Category Archives: confidence

It’s been a while …

since my last blog post. 

Since last time, satan has reared his ugly head and life has given me a bonified black eye, busted lip, bruised rib, and all around beating.

My mom, who I depend on way more than a nearly 50-year old (ok, 47 in two weeks, but still) woman should, has been ill.

In the hospital, taken by an ambulance, ill.

My dad, who leans heavily on my mom, has been beside himself.

My dearest friend has been given (by mere mortals) six months to live.

It has been a trying month.

First off, my mom is home, well and feeling quite herself. 

My dad, an Air Force Veteran (whom we should all be applauding today for his service to the USAF) is better because my mom is feeling better.

It brings a surprising revelation to light.

While this would distress and hurt me beyond comprehension, I have this hope they would die, in their sleep, at the same time.

As awful as this may sound to some, I’d rather mourn them both at the same time than try to handle one without the other.

I can’t frankly speak for my sister, but wonder if she wouldn’t agree.

If that isn’t possible, I hope my dad, my hero and advocate goes first, because I cannot fathom him without my mom.

Mom would miss dad terribly, but she’s strong, and would survive.

Maybe I’m more crazy than I imagined, but I can handle Mom’s tears more easily than Dad’s.

I honestly don’t know how I would deal with him if he had to live without her.

As for my dearest friend, who is battling cancer, I advised her, as I do everyone, to live every day as if it’s the very last one.

Nobody, but nobody has the promise to live further than the moment they are in.

I know where I’m going when I’m gone from this world, so dying doesn’t scare me.

Living, however, without the people who love and understand me, gives me pause.

If that sounds selfish, it’s because it is. 

I thought I’d grow old and watch, with my husband I dearly loved, grandchildren playing in the yard.

Then, I came home one day, and out of the clear, blue sky, found him as dead as Moses.

No warning. No goodbye.  Just gone.

There’s no promise of life, to any of us, past the single moment we find ourselves living in.

If one doesn’t intend to live life as it happens, they forfeit their right to complain when it’s over, or nearly over.

You can quote me on that.

Right now, in this moment, is all I am certain of.

It is all any of us can be certain of.

This moment.

This breath.

This heartbeat.

Each day, if it doesn’t mean something, is wasted.

I say this to family, friends, former friends that I miss with an intensity that embarassess me, and though I can’t think of any specifically, my enemies.

I don’t think I have any absolute enemies.  If I do, they’ve been mighty quiet about it, and I forgive them anyway, knocking out the one leg they, were they real, had to stand on.

That’s good, though, in my way of thinking.  Who, when they have life to contend with, need enemies to muddy up the mess further.

And yet, as I often do, digress.

Now is the only thing that matters.

Grab on or be left behind.

Those are, in actuality, the only two choices.

As Shakespeare said (though he may have meant it differently as words in his day were perplexing, they pretty much say the same thing). To be or not to be … that is the question.

I choose to be, even when it hurts, is painful, annoying, hurtful, betraying or joyous.

I choose to give it everything I have, be whatever I can be and love, even those who don’t love me, unconditionally. 

Be it joyous, angry, confused, happy, sad, contemplative or any number of emotionally relevant states, with bright lights, awesome auroras, sleepless nights and flying debris; I’m there, every day, all the way.

I know who I am and if I die before morning, I know where I’ll find myself.

I love you all, even when you’re unloveable, just as you do me.

We, though we are all in the image of God, are, intrinsically human.

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The thing about money …

is that it is only really important when you need it but don’t have it.

Most of us are working class people who know how to make a penny squirm.

I know I do, and yet, there are times when I don’t have a penny to bully.

That’s the way of it.

Of life.

There are times of plenty, on occasion, but for the most part, the times are lean and we find ourselves trying to make a dollar out of thirty seven cents.

It isn’t easy to cough up money we don’t have when it essential that we have it, when it seems impossible and unattainable, but that is the essence of faith.

Of believing and hoping when there isn’t anything else but belief and hope.

That is the epitome of life.

Ups.

Downs.

Blessings.

Joy.

Sorrow.

Triumph.

I live in my own little world most of the time.  I have a job and am happy for such, for but I long for travel and photography and writing.

I don’t want to work for a living, I want to live for a living.

But I digress.

My point, the main point in fact, is that I am not worried about money.

It always seems to be there when I need it.

Jesus promised many times to supply our needs and to  come to our rescue when we were in trouble.

He asks little, really.  Only that we believe in Him and have faith in Him that He will do what He says He will do.

I have what could be construed as an insurmountable thing, but I haven’t given it a second thought.

I gave it to Jesus to let Him sort it out according to His will.

I have faith that He will, as He said He would, take care of me.

It is difficult, I know, for some to live simply by the faith that someone will actually do what they say the will, but I live by it.

I depend on it.

I rely on it.

The promise from Jesus, that is.

I take His word for what He says He will do and leave it at that.

Do I have the money I need?

No.

Will I have it?

Most definitely.

I have no doubt that what I have need of will be provided to me.

It is really no different than the trail shoots that I go on with nothing but my strength, stamina, camera and tripod.

I could see the same things that everyone else who walks the path sees, but instead of looking through my own eyes, I rely on the eyes of Jesus to guide me and the results are beyond anything I could have imagined.

The same goes in my day to day.

Is it always pleasant?  No

Is it always what I hoped for?  No.

Do I find blessings in the unexpected?  Yes, more often than not.

I won’t say that every experience is a good one because that would be a lie, but for the most part, when I give myself over to Jesus and let Him lead, I learn something about myself, humanity, love, grace, or some other wonderful thing that reminds me that I am a child of God.

A blessing to Him.

A flower in His crown.

As hard as it is to believe sometimes that I could be an asset to anyone, I am, according to Him, His glory.

How magnificent is that?  To be glorious to someone?  To be important enough that someone would willingly die on my behalf?

I am breathless at the the mere thought of it.

But breathless or not, it is true.  He did.

Without reservation.

And therein lies trust and belief because I was important enough to die for.

We all were.

Some of the lessons are hard and leave me shattered and nearly broken.

The keyword here is “nearly”.

I have what I need when I need it.

That, in itself, is a beautiful thing.

I don’t have to worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself.

I don’t worry about today because I have given it to Jesus.

My past is just that, a past that I, if I choose to, can regret, or if I use it wisely can learn from the successes and failures.

I am only concerned about now, this moment, this particular space in time.

The rest, well, it is out of my hands.

As it clearly points out in Hebrews 11:1 ~ Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

It pretty much says it all.

Faith.  Hope.  Evidence.

Right now is my priority, tomorrow is uncertain, yesterday is beyond me.

Now is what I have to work with.

Period.

I choose to have faith, believe, hope and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He meant what He said.

There is my comfort, my strength, my joy, my thanksgiving and my life.

Life is, whether in the valley or on the mountain or soaring above the mountains and valleys, good.

And I am blessed.

Amen.

Hope makes us more than we really are.

Hope makes us more than we really are.

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 🙂

It has been a long few days …

or has it been weeks?

I haven’t posted anything new.

No blog posts.

No photographs.

Nothing.

I have been in a holding pattern of sleepwalking, nightmares and erotic dreams that leave me confused, wondering and bewildered …

and all the while, trying my very best to make it, without losing my cool, through the seemingly endless days and eventful nights.

I have had patients cry on me, their families strike me, people pulling at my heartstrings which are linked directly to my tear ducts and during all of this, trying to find out if I am to blame for something I had no control over.

I wonder if I have severed a crucial friendship and have already began to mourn the loss of it.

I have a way of ruining beautiful things because I rarely feel worthy of them.

I have slept outside, sent messages I wasn’t aware of and tried desperately to hold it together.

A difficult few days, indeed.

But tonight changed all that.

It came a storm.

A big one, with lots of lightning and torrential rain.

Normally, during such an event, I would be set up on the porch with my tripod and camera, but this time was different.

This one wasn’t to be documented and photographed.

It was to set my spirit free.

And it did.

I stood on the porch with my jeans and t-shirt, getting soaked.

But as time passed, I wanted no earthly barriers between me and the blessing that God was giving me.

A cleansing.

A fresh beginning.

Letting the past be past and bygones be bygones and memories no more than a blip on my radar.

One piece of clothing after another was discarded until I found myself standing nude and vulnerable under the rain, with the lightning flashing, the thunder bellowing, echoing between the mountains and valleys …

tears running down my face.

I prayed to a God that I had decided had forgotten me.

He hadn’t.

I think He was just waiting for me to remember Him.

It was frightening.

It was freeing.

I was liberated from the hold this world had on me.

I was, for that span of time, one with nature and the God who created it.

I still struggle with the emotions and thoughts in my head, but He designed my brain and is well acquainted with my mindless and sometimes senseless ramblings.

He doesn’t hold them against me and so I won’t hold them against myself.

Not everyone believes in my God.  I don’t find fault with them.  I know what I know, they know what they know.

I can only be who I am and, despite all my faults, and they are many, I feel at peace.

And despite that, my friends who don’t believe in my God like me anyway.

I am humbled by that.

Just  as I accept them, they accept me.

With our differences of opinions and thoughts.

It is irrelevant.

Isn’t that what it was supposed to be like?

Love one another?

Are my thoughts still burning through my head? Yes.

Do I still sometimes feel out of control? Yes.

Do I have someone to share the thoughts and emotions with? Yes, and I am thankful for them.

Do I wonder if I am making the right choices? Yes.

Following Christ doesn’t mean that everything is just peachy.  In all honesty, it is the opposite.

I don’t do it right, I never have, but I hope to at least encourage somebody along the way.

And selfishly, I hope to be encouraged.

I wonder sometimes if I am nothing more than the punching bag of the universe.  I don’t mind it if it keeps someone else from suffering, but every now and then, it wears on the soul.

And then, an incredible storm comes, I stand in the rain, and all is right again.

The circle of life.

It is what it is what it is what it is.

It is what we make of it that counts.

So make it count.

a beautiful human, inside and out.

a beautiful human, inside and out.

Picking and culling …

is a real pain in the nether regions.

I’ve been going through things in my house today, what to keep, what to trash and I find that there are really very few things I have any use for.

It seems that the most important things to me are my photo albums, laptop, external hard drive, camera, national geographics, 1000 places to see before I die book, coffee grinder, a portrait I drew of my dad as an Airman, the photos my daughter and nieces have drawn through the years, a blown glass wine cork and my lava lamp.

When it comes down to it, that, out of a houseful of useless things, doesn’t amount to much.

I suppose, if I needed to, I could easily put all my “treasures” in a garbage bag and live happily under a bridge.

I like hot showers, though, so that might pose an oppositional equation.

I have friends and family who have things that they treasure.  I don’t really treasure anything.

Not anything I can hold in my hand.

They are just things.

The objects I treasure aren’t objects one can take off the shelf and admire … they aren’t really objects at all.

God.

Creation.

Friends.

Family.

Loyalty.

Music.

Words.

One can’t own this stuff.  They can simply be a part of the magnificence as it as unfolds, one day into the next.

I didn’t mean to have an epiphany while cleaning house and doing laundry, but it just happened.

I had the chance to drive across the Hoover Dam back when you could drive across it … and drive through the desert to get there.

I had the chance to stand before the Lincoln Memorial and know that I was living a dream.

I have so many places I want to see, so much of creation that is only a picture in my mind, not one imprinted on my soul for I have not seen it for myself.

I want to.

That is what I want to hold onto.

The dreams of what can be accomplished, what can be sought after, what can be found simply by following the imagination.

I have things that my late husband gave me.  They are good for nothing but reminders.

The memories are in my heart and mind and soul.

I’m not really big on memories as it seems the difficult ones, the hard ones … they are the ones that come to mind.

I have to work to bring up the good ones.

So I’m culling more than picking … and I feel good about that.

Someone I admire a great deal …

likely much more than is good for me …

once told me they occasionally live a John Denver kind of life … I’m going to try to be more John Denver-ish myself.

I will have the courage to submit my book, my poems, my photographs.

I will have the courage to feed my wanderlust and see the place I long to see.

I will simply have courage.

I earn a paycheck as a nurse, it is true, but in my heart, I am more and, at the same time less.

I only have so many years to live.

What is that song?  100 years?

There is no point in deluding myself that I will ever make it to a hundred years old.

Why wait?

Why indeed?

The innumerable stars of the sky

The innumerable stars of the sky

Love is the most powerful of emotions

Love is the most powerful of emotions

Through Abby's eyes ... i miss this sweet girl

Through Abby’s eyes … i miss this sweet girl

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

I have bruises on my hands …

fairly large ones, as well as numb fingers, that are the result of 500+ chest compressions performed on the presumed dead, but revivable (that really is a word) mannequin at my CPR recert class on Friday.

Usually, it is little more than a formality, but the instructors were being monitored by the powers that be, so there were no shortcuts.  I’m going to have bruises for weeks because I, being nearly six feet tall and pretty strong, can produce a mean, straight, rigid armed, muscles flexed, chest compression.

I was transported back to another time and reminded of my days as a Paramedic when CPR was a fairly regular occurrence  …

Unfortunately, I let both my TN and VA certifications expire after I got married because my husband frowned upon me spending 24-hours at a time with men who weren’t him – never mind that I was trustworthy, a straight arrow to the core, it bothered him … and out of respect for his feelings, I left the position.  Now, years later, after he has passed away, I don’t have the desire or drive to go through the classes again to obtain that status and so …  there you go.

But … broken ribs, bruised sternums, lights, sirens and driving 80 mph on the back roads …  starting large bore IV’s into unwilling veins, using the defibrillator (before the advent of the AED)   in the back of a rig as it swayed and bumped along the rutted roads,  riding to the ER, straddling the patient on the gurney, counting out loud with the chest compressions as doctors and nurses waited outside the door was a rush that cannot be duplicated.

It was like an episode of ER, back when it was a decent show and actually still on air.  The early George Clooney days.  Good times emerging from the worst possible scenarios…

and yet, I digress …

that scene was at least a monthly and sometimes, depending on the time of year, a weekly event.  There are times when I miss it  … As much as the job, I miss the  extremely cool pants  …

I have held the neck of an injured person, whispering words of encouragement as the Jaws-Of-Life cut the top off a car as easily as opening a can of tuna,  inserted a chest tube to relieve the pressure of a pneumothorax, performed a cricothyroidotomy in order to make a patent airway, intubated with the McIntosh blade, which was my laryngoscope of choice  because it was curved and, in my opinion, more conducive to sliding between the vocal cords than the straight Miller blade.  The vocal chords, when visualized in reality, are really quite beautiful and an anatomical enigma.  (an adrenaline junkie?  maybe so … ok, yeah, probably) .

But given all of those things, the lifesaving techniques that I am able to employ, I still have to recertify in a CPR refresher course every two years.

In May, I performed CPR on a man who dropped like a stone while pumping Gas (and lived to tell about it because of early intervention and initiation of EMS … I shouted call 9-1-1 to a baffled lady who did it out of pure shock)  but that, as far as the American Heart Association is concerned, doesn’t count for anything.

Go figure.

And in two  years, I will get to do it again.

Good grief.

reallly?  REALLY?

reallly? REALLY?