Tag Archives: strength

I had every intention …

of blogging about driving around today with the convertible top down, the music loud and the wind in my face; of blooming trees and budding flowers, puffy clouds in a blue, sun-drenched sky and the perfectness of a warm April day.

But I just hung up the phone after talking to my mom and the things I previously held up in importance faded into the background.

She is a rock, a beacon, a lighthouse, a safe haven.

She knows everything about me, the things that shamed me and, at one time or another, shamed her.

In my youth, I hurt her deeply and couldn’t find within myself the knowledge or ability to make it right.

She knows of my dreams and aspirations and is always the first one to encourage me even as she puts her own dreams and aspirations on hold.

It isn’t easy to explain to someone that thoughts, images, words, experiences, memories and a myriad of other flotsam runs through my head, in a constant stream, even when I’m sleeping.

And that is when I am at my baseline and not in manic mode.

She takes it in stride without judgement or condemnation and, I have come to realize, did so even when I felt I was being judged and condemned.

Nobody can condemn me any more than I condemn myself.  It is the nature of my world and I live with it.

She knows, though, simply by looking at my face or hearing my voice ,when I am in the throes of mania or, thankfully more rarely, the despondency of a depressive crash.

She understands that sometimes, I have to go away; from her, from myself, from everyone and just be dormant.

She knows these things and doesn’t hold them against me.

There is no “well, you did this or that or the other thing”.

She isn’t like that.

She is patient and kind.

She is, without doubt, the Proverbs 31 woman.

I would like to be like her, but that is an aspiration that will never come.  It isn’t that my cup is half empty, but that I live, as much as I can, in a reality-based existence.

She is a light in a dark place and I migrate to her when I need simply to know that someone loves me unconditionally.

I tell her I love her, but how do you describe to someone that  you cannot imagine a life without them.

Unless I die first by some freak event, by the natural order of things, I will lose her at some point in my life.

I cannot imagine a world without my mom.

So I will put that with other things I cannot imagine into a box that lives in the outer-regions of my heart.

When I am manic, the box will break open and I will have to face the possibility, but for now, when I am am simply on overdrive, it is secure in the  little locked box.

She inspires me with her acceptance and encouragement and that, without doubt or reservation, beats blooming trees in springtime seen from a back road drive with the convertible top down.

I love you, Mom .

A houseguest

 

My Mother's Mother's bleeding hearts

My Mother’s Mother’s bleeding hearts

 

This is how she makes me feel ... cherished

This is how she makes me feel … cherished

All of that being said about my mom, I want to extrapolate to another area and  extend prayers and encouragement to a friend that I have long lost touch with.  She lost her son, the light of her world and is now lying among the shattered pieces of her world.  Keep Pam Begley in your prayers when you pray.  I cannot fathom losing a child.

 

What is it about music …

that has the ability to soothe the soul while it simultaneously sends it reeling in turmoil and heartache, joy and sadness; reminiscing and rebelling even as it brings us back, unto ourselves, full circle?

That is is the beauty of it, is it not, to touch the untouchable space in the soul and spark the imagination? To make us think beyond what we know so that we try to touch on that which we weren’t even aware we wanted to know?

Part of the mystery?  The enigma?  The fascination?

I listen to music for hours every day, various genres ranging from hard, head-banging rock, to soothing  yet heartbreaking cello, to piano concertos. There are soaring arias, operatic manifestations that vary widely from my beloved Bryn to local, struggling, yet resilient talent, all of which move me on one one level or another.

Move me to seek, to find, to think, to imagine, to embrace and learn what I’ve always wanted to know.  It, music, is a kind of courage that makes one feel worthy to not only want to know, but to feel that they have right to discover.

It is empowering, this music of which I speak and it belongs to all of us.

Listening to music and interpreting it is no different really, than developing the photographs I take and finding in each one something magnificent or a flaw that makes it unintelligible and useless on every level.

Music is the same.

There are pieces that I listen to daily because I cannot help myself.  I love them, the sound of them, the places they take my mind whether I want to go or not and that is part of its power.

The power to take one on a journey, maybe pleasurable, possibly painful, but a journey that will leave the listener feeling more than they felt before and less because now, they realize that they were, prior to this moment, incomplete.

It is a humbling experience, understanding music and feeling a connection.

Anyone can hear music, but only some can comprehend it understand it and seek it because the choice, once they have experienced it, is no longer their own.

They are a slave to the sound, the vibrations, the magic that music has to offer.

There are composers who enamor me more than others, some very well known, some known not at all.

It makes little difference, at the end of the day.

There are composers I love to hear and conductors I love to watch. Some, at their very core, are nothing less than brilliant.

There are songs that are sappy and sentimental that pull at me just as there are instrumentals that draw from the depths of my inner being and make me feel things that I had either forgotten or purposely hidden away.

I’m still not sure how I feel about those except they evoke emotions that I’m not fully prepared to embrace.

It is during these indecisive moments that I throw things at mirrors, shattering them and feeling perfectly fine about it.

Whether it soothes my spirit, fries my brain or breaks my heart, I need music; it is the language, fourth to words, shadow and light, of my blood.

I can’t play a note of it, but I have an innate understanding of it.

It moves me like the river flowing over the rocks that I so dearly love.

Without music, everything else in my life would go on as it always has, but all of the emotions would be diluted. That, to me, is a sobering thought.

ClevelandOH-34Severance Hall … Cleveland Orchestra … Mahler’s First.

tay_musicMy favorite trumpeter …

Lightning over Big MoccasinProof that nature is full of music and miraculous things…

powelvalley_windsofmtnempire-301The joy of simply knowing what music is about …

clarinethandsA clarinetists’ hands … music and beauty and awesomeness lives therein …

Ignorance is bliss …

but unfortunately for most of us, ignorance is a luxury.

I have found myself spellbound by the idea of someone.

The thought that they were what I might, had I actually been looking for someone, have been looking for is like a siren’s song.

It is easy to become sidetracked by the fantasies we weave in our own minds when we aren’t paying close attention.

I did that.

I wove fantasies, thought thoughts, dreamed dreams and built castles in the air when there were no fantasies to be fantasized about, no pertinent thoughts to think and no castles to build.

It is the downside of an active imagination.

Reality takes a back seat and the fantastical takes on a life of its own.

There is no shame in that; the imagining, wishing, dreaming.

No shame at all, however, it is important to know where dreams end and reality begins.

Otherwise, you are left scratching your head and wondering where you went wrong.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent way too much time becoming whole and confident in my own thoughts and abilities to throw it away by putting all of my eggs in one basket.

If you put all your eggs in one basket and then  drop that basket, all of the eggs are ruined and you are back where you started when you didn’t have any eggs at all.

I, for one, want to have at least some whole, unbroken eggs in my basket.

I have, up until my husband passed a few years ago, never lived on my own.

Never experienced the pure joy of doing what I want, when I want, the way I want or not doing it, whatever it may be, at all.

I came very close to throwing all of that away by thinking I needed validation for this or the other thing.

I don’t.

Need validation, that is.

I am happy being by myself.

Alone, I am not lonely.

Instead, I am free in a way I never imagined.

I find myself pulling back from what I once longed for and realizing that I am perfectly content as I am.

I don’t know how I would react to a relationship, but the past few months have taught me that I do not need anyone to complete me.

I always thought I did, but I don’t.

I can ‘t remember a time when I felt so content.

Yes, sometimes my brain overtakes my soul and I’m manic to the point of madness.

But that, as it always has, passes and I am left, once again, serene in my solitude.

I have my thoughts, my words, my music and the magnificent creation of my Father to sustain me.

It makes me want to encourage others who feel they are not whole unless they are paired with someone to rethink their priorities.

I don’t know what I would, at this juncture in my life, do in a relationship, but I feel, at this point, that I have become too self-sufficient to rely on anyone to complete me.

When I need completion, I grab my camera and head to the mountains.

Companionship comes to me in the form of moon, sky, trees, water, light and shadow.

Seek what you will, but know, before you seek, that even if you don’t find, you are, as you are, enough.

Everything else is simply icing.

The magnificent song of Winter silence

The magnificent song of Winter silence

My Orchard Awaits …

a visit from me.

Or maybe it doesn’t.

It isn’t really my orchard, but my father’s, and his father’s before him.

Maybe it doesn’t need me nearly as much as I need it.

It is lying, quiet and serene beneath the mountain peak, on a little flat on top of a rise.  It is perfectly happy to be there, in the cold, soaking up the rain and snow that will make for succulent, sweet, juicy red apples in the summer.

The gnarled trees will stand, stalwart and solemn through the worst that Winter can bring without ever missing my presence or needing me among their barren branches.

They take no glory for the music the wind makes as it weaves and wanders through their wonderfully crooked branches.

They accept no praise for the beauty they exude as they stand firm against a gray, snow-laden sky.

They refuse thanks for the fragile seeds of  the fruits they protect through the bitterness of cold nights so that when the times comes, they can say come, eat of me, for I am sweeter than nectar.

They entice the bees and butterflies from their hiding places so that they, too, can partake of the bounty.

I imagine if God had a taste, He would taste like the sweet apples born from the mountain orchard that waited silently through the harsh winter.

They stand and they wait and they will live.

They have no idea how much I need them.

My orchard.

My solitude.

Laying on the brown grass of winter looking up through their branches and knowing that I, for this moment, am part of what grows beneath the earth.

No, it has no need for me or anything that I can offer, but part of my sanity, my strength, my well-being comes from what the orchard gets from God and passes on, without ever being aware, to me.

I suppose, because I love it so, it is my orchard, after all.

redbuds-49

I wish I could promise to lie in the night
And think of an orchard’s arboreal plight
When slowly (and nobody comes with a light)
Its heart sinks lower under the sod.
But something has to be left to God.
~ Robert Frost

In the midst of the Polar Vortex …

my heat goes out, or at the very least makes it painfully obvious that it is planning, in the very near future, to take an extended vacation.

No phone, no lights, no motor car; not a single luxury.  (this is completely untrue, but it manifested itself, unbidden, in my head) .

Not good, I suppose, but not the worst thing that could happen.

Not the song in my head, (while the theme from Gilligan’s Island wasn’t my first choice, I suppose it beats Henry the Eighth), but the heat going out.

Keeping up with my brain is a full time job and sometimes, even I want to quit.

Yet, I digress.

I still have power, which means my heated mattress pad works.

I still have hot water so hot showers are there to eradicate the goosebumps.

I have many quilts that Granny (God rest her soul), lovingly made for me.  They are warm, too, hand sewn and have enough love in them to keep me warm even if they were only threads.

I don’t know what is wrong with it.

The heat, not the shower, the quilts or the mattress pad.

It started making a noise that sounded similar to the sound the brakes on my car makes when I stop suddenly.

I suppose I will have to call the man.

I could call my dad and have him call the man, but I am working diligently on being independent, self-sufficient, self-reliant.

Funnily enough, I waited until I was nearly fifty years old to come to this decision.

That is, in part, why I don’t know how to fix my own, among other things,  poorly functioning furnace.

When I learn to fix the furnace, change the oil in my car, replace my brakes and fix the broken tail light that has gotten me pulled over three times this month, I will have made it.

I’m not inept.  I can photograph nature  like nobody’s business.

I can string words together to articulate what I want to say when I want to say it.

I can write poetry that incites tears and sketch peoples’ faces that illicit sighs.

I have plenty of artistic ability, but it is fairly useless when things break.

Oh well, it is what it is and will be what it will be.  At some point, the man will come to fix my furnace and I will once again bask in heat; in the meantime, I’m sitting here with my heavy coat, gloves, ear-muffs and scarf on.

And for each of those things, I am grateful.

One moment, one hour, one day, one month, one event at a time.

That’s how I see life.  A little thing like a crippled furnace is no reason to change that.

It will get fixed when it gets fixed.

It isn’t, by a long shot, the worst thing that could happen.

Staying warm the old-fashioned way and finding it adventurous while I do so.  I am, after all, the adventurous sort.

I simply didn’t expect adventure  to exploit itself in my living room, but being a Sagittarius, I will take it as it comes and make the best of it.

That is what we Jesus loving, faith having, wishful thinking Sagittarius beings do.

A snowy day at the base of Clinch Mountain

A snowy day at the base of Clinch Mountain

A beautiful view of a snowy Clinch Mountain

A beautiful view of a snowy Clinch Mountain

Snow-covered cows as they indulge in hay.  They seem no worse for the wear.  Encouraging.;

Snow-covered cows as they indulge in hay. They seem no worse for the wear. Encouraging.;

I feel …

good.

I feel good.

Yes, I said it and yes I mean it.

I feel good.

It has been an incredibly difficult week with incredibly difficult patients and incredibly difficult news from friends, and yet, through it all …

I feel good.

I’m not manic.

As strange as it may seem, I am totally even.  Completely sane.  Absurdly normal.

I think to myself that I should be manic and irrational and standing in left field waiting for a right field hit, and yet, here I am.

Feeling like a normal human isn’t something that I am readily accustomed to.  It takes me by surprise when I find myself being like everyone else.

I don’t know whether to be elated or dejected, so, for the moment, I will choose elated.

While I am an optimist, elation is not my dearest friend.

But for tonight, for this moment, for this space in time, I will embrace it, cherish it and relish the feeling of elation.

Some things are to be taken at face value.

This is one of them.

Life comes as it comes and while there are valleys, there are also mountains and being on the mountain makes all the valleys worth the sacrifice.

I am, for now, standing on the mountain and I am reminded just how blessed I was to have the valleys so I could enjoy the view from the mountain.

I. Feel. Good.

Praise the Lord.

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

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 🙂