Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bringing Every Thought Under Control. Fighting Negative Emotions.

Sitting at my computer in numb disbelief I ponder what the State of California has done to me. After I get through paying Medicare, HMO (they work together), rent, Internet, cell phone, bus pass, food and Netflix I have a whole $12 left at the END of each month! Rage begins to build. Losing all perspective I march down to my landlord's office to tell him of this lousy state of affairs. I do nothing to mask my rage. My landlord's two dogs begin fighting.

I remember immediately that my emotions are out of control and feel bad that I have encouraged some kind of problem between two loving animals. The dog fight brings me back to reality. I have a situation, not a disaster. God hasn't vacated His throne, but I need to grow up emotionally.

When I go to church and play "pity me, like I'm pitying myself" games I get gently, but firmly put in my place. When I am honest and state why I'm upset, I am comforted and gently reminded that I am still blessed. (But it is alright to be sad, or angry. You just can't attempt to stay in that unhappy place).

Oh how I hate hearing similar things in church all the time. "I was mad because I had no shoes, until I saw a person who had no feet." This encourages perspective and gratitude. (From time to time I detest being told I should remember to be thankful).

I heard from a friend last night. She was very down. Thank goodness I have learned a bit of restraint. I don't like looking at someone Else's depression when I feel close to depression myself. I resisted the very real temptation to tell her to "get over it."

Like me, she loses perspective, getting mad, jealous and envious. With those things ruling her mind, she then settles down to remember what a total failure she is. (Man, I flirt with this stuff constantly).

I have made some money with my work. Being alone in a house with a cat, or a dog can be difficult. Without the weekly church meetings, it is very easy for me to get lost in ME. Before my friend called, I'd been pondering my choices about my money:

Go to hotel for a night with an expensive dinner OR
buy new walking shoes, a computer desk and new shelving.

I cannot do it all. I fought despair all day, but gave in a bit with a nap. I felt my attitude deteriorating into apathy, despair, rage. Coming up the rear - good 'ol self hatred. (You know you could have gotten off the system and gotten a real job, if you weren't such a lazy failure).

That last bit is a total load of garbage. Back to what I know works.

God I am thankful for ...?
God I trust You and I will continue to put you first in my life.
God, help me to start thinking of someone else, who isn't blessed like I am, RIGHT NOW!

My friend and I had a good long talk. She thanked me for helping her get perspective. I have to thank her for showing me how important the constant reinforcement of church has strengthened me for the times my work forces me to be alone. I clearly see that my emotional strength and stability comes from hanging around God and His people.

Yes, I need medication. Without it, I believe I'm a spider who needs to be killed. But with a stabilized mind I have some say as to how depressed I become. The consequences of letting myself fall into a total emotional collapse are harder to recover from, then the effort it takes to stop an emotional slide before it turns into a physical, chemical reaction. Said reaction would require medical intervention. Funny, I believe I'm learning to actually grow up.

I know my friend faces similar temptations. Thankfully, she has the means to secure some therapy. A process which will unlock some of those terrible prisons of her past. She claims I helped her. God helped us both. I prayed to Him as I spoke to my friend. He answered questions for both of us. I see growth and hope.

Financially, it isn't as grim as I first stated. I save some money each month which brings my play money down to $12. Maybe I can accept having to WAIT until I've saved the money before I just go out and buy something? What a concept. It seems silly, but if I save money first, I can give myself those lovely moments of having money to just "blow". Maturity requires planning, whereas letting myself just be impulsive causes me to borrow money. I'm tired of having people ask me, "But, what happened to the money..." If I never hear that question again, this self-discipline thing will have been totally worth the struggle.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Gads, My Life Has Been Totally Transformed: Different Calendars For Different Things.

I am in love with Gmail and most things Google. They offer a calendar with your account and it is great. It is easy to add or delete or change an event. They also included the ability to have shared calendars with friends. I get the concept, but most of my on-line friends live thousands of miles away. They also haave a way for one person to have several different calendars.

I stopped and pondered why in the world would I want to have more then one calendar when I'm the one involved in all activities listed on said calendar? (One color calendar).

When you start really moving from surviving to thriving, you have more energy to do
things. Events started to overlap. I found myself attempting to figure out overlapping job duties. Cat job ends in the morning and dog sitting starts as soon as I leave cat gig. Now I had a reason to visually understand when different events were happening on the same day. Coloring Book 1A. (Multi-color calendar)

Make separate calendars for dog , cat and church. I hated the thought of having to re-enter events from one calendar into another. But all I have to do is go to the calendar drop-down menu within any event and select a new calendar. BAMB! New color for an already established event! Darn, what a concept!

Long ago, back when I had a paper week-at-a-glance book, I learned that if you didn't make it into my calendar, you didn't exist. I have a terrible memory for details like that. From time to time I'd double-book myself at two events at the same time! Lunch with Cathy AND cleaning a house somewhere. That book with all my events in it saved me more then once.

Now the same thing is all on-line.

In having to do this I am stunned to remember the time when I had very little to do and even less willingness to engage with events (even if I did have something to do). Now I have all sorts of things happening all the time. Just the way I like it.

Calendar reminds me of re-occurring stuff like bills (I choose not to pay on-line automatically), Dr. and social appointments, work and the mountain of church details I need to know.

Tools don't make sense until you have a need for them.

Once Again I comprehend: I've moved out of even recovery and into having a "real life."

I rarely have to stop, turn around and face some memory which I need to "process". Depression does come, but most of the time it is like being tempted to visit an old habit. When I don't want to do, or face something. I feel that pawl come over me. A feeling like I've lost everything good in the world. I have decided to fight that with a dose of reality.

Yeah, I have financial issues and problems, but: " THIS IS THE DAY THE LORD HAS MADE AND I WILL rejoice in it." (Psalm 118:24.) I start to find things that are good with the "right now." I hate the rain, but I'm dry and warm on a bus. I'm thankful to have somewhere to go. I'm thankful there IS a bus. AND I'm thankful I am not so disabled I can't ride said bus. I find the more I practice the above, the faster the depression leaves.

Now I am growing more of a conscience. I used to "lift" certain material off the internet with the help of friends. I discovered I can't do that anymore. When I tried it last week and went to church to pray, I couldn't pray. I knew I had to fes up to bad behavior and resolve to get rid of what I'd swiped. I had to make up my mind to steal no more. OUCH!

Close friends are more then happy to teach me all those "little things." I never learned in childhood. keeping yourself honest with others and yourself stops a whole lot of people issues, too.

To living life!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

(Re)-Learning To Play The Piano Is A Lot Like Life.

My Casio keyboard is standing against the wall in my room. I've made up my mind I'm going to find someone to teach me to play the piano by ear. I refuse to fight with sheet music any more. I found an audio course on the net by Bill Brown, who provides Music By Ear" lessons for very reasonable prices.

I made a CD of the first course and took off for two weeks of cat-sitting in a house with a real Grand piano! I indulged those silly images of me wow-ing some audience somewhere. But I played the piano in college and I know it can be done. I forgot about the "frustration" element.

Of course the first few lessons were a breeze. Mary Had A Little Lamb never sounded so good. Heck, this is EASY!

Then Mr. Brown brought me back to reality. I learned the C major scale. I remembered some of the cross-over, Cross-under finger movements, so I proceeded, perhaps a bit slower.

Then he taught me something totally new. In every key, there are chords built within that key. My job was to learn the chords: C, F, and G. How to move from Chord to chord with each hand separately, and then (the real challenge) playing both hands at the same time.

Years ago I injured the fourth finger on the right hand, the ring finger. It is permanently bend up at the joint closest to the fingertip. Playing notes without adding that lazy fourth finger is do-able, but playing three fingers at once and not laying down that fourth finger is darn near impossible.

I quickly found that I can tolerate a total practice time of ten minutes. Half on scales and the rest of the time on those dreaded chords. I see progress, but only at a snails pace. I believe it is this very frustrating time of drill learning which keeps many people from continuing with an instrument. How many times in life have I gotten bogged-down and just quit?

Yeah, my sorry blundering will clear up into correctly played chords and tunes. My time will increase, but I have to be patient and consistent. That "a little bit everyday" routine. I can do this like a motorist at a stoplight gunning the engine, or I can accept reality and relax. Slow is not the same thing as making NO progress. That is, unless I just walk away in disgust and let someone else learn to play, while I drift into jealousy. It is a situation entirely within my control.

I choose to hit it again tomorrow for at least ten minutes and I'll report from time to time, as my skill level increases.

Say "ba-bye" To Ethics: Thanks Microsoft

I never thought I'd see a business so blatantly abandon all ethics.

When times were good Microsoft gave away free domains for life when you signed up for Office Live. After the passing of time they had to change the terms. Existing "free" domains stayed that way, but the new people. You've now gotta pay. That's fair, as we've all watched the current economic upheaval. But now EVERYBODY pays. "Free" isn't "Free" anymore.

Microsoft's addition to this year's lexicon: "Its a change".

Microsoft back pedals on "free domain for life": Buzz Out Loud #1038:
Enjoy this pod cast. They do an excellent job with this sad tale.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Learning To Embrace Unpleasant Tasks As Part Of A Great Life

This morning the temperature was mild, the sun was streaming through the curtains and the cat I'm looking after was outside at play. Thanks to my Brita water filter pitcher and portable coffee maker the house had that great scent of freshly brewed coffee. I sat at the dining room table with deep satisfaction, looking over my prepared meal. All I had to do now was enjoy it. Something stirred in my mind. Why haven't I been doing things like this all along?

Usually, when doing pet care, I'd either eat what the owner or I bought. I'd choose the easy, frozen and quick. Substantial nutrition: corn dogs, pizzas, Fudge Brownie Ice Cream and lots of instant coffee.

After six weeks of a very scary bout with the flu I changed my diet and my world. No white sugar or chemicals. I have gone organic. But I know how my employers would react if I asked them to provide water filtration and "only-organic-fresh-blah-blah-blah" food. Most people assume a fresh carrot from Safeway is the same as a fresh carrot from Trader Joe's, or Whole Foods. No, but I realized it was my problem, not my employers problem.

Now I require a medium suitcase and a backpack along with my walker when I am away from home for work, or even on vacation. I have to plan, work and plan again to keep up my new diet, even when I don't feel like it.

I didn't want to go to all that effort for a ten-day job. But drinking unfiltered water really bothers me after a few days. So, I cleared the laundry out of my medium suitcase and started packing.

Water filter and new portable coffee maker, filters, coffee, medications, vitamins, jar of nuts, produce from my refrigerator that had to come with me, or wilt while I am away. Sigh, then I had to deal with clothes and toiletries. Organic soap, shampoo and after over ten years a new Gelette Fusion razor. (Whoa, that is a great razor). I could feel my back ache under the load of the backpack.

I caught myself toying with the temptation to "forget the whole thing". But I am afraid of getting sick again, so I began this new adventure. Medium suitcase on walker seat, backpack on my back and I'm off to work. Bus drivers and fellow passengers were wonderful. I had use of the bus lift and passengers were eager to help with the suitcase.

Getting up and down stairs is now a two part process. Suitcase goes down on first trip and then I come back with the walker. Then suitcase rides the walker and I continue the journey. I was shocked at how I resented having to do all this extra work.

A few moments in prayer reminded me of how fortunate I am to a) have a job to go to b) have the ability and strength to walk and lift weight and c) the funds to buy the water filter and coffee maker. Some people can't walk, or carry, or buy anything. They are bedridden and too sick to go anywhere. Returning to being grateful for the many good things in my life stopped my "Its tragic, me having to work so hard" pity party.

I began learning a new lesson about work when I went on the mini cruise to Vancouver Canada. There were experiences aboard ship that I found jaw-dropping wonderful. Moments of religious splendor, being awed by the beauty and size of the open ocean. The food was as good or even better than what I enjoyed at Squaw Creek up in the Sierras.

There were also moments where I wanted to scream in total frustration. Due to the Swine Flu outbreak, all ships bound for Mexico were diverted. Many of them came to Vancouver. Each ship carrying between 2,000 and 7,000 passengers. We were ship four and instead of leaving the ship on schedule, we were hung up in the bay for almost an hour before we even got to the dock!

The last morning on a ship is a bit insane. Everyone has to eat and get their rooms cleared out by a certain time. Then we all gather to get off the ship and WAIT. That entire morning tried all my spiritual skills. While hating the situation I remember longing for the "easy" Courtyard Hotel vacation with a hot tub in the room... Man, I'll never do this cruise stuff again!

Then I remembered some of the great parts of the cruise. Maybe some of the good part comes with something that is hard. This was an entirely new concept for me. I'd learned it on the job, but I'd always shied away from "hard" everywhere else in my life.

I had already planned to do a longer cruise to visit the glaciers of Alaska. But I kept coming back to this having to wait issue. Waiting in line for food, during the safety drill and while Canada processed our ship to come into their port. Yeah, I'd put up with the hard, because there were other parts of a cruise which are completely worth the effort.

I now realize I've had to take this same lesson into life in general. It is a bit difficult to lug my extra things to a work location. But, it is so nice to have the water I like and fresh brewed coffee. It is also worth the effort of preparation when I sit down to a lovely omelet, or complex salad. One thing about fresh fruit and vegetables, they have work associated with their presence in a meal.

I am shocked to realize that as a child, the neglect I experienced taught me all the wrong things about caring for myself. My parents were troubled, ill people. However, I lived on jars of cold baby food until I was put into a foster home at age seven. My parents were arrested for child neglect while I was taken from them in a police car.

When this came out in therapy my Doctor got extremely upset. I was nowhere near having a clue as to why this wasn't a good way to care for a child. Most of the time mommy remembered to keep baby food in "my cabinet" and I could get it whenever I wanted. My Doctor pointed out that this scheme also made it possible for my parents both to be in alcoholic stupors without having to feed their child. (oops).

My mother hated having to deal with me. Sadly, even after years of therapy and being around loving friends, I still carried that pattern of loathing to put in effort for myself. Now, if YOU were coming over, heck, I'd bust my back to make it all nice. But for me?

Up until my diet change, I'd hate to do work for myself so much I'd sometimes not bother to go to the store when I needed food. I'd just live on rice, or noodles, or whatever was around.


Just like in my childhood!

Oh nuts!

This is very painful to write. Until I wrote of it, I'd never realized my "funk" about not shopping was just re-visiting my life of being a neglected child. Now that it is out in the open God can cure me of it, like He has freed me from so many other crazy patterns from the past.

I long to tell you all, that knowledge will set you free, but I've known about the baby food deal for 20 years, but never realized I was still acting out that self-hatred I learned from my mother. I'm glad I finally got the lesson, but God, how I hate the never-ending process of attempting to have a normal life, learning to thrive, and not just to survive child abuse.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Once You Stop Eating Chemicals & Sugar, This Diet Is Self-Correcting.

Well, its rolling into the 3rd or 4Th week of seriously eliminating as much crud from my diet as is humanly possible. I've hit that time we all know so well. It isn't new, novel or exciting anymore.

Oh Lord, I hate having to explain to people at church why I no longer eat deserts, why I don't drink Coke, or 99% of what's popular as "comfort/party" food. I find my mind longing for, oh, chocolate cake, Doritos and sugar and milk in my coffee!

I discovered that putting milk in my coffee sets off the "this would be PERFECT with some SUGAR longings. So, (sigh), I now take coffee black.

Last Thursday the ladies at church had a real "tea party". We were exploring this as a possible fund-raiser for later in the summer. It was totally awesome. China tea pots, decaffeinated tea and HEALTHY food. Salad, Fruit medley and baked chicken. I felt free to chow down. It was all wonderful.

Suddenly I saw (out of the corner of my eye) that platter of already sliced yellow cake with chocolate icing go by. I stopped my friend and got my piece of this "no-no, oh-heck-I-can-get-away-with-this." desert.

I was surprised that it didn't taste as good as I remembered, but I cleaned up my plate.

Friday I woke up late feeling "strange". I sensed that something wasn't right. I felt like I was sick enough to have to not go to noon prayer. Nah, just lazy. I got up and -- aw-oh! I had the "trots".

It took almost 12 hours for my poor digestive system to stop having its tantrum. I had plans for this day and holding court on the throne was not on my agenda.

So, now I realize that, at least when it comes to sugary deserts, my body will force me to give them up. That is a first!

Once the sugar again cleared out of my system, I returned to my stronger state of health. I have slight lung congestion, but I suspect that is simply my immune system finally having enough room to clear out some of the damage I've done to my body via over 10 years of smoking cigarettes, pot and hash.

Well, that's it from the health front. I will be writing of my two mini-vacations (with pictures) over the next few weeks.

I have to brag. I worked 11 hours today, taking frequent brakes, but no actual nap and I still have energy to take care of a blog post, dinner and spending some time with a vaporizer. Its a miracle I tell ya, just a plain miracle.

Since I don't use the Gabriel Method CD, what do I do to replace that part of his plan? I spend at least ten minutes a day sitting in God's presence thanking him for what I desire. A truly healthy body.

I thank Him for helping me to root out all those old memories of abuse which still make me angry. I have to "release my right to punish". 'I release them and pray that good things will happen to them. If I am grinding my teeth in rage while I do this, I know I still have to work on that person, or institution.

I thank Him for the gifts of protection and assurance, which are healing and bringing to the surface people I'd thought I was finished being angry at. When I catch myself wanting to hurt them, I know I have work to do. The more I do, the more stuff comes up. Getting rid of all that free-floating rage can't be anything but good for my body, soul and spirit.

Prayer really heals all that anger. After awhile, God shows me something about the person which causes me to see what they did in a more realistic light. Something which brings up my true compassion for them. Then after several more days, I realize I've stopped having the "rage fantasies". When those little movies of me smashing in a skull, or stabbing someone truly stop, I know I'm over one more person who is a lot more troubled then I have ever been.

Do I always want to attend to all of this? Heck NO, but I've learned through other hard lessons that the reward is in doing what is right every day, little bit, by little bit to create a tomorrow much better then I could imagine.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Finding a "sane" way to eat.

Shortly after my last post in March 2009, I went on a week's vacation to Portland Oregon. Eight of us went to support our pastor when he preached at the church of one of his closest friends. I overate, drank too much coffee and had a blast. Everything from hotel vending machine banquette Ala Junk Food, to a home-cooked soul food meal.  It was totally lovely. I'll share all the vacation goings on in another post.

When I returned home, within a day I was flat-on-my-back sick. After six weeks of mainly being bed ridden I called my HMO to see if they could give me a shot, or something. Our area was full of this dry cough, fever, sniffles and flu wipe-out. The frustrated advice nurse listed home remedies I'd always dismissed as goofy . A sinus clean-out with warm water, small amounts of salt and baking soda, inhaled (I thought of straws and cocaine). I was to sit under steaming water, while keeping my room humid with the steam and taking two over-the-counter medications. 

To my shock, this man actually asked me if I intended to follow his instructions! I figured I had already lost six weeks of work, what's another four days? I got better quickly, just like he said I would. Being that sick scared me into rethinking how I take care of myself.

For years, I've consumed three to five pounds of white sugar a month. Sugar I mainly use in my coffee. When running around in the afternoon, I'd just buy a couple of those small bags of Doritos and coffee for lunch. Well, sometimes I'd have that for breakfast, or dinner too. Yeah, I finally got it. I would have to change my ways, or face another bought with illness, like I had just gotten through.

I heard an interview with Jon Gabriel, who went from 400 pounds down to his normal weight in a year-and-a-half. After four years, he's still keeping the weight off. He had a method I thought I could live with for dieting, AND nutrition. Improve your nutrition, straighten out your thinking and attitudes about weight and then your body will loose the weight naturally.

I've been bothered by my 80+ pounds of extra weight for months now. This idea appealed to me because like John, I'd been through diet-hell. Both the health food and weight loss varieties. I never got healthy, or thinner.

The Gabriel Method is simple. He believes our average diet is really nutrition poor. He believes that our attitudes toward weight can literally keep us fat, no matter what we try to do to get thinner. I can vouch for the attitude thing because when I have been thin, I hated the unwanted sexual attention I received. Now that I'm 80+ pounds overweight I no longer get the unwanted attention. So, I mentally and emotionally feel "safer" being fat.

Jon also believes your subconscious will obey the pictures and goals you have for yourself. All three things work together to remake your body and life in about a year-and-a-half. I ordered the book and read it while cat-sitting in early May.

I had a simple battle plan. At every meal and snack eat something nutritious as well as the other food  I was craving. As my nutrition improves, many of the cravings for junk food will leave. Drink filtered water, not ordinary tap water, to cut down on the chemicals coming into my system.

This is the easiest nutrition improvement scheme I've ever seen:

  • Add things with omega-3's (fish, nuts, oils and or supplements)
  • Eat some protein (meat, eggs, etc.)
  • Eat some raw vegetables and or fruit.
The mental work is also manageable:

  • Work on finding ways to feel "safe" every day. 
  • Work on getting used to thinking of myself as healthy and thin. This brings up what I fear, abuse, etc. 
  • Know that it is possible to truly get healthy and have a different, energetic and satisfying life.

He claimed that as the nutrition improves, the energy level would improve to where exercise wouldn't be as difficult. I have found this to be true after only a few weeks of attempting to follow the Gabriel Method.

He provides a CD, or a free download of the CD with the book. The CD messes with your brain waves and helps you image all of the above. I've had seizures and didn't like how the weird CD music made me feel. He recommends that people with seizure conditions DO NOT use the CD. It was a bad feeling for me, so I just take the ideas of his book and add them to my daily prayer life.

When I ran out of white sugar, I just didn't buy any more. Surprise; I went through drug withdrawal! It was like a milder version of getting off alcohol. This made me angry. I didn't realize white table sugar is a DRUG! Yeah, just like caffeine in coffee. 

Oh, yes, the "coffee headache". Makes sense, Caffeine is a drug and I'm addicted. But I am angry that table sugar is a drug also and I was addicted to it.. 

After several days of laying around sleeping, I rose from bed and noticed I was feeling better. Not leap over walls better, but something good was starting to happen.,

I next began taking omega-3 capsules along with my vitamins. I did exactly as John's book suggested. I discovered I really wanted oranges, spinach and more oranges. I'd have a cheese sandwich, or eggs, or my yogurt and protein mix for breakfast.

Lunch and dinner are huge salads with vegetables and fruit. One night I had a lovely dinner of one of the largest artichokes I'd ever seen. This thing was the size of a small pumpkin! Gads, was that good.

I stopped shopping at Safeway and began shopping at Trader Joe's. They carry organic products. Things which  have less sugar, or no sugar. They feature food with no extra chemicals added. I love grabbing any vegetable I fancy. I bought a bunch of avocados, bags of dark leafy salad mixes, nut butters, oatmeal, raisins, mixed nuts, bread, butter, milk, yogurt and a bag of oranges. The ingredients lists are short and in larger print.

I only had $50 on me and got ready to put back some of that lovely food. It was only $40! I almost wept at the checkout stand. So home I went and ate three basic meals a day with several snacks, if I wanted. I began to drink 8 glasses of water a day too.

I HATE drinking water. Had to chase down a Britta filtering pitcher. Reviews and friends all recommended Britta as the best filter for a low price. So, now I have a 144 oz pitcher to filter water. I figured it was not really necessary, but I do not like the chlorine smell in the tap water. 

So I tried this "filtered" water.  It reminded me of that great water we used to get at the office water cooler. Within hours I was craving water. I just couldn't seem to get enough of it. Coffee with this filtered water tastes so much better. I noticed my elimination patterns were changing. I just felt better, not as shaky or off balance. I could do almost twice as much physical work before becoming sore. I felt like I was getting more out of my sleep time. I actually could stay awake for an entire day, with only a short nap, or no nap at all. 

So now, I'm dog sitting, eating non-organic food and drinking unfiltered tap water. I don't like the smell of the water. Its like my throat wants to close up when I try to drink this water. But its only for 3 days. Next time, I'll have a portable 72-ounce Britta filter for when I'm not at home.

I am fully off white sugar and doing my best to stay away from any chemicals. Sweet Maria is a little amazed at the change in my food requests. Instead of ice cream and pizza, I now want fruit, vegetables, yogurt and chicken. 

She was going to get me my beloved garlic bread, but made me a quiche instead. The garlic bread has a lot of junk in it. I'm glad she didn't get it for me. So, with very little sacrifice, I'm working my way to health. What keeps me running is refusing to EVER get as sick as I was for that awful six weeks of being in bed.

So, for awhile, when our church has a dinner with all the things I love, but choose not to eat anymore, I stay home. I know it will be a few months before I can be in a room with all that sugar and chocolate. I plan on visiting lovely healthier versions of chocolate, but not for a few months.

The real shock of all of this is realizing that God is teaching me that I am safe in the world. Not because the world has suddenly become "safe", but because God will protect me. When something makes me nervous inside, I ask God to protect me and give me wisdom as to what, if anything I need to do in the situation. My body then just relaxes. That is new and I consider it a miracle of Gods grace and healing. I have literally been "scared" all my life. Now that life long habit of fear is gone.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Don't Change Dosing Schedule If You Are On Psychiatric Medication.

Yes, friends, I am fine. My very extensive testing through my HMO found me totally normal. What I realized after a bit of time passed is I changed the time I took my psychiatric medication while trying to fast with my church. Yeah, if I'd checked in with my psychiatrist, she would have brought me up short FAST.

But, I made sure I sought out advice from people who knew nothing about the heavy-duty medication I take. Why? I wanted to show off to my fellow church-goers that I was among the SUPER SPIRITUAL! (Yeah, I hear ya. That was REALLY dumb).

It is our old friend fear. I was afraid I wouldn't really be "loved" unless I marched with the others in my congregation who were fasting. Here's reality: they love me not for what I do, but for who I am in Christ. I don't need to DO anything. They love me because I am one of God's kids. Oh, how hard that lesson is to learn!

I also got a deserved verbal thrashing from a friend who does know something about medication, fasting and insecure, Eager Beavers such as myself.

I have to remember to ask God to help me stay away from those "old tapes" which I still carry around inside. I was really shocked at how easy it was to fall back into that old behavior of: It may kill me, but I'll do anything to get you to love me".

Even after years of work and a nice life, I still get snared by my past. I have to say, this slide backwards totally astounded me. I thought I was done with that kind of acting out. No, I guess not.

How To Survive A Heart Attack When Alone

(This is very valuable, life-saving information I received by email).

Let‘s say it’s 5:50pm and you're
driving home (alone of course) after
an unusually hard day on the job.
You're really tired, and

UPSET ....

Suddenly you start experiencing severe pain
in your chest that starts to radiate out into your
arm and up into your jaw.
You are only five miles from the hospital nearest
your home.
Unfortunately you don't know if you'll be able to
make it that far











Saturday, January 31, 2009

Quality And Ethics Be Damned: Buyer Be A Late Adopter.

Go to this link and read this outrageous story: SiliconValley.com 
To some of my friends who say I'm unreasonable and expect too much from companies. Here is the proof of my frustration. "getting it out always trumps getting it right" (!! Emphasis added). If it wasn't such damned common practice I believe it would come under a legal matter about deceptive advertising. 

Currently a peanut butter paste company is in hot water because it appears they knew their product was contaminated and sent it out the door anyway. Eight people have died from this corporate attempt to boost profits.

Well, sure bad software isn't a life and death issue. Yeah, well F-R-A-U-D is fraud no matter how you justify it. Sure, I know the first release of something will have Unforeseen problems. I'm not speaking of that unavoidable situation. 

I railing against a company who knows damn well the software isn't "ready for prime time", but pawns it off on its customers anyway. I hope and pray the current economic meltdown will shake some rare "common sense" into some of these companies and their minions. "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." If you engage in this despicable practice I hope you fail and fail big. Yeah, Apple, you too.

I'm still using Apple's next-to-newest operating system: Tiger because I don't trust Leopard to be really ready for prime time, even yet. Little problem reports squeak out here and there. I am going to wait until I'm forced to change. Then I won't waste so much of my time and productivity trying to get around problems that were known about before the software left the company. 

A pox on all of your houses!

Finally! A Petition To Congress Against MLM Pyramid Schemes.

It has been sadly documented that most MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) "business opportunities" only cause 99% of their members to lose money - and not petty sums either. A real business model is very different from MLM.

A real business has a product or service to actually sell to customers (not at all involved in the business). That same business may also have a sales force to do the selling. BUT this sales force's size and locations are tightly controlled by the company. No real business wants 15 salesmen in a territory where only 2 of these people can actually make a living via their selling practices. Note that a real franchise controls how many restaurants reside in an area to avoid market over saturation. 

MLM's on the other hand CLAIM they have a product to sell. (Yes, it exists, but it is a "cover" for where the "real" money is made). The real money is made by getting other people to join the "business" as distributors. (sellers of the business, not the product, to other individuals). There is absolutely no control over the sizes of the distribution networks, or where they develop. The product which is used to "hook" a new prospect into the business, is actually sold to distributors, public sales are minimal, as making new distributors, not product sales is where the money lies.

Once a distributer, you are strongly encouraged "forced into" buying the so-called product. Books, videos and seminars are also hard-sold to distributers using the ploy of wanting to really make it means you buy x, or go to a seminar. The distributer is spending all their income and personal savings for the books and seminars. Their sales never can cover their actual costs, even when they manage to build a large network of distributers working under them.

This system is doomed to fail. I have seen churches and self-help groups torn apart when one of these "business opportunities" comes into the group. A church is supposed to be in the business of religion and personal salvation (Christian model), not in church members fighting over who will get the new prospect for "their network". It is ugly, immoral and should be completely illegal.

Finally, a petition we can sign to (hopefully) get Congress to stop this terrible misrepresentation of "business". Obviously, the poor, desperate and inexperienced are the most common victims of these "business opportunities". Sadly, once victimized people try again with another MLM figuring "this time will be different". It won't be.

Please sign this petition:

Main website:

I have left the actual address for you to see, so you can check out the site for yourself to verify that this is not a set-up, or spam. I have donated to this site and personally vouch for their reliability and trustworthiness.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

What A Difference A Diagnosis Makes.

I've been so busy living life, I've not had time to blog. I finally got to see my favorite author Scott Sigler live in San Francisco for the bookstore session and the pub crawl held after wards.

Being I am afraid of San Francisco in general and The Mission District in particular, I booked a luxury room at a Days Inn complete with a hot tub for one night. I've had lots of fun and enjoyment.

I've also had various kinds of work: for my church, house cleaning and animal care. This last weekend was a dog sitting gig in Berkeley. I planned to blog all about Scott and San Francisco, but life had some serious surprises in store.

Monday, Jan 12Th I was at sweet Maria's cleaning her house. I thought I'd better wash the cup and glass she keeps by her bed. I have been neglecting this task and felt it was time to reprogram it into my routine.

I'd gotten two pairs of new running shoes, which fit my feet better (surprise), but new soles sometimes catch and DOWN I went. Glass coffee cup in left hand, drinking glass in right hand. Oh, that sound of breaking glass and sloshing liquid.

I hate falling. It happens to me from time to time, but this one was a bit different. I didn't remember "tripping" on anything, but it could have been my new shoes. Yeah, that was it! I scrambled for an explanation while I surveyed the mess before me. Sweet Maria did not come running up the stairs (thank God). I called out that I was alright.

I'd slammed my left cheekbone into the side of the toilet and THAT hurt big time. I was partially covered in sherry with small cuts on my left hand. Amazingly, the water glass and its contents were still intact by the bath tub. I picked up the broken cup, mopped up the floor and prepared to come down to explain to Maria that I'd broken a cup.

I also headed for her bottle of Ibuprofen as my face was really hurting. Maria said I was not black and blue. I only had a small red spot on my cheek. She calmly checked to make sure I was okay and then returned to her newspaper.

I went home and doctored my cheek as my normal system of denial kicked in. Another fall, broke something, but nothing to worry about.

That Wednesday, the 14th I did my Alameda account. Funny, I just fell down twice on a hard wood floor with no stumbling, or tripping. I just seemed to topple over to the right. Hmmmm.

I was looking forward to the weekend of Martin Luther King's Birthday. A full four days with Maria's beloved Newfoundland, Hannah, blogging and a bit of work just to keep me honest. I sent John and Maria on their way around 11 AM and took a nap until about 3:30 PM.

I had junk food this weekend, as I just didn't feel like cooking for myself and I just wanted some good old "crap" as my Dr. calls most frozen, processed food. My thoughts drifted back to January of 2008. Dr. Kim is a friendly, humorous and down-to-earth internist I really trust. Any Dr. who inquires: "Have you been eating a lot of crap lately?" in reaction to my unusually high blood pressure reading, is a Dr. I can and do trust.

When I laughingly requested a definition of "crap", she shot back "Stouffers". Oh damn, that's some of my favorite stuff. Dr. Kim then explained about the high salt, sugar and chemical content of such foods. A little of such is okay, but I'd lived on frozen foods for three weeks before seeing her. I'd been cat sitting and living on an entire freezer full of crap.

Dr. Kim smiled and gently said: "No, one pizza every once in a while. Not a regular thing. I suspect when you return to more natural eating your pressure will come down." How can I argue with a Dr. who knows how good Stouffers can be? It was true, cut down on the processed food and my blood pressure quickly returned to normal.

But by God, this weekend (returning back to this year, 2009) I had two pizzas, two frozen pot pies, ice cream and several rich goodies left over from John and Maria. I hit that pizza running. Damn, it was so good.

I fell again. This new kind of falling, to the right when not tripping over something. Well, hell, probably I am just not paying attention. Later in the evening I was enjoying a small cheese sandwich and wanted to read the label on the cheese, so I could buy it for myself. I looked down and was reaching for my glasses on the dining room table when my entire world changed.

I felt myself falling again, to the right. I'd knocked my dining room chair over the last time I'd fallen. This time I was thrusting my right elbow out to try and keep from hitting the dining room bar. I felt my elbow hit and go clear through the back of the rattan dining room chair. Oh Jesus!

Even I couldn't ignore this series of events. I'd made a lovely two inch wide hole in the back of their rattan chair. They had one of the chairs restrung and I remembered it cost about $300. I had the money, but how in the hell could I explain what happened?

I was only slightly scratched up, but badly shaken. Something wasn't right and I had better get my butt into my HMO come Tuesday. I need to try and explain why I'd taken to breaking furniture!

I began to try and find out what was going on. I noticed short times of slight dizziness. Now that I was hyper alert, I always held onto something. I dreaded going outside. I felt dizzy on the brick path with the uneven stairs. I began noting and remembering. It was something which seemed to have started slowly about two months ago. But it wasn't constant either. Oh Jesus!

My HMO was their usual polite, efficient, and kind self. The general advice nurse kicked me up to the next level after only a few sentences. The guy at the 2Nd level had me booked for that day at 3:20 pm. I felt kind of foolish, because it wasn't something I could duplicate in the office. The Advice Nurse said that it happens like this some times.They were going to check it out and track it down.

My Dr. was her usual wonderful self. I laid it out and she asked questions. We established that what I had was a bit unusual, but she'd start out with full blood work and then a brain scan.

Oooh, brain scan, made me feel a little clammy inside. Then Dr. Kim started messing with my body. She had me touch my nose and then her finger. I had trouble hitting her finger using my right hand. I wasn't totally accurate on the left, but I didn't know how much my low vision played into that problem. Although the last time I did that test with another Dr. I hit his finger dead on from both sides. I could feel my fear starting to make itself at home.

"Do you have a case worker?" Dr. Kim's question hit me hard, Jesus, do I NEED one? No, okay, she'll sign me up.

She then wanted to see how unstable I was. She stood before me gently putting her hand on the top of my head and pushing back. I started to fall much too quickly. She swept me up in her arms and proceeded to scare me senseless.

"... you may need to look into assisted living. You do live alone?" My mind flashed on the nice "assisted living" situations I've seen. Ah, joining the bingo set. Where loving people in white, or pink talk loud to you and scream about "... joining us in the activity room for bingo," Holy SHIT!

I felt my eyes fill with tears. I forced control and continued with the interview. Yes, I lived alone. How do I know if I loose consciousness when I'm alone? Not a real good answer to that one. Oh Jesus, looks like I DO need to join the bingo set.

Dr Kim was very kind. I shed a few tears in her presence and she said I could stay in the cubicle for a while to get myself back together. (Oh yeah, right, I'll just walk out of here and have a Mocha down on the first floor. While I MOURN THE LOSS OF MY ENTIRE LIFE!)

I basically was in shock. I wasn't rebelling. I knew this falling business could hurt me real bad. Oh God, maybe I'll be able to get a room mate. (That would be an easy sell: "Come let us live together, so when I fall and pass out, you can call the medics.") Yeah, professionals handle that stuff better. I kept going back to "assisted living" and bingo.

Well, I've longed to stop doing housework, but hell, I can't even give these dear people the usual two weeks notice. I heard the lyrics: "The party's over, my friend." I was just in a daze. Well, at least I now had a shot of getting some assistance with housing. That, at least was some comfort. (Note to self: ignorance is NOT bliss).

Wednesday morning I did hear from a very tired social worker who brought me up short quick. "Honey, assisted living is at least $3,000 a month. If you don't have that. Well, see there are too many people chasing too few resources." I stopped her to inquire about the dangerous situation I was facing and also letting her know I was legally blind. The blindness is now a block to get into certain programs. Due to all the lawsuits, housing for disability is segregated by "insurance risk". Yeah, blindness is a bigger problem than, say only having walking of mental functioning issues.

Then this woman let me know what she didn't know with the stunning question: "Well, honey, doesn't the Blind Center have something for you blind people?". OH JESUS!

There is no one "Blind Center" and there ain't no such animal - I've searched. It was up to me to find what I needed. She only worked with "Assisted Living" people who needed no stairs weren't her job (!) (Crap, this is getting to feel like a Monty Python episode.)

She'd send me a list... At this point friends, I lost it. I started to cry and thanked her. I informed her that I had to end our conversation to go and "... play craps with my life." Man, I feared my life was going to end in me dying in the building by accident for my poor landlord to discover. Steve, my landlord has had that grim task before.

When someone doesn't pay the rent, when they are usually on time. He lets himself into their unit to discover, woopsie! They are dead. To say I entered the land of despair is putting it mildly. I had that kind of depression where it is physically tiring to move. Well, when I get stronger it is back to trying to get on Government Housing lists again.

I called the mother of our church, because I was so depressed. She could hear it in my voice and just listened as I stammered out my tale. I let her know that I wanted to come to church tonight no matter what. I was a mental mess, but I really needed to be at church with my church family.

She asked me about food in the house and I asked her if she could pick up a few things for me. I knew I just couldn't handle a run out to Safeway. She asked if she could do it the next morning. I said that was fine. I hoped I'd be better so I could do my own shopping. I could feel her kindness and love. I needed and received it gratefully.

At church I told the truth. My voice was a bit lower, as I wa still down. People were just plain gracious. People suggested Bible passages and shared some of their own struggles. People could see that, for me, this situation was a true test.

My Internet buddies were there for me also. People don't always know what to do when disaster shows up, but I have learned that when I let folks know what I need "just listen." or whatever, they are there for me. Thank God for the wonderful gift of humor.

People have begged me to go into professional comedy. Frankly, I avoid that, because I am at my funniest when my life is at its worst. Gallows humor has always been a favorite of mine The next morning, beleaguered patients lining up for tests at my HMO were full of some really funny observations.

Always wondered where all the people with gray hair, walkers, crutches and wheelchairs were. I found them. All lined up outside the blood work lab, ready for our 8 AM session. The best line of the morning, after 12 hours of fasting:

"When I was young, my body told my muscles what to do and they obeyed. Now my muscles remind my body of all the stupid shit I did when I was young,"

My humble contribution to the waiting throng was a partial rewrite to "What A Difference A Day Makes":

I used to be psychiatric
But now geriatric
What a difference a diagnosis makes.
Oh man, I'm so screwed.

After the blood work was done, I returned home to purchase a stool for the now potentially dangerous shower. I assembled the shower stool and again fell back into a funk. A friend has a real bad case of gastroenteritis. Basically, she's got real bad gas and tummy pains that keep her awake at night. She and I got into more great humor.

"A cane, a walker, a shower stool and you" Sounds like a really bad song, or novel.

I thought we could do an album and we could each have our signature tunes. Mine would be: "What A Difference A Diagnosis Makes" and she could perform: "The Put-Put Song," Yeah, it is amazing how the human spirit can rise above almost anything and make it funny.

Thursday I actually made it out of my house and back from Safeway. I feel like I've really been through something. I have to reclaim my life.

I may be getting some help on the housing situation and that is a relief. With or without outside help, I went over to craigslist.com to begin a search for a room with no stairs.Rents have dropped to where I actually HAVE several choices which look good. I've always had to find my own housing and why should this situation be any different?

I had to get humble enough to accept the idea that I need help. Somehow, the last two weeks have beaten a new trait into my being. Humble submission and cooperation. Man, some of us are so STUBBORN!

I get my very first MRI next week and hopefully they'll find some reason for my new symptom of occasionally just falling over for no reason at all.