32-Days

Vermont NY Sky cvc

I didn’t know when I blogged on August 28th that my mom would live for only 32 more days.

We didn’t know that until September 30th.

In the span of those 32-days, we went from expecting her to be discharged from rehab at the end of September, to suddenly being told she had a fast-growing, aggressive cancer. Get her home and comfortable, we were advised, and admitted into hospice.

It was two weeks and one day between her cancer diagnosis and her death.  The sudden flip in her story arc, and the speed with which the ending arrived, catapulted our world into a surreal state. The walls of the “real world” quickly got shut out and a single-minded focus grabbed hold.

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Mentor Cat

ggirl144 on Pixabay CC0 Creative Commons

“Note the thoughts. Note the feelings. Let them go. Don’t chase after them; don’t resist them.”

“Note the thoughts.” It’s a fundamental lesson of my meditation program. It resonates. It’s helping me be less attached to thoughts and feelings. Not all of the time, but I’m discovering, with greater frequency, a wee bit of space between thoughts and how I act upon them. In that space I’m finding greater clarity and calm. And less judgment. Which, given how active the internal Judge has been in my life, is something I celebrate.

I’m getting it, slowly. Bubba and I have a joke that it takes 19 times of hearing something before we “get it.”  I’m still in single digits on this.

Recently I got lucky and got to watch an element of this meditation idea in action. The “don’t chase” concept was demonstrated by that great spiritual teacher: our cat.

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For Those Missing WP’s Daily Prompt & Community Pool

Edar on Pixabay CC0 Creative CommonsSince WordPress dropped their Daily Prompt and Community Pool at the end of May, other sites have stepped in to fill the gap.  If you feel adrift, here are three sites to both jiggle your brain cells, and help you connect with others in the blogosphere. It’s a great way to discover new blogs, help new writers, and find new fans of your writing.  Enjoy!

SwimmersDaily Prompt and Community Pool

“Have you just published a new post and need some feedback? Do you need some advice on your blog theme & layout ? Maybe you’re a newbie and need to increase your audience? Just leave your question in the comment section adding your blog’s address.”

Ragtag Daily PromptDaily Prompt

“To participate in the Ragtag Daily Prompt, create a Pingback to your post, or copy and paste the link to your post into the comments. And while you’re there, why not check out some of the other posts too!”

FOWC with FandangoDaily Prompt

“FOWC was designed to fill the void after WordPress bailed on its daily one-word prompt at the end of May and I want to thank each and every one of you for being so supportive and for participating in these prompts.”

Photo source: Edar on Pixabay


Writing Prompts (for those dry spells)

Ice Cream, Safeway and Letting Go

Dustytoes on Pixabay CC0 Creative CommonsIce cream is the secret to a long and happy life. My dad, an almost daily eater of ice cream is, at 94, my evidentiary proof.  If red wine drinkers have convinced the world of the medicinal argument for their lust, I’ll go with the longevity argument for mine.

So, I eat ice cream, leaning toward anything with salted caramel in it.

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How Many Days Left?

Dazzleology on Pixabay CC0 Creative Commons

“My mom will be alive for at least six more days. Now five.”

A countdown had begun in my head.

They were unsettling thoughts, this countdown to…what? A renewed chance at life? Or death. I wasn’t thinking these thoughts; they—and the associated fear—were just…there.  It didn’t matter that I didn’t want them.

My 88-year-old mom landed in the hospital multiple times this year, starting in March, when my 94-year-old father got her to the ER just in time.  By summer, after multiple hospital trips, doctor visits and medical tests, they had her scheduled for heart-valve surgery in June; told her she needed a new hip; and informed her she had a slow-growing cancer. It was a layer cake of issues.

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When Birthdays Go Awry

Alexas_Fotos CC0 Creative Commons on Pixabay

My birthday was a fizzling failure. Or a shimmering success. It depends on what lens you see it through.

Breakfast seemed simple: go out and have someone wait on me, bring me exactly what I want, clear things away and do the dishes. Luxuriate in some morning spoiling all while checking out a new café in town.

It was the heart of your typical breakfast rush hour when we walked in, and the place was…empty. Not a single customer. No greeter. No wait staff. Utter silence. Not a good sign.

“They’re new,” I said to Bubba. “Still working out the kinks.”

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Return to Blogging

Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay CC0 Creative Commons

I fell off the blogging wagon. I’d like to blame it solely on the demise of WordPress’s Daily Prompt, but that’s like saying I eat ice cream only because they sell it at the grocery store. Right. It makes no sense.

I’m back. Taking it slower than before when I was overly ambitious with my blogging frequency. Had I spooled out my posts to date, they could’ve carried me through to today. Instead, I front loaded and then…life got busy and my postings dried up.

I’m looking forward to catching up. Or at least, jumping back in, and seeing what ya’ll have been up to.

I’m also looking forward to getting back to writing about how, so often, I’m of two minds (or more) about things. That hasn’t changed.

 

Photo source: Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay


 

Reading Our Minds

Geralt on Pixabay CC0 Creative Commons

Researchers develop device that can ‘hear’ your internal voice

“Researchers have created a wearable device that can read people’s minds when they use an internal voice, allowing them to control devices and ask queries without speaking.” The Guardian

Happy future: this technology sorts out all the different voices in my head and helps me make sense of things.

Dark future: this technology allows others to read my mind–and yours–which is a very, very, very bad idea.

 

Photo source: Geralt on Pixabay


 

Shopping the Discount

71_Discount2The coupon was for 40% off a single item. A second coupon—same store—promised another $2 off on top. A character was aroused.


She gathered her purse. Told Bubba she was headed out.

“Where you going?” he asked.

“I’m off to shop,” she said.

“What are you buying?”

“I’m not buying, I’m shopping.”

He turned in his chair and eyed her. “What’s the difference?”

“Buying is when I need something specific, maybe toilet paper or toothpaste, and I go out and get it. Shopping is when I want something, but I don’t know what. I wander the aisles until something hooks me. Eventually, something will.  Shopping scratches an itch.”

“Oh,” he said, sounding confused.

“I have these coupons I need to use,” she said, as if that explained everything.  “How often does CVS send out 40% off coupons? With a $2 bonus on top? I gotta use ‘em today because they expire. I’ll walk around the store until I find something, maybe even something we need.  If I’m lucky, I’ll find something we need that’s more than we’d usually want to pay, and can apply the coupon to it; get maximum savings. What I get is less important than how much I can save.”

“So,” Bubba said, with sudden understanding, “what you’re really shopping for, is a bargain.”

Coffeebeanworks on Pixabay Creative Commons


Photo sources: MarcoRoesler on Pixabay; Coffeebeanworks on Pixabay

Depression Isn’t Sadness and Suicide Isn’t a Cry For Help… by Steve Safran

I talk about personas and characters that chitter away in my head, critiquing how I’m doing things, often saying I’m doing things wrong. Depression takes that to levels that cripple and can destroy. I appreciate this blog and how it talks about it.  A close friend of mine committed suicide. I have periods where I see life through grey-colored glasses. When that happens, I experience life very differently; darkly. And I know that having someone tell me, “chin up,” not only doesn’t help, it generally makes me feel worse. Better understanding is a good step.

“Depression is exhausting. And it’s cruel. It tells you terrible things about yourself. That’s why Ms. Spade and Mr. Bourdain died. I can’t speak for their experiences, but I can speak for my own and what I know to be true from many other patients with depression: our minds become ruthless bullies. They tell us the meanest things about ourselves. They stockpile ammunition and open fire. And we have to sit there and take it because, well, it’s coming from our own brains.”

Blooms and Bubbles

Kate Spade. Anthony Bourdain. Two gut-punching suicides that have people asking “Why them? They had it all!” Sure, Bourdain lived a hard life, but Kate Spade, the queen of whimsy? She was wealthy, adored and…

Depressed.

We need better words. One of the biggest disservices to the field of mental health is to call the diagnosis of “depression” by the name “depression.” Everyone “gets depressed.” It’s a commonplace word: “I’m so depressed the meeting I planned fell through.” “The ending of that show was too depressing.” “He’s too depressing to be around.”

None of these examples has anything to do with the psychological definition of Depression.

People who live with depression are wired differently. Our brains perceive life differently than those who do not have depression. Let me put it another way.

Suppose you were born left-handed in this predominantly right-handed world. Suppose that was considered OK from time to…

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The Judge and the Dishes

70_Judge+Dishes2_6-14-18

When Bubba and I met, we each had years of experience loading dishwashers. The thing is, we didn’t load them the same way. And since each of us was sure “our” way was the “right” way, we had to deal with some relationship hiccups as we figured things out.

Routine aspects of life give me regular opportunities to “figure things out.” That usually means trying to understand the inner voices that chirp away when, for instance, I see Bubba do something my Inner Judge insists is just not right.

Maybe he’s putting forks into the dishwasher tines-down.

“The tines won’t get properly washed!” The Judge says, absolute in her declaration.

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Dopamine-Induced Raw Begging

I’m responding to likes and kudos, comments and accolades. Like Pavlov’s dog, I’m salivating over feedback; getting hooked by WordPress’s announcement that I’ve surpassed my previous record of likes. New record: 27! It may be a puny record, but it’s my record. So…whoot!69_PavlovBegging_6-1-18Pavlov. Dogs. I’ve been writing about dogs. Ugly dogs. Fee for petting dogs. Dog House fiction.

Is this all an accident? Coincidence? I think not.

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The Anti-Frown Workout

Creative Magic on PixabayIt was dark on my morning walk as I forced myself to smile.  There was nothing funny about the dark, but I smiled anyway.

I was exercising; not just my legs, but my smile.

“I am not going to become a grumpy-looking old person,” I told myself. I had seen those faces; the edges of lips turned down in a permanent frown. A look at a few Mitch McConnell photos should scare anyone.  I was resolute; this was not going to happen to me.

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Never Too Late to Apologize

67_Apologies_5-31-18

She stood in front of me, her 8-year-old daughter by her side. This girl, now woman, who had taunted me in my youth. She and her friend would feign to befriend me, only to toss slights my way and jaunt off together to play, leaving me behind.  It was an up-and-down arrangement; when she needed someone, she’d turn to me. When she didn’t, she’d turn away.

Years passed. She was now a mother, with several children, and had redirected her life from the wildness of her youth, to that of a responsible adult, finding her way back to the God her grandmother feared she had strayed from.

“I feel so badly about how I treated you when we were kids,” she said, looking first at me, and then down at her daughter.

She spoke to the girl. “Mrs. G and I were neighbors, and I was mean to her. I’m not proud of that. That’s why we’re here: so I can tell her I’m sorry. I want you to treat people right, and to know it’s never too late to apologize.”

She looked back at me, subdued. We hugged, and I felt the pain of her shame. Her seeking forgiveness was a moment I never expected, didn’t know I wanted, and felt deep gratitude for experiencing. It was a moment of unanticipated grace; a grace still with me today.


 

Difficult Decision

Nothing like fireworks and kind words! My Dog House 150-word fiction piece got the nod from The Creative PTSD gal’s contest. Yes! I won! Whoot!! Thanks, Jo 🙂

A Creative PTSD Gal

This did not come easy and spent most of my night reading and re-reading the short stories that came in. I even asked my husband for his opinion (believe me, that rarely happens) and he was some help. Here it is:

If you would like to read the short story The Dog House and all the other wonderful submissions just follow the links below:

The House
The Inn of Eternal Rest 
Hence, the Exorcists
Marmalade
The Silenced Eyes
The Walk

There is something to be said creating something just from a blank screen and believe me I know, it’s not flipping easy! Every one of these writers (yup you’re writers) should take a bow.

Tomorrow I am introducing Fenton and the writing project that everyone gets involved with. Stay tuned!

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Daily Post Word of the Day Prompts

Since today is the last Daily Prompt day by WordPress, folks are having a Community Rising response and creating replacements. If you love the Prompts, check here.

Thriving Not Surviving

Last week I reblogged the post regarding the fall of the Daily Post’s word of the day prompt. I was concerned personally because I depend on these words to stretch my thinking, to practice my writing and to encourage me to be accountable for posting every day. I decided immediately that I would post a word myself that I could use as inspiration. I never realized how many people would feel the same way; it has become quite the topic on WordPress.

That being said, I have 3 people who will be collaborating with me on this project. Given that the first post is scheduled for tomorrow I feel very behind on organizing this effort so it’s likely that we will have a bumpy start…completely my fault as I’ve been preoccupied with making summer plans (if you read my post yesterday this might not surprise you).

As quickly as I…

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The Sunshine Blogger Award

sunshine-blogger-award-3The Sunshine Blogger Award is “given by bloggers to fellow bloggers who inspire positivity and creativity in the blogging community.” I’d love to say that came from the official Sunshine Blogger home page but, if there is one, I can’t find it. This was on this 2018 blog post and since I liked it, I pilfered it.

To have One Day at a Time nominate me for this in April and tell their followers about Walk the Goats is a nice recognition of my blog. And it gives me welcomed encouragement. Thanks, Floating Gold, and sorry I took so long to participate!

Go check out their blog where newsworthy topics are tackled with passion and perspective. Creative writing explorations are done. And our fearless blogger takes on various projects to challenge themselves.

One Day at a Time also has one of the few blogs I’ve reblogged; it was How To Discover New Blogs, which I found incredibly helpful as a new blogger and, now, three months in, it’s still useful, even if Prompts, First Friday and Community Pool are leaving the WordPress umbrella at the end of May.

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To the Daily Post Community: Thank You!

The WordPress post about the demise of The Daily Post, including the end of Community Pool First Friday’s, Daily Prompt. See previous post about community efforts to retain this elsewhere.

The Daily Post

Almost seven and a half years ago The Daily Post opened its virtual doors to the WordPress.com blogging community. It’s been an incredible ride, and incredible rides, too, sometimes come to an end. As of the end of this month (and 2,000 Daily Prompts, 380 Photo Challenges, 260 Community Pools, and 100 First Fridays later), we will no longer publish new posts, prompts, or challenges on this site.

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