Season’s Greetings

Autumn has come. Not on the calendar. You won’t find it there with as general as our Pope Gregory’s, or Gregorian, calendar is.

I feel it though. I woke to a cold, crisp morning, drier air, no twittering birds building or protecting their nests and territory. They’ve begun their winter duties, saving their energy for long flights ahead, or hunkering down where they’ll winter over.

I’m both dismayed by and glad for the change – life is always a mixed bag – something I’ve never been good at adjusting to. I must do it well enough though because I’m still here. Adapt or die.

My mother told me about some book she was reading about biology, and our place in life, and once we’re done with our child-bearing years, life has no use for us. We’re an unwelcome party guest, staying too long and boring everyone.

But that’s just biology. Humans, and many other species, offer so much beyond biology, which is probably why we kick around much longer than our hormones signal. We can produce enzymes to quell those hormones, but we have to work for it. 45 minutes of sustained, heart-beat raising, exercise a day makes anti-breakdown enzymes drip for 24 hours. A pretty good deal! Joyful living boosts those ‘I want to live’ enzymes too.

And here I am in another passing season, and I can’t escape getting older, but I can slow its progress. I can look forward to autumn colors, and nights by the fireside. I can plan next year’s garden, and I can laugh at myself for taking it all so seriously.

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

 

Who Are We?

Citizens.

Fourth of July parades, honoring those fighting, allegedly keeping America ‘safe’, or trying to topple the powerful of other nations committing atrocities.

At least we always said they were atrocities.

Now we’re doing it, and the administration wants it to be as heinous as possible so we’ll capitulate to their demands, and to satisfy their base.

What kind of people their base must be if that satisfies them? They’re a cabal of bullies, and America thinks that’s a good fit for us?

Is it?

Nursing mothers having their babies taken from them. That makes you glad? That makes you proud? That makes you think America is strong, and won’t be fucked with?

This is no country our ancestors would recognize. We had the idea that we would be the ‘shining city on the hill’. We would stand for goodness, compassion, fairness, negotiating, inclusion – help!

We all came from elsewhere, and now we’re all: “I’ve got mine, too bad for you.”

We can do better. Our immigration policy can evolve. Hint, it won’t be a wall. Ever hear of tunnels? Air travel? A wall is symbolic, and in history, walls have never stood for justice.

Dictators, autocrats, heinous deeds done in our name, are not inevitable. They’re allowed through apathy, disengagement, and complicity.

Ben Franklin retorted: “A republic, if you can keep it”, when asked what the founders had wrought after our bitterly hard-fought sovereignty and our Constitution’s creation.

We are always negotiating who we are, what we stand for, and how we wish the world to see us.

That light we carried – that hope we offered – is nearly out.

It’s up to us citizens to keep our Republic, to shore up our ideals, and to pull the reins on the powerful factions ever trying to re-make us in their own image.

We were never perfect, and we’re never going to be perfect, but we’ve had a pretty great template for a relatively balanced society and country.

Oppressing people works for a while, but we eventually rise up when the burden becomes too onerous. I think we’re at that time, and I hope America puts down this latest attempt to change our fundamental ideals.

Only those who want to take your power tell you voting doesn’t matter.

Don’t let them, and if you’re too cynical to believe that, then don’t make it easy for them.

Change The Policy!
Change The Policy! End Family Separation!

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

 

Inch By Inch, Row By Row

I’m gonna make this garden grow. All it takes is a rake, and a hoe, and a piece of fertile ground. Inch by inch, row by row, someone bless these seeds I sow, someone warm them from below ’til the rain comes tumblin’ down…

Gardening is a life lesson. The whole kit and caboodle right there – from pulling those weeds, digging up those rocks, to preparing the soil – and, finally, planting the seeds.

And it’s never done until harvest time. There are weeds to pull, bugs to fight off, and tender care all summer long. Even after harvest it’s wise to clean up the garden, and maybe sow winter rye or something that will keep the soil in place over autumn into late fall.

Winter is the time to plan, and wait, but Spring comes upon us often fast and furious. The cacophony of insects, birds, animals, and mammals all jockeying for space to nest and begin the next generation to carry on.

Sometimes all the love and care in the world doesn’t keep blight away, or relieve stunted growth. Sometimes the weather is bad for weeks on end, and all you can do is start over, if there’s enough time left in the season, or hope next year will be better.

What is more hopeful than a seed, and a garden?

Inch by Inch, Row by Row

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

 

Fleeting

Another aunt, my Godmother, Aunt Francis, died on May 22nd. I called that morning to see if I could bring my mother for a visit that weekend, and her daughter told me she had just passed away.

I knew my aunts dying would be tough. I thought it would feel unbearable. I didn’t expect emotional silence.

Am I inured to death now? It’s where we’re all going, so I guess it’s the age-old question of why we’re even here.

Those of us who’ve rejected religion’s narrative determine our own meaning of life, and decide our ethics and morality through consequence.

I try not to hurt others because I know what it’s like to be hurt. I appreciate love, goodness, helpfulness, compassion, decency, respect, and a live-and-let-live approach as long as they’re not harming me or someone else – without their permission.

I see what hate, unkindness, disrespect, and unethical behavior bring, and do what I can to act from my best self.

Maybe Aunt Fran retains some consciousness, some sentience, outside of her body – and if so, I hope she’s with family who went before her.

Maybe it’s all a computer simulation as Elon Musk, and others, believe.

I know that life hurts – a lot. I also know there’s joy, gladness, goodness, etc., but the continued suck-ass elements of life overshadow life’s ease.

I’m sad about my Aunt Fran’s passing. I love her. I enjoyed her energy, her personality, her presence. I’m grateful she lived. She really lived – she didn’t merely exist. She was beautiful, humorful, and created beauty, order, and children, whom she got grandchildren from. She had many friends, and belonged to a community who mourn her passing.

You’d think I’d be used to a world where loss is as great as gain, if not greater, but it’s still wounding.

I used to think humans were unique that way, but we’re not. Apes, elephants, dolphins, whales, and many other species also grieve, and care about their communities.

We’re just along for the ride, however long it lasts, and I suppose it’s up to us to make it a worthy journey.

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

How Lucky We Are

Near misses are ubiquitous. I nearly died twice, that I’m aware of – those really close calls. When I was 19 I felt the breeze of a motorcycle as I almost stepped into its speeding path crossing a busy street, but my sister pulled me back from disaster. The motorcyclist stopped and, visibly shaken, asked if I was alright. I had no idea what had nearly happened – only that I felt a slight breeze and didn’t understand why my sister tugged on me. It was only reflecting later that I had a stomach drop realizing I narrowly missed disaster, if not death.

That same summer I toppled over while attempting a yoga pose that I thought I should be advanced enough to do, hearing a couple of crunches in my neck as I landed. I stayed there nearly an hour before my sister got home, fearing a broken neck. Luckily, but also unluckily, I didn’t break my neck, but I did damage two discs, which caused great intermittent pain ever since, but I finally had surgery a few years ago when my spinal column had become so thin that I was in danger of paralysis.

I waited ten years, hoping that advances in surgery would make a complicated and dangerous surgery less complicated and dangerous, but achieved the opposite. Replacement discs were available once I finally had surgery, but my neck was so bad I was no longer a candidate for them…

I lost two major nerves from my neck due to that surgery, but not because of surgeon negligence. He was an amazing surgeon who did a fantastic job with a super delicate surgery. It took nearly a year before I had any use of my arm, which dangled from its socket, causing a frozen shoulder, and considerable pain, as well as years of physical therapy which I am still doing. I am chronically weak in my left arm, but I can move it now, and went from only able to lift 3 lbs to now lifting 8 lbs, while my right arm can press 30 lbs.

It took EMS, or electro-magnetic stimulation, to fire the muscle fibers in my atrophied arm while the nerves grew back. It felt like a gang of bees stinging me, but I gained muscle back.

My one criticism of the surgery was after-care. I found out about EMS on my own, not from the surgical department. I also found a neurological chiropractor trying an experimental therapy which greatly improved my progress, but I found out about that from a spiritual healer, not my regular chiropractor, or other medical practitioners.

I also found out about Tong Ren from my spiritual healer friend, which also helped, but not as much as the mirroring technique from the neurological chiropractor. He told me I lost valuable healing time because it was over two months before learning about EMS, time which the EMS could have been most beneficial. The neurological chiropractor directed me to experimental mirroring, where I would stand with my left shoulder against and somewhat behind a free-standing mirror so that when I looked in the mirror, my brain registered my right arm as my left arm.

I could feel my left arm responding to the exercises I was doing with my right arm, which was pretty cool, but because the nerves were renewing, I still couldn’t move my arm on its own.

Losing motion in my arm gave me great respect for my neurological system and the billions of motions we accomplish from thought to nerve firing. We are truly fantastic machines.

But we are also fragile machines. We are so easily wiped out, either by disease, by congenital disorders, by accident, or by life’s hostilities, such as animal attacks and poisoning, natural disasters, or ourselves, and other humans.

Especially ourselves and other humans. How many times have any of us driven, or been riding in a vehicle, and come a millisecond, or a mere inch from disaster? We all know of those not so lucky, or are perhaps among those not so lucky, but survived.

I think this post is about gratitude for how long I’ve endured, and acknowledgement of how amazing it is any of us make it out of childhood or young adulthood – before our frontal lobes are fully developed – and even after we’re fully connected in our brains and still do stupid things that we barely escape serious or life-ending consequences for.

Life-ing is hard. Be good to yourself – and others (as much as possible).

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

Highly Recommended

I’m so grateful I found out that, Cannabidiol, or CBD, moderates panic from ingesting or smoking pot. I don’t need or use much, but it has been helping my pain, and some of my anxiety.

I use the Endoca whipped body butter for acute pain, and I have CBD drops to take every day to keep CBD in my system. CBD works as an anti-inflammatory, and the people I’ve shared it with are amazed at how good it is for general soreness, and how my mother, and my partner’s mother, have gotten excellent relief from arthritis in their hands.

I don’t like the taste of the CBD oil, so I mix it with honey. There are other companies selling CBD suspended in coconut oil, and many forms that you can explore on the web, from crystals that you can vape, to suppositories that work especially well on lower back pain.

It’s a new world for pain relief, and I’m so glad there are several reputable companies making certified products.

The rub is the cost. It can be pricey, and if you’re skint like me, it makes regular use difficult, if not impossible, which is why I’m endeavoring to make my own.

Many sites tell you how to make your own, and it’s an involved process of cooking down a lot of cannabis to extract CBD, but time I have, at the moment.

While it is 4 20 day (more for celebrating the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, or, THC), the non-psychoactive, CBD, is proving as valuable as getting high.

 

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

 

Write Now

I have the writer’s nemesis: writer’s block. It’s why I have several half-finished stories.

This is a big part of my shame, the parts of me I wish I could surgically remove and join the doer world.

Books, articles, videos, podcasts, psychiatrists have been consulted – and I still procrastinate.

The controlling editor in my head won’t let me write a sentence in peace – there’s no ‘getting it out and edit later’ for me.

But writing calls to me anyway.

Writing is this beautiful, unhampered soul just waiting for me to get over myself and create. Why does that terrify me?

It’s a rhetorical question. I know the answer, or at least I’ve been given several explanations from the above list of resources – especially the psych docs.

Information is power, sure, and I’m writing now because this is a chunk. This isn’t fraught like finishing a story is.

It’s important that I write – even if it’s never published – even if no one likes it.

I’m writing because it’s what I must do. I just know, or believe, I can be and do better.

Living up to my potential is what life’s waiting for me to do, and I’m only a chronic disappointment to myself, and probably my mother, and possibly my family and everyone who knows me.

Except that’s part of the big lie the boogeyman in my head blocks me with. I give my energy, witting or unwitting, to fear. The unwitting I can do nothing about, but the part of me that knows has to step in and, gently (for me anyway), take pen in hand – or keyboard – and begin.

Maybe I’ll be found a failure and a fraud, but how can I fail any worse than I already have by never following through?

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

 

 

And That’s How It Is

I’ve been so stuck in the past – as though it’s vital I get back there, as though that’s the only part of my life that mattered, as though now is a wasteland unworthy of notice when it is actually rich, and actually all there is. The past is gone – just like Steven Tyler sang in Dream On

all those years ago when, ironically, he was just becoming an adult.

I think the pain makes me feel alive, the longing gives me a sense of purpose, like: ‘Don’t forget how things were!’ – but it’s a lot of revisionist history because so much of my early life sucked-ass.

I was battling panic disorder, undiagnosed major depression, and PTSD – before PTSD was a word, and then only by soldiers who had witnessed untold horrors qualified.

Well, sorry, but trauma is trauma & fucks you up for life. Trauma literally changes your brain. My brain is different from non-traumatized brains, so stop telling me to have a better attitude! It doesn’t work like that! (“That’s not how this works! That’s not how any of this works!“)

It’s also accepting, or trying to accept, that my beautiful boy, the light of my life, has grown up and not only doesn’t need or want my counsel, or my – anything – but he’s a man, and wants to be seen as he sees himself. I cannot divorce my connection to him as my boy, so therein lies the rub. So, that’s present pain.

I’m older. That’s present pain. There’s nothing I can do about it. That’s present pain. I’m lonely for connection more than just my significant other. That’s present pain. I can’t seem to hold a job. That’s present pain. My family is dying off. That’s past and present pain. I miss old connections. That’s past and present pain.

We’re living in bizarro world with dangerous politics and a megalomaniac president. That’s present pain, panic, anxiety, and PTSD!

Those are my fears writ large. The President is basically Michael Rapunzel, the head of the commune/cult, and the President’s sycophants, like Rapunzel’s, can’t see his horror, or they revel in their chance at power and gain riding on his coat tails.

I’ve been down this road and now I’m living through it again. It’s harder because I know the outcome. It’s all about oppression and control, not co-operation or decentralization of power. The President, like Rapunzel, is mentally ill, and no one is stopping him.

I can look at the present pain in my life and do what I can to minimize it. I know it’s also a flux issue. My feelings, needs, and desires change – sometimes on a daily basis  – but there are times I’m truly joyful instead of longing for it.

There are days I’m connected to life and loneliness vanishes.

There are times my son calls or texts and I feel better for our connection rather than inadequate or stupid.

I’ve even been kind and accepting of my aging at times instead of railing against it – but anything I’ve ever let go of has claw-marks all over it.

And string hanging off those claws.

And glue holding the string on.

And then duct tape when the glue starts to peel…

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

 

April Is The Cruelest Month

T. S. Eliot’s line in, The Waste Land, speaks of April’s cruelty in uncovering what was covered and dampened by winter’s snow.

I think of it opposite – that April hems and haws its way into May – delivering warmth and budding growth, only to snatch it away in frosts and freezes.

Warmer weather and longer light modifies my depression, but April fool’s me the whole month.

I know April’s not to blame. I understand depression is a brain malfunction rather than a seasonal disorder, but Cabin Fever is practically literal for me – seeing as I live in a cabin.

I have been walking and getting out as much as I can, but the cold is enervating, depleting, and I need energizing.

I tried, Ketamine, a controlled substance & experimental depression drug under my doctor’s care, and it was another failure – a temporary, dissociative, relief from my depression with other untenable side effects. She said we’re using desperation measures now, and while some might really enjoy being altered that way, dissociation is not a good substitute for dopamine.

Sunshine, exercise, eating well, and decent rest are all helpful, but not helpful enough.

It’s also weird how February used to be my most dangerous month, then it expanded into March, and has now creeped into April. I don’t understand why that is. I used to assume February must be when some of my worst trauma happened, but now I think it’s some other mechanism. Maybe my aging brain is making less and less dopamine?

New drugs and treatments come on the market all the time, and I hope to try another round of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation by Brainsway instead of Neurostar. The Brainsway machine provides a slightly deeper brain stimulation that has shown statistical insignificance to Neurostar, but my sensitivity might respond better to that type of stimulation.

http://brainstimulationclinic.squarespace.com/magnetic-stim/

I can only hope…

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

Deplete

The Bullshit of Aging

Thinner skin, and that’s not a metaphor. Droopy, collagen-lacking, dull skin. Eyes receding into my skull as the muscles grow lax. The free ride was over a decade or more ago, but I didn’t do all the work necessary to keep up appearances (I also didn’t & don’t have the money for restoration).

Even if I did have the money for body reconstruction, who knows how I’d end up looking. Is a circus-freak look better than looking old? For some, that’s a resounding yes, for others, there’s no going back once you head down that rabbit hole no matter the regret.

What am I chasing? Eternal youth? No, just the appearance. Relevance, inclusion, and respect are my aims – and self needs to go in front of those words. Why do I feel less worthy of notice? Advertising and youth culture are certainly a part of that, but loss is the main theme, along with fear.

My nemesis.

I can’t hear you, or see you as well as I used to, and my joints make exercise slower going, but I’m still doing it. Use it or lose it isn’t some far away mantra anymore.

We are pure biology – and maybe there’s a spirit or soul that animates us and gives us individuality – but there’s no stopping the facts of life. Once the baby-making years are over, and menopause is in full swing, libido nose-dives, vaginal skin thins and makes sex painful. The good news is that the E-String & Estrace work wonders for that. The bad news is increased cancer risk. Aye yi yi.

I finally have a good man with a great bod who loves me & sex won’t lead to kids, and my desire is more for reading a good book by a warm fire no matter how much I psyche myself up. Sex is rumored to be 99% mental – the fuck you say! Nope, it’s biological. Of course mood & circumstances come in to play, but when you are right there, doing all you can to feel sexy & have a willing partner who’s totally sexified, and your bod says, ‘meh’ – that’s just bullshit.

I guess there’s Viagra for women now, but the fact we need these pills and potions to fight nature’s course just sucks. We face death by a thousand cuts long before we succumb to whatever it is that’s going to get us.

I will NOT go gentle into that good night, and I will rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

You & I, Dylan Thomas, you & I.

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

 

 

I See Her

She’s so open to the world. She likes learning, and believes all that’s told her – she has no reason to doubt yet. She doesn’t know people manipulate and lie to get what they want, and she’s learning how to navigate the anger and family dysfunction around her.

Her sisters were everything to her, but it didn’t work the other way.  Her oldest sister was kinder, and seemed so worldly. But that’s the way it is for younger siblings. The older ones seem wise and wonderful, even if they’re also often unkind.

She is always seeking. She looked for god and found only more questions, not the promised answers. She had to let it go so she could live.

Her life moved on, the pace quickening with each year.  A son helped her grow & mature into a woman and mother, but the challenges mounted with little respite.

Time wore on, her son now a man off on his own, leaving her floundering for several years seeking stability and balance, and finally realizing nothing’s a permanent state but ongoing negotiations – or at least that’s how it is for her.

A room full of unanswered questions, and unrealized hopes & dreams stands open for cleaning and sorting, but where to begin?

question sign
https://www.flickr.com/photos/colinkinner/2200500024/

Was it Mary Poppins who said that’s it’s always best to start at the beginning? Perhaps I just needed her to say that.

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

 

 

Waning Days of January

It began around January 23rd, and probably before then – building up – but that’s when I noticed the pall overhead and me trying to duck it, unsuccessful again. It begins with dread – or not dread exactly – but disturbance. Something is looming, something I try to stay ahead of, but am swallowed anyway.

I offer up all the positive messages I can. I acknowledge, ignore, accept, and end up pleading for its end.

Imagine a usual route you take, maybe some minor annoyances with traffic, or people, or maybe potholes, or other manageable blips on the way – and then you sense something when you get in your car one morning. There’s no reason – nothing seems different. The weather is good, the drive starts fine, and you chide yourself for misgivings about potential something ahead. A dog runs into the road and you avoid hitting it, and feel relieved. OK, that was it, that was the curve-ball that day, but your heightened awareness doesn’t ease.

You continue your routine, accepting the foreboding, or whatever it is you can’t shake, and then a tire blows, and you navigate your car to the side of the road. Vehicles pass by as you make calls to work, to a tow company, and you think that this was what your gut was warning you about.

Days pass, and the sensation dulls a bit, but doesn’t leave. It’s gnawing – like a toothache you hope will resolve on its own.

These days are leading to the precipice, but I’ve been triaging the whole time. It’s as though a separate entity is controlling my brain – or something beyond my control.

I know that’s not the case, I’m not possessed, I just can’t change the direction. I have to buckle up and hope I ride this out better than last year – better than all the years, probably since I was born, or whatever traumatic event(s) my psyche re-lives every. fucking. year.

Therapy: check. Antidepressants: no go TMS: check, but insurance won’t cover another round, and I can’t afford it out-of-pocket. Wise Mind Group: check. I’m starting a 13-week group today, and I’ve done this before, and do use cognitive behavioral techniques, but trauma is like trying to catch a greased, wild, pig. Even if you catch it, the pig isn’t domesticated.

The pig is autonomous though. Maybe the pig doesn’t think it’s self-determined – it probably doesn’t consider ‘self’ at all – but it knows enough to not want to be caught, and is frightened and raged at the trying.

February looms, but spring will emerge. That’s hope. The world still turns.

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