Tag Archives: grace

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.

A moment of clarity …

is priceless.

Like fine wine from a stellar year.  A bottle unopened and virginal in it’s uniqueness.

A moment of clarity when all of the world is in color, without shades of gray, without confusion that masks the wonders as the snow on an old TV.  Clarity without aluminum foil to make the picture clear.

I love these moments.  They are like photographs that have been taken simply to remind me that this moment isn’t all there is.

There is more.

There is much more.

I am feeling hyper these days and that makes me anxious.  It is such a small step from hyper to manic and I work dilligently to not be manic.

It comes when it comes and I have no say about it.

But it hurts those I care about.

I don’t care so much about myself.  This is my life and I live it, but when it touches others, it hurts me on a level that is far beyond what I feel capable of handling.

I am me.

I don’t know how to be anyone else.

I don’t, however, want to be a burden to my friends.

Yes, I am hyper, but am not yet manic.

It is only a matter of time.

I try to close myself off from everyone when this happens, but there are a few that I lean on and hope that, when all is said and done, they will forgive me yet again.

They are the people who bring me back to reality when I stray and they know who they are.

I only hope they know I don’t take them for granted.

Just a day in the life.

It isn’t always pretty, but more often than not, it is.  I live for the “it is” moments.

I am a survivor and this impending event will not break me.

It may bend me, but it will not break me.

I get by with  a little help from my friends.

clarinethands

Beemer, a sweet Great Pyrenees, shows his Hollywood

Taking it easy, literally …

Love’s like a hurricane, I am a tree …

bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.

Unequivocally, my favorite line of any song I have ever heard.

A bold statement, yes, I know, especially considering that I have heard thousands and thousands of songs in the decades of my life.

It doesn’t change this revelation in the least.  I first heard this song less than 72 hours ago.  It has been around for a while.  As a matter of fact, it was released eight years ago on my birthday.

I had to know more about who wrote words that surpassed any I have ever heard.  Maybe they struck a chord in me because I have a deep love and respect for trees and, on occasion, imagine myself to be one; swaying in the wind, basking in the sun, playing in the moonlight beneath a sky bursting with stars.

Being a seeker of knowledge, I went in search of answers.

The song was written by an independent singer/songwriter named John Mark McMillan.  In an interview, he says that he wrote this the day after his best friend died after sustaining injuries in a terrible car accident.  In the same interview, he tells of his friend, Stephen Coffey, a youth minister for Morning Star Ministries who said aloud the words “I would give my life today if it would shake the youth of the nation” the morning before the accident.

John Mark wrote the song the next day.  He says that the love he is singing about is not a pretty “Hollywood  hot-pink” love, but the kind of love that is willing to love even when things are difficult and messy.  He goes on to say that  “This song isn’t a celebration of weakness and anger.  It’s a celebration of a God who would want to hang with us through those things, who would want to be a part of our lives through those things, and,despite who we are, He would want to be a part of us, our community and our family”.

I have listened to this song at least 200 times since I first heard it.  I am listening to it now.  I cannot pull myself away from what it says to me, how it makes me feel, where it takes me.

I imagine, before the anniversary of the song’s release, (on my birthday), I will listen to it several hundred more times.  I know every note, every sound, every pitch, every word and I hold them deep inside of me.

They make me want to sing; the make me want to cry.  But not tears of sadness, but ones of joy and celebration that even with all my imperfectness, I am loved and cherished by a Savior that I adore.

I have taken the blinders from my eyes, the plastic wrap from my mirrors and have embraced life with a fullness and freedom that I have never quite been able to achieve.

The freedom to love, to be loved, to seek and, in seeking, expect to find.

I will never be the same again and that may be one of the most beautiful gifts I have ever been given.

I’m putting a link to John Mark’s version.  I have heard several artists sing it in the last couple of days, but this version, his version, is by far my favorite.

John Mark McMillan ~ How He Loves ….

John Mark’s song-story …

twitter

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.

Last night, or early this morning …

in the wee hours, however you look at it, I visited my late husband’s grave.

Yes, myself, a proclaimed chicken, was in the darkened graveyard with only a  flashlight, my phone and a blanket to sit on.

There is no cell service there, but my music is on my phone, and having that was imperative to my visit.

The music.

My car is out of commission at the moment, so I took my mom’s car.  It was ok, but I really missed being able to put the top down and feel the heaviness of the cloudy, brooding sky above me.

I was feeling broody, manic and a bit discombobulated … much like the sky above me.

Starless.

Moonless.

Dark.

I know that, for the most part, I am misunderstood.  Only a handful of people understand me, or say they do …  and even those … well, sometimes I wonder if they really do and why they bother in the first place.

I know how I am, how I can be and I live with it.

I don’t expect others to.

I don’t count on them to.

It has been nearly four years since he left without saying good-bye.

He isn’t the first to leave without saying good-bye, but at least death is a reasonable excuse.

At our wedding, while a lone bagpiper was winding his way through the cemetery where he (my late husband, not the bagpiper)  is now buried, I had Annie’s song played.

I hadn’t given that song to anyone before or since.

It was his.

Now, it is mine.

I played it at his grave last night when I told him goodbye.

I’m not going back.

I don’t want to go back.

I want to move on.

I want to sleep at night.

I don’t want to sleepwalk.

I don’t want to dream.

I want days that are not filled with uncertainty and second guessing myself.

I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and not think hateful things.

I want loyalty and friendship and peace of mind.

I want to be free.

I told him that, at his grave, where he really isn’t anyway.

He would, were he here, say without malice as he did many times, that it was my Sagittarian spirit coming out … the plain speech and tell it like it is even if it hurts mentality.

I guess I do.

I don’t expect that to change.

I want to be free, but I think I said that already.

I don’t think that is too much to ask.

To be free.

Isn’t that what everyone wants?

Learning from Gracie as she contines to grow …

is an experience in humility.

She has Down’s Syndrome, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to or watching her.

She runs, plays, swing, argues, wrestles, loves, hugs, manipulates and somehow ends up being the center of attention wherever she goes simply because she has a larger than life personality.

She knows what she wants and how to get it.

Usually by putting her innocent-looking, pixie-faced, tinkerbell eyes on her Papaw.

He can deny her nothing.  He says he can, but he can’t.

Or maybe won’t is the better way to say it.

She has him wrapped as tight as Dick’s hatband around her little finger, her forefinger, her middle finger, her thumb.

He is wrapped.

Period.

Ice cream, Papaw.

Okay.

Pretzels, Papaw.

Okay.

Murder the neighbor and bury them in Louisa’s spring, Papaw.

Okay.

It is a joy to watch her as she learns to manipulate the ones she knows are easy marks.

I, on occasion, an am easy mark, but for the most part, she knows that Nini means business and expects her to act like a human child; but even I have my limitations when she flashes that smile and says “I love you, Nini”.

I am, after all,  human.

She is growing up so fast.

It seems like only moments ago that she was in the NICU with lines and tubes and a tiny body that looked as though it would break with a look and shatter with a touch.

But she passed the shatter stage a while back.

She is a pistol, is our Gracie, and as tough as nails.

She doesn’t take no for an answer, asks a million questions one after the other and could give Flash Gordon a run for his money when she feels like it.

I think we have all chased her (and lost) at some point, while she laughs and skips and eludes our efforts to catch her.

She is a bit like the gingerbread man.  Catch me if you can, she says, knowing we are too slow to be any real threat.

She went back to school this week and loved on all her classmates as though they had been cruelly separated for years.

I don’t know much about anything but I know this … a hug from Gracie can make the worst day, the most difficult moment, the hardest trial seem as nothing.

She has way about her.  A being, an aura, a spirit … call it what you will, but it is irresistible and it is life-altering.

She has a way of making you feel, at the moment, as though you are the most important thing in the world; and the ability to make you believe it unequivocally.

I cannot imagine, and will not imagine a world without Gracie for it would, without doubt, irrevocably break my spirit.

She is the epitome of sunshine.  I’m pretty sure when Jimmy Davis and Charles Mitchell wrote “you are my sunshine”, they did so because they had a premonition about Gracie.  God is cool that way.

She is a bright spot in the lives of everyone she come across.

It would be my great pleasure for all of my friends to meet her, to know her and to benefit greatly from one of her “I love you even if you are an idiot” hugs.

She doesn’t take into account how smart, how talented, how boring, how nerdy, how geeky, how crazy, how messed up, how depressed, how out of touch or how indifferent you are.

She changes lives, just by being, by smiling, by living.

A smile from Gracie, unless you are the devil  himself, will melt you like warm chocolate.

She is, unto herself, an entity.

There really is no way to avoid the beauty that enters your person when she hugs you tightly and puts her little face into your neck.

She is a gift from God.  A simple truth.

She sees life and people  in one dimension and that is unbiased love.  She doesn’t understand anything else (except the occasional temper tantrum that makes the Kraken look like a goldfish).

But we’ll save that tidbit for another day.

For now, by proxy, be encouraged by Gracie. She is a power to be reckoned with and it is wonderful to be a part of this precious child’s life.

“It’s Nini” she says, as she runs with her arms outstretched to me.  Every other thought in my head dissolves for it has no power against such beauty.

I am thankful for her.  I am grateful for her.  I am indebted to her.

May God continue to bless our sweet Gracie.

She is beautiful and she makes everything and everyone around her beautiful as well.

like a mermaid, she take to the ocean ... free and beautiful

like a mermaid, she takes to the ocean … free and beautiful

no matter where she goes, she will always be her daddy’s girl

Sometimes, only a papaw will do …

When God gives one a heart of compassion …

it is understood that it will get broken.

There is no way around it.

I am still learning this.

I find that is is both  an honor and a privilege to watch the end of life come to pass.

It isn’t easy nor can it be considered pleasant, but it is a part of life that not everyone gets to see.

The living years is what most of us look for, find pleasure in and hope to be a part of.

But to be present when a spirit leaves this world is nothing short of amazing.

The last breath.

The last heartbeat.

The last moment.

I cannot help but cry for it is, in it’s way, very sad … and yet, when there was suffering, it is also a comfort.

I try, in my weak way, to console the ones left behind, but at that particular moment, there really are no words to say.

I can only be there, in the background, in the edges of the moment, to hold a hand or wrap my arm around those who need the contact.

I’m not, by nature, a hugger or toucher.

It doesn’t really come naturally to me as it does to true nurturers … and yet, I find myself being pulled into the emotion.

It is difficult, but I cannot turn them away.

Not in their moment of need.

Maybe I am weak. But if I can offer some bit of strength in their moment of weakness, then my strength has been made manifest.

I can do, for this moment, what I have learned through experience to do.  Not book experience, or clinical experience, but life experience.

I understand loss, especially unexpected loss that blindsides you and leaves you reeling from words left unsaid.

It is what it is and there are no do-overs.

It is enough to know that you loved someone while they lived in a way that they knew, unconditionally, that they were loved.

It is enough.

Move forward as you can, but whatever the cost, move forward.

To remain where you are, in grief and sorrow is the last thing in the world the one you lost would want.

Don”t be afraid to live.

If you aren’t afraid to live, then when your time comes, you won’t be afraid to die.

It is a circle.

Don’t break it.

If I’m not me …

then myself, as I know me to be, will cease to exist.

It has been a trying few days … ok, truth be known a trying couple of weeks, but the past few days have been egregiously difficult.

For those who know me personally, you are used to the barrage of chattering that has little to do with anything and everything to do with nothing.  It is part of what makes me who I am.

But sometimes, there is a hitch in the rhythm that brings everything to a complete and utter halt.

That recently happened.  I don’t intend to dwell on it for as far as I am concerned, it is in the past, it is buried and I am well on my way to greener pastures.

It was Erma Bombeck who so aptly said “the grass is always greener over the septic tank” … well, she wasn’t just whistling dixie.

It is funny how life throws curve balls at us and we have two choices … either dodge them or get hit.

I got hit this time, but it will, without doubt, make me more able and prepared to dodge in the future.

I don’t do “woe is me” very well.

I am an optimist.

A follower of Christ.

A positive thinker.

A Sagittarius.

A sometimes bordering-on-crazy person.

All of these things work in tandem to help me to see the big picture.

I don’t even pretend to be perfect, and if truth be told, walk with distressing regularity, the fine line between sanity and oblivion.

But I know myself and my moods and have, over time, learned to live with them.

All of them.

I say curse words when they are warranted, drink Corona when I feel like it and roll my eyes when there doesn’t seem to be any other option.

I don’t hold these things against myself and if others do, that, in my opinion, is their problem.

I have found myself in the past few days facing demons and obstacles that, if given the rest of my life, I would never have dreamed such happenings would come to be.

But life happens as it happens.  It is the same for all of us.

No part of the time we are given is perfect.

Well, that isn’t exactly true, as I can, with perfect clarity, recall a few perfect moments … but for the most part, we are all on a deal-with-it-as-it-comes basis and we either deal with it or end up institutionalized.

Since I am still a free woman, I suspect that I have, at least up until now, dealt with it.

I don’t discount the things that hurt me for they help me grow, but I do learn from them.

If one doesn’t learn from the things that set them back a bit, then they are wasting their time living.

Life is for living; not for reliving failures, hurt or humiliation.

Living.

Learning.

Thriving.

That is how I roll and it is how I will continue to roll.

Wishing everyone who reads this to look inside themselves and decide that life, whatever it may bring, is worth living and worth living well.

Until next time, be well, my friends, be well.

only one of hundreds of my favorite things about West Side Market in Cleveland, OH

only one of hundreds of my favorite things about West Side Market in Cleveland, OH

Carl Tanner performing at Toy F. Reid Center, courtesy of Symphony of the Mountains

Carl Tanner performing at Toy F. Reid Center, a concert made possible by Symphony of the Mountains

The Cleveland Orchestra performing Mahler's First at Severence Hall

The Cleveland Orchestra performing Mahler’s First at Severence Hall

My niece, Gracie, living life and having a grand time doing it.

My niece, Gracie, living life and having a grand time doing it.

I wonder at times …

just what kind of influence I have on my nieces and if it is, in fact, a good thing.

When they come over, we stand in the rain and try to catch raindrops on our tongue.

We stand on the porch in the dark of night, talking to the man in the moon and try to count the stars.

We watch lightning bugs and look for meteors.

We laugh at silly stuff and listen to music.

We bang on the piano keyboard making all manner of noise and then pretend that we know what we are doing.

I play Mahler, Beethoven and Bach for them and then we dance like mad to Crazy Train.

We watch Lord of the Dance and documentaries on Alaska.

We make up songs and sing them loudly, through a hairbrush microphone.

We burn incense and light the lava lamp.

We brew tea using a teaball and have tea parties with Irish Breakfast tea.

We sit in the floor and draw pictures using markers, chalk and crayons.

Blue is my favorite.

We let the dog in the house during a thunderstorm because I have a hard time denying them anything.

We don’t watch TV and we rarely watch movies.  There is so much that is there that they, as little girls, don’t need to know.

There is so much there, that me, as a big girl, don’t need to know.

I want to let them know how much I love them without exposing them to the things about myself that make feel crazy and out of control.

I don’t want them to know that sometimes my thoughts race, my mind falters and I don’t, more than any other hope I have, want them to be like me.

Manic and exasperated or crying and inconsolable.

I want, though, to let them know, that it is OK to be different from everyone else, to march to their own drummer, to follow their dreams and to seek what they want to know.

I want them to know that wherever they go, whatever they do, whatever endeavors they undertake, I will support them, love them and will always, always stand in the rain with them.

joy unspeakable

joy unspeakable

youthful innocence

youthful innocence