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Archive for the ‘Worry’ Category

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Is it Karma?

The attached link at the bottom says nearly perfectly what makes sense to me. I believe one of the reasons I feel so stuck is needing to break free from the guilt and feeling of “I deserve this shit” that weighs me down. I created this life and now I have to find a way to make it better, but instead of making it better I keep letting it beat me up because I put so much bad out there in the past a part of me feels it’s justified. And the people in the world around me just reinforce that narrative with their negativity towards me. I’m deemed stupid because I’m overweight. I’m deemed untrustworthy because over a decade ago I broke the law. I’m deemed worthless because, due to previously mentioned law breaking, I don’t have a large income. My entire life I’ve found my desire, my energy, my passion in the connections in my life. Whether it was my daughter, my partner, my job, my friends, my grandma, or even people who only knew me from being out in the gay community. Those pieces of energy each person or opportunity gave to me were life fuel to my chaotic emotions and brain. It gave me direction and drive.

It possibly started before my major screw ups actually. I had a partner that struggled with addiction and mental illness and to my detriment and to the detriment of most of my other connections I allowed her to feed off me until I was left pretty broken emotionally and not real well mentally. That’s when the anxiety started. That’s when I started feeling desperate to find something, anything to tie someone to me, no matter the consequences. I needed to be “refueled.” 15 years later it’s only gotten worse, not better. For a short while I found a stable place to land, but the connection was weak, forced even. Staying would have been a disservice to her, but I left in the worst way possible and added another notch to my chain of negative karma.

And here I am. Stuck. I make lists of things needing to be done and say ok we we will make 2 small changes a day. Unpack a box, take curtains I’ll never use again to goodwill, write a scene, call my best friend and actually hear her voice, write a letter, take a walk, etc.

I step out of my bedroom into my cluttered kitchen, look at my disaster of a livingroom, and immediately feel defeated. It’s bigger than me and I just can’t find it in me to face it alone. My heart rate goes up, my hands tremble and forcing myself to take another step in any direction other that  back to my room brings me to tears. So I go back to my room and take a nap. Again.

I start to write and I think wow this is such a great idea and then the thought passes through me that sending what I write into the world opens me up for verbal beatings and rejection and I’m not scared, I’m petrified. I’m paralyzed to the point that if it feels good enough to make it into a book it will be weeks or months before I pick it up again.

I keep searching for a connection that will make me feel like I have the strength, but theres a disconnect between my self imposed bubble and the one that holds everyone else. Connection has been missing from my life for so long I have slowly lost all the energy I had gotten from being a part of something, a part of so many lives and peer groups, and now I’ve grown afraid to try to reach out because of the constant rejection. It’s so hard to explain to someone who has never been in my head or heart or body; even harder to explain to someone who has never faced real anxiety, depression, or adversity.

I adore my internet followers and friends and I do feed off there happiness and celebrations. I’ve narrowed my connections on my personal pages to people who bring some light into my life. Dropping probably 2/3 of my “friends.” I don’t allow a sense of obligation keep me in touch with negative people.

All this is just starting to click for me sadly, but it gives me a why or a cause. My job now is to turn it around; work to make progress towards positive personal connections and put some good energy out into the world. Find a way to look for beauty and things that make me happy or passionate about life again. Mostly importantly I have to find a way to make small steps in progress without allowing my anxiety send me into flight mode. Nothing is overnight,  but one step at a time. One day at a time. One foot in front of the other. Being patient with myself is another place I falter and if I’m not going to have a team around me anymore I’ll have to he my own cheerleader. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Monique P

https://www.one-mind-one-energy.com/law-of-cause-and-effect.html

Midlife Crisis?

As a person who has battled depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember; sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between depressive episodes and other negative mood traits. Bad just feels bad. Sometimes, however, feeling bad feels like a weight on your chest. You can pretend it’s not there; hide it from those around you, but all you can think about is finding a way to rid yourself of its suffocating effects.

I thought I was just being perimenopausal. I’m that age. Mood swings, hot flashes, yadda yadda yadda. I felt worn out and blamed that on my inability to sleep when my body can’t seem to decide if it’s hot or cold, or most often on fire followed by freezing. My daughter has moved out of the house. My dearest pets are showing their age. All reasons that can explain away my lack of enthusiasm for getting out of bed each day.

Some days I get a spark of “I can take on the world,” usually followed by posts and blogs about the power of positivity and making big changes and being true to myself. (See previous posts.)

In the last few months I’ve discovered I’m more often finding reasons to not participate in the world outside my door. I’m looking at the future with resignation that my best years are behind me. I think of my age and believe I’ve passed the point where I should have my shit together and even attempting to get there now would be a waste of time. I feel the aches and pains of a 47 year old body and it reminds me that it only gets worse from here.

I’ve been considering making efforts to change my occupation, but then I convince myself no one wants a middle aged woman who is trying to start from the bottom.

I list all the “shoulds”:

I SHOULD own a home.

I SHOULD be married.

I SHOULD have a career I enjoy.

I SHOULD be driving a newer car.

I SHOULD have gotten healthier before it was too late.

I SHOULD have traveled more.

I SHOULD feel settled into my life.

I SHOULD be better at being an adult.

I can go nearly a week without leaving my house, without bathing, without changing clothes, without having a single vegetable, without brushing my hair or my teeth, without cleaning a single dish, without spending more than the time it takes to nuke a frozen burrito out of my bed, or without sleeping or staying awake more than a few hours at a time. I can do all this and KNOW I need to do something different, but lack the ability to walk past my bedroom without crawling right back under the blankets.

I lie to people about things I’m accomplishing or things I’ve been doing in all my spare time. I lie to myself and say, “Tomorrow I’ll start [fill in the blank].” I might even believe it when I think it. My gung-ho attitude lasts until my next nap which isn’t far off.

I keep thinking certainly I won’t go another 30 or more years and it not get better than this, then immediately think the best has already came and gone and I wasted it on stupid youthful pursuits and bad decisions.

One moment I think I should just cut ties with my partner, who will leave eventually anyway, and move on to whatever comes next. The next moment I think I’ve dedicated a decade of my life to this person and why would I invest 10 years in someone I love only to wash my hands of her.

There are moments I believe she knows me better than anyone shortly followed by moments where I truly believe she doesn’t even see me.

There are moments of gratitude for the genuine friends I have made in my life and many more moments where I feel completely alone.

There seems to be a change on the horizon, but will it pass by during one of the five naps I take in a day?

Will this pass or am I as stuck as I feel? Is this normal? Is normal actually a thing?

My track record of poor choices isn’t exactly inspirational when it comes to convincing myself to pull myself up by the bootstraps and make things happen. So, for now, I’m going to stay under the blankets with my books and my furbabies and hope this is a phase and, like the cold weather outside, will pass without my intervention.

I just don’t have it in me to do more than survive it right now. I’m choosing to believe surviving it is enough for today.

 

 

Zen or Defeat

There’s an expression I’ve hated for a long time; “It is what it is.” It always felt like someone saying, “Just accept what is happening in your life and deal with the fact that you can’t change it.”

By nature I’m a fighter; or at least I used to be. I believed life is what you make of it, we’re the creators of our own destinies, if you want something bad enough you make it happen, and all those other trite sayings people such as Les Brown and Tony Robbins and the like spent decades putting into our heads. “Envision it and it will happen!” Hook, line, and sinker….I bought in.

Maybe I’m selfish? Maybe I’ve become jaded? Maybe I’ve accepted that those in power stay in power and those that aren’t in power get what they are given and make the best of it? Maybe I’ve just given up? Maybe, just maybe, I realized it truly IS what it is, and you can spend your energy pushing against the brick wall or you can enjoy the little bits of happiness you find creeping in through the cracks.

It’s funny how my other half has come to this conclusion of “it is what it is” and giving up the fight to change things has helped her find a little bit of Zen in her world that is usually full of worry and stress when, for me, giving into that notion feels like defeat. Realizing it is what it is, for me, means setting down my gloves and just bracing myself for the blow that comes next at my head.

Weirdly I use my feeling of defeat to find some happiness. I look harder for it. It used to be easy to find. Cuddles from my furbabies, a four-leaf clover in my path, a wild daisy growing among the weeds, a flock of birds rising across a pink and orange sky at dusk, a thoughtful gesture from a friend, a text message that my honey is thinking of me; these things used to be fuel to my “go grab life by the balls and make it your bitch!” attitude; now they are reasons to get up and keep going through a life that is nothing I had hoped it would be.

For awhile I just kind of folded in. I dragged one day to another and hoped it would go by quickly. In realizing that I likely have decades of this life left ahead of me I had to shake myself up a little, remind myself that there are things to look forward to even if they aren’t the big things I’d hoped for.

I love my partner and while, on one hand, I am so glad to see her find some reasons to smile finally and something to motivate her towards a more fulfilling life, on the other hand, it hurts that her vision of what that means doesn’t include me. I’m apparently that thing that she can not accept as “Is what it is.” Her Zen, her place of acceptance, feels like another defeat for me. (Even though rationally I know it has NOTHING to do with me.)

I am a whole imperfect package with lots of good intentions. I am what I am. It’s interesting to me that I was proud to say that until the last 12 years of my life. It used to be, “I am ME!” Now it’s more of a whisper, “This is just who I am.” I no longer want to fight for the right to be myself, but just be myself a little more quietly so I don’t have to defend it.

I want to feel Zen in acceptance of it is what it is. I say it more now. I’ve noticed that for a few years. Sometimes I catch myself backtracking after I say it, then I think, “What’s the point? It’s true.”

My goal for this year is to just be me more of the time. I need to be “I am ME!” again eventually and stopping whispering and hoping no one notices that I’m different or think outside of the proverbial box. I want to stop feeling defeated by what is. I want to teach myself to stand out again. I want to live for more than 3 furbabies that realistically will be gone within this decade. I want to punch my g/f and make her realize that her life is better shared with someone who pushes her out of her comfort zone, but A. I’m not abusive and B. That’s not the reality she subscribes to. I do hope her Zen starts rubbing off on me however.

My decades of brain-washing that taught me to “MAKE IT HAPPEN” led to a lot of disappointment when it didn’t happen. Now, this decade, I’m retraining myself. I’m going to find a way to live with less expectation and more anticipation. Let’s see what happens next and with some luck, whatever it is, I can say “It is what it is” without feeling like I lost the big game. *Fingers crossed*

Here I come 2020s!

 

 

To Write Love On Her Arms

I just finished a movie called To Write Love on Her Arms and I have to tell you it touched me more than almost any movie I can remember.

Let me start by saying I do not struggle with drug or alcohol addiction. I am not bi-polar. I am not a cutter. I am not suicidal.

I am also not religious and for me this was not a story about any god or religion.

What I am is a person who battles depression and anxiety. I am a person who has struggled in life, at times, to find a reason for waking up another day. I am a person who has felt lost within herself. I am a person who believes in hope. I am a person who KNOWS beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I NEED other people in my life for me to be okay. No matter what anyone believes about themselves, we all do.

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To Write Love On Her Arms is the true story of a young lady named Renee Yohe. It all started with a blog post by her friend Jamie who, after meeting her and helping her detox, found her story to be encouraging. He wasn’t encouraged because she had already triumphed, but because she was damaged yet still not broken. She was beyond help in the eyes of most of the world but surrounded by a small group of people who loved her enough to help her put her life back together; even if they had to keep gluing the shards of her hope over and over again.

Sometimes that’s all you need in life; that person or those persons who stick. The ones who see your scars, visible or not, self-inflicted or not, and don’t flinch. The ones who love you when you feel unlovable. The ones who hope for you when you feel hopeless. The ones who see you plain as day when you feel completely lost. Everyone needs those people. EVERYONE.

There have been days when the war being waged in me felt like it could rip me to shreds. I can only thank my own fear of being controlled, by persons or substances, that I didn’t use drugs and alcohol to escape to some place away from myself.

Renee’s story reminded me just how much I depend on my people. My best friend, my internet friends, and my chosen family are all intricate stitches in the fabric of my being. When my edges are frayed I just turn to any one of them and their kindness and love and acceptance weaves the hope back in until I’m whole again. For me; that love and that hope are my religion, my higher power. I turn to these things like a flower turns it’s face to the sun.

Renee-Yohe

Some might look upon this young woman’s face and wonder how could a young life be so bad or so difficult that addiction and pain feel better than merely existing. But I get it. Sometimes just waking up to exist another day is the monster beneath the bed, the unknown thing you fear the most. Perhaps it’s true that “it’s never as bad as you imagine it will be,” but then again maybe that’s the lie we tell ourselves to get out of the bed and step foot in front of the beast waiting to devour us. Until it’s your bed, your feet, your monster, you don’t know for sure.

For many of us the thing that gets us past the monster, the fear, is the person or persons waiting outside the door for us. Our children, our spouses, our families, and our true friends give us the courage to hope that our exposed limb won’t be snatched. Not today at least. Trying to find that courage when there’s no one waiting on the other side of your fear, whose mere existence in your life is the reward for getting there, is damn near impossible.

https://twloha.com was founded by Jamie after the overwhelming response to Renee’s story showed him just how many people were in desperate need of someone in their corner. Because honestly the only thing worse than hating yourself, hurting yourself, being afraid, and suffering from mental illness of any kind is doing it all alone. There’s enough people on this big ball we all live on that no one should have to do it all alone.

My hope is that even just one of you will read or watch Renee’s story, now that I’ve told you about it, and you will think of someone who needs to know they aren’t alone in life, and you will SHOW them you are there for them; you will find time in your busy life to help someone hold their pieces together.

And if you are a person who needs to connect to someone who sees you through your own fog; who needs someone to hand you the hope and love you can’t quite grasp on your own; who needs someone to hold the pieces in place as you glue them back together for maybe the hundredth time; who needs a reason to face the monsters that lurk around the corners and behind your eyes…I beg of you…reach out.

I promise you that someone doesn’t have to have walked in your shoes to be exactly who you need. They only need to be let inside your walls. No one can be your person if you don’t allow them to be. Surround yourself with people who want to be there for you and then let them.

Have hope. Be brave. As Renee said, “The stars are always there but we miss them in the dirt and clouds. We miss them in the storms. Tell them to remember hope. We have hope.”

See the blog post that started the To Write Love On Her Arms movement here: https://twloha.com/learn/story/

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Going After Your Dreams

Chase Your Dreams!

When I was about 10 I fell in love with reading. I started out like most kids with Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary. Seriously, who didn’t love Ramona Quimby or Superfudge? I was going through these books so fast that I was quickly running out of “appropriate” things to read. By age 12 I was reading Sweet Valley High romances and started writing my own version of those when I couldn’t get my hands on new ones in the series. By 13 I’d discovered my mother’s secret stash of historical romances.
Like many latchkey kids, I was bored and nosy. I found a shelf in my mother’s closet that contained rows and rows of these thick books featuring women in amazing gowns and men with lots of muscles and long gorgeous hair. The titles were even exotic. Savage Thunder, Defy Not The Heart, and The Fires of Winter.  Certainly not the kinds of titles you’d find on a teen romance. I would occasionally flip through them but was daunted by their length. One day I discovered one of the books not only had a character with my name, but it was about a third smaller than all the others. That was enough for me to give it a chance.
I opened the book, right there in the closet, and began reading. 4 hours later when my mother came home I was still sitting in the closet and was almost finished with the book. That was it. I was hooked. The sex didn’t concern me. It wasn’t actually graphic, just passionate. I’d seen much worse on cable TV. My mother wasn’t mad, except for the fact my chores hadn’t gotten done and I was sitting in her closet (which actually confused her more than anything I think).
I started going through my mother’s collection of romances one by one for the next 3 years. What hooked me was the unlikely pairings, the “I’d die for you” devotion, and the fact that no matter what they faced somehow they came together in the end to be together.

Happily Ever After.

Who doesn’t want that?
I’ve heard parents blame a young girl’s unrealistic expectations of love and romance on Disney and their multiple princes who always save the day for their true love. Disney had nothing to do with creating the hopeless romantic in me. It was Penelope Neri, Johanna Lindsay, and Julie Garwood. Even though these stories were set mostly in other countries and all in another time I came to love escaping into the lives of the heroines who tested the boundaries of society, pushed the limits of ladylike behavior, and always found their happy ending in the arms of true love. From Indian maidens to viking princesses to duchesses of grand estates, they all had one thing in common; a happy ending.
Early on I started imagining how I wanted the book to end before I ever got to the ending. Sometimes I was right in line with the author, sometimes their ending was much more intricate than I could have imagined, and sometimes I really believed my ending would have made the book better. I was feeding my imagination and building stories in my head before I was even fully aware of what love and romance were all about.
I didn’t have a traditional English or Grammar teacher. Mrs. Cook was more concerned with teaching mythology, Shakespeare, and all the manias and phobias. I still don’t know how to diagram a sentence and I couldn’t tell you what a split infinitive is, but I can tell you how the Goddess, Athena, was born and draw you a pretty accurate depiction of an Elizabethan theater. The rules for commas are lost to me, just ask my friend the editor, and my ability to stay in the same tense comes and goes.
Then came my Junior year of high school with American Literature followed by a Senior year with World Literature. From Dante’s Inferno to Pride and Prejudice to The Raven to Canterbury Tales. I LOVED IT ALL. In college I read W.E.B. DuBois, Flannery O’Connor, Sylvia Plath, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. This list goes on and on and there were so few that didn’t fascinate me.
I took every writing class I could get into and found that after years of reading my imagination was endless. My technique definitely not comparable to the greats, but I was a bottomless well of ideas. I could pick and emotion and write a story that would make my teacher feel it. I could pick a life and convince the reader I’d lived it.

I’d found my passion.

Many people go through life never finding what it is they are passionate about. I KNEW I wanted to be a writer. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was meant to write. I had no idea what I wanted to write but I knew I had to tell stories.
Like most people life went on and I got busy just making a living and my dream was put on the back burner, ignored, and almost forgotten. I was still reading anytime I could, but I’d stopped writing.

The Book That Changed Everything

In 2011 a phenomenon happened when a previously unpublished writer self-published and self-promoted a trilogy of romances set in a fictional world of billionaires and BDSM. It took off like no other adult book I’ve ever seen. The sex scenes made those historical romances seem innocent. The main character of Christian Grey was suddenly creating a frenzy of women who coined the term “Book Boyfriend.” He was sexy, rich, mysterious, a little dangerous, and would do anything to keep his woman. Without the half naked people on the covers moms everywhere were able to put these books in their purse without fear of being caught with their smutty, romantic reads. Finally giving into the trend I read the trilogy, in less than a week, and then craved more. I quickly found authors with similar works featuring alpha men and luxurious lifestyles where possibilities were endless and creative sexuality was encouraged. All that had been “taboo” was no longer. I fell in love with other authors like Julie Kenner, Maya Banks, and Tara Sue Me.
Now a woman in my late 30s and early 40s my imagination was sparked in new ways and I began to write again. Short stories. Snippets of scenes. Nothing extensive. Thanks to social media I was able to follow and actually interact with authors I was reading. One of the best days of my life was when Julie Kenner sent me a friend request on Facebook then just a few months later another author idol of mine, Lauren Blakely, saw a post I’d written mentioning her and she also sent me a friend request. These are women selling millions of books to millions of fans and I can now interact with them directly. I found indie authors of every sub-genre of romance and through social media interaction started actually building friendships and have extensive conversations with these women. Through these authors I’ve discovered other authors who I not only like as people but love as authors. My book collection, both paperback and e-book, is massive. I’ve become engrossed in the world of romance and writers.

BUT…

The more I read the more I doubt I have any place among these amazing writers. Some offer to read what I’ve written and many encourage me to just write until I get more comfortable with my skill level and improve naturally with time and practice. Fear has a way of making a person immobile. Fear of not being good enough and of being a small fish lost in a giant ocean kept me from even trying. I kept making excuses to keep my dream just that, a dream.
I started this blog to give me an outlet to write whatever I wanted without fear of success or failure. It’s for me. It’s nice that others have read it and enjoyed it when I’ve written, but that wasn’t the point. I would never have guessed that this one thing I did just for me would lead to all the crazy things happening just over the last several months.
First, I received and email from and unknown sender. I actually opened it simply because of the subject. Smut For Charity. Wouldn’t you open it?  It was an offer for previously unpublished bloggers of romance to submit their own short story for publication in an anthology. I read that email probably 10 times and kept finding excuses not to reply. I didn’t have time, I didn’t have the energy, I wasn’t good enough, I didn’t have any fresh ideas, etc, etc. Then my daughter came to visit me. After listening to all the “practical” reasons she was putting aside her dream of art school and seeing her enthusiasm for art dwindling because she believes that her dreams are always going to be out of reach I was heartbroken for her. A parent never wants to see their child settle for less than their greatest potential no matter how impractical or impossible it might seem. But here I was doing the same thing I didn’t want her to do. I had all kinds of excuses for why I couldn’t be the writer I always dreamed of being.
So I answered the email. I kept putting off writing my story because I didn’t think it would come out as well as the ideas that were forming in my head. Finally I made a promise to one of the ladies putting together the anthology of a day I would submit my story by. Someone was counting on me to follow through. I wrote my story in less than two days and sent it in.  There’s things I’d change now if I could since I’ve reread it probably 100 times but it’s my first time and you learn as you go. The people who have read my story have given me a lot of great feedback. So much that I decided that this year I would face another fear and take on the challenge of NaNoWriMo. That’s National Novel Writing Month, which is November, and meeting a goal of 50,000 words written. I’m not at my goal yet, but I’m well on my way. In the meantime the anthology is being put together as I write this and is due to release on November 29th. My story is not only the first one in the book, but also an excerpt from the book I’m writing for NaNoWriMo will be in the back of the book. We have several prominent authors supporting us and promoting the anthology. Even Ms. Julie Kenner has offered to promote the release, among other super supportive author friends I’ve made.
As an unpublished writer I’m learning the cost of things like editors and formatters and cover art. I have an amazing author friend who offered to edit my first work for me when I’m ready, which is a HUGE chunk of the cost, and so many ready to support and share my solo book when it comes out and my short story isn’t even out yet. I’m facing these fears reluctantly but every step of the way I keep reminding myself that I want to show my daughter that if you want it you have to go for it. You can’t give up before you’ve even tried. You can’t make excuses and expect any results. I’ve already invested in cover art for two books and have the support and push from those who won’t let me turn back.

Every day I write a little. Some days I write a lot. What matters is at the end of the day, before you close your eyes, ask yourself this question; what did I do today to get one step closer to making my dreams a reality? It doesn’t matter how small it is, do something, EVERY SINGLE DAY and don’t settle until you’ve exhausted every possibility. You can’t be the best if you don’t try. You can’t grab the trophy if you don’t show up.

Reading romances taught me if you want it bad enough you make it happen. Never give up hope until you find your Happily Ever After.

Monique P.

chances

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Remembering The OKC Bombing

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April 19, 1995

Those born on April 19, 1995 are celebrating their 21st birthday today. For many Oklahomans it’s the 21st anniversary of the day their home was attacked and their loved ones were murdered by deranged individuals seeking revenge on a government they disagreed with.

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On April 19, 1995 at 9:01 am Oklahoma City, Oklahoma was having a day like any other. People were arriving to work, babies were being held at daycare, phone calls were being made, kids were sitting in classes. It took 1 minute and 1 individual full of anger and hate to end the lives of 168 Americans and change the lives of thousands more forever. By 9:03 am we were a wounded city, state and nation. All over the world people mourned and prayed for Oklahoma. All that pain and devastation because someone hated choices made by individuals in our government trying to protect others.

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Our government makes mistakes and sometimes we greatly disagree with their choices and decisions but we, Americans, also take for granted all the things our government has given us and how much better off we are than so many other nations. Can our government be better? Absolutely! But attacking one another and creating more hate and anger towards each other only creates more of these horrible events. Hate fuels the fire within people who don’t understand reason, compassion, or acceptance. We CAN NOT be a nation that stands behind any person or group that supports division instead of unification. Do not give your votes to people who spew hate and disrespect of other individuals, groups or agencies. We can disagree with each other’s choices and still embrace our diversity and accept that we are different and show respect for one another.

Any individual or group who supports hating or creating fear among any part of our population is creating more homeland terrorism. More events like the attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Building are inevitable when people become irrational with hate and fear. Our basic rights are not being attacked by our government or any other power because laws are created trying, sometimes fruitlessly, to keep us from continually harming one another. Those who encourage such thinking are inciting anger and fear unnecessarily.

Today and everyday I ask you to remember the Pledge of Allegiance we recited as children all over this country. Let those last five words, “liberty and justice for all.”, mean something to you as you go through your daily life in an amazingly diverse world full of all kinds of people with all kinds of lives. Liberty and justice FOR ALL; not just the white, straight, christian, American born.

Let the lights of the OKC Bombing Memorial be a reminder of what hate and fear can do.

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Embrace diversity. Embrace change.

“Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way: stop participating in it.” ~Noam Chomsky

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All Photo Credits by Chrissy Justice

As an Oklahoman who cried 21 years ago and every time I look back on the devastation caused by one irrationally fearful and hate-filled man (and those who followed him) I worry those with big voices are encouraging this kind of event to happen again. The only thing more powerful than fear and hate is love. Love one another because of our differences, not despite them.

Monique P

Wynn in Doubt by Emily Hemmer

Check out this book on Goodreads: Wynn in Doubt http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25497061-wynn-in-doubt

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You MUST read this! Seriously…just go to Amazon and use your 1-Click finger right now. Just do it. You’ll thank me later!

I’m so glad I read this and once I started I couldn’t put it down. I had to know how Lola’s story ended and how it impacted Wynn’s story. There’s a line about people only being afraid to die if they are afraid they haven’t lived…not a direct quote ….that was like a punch in the gut. I can’t tell you how often I’ve thought this at 43 years old. What have I used these 4 decades to do? Why do I keep talking myself out of following my dreams? Maybe I’ll fail but I have to try. I have to stop being afraid to try and stop making excuses for not trying. I want to write. I’ve been doing it as a hobby since I was 12. And maybe I’m no good really but maybe 1 of the stories in my head will move someone like this one moved me. Just maybe. And if not, I’ll still be able to say, “I tried. I wrote that book (or that story).” And I’ll have left that piece of me behind to show I was here and I lived.

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I cried several times and many more times I had to pause and absorb what I had just read. It felt like Emily Hemmer wrote this just for me and I found it just when I was supposed to. That feeling is a rare treasure. I’m a fan for life!
This book will be read again and again.
Start living!  (Right after you read this book!)

Happy Reading!
Monique P

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Perspective

My busy brain is constantly finding things that are wrong. I think about things that have gone wrong or that I’ve done wrong. I fret over things that might go wrong or the worst possible outcomes. I think about “what ifs” until I’ve worked myself into tears. When something bad happens to me I curl into my little ball and just want to feel sorry for myself and others to say “There, there. It will be okay.”  All this real and imaginary “wrongness” has caused me to take up the lovely habit of grinding my teeth very hard in my sleep.

This last Thursday I went to the dentist for my usual cleaning and check up.  I’ve always enjoyed my dental appointments actually. They made my teeth all clean and bright and all the attention was focused on me and someone saying, “What great teeth you have” since I’ve never had a cavity and never needed braces. No pain, no bad news, no huge medical bills since insurance always covers cleanings.

Then, after 42 years of my lovely pearly whites getting a clean bill of health, the absolutely worst happened. Cavities. Not just cavities, but also a broken tooth! My grinding habit has led to consequences I hadn’t realized were possible. I do it so badly that I wake my partner with the irritating sound and have gradually flattened many of my back teeth and apparently broken one. All this leads to less protection for my teeth, especially for the inner areas that need that hard exterior to keep the nerves and roots safe from decay and disease. Well, I botched that up pretty good obviously.

The advised treatment: 2 fillings and a composite to rebuild the broken area.

I wasn’t actually scared because I was too busy being pissed. I mean, 42 years is a long streak to break ya know? I could have rescheduled for the fillings or just do it then. I always think it’s best to get things done and over with if you can. Back in the room where the fillings were to happen I noticed one of the square panels overhead had a light out, messing up the pattern on the ceiling.  This at least had me preoccupied momentarily. I hadn’t even really noticed the two minty q-tips that had been stuck in my mouth and left there until the minty flavor was followed by what felt like gigantic lips and a tongue that I no longer had control over. Extremely odd sensation.

Even when the dentist sat down next to me and started explaining the procedure I wasn’t panicked, mostly because by then I couldn’t feel my face much less the inside of my mouth.

There are a few things the dentist fails to mention about “the procedure” that if you haven’t experienced a filling I will forewarn you about. First off, the drill, even if you can’t feel it, sounds like a construction zone inside your head. There’s a drilling sound so loud it’s like standing next to a pneumatic drill working on gigantic screws going through concrete.  This was followed by what I swear was a jack hammer. Even vibrating me enough to notice through the numbness. Then a more drilling which immediately is followed by the smell of burning rubber.

For those of you around my age you will probably remember the Bill Cosby joke about being in the dentist chair with instruments in his numb mouth and drooling and trying to say he smelled smoke. There was a time when many of us went around giggling saying, “Moke! Moke!”

Needless to say, I no longer find this funny.

It really does smell like smoke!  Exceptionally foul-smelling smoke, like your tire caught on fire! This, I was informed by my dentist, is the smell of decayed tooth being drilled out.  Thank you for making me entirely disgusted with my own mouth!

Once the dentist was done drilling out the ICK the tech came in to fill and fix.  That part was not bad. (Unless you include the part when it felt like she needed to just unhinge my jaw to pull my mouth open far enough to reach my top teeth in the back.)  The dentist came back in and said all was well, gave me some instructions and sent me on my way still numb and drooling just a tad.

I went home, took my recommended ibuprofen and promptly dozed off. 2 hours later, after apparently grinding even harder due to the numbness and managing to bite the crap out of the inside of my cheek, I woke up in tears. The right side, where both a filling and repair was done, was completely fine. The left side felt like someone was trying to rip all my upper teeth out.

Having never had a filling before so I called the dentist’s office to see if this was anywhere close to normal. I was sobbing so I’m not sure she heard me very well, but just moments later the tech who did my fillings called me back and asked me to come back in to make sure all was well. They took x-rays to make sure no voids were left where they filled and the dentist came in to show me the x-rays and explained how my left filling was so deep it pushed against the wall protecting the nerve and probably bruised the nerve. A prescription for a few days of “the good drugs” and I was sent off.

The rest of the day and night I stayed in a fetal position with a swollen cheek and sore mouth wishing someone was there to baby me.  I even text my best friend who is 1000 miles away because I know she’s been through these things AND without numbing or pain medicine because she’s allergic to nearly everything. I told her she was my hero. I couldn’t possibly imagine doing all that with no relief. During our texts I found out she was also having unexplained jaw pain and, of course, without pain killers.

I was without a doubt feeling sorry for myself anyway.

The next day I received a message that jaw pain turned into also a shortness of breathe and chest pain. Her blood pressure was way too high and she was admitted to the hospital. Tests revealed she’d had a heart attack.

My best friend is 37 years old. She’s recently lost 40 lbs, quit smoking, began eating better and exercising. She has a husband who adores her and two great teenage boys. Things like this aren’t supposed to happen to people like her. ESPECIALLY since she can’t have anything for pain or any kind of sedative. (Did I mention she’s 1000 miles away from me?)

Saturday morning things weren’t going well and a heart cath was done sooner than scheduled to find she had a 90% blockage in one area and a stent was immediately put in. Thankfully tests showed no significant damage to the heart.

I’m so grateful her husband was by her side for the entire weekend because when any pain began he was on top of it and had nurses checking on her immediately. His presence was the only thing that eased my mind.

Imagine for a moment going through all of that with no more than Tylenol for pain and nothing to keep you calm or sedated. Suddenly my mouth wasn’t so bad. My teeth didn’t hurt that much. The cold drink was just a minor annoyance. The fear of another cavity down the line just a blip on my radar.

I can’t possibly find the words to convey how much respect I have for this woman. I said it before, and I’ll say it again, she is my hero.

I love you, E!

Monique P.

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