bpHope magazine blog

So excited to share my post for bpHope magazine. I have been an avid reader of their online magazine, and for years followed articles about Carrie Fisher. When she passed away, I decided to “go for it’ and apply to be a part of the bpHope.com writing community as a guest writer. I was inspired by her bravery and candor. If you are interested in reading, here is the link:

http://www.bphope.com/blog/a-leap-of-faith/

 

“I grew up in this kind of fishbowl existence and I figured, if people were going to say it about me, then I was going to say it first and I was going to say it better. It’s my way of trying to own a situation.” ~Carrie Fisher

 

 

 

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Ode to Saint Donna

All mothers are special. Incredibly special. Outstanding. They all have their own special talents and attributes and we should be so thankful for them. As for me, I am especially grateful that my mother is a Saint. She may not have been recognized by the Pope, (yet…), but she is forever recognized in my heart and mind.

Growing up in my mother’s household, our clothing and blankets were sewn by her hands. Our costumes for ballet, elaborate and dashing, were made by her hands as well. She decorates and cooks better than Martha Stewart, only she doesn’t have a staff to help her. Her house is always immaculate.

If there are three main lessons that I have learned from my mom, the first is that there is a God, He loves us all, and He does not discriminate. She taught us to respect and value all religions, and to never act like we had “all the answers”. The second is that all people should be treated with respect and dignity. She deliberately taught us not to subscribe to the stereotypes, labeling, and prejudices that the world tried so hard to ingrain in us. The last was that she taught us to believe in ourselves and follow our dreams, whatever they may be. And this is a good thing, because she had three daughters who were quite the dreamers. She encourages us in whatsoever we may aspire to be, no matter how big or small.

Growing up, she was our biggest cheerleader. Any activity we were involved in, from school to extracurricular activities, she volunteered to help with. She was very popular among my friends, and continues to be, for there is just no one like Donna.

No one.

My mother, she is a smart cookie. Brilliant really. This part might make her blush, but she has almost a photographic memory. She knows a lot about just about everything. She remembers every face and every name, and incredible details, no matter how long it has been. She owned a hardware store when we were growing up, and faced the inevitable sexism that she encountered with grace, courage, and gumption. Because, at the end of the day, she knew more, gave more, and cared more. And people respected that.

The greatest gift my mother has given to the world is her love and passion for people. She has never met a stranger. She would give the shirt off her back to anyone, in a heartbeat. She is generous with her money, time, and talents. She is an artist. She is talented and special.

Oh, how I love my mother….

So yes, my mother is a Saint. For she worked and sacrificed for our family with every ounce of energy that she had. I don’t know where she gets that energy, but it is abundant. Everyone who meets her just loves her. And why? Because her love and positive energy radiates wherever she goes.

I can never even hope to be half the mother as the one that I have. If I am just one percent of the fabulous mother/grandmother that she is, I will be a fine one.

So to Saint Donna, I say, I love you. I admire you. I honor you.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Girls Trip- Nashville, USA

May is Mental Health Awareness month, a time to reflect on various conditions that we encounter, either in ourselves, or among those that we know. It is also a time to reflect on coping skills that help to ease the psychological burdens that we encounter in this life. Because we all have skeletons in our closets, traumas in our past, and psychological ghosts that come to haunt us on our journeys. No one is immune, but none of us is without help and relief.

I learned this past weekend a remarkable tool for coping with tough times. You see, I live in a household of all males. Even the pets are male (well, maybe not the goldfish). I get so lost in the day to day tasks of being a wife, mother, employee, etc., that I sometimes neglect to take time to be with my sisters in humanity. My experience this past weekend reminded me of just how important it is for my health and sanity.

Last weekend, I took a girls trip to Nashville with some of my middle and high school friends, and a new friend as well. Some of us had not seen one another in thirty years. We had a marvelous time, it was as if it was just yesterday that we saw one another, we picked up right where we left off. Only better…

Lots of things happen in thirty years. As I gazed into the beautiful eyes and faces of the lovely women that accompanied me on the trip, we really didn’t look that much different. In fact, if I may say so myself, we looked darn good. We all still had the twinkle in our eye, the strut in our walk, the mojo in our spirits. We danced as if no one was watching, without self-consciousness or insecurities. We owned our femininity, we wore our experience with wisdom and pride, and we bonded.

The truth is, though, that we wore that pride and wisdom, because we earned it, having been through so much. We wore the scars of  relationships, unrealized dreams, forks in the road.  We talked about our joys and disappointments in life. We talked about our challenges. The inevitable things.  Yet we reminded each other, time and time again, that in reality, we are all blessed. And we laughed, and we cried, and we giggled, and we sighed. But through it all, we held our heads up high….

We visited George Jones’ grave. We walked up and down Broadway. We danced in every spot we could find, to the honkey tonk bands. We posed for pictures. We shopped for boots and souvenirs and such. All the usual things one does on a girls trip.

Only we were doing more than that. We were healing.

Healing from the traumas of childhood and the teenage years, that all women encounter. Healing from the insecurities of the “Wonder Years”. Healing from the pressures of childhood, teenage years, and yes, the present.

So, if you want to heal, look to the Spirit of Woman. Her touch is a Healing Balm, her gaze is a reflection of Reassurance, her words are like Honey, sweet to the Soul. Never forget your bond, and utilize your connections when the world is trying to tear you down. In the company of Women, there is much Love, flowing like a River, in the Dessert Sands of Time.

I love you my friends….stay courageous, graceful, and strong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In My Closet

In my closet

You will find

Belly dancing attire

The vibrant kind

With scarves that jingle

And fabric of silken fiber

Purples, golds, and oranges

Beautiful colors to admire

Pink, blue, and purple

Pastels I love the best

Yes in my closet

You will find

A wardrobe unlike the rest

If clothes tell a story

Then my wardrobe has one to tell

My clothes they are symbolic

And yours they are as well

What is important to consider

Is also what is not there

Why are there things that you cherish

And then items with which  you despair?

My entire life I have hated one thing

And never known just why

The item that you wear around your waist

Has been something that I have always despised

I hesitate to say the word

It is something that’s hard to bear

The thing that you buckle

Around your waist

In my closet, you cannot find it there

I always seemed to lose them

Could never stand to use them

I always hated to wear them

Always wanted to spare them

 

Symbolically constricting

Symbolically disturbing

Symbolically confusing

Symbolically…..

 

Oh how prophetic

My obsession turned out to be

What some consider

to be mundane

Is highly dangerous to me

The note you sent

Home with my child

“If it has a loop,

Please add a belt with a smile”

To you I’m an unfit mother

To me I am just cautious

To you it is mundane

To me it makes me nauseous

Among the teens and tweens

The pants they sag and droop

They often do not wear those things

That go within the loops

We shake our heads and wonder

Whatever could be wrong

“Why don’t they just wear those things?”

But I say, leave them alone

Yes, leave them alone

Those loops you have

Around your delicate waist

Stay free, stay wild, stay wonderful

Those things are a disgrace

So in my closet

Yes you will find

Every type of clothing that’s dealt

But in my closet

In this lifetime

You will never find a belt.

Perhaps I am neurotic

Perhaps a bit naive

I say we take them one by one

And throw them into the sea

A world without constriction

And the hand that I’ve been dealt

Is the world where I want to live

A world without a belt.

So what shall it be?

What say you?

Will you join me in my feat?

Let’s take all the belts

In the world

And burn them in the streets

We’ll jump on them

And stomp on them

Until my heart just melts…

Until that day

In my closet you still

Shall never find a belt.

 

 

 

 

Anxiety

It is said that clinical depression is the “common cold” of mental illness. If this is true, I think that it is highly likely that anxiety is just as common, kind of like the flu. Every time I write a post about depression, mental illness, etc., it is just as common for me to hear from others who say they suffer from anxiety as from depression. Unfortunately, it is something that is often brushed aside by others, as in, “yeah, yeah, who doesn’t have it?”.

I think that this is because people confuse anxiety with stress. This is understandable, because stress usually accompanies anxiety, and vice versa. Anxiety, however, can truly be crippling. It can make an otherwise outgoing person paralyzed by social anxiety. A normally laid back person can become overwhelmed by fears. A decidedly care-free person can have thoughts that will not escape them (perseverative thoughts), no matter how hard they try.

I am someone who is very familiar with the effects of OCD. I know what it is like to be consumed by thoughts that you just can’t shake. Or to have routines that if not enacted, cause you to feel a sense of gloom and doom. I must say that as someone who has experienced both OCD and Mood Disorder, I think the OCD is just as emotionally debilitating.

It’s no joke.

Sometimes, the OCD or anxiety condition fuels the depression, and vice versa, compounding and augmenting one another. The synergistic effect is not pretty. I would not wish it on my worst enemy.

It is kind of ironic that our society views OCD as “cute”. People love to make jokes about it and say “I’m OCD like that” or “I’m so OCD”.

They obviously are not. Anyone who has ever suffered from the condition, and I do mean suffer, knows that there is nothing cute about it. I think that this notion that it is “cute”  needs to change. It’s great that there is not as much stigma attached to it, don’t get me wrong. I just think people who have experienced it deserve more credit and respect. It is a war within your mind. When you go through it, it is truly emotionally and physically exhausting.

So, what can you do about clinical anxiety? The kind that is affecting your health, well-being, career, and relationships? There are some basic tips, like staying away from caffiene, increasing exercise, meditating, using essential oils, therapy, etc. I think, however, from my experience, that it is important to get to your doctor. There are medical conditions like thyroid disorder, hormonal imbalances, etc. that could be contributing, and that can be easily corrected. There are also psychiatric medications that can help. I am not saying that they are the answer for everything or for everyone, or that they are a solitary solution. Often treatment should combine a number of techniques and interventions that work as a team to fight the anxiety. I am, however, saying that your doctor should be consulted, without hesitation, if the anxiety is affecting your quality of life in any way.

If you are someone who has suffered from clinical anxiety (social anxiety, OCD, PTSD, etc.), look at yourself in the mirror. Gaze into your own eyes and say “thank you”. Beam with pride, because you are an emotional warrior. The admirably decorated kind.

You are a hero.