Category Archives: becoming strong

My dog Murphy …

20171202-IMG_6080ate my teeth.

Yep.

You read that right.

He ate my teeth.

My plastic, partial, front teeth that I was wearing until I got my permanent bridge.

HE ATE THEM WHILE I WAS IN THE SHOWER!!

I flipped out.

No, to be honest, I FLIPPED OUT!!

I am a nurse and deal with the public every day and could not imagine embracing dozens of people ever day without my front teeth.

I cried my eyes out and then I called my mom and cried my eyes out some more and had her crying her eyes out on my behalf.

I am not a vain person, but when it comes to my teeth, I find I am vain.

I found my vanity horror when I realized I would have to face the world without my front teeth.

I called in to work and prayed that my Dentist could help me.  I had no idea what she could do because my front teeth were gone.

My dog ate them.

How sad is that?

She took me in and had pity on me by letting me know that dogs eat lots of dental prosthesis because, well, because they just do.

It wasn’t Murphy’s fault.  I should have put them away before I got in the shower.

He’s a dog and he does dog things; like eat teeth.

So weird.

But my Dentist went out of her way to make sure I didn’t go to work the next day toothless.

She went above and beyond.

I have, though not yet permanent, teeth in my my mouth.

My beautiful, permanent bridge will be ready in three weeks.

Until then, I will eat soup and other soft foods while still trying to get enough protein to continue doing Crossfit four days a week.

I thank Jesus for making a bad situation better and will continue to thank Him for taking me through things I didn’t think I could handle.

When someone says to me “you couldn’t possibly understand”, I can say, “Oh, but I can”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five years later …

or nearly so, I am still sorting through my late husband’s things.

I should be past overpowering sadness by now.

I suppose I am, mostly.

But being a writer and photographer hinders that absolution.

Just when I begin to ascertain peace in my life, words intervene; I write about him and tear those nearly closed wounds open again.

It is as though he died this day, this moment, this hour.

Sadness seeps through the crevices the words carve.

Normal humans move forward, live their lives, make something of themselves from the shattered remains.

I want that, too.

But I’m a writer.

I’m a photographer.

I keep tearing those wounds, just as they’re healing, open.

I love writing about everything and photographing God’s perfect beauty; but it has a price.

I pay dearly through my words for they rip open wounds I’ve desperately attempted to close.

I bleed, painfully, and use photography to heal me.

Each image I capture stitches the brokenness and, simultaneously, pours remembrance on not quite yet healed hurts.

If one is not an artist of some kind, time will ease your pain.

For the rest of us, those with creative pieces in our soul, time simply laughs.

When the words, melodies and images are in our head and heart, there is little time can do.

What it can do is soon undone by what we are.

Sadness is my destiny, peace my hope.

And yet I write.

I photograph.

My hope is great.

My healing never really comes.

I have to ask myself if I would be willing to sacrifice my writing and photography for peace.

No, I answer.

I can live without peace.

To live without words and images would truly and altruistically destroy me.

That which brings me sadness will fuel my hope.

I am a writer and photographer.

Therein lies my hope.

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My nieces …

are remarkable.

Each of them brings me unspeakable joy.

Sophie, the oldest, was my first. I watched her being born and captured the first photograph of her.

She became, that photograph did, anyway, a greeting card.

http://www.greetingcarduniverse.com/holiday-cards/nurses-day-cards/general-nurses-day/nurses-day-obstetrics-new-baby-exam-150758?aid=133039

Gracie, known to me as Gracie-Bell, was second. I didn’t witness her birth as she decided to create all kinds of drama.

She, like her older sister, is a drama queen.

Gracie has Down’s Syndrome but lives life as though it will end tomorrow. She’s a character and, as you may have imagined, a greeting card as well.

http://www.greetingcarduniverse.com/holiday-cards/nurses-day-cards/general-nurses-day/happy-nurses-day-child-dancing-803906?aid=133039

Life happens as it happens and as it does, I capture it.

It’s what I do.

My daughter, for instance, was a music education major.  She’s chosen a different path, yet still found herself on a greeting card.

http://www.greetingcarduniverse.com/miss-you-cards/general-miss-you/girl-with-trumpet-music-135567?aid=133039

My dad, an inspiration to me though we often butted heads, is my mentor. Guess what?  Yep, a greeting card.

http://www.greetingcarduniverse.com/dad-father-birthday-cards/general/happy-birthday-dad-farmer-246883?aid=133039

Life happens.

In that life is magnificence.

Live.

Love.

Embrace.

Enjoy.

Time passes, life goes on, memories fade.

Enjoy each moment for there will come a time when nothing, except memories, remain.

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Family. Friends. Creation. Life.

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Nothing matters more.

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Sometimes, at Christmas …

people are sad.

They are lonely and grieving and sorrowful for things they can’t change.

Even happy people get sad during this time of year.  They start thinking about what they have or haven’t done.

Things they’ve said or left unsaid.

They look away from the homeless on the street and the hungry in their own hometown.

The look for friends where there aren’t any and find reasons to feel sorry for themselves.

I can say this because I live it.  I experience it.  I understand it.

I am an optimist, but sometimes, my smile is painted on and my heart is heavier than I think I can carry.

I look around at my life and take stock as Christmas looms on the horizon, as the New Year stares me in the face and I think “what do I have to offer anybody?”

And then, like the soft light rising out of a foggy Spring morning, I am reminded that Christmas isn’t about me.

It isn’t about trees or gifts or money or family or friends.

It is about something so magnificent, so profound, so incredibly huge that it leaves little room to be sad.

It is about a child that was born of a virgin.

Not just any child.

The child.

The Christ child.

Think about that for a minute.

In this sex-crazed world, think about a young girl who had never given herself to a man and yet found that she was pregnant.

If you feel crazy, imagine what she was feeling.  Imagine what was going through her mind when she told the man she loved that, although she had never been with anyone, including him, that she was pregnant and that God had told her that it was ok.

How insane would that sound?

How could Joseph possibly trust her?

He trusted her because he trusted God and God trusted Mary with His son.

It sounds complicated and weird and yet it is so beautifully simple.

Who among us would not want to be chosen to carry the Savior of the world and who among us would not want to care for and love the one carrying that child?

Who among us would not want to be an integral part in raising that child, in cherishing Him, wiping His tears, telling Him bedtime stories, hearing Him say “I love you” as He wrapped His little boy arms around our neck?

I find that, when I think of the reason that we celebrate, the joy and inexplicable magnificence of it all, it is difficult to be completely sad.

Not impossible, for we are human and as humans, we can always find things to complain about, be sad about, be mad about.

We can always find ways that people hurt us or make us feel unworthy, who leave us wishing for more and hoping that tomorrow will bring the fulfillment of our dreams.

But if we let all the human emotions crowd our minds and hearts, we will forget why we celebrate to begin with and if we remember why we celebrate, then there will Joy unspeakable.

Yes, there will still be sadness and loneliness and melancholy … There will be loss, grief and memories that threaten our sanity … but they will, if we put them in perspective, be in their rightful place.

Behind joy.

Behind thankfulness and awe.

Behind beauty and love that surpasses anything we will ever find if we only see with our human eyes.

And because the feelings that threaten to destroy us are behind the Joy of remembering why we celebrate to begin with, we will live through them, move past them, learn from them and be stronger and more resilient because we have hope in something bigger than who we are and what we feel.

With hope, there is nothing impossible.

With hope, there is always the possibility of another day.

With hope, there is the image of Heaven.

Sadness can’t hold a candle to that.

My hope is that each one I know, each person I come into contact with, each spirit that crosses my own will know joy and that, even for a moment, the sadness will become obsolete.

Merry Christmas, my friends.

snowfall

Luke 2: 7-14

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And then there was light …

beautiful, blinding, mind-boggling, life-altering light.

That is the nature of bi-polar disorder, or in the more politically correct lingo, manic-depressive disorder.

The verbiage doesn’t change the nature of it, it simply makes those who have no clue about what it is, entails or emulates, feel better about saying it out loud.

Sometimes there is darkness, but when the darkness lifts, there is light.

And light in the aftermath of darkness is profound.

I would love to be able to explain this phenomenon, but I can’t.

I couldn’t even begin to explain it.

You either understand it because you live it or because you know someone who suffers from it or you are completely clueless.

If you are clueless, then there is nothing I can offer that will make the light bulb flick on above your head.  You will never know the depths or the incredible  highs of a brain that is well beyond your understanding.

I’m sorry for you, but can’t help your indifference.

Cluelessness  (not a real word, I don’t think) isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but without some understanding of what goes on in the mind of a bipolarist (also not a real word), there is no way anyone can possibly understand how incredibly wonderful the moments of clarity, without racing thoughts, without disorientation, without doubt and insecurities can be.

Without the chaos, the clarity doesn’t mean anything and if one never has clarity, then their accomplishments will be mediocre at best.

It is like walking into a green, summer field and seeing a triple rainbow arch over the green field that is covered by white daisies with yellow centers.

That is what the light is like.

A moment of pure bliss that allows dreamless sleep and pure and beautiful clarity.

It allows me to understand what I have been misinterpreting, to find the truth within the lies.

It really is impossible to explain to someone who hasn’t lost, at some point, control of their conscious thought and then when hollowed out, to crash and burn.

Crashing is not the best feeling in the world, but it is necessary.  It is like the control-alt-delete of the psyche and sometimes, it is at this point that people who pledge their friendship and loyalty jump ship.

How … well, convenient.

When I am depressed, well, I keep that to myself.  No reason to add fuel to the fire of the witch-hunters.

I am who I am and will be who I’ll be.

I don’t need validation from people who pretend to support me when they have no interest in who I am at the core, in the depths of my heart, in the center of my soul.

I am me.  I am not ashamed to be such although there are times when I am made to believe that I should be.

We bipolarists are not an anomaly.  We are a force to be reckoned with because not only do we have brains that see, feel and hear everything, we are able to function during these times of chaos.

That makes us talented and creative and imaginative;  and above all, it makes us survivors.

Those who take us for granted or think they can use us for their exclusive pleasure are the losers.

They didn’t get it.

They will never get it.

They lost the race when they rolled their eyes at our idiosyncrasies.

Our idiosyncrasies and oddities are what set us apart from everyone else and it is something to be cherished and embraced.

We are different, yes, and in being so, we are not cast in the same mold as the rest of humanity.

In my book, that makes us someone special and special is a pretty awesome thing to be.

I embrace it, even when I want to be rid of it, because it calls me to understand more than I should have to, endure greater disappointments than I should have to and to know more than I would have were my brain like everyone else’s.

It is at this point that I ask, who is normal?  Who can maneuver through a mindfield (not a mine field, a mind one) and end up standing, head held high, solutions in hand?

Kind of puts it in perspective.

I have been mocked by ones that I truly thought I could trust.

I have been shunned by ones who have know me for years.

I have been abandoned by ones that I would have bet my life I could rely on.

These things, these events, these setbacks have not broken me yet made me more determined to be who I am.

I am content with myself even when I am discontent with myself.

I am special and the people who are like me will understand completely and hopefully feel special, too.

I am misunderstood and  I am ok with that.

It means that I am a mystery and, let’s be honest here … how cool is that?

We are a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a riddle.

That makes us cool in the “you wish you could see what my brain sees” kind of way.

Yes.  I am bipolar and I take each moment, each second, each event as it comes.

It is amazing what you can see when you take one moment at a time.

I love my life and though there are times when I forget who I am and can’t string words together to make coherent sentence, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Not  a single thing.

I. Am. Me … and I’m good with that.

only one of hundreds of my favorite things about West Side  Market in Cleveland, OH and bipolarist comfort food :)

only one of hundreds of my favorite things about West Side Market in Cleveland, OH and a favorite of this bipolarist’s comfort foods 🙂

Being human means that …

we open ourselves up for things that maybe, if we weren’t human, we wouldn’t otherwise know.

We open ourselves up to disappointment.

To hurt.

To humiliation.

To joy.

To love.

To faith and friendship.

To knowledge.

To trust.

These are all part of what makes us human.  Trusting, loving and relying on other humans as we try our best to make our way along this journey is part of the process.

At the end of the day, when all is said and done, what we feel, what we believe, where we put our faith … that is what is important.

People will let us down because at the core, we are are human.

None of us are perfect and none of us can be trusted implicitly.

I find myself realizing for the hundredth time how foolish I was.

It won’t make any difference the next time.

I will trust and put my faith in humans knowing in advance that it could very well be a mistake.

But we are fallible.

It is ok to be wrong.

It happens sometimes.

Being wrong about someone isn’t the end of the world.

Yes, we will cry and cry and cry.  Or at least I will.

Crying and throwing breakable things is how I best deal with disappointments.   However, until I replenish my breakable stash, crying is my most appealing option.

Nothing wrong with crying when you realize you were foolish.

But if crying is all you do, then you never move past being foolish and if you never move past being foolish, then you didn’t learn a thing.

Learn something and move on.

People will sometimes let you down.

That is part of the whole human thing and just as we have been disappointed, we will disappoint others.

It is a circle … imperfect and yet a circle just the same.

And whether we like it or not, we are human.

Live.  Love.  Rejoice.  Enjoy.  Cry.  Laugh.  Embrace.  Trust.  Live.

That is the circle.

He looked right at me and I felt his power through the lens of my camera.  I was awestruck.

He looked right at me and I felt his power through the lens of my camera. I was awestruck.

Anyone who tells you that aerobics …

is the only way to get fit is blowing hot air.

I will get plenty of flack on this, but as my dad is fond of saying, the truth will stand when the world’s on fire.

This is as far from my regular blog post content as one can get and still stay in this atmosphere, but it, at this moment, is what was on my mind.

I have no intention of downplaying the important role in a good, sweat-inducing, breath-heaving, nearly dying from (ironically) a heart attack,  cardiac workout.

It has its place.  But it’s place in the day to day struggle to get strong isn’t the only one.

It will, with a well balanced diet of protein and complex carbohydrates help you lose unwanted pounds.

But the real kicker is the large muscle groups.  When worked regularly and defined, the simple act of walking from one place to another on developed muscles will burn fat.

Just this week, I had someone say to me “I wish I could be more like you”.  That is not a phrase I hear very often so I take it very seriously when I do.  I gauged my words carefully as it is as important to not damage as it is to encourage.

I told them that only a few years ago, I was one hundred pounds heavier.  I was.  I am not proud of it, but I was.  I told them what I told myself … I had two choices and they were to do nothing or to do something.

I chose something.

Nobody can make anyone else get off the couch, turn off the tv, stop thinking of Lance and Lylac as close personal friends instead of the Soap stars they are.

There is only one person than can instigate anyone  to decide to make a difference in themselves and that is themselves.  And whatever choice they make should be respected.

Not everyone has the heart, the drive and the dream to achieve more than what they have at the moment.

Each to their own.

But as for me, I wanted something different than what I had and went for it, worked for it, sweated for it and while I have a ways to go yet, I am closer than I was when I started.

I will never be “hot”.  I will never be the person who turns heads, but then that sort of thing isn’t important to me.

I want to know that if tomorrow, God said to me, I want you to go into the mountains and photograph them to show the glory that I have given to all, I want to be up to the task.

I do this for me, not so that someone will look at me, but so that when I look at myself, I can say that I am strong.

I am me.

I am Gina and I did it even when I didn’t want to.

I am a hiker.  A photographer who takes any trail, especially a new one I find, and push myself beyond my limits to get to the top.

This works my leg muscles.  One of the large groups.  My thighs become toned and as they require energy to take one more step into the high places, I have not only indulged in building and encouraging my muscles, but by walking at an incline, gotten that nasty little cardio workout in as well.

The stronger the muscle, the more energy it needs and where do you think it gets that energy?  From stored fat.  The more you utilize the large muscle groups and refine them, the more fat you burn.  The more fat you burn, the leaner you get.

An hour with Penny the queen of advanced aerobics who is, by the way, cute as a damn button, will make you sweat and raise your heart rate.  All good things, however, if you have strong muscles in your legs, abs and back, perfect Penny will take a back seat to the ongoing calorie burning process of muscles on a mission.

It may seem like  daunting task to build these muscles, but it is incredibly simple.

Walk to the mailbox for a couple days in a row.  And then walk past the mailbox for a couple days in a row.

Before you realize you are working your muscles, they will already be burning excess fat for energy in order to keep up.

I used to do yoga.  I liked it for about the first five minutes and then I was bored beyond tears.

I found, instead, that with strong muscles, I am more limber than I would be if I did yoga every day.

One doesn’t have to assume the double dog chasing a ratty Frisbee in order to attain strength and balance.

A bit of time every other day (because when you overexert your muscles, you must give them time to recover) working the thighs, glutes, back, shoulders and abs will, in short order, begin to use fat faster than panting to a Jenny Craig video.

I’ve been a nurse for nearly three decades and I can assure you that muscle burns fat … and once the fat starts to go away, you will feel more like walking, biking, swimming and will find yourself, despite your initial resistance to it, doing cardio workouts without even being aware.

So you will burn fat, strengthen your muscles, eat healthier and wake up one day and say damn!  I am looking fine.

If you must be a couch potato, don’t complain when everyone else is having fun.  Either live with it or deal with it.  Your choice.

don't be afraid to to climb

don’t be afraid to to climb

if it were easy, there wouldn't be any reward in it.  Be adventurous

if it were easy, there wouldn’t be any reward in it. Be adventurous

life involves a risk or two ... be adventurous ... be strong ... be yourself

life involves a risk or two … be adventurous … be strong … be yourself