“Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying” Stephen King

I have been pulling the pictures from my “past life” and looking at them with a fresh eye and discovering how they have made me who I am today and also how they have been instrumental in helping me at times to heal and other to get rid of common obstacles that will hold us back from living.

I struggled with the fear of death a lot as a young kid. Many people are afraid of death, for many different reasons. I remember watching a documentary on Nostradamus when I was 10. He predicted that the world would end in 1995. I was terrified. After all the man was right about Hitler…..and I had so much i wanted to do.

Now, I’m not comfortable with it, though I don’t think it’s human to be totally at peace, but I don’t lay in bed dreading my day of death. I owe this balance to my continuous exposure to people with AIDS, one of the main reasons I no longer fear death as I did.

The first time I ever met someone with AIDS I was about 10, maybe 11. I was spending the night at a friend’s house and her parents had company. At that point it was the early 90’s and AIDS was still very much a whisper, the only thing that seemed to be communicated about it was the fear and many times that fear was ignorant. So as my friend and I did dishes, she told me that the man who ate dinner with us that night had AIDS. I remember being fearful, knowing that is was a deadly disease.

When I was 13 we moved to New Orleans. After our move there, AIDS played a prominent part in my youth. From our neighbors to people I met through volunteer work, I met so many people who opened my eyes to life and to the tragedy of death.

My mother and I began volunteering at a place called The Lazarus House. It was hospice care set in a huge, old New Orleans Victorian  home, complete with courtyard. It was meant to be a sanctuary for people with AIDS and HIV. Some of the men and women came there to die and others came to get healthier. Some were teachers, some were regular joes and all were someone’s son or daughter.

During my two-year time there I did a number of things ranging from helping clean to sitting bedside with someone until they passed. Mostly however, we spent time visiting and talking with the residents there. I learned that one man named Daryl, was being proactive with AIDS by going around schools and speaking to the youth but also by volunteering there for after school programs. Then there were people like Lionel whose family had shut him out and treated him as badly as a dog with rabies. His mother had everything covered in plastic, she was so terrified she might contract the disease. Lionel was quiet, a bit socially awkward and a peaceful sort. He was very kind to me.

There were many others, Lynn a fried chicken fiend ( he loved that chicken from Popeye’s!)whose mind had been most affected. He became more and more like a child every week, which had its comical moments but when I think about the first day I met him to the last time I saw him, he had gone from speaking as an adult with life long experiences to relating much like my three-year old does. He was surrounded by people who loved him and supported him until he died. When I think of him, I don’t see him grey and morose but rather smiling and laughing with Popeye’s fried chicken near by.

And then, quite to the contrary, a woman my mother and I sat vigil with as she slowly passed, was utterly alone. She had pictures in her room of family but she was dying by herself. I don’t know why or what her story was but it was so sad that here she was at the end of all things and she had no one to help her. A couple of strangers were her only companions.

Lastly, I met a man named David, whom I ended up working with at a small postal emporium in the French Quarter. We worked together for two years and in that period, he was at death’s door many times but he always managed to bounce back. My husband and I moved and for the last 10 years David continued to pop in and out of my life, by little run ins and short hellos. He died a year and a half ago. And with him, a chapter of my life also.  He was the final tie to my life at The Lazarus House.

Living in New Orleans and volunteering at the hospice there, made me face one of my greatest fears. Death was tangible. Something I could reach out and grab. It lived in the people I met there, biding its time, waiting and slowly destroying the person’s body but I am glad that it didn’t destroy the spirit.

But then, death is in all of us, waiting with his pocket watch and cycle, taking liberties with our body by way of age and inherited health problems and sometimes by our own hand.

When I was 17 I traveled to Thailand. I was doing some more volunteer work at an orphanage in Bangkok for children born of HIV positive prostitutes or the homeless. The kids were also all positive for the deadly disease. They ranged in age from a few years old to a few days old.

I held a newborn. She was very thin and boney and her breathing was raspy and shallow. Meanwhile the other children, mostly toddlers, played at my feet and around the room. They all had big smiles and ran around like any other normal child. Some were obviously more sick than others but they were happy. Some after a few weeks of being in the care of the orphange, miraculously, no longer tested HIV positive. That’s one I can’t explain and I don’t care to try, the people who ran the orphanage said that the positive touch and love from others is what they believed had cured them. There was no scientific explanation.

It remains one of my top 5 experiences of my life. And so does Lazarus House and the people i met there. I find it a bit funny that 2 of my top 5 experiences, revolve around the most feared AIDS and HIV. It is this disease though, that showed me how strong we can be when the odds are so played against us, we can’t move. It showed me the human spirit and how resilient it can be.

Death is just a beggar at the door. He will take us all somehow, someway. Watching how people like David and Daryl and the children in Thailand dealt in grace with the dark subject, convinced me that I have far better things to do than worry about Deaths calendar.

We forget we are even living. Bills, arguments, petty grievances, tv,, all of these things can distract us from living. Life has shown me, it is possible to be living yet dead and as I observed at The Lazarus House, it is also possible to be physically dying but have more life than most of the people sitting at your side while riding the bus.

I would rather walk this world actively alive than to get to the end of it and realize I was actually half dead for most of it.

I don’t have this mastery down yet and perhaps I won’t get it perfected but I will sure as hell try.

Thank You to My Readers

“Coffee”, said the Zombie. Her demands grew louder and louder with each nearing limp-sliding step she took. “Coffee!”

This was me this morning. But as Monty Python once wrote, “I got better.”

I am up and feeling grateful for the continuous rising in numbers of folks who have subscribed and commented on my blog. Hell, even if you just liked it, it brings a smile to my face. So, I thank you for keeping with me on this writing adventure.

This was just a brief tidbit and probably does not even count as a blog, oh-well, my blog, my rules. Anyways, to my readers, may your day be amazing and prosperous and full of lovely surprises….the kind you can spend, eat or drink.

Choose Your Destructor…and be thankful!

" Choose, choose your destructor!"

 

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and like in the movie Ghostbusters, we will have to choose what will eventually do us in. For me it is always a toss-up between desert and Dressing. My Mother-in-Law’s dressing is pretty hard to beat. She is like Paula Dean, only a thousand times better and she’s from Georgia and so Southern cooking is literally in her blood. Also being featured is her Giblet gravy….I know some of you squirm at that thought but, well,…. you are missing out.

Tonight as I sit at my computer writing and listening to Ghostbusters in the background play swooney music as Bankman and his lady-love embrace, I am pondering all of the things in my life that I have to be thankful for.

Sometimes as the day progresses I find myself complaining and grumpy, even my children avoid me.  At the end of the day I reflect on my day or on problems and I try to pick out all the good and focus on those. The things I can not fix or control, I throw to the sky and hope for the best. So I am thankful for the nights, as they make me reflective of my daily life and they play an active role in my progress as a human being.

My folks have been in town. We, over the past few years haven’t seen eye to eye and have argued a bit, even going for a time without speaking or communicating. Tonight, I am thankful for another chance to come together and talk and realize that some things aren’t worth the grudge. I am thankful that we can all let go and focus on the future, not forgetting the past but learning from it and moving past it with each passing day. I am thankful to share my table with my mom and dad tomorrow, it is a blessing to myself, my husband and my kids.

I can hear the TV coming from my daughter’s room where she and my son lay upon the bed watching ‘Clue’ the movie. My daughters strange personality and passion for the strange and hilarious makes me smile and laugh, sometimes out loud, when I think on it. My son’s smile can warm me no matter how angry or sad or frustrated I am. He goes, goes, goes all the time but it is a true blessing to me. We, if we allow ourselves, learn something different form each child we have. The lessons I have learned from my daughter have been personal life  lessons. I have seen myself through new eyes, and not in the most flattering either. It has made me stronger and more gentle as a mother. Hattie is strong and lively. Her spirit is unique and beautiful. Her style is all her own and I wouldn’t change a thing. …Odin has offered me smile since the day he came into my life. From a half way wanted and halfway unwanted pregnancy to a labor that was actually a wonderful experience, till now, he has brightened my day. He walks on rainbows and rides on unicorns as far as I am concerned. Even when he’s being a total ass, he’s still my little man. My children make life worth living some days, I am thankful for them as they are. No more, no less.

Already his sense of style is coming through....

 

My beautiful lady with Edgrrr, our pit and her faithful companion.

 

I am often discouraged and frustrated by the fact that I have many interests. I have invest a good bit in each one, though I have never picked a particular one to make my career. And though as I write I am still upset by this, I am also thankful because it keeps me curious. It keeps me looking for more passions, more things to know or learn. As my husband said, “If you can’t decide on one, do them all.” So I attempt that with as much patience as I can muster and without spreading myself to thin. Which all this brings me to my nest thankful thought…

My husband. Though at times I want to pull out all his hair , he has had more patience with me and my weird, hippy ways. He has encouraged and supported me in all my interests, even though he knows I could likely drop one over night. I am so thankful for him and his Job-like patience.

Finally, I am thankful for Mysteries. Yes mysteries, the unknown, sometimes in the form of a good story, sometimes in history and other times and most often, in our lives. We do not know what the future holds or whether we have tomorrow, let us try to live today to its fullest.

So for thanksgiving, I wish you all a full day of laughter and love, may you live the day to its fullest.

Happy Thanksgiving!

TV Time

Today I am thankful for T.V. Yes you heard right. I am thankful for the square box that “rots” my brain.

One of my favorite things to do is to put something on and work on my blog, write, draw, sew or sometimes it includes just curling up with my family and watching something together, in a way recreating the memory of watching TV specials with my family as a kid and passing it on to my own children.

 I think those who are against TV somehow have it in their minds that, we who love TV, do nothing but watch it and then we let our devil children watch it all day and they become uncontrollable hyperactive monsters that every teacher dreads. Not so. I am sure, in fact, I know there are those who do just this and I by no means think you should watch it all day, causing you to sit on your ass and do nothing. I am saying that I appreciate having the option to watch it.
 Oddly, for all the bad press it seems to get, TV brought my family together in the past and it has given us warm memories to last our lifetime. I do not let it rot my brain or the beautiful brains of my children.
For me, TV has actually enlightened me. I enjoy being able to watch documentaries on things I never knew about previously.
I love watching shows on cooking, as I myself am not a very good one, this helps my family out and gives them hope that one day, one day they may actually want seconds.
I love the travel channel for a chance peek into another culture that I may never have the chance to see. Being a writer, yes I love books but there are somethings that can not be translated by words or still pictures alone, this is where the travel channel succeeds. I can now see what the people of the Egypt, Liberia, Azerbaijan,Korea and Russia see. I can look at the temples of Tibet and wonder at the marvelous carvings that today, people still can not conceive of  how they were accomplished without the aid of modern-day tools.
I can taste, in a manner of speaking, the colors of the different spices in the various markets that are showcased for my knowledge, from all over the world.
AND
I can watch Murder She Wrote and Frasier just because I want to. You always suspected I was a nerd, well, now you have some proof.

I am thankful for TV. Some may not get it but as Monty Python once said and I paraphrase, they can go boil their bottoms. Where I understand why some would be so bothered by it, I also think, once again, balance is the key.

In closing, to those about to watch TV, I salute you!

After getting up this morning and realizing that according to the bad circulation in my feet, winter had officially arrived, I began to grumble. For me this means feet problems for the next 6 months. I am not excited but things could be worse.

It is hard to be thankful when a part of you or all of you does not want to cooperate with the rest of your body and with your will. My Grandma Seibert has told me many times how frustrating it is getting old. Your body often times will be sleeping but your mind is ready to see the world. Simple tasks become unbelievably difficult and people begin treating you like you have lost your mind. It’s hard to exclaim “Yay Life” when it hurts to stand up. What does Grandma do to try to stay positive?

She gets on the floor and plays with Skipper her dog, I mean eye level play. She teaches a bible study at her church. She gets up on days when the night before was long and sleepless and the receives me with excitement and jubilation. She keeps current in the lives of her kids and her grandchildren and many others. She writes in her blog. Her faith keeps her tired bad circulation feet going, and so does I believe the memory of her husband.

My father is a diabetic Vietnam vet who feels like shit on the daily. He has lost a leg and a few toes as of recent. He is having hearing problems and the VA can’t get him in for the MRI until December and he has already been waiting for a couple of months. ?He has mega sinus issues that keep him laying down a few days out of the week. How does he combat all of this?

He goes to the gym and works out. He finds himself in coffee shops talking to people. He reads any book that is set in a historical back drop. He spends tome with my mom. I think his belief in a higher power also spurs him on.

Now I am old by no means, being 31 is still a babe in many people’s eyes. I have some “old people” health issues like arthritis in my hips and poor blood circulation in my legs and feet but it has yet to bother me to the point that I stay in bed. I get up. My feet have chilblains and they hurt but I put my shoes on and go. There are days when everything seems dark and not worth the trip out of bed to even get coffee. Maybe its lack of inspiration artistically (big one for me sometimes), maybe it’s important life decisions, health or simply a bad mood. We all have our days. I have found if I can lay aside my foul mood and depression over whatever it is plaguing my mind, and just be thankful for all the awesome stuff in my life, like my kids, my animals, my art, my husband, my apartment, my family, my friends, the beautiful fall leaves or Count Chockula cereal , that I can put aside my  mood eventually as the day progresses.

Life is for living and if I’m not living it and I am always dwelling on the negative, what the hell am I doing? Taking up good air?

So today I am thankful for all those things, big and small, that help distract us and even heal us form all the negative issues in our life.

Taking a Break From Being so Damned Thankful..

So as I stated in a previous (perhaps THE previous) blog, I received a blog award. It came to me on a bad day but it instantly made all the bad crap melt away for the moment and when the bad crap tried to sneak back in, I would smile because I, I, had a blog award.

The award.

Now ‘versatile’ could be a nicer way of saying “bullshit”, after all if you can’t win them with brilliance, baffle em with bullshit, right?  I joke, perhaps not good, but I joke.

After receiving the award I went and looked through my blog, I seriously have no theme so I guess I have to be flexible in what I write about. Hopefully this keeps folks interested and coming back.

So before I move on to the next part of all this I want to thank God, My parents, my parents neighbors, the cow I ate for dinner, the corn diet that was fed to that cow, the wine I drink, the kids who keep me on my toes, the man who is bearded who calls himself my husband and razors, without them I would be one hairy lady.  In all seriousness I owe thanks to my lady, Thypolar, who passed on this award. She is a faithful reader and damn good blogger herself. And anyone who thinks blogging is for bored housewives should read her blog because that just isn’t the case.

Okay so the next step is for me to reveal 7 things about myself that you may not know. I will start with 2 and in the next few post I’ll get around to the rest and finally I will pass on my award to some other boogers, I mean bloggers.

TWO FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT ME:

1. I wish my voice sounded like Kathleen Turners. I am in love with gravely voices, in men and women. But man, I would kill for hers. I keep drinking whiskey hoping one day my voice will get there and hopefully my liver won’t give out first. That would be tragic.

2. I draw these weird lady creatures squirting breast milk into coffee cups. I call them “Latte Ladies’. One day I may start posting them here but for now the only ones floating around are hanging in my parents house, a friend’s house and on a friends leg.

Okay so two down five to go.

Your Welcome.

Behind and catching up.

Today I ran out of coffee. I know, I don’t know how it happened and I am so ashamed. Luckily, I happened to have some Lapsang Souchong lying around from when my mom brought over tea. Lapsang Souchong is a smokey black tea, though now that I say that, it could be a roobis tea. Either way it is delicious and is hitting the spot. So This morning I am thankful for tea and the hands that brought it to me, my mom.

I am a bit behind on the thankfulness train. It’s not that it has been terribly busy, but at the same time I also feel like I haven’t had the time to sit down. So I think I owe two more thanks and who know maybe I will throw in a another for the hell of it.

Last night myself and my children along with my cousin and her kids went over to my Aunt Teresa’s (my cuz’s mom) and met her and my mom for food and wine. The kids played and we ate and drank for several hours. It was a lot of fun. It’s been a long time since all of us have been in the same spot so it was very nice and to have the time together. Growing up my cousin and I were as close as sisters. We have remained close. Of course now we are both married and we both have 2 kids and hopefully our conversation is more mature (though that might be debatable). It has been a bit of a tradition since we were kids for the four of us (moms and daughters) to get together and do stuff when we could and though it had been many years, that tradition was carried on again last night. So, I am thankful for the ladies involved in this group, my mom, my Aunt Teresa and my Cousin Crystal. I hope for may more years of this.

Okay One to go.

The other day a friend of mine traveled an hour to do my daughter’s hair, which was really awesome. Hattie is now sporting black and pink. She loves it and I am so happy she was able to get it done. Growing up restraints on music and clothing and hair were never put on me and it was possibly one of the greatest gifts my folks could have passed on. I just feel that there are far more important things to put your foot down on, hair shouldn’t be one of them.

The Lady Hattie-Belle

And last not least, I received a blog award! So I am very thankful for that because that means you like me, you really like me! I will blog about this in my next blog. It truly helped to turn a mad day of not so great things, into a better and beautiful day.