Answers From the Universe

When I’m feeling frustrated or small or insignificant, I often find myself reaching out into universe for the answers to life’s biggest questions.  I set my sights skyward and almost put a message in a bottle to float amongst the cosmos.  I eagerly await a sign, even something as seemingly insignificant as a shifting of winds, to guide me to where I’m supposed to be.

In my more cynical moments, I’ve referred to this overwhelming dissatisfaction as being a “Cold War Kid”.  The Cold War mentality was only partially inherited in my generation in only the vague sense that we could be something greater and do something greater with our lives.  As bright eyed children, we were all encouraged to “shoot for the moon” with the promise that “even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”.  And with the broken promise, we disinherited greatness.

I’ve had a lot of false starts in my life.  In darker moments, I’ve often regarded this to be attributed to the pop-culture psych phenomenon “Failure to Launch Syndrome”.  My inquisitive mind is always searching for answers, flipping a problem over and about to inspect it from every angle.  It’s too dissatisfying to pawn it off on a generational glitch, especially when I feel as if my personal situation doesn’t quite fit the bill.

I don’t do anything half-assed, in fact quite the opposite.  I’m a classical overachiever, only to encounter the complications of mental health conditions that stymie my own endeavors.

“Why is it not enough to live a good life?  Why must I live a ‘great’ life?”

In the same fashion, I don’t believe in coincidences or luck.  Coincidences and luck are concepts embraced by those who lack the sight when they step out for a moment to take in the grandeur of the rich tapestry of cosmic design.  Common sense and logic are only scientific rules that generate likely predictions, but not necessarily the most accurate outcomes.  We are only human, and therefore we can only rely on our hindsight and foresight to be accurate on only the smallest scale.

At about the same time that Xan and I were completing our initial application for foster parent certification, I completed an application for CNA training with the Generation Pittsburgh program.  The program is designed to offer vocational training opportunities to the youths of Pittsburgh aged 18 – 29.  At the time of my application, I was staring down 30 within 3 months.  Though technically still within the specified age group, I knew there was a good chance that I’d “age out” before I even had a chance.

This past Friday, Xan and I confirmed with our contact at the adoption agency that we were scheduled in for four trainings during the month of December.  I believe that makes us nearly complete, and we can expect to have our homestudy expedited pending our clearances.  I was thrilled by this news!  It was almost as amazing when I first saw our son on a sonogram!

But, the CNA possibility still lingered.  I mentioned to Xan, “The applications close today.  I suppose I’ll find out next week whether I move to the next round.”

I did.  The email arrived this morning.  “Dear Mrs. M., Thank you for your interest, however our program is only offered to the 18 – 29 age group.  Unfortunately, you will soon not meet these qualifications.  Good luck in the future.”  I got my answer.

Rejection, in whatever form, is never well received.  Throughout my entire life, all I wanted to be was “older”.  I just wanted to somehow “grow into myself”, as a tiny puppy grows into her awkwardly large head and paws to be the grand dog she was meant to be.  This analogy doesn’t apply in the physical sense, seeing as how I gained my remaining two inches of my petite height somewhere between the ages of 18 and 21.  My late Pappap used to joke with everyone about his only granddaughter as being, “Five going on thirty-five.”  And I always felt a sense of urgency to somehow get there.

Now I’m here, and I’ve actually aged out of a program.  This is the first time I’ve experienced a discrimination of age because I was actually chronologically too old!  I was a young wife.  I was such a young mother than I often faced a public scorn of being an unwed teenage mother, when that was absolutely false!  Though I often get gasps when people inspect my ID, I realize that I am no longer a young woman.

In that very same breath, I exhaled soothingly.  This is my answer.  What is the grander purpose of my life?  For some people, it’s pretty clear cut.  For me, I’ve had to do over a decade worth of searching before I realized it.  My longest job held was teaching and caring for underprivileged children in a program where their working parents would often drop them off at 6AM and not return again until 6PM.  I dedicated my time to improving the lives of children that no one else had the time or energy to invest in.

Why not be a mother to children who need one?

Of everything I’ve ever wanted in my life, it’s always been clear to me that I wanted to get married and have kids.  I went through so many phases of “what do I want to be when I grow up?”, even as an adult.  Not a doctor, a lawyer, president, or anything of the like.  I wanted to be a wife and a mother, and everything else just came and went.

And with more than a blessing that I received on my pregnancy with my biological son, our family’s intentions to adopt have been extremely well received by both friends and family alike.

So, I leave this with a quote from Silver Linings Playbook:

When life reaches out at a moment like this it’s a sin if you don’t reach back, I’m telling you its a sin if you don’t reach back! It’ll haunt you the rest of your days like a curse. You’re facing a big challenge in your life right now at this very moment, right here.

Homesickness at 106

I’ve been so homesick lately.  It’s been almost four months since I moved into this new home, and I’m finally getting homesick.

Over the last few days, I’ve been looking around this home, and I realized that nothing about it feels like mine.  Nothing about it feels like the comfort of home.  I don’t see any of the useless trinkets that adorned my last home.  Instead, I see items that belonged to another person in another time.  The sugar bowls above my cabinets.  The ceramic that clutters my counter by the stove.  Inherited, ugly dishwear that we eat off of.  Foreign pots and pans that I prepare food on.

At first, it was like an exciting vacation home.  It was an escape from my ramshackle house that had strings like Pinocchio.  I was a puppet in my own home, and eventually, I was forcibly removed from that home with the final passive-aggressive jabs in a long, relentless series of them.  I had broken free of my failure to launch syndrome and was on the road to becoming a self-sufficient adult.

Now, I feel more helpless than ever before.  In my hometown, I could free myself of the bondage of my house whenever I felt like it.  There was a wealth of places I could go and see.  Here, I am trapped at the end of a beautiful, scenic private driveway in an idyllic little town.  To get off of this mountainous terrain, it’s a mile’s walk straight down a series of steep hills.  And even if I were to make it into town, there is nothing to do and nowhere to go.

I don’t miss the cramped nature of 511, with junk brimming from every tiny storage area there was.  But, now, I feel that there is no place of solace for me.  My bedroom was my bedroom.  All of my stuff was comforting, and my space was adorned with knicknacks of years past.  It was a representation of me.  I feel like this place is completely devoid of that.  This place feels devoid of me, and I’m beginning to feel lost.  I’m beginning to feel like I’m losing myself, instead of finding a place where I could discover myself once again.

There’s too many negative memories attached to that house.  So many, that they actually outweigh the positive ones.  In that house, I lived with Avi, without heat, in the most brutal winter I can recall.  I lived out of boxes, surrounded by piles of garbage and junk.  I was estranged from that house in warmer months as a means of escape.  I hit the bottom of the barrel with a miserable labor job, a serious drinking problem, and a completely hopeless future.

It was in that house that I was coerced into having immoral sex with Simon in a sick, twisted threesome.  I hardly remember it.  Most of what I can recall from the situation has a haze over it.

There were good things.  It was the place where Xan was partially unconscious in my lap on New Years’ Eve, and I fed him a special New Years’ Eve pretzel I made in the bakery at work.  It was the place where I first realized that I loved him.  That was the house where Xan and I first lived together as a couple.  It was the first place we made love.

That was the place where we started our life together.  It was the place we went back to after our wedding.  It was the house that our child was conceived in.  We brought our little bundle of joy home there, and slept on the living room floor next to his bassinet for the first month.  There, our son took his first steps, said his first words, and grew from a baby to a child.

Again, there was the bad and even the ugly.  Too much violence happened there, both physical, verbal, and self-inflicted.  It was a breeding ground for negativity.  Xan and I used to have these knock-down, no-hold-barred fights there.  I recall too many moments where I stormed up the stairs to escape him.  The whole last four months of our residence in that home was a complete disaster in our marriage.

In essence, I escaped that place.  But, is the devil you don’t know worse than the devil you do?

Positives.  Think of the positives.

This house has the potential to become my lifetime home.  Maybe I am just homesick because I spent six years in the last house, and only four months here.

This house is located in a safe area for my son, and provides a calm, free environment for him.  In addition, it has a better school district and provides better learning opportunities and support for him.

This house has additional space.  I don’t feel as cramped and caged, even if I do feel lonely and secluded.

Even though this house contains a lot of foreign items, it won’t forever.  I will acquire more items to replace the old ones that feel more like me.  It will become more familiar as time passes.

This house is not a money pit.  It is in good condition and was well built.  I do not spend a large amount of money on utilities, and there is hardly a threat that I will ever be without.

I will never be threatened to be evicted from this home.  There are no strings attached and the owner is very hands-off.  I will never find myself threatened or harassed over this house.

Xan and Beast are happy here.

It is easy to clean and requires little maintenance.  It might be a little more overwhelming, since it’s a bit bigger than the other house.  But, I don’t have to look at torn out walls and feel a sense of hopelessness and fear toward the condition.

I can be happy here.  I have been happy here.  Summers are far more temperate and beautiful here.  Autumn is gorgeous with all of the foliage.  Winter might even be nice with fresh white snow covering the yard and the woods.

It’s quiet.  I can think.

And one day, I’ll be able to get around on my own.  Even if there is really nowhere to go.  I’ll be less lost and I’ll understand the area a little better.

I’ll find my place here.  I know I will.  It’s just going to take some time.

Treasure

Today, my son taught me an important lesson on value and how we place it.

My son is a really special little guy. He has Pervasive Development Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified on the Autism Spectrum.  So, a lot of little things that would be be considered typical in other children are really significant for him.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a parent tell their four year old to shut up because the chatter became overbearingly annoying.  I always feel that twinge of sadness, fearing that my son may never speak enough for me to become aggravated at all.  Those moments are significant for me, too.

But, then there are those moments that are significant in an enlightening way.

I was sitting at the dining room table this morning with my wallet and what we call “The petty cash box”.  I was mindlessly dumping change into it when my son approached me.  When he speaks, I listen with all of my might to make out what he is saying.  It might be the only thing I ever put my full attention into.  He said, “Mommy, money!”  I was thrilled that he took an interest in what I was doing, and I allowed him to put the money in the box while supervised.

He happily put the money in, and presented me with a quarter saying, “Mommy, want quarter?”  I was delighted that he could identify it.  Suddenly, he grabbed the box and started to walk away.  I was about to chase him down just when he put it on the end table. He turned to me excitedly and shouted, “Look, Mommy! Treasure!”

He started to prattle on about being a pirate when my heart just melted. It was a brilliant observation. The little box kind of resembled a treasure chest, brimming with different colored coins. And that’s when it hit me. It wasn’t just about the likeness. It was about the whole interaction. And the whole thing had taken on an entirely different value.

I started to think about the things that I value. What do I cherish?

The realization hit me. Lately, I’ve been dwelling on the things that I want, but don’t have. My focus had been shifted onto the seemingly hopeless pursuit of these things. And I realized that those things are intangible idealizations that may never even have the possibility of becoming a reality. Those things had gained all of the value over the things I truly cherished and clouded my mind.

What do I value then?

Little, daily victories for my son. A few engaged words here and snippets of hopeful conversation there. His new discoveries and interests. And each beautiful little smile and giggle. All of those shining moments that give me hope for his development through Autism Spectrum Disorder.

But even more for him, I value him. Him, as he is. My 4 foot tall, 55lb, brown haired, green eyed little Beast.

I value my husband’s caresses. This morning, he unexpectedly turned over and actually spooned me. It was more than welcome. It was soothing, comforting, and all spontaneous. It was one of those rare, intuitive moments he had. I cherish those.

But, I value even more than those fleeting moments. It is bigger than that. I see what I have missed all along. Every action is an intuitive, invested action. Whether I know it or not, he’s taking care of my needs that I don’t even think about anymore. I was overlooking what was right there in front of me because I was too involved with what I considered to be neglected needs.

Finally, my eyes started to open up.

When I really thought about it, I found value in myself today. I have been so fixated on what I am not, and the things I thought I had lost, I lost sight of who I am and all of the things I have gained. I am a mother. I am a wife. I have been those things for longer than I have been anything else. I am those things above all else. And I don’t know how I came to value anything else.

I lack certain qualities, but that does not make me devoid of myself. There is plenty of me. I am not stable, but I am spirited. I am not entirely well right now, but I cannot expect to be well all of the time. I have Bipolar Disorder. I am not Bipolar. I am more than my illness and more than my symptoms.

Today, I connected with my husband without trying or wanting. I connected with a son I thought I was losing to Autism Spectrum Disorder. But more so, he connected with me. He reached out and connected me with the world again. And that was what made all of the difference.

A new dawn, a new day.

Riding in Cars with Boys Again

It set him off.  He said, “And now there’s going to be people we don’t know traipsing all over our house again, judging us.  And there you were, making all of these decisions without me.”

Yesterday, Xan and I attended an evaluation for our son, Beast, for entrance into a special preschool for children with special needs.  Our son was diagnosed with Pervasive Development Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified in June 2011 while he was receiving Early Intervention Services.  For more information, visit the original post, “Riding in Cars with Boys”.

Needless to say, the evaluation didn’t go well.  They never really do.

I was furious.  I retorted, “I have to make these decisions, because you don’t.  You haven’t been there up until now.”

“I want to wait and think on this.  It’s happening too fast.  I can’t process it.  I don’t think we should start to seek services until November at the earliest.”

I went through the roof.  I threatened, “If you stand between me, our son, and getting him help, I promise you that I will leave you.  He needs these, and I will do anything to get him there.  It’s been too long already.”

“Fine.  Then leave,” he said shortly.

I stated, “I don’t want too, but –“

He interrupted, “No, I don’t want to hear it.  You leave then.  I’m done here.”

There was a long period of silence, where I felt the schism and then the great void opened up.  Something ensnared me, and pulled me by the ankle faster and faster toward the Great Below.  I clawed and scraped, desperately trying to hold on.  But, it was no use. I gave up.  I was dragged into The Hollow, where everything went black around the edges, and the rest of me was numb inside.

It’s as if I were suddenly disembodied, sitting in the back of the car with my son, watching the whole thing play out.  He went on about how this was such a danger to us, and I blankly told him that I didn’t care.  I was beyond caring.  I had a mission, and it no longer involved any real part of me.  It required my participation, in the very least.  Only a presence, just a husk of a woman as a placeholder for what was and what might have been.

“You said we needed a social worker.  I agreed.  Now we have one,” I argued flatly.

“No, this isn’t right,” he angrily disagreed, “I don’t need someone in my own house judging my parenting.  Judging us, wondering exactly how fit of parents we are to raise him.”

I struggled, “And what do you think is going to happen if we don’t get him services?”

“I don’t know, but it has to be better than this.”

I finally found my gusto and returned to myself for a flicker of a second to drive it in, “I’m not going to stand by and let my son turn into a dangerous retard, and end up in a special school, because someone was too afraid and disengaged to get him help!”

“What, like how you stood by when you were going through whatever you were going through?”

It hit me like a wrecking ball, shattering every bone in my body, every bit of what little cohesive world I had remaining.  I couldn’t say anything in return.  The knife had to be sturdily wedged between my ribs, and my life’s blood gurgled and oozed out.  The life drained from me, and I was once again driven backward, ears ringing violently with silence.

And then there was this great nothingness that emanated from within and saturated the air around us.  Instead of choking, I breathed it in eagerly, letting the numbness wash over me.  I was already far over the Precipice, eyes wide open, watching the ground come at me at the speed of sound.  I would end it all in one tiny little snip of an already fraying thread.

We sped over the hills and the valleys of our hometown, and I gazed out the window to stare at the autumn-colored trees as they passed.  I’m in the autumn of my existence, a voice narrated, echoing the caverns of my empty mind.  I watched from outside myself as he glanced over at me.  I never met his eyes.  I just continued to stare, the whole world muted into something unintelligible.

I could hardly make it out, “I’m sorry.  I’m just so scared about what this means for him.  Today, when I saw him being evaluated, I see an entirely different boy from the little boy I see to be my son.”

“I understand,” I murmured almost robotically.  In truth, I did.  He went on to explain his position, but the world remained too washed out.  The sound was distorted by static.  He went on to describe our son’s awful behavior during our session, and all I could manage was a whisper.  “Now you know how I felt when I did this alone.”

He had finally come to understand my position.  He was finally seeing the seriousness of the situation, and the dire need to get our son the help that he requires for his special needs.  “I’ve seen this significant backslide in the last few months.  He was doing so well.”  But, I was too exhausted and disconnected to explain it again when he asked.  I provided minimal answers.

The apology came too little too late.  If only there was an answering service for when I checked out completely.

It was completely unfair to him.  It was unjust to let him continue to sit in the dark while he was obviously trying to come back into the light, where truth and hope awaited him.  But, I couldn’t return when the threat still existed.  I had been knifed into oblivion, my soul spilling out onto the jagged rocks beneath me.  If I came back too soon, the voices would emerge and tell me lies.  Sweet, angry little lies, and play me like the fiddle that I am.

I slipped a Lamictal into my mouth and took a big swig of the strange vitamin water I picked up at the convenience store.  My soul is already partially deadened.  I might as well keep going.

It’s the only way.  It’s the only way to cope and deal with what I have at hand.  I may have lost my ability to remember, but maybe it is better this way.  Maybe, I have to forget the pain and the fear in order to switch tracks.  Maybe, I have to forget myself completely to surrender myself to the others.  Either way, I know what I have to do, even if I don’t know how to go about doing it.

Couples fight.  Even the best of couples.  We don’t see eye to eye, and we’re often to proud to admit to the other when we’re scared and vulnerable.  I’ve learned that over the last year.  We’re not supposed to be perfect, because we are imperfect beings.  Our marriage is perfect because it is imperfect.  And I know that we’ll get through this together.

The Friday Confessional : Mo Anam Cara

Last week, I wrote Seeds of Affection, confessing the almost sordid, but sweet details of Xan and my secret burgeoning relationship.

We left off with Xan’s admission of when he recognize his love for me.  Our moment was described in this:

Chronos smiled, freezing time for us, and only us.  The night stood still, permitting us to slip between the cracks of space and time.  We defied the continuum without breaking our bonds.  And for those moments, we were more than just two solitary entities inhabiting the same space.  We were the space; we were each others’ thoughts, voices, and breaths.

Something sparked that evening while we were painting.  I doubt me being in my underwear had much to do with it.  Art is an intimate thing, especially painting.  There is a lot of physical contact and what remains is a representation of the emotion in the area.  What was left was permanent.  We were oblivious to this, but it certainly wasn’t lost on his girlfriend.

Neither of us could understand why she was so upset.

Familiar places, familiar faces, we once again found ourselves on our eternal carousel, orbiting one another but never to meet in the middle.  Gravitation pull kept us circling, leaving others to be our asteroids consistently knocking us off course.  Nearly two years elapsed before our irregular orbits had crossed paths once more.  But other planets were aligning, creating a universal, cataclysmic event, speeding up motion and time.

Years passed, and we remained friends.  There was a barrier of friends and lovers that stood between us, wiser and more perceptive.  We had something, a certain something that can only be found between two people who were mean to be together.  But, neither of us knew it.  Individually, we had feelings for each other, but nothing that existed in the forefront of our minds.  And both of us believed that the other would be unlikely to give the other a sideways glance in any life.

Regardless, we still gravitated toward each other.  Through falling outs, jealous lovers severing our ties, and simply life leaving us in vague passing, we still managed to come back together.

The Eve of Omega and Alpha culminated at the end of a mighty crescendo.  All in one space and time resided unrealized past, present, and future respectively as if the freshly laundered fabric of time had been folded, once over, twice over, then again.  I was frozen, pondering the possibilities, and still too nearsighted to distinguish.  My crossroads were much fuzzier and perilous than I had realized and my choices too weighted and narrow.  Yet, he stood further down the path, silently beckoning me once again, always too far ahead like a time traveler.  And for once brief moment, I caught his greyish outline in the distance, down the overgrown path.  However, it wasn’t enough to detract from the bright signs, falsely guiding me down yet another treacherous path.

Confession #4:  At one point, I had recognized that I had affections for Xan.  This was months after we had started our pseudo dating.  I had written in my journal, “What is the difference between a best friend and a lover?”  Xan was my best friend.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again and again.  Xan had seen me at my very best, attending my concerts, screaming and smiling while riding shopping carts down busy city streets.  He had also witnessed my very darkest moments, all of the late night sobbing, the rages, vicious attacks and desperate, pathetic living conditions with alcoholism.  Xan knew me better than anyone in this world.  We shared more than two friends should probably have shared.

The spring air was crisp, and the beauty exuded more so than ever before.  We spoke, old moths to the flame, drawn in, never missing a beat to the rhythm of the familiar drum.  Perhaps we marked time to it, never straying far enough for life in all of it’s obstructive noise obscure it’s particular pulse.  Our time was infinite.  We walked the earth eternally, as long as the sky was blanketed in the celestial beings that kissed the sky.  Even with every step I took, I felt my chains to the other becoming more cumbersome, the burden unbearable.  I trudged on.

Xan and I spent a great deal of time on my balcony.  We were forced out there, because my ex was occupying the singular room we were living out of, while playing World of Warcraft.  It is not as if we were typically speaking words that shouldn’t have been overheard.  It was just incredibly difficult to have a deep conversation with blaring metal music and Avi’s incessant, nonsensical babble.

Drunk words are sober thoughts.  Confessions poured from my soul through my mouth faster than a river through the universe, traveling at the speed of light.  I was the sinner and he was my savior, hearing every gruesome detail, redeeming me with stroking words, caressing my frail soul.  The picture was black, the sound garbled like in a damaged film reel.  The scene continued regardless; the show must go on !

Confession #5:  I kissed Xan before we were officially together.  In fact, I didn’t remember it until after we were officially together.  Xan told me about how I had confessed my love for him while he dragged my limp, floppy body home from the bar one warm Saturday night.  That was the same Saturday night that I took him to the trestle.

Come with me.

Such a simple phrase struck a nerve and coursed my stagnant lifesblood through my icy veins.

The “come with me” phrase was in reference to his college choice.  He was finally ready to finish his degree, and was accepted into Tulane.  I was distraught at the idea of him leaving.  He put his hand on my knee and looked deep into my eyes.  He said, “Come with me.”  The way he said it was like, “Come with me, away from this place, away from this hell you’re in.”  It was like he wanted to rescue me.  It was the first time that anyone had said anything like that.  He cared for me so much that he couldn’t stand to leave me behind.

That boy loves you more than you’ll ever know.

First synapses firing, connecting, the stirrings of conscious realization.  The Alpha and Omega, overlapping in folds of time.  The mirage eroded before me, and the poisonous cloud released.

For the first time in centuries, we were standing face to face within the labyrinth.  Side by side, we made our way through its dark, narrow walkways.  Our flames licked each other eagerly, separate for the very last instant of eternity.  No walls remained, only the flesh and air between us.

“That boy loves you more than you’ll ever know,” was spoken by my own father, one hot summer night while we all drank together on the porch.  Xan had left to grab us all some more drinks, and my father told me that.  My father, the man who approved of absolutely nothing I had ever done or ever planned to do.  I could do no right in his eyes.  But, he seemed to see something I didn’t.

Confession #6:  That is among the dozens of reasons I married Xan.  Parental approval was more than through the roof.  I asked my mother how she would feel about our marriage, and she was thrilled.  She put out the engagement announcement in the paper the very next week.

In the dead of night, so silent the rain did not dare make a patter in this moment, he grasped my arm firmly and wrapped himself around me.  Underneath the long reach of the trees branches above, time slowed to accent the moment, and brand it in heart and memory for lifetimes to come.

I have always loved you.

He breathed into me, a life and fire to awaken mine.  Our lips touched, melting into one another.  Reunited, intertwined, conjoined at the purest moment of our final reunion. My being shot out so quickly reality could not keep pace.  Time and space bent for us, allowing this moment to live in all of our eternities.

I, as well.  I have always loved you.  

It echoed louder than a chorus of angels, spreading throughout all the worlds to be recognized for the cosmic event it was.  Twin souls, united, now indiscernible from one another.  Two halves of the whole conjoined, intertwining with each passage, every last exchange.  Our flames united into the blazing inferno, lighting up the whole world around us.  He gazed into me as I gazed into him.  And in that very second, we fell into one another, freed from the labyrinth.  Only the world, our beautiful, majestic world, with the vast fields yielding those just emerging seedlings, existed among us.

Mo Anam Cara. It was in that moment that I knew in my heart and soul that I had found My Soul Friend, the English literal translation.

Final Confession:  There is a concept beyond all descriptions of any kind of intense love that exists.  It’s a love that transcends our physical existence in any time or dimensions.  It exists everywhere, in all space, and in all time, defying the laws of nature.  That is how I feel about Xan.  And secretly, I think it’s the way I’ve always felt.

Exercises to Build Self Esteem: #1. Pleasure and Happiness

Writing your Pleasure List

1. Take a clean sheet of paper and head somewhere you feel safe and relaxed.

2. Divide the paper into four sections:

– Section 01: People and Pets (who bring me pleasure when I think of them)
– Section 02: Places (that bring me pleasure when I think of them)
– Section 03: Things (that bring me pleasure when I think of them)
– Section 04: Things I like to do (that bring me pleasure)

3. Then write as many examples as you can under each section.
4. Remember to allow yourself to feel happy!

Section 01: People and Pets

  • Xan, my husband.
  • Beast, my son
  • Dill, my friend
  • Zen, my cat that passed on last year
  • Rees, my friend.
  • Ruby, my friend
  • Carla, my friend
  • Monday, my friend
  • My MIL
  • My FIL

Section 02: Places

  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina:   It is absolutely, hands down, my favorite vacation spot.  The beaches are huge and sandy.  The local, southern food is amazing, and the local people are very friendly.  I have some of my most fond memories there.  When I was sixteen, it was my first taste of freedom.  It was the only town I was ever allowed to wander around in unsupervised.  I was free to go wherever I wanted within a certain 15 block radius in either direction.  For Myrtle Beach, that’s a lot of territory.  I spent my honeymoon there with Xan.  It was the first time I had ever gone on vacation as an adult.  We just had the most lovely time, I recall.  Good food, peaceful setting, and a lovely beach.  I got to wake up every single morning to go out on the patio and watch the sunrise.  It was magical.
  • Virginia Beach, Virginia:  I recall Virginia Beach having one of the most impressive boardwalks I had ever been on.  Anything you could ever want was on that board walk.  I was thirteen years old, and I’d sneak out to my very own balcony in the middle of the night just to watch the moon rise on the ocean.  It was one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen.  It was fairly close by car, so I wasn’t stuck in the car forever with my parents.  And, since I had my own room in our suite, I had a huge amount of privacy.  It was the best vacation I can remember from my childhood.
  • The Fountains in Pittsburgh:   There’s something about those fountains.  Pittsburgh has plenty of them, because we are so close to the river.  There was one in particular that I loved, and I took a photo of it right before my surgical consultation the August before last.  Something about it was calming, and settled me down to think about the beautiful things in life.  I even wrote a post called, “All the Pretty Things”.
  • The Trestle:   By my old house, in the same neighborhood I grew up in, there was this old, abandoned railroad trestle.  My best friend showed it to me when we were in our early teens.  We used to hang out there to drink and smoke pot.  Then, we’d have these deep conversations about our thoughts and feelings.  Those were very intimate moments.When Beck, my ex, and I became secret lovers behind her back, we used to frequent the trestle.  It was the place that I had my first kiss with a boy.  And he and I would sit there for hours, holding each other, talking about our dreams, and making plans for our future together.  And after Beck and I broke up, I didn’t go back again.

    Until there was Xan, three years later.  At the time, we were living with my ex, Avi.  I felt a bond with Xan that I couldn’t quite explain.  So, I took him there, so that we could be alone.  We hung out and we drank.  It was a beautiful alone place, even if it was a rusted trestle.  You could see the creek below, and it was surrounded by trees, a rarity in that neighborhood.

    It was the place where Xan and I spent our first night together as a couple.  We sat up all night and talked.  I don’t recall what about.  The past.  The present.  Maybe even the future.  I know we went through the story of our developing relationship, and how we got to this point.  And I remember we held each other in the rain until the morning light.

Section 03: Things:

  • My computer
  • My Samsung Captivate Glide
  • Pandora
  • My stuffed animal from when I was a kid
  • Coffee
  • Pizza
  • New clothes
  • Cigarettes
  • Overhead Lighting
  • WordPress
  • Facebook
  • Bejeweled Blitz
  • Bed
  • My blue coffee cup
  • My brown skirt
  • The Internet
  • Wikipedia
  • WebMD
  • Medscape
  • Google
  • Craigslist
  • My blue blanket
  • My journals
  • Inkjoy pens
  • G2 Gel Pens
  • All no bleed Sharpies
  • Office supplies
  • Caffeine
  • My medication
  • My contacts

Section 04: Things I like to do:

  • Go for long car rides
  • Eat at this little mom and pop diner a few towns over
  • Shop
  • Get dressed up (sometimes)
  • Take hot showers
  • Visit my in-laws
  • Craft
  • Take on a new project
  • Crochet
  • Write
  • Read
  • Write on WordPress
  • Read on WordPress
  • Do selfless acts
  • Practice Tang Soo Do
  • Play computer games
  • Watch my favorite TV shows
  • Create things
  • Play with my son
  • Spend time with my husband

All that I am, all that I ever was...

“Pleasure is the only thing one should live for, nothing ages like happiness.”
~ Oscar Wilde ~

Accentuate the positives

The first exercise toward building better self-esteem is to focus on the positives. Now, I’m not a convert into the positive thinking movement, in fact I find books that proclaim all we need to do is think positively and everything we want will magically appear out of thin air complete crap. I don’t believe someone can ‘pretend away depression’ nor do I believe thinking positively will cure you of cancer or the myriad of other illnesses that people suffer from.

However, thinking positive thoughts about ourselves can bring about an attitude change toward better self-perception.

Once upon a time I was in a counselling session. I had seen this counsellor for several sessions and in each one he noted how stressed and tense I was; how I sat in a…

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Gay Marital Status : 30 Days of Truth

Day 18 : Your views on gay marriage.

I am not typically one to discuss controversial topics on my blog.  Politics and religion are two subjects that I have some pretty convoluted and alternative philosophies on.  So, as a rule of thumb, I am inclined to exclude these from any social agenda that I may have.

However, I am prompted.  Therefore, I must preface this with a few things.  Comments on this particular post will be closed, not as a result of a discouragement of sharing opinion, but as a precautionary measure.  I appreciate all of the feedback I get from an audience, however, I am not interested in allowing a flame war on my blog.  If anyone is interested in an adult discussion, I am willing to do so in private.  You may email me at lulu.em.stark@gmail.com and I will screen responses appropriately.

Additionally, realize that my views are only opinions.  They are, in no way, meant to be construed as offensive or bias.  If you believe that you may find the following material offensive, please consider skipping this installment of The 30 Days of Truth : Sunny with a Chance of Armageddon.

With that said:  Lulu’s Views on Gay Marriage.

Quite honestly, gay marriage is really none of my business.  I realize that it’s my civic duty as an American citizen to fight for the causes of others, and believe me, I do.  However, this is a subject that I shy away from.  I am not gay.  Although I have fallen in love with a girl once, I do not believe I would have ever considered marrying her.  I have a history of experimentation with members of the same gender, however, I am not generally attracted or romantically interested.  Therefore, I have proven I am not gay, therefore gay marriage is not on my list of crusades.

However, if I were to be coerced into taking up a social issue beyond my own scope, I suppose gay marriage would be on the agenda.  I believe that every American should be free to make their own choices.  We do live in America, one of the freest countries in the world.  We have made so much progress in human rights and freedoms.  We are guaranteed equality.  Anyone is permitted to legally join with another person of the opposite gender.  Why do we have to limit it to opposing genders?

Now, being from an Episcopalian background, I do have one objection to gay marriage.  I believe in marriage as a ritual between man and woman in front of our higher power.  Marriage is not just a legal union between two opposite gendered entities.  It’s a spiritual thing.  Now, while I believe that homosexual folks should be entitled to the same rights under the higher power, I also believe that a distinction should be made.

The distinction is the same as the distinction between a heterosexual relationship and a homosexual relationship.  Gay and straight are necessary terms to describe the nature of a relationship, just as married and single.  It is important to define relationships in terms of our higher power and our legal status.  Marriage implies that the union occurs between a man and a woman.  Therefore, a different terminology should be used.

I do not mind any terminology that can be synonymous with marriage.  Union sounds nice.  Matrimony, minus the holy part is good for any kind of wedding.  Wedded, and anything else, seem to fit nicely.  Any combination of those would be effective.  I actually find it rather offensive to call it “gay marriage”, just because of the terminological distinction.  However, this is not my decision to make.  Again, I am not gay.  I don’t know what is offensive in the gay community, therefore I avoid the topic altogether.  I think the rest of the public would probably be okay with homosexual unions if they were called something other than “gay marriage”.  It’s possible that it offends much of the religious population.

That’s just my opinion.  If anyone has anything to add, I would be glad to hear it.  However, no flame mail or hate mail.  I’d like to clarify that I support any consenting union between two adult parties that are not adulterous or incestuous in nature.

Thank you.