Fly Like An Eagle

December 27, 2015

I haven’t posted (or even checked in) here in a very long time, and I probably won’t spend much time here in the future.  But my heart is so full, yet so light at the same time, that I feel compelled to acknowledge my greatly improved state of well-being, and express my gratitude and sincere appreciation “out loud.”  This post is meant to serve as a reminder to myself that “magic” is real, and I need to practice it on a daily basis.

If I had known that the simple act of changing my mindset would have such a profoundly positive impact on my life, I would have done it a lot sooner. But better late than never.  I feel incredibly fortunate to have discovered tools that have served me extraordinarily well of late, and I am confident that they will continue to do so as I head into a much brighter future than I could have anticipated before now.

What a joy it is to recognize that life really can be amazingly wonderful. While it would have been nice to have been more aware of that sooner, I am nonetheless delighted and thankful to have come to that realization at long last.

toni morrison

Unencumbered. Free. Happy.

Thank you, universe!

As Ringo would say, “Peace and love.”





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A few of you recently made comments about my lack of updates.   The major reasons for that are:  Fibro fog, Fibro fatigue, and pain (caused by Fibromyalgia, herniated discs, pinched nerves, torn rotator cuff, etc.).  It’s a miracle I can hold a job and get meals on the table.  My online journal, or blog, or whatever you want to call it, is simply not a priority for me these days.

Anyway, I have the day off because of a snow storm, so I decided to devote some of it to a review of 2010.

January: Went to a welcome home dinner for a young man who was kicked out of the armed forces and sent home from Afghanistan after someone blew the whistle on him for being gay.

A furnace repairman might have saved our lives… He discovered that the hot water heater exhaust flue had been knocked off the flue vent.  It must have been off for quite some time because the flue gasses melted some of the pipe insulation. According to him, we were in danger of dying from carbon monoxide poisoning.

February: As I was going up to bed one night, I lost my balance and fell down a couple of stairs, twisting my right leg in the process, and landing heavily on it.  X-rays at the ER the next day revealed bone contusion and bruised muscles.  I just love adding more pain to my life.

In an unrelated incident – you know you’ve had too many MRIs when the technician recognizes you and greets you by saying, “Back for more?”

March: One of Leigh’s dear friends died during heart surgery.  Rest peacefully, Quicci.

Leigh had to have her cat, Simmy, put to sleep.  More heartbreak.

Daniel and I celebrated anniversary #5.

Developed an addiction to Chobani pomegranate Greek yogurt.

April: Had a “Scary headache” for the entire month.

May: Had the front porch painted, which turned out to be a very good thing because that’s pretty much where I spent my summer vacation…

June: Refinanced our mortgage to go from 6.25 interest rate down to 4.875.

July: Went to Seaside Heights.  Would have enjoyed it more if not for the god-awful heat. It should be against the law for temps to get that high (102).

My grandmother turned 99.

August: I was trapped at the chiropractor’s for two hours because of a devastating storm that passed through the area. Five cars in the parking lot were crushed under trees. One car belonged to my neighbor, and another to my cousin.  That storm was a sight to see!

The city damaged our driveway when they cut down the tree in front of our house.  They failed to respond to my letters, so a legal consultation will have to be the next step.

The front page of our local paper featured an article about a 17 year old girl I knew very well who was killed in a horrific accident the previous morning. In another section of the paper there was an obituary for a good friend of mine.  In three days, I lost two people I loved.  Rest peacefully Natia and Bob.

I turned 56.

While I was standing in the parking lot of a restaurant, a guy yelled, “Shorty, shorty!” When I turned around he asked, “Are you married?” I have to say that being called “shorty” made my day.

September: Adventures with ambien – Objects in photos seem to move just like they do in Harry Potter! Freaky, man.  I also discovered that I sometimes indulge in online shopping while under the influence of ambien. Definitely not a good thing.

Found out that the stabbing victim in a recent homicide was my father’s best friend.  Rest peacefully, Ron.

The results of my skin test revealed that I have perivascular dermatitis.  Because of the effing rash, my legs were so swollen I had elephant knees!

Reconnected with old friends (one of whom is Snooki’s mother).

Our community lost yet another young person who died much too soon. Rest peacefully, Zach.

October: One morning when Daniel was getting ready to drive me to work, we found a dead cat under the front tire. (No, it hadn’t been run over – it must have crawled there to die.) Not a good way to start the day.

This year’s Dress Up As A Literary Character costume – Esmeralda (from THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME by Victor Hugo)

Had a very enjoyable time at the Sheep &Wool Festival. Chatting with some llamas and alpacas (actually, they were humming) was the best part.

Four years…I miss you, Mark. Rest peacefully.

November: An old high school friend died after a long battle with cancer. Her brother (who was a very little boy at the time) gave me the only nickname I’ve ever had – “wild eyes.”  Rest peacefully, Beth.

A former student and friend of my daughters died unexpectedly. Rest peacefully, Peter.

I found out about a whopper of a lie that was spread about me 25 years ago… Apparently, I was a coke addict!  Diet coke, maybe, but certainly not the white powdery stuff.  Sheesh.  I guess there’s a statute of limitations on slander/defamation of character, huh… Oh well, at least I got a good laugh out of it!

Was stunned to learn that an old online friend took his own life. He was such a kind person and gentle soul, not to mention a brilliant mathematician and skating enthusiast. I’m really going to miss his nickname for me (Stephanova) and the praying mantis warnings (personal joke). Rest peacefully, Robby.

Spent over three hours at the ER – Leigh’s myoclonic seizures caused her to fall down the stairs AND on the driveway as we were guiding her to the car to take her to the hospital. They did NOTHING, and we finally announced that we were leaving (but not before I created a bit of a scene).  As Leigh pointed out, a Veterinary Clinic wouldn’t treat an ANIMAL that way. They wouldn’t just throw a cat or dog in a crate and let it seizure for three hours. Unbelievable!

Another ER visit  – for me, this time.  Diagnosis: mesenteric lymphadenitis – inflammation of the mesenteric lymph nodes. Causes pain that mimics acute appendicitis. I hope I never have to experience that kind of pain again.   That was the most agonizing experience of my life, and I’m no stranger to pain.

A former student (and Leigh’s childhood friend) celebrated the release of his first book. Congratulations, Daniel!

December: As usual, I hosted the Christmas festivities.

My former mother-in-law died on December 28th.  She had just been at my house for Christmas, and was in fine spirits, and seemed to be in good health. During the early hours of the 27th, she had a hemorrhagic stroke and had already suffered irreparable brain damage by the time she was found.   The all-day bedside vigil before she passed away was heart wrenching and draining. Rest peacefully, Marj.

All in all, it was a pretty shitty year with far too many deaths.  Which is another reason why I didn’t update.  So there you go.

Song of the Day: Bad Year by Sicko

I haven’t been feeling very good about myself lately.   Although it shames me to admit it, much of my low self-esteem has to do with my suddenly and rapidly aging appearance.  All I see when I look in the mirror are the jowls and sagging eyelids.  It doesn’t help that I’ve also been having bad hair days every single day for quite a while now…

I don’t have a huge ego, and never thought of myself as a great beauty, or anything like that.  In fact, I’ve always been quite insecure about my looks, especially because of my tendency to carry some extra pounds.  However, for a long time, I did at least feel that I didn’t look my age, and was very grateful for that.  But, lately I’ve been feeling like an old, fat hag.

Yesterday I received a compliment from a young man (forty years my junior) that did my heart (not to mention my battered and fragile sense of self-image) a lot of good.   His Freshman Seminar class has been spending a fair amount of time in the computer lab, so we are pretty familiar with each other, and get along quite well. Still, it took me by surprise when Mr. Freshman greeted me with, “Hello, beautiful.”  He took his seat across from my desk and went on to say, “You know, you really are very attractive.”  I could have wept with gratitude.   What a wonderful pick-me-up!  Thank goodness for small favors and kindnesses that come along exactly when you need them most.

Moving right along… Here’s a real beauty.

My baby (Leigh) turned 22 yesterday.  I can hardly believe it.

I also want to post these photos of a bird nest that was built in a butterfly net I keep on my back porch.  The porch (it’s more of a mudroom, actually) is enclosed. The birds were getting in through a gap at the bottom of the door.

Ya gotta love nature.  Enjoy the weekend!

Song of the day:  Vanity by Lady Gaga

“Nothin’ wrong with being just a little bit vain
We need a little pretty ‘cause this country’s insane.”

Life According To Literature

February 22, 2010

Using only books you have read over the past year, answer these questions. Try not to repeat a book title. It’s a lot harder than you think!

Describe yourself: An Unquiet Mind (Kay Redfield Jamison)
How do you feel: Lost & Found (Jacqueline Sheehan)
Describe where you currently live: Paradise of the Blind (Duong Thu Huong)
If you could go anywhere, where would you go: To The Lighthouse (Virginia Wolf)
Your favorite form of transportation: Stardust (Neil Gaiman)
Your best friend is: Oxygen (Carol Cassella)
You and your friends are: The Girls (Lori Lansens)
What’s the weather like: A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khalid Hosseini)
Your fear: Whistling in the Dark (Lesley Kagen)
What is the best advice you have to give: The Secrets of the Bulletproof Spirit: How to Bounce Back From Life’s Hardest Hits (Azim Khamisa and Jullian Quinn)
Thought for the day: We Need To Talk About Kevin (Lionel Shriver)
How I would like to die: Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston)
My soul’s present condition: Buffalo Lockjaw (Greg James)

I just read an entry over at LA’s place, the content of which left me feeling pretty disturbed.  It triggered some deeply unpleasant memories about being sexually harassed.  My worst experience had more to do with words than it did with groping, but a lot of damage was done, nonetheless.

It began about a year after I started working at the high school.  The creep in question was an English teacher.  He knew that I was married, and was married, himself.   This man would sneak up behind me and whisper in my ear.  He always made comments about the way I walked, as well as what I was wearing and how I looked in it.  Things got so bad, I started to wear loose, shapeless clothing, and even went so far as to put on some extra pounds.   That wasn’t my conscious intention, but I have no doubt that the stress, combined with a fervent wish for Mr. Creepy to stop overtly lusting after me, had a lot to do with the weight gain.

The situation reached the boiling point and finally ended with me in tears, shouting at him to “Stop! Stop watching me so closely!  Stop looking at me like that!  Stop making those remarks! Just stop!”

After my outburst, I ran into the library office and sobbed my heart out.  The librarian I worked with at the time knew what was going on, and she was very supportive.  She did her best to comfort me, and suggested that I turn him in, but I was afraid to do that.  This was happening during the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings, and I couldn’t bear the thought of being put through what Ms. Hill was going through.  I was already feeling much too vulnerable as it was.

Fortunately, Mr. Creepy did stop bothering me after my public outburst, but I didn’t feel comfortable and relaxed at work again until he retired.  Good riddance to bad rubbish.

I had an ugly reminder of those days a couple of weeks ago when another co-worker (someone I barely know), in response to my totally innocent remark about rubbing a magic lamp, replied that he had something else I could rub.  This was not the first inappropriate comment he made to me, but it was the last straw.  I felt sick to my stomach, and once again retreated to the sanctuary of the library office.  To complete the feeling of Déjà vu, it was once again a librarian who was a witness to my tears, and who tried to console me.

I am neither a delicate flower nor a prude.  Among friends, I am perfectly comfortable with dirty jokes and conversations about sex. But this kind of thing is something else entirely.

Psychologists and social workers report that severe/chronic sexual harassment can have the same psychological effects as rape or sexual assault.

Sexual harassment hurts.

Song of the Day: Keep Your Hands to Yourself by The Georgia Satellites

Hurray!  I finally made it to the seashore!  Leigh, her boyfriend, Eric, and I spent Tuesday night and most of Wednesday afternoon in Seaside Heights, NJ.  Wednesday morning, I went for a walk around 7:00 a.m. in search of coffee.  I found a deli about a block from our motel.  Speaking of the motel, which was only a few steps from the boardwalk, this was the view from my window.  Sweet.

Anyway, while I was waiting at the counter, a woman walked over to pay for her breakfast sandwich.  I looked up and was stunned and overjoyed to see that it was LA!   After much squealing and hugging, LA channeled Humphrey Bogart and said, “Of all the delis in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”

Heh!  We ended up spending the day together on the beach with our combined clans, and had an absolutely wonderful time.  I knew that LA was in Seaside Heights this week with Mick and Wolf, and did hope that we would be able to get together.  Before LA left for the Jersey shore, she made the comment that it would be funny if the first time we managed to see each other in so long would be when we were both 100 miles from home.  Well, that’s exactly what happened, but I never expected to bump into her at a deli first thing in the morning.  Talk about a serendipitous experience! When LA told Mick about our chance encounter, he remarked that he would have been more surprised if it had happened to any other people.  But, with the two of us, he’s come to expect wild and wonderful things.

One of those wonderful things happened when LA and I were standing at the edge of the water.  Mick came down and wrapped his arms around LA.  Seconds later, Wolf walked over and put his arms around me.  My heart melted into a puddle that mingled with the surf foam and was drawn out to sea by the receding waves.

I am reminded of the John Lennon song, “Beautiful Boy” every time I see Wolf.  He really is remarkable in a lot of ways, just like his mother.  Thanks for a perfectly delightful day, LA & Co!

Today marks yet another birthday…  I am now FIFTY-FREAKING-FIVE YEARS OLD.  I can’t even begin to tell you how hard it is for me to believe that.  Lucky for me, it seems to be difficult for others to believe, as well.

During the last week of summer school, a student was talking to two of her friends about “cougars.”  She turned to me and asked if I was familiar with the term.  I replied, “Well, yes, I guess I am, considering that I’m married to a much younger man.”  They asked how old I am, and the look on their faces when I told them was priceless.  One exclaimed, “No you’re not!”  Another demanded that I produce my birth certificate.  The third further endeared herself to me by remarking that I look like I’m in my thirties.  Now I know that’s not true (see entry title), but it felt good to hear it, nonetheless.

Here’s this year’s birthday photo.   (My hair is a lot shorter than I’m accustomed to wearing it, but, believe it or not, this is three month’s growth after a particularly devastating haircut.)

My blog (I still have a hard time using that word) had a birthday recently, too.  I started an online journal (that’s what we called it back then) on August 21, 2001.   On September 23, 2001, I posted this entry about my reasons for creating an online journal:

Anatomy of a Diarist

Since my initiation into the Online Journal Club, I’ve been giving the genre a fair amount of thought.  Non-journalers tend to perceive the phenomenon as a “Dear Diary” sort of thing.  For all I know, some journalers approach it that way themselves.  But, that’s not how I see it. I feel more like a reporter whose subject just happens to be (for the most part) my life.  Of course, I don’t “report” in a New York Times fashion.  I don’t have that kind of training, and I don’t take myself that seriously.  I try to inject a little humor into my entries, and maybe even the occasional stab at pathos.  To me, this process is more akin to journalism or writing essays than it is to keeping a diary.  While I will discuss personal matters, it is not necessarily my intention to bare my soul.  Some things are just too private.

My reasons for writing are varied.  For one thing, I find that I don’t express myself as well vocally, having a tendency to get tongue-tied.  I like to consider what I’m going to say before blurting it out, and verbal conversations don’t afford me enough time to do that.  Writing gives me the opportunity to make more in-depth observations.  Often, writing will lead me to a better understanding of myself, and even an occasional revelation.  (R-E-F-L-E-C-T, find out what it means to me!)

Before taking the online journal plunge, I indulged the frustrated writer lurking within on a fairly regular basis in the form of letter writing.  Email is a vehicle I use on a daily basis.  I also used to exchange lengthy “snail mail” missives (25 pages and upward) with a friend in Pennsylvania. (Hi, Karen!)  Our correspondences were written in installments, and mailed at intervals of approximately every six months.  We included lots of photos, and found this a very satisfying way to stay in touch.

My writing method varies.  Sometimes my mood is light and casual; at others, it is bruised and introspective.   My entries are typically full of whining, joking, and boasting (usually about my kids).  During my darker moments, I find that writing about my feelings (and what causes them) really can be therapeutic.  This catharsis doesn’t exactly purge me of all negativity, but it does help to lessen my load considerably.  Sharing my triumphs and/or failures with an audience through an online journal lightens my burden even more.  Also, I recently read that writing lowers stress-related chemicals in the body, which is another good reason to allow myself this indulgence!

In closing, I’d like to share something Daniel told me quite some time ago, in reference to Alexander Solzhenitsyn, author of A Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovitch, and the staggering Gulag Archipelago.

“When Solzhenitsyn was writing in secret in Russia, paper was such a luxury to him.  Where we in the West have the freedom to scrawl haphazardly across a seemingly endless supply of paper, Solzhenitsyn literally could not waste a square inch of paper.  Every blank space had to be filled with his brilliance before he dared move on to another piece lest he run out of pages, and not transmit his profound thoughts to a world in desperate need of them.”

How humbling. Certainly, the world is not in desperate need of MY thoughts, so I am especially appreciative of those taking the time to read this.

Re-reading that entry makes me realize how much I used to depend on this form of release to manage stress.  It also makes me realize how much lighter my stress load is these days.  Oh sure, I still have chronic pain and financial burdens to deal with.  But there’s not nearly as much angst in my life as there was before.  After years of turbulence and heartache, I now have wonderful relationships with my daughters.   I am married to a kind, loving, supportive man who compliments me daily.  In short, I don’t have as much to get off my chest as I did in the past, which I suppose is why I don’t post here very often any more.

Still, it’s good to know that this place is here if I need it as a dumping ground, or even if I just want to drop in to say hello or show you some pictures.  Thanks for sticking around.  My world wouldn’t be the same without you.

Reading:  Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Song of the Day:  Celebration by Kool and the Gang

A few years ago, a co-worker/friend was involved in a terrible car accident.   The car in which she was a passenger was hit head on by a drunk driver.

Felicia suffered severe head injuries, and was in a coma for 8 months.  Against all odds, she came out of the coma, but she will never be the same.

Felicia has three children, ages 9, 13, and 16.  They are currently on America’s Got Talent.   This clip isn’t the best quality, but it is incredibly moving.  I’ve been sitting here watching and crying (along with Sharon Osborne) for half an hour.

God bless you and your family, Felicia.

In other news, Daniel will become a U.S. citizen today.  When he went for his citizenship test in NYC a few weeks ago, he told the examiner, “After marrying my wife, this will be the greatest honor of my life.”

Congratulations, Daniel!  (I’ve been calling him Mr. America.)

Song of the Day: America the Beautiful

Today is going to be pretty low-key.  Leigh is still away at college, and Rebecca is getting ready to move on Tuesday.   To add insult to injury, she’s taking my new “grandson” with her.  Meet Dexter the adorable corgi.

Rebecca will be taking a break from her packing to spend some time with me this afternoon.  I invited my mother over for lunch (salmon and pasta salad), and Becca will be joining us.   It’s kind of sad to be bidding my daughter a fond farewell on Mother’s Day.   The sting is lessened, however, because she’ll still be around for a while.  She’s going to come back twice a week for summer and fall classes at a local SUNY school.   There’s nothing comparable in the area she’s moving to, so she decided to commute until she completes her Bachelor’s degree.  I don’t know what she’s going to do about her Master’s, but I’m sure she’ll work something out.

I’m amazed at how quickly Becca and Matt were able to put this move together.  At first, it looked like it was going to be difficult to find a decent apartment, especially one that allows pets.    They were very disheartened after looking at one unsatisfactory place after another.   But then fortune smiled upon them, and they found an apartment they really like.  I hope they will be very happy there.

Goodbye and good luck, my dear daughter!  (Becca is in the front of the photo.)

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mother’s out there.

Song of the Day:  So Long, Farewell from The Sound of Music

Flying the Coop

April 24, 2009

Rebecca’s boyfriend has been working at the local Outback Steakhouse for ten years.  He started as a server and worked his way up to kitchen manager.  The next step was to become a proprietor.  A few days ago, he was offered proprietorship of an Outback about three hours from here.  He has to move to the new location within three weeks.

Accepting this offer means that Matt’s salary will be doubled.  In fact, at the age of 28, he will be earning more than Daniel and I do combined.

Rebecca and Matt’s relationship is very serious.  I fully believe that they will get married.  So, it comes as no surprise that Rebecca is going to move with her boyfriend.

Of course, I am thrilled for Matt.  This is an incredible opportunity.  On the other hand, I am feeling very emotional about having to say goodbye to my daughter.

I am well aware of the fact that children grow up and move away from home.  I know that this is a normal part of life, and parents all over the world have to deal with similar situations.  In many cases, children move much farther away.  But knowing these things doesn’t make it any easier for me.

I love having an empty nest.  I just wish my wings weren’t clipped (by not driving) so that I could fly away to visit more often than I will be able to.  The train ride is five hours long, and that’s very difficult for me to endure because of my pain.  So I won’t be seeing my firstborn daughter very often.

My heart hurts.

Song of the Day: Empty Nest Theme Song