The Bucket List…..

I want to be the girl in this video….travelling across the world, uninhibited, throwing caution to the wind.  Chances are, the likelihood of this happening is akin to a camel poking its head through a needle, and then realizing he still has to get his body through it.

I love, love, love to travel.  It’s just that we have no extra moolah, and what we do have goes to silly things like food, vet visits and electric bills.  I don’t have a bucket list in all actuality, but here is a sampling of things I would like to do before I leave this planet:

I would love to go to Ireland, in search of my ancestors.  If I do go to Ireland, I will be tempted to drink an ale with the kin folk-you know, raise up a glass to the country that turned us out-I hear they’re very folksy and welcoming, but let’s face the facts, I would want to live there, or perhaps petrify in one place, sitting at the pub, drinking Guiness, and singing the songs of my people.

Big Sur was a big draw, until I read about Bohemian Grove.  With our luck, we would find the wrong place at the wrong time, and I apologize, but becoming a blood sacrifice for the elite in this world?  Let’s just say I have no time for the big, wooden statue of Baphomet, and I don’t like people telling me what to do.

Hawaii was big on my “list” at one point, and now I see the error of my ways.  The fat faced dictator from HELL has threatened their peace, and I don’t want to spend my whole vacation in an underground bunker.

And lastly, there was Sea World.  Yes, I wanted to ride the dolphins with abandon, you know, be that girl: the one who never stops talking about her relationship with a fifty year old she met out in California, and then you come to find out it was a sea mammal.  No thanks.

So for now?  I’ll stay in this sleepy little town of horse and buggies, biting flies the size of Texas, and more cow manure than you can shake a stick at.

 

Stranger Danger

I was reading my bible the other day, and the scripture about not being of this world, or worldly, if you prefer, hit me like a ton of bricks.  From very early on in my life, I have stood out, in pretty much every venue of my life.  As a child, I would pack my green suitcase and travel the neighborhood, trolling for adults (not children, they pissed me off with their weird Barbie dolls and tea parties) who would dare to “come and play with me.”  I can only imagine what they were thinking, when they answered the door and looked down upon the oddity standing in front of them.  Chubby, red curls and not a shred of inhibition-I would  prance into the home of unsuspecting, stay at home mothers , open my attaché, (full of odd pens, crayons and doll heads) and ask them to make me chocolate chip cookies.  This worked about 85% of the time, and to be sure this was done to appease the weirdo and get her the hell out of dodge.)

I would go to the bar in Avalon, NJ with my father-when we could sneak away from mom-sit with dad, eating clams and drinking Shirley temples, playing Mr. Bojangles on the jukebox as many times as my stash of quarters allowed it.  I was 5 years old.  As I grew, my mother would go to these random thrift stores and buy the strangest outfit she could find, then proceed to argue with my until I finally caved and wore it to school.  The stand out?  A purple, velvet set of knickers with a poufy top and cameo at the neckline.  The white lace boots up to my knees added to the hilarity…….but my peers at Upper Merion Junior H.S. didn’t get the joke.  They gawked, pointed, and called me names until I cried.  I believe my courage began developing way back then, in spite of the meanies, I grew weirder by the hour, and to this day I am thankful……….

I have never, ever followed the fashion scene, (I am dead serious when I say I am only now, at the age of 56, learning how to put on makeup) and my outfits have been raising eyebrows for decades.  I care not what others think, never have, never will-and somewhere in the mix I suppose I owe  my lack of inhibition to Mary Lou, my mother and fashionista extraordinaire.  She went to a dress shop to design her own clothing, and I have to say that she was profoundly beautiful………but she was ahead of her time, she was ahead of my time for crying out loud.

Just the other day, while trying to avoid the dreaded tick bite, I put on my grey long underwear, hiking boots, camo shorts and gardening hat, then proceeded to the local grocery store where I turned heads and caused more than one shopper to slam her cart into the food displays.  I walk blithely to the tune of my own accordion, immune to the whispers and laughter.  I have been told by friends, and enemies alike, that “Only you could pull that off, Michele….”  I never try to be a fashion success, yet my style impresses more people than it offends.  And to this day, I don’t get it.  I am 5 feet tall in stocking feet, have blonde hair down to my waist, and even on a good day, well….my husband usually has to carry me to the truck because my shoes are bought at the Humane Society Thrift Store-it has never been of any consequence to me how the shoes fit, as I am a size 5 1/2 and finding any footwear not of the girls’ department is a total coup.

Another quirk I have?  If I pick something out of my closet (say a dress I’ve had since my freshmen year at Villanova, circa 1979) I am going to wear it whether it fits or not.  Just last week, after purchasing last year’s Vera Wang at Kohl’s with my 30% off coupon, I stood there stumped and provoked, as I tried to figure out how the hell to put it on.  It was a three-part debacle, copper and black sequins cascading down the front.  I finally took my scissor to it, and voila-right over my head it went.

I have been known to garden, in a teddy and sweat pants; to hell with what anyone thinks.  It’s my own yard, my own territory-if it doesn’t suit you, look away.  My best friend will not walk with me in our neighborhood because of the attire I choose to exercise in.  Last winter, and I kid you not, I wore a stunning pink Elmer Fud number to lunch in Lititz (where the snobs and starving artists mingle amongst stores only the very rich can patronize.)  I was with my nieces, who love the fact that I am, well, unique to put it kindly.  Men and women were walking right up to my face and laughing.  Poor manners?  Yes.  Do I blame them?  No.

I simply cannot be bothered with worrying about the Joneses.  I’m too busy living in my own private Idaho…..where I am the queen of the outfit faux pas.

Winter……

 

Sitting here, lazy as heck-feeling the blue blahs…….and once again I am reminded of the millions of persecuted Christians around the globe.  Their plight unknown to the rest of us, and it runs chills up my spine.  Put on your big girl panties, Michele.  Yes, I am sick for most of the winter months, but that is my cross to bare.  Jesus has taken so much off of my shoulders, and yet I feel as if I am still haunted by ghosts of yesterdays past.

Battling a sinus infection since September, I am unable to do my volunteer work at the ER.  My boss won’t return my texts, so, I am rethinking the whole hospital ministry, period.  Do I really want to be subject to the viruses out there (namely MRSA and STAFF)?  Is this God’s way of telling me that this is not my ministry?

I begin the downslide that is evidenced by social withdrawal, childhood insecurities  and  feelings of worthlessness.  Turns out, it matters not that I won my SSI case, as if I cannot serve His kingdom, I am forlorn.  I am not feeling sorry for myself, this is nothing compared to what others are suffering, this I know.  I am longing for a normal life, something that has escaped me this fifty-six years.  I want to lunch with my friends, minister to others, stomp out injustice and hypocrisy, be a real asset to His Kingdom.

There are seasons in every life.  God spoke of this in Ecclesiastes, and so poignantly at that.  So, for now, I will pick up my cross and carry it to the best of my ability.  For there is a time for every season known to Heaven~

 

 

The Girl With the Most Cake…

So, this is a public service announcement about going off of your antidepressant medication, cold turkey.

DON’T DO IT……..SAVE YOURSELF THE MISERY.

I think it often the case that those of us with mental illness who rely on medication wish things were different.  We want to “fit in” so badly?  We take the first crumb of normality and think ourselves cured…no longer in need of care.  And sadly, due to the fact that depression, if not situational, is due to a lack of serotonin in our brain-well, taking a few pills a day is such a small price to pay for one’s sanity.  Depression is often in the genes, and there is no shame in taking medication.  As a matter of fact?  I will cling to my Zoloft from this day forward-and I regret using this forum to celebrate what I thought to be my freedom from illness, suicidal ideation, melancholy mind set.

After six days without Zoloft (simply a matter of having the flu and not wanting to drive into Lititz to pick it up) I was nauseated and off  balance.  When my husband, dog and I travelled to pick out the Christmas tree?  Dwain stopped to take a picture, and like the poster girl for Tourette’s, I yelled:

“I swear to God I will shove that f***ing phone down your throat.” 

By the afternoon it hurt when others spoke to me.  I was so edgy that the sound of my cat purring sent me into a hissy fit.  On the seventh day I saw an octopus crawling on my bathroom floor.  I hooted and hollered and jumped a foot in the air.  This turned out to be a cat toy, and I ran for my medication like a cartoon character on crystal meth.

Thus endeth the GREAT ZOLOFT EXPERIMENT OF 2017.

In lieu of becoming a serial killer, I have decided to pick up my cross, take my meds and dance like nobody’s watching.  And here I will sing the song of my people,  Cumbia my Lord, Cumbia…….. 

 

The Silence is Deafening

Trying to get something done around the house, and let’s just say the couch is winning.  After feeding the felines, Jesse and I head to the couch, defeated yet eager to rest.  I flip on some Christmas music, and this song is the first I hear.

I have often wondered why I simply can not grieve in front of my husband.  I believe it is due in part that I know my tears upset him, and I want my lover to be happy, at peace.  Watching my emotions carefully-I just took myself off of a ten year addiction, albeit to Zoloft.  What began as the flu and not wanting to drive, turned into a trial run of freedom from the bondage of antidepressants.  Please don’t get me wrong, I thought I was to be on this drug forever;  I never gave this a second thought really -I am irrepressibly in agreement with anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medications for those who suffer mental illness.  I am the poster child for Ativan, yet I knew deep down that the depression had vanished.  Seven days later and I have no homicidal ideation, let alone suicidal.  But as I sat down to ponder, the haunting taunt of Bing Crosby’s vocals coming loudly from the surround sound, I wept.

Tomorrow my golden retriever turns five.  Just typing those words brings tears to my eyes, and I can’t see the computer screen.  After the loss of Jesse’s brother Dylan, four years ago, I have remained traumatized, the idea of him aging rips my heart right out of my chest, and any animal lover will understand those feelings.  Not for one millisecond do I take the blessings of this year for granted.  My husband’s new career, financial stability (kind of-my SSI check never amounted to much, and the monthly payments help tremendously-I had hoped to give my church an abundant Christmas tithing, and still do-but overhearing my husband discussing our mounting medical bills from a shoulder injury and physical therapy he suffered this Summer? Let’s just say I have devised a payment plan) and the miracles of being set free from physical and mental anguish are miracles, of this I am certain.

Yet I cannot contain the emotions this song bring about, so many memories of childhood Christmases -I would cut off my right arm to go back to those innocent days, ones I somehow knew were precious and rare, even back then.  We lost my parents years ago, and my brother is in California with his beautiful family.  There will be no Christmas phone calls, or holiday gatherings with my sister, or nieces and nephew.  No Christmas Eve conversations with the best friend who tried to ruin the first real vacation my husband and I had taken in twenty five years together, and prior to that?  I should have known her to be a vindictive and malicious narcissist years ago..no gift exchanges, no carols sung.

This makes me terribly sad, and lonely with an ache that permeates the air I breathe.

But none of this changes the fact that this is the time of year that we celebrate the birth of our King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, Lord of Lords and hope to all nations.  And the best part of the story is that He forgives us if we turn to Him with faith and sorrow for our sins.  We are a new creation in Christ and no longer need to carry our heavy burdens or past mistakes along with us!  It matters not what we have done, He will forgive us.  It is because of what He has done that we are set free~

In his great mercy God has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.                                                                                                                        1 Peter 1:3

 

HEROES

I volunteer in a local Emergency Room.  I was scheduled for yesterday afternoon, 12 to 4, and no matter how hard I tried?  I could not muster the enthusiasm to take a shower, let alone go to work.  I picked up the phone several times to call off, but something made me put down that phone, and I am here to say, Praise God I did.

Used to working the morning shift, I had no idea what to expect.  As I approached the double doors a sense of purpose filled my veins, and what I was about to walk into was the most horrific day of my entire nursing career.  Every room full, I immediately went to Room 14, as I heard wails of agony and pain.  The man in the bed was in his nineties, and he was hysterical.  I introduced myself, but he couldn’t hear me, he was too far gone.  

I asked his son and wife what was going on.  His son shook his head, wiped away a tear and told me that this was NOT his father.  He was a good Christian man who was beloved in his community and family.  His dad was strong and stoic; I could tell the family was terrified.

“Oh Jesus, take me now.  I am so sorry.  I am dying.  My legs are on fire.  Please, take care of my wife and children….my grandchildren, OH MY GOD, WHY?  I AM DYING, PLEASE GOD, I DON’T NEED GOLD WALKWAYS, JUST TAKE ME NOW………”

This went on for another twenty minutes.  I spoke to him, loudly and clearly.  What have you seen?  Why are you so frightened?  You aren’t dying, your stats are perfect…..he was white as snow, tormented…..and then I knew.  I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what was wrong. 

“The Diablo.  He is making me curse Jesus, think terrible things about my Lord.  I deserve to die, TAKE ME OH TAKE ME JESUS,”

I closed the curtain.  The nurse administered a sedative.  I asked the family to shush.

“You have no authority here, Satan.  No authority.  Drink the blood of Jesus demon and be gone.  Jesus is here, God is holding you.  Drink the blood of Jesus……”

I was convinced the doctor and nurses would think me insane and fire me as soon as I walked from beyond the curtain.  I waited and continued to pray out loud.  Within moments he calmed down.  Enough to listen to me.

Who is the father of all lies?  Satan is toying with you, but once God has you no one can ever take you away.  Do you understand me?  God loves you, and so does your family.  Listen to me…….”

I retreated for another warm blanket.  As I walked passed the gawking nurses, (and I mean every single one of them had their jaws open) I didn’t make eye contact.  I couldn’t.  I walked back into the room.  He was given another sedative.

There are things that I cannot divulge, but may I say this?

Praise, Glory and Honor to the Most High, and thank you Jesus, for your love and strength.

I walked Bob out to his car with his oh so thankful family.  He was dapper and strong, laughing at our jokes, and he kissed me on the cheek…….

“I don’t know how to thank you,” his son and wife said.  It wasn’t me they owed any gratitude, it was our heavenly father and Yeshua.  But they knew that.

And as I walked into the ER, prepared to be told to leave, the doctor said this:

“You are worth your weight in gold.  You couldn’t pay someone to do what you just did.”

I kept walking, straight to the nearest empty room.  And I got down on my knees and wept.