In the past, this has been my place to come and express my shadow side -- mostly the type of darkness and difficulty that lands in every human being's life. My life is far easier most. I don't worry about food or shelter. My children are amazing and give me little trouble. Being a human being, though, I am always reaching for more. My stupid chronic cough has been a center of my sad posts, yet I don't believe I've ever actually come to tears about it.
I guess I would say that I'm just not "a crier." Tears don't come very often. I'm generally even-tempered. But today, when I saw that terrifying Trump rally, with throngs of white people chanting, "Send her back" alongside the continuing stories of once hopeful (or desperate) immigrants in cages... the tears are here. Worse, I feel like I've been punched in the gut.
Physically, I'm just short of albino when it comes to being white (thanks to advanced vitiligo -- google it if you haven't heard of it). For the first time, I'm uncomfortable with my skin color because it matches the Trump supporters.
The other thing that bothers me is that I know that most of them are not evil, and in fact simply oblivious that they are walking an evil path. I don't understand how they don't see the connection between their attitudes and the many instances of mob rule, group thought, and rising hatred. History is repeating itself. They don't see it. Why can't they see it?
Some of these people are my relatives. And I don't know what to do. I am a person who wants to write my little screenplays and novels and hope that it might contribute to the opening of people's minds. I am not a protester, picketer, or (God forbid) politician. I sense that any statement I make with the slightest touch of anger or resentment will do nothing but put another brick in the wall between us.
The chants of "go back home" makes me want to go back home (I have a few choices - I think I'll pick Ireland or England over Russia -- that right there, in and of itself shows how easy I have it. I have the power to make a decision. How many refugees and people fleeing violence could casually consider three countries?).
I am always aware -- just under the surface -- that I am living on stolen land.
It's amazing how quickly I get over bad news. Or scary news.
My lungs are growing various and sundry weird things and doctors don't know why. I had about a week of a bizarre and new kind of stress.
Then I got over it.
Then I went to the dentist for a root canal -- who referred me to an endodontist -- who referred me to an oral surgeon. Why? Another weird thing growing at the root of my tooth.
I'm starting to get used to the idea that my body does stuff without my permission and that it might or might not kill me. I'm just super chill with it all today.
Next week I might have lost that laid-back feeling.
Thinking that I might die sooner rather than later is confusing. First of all, my mother died at the age I am now so I'm a little nervous about that. That complicates that idea that people who are going to die often have a sense of impending doom. I definitely have a sense that I am going to die soon, but I can't tease that out from my concern about being that age when my mother died. My instinct cannot be trusted, because ever since my mom died my mind goes quickly to the death idea with every tension headache.
All these tests results that keep coming up with the word lesion (which is actually an incredibly nonspecific word - google it) have made my approach to my current days a bit different. I haven't done any boat rocking the way I would if I was sure I was going to die, but I have begun to think "bucket list." I am one of those people who have always put off life experiences with this idea that someday I'll be thinner or more beautiful or have no debt. When the thought of death came knocking, it made me realized that I'm not going to get younger and most certainly not (much) thinner (unless I get cancer -- suddenly thinness as a goal seems moronic). I have a bit more money these days, but if I die in the next couple of years college money is no concern thanks to a decent life insurance policy.
So what does all this boil down to?
I'm going to England for a writer's retreat. And that makes me happy. :) I've only got to live through August to get there. After that, I'll think about getting my kids (ONE at at time) overseas for bucket list trips
Last year at this time I quit my job with no good prospects in front of me. This was in part because of my health (doctors are stumped, so I'll name my disease Uysterious Coughing Syndrome - you can decide how to pronounce it). The other reason factoring into leaving Arts Academy? I hated it.
When it comes to money, I am a risk taker. Logically, I should not have quit. Yet, I'm so glad I did, because I landed my dream job.
So, with everything clicking along so nicely, getting scary looking results from the routine monitoring of my Usterious C-S made perfect sense in a world that often appears to be run by a nine-year-old god with conduct disorder and impulse control "differences." He is pouring lighter fluid on our beautifully constructed ant hills (e.g. Notre Dame) and crushing us with his foot every time we get a little too confident. This particular imaginary god is definitely a boy. Sorry boys.
Clearly, I'm still in a bad mood, and that makes me cynical. I am not truly cynical -- honestly -- but when my goals for life seem like they are purposely being thwarted by nature, then I get a little cranky and sarcastic.
I am less convinced that I am going to die, which is good. I'm not fully convinced. It has been interesting living through those few days, though, trying to figure it out. I was filling out some quicky-internet will and thinking about leaving messages for my children and how best to do that. Coincidentally, I have been watching After Life with Ricky Gervais and I wondered if it had something to do with the great patterns I see coming about in my life that ultimately never do me as much good as I imagine they should.
The point is, my lungs look terrible and they are loaded with nodules - even the "ground glass" type which is associated with lung cancer. Sounds like cancer. Yet it is looking like inflammation from Usterious Coughing Syndrome - so after a course of prednisone they will probably shrink or go away. And I don't have any other cancer symptoms. So I get to be on prednisone and wait three months.
In the meantime, I will take it as a wake-up call to get ready to die (everybody ought to). I'll get my will figured out and begin writing more so I can leave more of my thoughts and hopes for my children... to my children. I hate that my parents died when I was young and that they have been gone so long and missed so much (well, they may have seen everything - god forbid - but I haven't been able to enjoy the flesh and blood realities of parents in a moment of my adult life.).
The one thing I thought that I want to do before I die is be less guarded and more honest. Being a teacher, there is pressure to be careful about what you say and do. I'm not saying that my desire is to say or do anything terribly controversial - but I do avoid expressing some thought that I have about religion, spirituality, and society in the raw way that I would like to. I am careful with my words, but I'm not sure that makes a ton of sense. I am not generally a fan of the "F" word because it is overused (blame Six Feet Under and The Sopranos for the trend) and used as filler so often that it has lost its power. Yet for someone who does not curse regularly, I think I have a right to use it in a judicious - and perhaps funny - way that makes me feel powerful. You -- reading this -- may not understand. But this, after all, is not your self-indulgent online journal. It's mine.
I just saw a show on creativity and one of the great creators talked about how honesty is so important in creativity. Honesty can be tough. It can make a person feel vulnerable. I'm going to take a deep breath and share the overwhelming thought I had when I thought I was going to die earlier in this month:
For most of my life, I have been 5'7", 165 pounds (give or take five), and "pretty" by white-girl societal standards. I am strong. I'm a good runner. I am not all muscle. I am not all fat. In no way do I live up to the "thin ideal." Thinking I would die soon, I looked back on my life and thought about how much I resent every person who ever made me feel like I was not okay the way I was. In other words -- how many people encouraged me to lose weight, talked behind my back about my weight or size, or judged me without ever knowing me because of my size. The worst offender in all of this was me -- but young me was also a victim of the hundreds or thousands of messages I got that I needed to change - that I would be better, happier, and more worthy if I changed. In my fifties now, looking back on that.. I wish I could tell every one of those people to fuck off and figure out your own problems.
Hey, Every One of You:
That just seems like too much of a coincidence. I am honestly not that freaked out about dying if that is my path.
What I don't want is to put my children through losing me, because LORD do they need me. They need a laid-back, fun, creative, loving, stabilizing influence. They need someone who understands them. And sadly, I am it. Not one of them has a clue about how to love one another. I'm not saying they don't love one another -- I'm just saying they are stupid in the expression of it -- especially the ones with the Y chromosomes.
Tooting my own horn, I know. But facts are facts. I'm not perfect, but I'm by far the best. If I were to disappear before my children are launched, the next few years would be absolute shit for them. Unless a miracle occurred. Which it won't.
I'll just have to make sure I write ten tons of advice. They are smart. They'll get through it. I just hate to think about them having the dreams I used to have about my parents. I had them for so many years! In my dreams, I would discover that they had been alive all along and just avoiding me. They were such terrible nightmares. So horrific.
Why would my parents want to leave me?
I'm sure they didn't, yet they did. I don't want to leave my children.
The other thing I don't want is some ugly, gross, smelly, horrible, painful death. I put in for the dying quietly and unexpectedly in your sleep kind of death. I may need to make a move to Oregon. I always knew I belonged there. With Norma. :)
Maybe I actually won't die. I don't know. It's looking a little sketchy for me right now. I'm sure if you are reading this you are wondering why, so I'll share just a bit of what I found in my most recent cat scan result:
Scattered subcentimeter nodular densities noted bilaterally. These have increased particularly in the right lung field where they measure up to 9 mm in size. Given the majority have a patchy groundglass and semisolid appearance in a clustered configuration would suspect an infectious or inflammatory process. Recommend follow-up chest CT in 3 months.
See? Could be just some sort of inflammation that I can reverse with prednisone and an anti-inflammatory diet. But I've got to admit that the number of new nodules, and the new terms (like "groundglass densities") have got me thinking the worst. There are eight measured nodules in my lungs along with:
"Additional new scattered patchy groundglass densities in the right middle lobe and right lower lobe particularly towards the lung base. Some of these are linear in configuration."
Whatever. I'm just in a bad mood now.
Was that just yesterday that I got back on this journal and wrote about how great everything is?
Sad Woman Sitting: David Spillane
The last time I touched this website was last summer (I think). I left Twitter, writing, and blogging all at the same time. This was not because I was tired of it, but because I got a job that took every last bit of creative energy I had in a day.
When I look back, I can see what a nightmare of a year I suffered from about 9/2017 to 9/2018. I had the mysterious illness (which I still have, but the implications are no longer so terrifying -- they think it is an autoimmune diseases that just crops up, causes inflammation, and makes me cough now and then -- The solution is long courses of prednisone - but it works.)
I miss writing, but I finally have a dream job, so how can I complain? I am putting out a TON of wonderful energy to a large number of receptive people - parents, administrators, colleagues, and most importantly, young people (in the 11 - 12 range). I'm certainly touching more lives positively with this than I have so far with my writing.
It is funny to abandon a website, come back, and find thousands of people are still reading my old stuff. Then I look back at my old journal entries, and it's so embarrassing because I write in a time of vulnerability, and I'm much more guarded when all is going fine for me. I see my vulnerability, depth of thought, superstition, and spirituality. Being in trouble (in relationships, in sickness, etc.) takes a person there, I guess.
Though looking back at my vulnerability makes me cringe, I appreciate where I went psychologically. And I like that I shared it with strangers. I sound a little flaky, I think, in some of them -- but I certainly can't judge that person. She was facing possible serious complications of illness, financial ruin, and perhaps death. How can I blame her for becoming so superstitious? But I refer to myself as "her" because I don't feel comfortable owning that person - I don't feel this way anymore. It is me, though. And I'm glad I have that resource to get me though tough times. I just feel a little strange about it now.
I look forward to getting back to writing in the summer.
And I'm glad I'm out of the struggle.
Andrey Bogoslowsky; Painting, “Portrait of a happy woman with blue
For Every Decision Maker in the Fashion and Entertainment Industry: *“Hie thee hence, and enter upon thine aft-ward portal with that selfsame, diminutive nether member that doth define thee as pateful namesake!”
* Note: Thank you Chris Berthelson for helping me to express myself with aplomb. I do try to avoid the F-word as I believe that it is not only coarse, it has actually lost its power due to a large percentage of people in the last decade or so using it as a filler (the way some people use, "Ah...."). I have mixed feelings about this because I think it might be that Six Feet Under, my favorite television show, started the F-trend. My title is coarse as well, but I think it is beautifully disguised in Old English.
And the cycle continues...
When I had a baby girl, I prayed she would not be born with the family propensity to be "rounded." (I'm referring to my side of the family, not my husband's). Not because I would love her any less if she were to keep her adorable baby fat beyond the age where fat is considered adorable, but because I understand better than most how it feels to be a curvy girl in a society that adores small women.
I grew up in the seventies. It was widely believed that excess body fat was caused only by poor diet and lack of exercise (the obvious implication being that fat people lack willpower and are lazy). In the 80s and 90s, Oprah's show led many to believe it was a psychological or spiritual problem. I must have some unresolved anger or spiritual imbalance!
Currently, body fat is understood to be affected by diet, physical activity, psychology, genetics, quality of sleep, hormones, consumption of antibiotics (the pink stuff) as a child, food additives and contaminants, some auto-immune disorders, race, hormones, baby formula (Instead of breast milk), and many necessary medications. To me, that all means that body fat percentage is highly complicated, and that scientists truly don't have a clue.
In spite of science's slightly better understanding of obesity, my daughter and her teen-aged peers receive overt and covert messages every day that tell them in no uncertain terms that thinner and smaller is better.
In the chapter, "Do Something About Your Weight" by Carol Schmidt writes:
"A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty, but an obsession about female obedience. Women's dieting has become what Yale psychologist Judith Rodin calls a 'normative obsession,' a never-ending passion play given international coverage out of all proportion to the health risks associated with obesity, and using emotive language that does not figure even in discussions of alcohol or tobacco abuse. […] Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women's history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one."
Since the age of seven or eight (when I began to show concerning signs of "roundness") I personally have spent every day of my life thinking about this. I have looked at myself in the mirror with disapproval perhaps hundreds of thousands of times. I have subjected myself to dangerous medications in order to force my brain and body's appetite into submission. I have dieted, fasted on juices, and suffered overuse injuries from too much exercise. In response, some rebellious part of my body and/or brain has often taken over and binged in response.
I was finally able to get off this merry-go-round of misery by happening upon a psychologist who actually knew how to quickly and effectively treat eating disorders. Dr. Joanne Diacogiannis was the sixth (seventh?) eating disorder specialist I sought treatment with. There was no looking for clues of childhood trauma or analyzing my dreams. She just told me what to do and I did it. It worked. Competent eating disorder treatment didn't make me thin, it just made me sans disorder! She understood that the pressure to conform to the thin ideal gave birth to the disorder, and a whole host of resentments against society (but that's another story).
What might I have accomplished in these fifty-two years if I had not given my power to this ludicrous social dictate? I like to think of myself as a reasonably intelligent person, but my young self was no match for the thousands of messages I got from family, friends and non-friends, television, film, and fashion.
Now, with a young one of my own I see the pattern ready to start all over again (in spite of the the body positive movement). And I see my own self-consciousness and lack of self-esteem regarding my body affecting her. And worst of all, I see the depth of her vulnerability about her body size (and as I know you are probably curious, she is a normative weight -- but not "thin"). My first instinct is to help her conform: exercise class, up the vegetables, lower the sugar. Ridiculous. She was born happy, healthy, and with an appetite. Her appetite is not the result of a repressed anger or spiritual imbalance. It just is. And it's fine. What is the alternative to saying it's not fine? A life like mine? Could fighting her own nature possibly work any better for her than for me? I don't think so. I think that the answer is ultimately for my daughter to learn forty years earlier than I did to tell society (including those who would pressure her to lose weight for her health) to, "Hie thee hence, and enter upon thine aft-ward portal with that selfsame, diminutive nether member that doth define thee as pateful namesake!"
I can already hear some of my readers thinking, "But she should be exercising, eating more vegetables, and lowering sugar intake." Well of course. We all should do that, but as a response to dissatisfaction with the size of one's body, it becomes problematic. And for many, it leads us down a path that is far less healthy than if we had never bothered to begin with. I want my child to have a life free of "normative obsession," but I fear it may already be embedded into her young mind.
The thin obsession is deeply ingrained in our society. Seems hopeless? Here's a little something you can to help, and it's easy. Click on Rosalie's name below.
From Rosalie Nelson: I’m a 25 year old model, a clothes size 8. The girl in the picture is me. When I walked into one of the UK’s biggest model agencies last year they told me I ticked all the boxes except one -- I needed to lose weight. So I did. Four months later I lost nearly a stone, 2 inches off my hips. When I returned to the same agency they told me to lose more weight, they wanted me "down to the bone".
*Schmidt, Carol (1994). Do something about your weight. In Alison M. Jaggar (ed.), Living with Contradictions: Controversies in Feminist Social Ethics. Westview Press. pp. 220--222.
I have a colleague who described her trip to Peru as "life-changing."
Just at this moment, I don't have the resources to spend thousands of dollars on a women's empowerment trip, yet I have been hoping for something like that -- something that could open me up spiritually, induce spiritual awakening. These last three years I was sinking. My customary approach when I have spiritual, physical, or psychological difficulty of any kind is to blame myself, but this time my instincts tell me not to. I had a job that was literally sucking the life out of me and I believed I had no choice in the matter. I also was unable to see how destructive it was until I left.
The moment I submitted my resignation letter, a process of clear vision and opening-to-spirit took place. I only wish I would have left sooner, but there's no point in regretting what I can't change. My work was not all bad. I did bring some light and humor there, and I believe I helped some really wonderful souls. My contribution was likely not so much to their academic knowledge, but certainly I made some difference psychologically, and maybe even spiritually. There are some beautiful children there who are under a number of dark influences. Their parents are closed off to their own good grace (or as Allison DuBois would say, "[stewing] in their own dark energy"). The children are still attracted to the light, yet it's as if their parents have blindfolded them. They don't do it on purpose; they are just so overwhelmed themselves that they can't help their children open up. Sometimes I think it has something to do with location. Most live in a certain area of the Lehigh Valley that has a heavy energy. I remember reading of a young psychic woman who suffered palpably when she entered a certain geographical area because of an abundance of negative or chaotic energy. I'm not psychic, but I am sensitive to the energy of a neighborhood, or even a single room. Something just isn't quite right about that area.
The wonderful thing is that as soon as I made a decision to leave, my world opened up. I had been feeling unwell in a number of ways. Is there one word that means physical, psychological, and spiritual? I can't find one, so I'll make up my own word in the meantime: sphyirological (sp = spirit phy = physical p and ological = psychological).
So, I had been feeling sphyirologically weaker since September of 2014 when I started there, and by September 2017 I think I was literally dying. I had decided to leave by March 2018 or so, and the healing began the day I gave my notice: 5/2/2018. Maybe I should celebrate that day - new holiday?
The amazing thing is how quickly everything began to get better. It wasn't an immediate healing, but considering how low I was, it seems miraculous to me. I have a new energy for nearly all areas of my life, and I feel excited to greet each day. I'm not exactly content; It's more that I feel motivated, ambitious, and enthusiastic. I'm living with integrity. And suddenly I possess a sentiment that can be particularly difficult for human beings to have: self-love. I have never felt such a sense of peace with who I am and what I can contribute to this world.
I quit that job with no other good job prospect. I quit that job when I knew I needed the money. There was no earthly logic to that decision. Though I had a few niggling doubts, I was not genuinely afraid. I had higher powers on my side, and I knew that everything would be better. And what happened? A beautiful job where I can stay healthy and be of real help to others came along so fast! I won't say it fell into my lap, because I am the one who asserted myself to ask for the job. And when I had the chance to interview and prepare for it, I put my whole heart into it. I prayed. I pushed all kind of green-chakra-heart-energy into manifesting it. And I got it. And I (mostly) knew I would. I still get scared that something might make it fall apart, but a higher percentage of my psyche knows that it's going to happen and that it's going to bring good things -- not only to me, but my students, employers, and colleagues.
I've always regretted that I am not psychic the way some might regret not being able to do math or play a musical instrument. Well, I'm not very good at math, but I got an A in trigonometry. And I'm not psychically-gifted the way some people I've met are, but I listened to my intuition for once and look what it's done for me!
New lease on life!
New leaf turned over!
I'm in love with life again.
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