Monday, December 17, 2012

Mental Illness Manifested

What happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT on Friday, December 14, 2012 is beyond horrific. We can reach for words, look in the dictionary and check the thesaurus but in my opinion no current words exist that fully describe what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School. How could there be?

Yes, I understand that this type of horror, the murder of young children occur every day all over the world but not here in America, not like what happened at Sandy Hook. Yes, we have had school shootings, movie theater shootings, shootings at dining establishments like the Luby’s massacre in Killeen, TX in 1991 but not like Sandy Hook on Friday, December 14th in Newtown, CT where a broken mentally disturbed creature, murdered twenty first graders and the six teachers and administrators who tried to protect them, in their school classrooms in their bucolic, Peyton Place-like town in Northern Connecticut. Something about Sandy Hook is earth shattering. And I hope this shattering of our perceived idea of safety and right and wrong makes a difference this time.

We as a society are in agreement on the level of dreadfulness that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but I fear that if nothing is done, if no changes are made legislatively we will still agree on the horror at Sandy Hook but, we will slide back into our regular lives and thoughts until the next awful event. And rest assured there will be something worse the next time if nothing is done.

And let’s not forget the part that mental illness played in this latest tragedy and all the previous shootings. Let us as a society stop acting like mental illness happens to someone else. Let us stop ignoring those who are peculiar, bizarre, odd, painfully shy, weird, eccentric, and any other adjective we use to cloak what we are afraid to say out-loud: mentally ill. I think there is a general belief that once someone is mentally ill they are damaged forever and can never to be salvaged, and in believing some people are irreparably damaged, we ignore, disregard and ostracize them, which only leads to tragedy for the mentally ill individual specifically and society at large.

We used to treat cancer patients the same way. Not so long ago people used to whisper that so and so had the big C and then isolate those people. Luckily our government declared a war on cancer which helped in eliminating the stigma of the disease. So let’s declare a war on mental illness! Let’s eliminate the stigma of being mentally ill. Let’s take care of the mentally broken and ill.

Let’s live up to the Preamble to the US Constitution: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Let’s do what we do: mobilize and act! There should be no debate over the need to do something; the only debate should be over the methodology.

Let us do what those teachers and administrators at Sandy Hook did some more successfully than others, let us protect the children, our citizens and ourselves!

Let us as a nation DO SOMETHING!

‎"If you have one hundred people who live together and if each one cares for the rest, there is One Mind." ~Crow Saying


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Bring On the Fairy Dust!

Wouldn’t it be great if we could open a bottle of Fairy Dust and dab, sprinkle, douse, drench, soak, and smother ourselves with a smooth, soul-soothing powder or oil (for those of us who love massages) that would make us and our lives perfect? Yes, yes it would be great! Extra selling points: The dust or oil would glitter and the cap would not be child-proofed! I don’t know about anyone else but I’m all up in it!

All joking aside I know actual Fairy Dust doesn’t exist but I can formulate my own metaphorical Fairy Dust by measuring, mixing, adding, and subtracting elements, ingredients and activities that add to my spirit. My special recipe is composed of reading, writing, vision-boarding, spa-ing, and traveling. The precise combination of the right components can work as a pretty potent Fairy Dust for us all.

And potent is what I need now. Ever since the nurse pronounced Daryl ‘gone’ I wished for all kinds of superpowers to bring her back, make what the nurse said a lie, erase everything bad that happened to my baby sister. But just like there is no magic fairy dust there are no superpowers that can change the things we don’t like. If superpowers did indeed exist believe me I would have found them and reawakened Daryl and gave her back to my Mother, my Sister, my Step-Dad, all of our family and all of her friends. And most importantly I would have given her back to me.

My life will never be the same and it’s made me afraid because I am heading to a place I don’t know. And I have no idea how long it will take me to get there. So for right now I am faith and hope walking. I know I have to keep moving or I will die. Keep moving I tell myself. I have mistakenly confused moving with being busy and I’ve had to put a stop to being a busy bee. Too much ‘busy’ has led to me being tired, confused, agitated and pissed off. So lucky for me I realized I was using busy and busy wasn’t working for me.

The other day I had what I like to call a matrix moment, you know that moment when your truth explodes through your brain causing you to see things crystal clear in a flash. And usually that moment of clarity sneaks up on me like most soul shattering things in life. You know how that goes, you’re going along minding your business and then BAM whatever you need to see/understand/realize is all up in your face!

Our brains protect us until that moment and then it is on whether we are ready or not because really if left up to us, we would not move without that proverbial push, shove or kick!

My most recent matrix moment came about as a result of seeing a Michael J. Fox quote that touched me deeply:

“My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance... Acceptance doesn't mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there's got to be a way through it.” ―Michael J. Fox

Since Daryl’s transition I’ve heard the word ‘acceptance’ so much I want to scream! I don’t want to accept the loss of her. Why should I? My life has been diminished by her absence. She was/is my best friend. We shared the same sense of humor, of course Daryl’s could be gross sometimes but overall we laughed at the same things, which included plenty of stuff most people didn’t find funny. We believed in a lot of the same things and we disagreed on other matters, which some will find unimaginable, we always laughed when people assumed that we never fought or disagreed – we did, trust me, she was Daryl and I am Valerie – alike in many ways and very different in other ways.

The magnitude of Daryl no longer walking on this earth has at times overwhelmed me and lead me to believe: I will never be happy again. That thought would then throw me deeper down into a place I didn’t want to go, so I would just ignore it. But eventually I have to see the situation for what it is: A world without Daryl in it; a world without my friend, my sister, my SisterFriend. I am slowly getting used to that new world, slowly but surely. At least now I don’t involuntarily shake my head ‘No’ at the thought and reality of acknowledging it.

The quote from Michael J. Fox was a Godsend, a Daryl-send to help move me along the path of healing and towards a place of peace. I thank God – I thank Daryl; both my Girls taking care of me. Holla! I know that ‘acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it.’

I don’t know the way through it but I do know ‘there’s got to be a way through it.’ I’m going with the flow – staying open at the top (one of Daryl’s favorite sayings) and trusting that I will get to that place where peace exists and I will find the perfect peace-for-me. And I will be happy again. It will be a different happy - a new happy. And yes I am scared because I don’t what that happy looks like, smells like, sounds like, or feels like. I do know this: I just gotta keep moving.

So until I get there I will be working my specially-formulated-just-for-me-chocolate scented-Fairy-Dust because I don’t know what else to do until the undisputed acceptance of Daryl no longer being in this world and the weight of that truth finally seeps into the deepest crevices of my spirit. I will keep working the fairy dust, I will keep moving because it is what it is.

Until the next time I hope this has been tasty and informative like Cupcakes and Travel Magazines….Valerie


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Welcome Back to Me!

It’s been 15 months since I last posted here. I started this blog to write about the things I love, cupcakes, traveling and all the good stuff in life with some of the not so good stuff thrown in. Since I last posted my beloved Sister, Daryl returned to the Light on December 31, 2011. In 23 days it will be a year since my life changed forever. So many lives have been changed by Daryl’s absence including family, friends who became like family to Daryl, old friends and acquaintances. Anyone who loved Daryl has been changed forever. Her spirit and essence lingers and washes over those she loves and cares about.

Today’s post is not going to be about the grief, the pain, the lost-ness (yes I make up words) of Daryl returning to the Light. There will be time for that. I will be writing about life in general, my life specifically, my thoughts, my feelings, my desires, my dreams, my observations, things that pique my interest, things that irritate the shit out of me and I will be posting words & images filled with Hope, Love and Inspiration. So buckle up because it’s going be a bumpy ride like life. I hope you enjoy it.

Today I want to write about MORE, MORE, MORE!

This year has been filled with more free time than I knew what to do with. Prior to Daryl’s transition I was out on long-term disability healing from my own cancer relapse that included a hip replacement. I won’t even get started on that situation except to say Daryl was instrumental in motivating me (insert kicking my butt) to get walking again without a walker or cane.

Every time I take a step I am thankful to her for all she did to help me heal. Some days that gratitude turns to anger because I wonder why she can’t be here to witness my healing and more importantly I wish she were here so we could celebrate our healings together but I do realize the situation is what it is and I’ll be posting about that another day.

I am a strong proponent of filling your life and spirit with all that makes you happy. Being responsible for filling yourself up so you are not thirsty or hungry guarantees that you will not depend on someone else to do it for you and it adds to your personal power. Making someone else responsible for your happiness is not only unrealistic but selfish. If someone is occupied with filling you up what’s left for them? Nothing! And if you care for someone, you want them to be joy-filled and satisfied.

All relationships whether they be romantic love, platonic love, sibling love, and/or soul-mate love, should be about enhancement not the expectation of completeness from another.

So I say we all need MORE, MORE, MORE of what makes us happy, fulfilled and joy-filled. Whatever your MOREs are do them, revel in them, fill yourself up with them and don’t change them for anyone.

Some of my MOREs can be seen below - okay maybe not the long walks as I’m still working out the kinks of this new hip, but you get the point…Hell-o! I do keep it real…..

What are your MOREs?

If you handle your MOREs you will never need anyone to handle them for you.

When you handle your MOREs you strengthen yourself.

Be Brave enough to handle your MOREs.

I hope this post has been tasty and informative like Cupcakes and Travel Magazines….until the next time….Valerie