Category Archives: Spirituality

Today is June 14, 2017. I am alive and well.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.  -Anais Nin

I don’t want to miss out. I don’t want to throw a curve ball at my future when it is possible to throw a no frills fast ball. Straight and in the glove. Thrown back at me straight and in the glove.

“Tight in the bud” is like being an unopened can of chicken noodle soap gathering dust in the pantry. I deny myself and someone else nourishment. Rather than being noticed in a crowd, I remain on the periphery of people, my arms folded against my chest, void of deep companionship and the experience of others.

I have loved one man deeply with all of me. I use to think to do this meant I would become lost to myself. I have worked too hard to bring myself forward and in doing so gain an understanding of me in my body, home in my body, to throw it away.

Loving Guy was like pulling off a bow, unwrapping a present, opening the box and finding wool socks and slippers. Comfortable. Warm. Protective. Easy to slide in and out of. We held hands everywhere; in front of the television, on the sidewalk, in the parking lot, at restaurants. 14 years of intense loving, giving of myself, and receiving from him.

He is now in Florida with another woman. The love I have for him hasn’t changed but obviously the delivery of that love has. Our contact is not physical. Our contact is through telephone calls and texts.

I live single today. As a single woman, I can do so much more. Read when I want. Write when I want. Cook what I want. Have coffee dates with friends when I want. I am a force tugged at only by my cats. I am a tree with bare branches looking majestic even in winter. In the fall, I support leaves that offer silent beauty.

I am of myself. I am that blossom that Anais Nin writes about.

Today is May 22, 2017. I am alive and well.

I miss clothes shopping. There is no money in my budget to do this with. The truth is I own 17 pairs of jeans, 2 pairs of dress pants, 5 blouses, several shirts and several jackets. I don’t need anymore clothes. To think I can wear a different pair of jeans everyday for a week and a half is mind blowing. And I don’t grow out of them. My weight is stable.

People think I’m naturally thin. This is not true. I work at it. If I had my druthers, I would eat cake with butter cream frosting on a daily basis. I love butter cream frosting. I always go for the flowers. If a cake has whipped cream frosting I am disappointed. Cake is an elixir. Cake is a joy. At Safeway Grocery there is four different kinds of cake, single serving of all, in the same container. Whoever thought that up is a genius! And yes, I would eat it all at one sitting.

I also exercise a great deal. I’ve been lifting weights and walking on the treadmill for years. Guy, my ex, is a personal trainer and set me up well with this. Currently, I weight train with Christy for an hour four times per week and walk on the treadmill six times per week for 50 minutes. Believe it or not, I don’t like exercise. I wish I could send my body to the gym and leave my mind at home reading books.

I’ve been thinking about homelessness a great deal, lately. My sister did telephone me. She is homeless. I asked her where she slept, hoping she would say a shelter. She didn’t; she sleeps on the street. Maybe there’s a park nearby. There is a big park by the library where I work. People commune in the grass. People sleep in the grass.

I wonder about little things being difficult. Where do you charge your phone? You’re on FaceBook…where do you use a computer? How do you shower? How do you maintain your clothes? I mean, c’mon, I have 17 pairs of jeans and they’re all laundered.

I have a full refrigerator, a stove/oven combo, and a dishwasher. I don’t use my dishwasher, but I do have one. I also have a microwave I use to heat water often in order to make coffee. I have coffee, by God. No, God has nothing to do with my coffee, but God has given me life; I’m talking spiritually. I say in respect to my sister, “there but for the grace of God go I.” I spend time in the hope of growing my spiritual condition. If I were on the streets, would I do this? Probably not. Where is God in my sister’s life? Maybe that’s not a question for me to ask.

I love easily today. I love my life today. Any problem today is a luxury problem. And have I mentioned?…I have two cats who curl up to me as I write in bed. Heaven.

Today is May 1, 2017. I am alive and well.

The first thing my sister said to me when I ran into her after 7 years of no contact was “Wow, you’re still alive.” And then my uncle said to me yesterday “I bet you didn’t think you’d see 53.”

It is true. I had no intention of living to 53. A driver has no intention of holding up traffic when her truck stalls out. I have had somewhere between 15 and 20 suicide attempts in my lifetime. The last one was in 1999. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to die since then; that’s simply the last time I attempted. Maybe the East Indian doctor with the soulful dark eyes, smelling of lavender, rubbed off on me. She told me at my bedside in the hospital ICU that I had a lot of life to live. That I had something special to offer. A five-year-old gets excited when she opens the door of the restaurant for her mother for the first time, offering entrance. I got excited about my book being published in 2014. It documented my recovery from schizophrenia and alcoholism. And yes, my time away from my last suicide attempt.

I have been free from the obsession to die for sometime now. That thought had plagued me like wanting a cigarette, needing a cigarette, in a smoke free coffee house. All thinking got set aside as I prayed for God to take me after swallowing handfuls of pills.

I am very bad at dying. It is hard to kill one’s self. I believe that those who do die from suicide were meant too….I can’t tell you why I believe this. Some ice cubes in a glass of tea float to the top while others remain at the bottom. I can’t tell you why all the ice doesn’t float to the top, getting in the way of the straw.

I am in the way of death. I have floated to the top. God removed my obsession to die. Life is new to me on a daily basis.

I remember the first time I tied my own shoes. I was excited to be able to do this on my own. On occasion, my shoe becomes untied while walking on the treadmill. I push the pause button and then bend over to tie my shoe. Ready to walk again, I hit a button and the treadmill resumes.

Life resumes. I love breathing. I love eating cake with butter cream frosting. I love that my cats woke me up this morning wanting kibbles. I take care of two living things. They thank me by curling up against me while I’m on the bed napping, writing, or reading.

There is no time to die today. Afternoon approaches. I know I will eat vegan chili, salad, and cornbread. I know I will wash my hair later. I will leave the house today to go to a sobriety meeting. I am 53 and loving it. So I say to my sister “I am alive and well.” She responds with a “thank God” and “it’s good to see you.” It is good to be seen. It will reach a 115 degrees here in the desert. And then there is air conditioning to be found inside.

Today is July 11, 2016. I am alive and well.

My struggling has scuttled away on the back of a cockroach (this is imagined, I don’t have cockroaches in my condo). I brush my obsessions into a small box with a lock and throw the key down the garbage chute. The key clangs as it hits the metal of an empty bin.

One of the things I know about living a sober life is that things change. My thoughts are not clinging to my brain waves like the keys of a piano in the fingers of a beginner playing chop sticks, after chop sticks, after chop sticks. Things have shifted. I am at peace.

I just finished listening to the audio book The 27 Club. It talked about the fact that musicians Brian Wilson, Jimmi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse al died at the ago of 27. All deaths were linked to heavy alcohol and drug abuse. I find this bit of trivia astounding. The world mourned their passing. The world lost major talent. The world was robbed of beauty.

I think of my own suicide attempts. As being no celebrity, my death would be a quiet one. After one attempt at suicide, an East Indian doctor came to visit me in the Intensive Care Unit of Scottsdale Osborn Hospital. She was petite. Her hands delicately hung at her sides. Yet, there was a power to her. She said to me, “you still have something to do in this lifetime.” Her words were kind–unlike the treatment I was getting from some of the nurses. I met her gaze and realized she was not kidding or saying something for lack of saying something else comforting.

I do remember as a kid looking into the mirror and saying, “you will speak before audiences and make more money than you’ll ever need.” I have spoke before audiences while telling my story of sobriety. I have read from my poetry manuscript during my defense for my Master of Fine Arts. I have read at a local bookstore parts of my memoir, Mind Without a Home. I still have yet to have a good deal of money, but don’t doubt that it may happen.

So, it is miraculous again to be at peace after a couple of trying days. I am blessed. Thank God for this wave of linen bellowing from a clothesline.

Today is March 25, 2016. I am alive and well.

In this blog, I have heavy opinions. I get concerned that I will lose readers when stating opinions whose weight are more than five pounds. I told myself to get over it and simply write. It is never my intention to upset anyone.

Kick-Ass Creativity and Assisted Suicide are books that were side by side on the book truck at work. I found this curious. I found this right. I believe in assisted suicide when the person wanting to die has already lost their life.

There was a show, which I never watched, titled 100 ways to die. I was appalled. I have attempted suicide at least nine times. I am terrible at dying. All I need is someone teaching me ways to die.

Suicide for the mentally ill, when the body is healthy, is to me the ultimate in self-centeredness. I do know that people, such as myself, are sick also when mental illness rears its ugly head. I don’t want to imply that suffering is any less than a person who is physically ill. I actually think in many cases, the suffering of people with mental illness is greater, but then, I have never had a debilitating physical illness.

Kick-Ass Creativity with assisted suicide is unnecessary. It seems pills are the only way that allows a person to die peacefully, with no pain. Or maybe through an IV like they do death row inmates. Or maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Kick-Ass Creativity is great for those with mental illness. When I was at my worst once again, I got thrown into an art studio with others whom shared common experiences. I began painting and picked up drawing with charcoal. Creativity can come in the form of gardening or cooking, handshakes or smiles, art of all kinds to include mosaics, ceramics, etc., or writing; anything that takes one out of their self, placing them in the zone.

I have chosen the pen to be my axe and words to be my wood. The fact that I don’t dip into darkness that often is mind blowing. When I stared into my window at night only to see my reflection staring back at me, I was empty and tired and alone. At eighteen, I was done. No one could pull me out of the pit that surrounded me. The walls of the pit were made of packed earth. I could not claw my way out. Soft dirt did not exist.

This Sunday, the 27th of March, I will be 52-years-old. My life is full with spirituality as my guide. I love the people in my life and they, me. Seeing my reflection in a window does not bring me to the feet of despair any longer. I walk in light. I may not be able to hula hoop, but I can make soft boiled eggs. I can feed another person. Life is good to me and I to it.

Today is March 13, 2016. I am alive and well.

The following is the first pages of my book in progress, tentatively titled Emma in the Corner:  A Spiritual Quest of Someone Living With Schizophrenia and Alcoholism.

Foreward

This book follows on the back of Mind Without a Home. Much of Mind Without a Home was written when my brain felt sick. The writing is imagistic, metaphorical, not always lucid. In this second book, my mind feels healed. I still hear voices no one else hears. I still think things like “there is a plate in my head I need to dial into.” And yes, the other realities still exist.

When I write my mind feels healed. I have not been in a psychiatric hospital for seven years. I have held my same job with the library for five years. I have been in a relationship with one person for fourteen years, and am just recently newly single. Guy left me for someone else and I did not fall apart.

Because of this change in mind, my writing is more lucid, hopefully not to the point of being boring. Here is where I don’t necessarily know the difference between chaos, lucidity, and freshness. I really ask myself if I’m misrepresenting myself as having schizophrenia and alcoholism because I am doing so well. Then I am reminded to take it back a notch and remember that I have two illnesses that tell me I don’t have them.

If you are meeting me here after reading Mind Without a Home, welcome back. And if this is your first experience of me, hello and I’m glad you came.

Prologue

Emma. I named her Emma. The baby giraffe stands poised at eight feet, 250 pounds, in the corner of the psychiatric hall. I see her as clear as the lines on my palms. She is not able to hide among the Mimosa trees from which she eats. Her body, camouflage. A spotted stick at rest against a peeling barn.

Trees do not pop up from the gray industrial carpeting. I am the only one to see this stately, serene presence at rest in this tumultuous world:  the world outside this psychiatric unit with its loud honking cars, kids on the playground bullying the fat boy, adults bickering over bills, hate crimes inviting real artillery, artillery being used in seemingly random acts of violence.

My brain is dialed in. Emma is beautiful. I believe she winks even though I am fifty yards away at the other end of the hall.

Emma sees farther than other creatures. The Egyptian hieroglyph for giraffe means “to prophesy,” to “foretell.” I’m sad that I won’t always be dialed into Emma. But I will remember how she made me feel safe, feel cared for, feel loved. A ninety-year-old woman having her toes clipped by her granddaughter.

It is giraffe magic the way Emma can disappear among the trees. In the open, Emma stands out like an exclamation mark. It is too bad others are not dialed into seeing her. They too would feel a tremendous amount of peace radiating from her tail.

Emma’s cloven hoofs the size of a dinner plate can kick a death blow. However, giraffes almost never harm another being. They are devout pacifists with neither aggressive or territorial inclinations. They never lock the door to their home they do not have.

Giraffes have no tear ducts, but have been seen to cry.

Emma can spot a person more than a mile away with her bewitching softness of eyes, high gloss and sympathetic, framed by movie-star-lashes.

She moves as a galloping mare, and as silent as a cloud. I imagine her nibbling on stars when not taking care of me. I grow calm looking at her; my smile as large as a split watermelon.

She’s a symbol for people who just don’t fit in:  they may be too tall, or too eccentric, or simply too different from everyone else. She’s my omen of good fortune.

My six foot body reflects off her eyes. I am in love with Emma.

The nurse announces medication time. I will leave my vision, step into the common reality, assured that Emma will be in the corner when I need her.

I will be here when my brain rights itself.

Emma, me, we will live free.

The facts about giraffes I retrieved from the book Tall Blondes by Lynn Sherr.

Today is February 21, 2016. I am alive and well.

I want to have a party with fake alcohol and see how many people act like they’re wasted; rum, not rum, roars through the thin man who pinches the breasts of the host. She giggles, then slaps him after coming to her senses–the slap smells of beef, a fingerprint left on his cheek.

I want to repay all the kindnesses my friends have shown me all their lives. A sunflower bends at the neck in welcome. I hand out handkerchiefs, love wrapped  in knots of stripes and polka dots–it is simple.

I want to travel the world bagging people’s groceries. A stick of butter rubs skin with a potato in London. The jolly man in Brazil grins with green jello the color of palm leaves. Canned beets are slippery in Seattle. A banana rots at the foot of an onion in Germany. Radishes remain the dirty spice that they are everywhere I go.

I want to say meow during a speech. All the dogs will riot when they learn the bill won’t pass the Senate; it’s a matter of boxers wearing helmets in the ring, the blood loss would be cut in half with the ear out of the way.

I want to believe in God. God has come to me in the form of a twisted branch in a tree three stories high. Leaves rejoice!

I want to have a story worth telling. I wake to the woman mowing the grass outside my open bedroom window, smell the grass, chamomile with a touch of honey. Paint a purple mustache on my niece’s doll. Ask her where Ken’s head is.

I want to take a cute girl to the moon. She smiles as I strap her into the card board box. The stereo explodes with the sound of flame. I tell her “close your eyes and imagine cheese.” In no time, we hear mail being dropped through the door’s slot and know we are still grounded. The moon is another dream, like cows pirouetting to Greenday’s Awesome as Fuck.

I want to go to a city where nobody knows me and act like a completely different person. My name will be Betty, an easy name, one I will recognize on a stranger’s tongue. I will wear boots and smoke cigarettes and smile only in the grocery store from where I buy slices of cake. My downfall is butter cream frosting. I like it on toast in this new life of mine.