Saturday, February 27, 2010

Uh oh. . .

. . .all the action still is over at the Scenic Turnout. But, I had an idea for a post about something a little earlier. Only thing is, i preferred to go card up a batt for spinning.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


It's day twelve of the Olympics. I hadn't watched anything but a few moments of it.

I tend to think of the Olympics as a huge advertising festival. The enormity of that has wiped away wonderful childhood memories of watching the Olympics with great enjoyment. When I was ten years old, I watched speed skating with other children in a strange hotel for kids on the North Sea in the Netherlands. I couldn't speak or understand Dutch, but I loved skating, and we all watched with smiles on our faces.

But then came the up close and personals, and the Tanya Harding episode, and all the athletes plastered in endorsement patches. So, this year, when I realized I couldn't watch it on TV, and then came to find out that I could only see clips on-line, well, I said "I've got better things to do with my time."

But tonight, I watched some figure skating. Wow. Were they always this good?

But, nothing prepared me for the raw footage with no screaming commentators of the two young Estonians dancing to Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters." I love that I have no idea what the experts thought. I love that she has braces, and he's got yellow teeth and looks all of sixteen. They danced with such intensity. Oh yes, they skated. Nothing else mattered.

No commentary? I can think whatever I like.

Image note: From overhead shots of the ice dancing, here. Hey, I just found out the names of the Estonians, and they're Irina Shtork and Taavi Rand, and, well, she is 16 years old. What did you do at 16? On a night such as this, I was probably doing bong hits with some friends. . .

On this most rainy day

There's memories of late summer over at the Scenic Turnout.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Supper, dinner, evening meal

It's been so delicious that I've had it three nights in a row:

One big bowl of avocado, mung bean sprouts, mixed greens, parsley, dill, lightly cooked asparagus, and toasted pumpkin seeds, accompanied by a hunk of warm sourdough bread with fresh butter.

To think I used to scoff at the women who ate salads while their dining companions ate steak! Ah, if they were eating iceberg I'd still grumble. But this? It is heaven.

Painting note: Not dinner, but "Breakfast". Paul Cignac 1886-1887

Creative hopelessness

For some, change comes easily. For others, change comes kicking and screaming. And, for others, change comes only after the accepted notion of "hitting bottom." I recently encountered the idea of "creative hopelessness" and find that a compelling term, one that sits better with me than thinking I've been sitting in a pile of my own poop, and with nowhere further to fall, had to climb out of it.

After I read "Living Beyond Your Pain" (which may indeed have been the catalyst for my "conversion experience"), I wanted to know more about ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy), so I'm reading it's primer right now. It's an exciting book. It was written for therapists, but it is certainly readable for the layperson. The emphasis is on applying ACT to clients, and not just explaining its rationale. I find it interesting (to say the least) how the book addresses many common "scripts" that clients engage in, and how to interact with these barriers to growth.

One of these common scripts is the phrase "I'll just put up with it." There is much about the concept of "settling." Why do we settle? Fear. Hopelessness. Helplessness. ACT challenges the client to engage in thinking about change. Understanding why one has gotten to where they are is the past, beside the point (though not dishonored), and creatively indulging in fantasies of what one's life can be is encouraged.

What's interesting to me is the fact that many a person, when confronted with the question "If you had no obstacles, what would you do?" will choke. First, they might say "That's a ridiculous question. I do have obstacles!" The dialogue ends right there.

I had certainly engaged in that abrupt ending of all creative visualizations of what I'd like for my life (with brief interludes). I had come to believe that thinking about possibilities was actually bad for me. This, I now learn, is common.

Some folks don't like finding out that their neuroses are so average as to be scriptable. I find it comforting, or, at the very least, useful. To see that my non-useful (as opposed to negative) self-talk and behavior as a package, one created by set of experiences that has commonality with others, diminishes it. I can then choose to toss that package overboard. I really don't want to carry around that package any longer.

I make it sound like an easy choice. It is not. I am not young, and it's taken me many years to get to the point where I feel ready to let go of my scripts and baggage. As I'm engaging in some group therapy these days, I see how tightly the young women hold on to the very behaviors that are causing them to suffer. It's also plain to me that inviting them to let go would be futile. Those defense mechanism are there for a reason and it takes years for them to either wear away or become so calcified that they can not be. And, as I've written before, I think that it may be a matter of luck which way it goes - freedom or not.

I suppose when I say that I'm not giving myself enough credit. I've spent a good deal of my life pursuing freedom from my demons. All that meditation should have amounted to something, no? The person who first sat on a meditation cushion nearly twenty years ago is not the same person who is typing these words.

I have always been jealous of those people who pursue one thing in their lives and do it well, the types who know what they want from an early age, who seem to move through life like a bullet or an arrow. But not all of us are like that, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. It makes for a rockier ride, but if not for those of us who get dashed on the rocks from time to time, where would the insights come from? Sorry, but I really do not believe that great creativity can come from a life without some trouble.

So, when I read about "creative helplessness", I smile. Those of us who are stuck in ruts, dashed upon rocky shores, pinned down like insects (or any other cliche you'd like to insert here) have a great opportunity to figure our ways out of things. What we come up with is the stuff of great novels, great adventures, and great possibility.

Painting note: Pietro Perugino This is not my favorite painting of St. Sebastian. But, the question is, "What did he do?" I realize I have no idea.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Give me a good reason not to be optimistic."

That's what he said. I sat there, at a loss for words. Well, I could have said anything. I could have said "onions" or "my cat has been more affectionate lately" or "ta da!" I wasn't at a loss for words. I was at a loss for a good reason not to be optimistic.

I've been feeling enormous optimism of late. It's not part of my normal repertoire. It feels odd, like wearing beautiful clothes that I look and feel good in, but am not used to.

Pessimism is rather like worrying. One thinks it's a good strategy, as if worrying or thinking of worst case scenarios is some kind of protection, but neither way of being in the world has much going for it. They both cause needless suffering. They both sap one's energy. And neither achieve the goal of protecting oneself from whatever negative events might occur in the future.

Living one's life from a place of fear sucks. I searched for a nicer way to put it, but I gave up.

My dear readers who have traveled with me a while, you know how far down I've been. I've had an epiphany. There's no doubt about it. I want to be clear about one thing. I am not preaching. It's impossible to drag others into their own epiphanies. I've been exposed to enough information about strategies for improving one's life to last a couple of lifetimes at least. They've all been helpful, but in the end, it's rather a bit of a crap shoot whether one is going to wake up to reality. Oh, and I'm sure I have plenty more waking up to do yet - I'm not an enlightened being (at least I don't think so)!

Today, as I struggled with a more physical pain than usual, and the accompanying tiredness, I notice how I'm just being with it.
I used to be able to do this only when I meditated for long periods or when completely immersed in creativity (which was a big fat and obvious clue as to how I should have been living!) Painful knees and a throbbing back when I would spend a day or more in meditation were nothing. I sat with the pain, sat like a rock, and came to see it as something of a familiar companion. It was something to work with.

But, in everyday life, the pain was my enemy. I didn't want it at my table. And when it wasn't there, I was scared it would be knocking at my door some other day. I shouldn't have been scared, for pain greets me every morning in varying degrees. How could I be so unfriendly to my companion in life? Sure, this companion is a pain in my butt, but it's been pretty reliable as companions go. Unfortunately, I allowed it to become my bully.

I suppose that's what happens when you don't honor a constant companion. They just start screaming at you to give them the attention they deserve!

So, I finally gave in and became gracious, and in walked a new friend, optimism. Optimism makes me a wee bit nervous, as it challenges me to honor the fact that I do have hopes and dreams, and they've been squelched for so long that they're busting at the seams. I've got all sorts of ideas of things I want to do and try and instead of ignoring these thoughts, I'm just going to go full steam ahead. Is this really optimism? Hmmm. I am pretty sure that some things will not pan out, or succeed, or go smoothly. So what?

Maybe it's not optimism after all. Maybe it's just losing my fear. Y'know, I'm gonna take the words "optimism" and "pessimism" out of my vocabulary. They just don't seem to serve any purpose that I can think of. I'd prefer to use the words love and fear. It rather boils down to those. At least I think so.

Image note: This happy bird is what is sitting on my yarn labels.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

No thoughts (sort of)

I wanted to post my new Scenic Turnout yarn labels, 'cause they're oh-so-cute, but blogger won't allow me to open that kind of file (whatever it is). It just occurred to me that I could have scanned it, but I'm not going to jump up and do it now.

Instead, you get this wan little drawing I did. In the midst of having absolutely too many things to do, I had to download some trial programs to work on graphics. Giving 'em all a test run. Of course, I'd like an Adobe product, but unless I win the lottery, I'm not going to be getting that.

Once, when I had a clothing store, on a terribly busy afternoon, one employee was counting pennies and putting them into sleeves. There weren't enough salespeople at that moment, and rolling up the pennies was the last thing that needed to be done. Sadly, this was the last straw with her, and I weepily fired her (my first time firing anyone). Now, I can understand the urge to do something superfluous in the midst of too much to do.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Another new blog? Oh my!

As if there aren't enough things to do, what with all the changes happening in my life. Well, I do need another blog, for I'm making a big push to make an actual living with my fiber obsessions. There will be a website where one can purchase my handspun yarn, finished objects, and purchase the workshop workbooks I'm working on (try saying that three times fast). Oh yes, there is too much to do! The website's not up yet, but the blog is, with two entries about how to knit cables without cable needles.

I had to come up with a name, which is so hard for me. I just don't name things. There are a number of blog entries here about that (and darned if I can direct you to them). I've used random name generators, the Oxford English Dictionary opened at random, and all sorts of other ways to find names for pets and other things (and I do know that pets are not things). I'm sure I'll come to regret my final decision, as I always seem to, but the name of my fiber arts biz is Scenic Turnout, mostly because I've had a lovely old sign that says that hanging in my kitchen for years and I'm quite attached to it. It says "Scenic Turnout - 50 ft." Uh oh. It may say 500 feet, but I'm too lazy to get up and look and am amazed I'm not sure what it says.

Anyhoo, I am fixated on a joke that only I find amusing, that there's yards and yards to go before the Scenic Turnout. See? I'm no comedian, I couldn't even word that well. "A million yards before I stop!" "Yards and yards for you to choose from!" Oh, never mind. The product is the point, isn't it? Sure, a good name will help, but plenty of things have the worst names, though right now I can't bring anything to mind. I've been on the computer a little too long today. It seems to rot my memory cells.

Photo note: This is about twelve yards of a crocheted chain, doubled back on itself with a single crochet. This pile o' mess is the beginning of the edges I'm pushing at. I've always been a traditionalist when it comes to fiber arts. Now, I've discovered pure freedom, and it feels great. No, it feels fabulous! Still, with just too much to do, I've all sorts of ideas cooped up in my brain, just dying to get out. I'm dreaming of embedding silk threads between layers of leaf-shaped raw silk, and then tying them into some handspun. I just love the look of hanging vines, so why not create my own no-need-for-water wool/silk versions? I'm calling them "un-scarves." Drape them over anything!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Old posts & life

I hadn't checked Google analytics for a long time, and I'm sorry I did. Now, 80% of the folks who find their way to this blog arrive at the post about the Ikea mattress debacle.* In spite of my having left a number of comments saying "please stop leaving comments", people have to add their two cents. Do I deserve a weekly browbeating for being so foolish as to have thought I'd find a good mattress at Ikea? How about comments informing me what a whiner I am? Then again, others find solace in hearing that someone else had the same experience, and they leave a snippet of their sorry tale.

But really, of all the posts to attract so much attention, did it have to wind up being that one? Since the rest of this blog is not a consumer's rant-o-rama, these poor visitors appear to check one other entry out, and spend an average of less than sixty seconds doing so.

What is this blog about, anyway? Maybe it's become "Julie thinks her life is interesting." Yes, that might just be true.

I should hope that everyone's life is interesting. So many people say they lead boring lives. I wonder if they're actually bored with their lives. I imagine that they are not, but instead think that an ordinary life is by definition "boring." Ah well, we can't all be floating in long dresses upon red carpets, can we?

Honestly, I would venture to guess that the constant pressing of hands, air-kisses, and all that the celebrity high-powered social life must get terribly tedious after a while, Then again, I haven't much patience for that type of thing, where one must keep their mindless chit-chat muscles in shape, always be on guard against smudged eye makeup, and teeter about in high heels.

So, with that thought in mind, there's a big announcement to be made. Here it comes: Everything is Interesting will be moving out of the countryside. That's right, folks. This old city gal turned country bumpkin is officially getting her ass out of the middle of nowhere.

I'm tired, so. . .to be continued. . .

Ha! This normally blabbermouthed being is being rather mum. Eh, a little suspense won't kill any of you. Especially those of you who came for mattress reviews.

Image note: This is the kind of thing I find not boring: Free patterns! Inspiration! Go here for both, if you like this kind of thing.

*I was informed today that if you google "Ikea mattress" my silly little story is the first hit after links to Ikea. Too bad I'm not a consumer reports blogger! Hmmm. . .

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

To those of you that make things

You may not have achieved success by society's standards. No, you may not be recognized for what you do, or recompensed with financial rewards.

And so, what I say to you, is probably cold comfort. I know it's hard living in this country without the autonomy that money provides.

But, as I was without the ability to sleep, I spent a some time looking at things people make on the Web. Those who are prolific, who just can't help creating, you have my deepest respect. You have something that people would give up much for, if it was something money could buy. And the thing is, money can't buy creativity.

I've taken my own creativity for granted much of my life, and did not cherish it. It was just me, nothing special, my normal, and I always felt I could do better still. Do better? I was gifted, but schooled in comparing myself to impossible standards, and programmed for failure by people who couldn't help themselves, people who felt as if they'd failed in spite of their own personal gifts. My parents both were brimming with artistic and intellectual talents, and I watched at they suffered indignation every day kowtowing to those who were wealthy in order to scrape by. My mother put a beautiful and happy face to the world, and then came home and deflated. My father raged daily to everyone. And I, the child, cowered in fear of a world I was told I'd never be able to succeed in for a myriad of reasons. I hadn't the ability to see beyond what I was taught, and so, I watched those with far less promote themselves relentlessly as I was too afraid of the world to demand my place in it. I thought I had nothing to offer. I was programmed for failure. I felt I had failed before I had even begun.

If these sound like the words of someone who feels pity for oneself, they are not. I have grown far beyond blaming my parents or my upbringing for the adult I've become. But still I struggle. Some overcome more quickly than others Some never overcome at all. For each triumph, each moment of stripping away at that which has held me back, I am grateful.

But, as usual, I have digressed.

Somewhere along the way I lost my ability to simply keep drawing, painting, making music, sewing, whatever. It's not a "block." The joy and the drive recedes and returns. It lost being an imperative, like breathing. Once, not spending every waking free minute engaged in making music or art was an impossibility. It mattered not that I felt as if I was banging my head against a wall, that I wasn't connecting, that I quaking in the proverbial boots at job interviews, that I had no true belief in myself. I had to make stuff, in every available minute. I didn't even have "something to say." Just moving my hand over paper and producing something was enough. I spent hours playing the same two chords on my guitar.

I suppose nowadays I feel similarly about making things out of fiber, but still I hold back a lot. I spend to much time thinking, "Can I make money with this?" instead of just doing it. Then I might spend much time surfing the web, writing this (which, I suppose, is a form of creativity), or watching yet another movie or British television show. I might not watch trash, but I wonder how much of my life I've wasted consuming this entertainment?

So, yes, I want to applaud those of you who still just can't help themselves, who keep on drawing, painting, making music, exploring their particular dreams and quirky interests that perhaps no one else can see the beauty or meaning of. To those of you who do any of this, you are so very rich. If you think no one recognizes you talents, you probably have many secret admirers who are too shy to tell you how awed they are at your talents and your perseverance.

I try to give compliments where they are due. So, even while I have a number of people in mind as I write this, I also am writing to those who I do not know. You all deserve as much encouragement as you can get. You are an inspiration to others.

Again, it may be cold comfort when you'd like to quit your dayjob and make things all day, get paid for what you do and keep struggling so hard, or get a grant, or have someone recognize you instead of having to sell yourself. Ah well. This world is not fair, and you've heard that a million times. I only want to thank you. Thank you.

Photo note: I've seen the "The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly" twice in my life, and each time was awed by its beauty, inventiveness of construction, and the compulsion that created it. This is but a peek at it. James Hampton spent fourteen years working on this throne, along with 177 other objects that were found after he died.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Can it really be so simple?

I've been reading "Loving What Is" by Byron Katie.

Here's an transcribed excerpt from a dialogue Katie had with a participant at a workshop:

Woman: "I fear suffering about the future."

Katie: "So, in the future you’re going to suffer. Is that true? Can you absoutely know that that’s true?"

"I don’t know if it’s true. (Pause) No."

"So what happens when you think that thought?"

"I get scared?"

"Now, close your eyes. What images can you see when you think the thought 
I’m going to suffer?"

"I see a bag lady on the street. I see someone who’s dying of bone cancer."

“So who would you be without the thought in the future I’m going to suffer?”

“I’d be someone who isn’t suffering right now.”

The exchange goes on for a while. We watch and listen as the woman who is afraid of her imagined future is just turning on a spit, dying to tell her story, explain why she's afraid of becoming a bag lady, go deeper into her fears about cancer, but is stopped at every turn by Katie, who keeps bringing her back to the present. In the present, this woman is healthy, has a satisfying life, and is "only" haunted by experiences in the past that make her project bad outcomes for the future. Some would say she'll create those bad outcomes because she believes they'll happen. I do not. I think it's more likely a matter of bad luck if she develops the most unlikely brain cancer, and blaming her for thinking bad thoughts about it (you created your cancer!) is a lousy thing to tell people (thus proving, at least to me, that new-age ideas can be just as heartless as old-fashioned ones).

Every dialogue I've watched or read that Katie engages in with others demonstrates how attached we all are to the stories we tell ourselves about what we're afraid of and why. Of course, we're equally attached to the stories we've created for the reasons we are happy or successful. We don't like to think that luck plays an enormous role in our lives. I was lucky not to have died at birth. I was two months premature at a time when incubators were uncommon and rudimentary. My mother went into labor at a party, far from the hospital where she planned on giving birth, but close to one where there were state-of-the-art incubators and doctors who knew how to handle such tiny infants. Of course, you may believe God, fate, or some other higher power played a part in what I call luck. Feel free to do so. Either way, I had nothing to do with the fact that I didn't die on the day I was born.

That seems tangential, but it isn't that far off the mark. We desperately need to find a reason for everything. If I survived this birth, for whatever reason, there must be a reason. If there isn't a reason, we tend to make up stories to fill in the gaps.

Some people think Katie's approach to solving that which causes us suffering is "tough love"; some even call it cruel and without heart. When I see people desperate to talk, I tend to feel they should be given as much space to do so as possible. We go around in this life keeping so much held tightly to our breasts. "How are you?" is the greeting we are met with all day long, but no one wants a real answer. How refreshing to think someone will allow us to say how we really feel! And so, there is much resistance when Katie demands people to imagine giving up their stories. It seems almost cruel, but it is indeed a huge gift. These stories create enormous suffering. We spin tales that may be based in reality, but we spin them to create images of a reality that has not yet occurred and probably never will. What purpose does it serve?

When I'm in pain, and I project myself into a future where there's no one to take care of me when I'm so disabled that I can't get out of bed permenantly, I am not only taking myself out of the present moment, I'm causing myself completely unnecessary stress, grief, and misery by placing myself into the worst imaginable situation. If I spoke to a therapist about this, what would s/he do? Encourage me to examine why I have such thoughts, talk them through, seek their origin, "confront them." These thoughts are like bullies. The best thing is to tell them to leave and ignore them. If I engage with them, they'll stick around and torment me further. Who would I be without these nasty thoughts? Free.

Some would argue that I need to make friends with negative thoughts. Nope. I don't make friends with bullies.

Some would argue that without worrying about future possibilities, one will not have contingency plans in place. I was taught that anxiety drives action by a family filled with worriers. I don't believe it. One can make plans for the future without any worrying. If the only reason you are saving money is because you're worried about the future, it's a piss poor reason. If you're saving for unexpected calamities, that's fine. They do occur, no doubt. But worrying about them does nothing but cause misery.

Another criticism of Katie is that she minimizes suffering. I heard her talk about losing a home to foreclosure. She described how it was a beautiful day, and as the van drove away with an imaginary woman's possessions, while this imaginary woman was sitting on the sidewalk, she looked up at the sky and saw how beautiful it was. In that moment, she was fine. The world was perfect as it was. My reaction? Yes, it was all very well and good that it happened in California where the weather is warm and, sure, one can bask in the beauty of nature for quite a while, but, what's going to happen when this imaginary woman gets hungry? Where is she going to use a bathroom or sleep?

I felt a sense of outrage for a moment, and then paused. I realized I've been in some dire situations, ones that objectively would be considered intolerable to most Americans. Because I can see the beauty in the smallest things, those supposedly bad situations were all not only bearable, but perfect. I've had times in my life when things were objectively going great, but I was suffering inside, and I felt life was unbearable.

So, in my experience, these stories that we tell ourselves, and we allow our society to tell us about what we need from life, well, they are the cause of our suffering. This doesn't mean that being hungry, homeless, sick, or alone is perfectly fine and if you're suffering because of it, you're at fault. It only means that if you are in a bad situation, adding to one's misery by refusing to see what possibilities for learning or appreciation they hold is a bad strategy. Being angry about one's situation doesn't make it better. Righteous anger is still anger. Is it really fulfilling to be angry?

I was once scolded for enjoying a meal too much in the middle of mourning. I was also told I was crying too hard around the same time. Either way, the crux of that matter was that feeling too strongly in this society is not approved of. I might not like Tom Cruise for a number of reasons, but I positively approved of his jumping up and down on a couch crowing about his love for whoever it was he had fallen for. Fantastic! We should all be that enthusiastic. But no. Suddenly, Tom Cruise was "crazy." Hell, he's been crazy for years. He's a Scientologist. Of course he's crazy!

I could keep on ranting for hours. Kids get pills for being hyperactive (too much for the teachers to handle), and pills because they're depressed when their parents aren't parenting them. Wouldn't it be better if we let the "hyperactive" kids run around more? Wouldn't it be better to acknowledge the truth of the pain of a child who's not being taken care of? That's not depression. Depression is being unhappy for no good reason.

Oh, we are so confused.

I never got around to what my entry's title asks, "Is it really so simple?" Well, it is. Reality is what it is. The less we argue with it, the better off we'll be. That applies as well to kids who are being treated with drugs when they should be treated with respect as it does to those who are crying about that which is long gone or has never happened. Denying reality, dampening our reactions to it (keep yourself in check - no big emotions allowed!), or all attempts to alter our feelings about it by external means (booze, drugs, both legal or not), well, it's a losing battle. Reality is as it is.

End of tonight's rant and lecture.

Photo note: As requested, something I've made - my first attempts at coiled thick and thin yarn.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

More gratitude

I just deleted the long story of how I became psychotic last Friday night because of taking Lyrica. The horrible details are not useful, nor do I really want to go over them again.

Suffice it to say I took this drug without much thought, even after hearing the pharmacist say that it caused extreme suicidal behavior in some people "who were probably messed up to begin with." Well, I was messed up to begin with, made a joke to him about that, which he laughed at, and merrily downed the little pill with my supper. Three hours later, I was hallucinating. Fourteen hours later, I was admitted to a psych ward, and it took me a few days to calm down after this truly frightening episode.

The thing is, I'm oddly grateful. In my psychotic state, I was experiencing and acting out all the darkest places I've ever been to. It was everything I've ever been afraid of happening, and a regression into the fear of a little child, my little child, the one I've never been able to be kind to.

And as you can see, I survived. What's there to be afraid of now?

I am not my life's stories. I am not the victim of my life's stories.

I got to visit with some interesting people, people who are hurting far more than I.

One man came into the ward, which is also for detox, because his doctor forced him to be there. He was waiting for the three days to be up. He left, and went directly to a bar, where he called his room mate at the hospital. He said he was planning on being dead by the morning. Life without booze was not an option. He'd rather have one last binge and be done with life.

Oh, I am very lucky indeed.

Another man said he was afraid of the surgery he was facing. The doctor's odds for his surviving the surgery without paralysis? 50/50. What condition did this man have that he was willing to face those coin-toss odds? Well, the very same one I have in my back, leg and foot. No one suggested this nasty bit of surgery to me. I told him that. He said that he was told that the numbness in his foot would spread. No one told me this one, either. I beseeched him to ask for a second opinion (or more). He would not hear of it. "If I can live without this pain, I'm willing to take my chances" he said.

Oh, I'm glad I hallucinated on Friday night. I really am lucky. I have a lot to be grateful for. I've got a fairly good mind, one that doesn't accept nonsense from experts easily. I am not suffering all that much, compared to others.

This is not a good way to discern the depth of one's suffering, but it was offered to me, and I took it. I listened as people wove their stories about how they've been wronged, hurt, damaged, and I kept wondering why everyone was doing so much damage to themselves.

Not that I haven't done the same thing. Oh yes, I have. I've done my fair share, and more. But, it's leaving me. Yes, I can feel it slip away. Maybe I needed this one last gasp, the proverbial dark night of soul (even if it was brought on by a bad combo of prescription drugs).

Everything is grist for the mill. Everything is as it should be. How can we argue with that? What's the point? If this is reality, fighting against it is a losing proposition. If I don't like the way things are, I can continue arguing with them, making myself suffer more, or I can make peace or move on. But suffering is certainly optional.

I suffered hard on Friday and well into Saturday. I am grateful I do not suffer from schizophrenia. Psychosis is frightening. I am most grateful for the fact that while I'm a bit flakey, I'm basically mentally intact. Sure, like everyone else in the world, I have some delusions, some of them pretty big, but I am grounded in reality. That is the greatest gift.

On Friday night, I looked out the window and saw children's drawings, images of knives plunging into flesh, all sorts of horrors. They were not real. The trees, covered with snow, and the birds that land on the feeders are. I am so lucky that that is what I do see. How lucky we all are!