Friday, December 14, 2007

Grandstanding On the Backs Of the Disabled.

What I share today will make some of you spitting mad. It will comfort and amuse others. I am one of those folks with a "visible" disability. I use a walking cane, or a walker and without too much observation it is obvious that I don't see that well either.

Religion of all kinds proclaim healing for the sick (handicapped/disabled) and "liberation" for the "captive". When I first got Glaucoma a well meaning health food fanatic sent me home with a xeroxed health magazine that informed me that I possessed the "cure" for Glaucoma. Mind you, no research was ever sited, or experts quoted. No books were referenced.

A bunch of Russian sailors were shipwrecked at sea and all they had to drink was, well their urine. They got cured of arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure! For me, the "cure" is worse than the presenting condition!

Being curious, I finished the article. They even had a Bible verse to support the idea of drinking your own urine. (hot, or cold, by-the-way). "Let every man drink from his own cistern"!

I run into this kind of foolishness all the time. People are under the impression that to have a physical disability is a worse fate then anything. I have learned that being out of one's mind emotionally to where you can watch trees "sneak" around a parking lot renders you totally unable to serve others, or even yourself successfully.

Also, I have a serious trust issue with a lot of the "alternative" health movement. If you take their advice and die, their books keep right on being sold and they cry all the way to the bank. I also loathe most faith healers. I haven't let myself trust enough to be involved with these fools for a very long time.. But tonight I wandered back into a very painful and I believe demonically-inspired swamp of "being healed".

My guard was down, as I tend to assume that most of what our church participates in with other churches is close to the real deal. I do rejoice that I have been delivered from a blanket mistrust of all "moves" of the spirit. I forgot to pray for my own mental protection. I got stung and hurt badly.

The speaker started off by proclaiming that he was a "prophet" and that some people don't "receive" his word. He only teaches the Word of God! My BS detector was turned off, along with my cell phone, or I probably would have giggled inside, at this ploy. If you is one, you don't have to do the classic child abuse move of: "I'm a Prophet. I'm going to beat you up emotionally (in the name of JESUS) You know this is GOOD for you". Anybody recognize this one?

I was impressed with this guy because he did the puff-it-up-I-am-so-powerful routine. I always get snarred by that, when I leave my mind at home. It is just like Dr. Scott, who was just like...
Anybody recognize that one?

I know my pastor is going through a rough patch right now and I wanted to pray for him with the help of this "Prophet". My thinking is like this: God let me accept whatever you desire for me to have, but I'm going to concentrate on others and not my physical, emotional, mental or spiritual limitations. So, I swung into prayer.

I had my walking cane with me, as I knew my ride would be leaving as soon as I finished speaking with this man. The next thing I know this guy is praying for me. No problem, I'm swaying back as he's pushing me and others have come to pray. Fine. This happens sometimes at my home church.

to your faith". Now I'm truly trapped. If I don't jolly well get healed - eyes were also What NEVER happens at my home church is the physical removal of my eyeglasses and walking cane. I was than forced to "prance" around to show that my legs and feet were healed. They weren't, but I hesitated to get into this guys face and argue with him while he's still "praying". I did finally tell him it still hurt. He then quoted that "be it unto you in proportionnow on his radar, it meant my faith has a problem. I've been down that dreary road before and it has lead to suicidal thinking in the past.

The truth was, I felt refreshed and happy, but my physical vision and walking hadn't changed at all. He of course told me to throw away my glasses and my cane 'cause I wouldn't need them any more.

Thankfully, in the car going home my wonderful pastor and his wife helped me sort out what happened. I have to tell the truth, as I may be healed as I go on my way, like the lepers in the Bible. I can live with that. What I can't live with is being used like that. Everyone was swooning and carrying on while I walked around without my glasses and walking cane, waiting for the miracle.

Can I get real here. That ARROGANT man! I will NOT let someone remove anything from my person while they are praying or otherwise! What a lovely piece of showmanship for him and a catch-22 for me! I saw someone do this routine with another disabled person who has great difficulty walking because of surgury and pain. She was made to high step and prance. I remember wanting to feel good about what I saw, but something inside made me wonder what was really happening to her. What if she wasn't healed and was being forced to do painful things to make the "prayer warrior" look good?

Faith healing for show is a load of crap. I thank God I now know what NOT to do when lead to pray for someone laboring under any obvious painful or restrictive condition.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Recovery: Resurrecting Old Interests

This will be a short post, as I am down with the flu. I have to share with you my rediscovery of some old interests. I love books. I was unable to read regular sized print until the sixth grade when a friend stole a magnifying glass out of her science class for me to try.

I went to the dictionary first and broke all library rules by screaming with joy. No way was I not going to go back to her science teacher and officially have the miracle of a 10x hand held magnifier. My friend and I interrupted a class in session as I breathlessly told my story. My girlfriend, the teacher and class cried in joy for me. Needless to say nobody got into trouble and I was provided with the reading glass.

I quickly fell in love with our local public library. I'd go to the card catelogue and find a subject of interest and browse the titles. When computers came in I was shut out of the library i loved. I still can't freely browse the online card catelogue, as it is a PC with no provisions for the legally blind.

So, I'd forgotten all about this part of myself. Oh, sure, I have about 4,000 ebooks and about 20 print books in my possession. But I found out years ago that when I share my excitement over something the odds were 10 to 1 that my friends would roll their eyes and plead with me to stop with that... So, I just kind of gave it up.

Much as I love my boston friend, we are radically different as people. He's the most visually oriented person I've ever met. He can't fathom how I'd rather listen to a football game instead of "watching" one. The visual experience of football for me looks like a pile of laundry wearing helmits and sneakers running up and down the field!

I love math, he LOATHES it! Even our taste in humor is radically different. But I enjoy his faithfulness and optimism as a friend. He has introduced me to whole new worlds on the Internet. Social networks being the most intriguing.

Facebook, myspace and a few places I just didn't pick up on. Facebook is a busy site. Lots of quizzes and the like. I felt totally retarded when I compared my taste in movies with this man and didn't have a clue on 95% of the films he likes! He reads books, but I believe is more into pod casts and magazines. Things that take less time to absorb. Me, I like the 1,000 page tomb that becomes woven into your life to where, when its over, you are almost sad.

Twitter is a lovely compromise. I can follow the amazing thinking of a vast group of people and still have time for a life. Blogs take too long and I just don't have time to do all the exploring my brain longs to do.

Then, somewhere I read about a social site for book lovers. Oh, my GOD! I have a happy brain! I spent several days attempting to remember the titles of every book I've ever read and have around 200 plus books on my shelf. My wish list shelf is probably bigger. No overlapping, except on a few books I want personal copies of. I am finding animal lovers, disaster novel lovers and several "love that author" groups. Oh man, I feel like I rediscovered an entire piece of my personality that had gotten lost in the shuffle.

I bet my Boston buddy will breathe a sigh of relief, as I will now stop trying to "teach" him how to love math!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Recognizing Old Patterns Preparing For New Behavior.

Just about the time I fancy myself truly delivered from the insanity of my past, I discover my old patterns are still alive and well. I turn around to gaze on a huge thing still planted in my heart which is actively growing, alive and DYSFUNCTIONAL! Darn, I think of my heart like a garden. How have I managed to "not see" an attitude tree so lush and large?

My family was into hysterics as a way of manipulating others to obtain "their way". We had dramatic scenes worthy of the Academy Awards. Since I was on the receiving end of a lot of this stuff I really learned how to "roll over and lie real good". I also learned how to play the part of my victor. (oops!)

I had a problem on a bus. I got dropped off at the wrong stop and really scared myself good wondering on mountain roads with cars a bit too close to me and my walker for my comfort. I raged and wrote an "official complaint". I then sank into a dark kind of depression I know only too well as my "tantrum state". I got good and stuck. Friends have been wonderful. The really good part of my funk is finding out that my friends are really willing to lavish their time and attention on me when I'm not happy. It really does comfort my troubled soul. I just couldn't seem to recover.

After some sleep and letting myself read a few stories of serial killers, I have come back to center. I was following my cousin's way of dealing with "surprise". Get emotionally over wrought and "make them deal with it". Oh, that doesn't work! It wears me out, messes up my self image and tends to really tick other people off. (Sounds like a way to make friends and influence people huh)?

I am a tense mess when riding the bus up here in the Berkeley Hills. I really need visual help. If the driver forgets, or makes an error, I feel like I have a right to emotionally come unglued. No, I need to rationally plan out the "what if's". If I'm dropped off at the wrong stop I need to do what I did the last time it happened. Stop a passing car, get information and walk back to where I should have been in the first place. However, now that I am aware of how the traffic flows, I need to be careful and aware of approaching cars and venture out between approaching cars. This takes more time, but is totally doable and safe.

If the driver misses my stop and I have to ride back to where I started, I need to call my boss and CALMLY explain that I will be a half hour late, as there was a mix up on the bus. No rage, no tears or theatrics. I got depressed because I have been laboring under the illusion that my "disabilities" give me a right to "expect" perfect performance from those around me. It is their job to watch out for me! (humm, sounds a bit like a three-year-old)?

My parents believed that my "condition of blindness" gave me a "get out of jail free" card. I felt the world owed me everything for years. One day it dawned on me that, perhaps the world was simply "unaware" of their job. When I began to inform my fellow beings of their "duty" My bellow beings abandoned me in droves. (oops)!

I have a right to request assistance and most of the time, happily, that assistance is graciously given. But, when a bus driver is worried about his dying child, or wife and "forgets", I do not have the right to use my power to "punish" the driver. I forget things also. I need to prepare for life's surprises and handle them with a bit of grace and maturity. I rejoice in realizing I have the ability, stability and self-control to actually change my old ways. I have made other changes, this is one more step towards acting like I'm fifty-four and not three years old.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Pastor's Appreciation Month: Uplifting One Another

I turned away from aspiring to be a pastor of a church when I saw that ninety-nine per cent of that job is counseling people. I am a good teacher, but I am sorely lacking in the traits of a good counselor. Not being raised in a church the concept of "Pastor appreciation Month" struck me as odd.

Wait a minute, the guy is the chief honcho, the big kahuna. He's the leader! What gives? Isn't leadership its own reward? (A question only an non-manager, naive person could ask). I found out that most Christian pastors carry a full or part-time job outside of their church duties to make ends meet. Most churches are too small to support a full-time pastor. People assume a Pastor is made of harder stuff then the rest of us. A sixty to eighty hour week would kill us, mere mortals, but "he's a Pastor"

Entire ministries have sprung up attempting to help the children of these beleaguered souls. Many Pasors used to believe that "if they took care of God's business, God would take care of their families." I was shocked to hear a grief stricken child of a pastor weep as an adult, for the "father I never had". Many of these kids drift into hardcore drug and alcohol abuse. There's a problem here.

I can only speak for what I've seen within The Church of God in Christ denomination. The people really attempt to give the Pastor and his wife (or (vise versa) a week of rest and relaxation or recreation. At my church people are nervous and want everything run just so. Money is given, visitors from other churches come and speeches are made. I find this time of year to be better then Christmas, as what is done is done from the heart. We may not always agree with the man, but we are all united on our love for our Pastor.

I saw the blog of a good friend. He was weary of fighting the good fight of being a Christian in a decidedly non-Christian culture. I really relate to just getting tired of the small foxes which never stop gnawing at your vine. Bad language, declining, or absent moral values and trying to bring peace into places where everyone (except you) wants to fight!

I suggest we try to find something encouraging to share with everyone we meet. As Pastor always says: "You never know what someone may be going through".

PhillyMac: You inspire me to keep on keeping on. You have a very full plate and rarely complain about the long hours of work and family responsibilities. All done on a precious few hours of sleep. You really care about Jesus and His people. Makes me want to stir up some goodness around my neighborhood of believers. What really amazes me, however, is when I've asked for help, or even just whined into your email box - you always make time for me. I am a better person for having you floating around in my Cyber Space.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Recovery: Having To Overcome Transit Fears

I have a month long cat-sitting job way up in the Berkeley hills. Beautiful area and awful old style mountain roads. Two weeks ago my bus dropped me a full block away from my stop - not bothering to tell me of this, I had to chase down a motorist and attempt to locate myself. Once I knew where I was I began a long walk to my job. This road stinks.

Why all rich areas seem to be like this, I'll never know. They didn't waste money on their roads or sidewalks, that's for darn sure! There are two narrow lanes for two-way traffic. Actually, cars coming at one another have to negotiate. One must pull over so the other car can creep into the other car's lane to get by. There are very few sidewalks. The road shoulder has been converted into neighborhood paring. I hate the roads here.

Now you have a feel for what my stroll through twenty to thirty mile-an-hour traffic was like. I attempted to dart in and out between the parked cars, but they are bumper to bumper. So, when a car is coming at me, I flatten myself against a parked car and pray I don't get picked off like other road kill. One car passed so close to me, I could perceive where the door handle was on the door of the car. It didn't hit me, but it was pretty close to contacting my body.

I finally got to my temporary home and felt very strange. I fought wanting to cry. I soon went to bed and slept the sleep of the depressed. I woke up wondering if my life was really worth the money I'm getting paid to tend to Maggie the cat. It would be difficult to bail out on this job, even if I seriously wanted to do so. My employer is over in Turkey. I can reach them, but you can't get a live-in person at reasonable rates quickly. So, I returned to just being depressed.

On Monday I had to take the bus down to Sweet Maria and John's to clean their home. No problem. I know my way around that sidewalk lined area. But I see out the window of the bus that I'm all the way to the little shops near downtown. Way past where I need to be. I just lost it.

I got on my cell phone and when Maria answered the phone I more-or-less yelled at her that I was on the bus, they'd missed my stop and I didn't know where the #$% I was, or when I'd actually arrive at work. Needless to say, poor Maria was a bit taken aback. I hung up and planned how to talk to the bus driver in a way that would not tempt him to call the police.

I was so angry and scared, I was actually shaking. The driver got off the bus and readied himself for my tirade. I acknowledged my anger, but kept my language clean and respectful. I explained about what had happened the day before and how I obviously was still a bit freaked out by the whole thing. Since I was being respectful and reasonable, the driver responded in kind. He apologized and explained the problem from his vantage point.

There are two bus runs, the #65 and the #67. They go more or less the same places, but on different main streets. The street I wanted had a twin on the other line. Did I want the Street, or the Lane? (Oh #$%%&*()*&!), I messed up too. We parted as mature adults and I headed for the #67 that turns into a #65. The two runs hop-scotch each other, it is an amusing way to confuse riders and drivers alike.

When I finally got to sweet Maria, she had left me a message that she had been willing to pick me up from downtown. Now, that is like offering to drop down to Manhattan during rush hour. I was very moved. That was a very kind gesture. Maria did drive me back up the hill. I feel badly when she does this, as any travel causes her additional foot pain. But I gratefully accepted. I could avoid the bus scare one more day.

I'd totally bailed out on a job the week before. I called the lady of the house and told her that I had almost been run over on Sunday and I literally was afraid to leave my location. She gave me the time off and I prayed I'd recover. I knew I was really scared, as just opening the front door caused me a wave of nausea.

I also decided to call my Pastor and request prayer. When I am afraid to leave a house to avoid something, I'm not handling things very well. We prayed on the phone, and my church prayed when they got together Friday evening.

I had to return to Maria on Tuesday and she again drove me back up the hill. I knew that this coming Thursday (today) I'd have to face the music and get back to my normal transiting life.

I went to my mailbox, my cell service office, my house cleaning gig and to get groceries. I did not feel good at all, but I forced myself to proceed anyway. I actually didn't eat or drink much this morning. Thankfully, the ride up the hill was uneventful. I now take more time to tell the drivers in more detail why I am making my "call this stop request," I force them to talk with me. I will not just speak at a driver who doesn't respond and assume I've been heard.

Once back on the hill, I put groceries away and had a lovely, if less then healthy dinner. Strong coffee, smoked oysters and Godiva capachino ice cream with chocolate hearts. I was amazed that the Grocery Outlet store would carry Godiva ice cream. It is expensive and wonderful. So, I've faced the monster. It still feels tense, but I'm no longer feeling like I can't wonder outside, even to get the mail.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Social Commentary: Community Rights Verses Individual Rights.

Walking down a street in downtown Oakland I am suddenly assaulted with the unmistakable odor of sun baked urine wafting my way. I am offended at the brutality of homelessness, panhandlers and litter on the streets. "Homelessness is not a law enforcement issue, but a mental health issue," No, according to a New York City court you have a RIGHT to live on the street draped in rags conditioned with your vomit, urine and feces! Let's hear it for Human Rights!

"I can't help being gay, its in my genes". Okay, but does that mean I have to watch you have sex on the street when I'm forced to be in the area for some other reason?

"We need money". True, but I resent as a person with multiple disabilities, having to run a gauntlet in public places. Is it fair that while I'm trying to carry a walker down a flight of stairs, packs of smelly, rude and tactless people try to shake me down for the change I won't willingly share?

I've heard that there are two sides to our RIGHTS. Along with each individual's RIGHT, comes an equal RESPONSIBILITY to the group surrounding us.

Technically, there is nothing wrong with my free speech proclamation of "Fire, run for your lives!" shouted in a crowded theater. Thankfully, our courts have come down on the side of common sense. That act is illegal.

As a Christian, I have the right to leap up on a bus bench and start screaming out a sermon in downtown Oakland. I've seen many different religious and other proponents of all sorts of things engage in this behavior, unhindered. As I pass by, on my way somewhere, I get to "drop in" on their presentation. There is no real problem with this. I find it irritating, but as long as I'm not detained from continuing down the street, who cares?

However, while waiting for a bus, I don't appreciate being man-handled by over-eager proponents of anything. I can't leave and this is to their "selling" advantage. Man, I hate it! Since I am religious, I've found a good way to confuse my religious attackers. Ask them to tell you how they found their faith. I enjoy watching the confusion. It makes my "no thank you" delivered later less confrontational. But, am I not an adult capable of seeking out whatever you think my soul needs?

Churches by the hundreds are listed in the phone book. I've found more then one organization using this less obnoxious method. Oh, I forgot, sellers of whatever assume I'm too stupid to know what is good for me. Geez, now it makes more sense.

Not only do I have Rights, as an individual, I have responsibilities to the community in which I live. In my apartment building I may have a right to play a radio, or my electronic keyboard. But I don't have the right to play these things loud enough for my neighbors to hear my radio through my closed door and theirs. My responsibility to my fellow apartment dwellers is to live in such a way as to not disturb their peace with my noise. I play instruments and several entertainment devices without causing any problems. My secret: headphones!

I post this rant because of an issue brought up on another blog. The Folsom Street Fair in SF. A small gathering of some 400,000 folks coming together to practice public sex and various forms of debauchery in a South of Market (Street) neighborhood. Because our popular media is pro-gay-rights, this curious exhibition was ignored. The gay press and some religious organizations were the only evidence of this event. Yeah, you have a right to be whatever you want to be, but do I have to be forced to "watch"?

Worst thing that ever happened to our community was when the gays decided it was time to leave their closets. Popping onto our radar by proclaiming the right to copulate in the street. Yes, I know most gays (supposedly) don't do that, but ever attend the Gay Freedom Day Parade. My goodness! (I was on my way to an Opera one year and got a real education).

Yeah, I'm old-fashioned and some would even claim fascist, but I'm so tired of being forced into being more "open minded", or "tolerant". Toleration is like what we did with Russia during the Cold War. They had a right to exist and if they left us alone, we left them alone. Our tolerance by no means implied our consent to, or agreement with their morality. This is how I feel about adultery, homosexuality, bestiality and other "sins". I know it goes on, but don't ask me to bless you for it when you force me to take a stand. I care for the person and hate to see the hell they will stir up in their lives via sin, but I refuse to bless the behavior.

This has been a rant I've held inside for years. I'm sure comments will flood in telling me, six ways from Sunday, why I'm wrong. Have at it.

I want to scream: Bring back common standards of public decency!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Social Trends: Being Polite When Complaining.

I'm an impassioned consumer. I love or hate hard. When something which used to works gets broken through an update, I go nuts. I have had a love and hate relationship with Adobe Corporation ever since 2003 when I got my first Internet-capable computer. I discovered ebooks. With my fluky vision print on a computer screen is so much easier to read then print on a real piece of paper. On the computer I reverse the appearance of the screen. Letters are white on a black background. It is pure heaven.

I then discovered I could buy ebooks. Heaven help me! I discovered several estores and I began to build a respectable elibrary. Adobe was my virgin experience. Adobe Reader 5. It was flawless. I then had to update to the next version. I'm on a Macintosh, it didn't go so well. I kept the older version and limped along. So it goes. I raged and more seasoned computer friends told me I was over reacting. (growl, snarl, moan).

This last update from Adobe Reader 7 to Adobe Reader 8 and the NEW Digital Editions was particularly traumatic. Adobe now deals with all my beloved ebooks on the Internet via a whole new system: Digital Editions. When I first looked into this I discovered there was no Macintosh version, but Adobe Reader 7 still worked. So, it goes.

I then had to buy a new computer as my eMac's logic board bit the dust. I had several kinks to work out with the iMac. One of the programs which got deleted accidentally was Adobe Reader 7. But there were Macintosh versions, so I updated. I knew it was probably a mistake, but I did it anyway.

Digital Editions saw all my encrypted ebooks, but had a note next to them: "missing" or "can't be read on this machine". I stared in shock at around $100 of "gone" ebooks.

I dutifully went through the websites and customer forums, which all decried the new program as being a total loss. One customer was so angry he threatened to delete his $3,000 worth of ebooks and take legal action. Oooh, sign me up!

I then saw a lonely humble post from an Adobe employee with an EMAIL address requesting more detailed information, as he was part of the team trying to solve the problems! I was so angry and sad, I hardly knew how to begin my Adobe rant.

I settled on being factual (no exaggerating or threatening), mature (no course language) and polite (no assuming the recipient was incompetent). I really attempted to rise to the above standards. I did my ranting to a friend, who, once again (gently) told me I was over reacting.

To my utter amazement, several days later, I got an email back from the Adobe employee. After asking a few more questions, he proceeded to launch into a new paragraph thanking me for being polite! Wow! That's a grim commentary about how we must be treating people we don't know via email!

I had solved my Digital Editions problem by running that program while my internet browser was open. I then imported all my "missing" ebooks via re-downloading them from the stores where I'd purchased them and all was well. I replied to the Adobe Developer, letting him know that I was now back in business. Another shock, I took the time to let him know something was working as it was supposed to.

Recently our local bus company messed up badly by not letting me know they'd overshot my street. I had several personal safety issues over this situation. The road I had to walk on has a shoulder (used by locals for parking) and at least a half of a lane of room in each direction for 35 MPH traffic. I got to play bumper car with real cars. I also had to flag down a stranger to discover where in the world I was in relation to where I wanted to be.

I tried my new mature tact. I have a feeling I will not only be heard, but responded to by a stranger stupefied by politeness. I bet this is just another example of catching more flies with honey, verses vinegar! Amazing.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Recovery: Being Reminded of Past Trauma.

I have been fighting very bad depression and anxiety issues for the past few weeks. I had to pack some cooking items for my month-long cat-sitting job. I prefer to use my rice cooker and my already purchased brown rice. I have been fighting buying the special suitcase for this specialized job. I waited until the last moment to actually buy a suitcase.

I finally actually bought a very nice suitcase on rollers. It worked fine, though I have to get a longer portable handle for the suitcase so I can attach it to a belt around my waist. I need to have my hands free to deal with my walker.

I literally had problems sleeping last night. I couldn't figure out what was bothering me. I just knew something was not right. I didn't experience any relief from finishing my work on the website. This morning I stumbled upon what has been making me unhappy for the past few weeks.

After packing my suitcase this morning, I remembered the last time I had to pack kitchen items. Our building had been condemned. I came home on a Wednesday night to the grim news that I had three full days to get out before the tenants would be "forcibly removed".

I remember the frantic call to one of my employers, hurridly arranging emergency money for temporary housing. I physically moved all my stuff alone, six blocks to a hotel I couldn't afford. Then I had to move all over again to my current residence. It was an awful two weeks.

I looked around at my house and realized that this packing did not mean I had to "move". A wave of joy and relief flooded my body. I wanted to cry out thanks to God. All the tension I've been carrying started to leave. I finally found the memories that were disturbing my peace.

I guess I still have trouble dealing with some of the "crisis" moves I've made in my life. I have felt terrible ever since I made the decision to use my own cooking items on the cat-ssitting job. I finally got some restful sleep and all is well with the world.

Hopefully this may help someone else wondering through a swamp of feelings with no "reason". Sorry this isn't entertaining, but I want to continue documenting my recovery, confusion and all.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Sound Editing and How I Learn.

I have just finished editing the last ten minute segment of a forty minute sermon. I love to observe how we learn and the strange things "jobs" cause us to think and do. I have listened to this entire bit of material at least three times. But after being buried in the problems of editing sound, I can tell you nothing about what I've edited. I can, however, show you where I took out excess clapping, coughing, pausing and other useless noises from this sermon.

How can I listen to something and not get the content? Simple, when I'm taking notes about the sermon, I dutifully notate everything I hear the speaker say. I will be posting a cleaned-up version of these notes on the website later. Once that is done it is time to clean up the sound. Oh, my, every sermon speaker is different. I have to remember, I'm learning this job as I complete parts of it. In a year, I'll probably be able to go back to these early sermons and REALLY edit them correctly. But I can't wait a year before posting to the church's website. So, when I've done all I know how to do, up she goes!

I now understand how someone can work on something and not remember what the content was about. This problem used to baffle me. I couldn't figure out how someone could post something to their OWN blog and within hours, not remember that they'd even made a post. Now, I see. A busy brain having to clear out recent short term memory. I stand corrected.,

One bit of info. I do recall from this sermon is how God appears in being more interested in purging us of our run away pride, then getting a job perfectly done. I know this because my run away pride screams that I need to do more to the sermon before posting! What if I've made a mistake? Yikes! Hello never-willing-to-die pride. I thought I'd gotten control over you.

Pride absolutely messes up anything you attempt to do for God, or anyone else. When you are too sure of yourself, you can't be taught anymore and that is the beginning of the destruction that pride causes in a life.

I can't believe how tired a bit of editing makes me feel. My little brain has been busy, experimenting (I LOVE "undo"), re-doing and deleting. Thankfully, the actual posting will go rather quickly and I can start on another sermon tomorrow - instead of waiting a month! Maybe some of that "pause" was pride too? Yeah, I bet it was.

Recovery: Fear Revisited.

I am now well into what I always thought of as a "normal life". I have part-time work of several kinds, an interesting social life and an active mental and educational environment. I was shocked to see how quickly, overwhelmingly and stubbornly an old habit totally stopped me in my tracks.

I am my church's webmaster. I basically handle it all. We have recently added audio broadcasting for our sermons. I haven't set it up as something one can subscribe to, as I'm not sure we are professional enough for that move, yet. I ran into a technical snag and just completely shut down mentally.

I have made arrangements to do some of my audio editing work in Berkeley, while cat-sitting. Their computer is slower then mine, but after chopping sermons into ten-minute chunks, it works fine. I felt scared inside, but tried to continue. It occurred to me that there may be a difference in sound quality between the two computers. At this possibility, I just shut down and went away mentally.

It took me over a month to thaw out enough to realize what had happened to me. I tried all the normal tricks to get around my fear. Absolutely nothing worked. I then attempted to see if my pastor was interested in another member who appeared to know more about web mastering then I. He turned me down flat. He believed in ME. Man, I just was in hiding and was refusing to come out.

About a week ago, I decided that even if there was a difference in sound quality between the two machines, I could do the work anyway and correct any errors I may find when I get home. Poof! I felt myself return to normal. I at least was willing to TRY to continue as a webmaster.

Due to my family's way of using any information I'd give them against me, I learned a sure-fire defense. Literally know nothing. My cousin would scream at me about something I did, or didn't do. I truly had no memory, no thought. I just was stupid. I could survive her accusations of my stupidity a lot better, then having her savagely tear up another part of my person hood.

As an example. I was a huge fan of the program The FBI, as well as of the real organization as a young teen. I dutifully went to the library to read up on the real FBI. I was shocked and saddened to discover that the real governmental agency was riddled with controversy, conflicts and down right incompetence. It really made me sad.

When my cousin found out about this by talking with me, she never failed to laugh at how nieve I was. From this painful incident, I learned to keep the real me far away from any one's knowledge. I couldn't afford to know things even for me, as I didn't have the ability to deny my cousin information when she demanded it from me.

I know in my life now, that I have several friends who would and have given of themselves to help me with my dilemma. It is a blessing to have so many smart, friendly and amusing people in my world. But, I had run into an emotional freeze producing a mental blank wall.

As I force myself to continue to edit sermons, I realize that I'm still teaching myself the ins and outs of sound editing. Sometimes, I don't like the way part of a sermon sounds, but am unable, or unaware of how to fix it. I'm learning to put it on the web anyway. It is better to do something instead of nothing. Something can be fixed. Nothing is a cop out.

I don't have a final answer on this one. I hope I am willing to not freeze up again. When I feel the fear starting, I need to talk to God AND keep working! This freezing behavior did not serve me well as a student in college either. It is hard to learn something totally new, when one feels they must be perfect at the task, the FIRST time they attempt it. Ah, I guess all this immature stuff doesn't just magically change into maturity, huh? DRAT!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Depression: Self-care and Back to Basics

In the last month I have experienced more positive change then I have had in the last three years. My work prospects increased and improved drastically. My social life is expanding. I have been given an entire new wardrobe of clothes. I also know that for Christmas I'm going to be receiving many pairs of earrings. I'm in the middle of major life change and emotional growth.

In my head, I planned what to do. Work needed to be done, old stuff needed to be given away to make room for the new stuff. I did all the things in front of me. After two weeks of cat-sitting. I came to this easy three day dog-sitting job experiencing a terrible depression. I figured maybe I needed sleep. No, woke up feeling just as bad, or worse, then before the nap. I then found myself experiencing that nagging boredom. Escaping into a book helped a bit, but I still felt terrible. Might be physical, or I might need medical adjustment when I return home. But what to do right now?

I did have the dreaded plight of the blind. A bus driver forgot to call out my stop. I got totally scared. I hate having to depend on people for help when I never know if they will "hear" me and do what I request. If I remind the driver, they get insulted, if I only say it once, I get left. Its a crap-shoot. I have to accept the reality that I can't handle buses without help. That is just the way it is. So, I talk to God and try to calm down inside.

One of the perks of this dog-sitting job is a bathtub and all kinds of scented oils, creams and soaps I can use to my heart's content. I gave myself an oil and water bath. Basically take a cap full of oil, olive, almond or whatever oil you like on your skin and add it to a really hot bath. Then you give yourself a massage. Sure you can't easily reach all of you, but most of you can be given the slippery attentiveness of gentle massage. You are not kneading bread here. GENTLE! Let yourself enjoy taking care of yourself and doing something special.

Wow! I was a tense, uptight mess! I do a lot of deep breathing, which can bring emotions to the surface. I forgot to just stop and be kind to me. My emotional tank was empty and doing this kind of thing is one of my ways of refilling my tank. I have been totally directed outward for the last two weeks. It is good to attend my work and love the animals I care for. But I forgot to take some time for myself.

An oil bath is a bit messy. You will feel wonderfully relaxed, pampered and soft afterwards. You can always clean the bathtub. If you are afraid of slipping, put down a 2nd wash cloth for when you are moving around in the tub after the massage and you are bathing. Yes. Finish up by bathing as usual. You will still feel slightly oily. It won't kill you. Your towel will also remove some of the extra oil. Indulge."But what about messing up a towel?" Aren't you at least as valuable as that bath towel? You don't want to use grandma's embroidered towel for this project. But you also don't want to settle for something used to wax the car either. Believe it, or not, these small details will build you up, or tear you down inside.

I still struggle with co-dependency. When I blog about religion and people write comments to share a different viewpoint, I get afraid. (No, still not all done in this area yet). When I see friends making decisions which appear not to be in their best interest, I feel badly when their life gets complicated. I have to remember to shed all of that tension. Concern should lead me to prayer, not tension. Duh!

Long and short. I went back to the first lesson we depressed patients learned in our "Handling Depression" class. Yeah, you feel yucky. Be gentle, do something nice for yourself and accept that for some reason you feel out of sorts. Its not the end of the world. Sitting and thinking about acting won't do it. Do something nice for yourself.

I don't feel like going out and dancing down the street with bliss, but I feel better then I did. I'll be able to do my deep breathing and really relax. This is what happens when you take positive action in the midst of feeling less then good. You are being the friend to yourself you needed and may not have gotten during your early years and that in itself builds the bridge out of feeling hopeless and helpless.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

In Memory of 9/11/2001

I live near near San Francisco, California. I woke up about 10 AM Pacific Daylight time, (1 PM EDT). I took my morning medications, brewed coffee and sat down to listen to KSFO Radio. I remember the normal morning banter being hastily interrupted with a live feed from New York. (It was a repeat of an earlier broadcast, but I wasn't sure it wasn't live at the time.)

A passenger plane (first plane) had crashed into the World Trade Center. I sat in total shock, as live, choppy reports flowed in. In the middle of a discussion of the hit on the first tower, the second plane hit the other tower. I remember feeling a little sick to my stomach. Maybe this is the beginning of all out war on the US?

It made sense that one plane could have gone off course and crashed into the towers, but two planes, where was our Air Force and NORAD? (North American Air Defense Command)

I wandered aimlessly in downtown Oakland. I picked up junk food at the Walgreens on 14th Street at Broadway. I remember buying things I usually didn't get, mixed nuts, loads of them. I came out of the store and realized that Broadway was completely deserted. I'd NEVER seen the street completely empty of people and traffic. It was about 2 PM PDT, (5 PM EDT). I returned to my building and heard the replay on the TV of the towers collapsing. Somehow, I had missed that. I watched dumbly with everyone else, as they played and replayed the terrible footage of these two huge buildings coming down like a child's set of building blocks.

I also remember wandering back downtown, to try and secure a copy of that day's New York Times. It was $6. I would have paid $20. I came home with the paper. I sat slowly reading the articles, looking at the pictures and cried.

I have never been patriotic. I don't dislike the US, but I never got all emotional about the flag. I now had to have one somewhere in my apartment I could look at. The New York Times had a full page photo of a flat American flag. I read the articles on the reverse side of this large color photo of a flag. I then taped the flag to my door and cried.

To this day I have trouble understanding why Berny Ward chose to highlight the plight of those in the Middle East. It was 10 PM PDT. He was the first live talk show (KGO, San Francisco). He blamed the United States for the attack on the Twin Towers. It was our foreign policy which caused the attacks across our country. I felt a curious combination of rage and sorrow wash over me, as I listened in stunned disbelief at his show. Even if his assertions were true, this was NOT the time!

Callers protested his actions, but he stuck to his position. I couldn't listen to his program any more. I returned to some other station rehashing the days awful events.

After six years, I am finally able to stomach watching some of the "Conspiracy" footage on the Net about 9/11. Sadly, the people refuting the conspiracy charges lapse into name-calling, just like the conspiracy people. I've lost respect for both sides of that debate at this point.

I stand in mourning remembrance of the tragedy of 9/11/2001

Monday, September 10, 2007

Becoming My Own Person: Owning Up To Mistakes.

I document recovery by sharing my half-developed ideas and sometimes my mistakes. I forget that in print, my attempt at satire doesn't always appear as satire. I am traveling some new philosophical ground lately. I ponder what are the parts of me which are "fixed", as compared to those parts of me which are still "flexible", open for change, and or new information.

I lean toward a very mousy type of co-dependant behavior. I'll become anything you like, so you'll like me. I'm getting secure enough within myself where I've stopped doing that. I'm a committed Christian and I'm no longer willing to get wishy-washy about it. I also come from a totally messed-up background where I haven't a clue as how to negotiate with people. Is is okay for me to stay different from you, after you show me who you are?

I love having all sorts of people in my life, many of whom don't believe at all as I do. It is like looking over beautiful jewels from different angles. People and who they are endlessly fascinate me.

I want to be who I really am, without alienating people who see the world differently then I do. Once I establish my religious feelings, I'm willing to drop it and move on to exploring work, hobbies, school, or whatever someone else finds exciting. I don't assume my sharing is going to "change" a person.

This "healthy" sharing comes into direct conflict with my experience of "Witnessing". You know where someone browbeats you in the name of (usually Jesus) until you come around to their way of thinking? In other subjects I don't get confused like this. In other areas, we are just showing each other points of interest. This is one of the most satisfying aspects of meeting people on the Internet. But when I speak of religion and another religious person engages in "showing" me things, I assume its time to "man the barricades, defend and hunker down ...!"

Yes, hello co-dependency, will I ever get healthy enough to be rid of you? Oh, I hope so!

A lovely person, not of my faith and I began emailing back and forth about religion, theirs and mine. I didn't realize I was feeling like I had to "defend" my ground. My friend was not intending this any more then my atheist friends are. I wrote about "Religion: A Commitment We Are Willing To Die For", as a way of haltingly exploring being my own person, along with examples of some of the abuse which I've seen and experienced under the category of "witnessing".

I learned something very crucial. People are gentle, sensitive and can be unsettled by my aggressive stance. Humor mis-understood can appear to be overbearing and aggressive. I am sorry. I realize now that healthy adults can share aspects of themselves without the "ulterior motive" of trying to manipulate change in each other.

I got that concept everywhere else, except when discussing religion. I am now free of fear. I am free to explore your spiritual garden without fearing I will be required to kill my garden to replace it with yours. If I like something in your garden, I can add it to mine. We both gain and nobody loses. This is wonderful.

I have some very cool atheist friends to thank for teaching me how to share without manipulation. They aren't afraid to say who they are, but have absolutely no desire to uproot my religious leanings. That is a cherished lesson. Waves of peace wash over me because I no longer have to "make" anything happen. True "witnessing" is simply sharing without a hidden agenda. Damn, after so many years of misunderstanding the process. I'm free!

Friday, September 07, 2007

A Part of Me Resists Growing Up: Wishful Thinking.

Ever have one of those days where you are saddened by how callous the world seems? I truly don't understand the part of myself I'm going to share. There is a part of me that gets really sad when my "magical", "child-like" thinking gets confronted and corrected by reality. I'd really like to grow out of this.

The first shock rolled through my emotions when I checked out an assertion about net security. Its gone. Your name and many other things about you are a few keystrokes and a mouse click away for anyone willing to do a search. After investigating this with a few searches I was consumed with numb terror. I have been stalked and I thought it would be a bit harder to find information.

My friend, who is a public figure, acknowledged the issue, but is not worried. He doesn't fear being stalked. I have to grow up and realize I'm probably not that interesting a catch anyway. My stalker was a former lover who resented the exiting of my support money from his life. His kind has moved through many victims by now. He's long gone.

The real crusher came with a very long pod cast where the female (my favorite) was OUTRAGED at Apple's behavior towards their customers. I have had a few issues with Apple relating to my sense of "fairness" lately, so I totally related to her position. the male on the show was non-plussed. Shoulder shrug: you pays your money, you take your chances. Apple doesn't owe anybody anything.

I reproduce the email between me and a friend, who shocked me with his reaction to my assertions. (Maybe I'm just PMS-ing).
(My assertions):
I've read and listened to the hysteria today over the iPhone price drop / hoopla / $100 rebate / treat 'em like the suckers they are firestorm.

I like their products, but don't trust them anymore. They are out to make as much money off me as possible.

• 4-week rebate on iLife /iWeb 8 only
• no break on price for Leopard release only 90 days away from my
computer purchase.

I used to trust Apple, now I just shrug and say: "they are like everyone else, but their quality is still better. But it feels like
the quality is sliding also. What can I do? Get out my Debit Card and shut up". Of course I can always buy a $300 PC and REALLY be mistreated with poor quality and money-grubbing.

'Tis life. But I do feel a bit sad. I really thought Apple was different. Maybe once upon a time, they were. But it was probably just a well-orchestrated illusion. Feels like the end of an era. Sad.

(Friend's reaction:)
I'm fine with it. I think that they're being quite generous offering a $100 credit. I just bought a Mac 9 days before iLife came out - 2 days longer than they included as a back period. Oh well. 90 days from when a major OS release comes out and you want them to just give it to you? You're high.

Apple is a company. They're actually pretty good at taking care of their customers according to all research. They're out to make money off you? NO - REALLY? I thought they were just altruistic and giving all this stuff away. You're kidding right?

Apple is different. They're a wanna-be Microsoft. Steve Jobs is a tyrant - but he's a brilliant tyrant. They make great technology. They're a company. I love their products. The hardware is beautiful, the OS is the best. If MS tried to pull off all the interconnectivity of Apple with iTunes and the iPod they'd be getting their butts sued off.

Enjoy your Mac. Enjoy the experience. It's a UI, not a religion.
(Friend's email, my reactions in [] brackets):
I'm fine with it. [WHAT?!] I think that they're being quite generous offering a $100 credit. [true, legally they don't have to rebate at all.] I just bought a Mac 9 days before iLife came out - 2 days longer than they included as a back period. [Oh man. See, that's what I'm talking about!]. Oh well. [what a curious non-reaction].
90 days from when a major OS release comes out and you want them to just give it to you? You're high. [Ouch! Yeah, tactless, but you've never claimed to be otherwise :p, Ouch!]

Apple is a company. [Oh darn, here comes the "reality lecture", sigh]. They're actually pretty good at taking care of their customers according to all research. They're out to make money off you? NO - REALLY? I thought they were just altruistic and giving all this stuff away. You're kidding right? [I wish my feelings or whatever would give up and grow up. Oh, how I wish I was kidding, then it wouldn't hurt inside so much. I have no clue as to what is gnawing at me, but God will show me].

Apple is different. They're a wanna-be Microsoft. Steve Jobs is a tyrant - but he's a brilliant tyrant. They make great technology. They're a company. I love their products. The hardware is beautiful, the OS is the best. If MS tried to pull off all the interconnectivity of Apple with iTunes and the iPod they'd be getting their butts sued off. [Yeah, sigh]
Enjoy your Mac. Enjoy the experience. It's a UI [User Interface, right?], not a religion. [Sarcastic, you're right, blah, blah, blah. Now I feel sad, shamed, STUPID and angry. Oh, how I want to grow out of this part of me!].

So, there it is. But I am baffled as to why I can't seem to shake this love of over idealistic thinking. My friend is right. He is blunt and I wouldn't want him any other way. That razor sharp awareness is part of his exquisite humor.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Religion: A Commitment We're Willing To Die For.

I enjoy the comments I receive on this blog. I am thankful for very little spam-attempts (I delete them ALWAYS) and little negative feedback. Thank goodness I've not been "flamed". I am thankful that you all seem to understand what this blog is about. Now that I'm getting truly healthy, I sometimes wonder if I'm not just narcissistic.

The feedback I receive keeps me plowing the field. I rejoice at the news that someone has found benefit from roaming my musings. Now that I'm out of what seems like the "up and down" of recovery, I'm sometimes at a loss as to what to share with you all.

The idea of a "blurblet" was proposed. I think that is shorter than a real blog post, but longer then a 132-character tweet. I miss when its down for maintenance. Yeah, I'm a geek.

But I have spoken of religion, God and all of that. I got some very intriguing feedback from a reader. I reproduce it here as an introduction to my response.

Question: If you know that you're praying to the same God, why take a step backward in the Divine Plan? Are you aware of who Baha'u'llah even is? I'm not going to go into too much - my blog should help a bit. I'll check to see if there is a comment from you, before we start a dialog.

Oops, this person believes I'm WRONG! Wow, I thought it was just us Christians who threw those stones. I have spent hours pondering doing a blog about the issue of religion. I've tried to answer this person's questions about why I left a faith which is the foundation of his life. I tried several approaches. I am not sure if I'm being unclear, or my answers are too upsetting for him.

Basically, at the time I was a member of the Baha'i faith, it was all in my head, it didn't get to my emotions. I didn't change that much. I loved knowing that I had everyone else over an intellectual barrel. They were still in "religious" grade school, while I was in "religious" college! (try believing that without growing an amazing ego behind it.) I didn't feel inspired by my fellow Bahai's, we were all at the same level. I hated Christianity because that was my family's religion. I doubt I need to say more.

When I got sick enough and scared enough to take a second look at the Bible, I felt a power from what Jesus said, who He was and what He claimed He was doing. Eventually, I became Christian because I was sick enough and desperate enough to really make a change. I would have run down a street naked, if someone had told me doing that would heal me. (Thankfully, I walked, fully dressed to an altar, instead.)

But how to deal with people who don't think, or believe as I do? I've known really aggressive Buddists - whose evangelism makes the Moonies look week! I've also been mentally tackled by Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons. What lies behind these efforts is a commitment someone has made to a belief system they sense has "changed their life".

I never challenge some one's testimony. How can I argue with a person who KNOWS that a belief system got them off narcotics? When you are approached on the street by someone with "the word", I find a polite way to deflect the encounter is to inquire as to how they found their faith. It takes the tension out of the meeting. I can praise health and self improvement whether or not I agree with the doctrine. With that initial tension gone it is easier to decline their invitations.

But here is what troubles this conservative Christian. What if my way IS the only road to heaven, while everything else is a sham and a lie? If what I believe is bunk and the New Age folks are right, I get to try it again until I get my karma straightened out, or whatever else I need to learn in the evolving, reincarnating school of the Spirit. At worst, I'm slowing my progress.

But, if Jesus is right and its Him or hell, is it cool for me to side step the issue and not discuss the possibility that you have been deluded by a lie? A lie which could cause you to spend eternity in hell?

Granted, some Christians have the sensitivity of rocks, around these issues. If we are right, we should be the most healthy, centered and tactful folks running loose. It's okay, go ahead and let yourself groan now. As a group we appear, on TV at least, to be completely out of our minds.

I have been in social situations where someone has engaged in what I think of as Kamikaze Witnessing. Witnessing tactless and brutal enough to spawn lifelong atheism in its victims. I apologize for all of that. People can believe correctly and still be the idiots they were before becoming Christian. It took me almost twenty years in the faith before I really got around to growing up. Or as it is known among us as getting "sanctified".

Sanctification is where you stop fighting God and He turns you into a balanced, healthy and more Christ-like human being. The real Jesus is a cool dude. I've never had a problem with Jesus, but occasionally, some of his followers make me want to commit murder. "Oh God, can I send this one to Glory, NOW?" Actually, I've learned to talk less and pray more. But I still have a mouth which gets me into trouble from time to time: "Excuse me, do you know you are acting like an idiot?" Funny how that gets under people's skin... Yeah, I'm not all done yet either.

I hurt for all the people who believe everything under the sun, except Jesus. You'll notice that all other movements are tolerant of everything EXCEPT Christianity. I actually know a person who is waiting to be "picked up" by the Mother Ship. She believes when they come for her (!) they will take her to her real home on another planet, in another galaxy. And I get laughed at because I believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ?

People gag on the Christian message because it implies Absolute Truth, accountability and a time limit for making your decision. Why worry about change if I am just going to reincarnate anyway and I can work harder in the next life? But, if there is a real God, with real feelings and spiritual laws have eternal consequences. Ew, that is creeps ville. So explains the continuing push to get "God" out of all public life.

I heard a former Nazi Party member explain that it wasn't until religion was suppressed from social discourse that the Third Reich really took off. He wept as he apologized for what his country did in WWII. He felt guilty for "just going along, to get along". He was a teenager, but knew he should have resisted being a Nazi.

I truthfully can't explain "original sin". But look around this world, is it getting better or worse? It seems to me that mankind keeps coming up with gruesome and grosser forms of evil every day. Ever have to teach a child to lie? If we are basically good, where does that "lie" come from?

Some Christians get all exercised about what heaven will be like, or what kind of resurrected body they will have. I really don't care. I do care that since finding Christ, or rather, letting Him "Save" me, I'm really finding healing, peace and joy. I can't fix this world, but I can work on not being as big an idiot today as I was yesterday. No other movement ever gave me the courage to truly face myself, warts and all.

Ode To Life: Why I'm Sorry I Tried To Kill Myself.

Actually composed this post a few months back, but it is still relevant. The expanding duties of the church website have put my language project on hold. My friend Nancy is also extremely busy, but we still chat when she has the time.

I am beginning to learn Chinese. Why, you ask. Because I've made friends with a gal in Beijing China and she has invited me to blog on her site. Google has this terrific translating tool, but when I begin to interact with the Chinese website, the translating stops. So, I'm learning basic things like "Post", "save" and "publish", in Chinese! I feel like an idiot, on one level, but its fun to make a effort anyway.

I truly believe that this kind of friendship making that unites different cultures, age groups, races and countries will eventually stop mankind's love of war. I share the words to a great song from the 1960':

Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream
words and music by Ed McCurdy

Last night I had the strangest dream
I'd ever dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war

I dreamed I saw a mighty room
Filled with women and men
And the paper they were signing said
They'd never fight again

And when the paper was all signed
And a million copies made
They all joined hands and bowed their heads
And grateful pray'rs were prayed

And the people in the streets below
Were dancing 'round and 'round
While swords and guns and uniforms
Were scattered on the ground

Last night I had the strangest dream
I'd never dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war.

TRO-©1950,1951 & 1955 Almanac Music, Inc.
New York, N.Y. Copyrights renewed
Used by permission.
There is one beautiful idea. I am so blessed to meet Nancy and the students she works with. I feel like I've been invited into their home. I have begun to research really learning Chinese and it looks rather daunting. But, I take it one step at a time.

I almost succeeded in ending my life in 1979. I tried to end my life with alcohol poisoning. I was stunned to realize that all the real healing began after getting "saved" in 1981. Today I am caring for Maggie the cat in a lovely home in the Berkeley Hills. I drink in the beauty of my surroundings. I'm sitting on a soft white rug, observing Maggie and her cat ballet. Sunlight is streaming through the trees outside the window. There are various shades of green as the wind moves the leaves around. I feel a deep sense of repentance for wanting to die. I would have missed all the current goodies of health and life.

I then remembered the marvelous people I've encountered since 1979. In the early '90's, I tried my hand at learning Engineering. Even though I flunked out, I had the joy of seeing professors in love with their subjects. As a psychology major I never had the thrilling experience of seeing an excited professor share their joy. I believe my love of three dimensional drawings is part of what interests me about web design and graphic arts.

Thanks to proper medication, I have the miracle of emotional stability. Oh, I can still go totally off the beam and panic over a small matter. But today, it is short lived and doesn't result in a hospital admission. With this freedom I've made wonderful friends. All kinds of friends.

Although I dog sit and house clean for Maria and John, I think of Maria as the mother I never had. She is in her early seventies and is gently teaching me how to save money. I will permit her to correct me in ways I won't let others even attempt. We have grown very close. I never would have met her at all, if I'd died in 1979.

I was twenty-seven, really living like I was still a small child. I am now fifty-four making friends with concepts like responsibility, delayed gratification and accountability. I have found a church home I adore. A small group of Christians who think very much as I do. This small group of very conservative black folks have adopted me as one of their own. I have the joy of experiencing their love and friendship as we all learn more and more about God and Jesus Christ, together.

I have a flock of Internet buddies. People I communicate with over the Internet, but haven't met face to face. I enjoy the intellectual tennis matches I play with some of my pals. We email, or chat about God, philosophy, science, movies and music. I know physicists, Electronic Technicians, reporters, IT professionals and Engineers. I am also an avid fan of a couple of up and coming science fiction writers. There is never a shortage of interesting things to explore in person or on the Internet.

There re very difficult times during the years I struggled to "desire" to live. I had a lot of counseling and therapy to attend to. There were major problems with my past. I had a large amount of grief work to face. Before I could put my past into perspective, I had to admit that my past was an infection which had to be lanced, cleaned out and healed. Facing my past was very hard and painful work. It is like mental surgery. An infected finger can kill you, if you let it go totally untreated.

The major battle for me was accepting the responsibility of fighting for my own recovery. Yes, adults messed me over very badly, when I was a child, but now I was an adult. I had to stop blaming "them", start looking at my own behavior and WHY I continued to act in ways that weren't working in my life.

My gratitude is endless for the men and women who fought to help me get better. Looking back, I can now see that many people tried to "reach" me. I remember many times in my life, where people tried to help ,me, I just couldn't understand. I assumed it was some kind of trick, or trap. I wasn't ready to face the pain of my childhood. But, when this student was finally ready, I had wonderful professionals who donated hours of free counseling to give me a chance to have a real life. In a way, I write this blog as a thank you for all of their work on my behalf.

Ultimately, I thank God I found Jesus Christ. All the improvement and growth began AFTER I became a Christian. Being a Baha'i' was only an interesting intellectual exercise. Jesus had the real power to replace my heart of stone with a heart of compassion. The false superiority of having all the "right" answers had to be smashed.

I had to first learn to stop trying to kill myself. Once I'd made a commitment to actually try to live, I've begun to learn not to fear other people. My life is smoothing out and becoming more and more 'normal'. I am now working on the issues we all have to deal with. Being responsible, truthful and accountable.

It is not gripping reading. Do I put in a true effort at my work, or do I just "get by"? Do I keep commitments I've made to God, or blow Him off? Am I really willing to be honest when I desire a day off, or do I just "not show up"? (real on-the-edge-of-your-seat-stuff, right?)

I end this post with a wonderful way to put things into perspective.
God's gift to me is life. My gift to Him is what I do with my life.

My New Clothes from My Church.

Even though I genuinely enjoy doing the weekly bulletins for church, the last week in August, was not a fun session. Pastor called it in late on Saturday evening after I'd gone to bed.

I dragged my mind back to work mode and began the (usually simple) process of producing Sunday's Bulletin. "Friends & Family Day". He wanted a group scene of people. I use a website chalk-full of such pen and ink drawings and figured I'd be finished rather quickly.

Oh man! I just couldn't find the correct drawing. I came so very close to dumping the drawing all together and just putting out a text based bulletin. But I forced myself to do it right and eventually came up with what I hoped would please my Pastor.

Then it was time for me to do something really stupid with my computer. Fixing my mess-up took several hours, leaving little time for more sleep. I loathe doing anything when I'm that tired. Being tired just saps my ability to be an adult. I always have to fight the temptation to act like a cranky three-year-old.

Once church was over, I decided not to stay for the meal provided for this "friends and Family Day". I couldn't think of a good excuse to leave, but I sat in the back fanning my overheated, "having a hot flash" self, longing to go home.

Into every life an idiot doeth come. A gentleman came in and sat directly in front of me. I tried to talk to him. He rebuffed me with a very curt and clear: "I don't want to talk to you!" and then proceeded to respond politely to other people.

I have had this kind of thing happen to me far too often and frankly I handle it badly. When I'm rested I can control my desire to sob and carry myself like an adult. When I'm exhausted the desire to: a) seek revenge and or b) cry is just too tempting.

I used the excuse that I was just too tired and quickly left for home. I knew this is what I needed to do for self care. Maybe the guy didn't like white people, women or strangers, but I'd fight that battle another day. I have found it is important to know when you are not equipped for a situation. Social situations, at the best of times, are difficult for me. When I have any kind of rejection issue, they become an emotional endurance test.

I came home and made a nice lunch for myself and settled down to do some work on the website before letting myself go to bed. I got a call from a friend at church. They had two bags of clothes and a plate of food coming for me! My friend understood where I was at emotionally and was just happy to deliver these items.

I have blogged about my beautiful velour, silk and cotton jacket dresses before. But this batch of clothes were all for summer! A really good way to get heat stroke is to wear a velour jacket dress in the summer. These were all light chiffon or stretch nit outfits. Even two pairs of shorts. with many mix and match tops.

I was totally stunned. These are the kind of expensive, pretty clothes I'd never buy for myself. Oh, I'd have maybe two nice "vacation" outfits, but the rest would be from the thrift store. The thrift store for those of us who are overweight is a depressing adventure.

I am comfortable now in 2x to 3x clothes and those sizes are few and far between at your average thrift store. My usual attack plan is: if it fits, I don't care what it looks like. Take it and get on with it.

I now have a real wardrobe of wonderful "vacation" and "fancy" clothes. I had the joy of throwing out clothes that had seen better days, several years ago! I do not show my picture of me because I've been stalked in the past and don't want the problem cropping up again. So, enjoy checking out the nicest set of clothes I've ever owned. I'm taking as many pictures as this blog will handle. I'm showing off my summer and winter clothes. These clothes are so beautiful. I like how I feel when I wear them.

I now log off to go and enjoy that "soul food" brought to me yesterday. These folks not only know how to dress, but they sure know how to eat. BBQ chicken, Terreiki chicken, greens, mac and cheese, yams and some really wonderful velvet cake. God is showing me more of His love and I am so glad I did my best work for Him even when I was tired. He sure has inspired folks to share some beautiful things with me.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Recovery: Well Enough To Choose Maturity.

We all have faults and weaknesses which follow us for years. The lament of those around me was: "Cybe. Why can't you grow up?". I learned to hate that type of question. No matter what strategy I tried, I still ended up in tears and basically throwing a three-year-olds tantrum.

The other seemingly intractable part of my make up was the total emotional meltdown I began experiencing every seven to ten years of my life. I remember being hysterical with a casual friend one summer at camp. I was moving into seventh grade. My cousin was just pounding on me for all the usual things. No matter what I did, it wasn't enough.

If I dutifully washed down all the counters in the kitchen, my cousin's husband would shame me with the statement that his wife POLISHED all the counters! It was hard not calling him the bold faced liar he was. But, my internal emptiness kept growing because there was no praise for anything I did anywhere. I was dying inside.

My camp friend was shocked and since she knew nothing about my home life, pushed me away with the tired retort that I was just pitying myself and to grow up. I stopped sharing and by my senior year in High School was a clinically depressed and disassociating mess. I went through hours of not properly relating to reality with the thought: "You haven't happened yet." I was too scared to really tell anyone what was going on in my mind, but I came close to being put in a mental hospital.

Jumping from the frying pan into a fire, I left home at 19 and married a man twelve years older then I. He had levels of child abuse in his history which I still have trouble relating to. We were two messed up people, who thought we could "fix" each other. FORGET IT! You can only "Fix" yourself. I shudder to remember what my poor x-husband must have thought and felt when he saw me have one of my almost monthly "fits".

I'd just start screaming and crying. I'd lose the ability to feel, see and hear. I'd come out of thse things after maybe twenty to forty-five minutes. My x-husband believed once he got me well, than I could help him get well. Over and over professionals, friends and my x-husband questioned me: "Cybe, why can't you grow up?" I didn't know, but was building a huge "shame" file around the general issue.

Next major break was when, after ten years of marriage, I found my husband was having sex with boys as young as ten. I was so clueless as how to take care of myself I thought the only way to get out of the marriage was suicide. I tried it and failed. But I came mighty close to making it out of this life, long before salvation and healing.

Once on my own I collected sexual partners of either sex and tried to rebuild my life. After another few years I was unable to complete sentences. It seemed that each time I fell apart I was just a little more broken, then the last time. I was forty and in my Md's office as an emergency psychiatric case. My regular doctor wasn't there and a stranger opened the door.
My body literally arced up in the air on the gurney. I made a crucial decision. I was going to seriously look into being committed because it was clear to me, that I was unable to manage my own life.

I told this story elsewhere in this blog, but I will never, ever forget what this kind man told me.

"You don't change (not being able to grow up and stop crying), because you CAN'T change. You have a problem with your brain. This is physical, not phycological,"

Well, here I am now fifty four and something so wonderful happened to me this week. A friend at church and I were at a District Meeting together. When I saw her, I waved at her. She misunderstood my hand gesture. I was just saying "Hi". She thought I wanted her to stop and talk to me. The choir was singing and the sound system was very loud. She was trying to get the person playing the organ to turn it down, as it was drowning out the choir. Because this lovely lady likes me and realizes I can't see the more subtle gestures people make, when they like you, but can't take the time to chat, she tried to talk to me.

She was angry, pressured and busy. She tried to explain about the problem with the organ music being too loud. Due to the noise level, I didn't hear part of what she said. I was standing, swaying and twisting to the beautiful song. I heard: "...choir can't be heard above all of THAT!" Since I didn't hear the beginning of her statement, I thought I was being told to sit down and not upset the choir performance!

Friends, even a year ago, this would have driven me to tears. But, Wednesday August 15, 2007 I experiences the following. At first I was insulted that I was being talked to like that. What tempered my anger was the very real felt experience of the love of the people of my church for me. I've been corrected by several people at church for various infractions. They are always gentle and kind. I felt a little wave of niceness wash over me, remembering these totally new experiences.

Not totally spiritual, I then noticed an entire flock of clapping, singing and NOISY people around me. I wanted to turn around and jump on them for singing! I got jumped on and I know I wasn't singing! I began to ask God to help me keep things in perspective. If I kept my thoughts to myself, and was wrong about the situation - I wouldn't have to apologize later. Oh, what a lovely lesson THAT has been for me. I decided to check with my friend after service, because I was clueless as to what I had done to get such a strong rebuke.

When I got a chance to talk to her, the full story came to light. We had totally misunderstood one another! She was spitting mad at someone else! It wasn't about me at all! (Man, am I thankful I quietly prayed instead of getting snooty with the people around me who were singing)

The real miracle of this exchange then hit me hard. I hadn't cried, hadn't been anywhere near wanting, or needing to cry! I wanted to grab my friend and say: "Oh, please rebuke me, now that I can handle it, I want to practice!" Thanks to another bit of divinely inspired wisdom, I didn't say that either.

At church they talk about having to give your mind and heart new experiences in the present to argue with your dysfunctional past. The love I receive from my fellow church members is real and I've learned I can trust them to be kind and gentle. It is perfectly acceptable to question what I'm told. I don't have to lie and smile when I'm angry and upset. As long as I'm gentle and respectful, questions and even disagreement, are fine.

I still can't believe I am leaving the world of constant tears behind. I'm beginning to take responsibility in areas of my life I've stubornly refused to deal with before. Like physical health and taking better care of my room and belongings. God is teaching me different kinds of patience as I work with the church website. I rarely think about my past these days. I'm too busy living a REAL life. A life where a therapy appointment isn't the most interesting part of the day.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Recovery: Self-discipline Revisited.

More than anything, my goal for this blog is to document recovery from mental illness and child abuse. I am so far into new territory (in my recovery), I am almost lost for words to describe where my life is going.

My early role models and personal habits were warped and dysfunctional at best. I learned to fear being an adult, taking responsibility and most of all self-discipline. I equated all of the above with a torture rack of unending misery and pain.

I mis-learned all these things. I had what has been described by M. Scott Peck PhD. and others as "undisciplined discipline" My odyssey with God is teaching me something tender, sweet and new.

For those of you who don't believe in God, I apologize. I have no substitute. I only have my experience. For my money, Jesus Christ is the best thing going. I owe all my healing to Him and Him alone.

Last Monday night, just before climbing into bed, I brushed my tummy roll and felt a twinge of awareness. Man, I've gained weight. I'd been given some beautiful clothes by a member of my church that were 3x in size. They were a little big on me, but not THAT much too big! I began to question how I could deal with losing weight God's way and not just plunge willy-nilly into another crash diet which would only lead to failure, more weight gain and a sense of futility.

I prayed to God. If You want me to lose weight, I am willing to really make an effort. But I want to do something simple, sane and slow. A life style adjustment instead of a "diet". I can't bear to never eat anything I love. I go into binge eating when I restrict myself like that.

I didn't expect, or receive an immediate answer. No booming voice out of the air, or even a small voice. I just felt like it was possible to do something different. That I would be shown a new way which would fit my requirements.

I did a Google search on weight lose and found a free website that I could use to track my calories, weight and body measurements. If I wanted to pay $5 a month, my calories and other nutritional information would be summed up and compared with he FDA recommended intake for protein, fiber and all that other stuff they track.

I've always liked tracking what I actually do, verses just having a goal which is so far into the future, I can't even relate to it. I learned that I am working my way up to the worst level of obesity, but I'm not quite there yet. I learned that I can set up a diet plan where I can lose a pound a week. I can learn to change things gradually without denying myself an occasional piece of cake, dish of ice cream, or anything else I love.

The bad news? Well, II was 205.5 pounds. I should be around 130 pounds. That is a difference of 75.5 pounds. I can handle losing the weight in 75.5 weeks, which is 1 year and 23.5 weeks. That is a bit less then a year and a half. Having an easy weekly target and a long term goal like this has taken all the tension out of wanting to lose weight. Right there I can see God gently teaching me the beginning of self-care which is actually self-discipline.

The other part of this website is tracking your activities every day. You tell them how much exercise you are doing now and work up to adding something to your daily routine. I love to walk, and when I don't walk, I get stiff to where I have trouble supporting any weight at all on the right foot. I try to walk an hour a day, but before having this lovely website to account to, I never managed to actually walk more then one or two days a week. That was not enough.

There is something very satisfying about seeing what I'm actually doing daily. Carrying my 25 pound walker up and down our 30+ stairs every day wipes out almost 50 calories, all by itself. A one hour walk tallies up to almost 400 calories. Adding in other things I never thought of as exercise brings my activity calorie reduction to nearly 500 calories a day!

This is not a signal for me to buy cake and cookies every day! I only need to cut down my food intake by 500 calories a day to make my goal of 1 pound a week of weight loss. I eat what I want, but HONESTLY admit what it was and how much I ate. I quickly saw that my amazing love of mayonnaise was accounting for almost 1600 calories a day, alone! Maybe I can cut that back, just a touch...?

The amazing thing I discovered is that I'm losing weight, exercising and not acting all crazy. No protein powder, Atkins or any other goofy food plan. I'm down to 198 pounds with no feeling of being cheated out of anything.

The only substitution I've made is to buy oranges and dried apricots for my "sweet" tooth, instead of cake, doughnuts or ice cream. I can have the other stuff, but not on a daily basis. Had a blow-out burger meal with a friend with that lovely chocolate pie. I used Equal in my coffee, but other then that I let myself enjoy a "treat" meal. I gained a pound, which swiftly disappeared when I returned to my regular, less caloric eating.

I can't remember ever having real "diet" success in my life. I can live with the changes. I feel better when I exercise. I am making friends with a whole bunch of new concepts. At church, several days after I began my new food arrangement, the preacher spoke of how important physical health was. The sermon confirmed everything I was doing. Slow, sane and lasting REAL change.

For those of you interested in this (I think) cool dieting website: ( I want to show you the link, as well as give you a link to these folks. They offer various newsletters, but won't clutter your inbox without your opting in.

For those of you who have turned purple with rage about the very notion of dieting. Just realize that this information may not be for you at this time. Not everything is a "have to", "right now". I've spoken of my dieting history when a friend began a diet and I was in a totally different frame of mind. Its okay to say "no". Saying "no" is also a very important part of recovery. You can always come back later and change your mind.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Saying Good-Bye To "Wanderlust", My Dying eMac.

I'm a Macintosh person. I took it as a personal affront from Steve Jobs when she began to fail. Apple's DON'T FAIL! I resisted the temptation to yell at my Macintosh representative. How dare she not be able to perform "remote" magic and fix my 40 Gigs of external storage disc partition that had disappeared!

"Darling, when your USB ports fail intermittently its your logic board. You better get the new computer sooner rather than later," Janice Kempf has proven herself to be an exceptional Apple Rep. I trust her. She does exquisite customer service and I love the chance to buy something from her. We'd explored what I wanted for a new machine earlier in the year.

However, I had a plan. I wouldn't buy a new Mac until Leopard, the next operating system came out in October. Now, with only 4 months until this release I'LL HAVE TO PAY FOR A NEW OPERATING SYSTEM TO GET LEOPARD! Oh rage, scream, damn! Steve Jobs has me, and I know it.

Since Janice already knew what I was looking for in the next machine, she went to the refurbished things first. I had two great choices, three if I would take a 17 inch screen. I made my decision and Janice put it all together for the amount I had in the bank.

I thought that dropping over $1,500 would be fun. I was in tears. I had data to save, pleading letters to write, begging for geeks to "save" me and just some general sulking to do. This is NOT at all like my daydreams.

I am really getting to move up in the Mac. world, as my computer duties have expanded from small-time home consumer to part-time business person. As webmaster and whatever-they-need-I'll-try-it (for my church) business person, my poor eMac is just not powerful enough, or large enough to handle my new duties. I love my eMac. I feel sad to lose her. She is more then a machine. I grew up pounding on her keyboard, mousing myself into carpal tunnel syndrome on games and exploring Instant Messaging and Social networks.

Before Wanderlust I swore I'd never, ever, ever get on the Internet because my vision just couldn't handle it. I'd always leave a session of attempts in tears. But Wanderlust with reverse video, square box around-the-cursor and font changing capabilities brought the Internet to me. Now that I can see it, I LOVE it!

How did she get the name "Wanderlusts"? She started life in Southern California, a nice Republican area. For mysterious reasons I never figured out she got shipped to Sacramento, where she disappeared from the shipper's system. Having a box with no information, what did they do?

THEY SHIPPED IT BACK TO SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA! It only took three weeks to straighten out the mess, but I bet she was running away from my area which is totally Democratic. The Socialist Republic of The San Francisco Bay Area! She tried really hard NOT to come here! Our politics here are so scary. I had to call her Wanderlust.

For those of you not from this area in the United States, here's a sample of our local insanity. Feng Shui in San Francisco building codes! Gay marriages pushed through by the SF mayor, which were subsequently overturned in the courts. But that building code stuff just kills me!

Feng Shui, for those of you who don't know has to do with the spiritual benefit of locating objects in a room in specific places. It isn't enough to put a desk by the window for good lighting, but will its placement in the room contribute to good vibrations for the occupant! Our tax dollars at work.

When Wanderlust arrived I had the joy of setting her up and getting my very first Internet connection. Due to some @#$ with our local phone company, I have no land line. I had to go with cable. Comcast was more reliable then the "free" government service. For $71.20 a month I have flawless performance, excellent 24/7 customer service and basically I rarely think about them.

Jeez, I loved all the news, recipes, books, magazines, newspaper feeds and pod casts. I loved playing games with my mouse. Super Collapse killed my wrist because I did it for several hours straight! (Yeah, stupid, but I made it to level 4). I found jig saw puzzles, international long distance telephony (everywhere for free!) and digital photography. In short order I was living on my computer.

Via pod casting I ran into a geek back east who has become a valued and trusted friend. He can be crazy and shallow, but occasionally he gets deep and serious! He has taught me many things. We follow each others work and I look forward to invading his area in October of 2008 for the Ignoble Prizes. THAT is going to be one hell of a vacation!

But I digress. As I type this I feel sad because I can't give Wanderlust to someone who needs a computer, as a bad logic board is not a nice thing to share. Apple won't recycle my computer either. BUT had the balls to charge me an $8.00 "recycling fee" (!) on my iMac. GROWL, GROWL, GROWL!

I've given my old eMac to a tech friend to use for spare parts. I also gave him the 80 GB external disc drive which had the 40 GB "disappeared" partition. It turns out that I just got my data transferred in time. The eMac logic board rendered the machine unusable for my friend and he said that 95% of the external disc was bad. I bet there was a very busy angel protecting that data as I transferred it to my new machine!

Here is the dirt on both machines:

eMac 1.25 Ghz, 40 GB Hard Disc, low-end graphics card, 17" CRT screen.
imac 2.16 Ghz, 250 GB Hard Disc, 512-something graphics card, 20" LCD screen.

As you can see from the photos above the new screen is huge. I can have a whole mess of windows opened at once and switch between them with a mouse click, rather then having to use expose. I named my new machine "Linda the iMac" as this dear soul gave me $50 towards the purchase when she didn't have squat for money. I thought her gesture was truly wonderful.