Six Ideas To Put Frustration In its Place

Life comes at you fast in the 21st century, and just keeping up is a job all on its own. Everyday frustrations can make you feel
discouraged and overwhelmed, thanks to the frenetic pace of our world. You may be writing a term paper, applying to college, or searching for a job. You may be embarking on a new relationship, raising a child, or caring for an older loved one. You may be struggling to get through the day with anxiety or depression. Whatever your challenge, stop, breathe, and remind yourself of six things that will put frustration in its place.
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American Soulbook: Melinda Doolittle Concert 2016

Have you ever gotten choked on something, and you coughed . . and you coughed . . and you coughed until the only thing in the world was your blocked airway?
No sight, no sound, no texture, only the need to breathe.
Now think about the first lungful of fresh air, the way it felt when it went easily, all the way down to your lungs.
The relief, the restart, the renewal of life.
That is my experience with Melinda Doolittle’s “American Soulbook” concert from last night.
Continue reading “American Soulbook: Melinda Doolittle Concert 2016”

September 11th, 2001

Autumn in east Texas is a relief!
After a scorching summer, the wind blows cool, football season begins, and the leaves whisper promises of turning to a rainbow of color. The sun fades to a soft warm glow, no longer the enemy of anyone who wants to be outdoors. Nights are glorious for sitting on the porch and basking in the Northern air that has finally made its way to us. It’s time for chili, soup, pecans, and pumpkin . . . .
Days were beautiful, and nights were brisk. My sleep was messed up as usual, and I was writing ten hours a day. I was happy, bored because I couldn’t take myself anywhere. Happy and discontent in a way that only a 27-year-old can be.

I had just finished a long and productive night of writing, always with music as my soundtrack. Around 7:30 AM, I turned off the radio, for maybe once in my entire life. No reason, just bored with it as I mentally plotted my story. No internet at all, no IPhone, just me and a reliable old DOS computer.
My Mom was working at my cousin, Mike’s, flower shop, and she was getting ready to go to work. I walked into the living room, and asked her to microwave some bacon for me. (I LOATHE the texture of it when it’s not cooked, which is why I asked her to do it.) She was dozing, said sure, to wake her up in a few minutes and remind her.
I was getting ready for a “good night’s” sleep, since my days and nights were backwards, but I wanted to eat something before I went to bed. So about thirty minutes later, I went back to the living room to ask about the bacon.
Mom’s voice was soft and sleep-muffled, “Hang on, I’m watching this. A plane crashed into the tower in New York, and another one just hit it.”
I thought she was having a dream.
The TV was on low, so I couldn’t hear the news.
I asked her what she said, and she repeated it, so I knew she was awake. She turned up the TV, and I started listening to the news reporter talking about the plane crashes.
There are a few tipping points in life, most good, a few bad, when everything you knew and understood about the world changes. You say goodbye to the world you knew, and step into one you don’t know at all. You can go willingly, or be sucked up into a cyclone of chaos and deposited there. Sometimes you know as it’s happening, and sometimes it only becomes obvious after the fact. It happens when you start a book, fall in love, when you marry, when you have a baby.
And sometimes . . . it happens when your invincible fortress of a country comes under attack by invisible and unknowable enemies. Mom made the bacon for me, and left for work. We were in a suspended state of unsurety and shock. I was alone in my house, with a big-screen TV, a cat, and a world that would never be the same. I watched as a plane zoomed toward the Pentagon.
I watched the first tower fall.
I called my Grandma, and my sister-in-law, but nobody had anything to say. They were watching like I was.
I was so very glad to be blind, so I didn’t have to see. But also, feeling guilty that I didn’t see, feeling like all Americans should see this together if we had to see it at all.
The second tower fell, and a planeheaded for the White House. Hell had been unleashed.
It was my very first inkling of knowledge, that being an adult might not be as cool as I thought, that it might not be fun all the time, that maybe, just maybe, kids were the lucky ones. . . . Or were they? . . . The realization hit me about 10:30 AM, that while I had the chance to grow up in a world that was completely safe, my niece and nephew would have no such luxury.
Fear and dismayed innocence set in, a childlike feeling, like all the rules you had been taught were broken, and you had no idea how to proceed. Lost . . needing the monster to be unmasked, needing the villain to be defeated by the good guys . . . no Daddy, no friendly policeman, no hero. . . Lost . . where was John Wayne? Where was Ronald Reagan? Where were the older wiser people with their calm voices and assurances that everything would be all right? All you wanted to know is WHY?
I have always liked my solitude, but as the longest day in history dragged on, I had never hated so much to be alone! Tigger snoozed blissfully unaware on my bed. Dad was working, so was Mom. I had the radio for company, as first one person, then another, made the horrific decision between being burned alive or jumping from the twin towers.
The second tower fell.
The plane crashed in Pennsylvania.
I was living history.
The day took on a surreal quality, since I’d had no sleep in nearly 24 hours. The sunshine was still bright, weather still softly warm, but now autumn was different.
The autumn afternoon was completely silent, with no planes droning through the sky.
By the end of that hellish day, I saw things I never thought I would see, longtime news reporters crying, at a loss for words . . . . And I wanted.
I wanted Coke in glass bottles . . . laugh tracks on goofy 70s sitcoms . . . my grandma’s house smelling of frying burgers with the Carol Burnett show on TV and Grandpa laughing . . innocent obliviousness, . . .
I mourned a world that was gone forever.
Sepember 11th 2001 changed everything and everybody, and that is my experience of it.
God bless America.

Adversity Is a Character Builder

It has been over a week since I have written anything here.
I am currently experiencing a state of zero energy, and brain fog. I think/hope it is a result of hypothyroidism, because if it is, and if I can get natural rather than synthetic thyroid medication, the problem will be solved, and boring health posts will be banished from the blog.
But since I started it, let’s just call this a biographical post, and I will briefly explain my challenges, because they are the foundation from which I have had to build my attitudes about adversity, and perseverance. This will not be my most interesting post, but I hope it gives you some insight to the way in which I have developed my philosophy for living.
When I was young, my Dad would always tell me that adversity is a character builder. I appreciate his words now more than ever, because I see these difficulties as strengthening agents, rather than impediments. So if you can slog through this post with me, I promise, there is a point I want to make by telling my story, and there will be something uplifting at the end.
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Darkness Be My Friend

Certain events stamp themselves in our memories, so that we never forget where we were when we heard the news. The day JFK was assassinated, the Challenger explosion, 9/11 . . . collective experiences shape the perspective from which the world will view events from that point forward. This is also true for personal experiences.
On a Wednesday afternoon in 1996, I went to the mall with a friend to buy a Christmas gift. I was twenty-two, college finals were finished, and I was looking forward to the holidays. The sun was warm for December, bright with a soft winter light. I noted how pretty it was, but I had no idea that it was the last “normal” light I would ever see.
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No Shame In My Game: On Guilt and Blindness

We may have been at a museum, or maybe it was a park.
I don’t remember the location, but I will never forget the realization. I was with my parents, and younger brother. My Dad was describing something to me, and as my nine-year-old-girl mind contrasted that with the shouts and laughter from the other families, I suddenly realized a terrible thing!
My family, the best family in the world, couldn’t have fun like everyone else. They couldn’t have fun, because they had to stop and describe things to me. I was slowing them down.
I was keeping them from enjoying things.
It made my stomach hurt.
It made me want to cry. Continue reading “No Shame In My Game: On Guilt and Blindness”

Epilepsy: My Story

You are imprisoned. Your captors are known for their cruelty. You are in an unfamiliar land, far from anyone who will help you. Worse yet, your family and best friends are imprisoned, separated from you. Finally, a guard tauntingly tells you a thing you’ve been dreading more than your own fate. Tomorrow at eight A.M., fourteen hours from now, your loved ones will be tortured and killed in front of you. The floor drops out from beneath you, then rises up, spinning, catapulting you into a hateful whirlpool of nausea. You are freezing, but you are sweating. You have never felt so completely abandoned, even by God. Satan has never felt so close. It feels as if someone takes every memory and thought you’ve ever had out of your head, dumps them on the floor, then throws them back into your head in a jumbled mess. Nothing is familiar, and yet you have been through this before. After a few hours, you are physically exhausted. Finally, you accept that there is absolutely nothing more you can do to escape or help your loved ones. Continue reading “Epilepsy: My Story”