The Travelers

Nearly twenty years ago I packed everything I owned into a little 1989 Chevrolet Cavalier and said good-bye to my family in Georgia. There were tears in my eyes as I looked in the rearview at Small Town, U.S.A and my stomach felt as if a gymnast had taken up residency. I was leaving everything I had ever known to be familiar.

I won’t go into the reasons why I had to move on, but I had five-hundred miles and eight hours in front of me to reach my destination. When I arrived at my new home in Florida, I parked my car under the Spanish moss draped oaks and walked past the bromeliads blooming phallic red and purple plumes along the path. A giant luminescent-green grasshopper and dozens of tiny yellow frogs greeted me at the door. The house was empty and the only sound came from a clock ticking on the wall. That sound would be my greatest comfort for the next three years.

I spent those three years writing poetry, painting pictures, and learning the computer. There was a huge void in my soul that has not entirely dissipated in all these twenty years. And yet, I thought of the immigrants who left behind their world in search of a better life worlds away and felt truly blessed. But my plight was trivial by comparison.

I had family here. I had a career that promised a means of self-support. I had shelter. I had food. And I didn’t need clothing; after all, my landing place was a nudist community. But it WAS as if I had dropped off the edge of the earth onto another planet.

We are all travelers. It’s not enough to think of our ancestors who came to this country in search of a better life. It’s not enough to think of our ancestors who slaved, and fought wars to secure their new homeland. We need to embrace those who seek refuge within our borders today. We share one world.

The Statue of Liberty is most often associated with immigration. Many did come through Ellis Island on their way here, and many of us, including my own children, would not be here today if that had not happened. It’s a symbol of hope and new found freedom.

There are others, though, who came on slave ships, crossed dangerous deserts, drifted through the perilous seas to make their way here. They weren’t promised freedom and were abused and mistreated. They labored and lobbied their way to freedom, and still do. They are us, too.

While I commend anyone for trying to access legal citizenship in this country, I recognize, also, how nearly impossible and time-consuming our bureaucracy has made the process. I have friends here and across the States who have been working for decades to achieve what we take for granted.

The hate spewing memes and posts circulating social media spitting bile at illegal aliens and undocumented workers make me ashamed to be an American. Talk of building walls, deporting all members of a religious faith, and killing women and children make me nauseous. And the comments under these posts make me cringe. Have we no social conscience? Have we really forgotten who we are?

There’s a man who sculpts statues that seem to make the Statue of Liberty such a small thing by comparison. His name is Bruno Catalano, and like the designer of the Statue of Liberty, he is a native of France. A fascinating series of sculptures called “Travelers” depict people setting out on their journey with suitcase in hand and the center of their bodies missing. It’s as if that hole is their lost self, and they’ve set out to rediscover it. I’d like to leave you with his images of who we are:

The Travelers

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Images are from Bruno Catalano and you can see more of his work at this link.

 

Three Day Quote Challenge

I was Tagged by John Howell and Nicholas Rossis to participate in the Three Day Quote Challenge. This one is real easy and fun. Here are the rules:

1 Thank the person who nominated you. (Thank you, John and Nicholas!)
2 Post your quote.
3 Pass it on to three others.

Here’s the quote:

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I nominate Sue Coletta, Craig Boyack, and Adrienne Morris. Have fun!

Medication Holiday and Why I Can’t Go There

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I made an announcement a week, or so, ago. My plan was to take a medication holiday from a mood disorder meds I have been on and off of since the age of nineteen. My courage has left me.

In the past, I was taken off meds to process through my education, or to carry my children. The meds slow thought processes (a compromise to learning new things), along with body metabolism. There is a numbing down of emotion and with that a deep and cutting loss of the ability to feel.

Being an extremely empathetic person, the loss of the ability to feel is not necessarily a bad thing. It does, however, pose limits to the experience of emotion. Sometimes those limits are good. Rage is in check. Anger is minimized. But so is joy, and happiness. On the meds, there is a numb sort of existence devoid of any extremes. Without the extremes, I made an excellent nurse for more than thirty years. I have a portfolio of commendations. Until the emotions began to bleed through due to stress.

I witnessed and contested some serious abuse and neglect in a pediatric long-term residential facility I was working in and up against a huge and powerful corporation and a gang of despicable people. Some of the abuse resulting in loss of limb or death. It was a two year battle. The place is closed now, if it’s any consolation.

I wrote a long and thoughtful post last evening but did not publish it.

I was recalling all of the times that I have gone over the edge and what happened. They were exciting times, filled with emotion, creative energy, and productivity. I had volumes of imaginative, expressive, original writing. I painted gorgeous pictures in oils and water colors, made fascinating jewelry, and had nearly a hundred ceramic creations that I ultimately smashed against my plaster walls in a fury.

You see, therein lies the problem.

At the end of any one of those glorious manic episodes of profound self-discovery and accomplishment were days and weeks filled with hallucinations, delusions, isolation, darkness and despair. It was frightening…no, it was horrifying. The crash that eventually came caused me to either fight the ones closest to me, or to fall into catatonia so deep that my soul wasn’t present anymore. The depressive loss of the spiritual self so profound that I not only didn’t care whether I lived or died, I didn’t even know if I was alive or dead.

Say I am exercising good judgment to stay on my meds.

Say I’m a coward for not being willing to try.

Can I live in constant state of fight or flight?

I don’t want to know.

The torment of sanity can be worse than insanity.

I’m just afraid of going over the edge and not being able to get back.

There is some sweet sorrow in the fact that the meds make me better controlled.

 

Instant or Delayed Gratification?

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How are you with delayed gratification? When I was in nursing school, I would study so hard to make good grades, but sometimes, even though the grades were good, family matters and personal issues would result in me having to withdraw and wait a year to pick up the course again as everything was in sequence for the nursing program.

I really wanted to see my family’s standard of living improve, so I stuck with it and endured to the end, but it wasn’t easy. It took me eleven years to get a four year degree.

Nobody says writing, publishing and marketing a book is easy. It takes months, even years, to write and prepare a novel, publish, and even more months and years to effectively market, unless you already have a fan base built up.

Do not be discouraged. If you really want to see your books sell, it will happen.

When things seem to slow down, and progress seems too far away, I sometimes need to step outside of the task at hand do something that gives me a sense if instant gratification. I make jewelry, bead necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Unlike my writing, hours later I have a completed project in my hands. It is that feeling of completion with something tangible to show for it that helps me along.

If you are one of us writers who needs instant gratification, knit, crochet, bead, paint, draw…find something that will give you instant gratification to balance out that feeling that your writing project is an eternity away from completion. Or find some way to reward yourself for smaller accomplishments along the way…a weekend spent camping in exchange for a weekend of writing, a Sunday drive along the coast for a week of writing, a video game for every fifteen hundred words.

Then go back and write!

Don’t give up!

Find your balance.

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White Wolf in My Dream

I stopped trying to interpret dreams many years ago. When I studied religions, I also studied dreaming. (Psychology, sociology, political science and a host of other inter and intra personal relations.)images

The spiritual symbolism of the white wolf goes back eons. For a wolf or wolves to appear in a person’s dream we can learn about our subconscious. “From singular or family groups, we can learn about the nature of the dreamer or people that the dreamer is connected to in their life. It can also reveal information pertaining to their spiritual growth and internal changes such as emotional growth, decisions surrounding personal relationships or even career goals.”

Last night, around 2 am, I was dreaming. I don’t often dream. My meds knock me out and my mind goes blank. I may be dreaming, but I am not aware.

38a795fa605d27d38620603422ebec2cMy dream involved my characters in a book I am editing and I can’t recall much about it. In an instant, an aggressive white wolf image was up close, his face in my face. It startled me and I jerked to jump two feet off the bed. My heart was racing and the fight or flight response kicked in. I was scared! More like a flash of nightmare than dream.

Of course, as soon as I opened my eyes, it was gone. That didn’t take but a second. The ordeal was short lived, but quite impressive.

This morning, with the internet at my fingertips, I found this really neat article on wolf dreams by Debbie Edwards, a psychologist.

WOLVES in Dreams – Meanings and Interpretations

I like the way Ms. Edwards lays it out on her page.

  1. Wolves are surrounded by notions of mysticism, magic and folklore.
  2. Color: black, gray, white , red.
  3. Lone or Group.
  4. Behavior: timid, aggressive, protective, playful, sleeping, invisible.
  5. Environment: day or night, clear skies or storms, stars and moon

Here is how my dream interprets:

Regarding the dreamer: A white wolf can represent someone or something that is directly influenced by spiritual communication or teachings. Someone that would be very knowledgeable or connected spiritually could be represented by a white wolf. It can also represent the purity of a message that is delivered by a spiritual presence. It can also represent someone who is pursuing a stronger connection to their faith, spiritual practices or ceremonial activities.

[One thing in my book I have been trying to do in my writing is offer insights in the narrative. I’m also trying to develop more of a spiritual connection to my characters. My alpha reader is giving me guidance.] 

The lone wolf: If a wolf appears to the dreamer without the company of his or her pack, it is important to pay attention to a specific person or situation that is relevant to the dreamer which would describe more of an isolated or detailed situation or person.

[I am still processing the alpha reader’s impression of my book and its characters. He has been giving me examples over the last few days.]

Aggressive- An aggressive wolf can represent defensive postures or fear based movements in life. Is the dreamer feeling under attack by someone or others? Is there an aggressive person in their life who is trying to intimidate them?

[I’ll say. I’m defending my baby.]

Night or day- A wolf appearing at night will reveal things either hidden in the subconscious or things that may not be “visible” in the dreamers perception. Something is happening that the dreamer is given an inside view on that otherwise has been elusive from view.

[My alpha reader is most likely right and I am wrong. Like it or not!]

This was my dream interpretation, whether accurate, or not.

Do you dream?

Have you ever felt a need to have a dream interpreted?

Do you dream about writing, or your characters?

Psychiatrist, Writing, Religion, and Dr. Who

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Today I had an appointment with my psychiatrist. I only see him for about fifteen minutes every three months. So I told him that I am writing another book and he gave me his blessings. But he did advise me to stop staying up until 2 am writing, so I will be calling it quits at midnight.

He’s Hindu of some sort, an Indian man.

I told him also about the progress with my first book.

So he says to me, “Why don’t you write Christian stuff? My patients bring it in here all the time. It must really sell. Everybody is trying to get in touch with their spirituality. How to be a better Christian. Christian romance, Christian fiction.”

Now I would think he should know me better, so that started a long conversation about why I didn’t feel qualified to interpret the word of God through the Christian belief system, being as I am agnostic and the primary reason I am not Buddhist is because I like to kill stuff….especially stuff before I eat it.

That’s on a spiritual plane, on a physical plane, I have entirely different thoughts. Evolution has some holes in it. I am pretty well convinced that there is a planet out there with the rest of my relatives on it.

I told him more about “Melody of Madness”.

He assured me that with my family history, personal history, and experience in psychiatric and forensic nursing, (I used to work with him) I am highly qualified to write this book.

I told him it was fiction, but he refuses to believe me.

Claudette, one of the main characters, has a relationship with God during her life, so it will have some spiritual undertones, as she was “born again” a few times, and Christianity is explored through the characters and how they lived their lives in that era. She also plays the piano in her church.

I don’t make any claims to know what it is like to believe that Jesus died to save my soul from hell, to cleanse my sins away, or to open the pathway to heaven.

Jesus was a kind, generous, loving individual who was miraculously gifted and deeply disturbed.

Celebrating Winter Solstice

The season officially changes today to wintertime with the Winter Solstice celebration. This marks the beginning winter_solstice_party_invitation-r33d79c2e5cb047998505147846a191f0_imtet_8byvr_512of our snowbird season. Tonight our friends meet at a home and gather around the fire pit. We draw a card from a deck. The host has a different deck and he draws out a card from his deck.  Whoever has the matching card picks a gift and then the next person can choose to take a gift from someone else or pick a new gift. The gifts are sometimes very nice ones, but most of the time they are gag gifts or something really unusual.  Sometimes you end up going home with what you brought. There is laughter and a whole year of stories to tell.

The party has all of the usual party favorites, food and drinks. There is soft music and dance music, but mostly it is a celebration of the season.  We have a mild seasonal change here in Florida at wintertime with cooler temperatures in the daytime and at night. It can get quite cold here in Central FL in January and February. It is often a wet and windy cold.

For us, the Winter Solstice is not so much about winter spirits, frost, snow, sleet, ice and frigid temperatures. It is more about the return of folk from up north. The snowbird friends are back for the season and there is a sense of joy and happiness in meeting these people again. The streets are busier and the community has a temporary growth. Reuniting and spiritually reconnecting with old friends and knowing that they are safe and healthy brings us a sense of peace and pleasure.  The return of the snowbirds, who stay from winter till spring, is the primary cause for our celebration.  We are glad to see them return, year after year.

However you celebrate the coming of the winter season in your community, I wish you joy!
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Have a Happy Holiday season !

We will be celebrating Christmas with my daughter and her family and my stepson on Sunday.  Then, we are off to Naples to visit more family and play on the boat while a friend house sits for us and tends to the dogs, cat, and bird.

I will not be posting next week, but may be checking your posts and making some comments via the iPad.