Writing 101: A Character Study

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Shortly before this course started, I posted a blog about 4 incredible women that I have met in the years since I’ve been ill, but I don’t want to talk about them today.  Today I want to describe a man that has touched my heart and my life in ways that no one else has and probably never will.  He isn’t my boyfriend or my husband or my partner, but he is my truest friend that I could ever wish for.

I met this man close to 20 years ago when we both worked for the same company and we have both changed a lot since then.  I remember being intimidated by his stature at first, because he was an ex navy officier, who stood up straight, walked with a steady and deliberate gait (even in his cowboy boots) and had the biggest belt buckle I have ever seen.  His thinning hair was covered by a 10 gallon cowboy hat and his silver trimmed glasses highlighted his kind eyes. Beneath all of these clothes was a man who exuded positivity, warmth and love.

When he walks into a room, he commands respect, but not in a snobbish, pretentious way.  You just sense that this man has something important to say and that being around him will make you feel good.   He speaks in a calm and gentle tone and in all the years we’ve been friends, maybe he’s raised his voice once.  When he speaks to you, you believe in him and in what he has to say.

He is a protector of people and I have been protected by him in many ways, both on the job and in my personal life.  Since I’ve been ill, he has come to my rescue on so many occasions that it’s hard to recall them all, but he was the one that took me to my disability hearings so that I wouldn’t have to go through it alone.  When I had to stop working and go on disability, he bought me an ipad, so that I could keep myself occupied and during the first holiday season that I was sick, he came and picked me up and drove me around NYC so that I could see the holiday decorations.   When I had to move because of my illness, he handled the movers and made sure my apartment was empty and clean.  He makes me feel safe whenever I am near him and he doesn’t even have to do anything but be himself.

But he doesn’t only protect his loved ones, he was the last man out on our floor when our office buildings were evacuated on 9/11.  He made sure everyone else got to safety before he left the building and then he made sure to secure our computer and data systems, so that our company would be protected from downtime and data loss.

His approach to life, when I first met him was very foreign  and strange to me, but as time went on, I began to start to see life as he did.  He was an example of the “law of positive attraction” and he taught me to ask the universe for things and to change my thought process.

Although I am still working on this, as it doesn’t seem to come easily to me, to him, it’s second nature and there is no other way. He never seems to worry about little things, such as checking the bus or train schedule.  He believes whenever he gets to the station, there will be a train waiting for him.  He never worries about finding parking spots because they always open up when he drives on a block.  He  never worries about how much things cost because he believes everything will even out in the end.  He is generous to a fault, to the people that matter to him and I am lucky enough to be included in that group.

This man is one of a kind, and I thank my lucky stars ever night that he walked into my life that day.  When he greets you, he encompasses your body with a big warm bear hug or when he calls you on the phone and says “Morning”  in his southern drawl, you know things will always be alright as long as you have him on your side and in your corner.

 

Writing 101

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Since I enjoy writing and always want to be better at it, I decided to join the Writing 101 course offered by WordPress and today I have my first assignment.

The assignment seems simple enough, it’s to take 20 minutes and just free write, don’t think about what you are writing, just write whatever comes to mind.  Sounds simple enough as my mind never stops working but are people really interested in my random thoughts.  Well maybe today they are.

Mainly right now, I’m thinking about how cold I am this morning and how unprepared I am for the fall weather that has hit NYC. I love the fall, that’s my favorite season, but always hate the change in seasons as we go from warm to chilly to freezing and then again to warmer weather.  When you live in a small apartment, the change of seasons also means dragging out last season’s clothes and shoes and packing away the currents seasons items.  I have always hated this process and have come to hate it more since I’ve become ill.

I barely have energy to do what I need to do and this added work is a nuisance for me and takes about a month to complete as I can only do a carton a day.  Today I had to find my fuzzy slippers as flip flops won’t work any longer.  It’s funny how quickly the weather changes and your mindset has to change to.  Halloween is approaching and I even saw a commercial for Christmas Lay Away.  It is only September, but time marches on very quickly, even if I don’t march quickly.

I was excited about this course, as I was hoping it would help pass the days and also help me learn something as my mind has also slowed down, with my body slowing down.  I need to learn and am hoping this helps me feel challenged, even in a small way.

 

Women Power & Purpose

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We have just passed the sad anniversary of when I went out on Disability.  I have been thinking about the 4 years since that happened and what has occurred in my life.  And what has stood out to me, has been the stand out and stand up Women I have met in this time.  I have met 4 women, through the course of my new journey that are Powerful, Grateful, Kind and Loving all in different ways, but all in ways that reach out to you.

3 of these women, I am proud to call my friend.  The 4th is a recent addition to my world, but she is unlike anybody I have ever met, as she is a Nun, who is also a Licensed Massage Therapist.  I went for a massage yesterday and also received a blessing as she prays at the beginning and end of the session.  I am not religious and not even Catholic, but yesterday I felt the presence of God during the session.  I so wish this woman was my grandmother, as she has spunk beyond her years and a twinkle in her eye.

All these women have their own life stories to tell, filled with their own trials and tribulations, yet all show up every single day with a welcoming smile on their face and are just grateful to be here another day.  Another one of these woman is a Reiki Healer and being with her is like transcending time.  When you are with her, an inexplicable peace just fills your body and you feel calm and relaxed.  There is an energy emitted by this woman and it too envelopes you beyond which any words can describe.

The last 2 women, are either struggling with their own illness, or the illness of a close loved one, yet they are grateful and appreciative for everything good thing in their life and try not to dwell or drown with the bad part.

I am so eternally grateful that my illness has brought these 4 Amazing Women to me.  They are role models and mentors in many ways and I hope they all know how much their friendship means to me.  I think about how they struggle, yet always sound cheery when we speak and never complain about these troubles, just talk about them as part of their life.

When you are struggling with a chronic illness or dealing with a chronic illness the illness creates your “new normal”, in such that now it is part of your new life and going back to your old life is not even possible.  Right now all I can do is accept my “new normal” and be thankful that I have these “new friends” to share them with.

 

Happy Birthday

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This week is my birthday  and I have a couple of little celebrations planned with a few of my friends and hopefully my body will cooperate and behave so that I am able to enjoy this week.  When I think back over the past year and think of  what has transpired, it occurs to me that basically nothing has changed, for the good or for the bad.

In one sense that’s a relief, but in another it’s a disappointment.  I can’t stand feeling like I’m not moving forward.  I need to learn and I need to experience new things this year and I’ve made a promise to myself that I will not let fear motivate me to make safe or bad choices.  I need to think about making choices that excite me and that will bring me joy and not avoid situations out of fear.

Recently Jim Carrey made a commencement speech at a University and when I listened to it my whole impression of Jim Carrey changed dramatically.  This man is profound and deep and is guided by love.  His speech has replayed in my mind many times since I’ve heard it and he is right on when he says that many people’s decisions are based on fear disguised as practicality.  He also says that you can fail at what you don’t love, just as easily as you can fail at doing something you love, so choose Love.

He’s right.  While my choices are limited these days, I still do have many choices.  I want to surround myself with positive people who encourage me to continue fighting to get well and who don’t see a sick person when they speak with me and constantly point out my limitations.  I want to surround myself with people who see possibilities in life, not live in the past constantly regretting decisions made 10 years ago.  I want to surround myself with people who are kind and loving and not people that continually hurt you and place the blame on their unhappy childhood.

So when I blow out the candles on my birthday cake and make a wish, of course my first wish will be improved health for myself and continued health for my loved ones, but my next wish will be that all my decisions this year will be coming from a place of love and not a place of fear.

 

Forgive and Forget

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I’ve written about a certain friend I have several times in my blog.  This friend is one of my “toxic” friends, who spread negativity and suck the air out of a room when they enter it.  They have hurt me more times than I can count and I swore to distance myself from this person this year.  But what do you do when out of no where they appear at your door, in a very fragile state, and apologize for every hurt they have caused you and tell you that you are one of the strongest people they know and respect me more than they can say for how I’m dealing with my chronic illness.

The apology was sincere and making an apology is an act of courage,  not a sign of weakness, as many people see it.  Fear usually delays the apology, fear of rejection or humiliation and this is very unfortunate because most genuine apologies elicit gratitude as a response.  I believe a sincere apology is one of the most profound human interactions between 2 people because the desired result is the reconciliation of a broken friendship.

Do people change?  Can you move forward in a relationship with someone and wipe the slate clean?  I am trying to do that, but am just not sure that this insight wasn’t a momentary lapse because my friend hit a new low and realized that she has problems, real emotional and mental issues to deal with.  Acknowledging the problem and fixing the problem are two very different things.

For the time being I will approach this friendship with caution and see if there are any subtle signs of change.  I hope for their sake they are going to try and get help because the path that they are walking down is not a good one.

But since I am a strong person, I will forgive them for the hurts they have caused, but I am not sure I can forget.  Maybe my brain fog will help with that!!

The 3 “A”s

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This morning while eating my breakfast I was listening to one of the morning news shows and Deepak Chopra came on and I started listening more intently.  Before I started on my spiritual journey and began doing daily affirmations and being more aware of the good things I still have in my life, I wouldn’t have glanced up at this man as I didn’t really believe that you could change your world by changing your thoughts.  This morning however, I was very interested in hearing what he had to say.

The anchors asked him about his thoughts on Valentine’s day and he basically said you should show people Attention, Affection and Appreciation every day of the year and not just on one day of the year.   These three things apply not only to a partner but also to family members and friends.

Attention

Attention means deep listening, being totally present. It means we’re not in a hurry to give advice, interrupt or react.

Appreciation

Appreciation means that we notice the other person’s strengths and let them know we notice them and are grateful for them.

Affection

Affection is deep caring and knowing that we are there for the other person.

So this year, let’s skip the Valentine’s day celebration and begin showing love, attention, appreciation and affection to those that mean the most to us every single day of the year (and that also include’s ourselves). 

Sensory Overload

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Since I’ve been ill, I have always struggled with multitasking, background noise, light and distractions, but over the past week this symptom has gotten really bad and has been sidelining me every afternoon with unbearable headaches.  Reading, writing and even processing a thought has been difficult starting around 2PM.  I’m not sure why this symptom is rearing it’s ugly head with such intensity this week, but it is very difficult to do anything useful when this occurs.

My mind feels like mush and my body is useless and all I can do is remove myself from the stimulus and retire to a dark room.  I have managed this problem with a good degree of success over the past few years, but this week something has changed.  I am hoping it’s part of a flare and will go back to a somewhat more manageable level.

When things like this happen, it always humbles me and reminds me that no matter how bad I feel, things can always be worse.  It reminds me to repeat on a daily basis what I am grateful for and all the blessings I do have, even when I am dealing with a chronic condition.