been present to myself and others, and I put that sweetness in my mental ‘cope box’, hoping I’ll know, or be able, to open it when depression barges in again.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Season’s Greetings

August is the beginning of Druid autumn, I found out several years ago when telling a friend that I feel mournful in August, even though it’s still summer.  Learning that the Druids considered August the beginning of autumn resonated with me, and gave me a place for my sadness this time of year.

It’s now September, and the physical signs of change are showing.  Red and yellow veined green leaves began spotting the road under the maples about a week ago.  Some are fully red now, and although a harbinger of the coming cold season, they are so pretty.

I picked up several of my favorites, and as my mother showed me when I was little, I placed them between sheets of waxed paper and ironed them together.  I put a rag underneath and on top of the waxed paper, and kept checking to make sure it was working.

Photo by Jerri Higgins
Pressed autumn maple leaves

My S.O. wasn’t all that impressed when I showed him later, but its a simple craft helping me ease into autumn.  I’m sure I could have created something more sophisticated, but I also enjoyed its childhood link.

As the earth has moved in its orbit, the garden is now burgeoning with tomatoes, green beans, squash, carrots, and late corn – harvest time well under way.  Maybe I’ll learn to can food this year, but it feels too much like work… 🙂

I suppose we could dry the tomatoes, freeze some of the corn, carrots, and green beans, as well as what we’re doing, which is making as many recipes possible with all the fresh food.

It’s also nice to know where and how our food was grown, and I feel more connected to our land than before I started gardening.

The cooler breezes are more welcome than the humid dog days we’re leaving behind, and sleep is more restful with cooler air too.

I’m not ready to give up summer, and wish it lasted at least another month, but I’ll savor all the warm days ahead, and do my best to accept rather than resist – or figure out how to move to warmer climes!

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Birthday Wishes

Cinderellacakecandles

Tomorrow is my birthday.  Birthdays were so exciting when I was younger.  Getting older was somehow an achievement, and I suppose it was, depending on how many risks were taken, or accidents met and survived the previous year.

Celebrating someone for their birthday is a wonderful time for connection, reflection, and, especially, festivity!

Time’s passage is tough the older I get because I want to keep the problems of the relatively young and not get any problems of aging.  Too bad, I know.  Perspective is a perk as time moves on, as well as caring less about how I’m received, but this ship of life I’m sailing leaves a wider berth the further I get from port, leaving some things smaller, although not less significant, as they recede and I travel on.

Even though I often feel that I’ve not accomplished anything, or much of what I wish I had done, I have traveled.  I won a ten-day tour of Switzerland, with a side trip to Liechtenstein.  I made it to Australia, where I stayed with my childhood pen-pal, and her family, and we met each other’s children (child in my case), and saw lots of Victoria, including a day in Melbourne, hiking in the Dandenong Mountain Ranges, a rain forest walk in the Yarra ranges, and a gorgeous trip down the Great Ocean Road, ending in Warrnembool, and the site of the Twelve Apostles rock formations, during our stay.

I’ve driven through or visited at least half of the United States, including Hawaii, but not Alaska. I’ve been to Canada, and Mexico, though not extensively in either country.  I brought my son to Ireland for his high school graduation present, but really because I’d wanted to go my whole life and that justified the expense well enough – or at least, it did – until I just wrote that.

Pilgrimage to Haifa, Israel, was the last big journey I took, a gift that I’ve not well repaid seeing as I’m now an atheistic-leaning agnostic.

I’ve climbed to the top of the Statue of Liberty, back when you could do that, and have been on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, when it was free. (It’s hard to believe that anyone would pay $57 for the dubious privilege nowadays).

Contentment with my lot is the message I try to embrace, but my adventurous spirit doesn’t understand that sentiment.  There are so many more places to see, things to do, and the beautiful aspects of life on Earth that I’ll never have again.

As long as I can get through the rough patches, the pain, suffering, and challenges we all endure, and hopefully, surmount,  I will add more sweet than bitter to each year that I’m graced with, have more meaningful time with those I like and love, and be glad for what’s been given.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current