Thursday, April 23, 2015

How My Cat Helped Save My Life

Greetings everyone. 

This fiasco with my apartment finally got to me. I became suicidal. But I have a little cat to think of. There was no way I was gonna leave the planet without having her taken care of.

I was in close touch with my wonderful case worker and doctor and Robert, my case worker, found out that the local animal shelter would take care of Pinky for up to ten days while I went to the hospital.

Robert met me at the shelter and then followed me to the doctor's office where I was going to leave my car while I went to a crisis stabilization unit. At the office I was met by my doctor and the two of them waited for the van to take me away.

It was scary. The place was an hour away and I had no idea what I was going into, just that once again I was gonna be in a mental ward.

The white van with the cage barrier behind the front seats scared me. I wasn't able to take anything with me but the bag with my medicine and the things I couldn't leave in my car, like my iPad and iPod and phone and purse.

On the ride there I was able to text friends that I was going to be without my phone for a few days. My sister had seen my desperate post for someone to take care of Pinky in a local cat lovers group and had texted me, so I let her know that I was going.

The crisis stabilization unit was a small building beside the hospital. Once I arrived I was made to shower and change into scrubs. They keep your clothes and wash them then give them back to you when you leave. I was put in the intake office and given a dinner. That was nice because I hadn't eaten all day and it was about 6:30 P.M. 

They took all my medications and allowed me to quickly write down phone numbers from my phone before it was put into my purse and locked up. I was allowed to take one book, so I chose Neil Gaiman's American Gods, which I was in the middle of. 

Then I was taken into the unit and showed my bed, 4b. After that I was on my own until evening group.

This was on Monday, April 13th.

The next day I teleconferenced with the Nurse Practitioner and she upped my meds and added an as needed pill for my anxiety.

And the days were groups, groups, groups led by different counselors.

A friend told me that I shouldn't just sit in the group and talk about Breaking Bad (Jesse was in a lot of groups in the series). Then when someone who had just got out of prison said he was in there for cooking meth I laughed and had to explain myself.

Up at 6:00 A.M. for meds and a self serve breakfast. There was yogurt, oatmeal, apple and orange juice, Nutri-Grain bars and coffee always available.

Lunch was at 1:00 and dinner was at 6:00, delivered from the hospital in styrofoam take-out containers. Those little picnic packs of napkin, salt and pepper and plastic utensils, but with the knives removed for our safety. The food was very good.

Lights out at 11:00. Each night I looked at my hospital bracelet and thought of Simon Pegg in the movie The World's End. "They told me when to go to bed! Me! Gary King!"

I read American Gods as if my life depended on it. I can't recommend it enough. It is weird but easy to read and keeps you enthralled. Some poked fun of me, Mary and her book they said. I finished it on Wednesday but started rereading it immediately.

I had all my phone numbers written on the paper I used for a bookmark. Talking to my friends always brought a smile to my face. The sign said two calls per day but it was not enforced.

There were tea bags for the asking, so I was able to drink a lot of calming cups of tea.

The only sweetener available was Sweet-N-Low, so I developed a taste for that and now drink it in my coffee instead of sugar.

The people working behind the scenes there were fantastic. They got me a grant that paid for two weeks at the motel where I am now. The nurses and techs in the unit were patient and understanding and very sweet.

The other people in there were a varied bunch. Some were there instead of being taken to jail, some were like me. I met a couple of ladies that I exchanged phone numbers with because we have so much in common.

On Friday the 17th I was allowed to leave. The usual stay is three days but it was deemed necessary for me to stay one day extra.

A white van took me back to my car at my doctor's office. I made my way to the hotel.

On Saturday I went and picked up Pinky at the shelter. They had taken very good care of her. It felt good to have her back. She has been sleeping with me and actually cuddled alongside me.

When I was suicidal she was the only thing I thought of. Not my sons, not my family, not my friends. I made a plan on how I would end my life. That was the scariest part. 

I am glad that I was honest with my doctor and my case worker. They quickly got me the help I needed.

The hotel is nice and I have a fridge and microwave and free wifi in my room. Each morning there is a free continental breakfast so I set my alarm and go down and have a cup of coffee and some mini muffins then bring a cup of coffee to my room.

I came through it. I survived. Taking the time to get my little cat taken care of kept me from doing something rash and horrible.

There is help out there if you feel there is nowhere to turn. Talk to your doctor, be honest about how you feel.

The crisis stabilization unit lived up to its name. It worked for me.

Ah, my Pinky cat is rubbing my legs, wanting to be petted.

Unfortunately when I called a family member for help he told me to "get rid of that damned cat". I told him that 'that damned cat' just saved my life. Not everyone will understand your mental illness, ever. Sadly, it is just something that you have to deal with.

Thank you for reading. Be strong. Get help if you need it. And I am here if you have any questions about my Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety or my experience in the unit.

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Brief Break Before All Hell Breaks Loose

Even though I can no longer work I am going on a little vacation. Yay!

A couple of dear friends that I have known for 39 years have invited me to their home in the hills of North Carolina. 

No internet, no cell service, just the woods and good friends.

Although it will only be for a few days I plan on recharging my batteries fully.

I got a notice of eviction today and have 14 days to replace the carpet in my apartment or I am out of here. Funny how the manager didn't serve me with it until she knew that I had plans to be out of town for two weeks. She has changed her tune quite a few times. Even my psychologist and case worker were taken aback by the new developments. So, my plans have changed a bit and I will be back sooner than I had planned.

Hopefully a dear friend can help me with the costs. If not, well, I don't know what. That bridge will have to be crossed when and if I come to it. I can't reach him until tonight, so I just have to be more nervous until then.

Right this minute I am frozen with anxiety. I still have things to do to be ready to leave tomorrow morning, so I am trying to get up and get moving. I am trying to breathe. I am playing the movie "Hot Fuzz" off of my dvr. 

Sometimes I feel like, "What more does the world want from me? Why is this happening to me?" I am kind, I help people and animals whenever possible. I don't cause trouble. I pay my rent on time every month. Because my poor old dog left some stains on this old, worn out, indoor-outdoor carpet I may be kicked out.

But - crying woe is me won't solve or help anything. 

I will go visit my friends, who I haven't seen in over ten years, and allow myself to be loved and have real conversations and drink in the mountain air. 

And when I get back I will deal with the situation and with that mean-spirited bully of a manager. That is what she is, pure and simple, a bully. As soon as I told her that I needed my case worker to be with me when she was telling me these things she slammed the phone down and decided to just evict me. Also, to bully a person with a severe mental illness takes a certain kind of shit for a soul.

I am taking pen and paper with me to note specifics during my time in the mountains to share them with you on my return.

Please wish me luck.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

My Favorite Poem - Antigonish

I can't let World Poetry Day go by without sharing my favorite poem.

It is Antigonish by William Hughes Mearns.

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there

He wasn't there again today
I wish, I wish, he'd go away...

When I came home last night at three
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall
I couldn't see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don't you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don't slam the door...

Last night I saw upon the stair
A little man who wasn't there
He wasn't there again today
Oh, how I wish he'd go away...

Hearns wrote the poem in 1899 as part of a play for Harvard University. In 1939 it was made into a song with credits by Harold Adamson and Bernie Hanighan. In July of the same year the Glenn Miller Orchestra made it a hit.

Bits of the poem have been included in many songs and movies. My favorite is in Identity. An actor that I love, Pruitt Taylor Vince, mutters the first stanza and that is where I first heard it.

I have written about the poem before, in my blog post No Sleep For Me.

Reciting it helps me when I am anxious.

Do you have a favorite poem? Do you have one that helps you in times of anxiety and/or depression? Please do share in the comments.

It's World Poetry Day!

In 1999 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared that March 21st would be World Poetry Day.

Before that it was celebrated in October to mark the birth date of Virgil, the Roman poet, and there are still national and international poetry days held then.

To celebrate I would like to share one of my poems with you. I wrote this for my grandson Connor.

Bedtime For Connor

Read me a story
He said with a smile.
I'm not sleepy yet.
It will take just a while.

I'll read you a story.
We'll cuddle and hug.
Then you'll go to sleep 
When I tuck you in snug.

Read me two stories
He said with a grin.
I'll be sleepy for sure and 
I'll go to bed then.

I'll read you two stories.
I'll lie here with you.
You'll be very sleepy
When I read you two.

Read me three stories
He said - about space!
I might be sleepy 
After a moon race.

I'll read you three stories.
We'll fly to the moon.
But we can't stay long.
You'll be asleep soon.

Read me four stories.
He said with a yawn.
I'm sure I'll be sleepy.
The sun is all gone.

I'll read you four stories.
But that will be all.
I have housework to do
And people to call.

Read me five stories.
He said in his sleep.
Then while you do your housework
I won't make a peep.

I'll read you five stories
My precious, my sweet.
The people can wait and
The laundry will keep.

I hope you like it. Thank you for reading.

Please feel free to share your favorite poem in the comments. I look forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

On Love And Panic Attacks

Today is day three of the Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey 21 Day meditation experience. But since I didn't open the laptop yesterday I did the day two meditation first.

It is "Success Increases Love". The centering thought is "I am here to bring more love into the world."

It really was a lovely guided meditation but, and it's a big but, it was hard to do while on the verge of a panic attack.

For the last two nights I have not been able to sleep very well at all. I am waking up every hour or so and then my cat has taken to waking me around five A.M. to get me to give her some canned food.

This morning I thought that I would just fix me some coffee and stay awake like I did two days ago. Monday was a good day.

Nope. No such luck. As I drank my second cup of coffee I felt the anxious beginnings of a panic attack. So I stopped the coffee and thought that doing the meditation would help. It ended up being too distracting to fight.

I really do like the idea, though, that I am here to bring more love into the world. I love people and creatures and places and things. And I try to share that love in my writing and in my actions every day.

Then, on Facebook, I saw a nice article in Psychology Today about what love is. It discusses whether love is an emotion or an feeling or a drive.

My belief is that love can be all three of those things.

While writing this my dear friend Mark, whom I love, called to chat. Talking to him really helped disperse the panicky feelings.

So perhaps the meditation did work in a way. While concentrating on me bringing more love into the world, I received a bit and it helped me.

Has this happened to you? When you are having a panic attack have you received help in a serendipitous way?

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Review Of "A Boy's Life"

Why a review?

I recently saw a post leading to a blog with a review of the marvelous book A Boy's Life by Robert R. McCammon. It was nice, but it was a paragraph. Please, allow me to elaborate.

What is it?

A Boy's Life is a novel by Robert R. McCammon first published in 1991. It is the tale of a year in the life of Cory Mackenson and his friends Davy Ray, Johnny, and Ben. They live in the town of Zephyr, Alabama in the early sixties. There are adults in the story, too; Cory's mother and father and grandparents and others, good and bad. Oh, and dogs. Where there are boys there must be dogs. It is a novel of magic and mystery, sad times and glad times and scary times, the best of people and the worst of people. But something in myself just wants to cry, "But it is so much moooore!"

What's the story?

At the beginning, Cory and his father are faced with a horrible event. This event shapes their lives that summer while other things are going on. There are stories of bikes and dogs and there's an awful flood. The elderly lady from the black section of town feeds a monster in the river. Cory finds that there are good and bad people, and sometimes what one person seems to be is not what they are at all. A dinosaur comes to the city with the fair. 

Robert R. McCammon's usual descriptive prose leaves you feeling the chill of an early spring morning and the pain of a playground fight. Your heart will ache but it will also soar. You will hold your breath at times and at other times you will laugh out loud, thinking, "I remember that!".

Who should read A Boy's Life?

Everyone who enjoys a good book would be happy reading it. Both of my sons got copies from me. I have reread it so many times that I now have two copies. For someone in that ten to fifteen year old age range the book would be marvelous. Boys AND girls, I would think. And for the grown-ups, oh, it is so wonderful to go back in time when we had the freedom of a summer off from school, the best friends we ever had, and there was magic all around us. When you want to be immersed in a great tale, pick up this book. There is not a dull moment in A Boy's Life. It flows so swiftly and is so easy to read that you may find yourself reading it two or more times.

Thank you for reading my review of Robert R. McCammon's A Boy's Life. I hope you enjoyed it and I also hope that you can read the book. You won't regret it. And it may ignite a spark of magic in you.

Happy Monday And Meditation

Even though today is Monday, I am having a pretty good day.

On Friday I got a call from the apartment manager who told me that I don't have to worry about changing my carpet until after April first. So the heat is off about that, at least for a couple of weeks.

Last week I finally got to go and get my little dog's ashes from the vet's office, so he is home again, in a way. Just having the dark wooden box sitting on my shelf makes me feel better. Makes me feel that he is close to me.

This morning I started an awesome 21 day meditation experience with Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey. I don't meditate often but this will give me an opportunity to have a guided meditation every morning. Today I felt more relaxed and confident after doing it. And my coffee has awakened me without the anxiety that most often comes with drinking it. The experience is free and I recommend doing it as an introduction to meditation or as a fun thing to do if you currently meditate.

The meditation got me interested in the greeting/farewell of Namaste. You can learn more about it here. I like the fact that it is acknowledging that in each of us there is the spiritually divine.

I have noticed that some Facebook friends end their posts and comments with "Peace and Love. Namaste." Who can argue that peace and love is not a concept to strive for? Just the thought is calming.

I hope your Monday is going as well as mine. I can only hope to continue feeling good. Usually I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. Sometimes it does, but for today I am just trying not to think about it.

Do you practice meditation? Has it helped you deal with your anxiety or depression?


Monday, March 2, 2015

Peaches - A Weekend Quickie

As part of the Iron Writer group we also participate in Weekend Quickies, in addition to our weekly challenges.

This past weekend I joined in on the fun and this is the story that I wrote.

The four elements to be included in a 200 word story were: beta max, cats, peaches, and a man in a white van.


Joey stared out the dusty windshield of his van at the highway that seemed to stretch on forever. The vehicle was supposed to be white but the roads in South Carolina had left it a mottled brown.

He enjoyed playing Elton John’s “Rotten Peaches” as he rolled past the countless roadside stands. It had been one of Marie’s favorites.

Jack the cat leapt onto the passenger seat and melted into an orange puddle in the heat.

“We’ll be at the coast pretty soon,” he told the cat, lying about the amount of time they had yet on the road.

“Then there will be new work, new home. But no new women.” He felt his heart wince at that last statement.

All he owned was in the back of that van. They had laughed at him for packing the old beta max but he still had so many home videos of Marie that he wasn’t ready to toss out.

He could have had the car fixed and driven it but he just couldn’t face the fact that she had died in it.

He pulled into a stand, throwing up a cloud of gravel and dirt.

“One basket of peaches, please.”

If you would like to read the other stories for this Weekend Quickie you can find them here.

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed it!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

No More Shadow

I can now walk from room to room unhindered.

When I turn I don't have to wait for someone to turn around, too.

Everyone says that fifteen years is a long time. No, it's not long enough.

My depression is really rearing it's ugly head. I am taking lots of naps. When I am asleep I don't hurt. But every time I awake I look for him. In that one brief second I forget that I no longer have a little buddy.

He was my buddy, my little man, my Bubba. He was my reason for getting up in the morning and the one that I spooned with at night. He was my velcro dog. He was my shadow. He was my heart and my life.

And now he is gone.

Mary's Maximillian
November 16th, 1999 to February 12th, 2015

He had Cushing's disease that caused pancreatitis and renal failure. And I was in denial. I took him to the vet thinking that they could give me a fix for his tummy troubles and we would be okay. But we weren't okay.

In the end I could not be selfish, although I really wanted to be.

I do have a kitty, Pinky, but she is not a cuddly kitty. She comes to me a few times a day for pets and to get me to give her wet food.

I am trying to feel better by binge watching Breaking Bad. And that is comforting.

But my heart aches for one more hug, one more walk, one more look into those old eyes that never showed me anything but adoration.

I feel lost and off-kilter without him.

My heart is shattered.

I have no more shadow.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Circle Tightens

For twenty-two years my father had a wonderful girlfriend. Her name is Brynn.

She got the nickname Brynnie from my boys when they were toddlers.

She was an RN and worked both in a hospital and in a private practice.

When I cut myself on an old tin can she brought home a tetanus shot. This was years ago and the syringe was in a metal case. She gave me the shot in my left arm and said it wouldn't hurt now. After she gave me the shot she said that it WILL hurt now.

She was a tall, graceful woman. Shopping for a sleep shirt for her one Christmas my oldest boy, about six at the time, told the salesperson helping us that, "Brynnie is a BIG woman."

She was as kind a person as you could ever meet. She was generous. She loved animals.

She had Huntington's Disease. It ended up making her quit working, as the spastic movements of her arms and legs made it difficult to do her job.

And then, one Sunday night, she fell out of bed. She couldn't move her head so an ambulance was called to take her to the hospital.

Her regular neurosurgeon was on vacation. The neurosurgeon on call was incompetent. You could see her spine making a large lump on the left side of her neck. She lay in the hospital bed, screaming in pain each time she was moved, for a week. The doctor told us every day that nothing was wrong.

Her neurosurgeon came back on Friday, walked into her hospital room and said, "Oh my God, her neck is broken!" By then her arms and legs were paralyzed.

She underwent surgery to fix her broken neck and she regained some movement in her arms.

Yes, lawsuits were filed. And won.

When she was able to be kept at home my sister and I helped Dad take care of her. I would come every night after work and on the weekends while my sister took the weekdays.

She loved apples but they became a choking hazard as she could not chew well. I cooked them with some butter and brown sugar so they were caramelized and tender for her.

The other day I was trying to enjoy some apples myself but was finding it hard to chew them. I have dentures. A Facebook post reminded me of cooking them as I had for our Brynnie.

So I cooked them and enjoyed them and felt like crying. I was remembering Brynnie and thinking of my own spot in my life.

The circle tightens. That circle of life we all go through. The feeling that you are nearer the end than the beginning.

I try to find the good in all things so I will believe that my recent thoughts of Brynnie are a good thing. She was such a wonderful person who approached everything she was dealt with grace and bravery. If I could strive to be like her in all things then I would be happy knowing that the influence she had on me was a great one. Her memory lives on, I should do things that ensure that mine will do the same.

We love you, Brynnie.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Have A Minute to Read A Very Short Story?

You may already know that I am part of a group called The Iron Writers.

Every week there are four or five authors competing in a challenge. The stories can be no longer than 500 words and must contain four specific elements.

This week the elements are:

            This image:

            A Howdah

            A Floor Buffer

            It must be told from the point of view of an alien who views humans as both food and pets.

The title of my story this week is Holiday.

So, if you have a minute, please click here and read the stories. Vote for your favorite (even if it isn't mine, of course).

I appreciate you visiting the website and voting.

If you want to become one of The Iron Writers just let me know or go to the Facebook page and request to join the group. It is a great bunch of people and loads of fun.

Thank you!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Hard Days And What To Do With Them

Well it has been a yucky couple of days.

My apartment is not spotless. I am a hoarder by nature and it is hard for me to let things go. My back and neck sometimes hurt me so much that I can barely move, so cleaning is an all day event with lots of rest breaks. My home is messy, but NOT dirty.

Yet when the exterminator, who comes once a month, came to my door yesterday he said it was too dirty. My kitchen was spotless, but it is so small that you can barely see the counter for my appliances - coffee maker, toaster, microwave and the like. My coffee table and dining table were cluttered. This is a small one bedroom apartment with one big room for the living/dining area and a tiny alcove kitchen so you see all this from the doorway.

When he left I called my wonderful case worker, R., and cried to him in a tizzy. He reassured me and said he would be here first thing today. Well, he came by this morning and said that all was okay, just do some decluttering, and he went to talk to the apartment manager for me. End result is she is coming this afternoon to see the apartment first hand. I am very nervous.

But what I am not is a wreck. I had my coffee this morning and it didn't turn into a panic attack. My little meds must be in there working overtime. I am on edge, but not over the edge.

I began to wonder why I am not a basket case. I have come up with a few things that are helping me to keep a panic attack at bay..

  1. I can only worry so much. My mindset today is that I need to wait to see exactly what there is to worry about before I commit more time to it.
  2. If a panic attack starts I can do my best to squash it in it's tracks by taking a few deep, controlled breaths. In through the nose and hold and out through the mouth. This often works to center my mind on something else besides the circles it wants to run.
  3. I accept that I cannot control everything, so I will do my best at the things that I can control, like making sure the apartment is cleaned and vacuumed and dusted.
  4. I was able to talk with a professional - my case worker. He is expert at allaying my fears, giving me something else to concentrate on besides impending doom. And his promise to help no matter what comes of it is one that I can rely on.
  5. There is TV. Yay! I chose The World's End to watch. It is the last movie of the Cornetto Trilogy. And now I will have Shaun of the Dead, the first of the three, on while I compose this and wait for the manager to come. For one, there is the humorous nature of the movies - they make me laugh. Second, I have seen them so many times that they can be on in the background and I can still follow along. Humor is a great blessing all the time, but especially when you are stressed out.
  6. I am trying to see the positive in the situation. This will give me the boost I need to clear out some boxes I have been saving (for what, I don't know) and get my closets cleaned out.
  7. I am writing this post to perhaps give someone else ideas on how to deal with their own struggle. In trying to help someone else, I am making myself feel better. So thank you for being there.
I found the quote by Andy Warhol to be helpful today. In the end, so what.

So what if I have to do a deep clean? So what if I have to pay to have the carpets cleaned? So what if I have to have people come in and help me?

I am not meaning it in a snooty way, just saying that in the end all these things are doable, so why worry about them until they have to happen.

If you are having a hard day I hope one of my suggestions will help you. Please let me know of something I might have left out that would be helpful. What do you do to deal with your hard days?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Little Can

I cannot let today go by without mentioning what national day it is.

It is National Beer Can Appreciation Day!

Before 1935 you couldn't get your beer in cans. Then manufacturing processes made it possible to use sturdy enough materials to form cans. The first ones were made of heavy gauge steel, which could withstand the pressure of carbonation and pasteurization.

The taste of the beer also had to be considered. The American Can Company developed a way of "keg-lining", which was lining the inside of a small can the way that the inside of a regular keg is lined. This was with something called Vinylite that the company Union Carbide had developed. (My father worked for Union Carbide many, many moons ago.) That way the metal would not alter the taste of the beer.

Having beer in cans was great, but how do you open one of those flat topped cylindrical things made of a heavy gauge steel? In 1933 American Can Company's Dewitt Sampson and John Hothersall received a patent for an opener they called a church key which would puncture the top of the can, leaving a triangular shape. Even after the availability of pop top cans you may have used one of these to open a can of tomato juice or good old Hawaiian Punch before the advent of the plastic bottle.

I found a very interesting website that has the illustrated history of the American Beer Can. You can click here to visit it.

I don't drink now, due to the medications I have to take to remain functioning, but beer is still near and dear to my heart. My wonderful friend Mark owns his own brewery. It is Chattanooga Brewing Company. If you clicked on the link, he is the one in the middle of the cover photo. He toiled for years in corporate America and when he saw the opportunity to follow his dream and take his home brewed recipes to the masses he took it. Last year they moved from the small space where the business started to a brand spanking new building and added a restaurant. I am so proud of him.

And they are at a point where they are now going to go into canning the beer. It is still a little ways off, but they will as soon as they are able.

This was not a solo endeavor for him. He has partners and brewers and staff. They are all fantastic people.

So you see why I was compelled to expound on the joy that is the vessel that makes many tailgates and parties so much fun to attend. Or, you can enjoy your beer in your own living room.

And, if you are in Chattanooga, TN, try some of Mark's on tap (soon to be in cans).

Friday, January 23, 2015

Oh, To Write, And On What?

According to today is National Handwriting Day in the U.S.

I had a good day today before I even knew this.

I woke up early, had some lovely coffee, wrote some poetry and rewrote the story for my Iron Writer challenge next week.

Wrote some poetry? Yes! I recently found out that there is a venue for poetry slams very close to where I live (less than two miles away). With it being so close I cannot think of an excuse not to take advantage of it. I will be digging out old stuff and writing more new stuff. I am so excited about going next month that when I started to think in my usual groggy sing-song self this morning I thought, "Well, write that down, see where it goes."

And, unbeknownst to me at the time, I celebrated National Handwriting Day by using pen and paper instead of the laptop.

According to the website National Handwriting Day was started in 1977 by the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association. They chose today, January 23rd, because it is John Hancock's birthday. He was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence. And the term "your John Hancock" has become synonymous with term "your signature". You can read more about the association here.

When writing my short stories, and my blog posts, I will use the computer. But for poetry handwriting just seems to make the words flow a bit nicer.

And for writing letters I prefer a nice pen and some pretty paper. But I have been known to write novellas in greeting cards.

I think that even those who write strictly on the computer have that supply of scribbled notes somewhere nearby. I certainly have a pile of notebooks and scraps of paper with scrawled ideas and half cooked poetry.

I hope that you take the time today to create something handwritten. Even just a grocery list. And it would be the perfect day to pen a letter to someone. It can even be someone you talk with all the time. Just a note to let them know they are worth you taking the time to create something to send to them.

Pay attention to the feel of the pen or pencil leaving it's mark on the surface of the paper. Doesn't that feel good?

So what will you write on this fabulous day?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The New Year

First, I apologize for not having posted in the last month.

The month of December is hard for me. I want to get everything right for everybody. This Christmas I was crocheting many things for friends and family and that took a lot of time. I loved it.

As I write this, my tree is still up. I will be taking it down this weekend and stowing all the decorations for another year.

I have been cleaning my house each week and that is a good thing. On Mondays I will cue up Breaking Bad on the Netflix and have it on while I do housework. Then, when I am done, I stop the show and watch regular TV.

I have to be very careful this time of year.

This time last year I was not functioning quite so well.

This time last year I put Breaking Bad on and didn't get out of bed, just kept watching the entire series over and over. For a month. An entire month.

My little dog Max barely got exercised. My house plants all died. My bedroom became overrun with dirty dishes and other garbage. I didn't talk to anyone. I didn't go anywhere. I occasionally got online, but only for short periods of time.

I found no joy in anything but the knowledge that I knew what they were going to say next in the TV show. It comforted me.

But this year? This year has been great. My doctor says so, my case worker says so. He came to check on me, remembering what had happened last year and wanting to nip it in the bud if it was happening again.

Now you know why it is so important to me that I can turn Breaking Bad off at the end of a day of cleaning. I can use it as a reward, not a crutch.

You may say, well, why not leave the TV show out of it entirely, just don't put it on. I had to, I just had to prove to myself that I was capable of not giving in to giving up.

I am making comfort foods like chili and cornbread in a nice, clean kitchen and the cold, dark winter is kept at bay. I am not eating the junk food I so enjoy when I am down.

I enjoy the cold much more than the heat at this point in my life and going outdoors in the daytime is a treat.

I am hoping that the new year is finding you in great spirits and that everything is going well for you.