Life Is More Than A Bumper Sticker ~ Late Afternoon Thoughts

On a site I follow daily, they posted about depression as living in the past. There’s a tremendous truth to that…However, those of us living with depression for any length of time also know “the mind is a dangerous place to wander in, unaccompanied – especially at night.” And that depression is more than a bumper sticker.

Over these last few years – you’re welcome to read about it in other posts – I’ve also discovered there’s a huge difference between the “dark night of the soul” and a “dark night”. Tuesday was one of those “nights”.

Duane Townsend (.com)

Duane Townsend (.com)


It’s a feeling of things not being quite right, of emotions that want to come to the forefront for no apparent reason. It’s a soft feeling of dread. A feeling of loneliness that may or may not have roots in reality.

It’s a terrible feeling when you that in your mind there’s no one to call … which is vastly different from the feeling there’s no one who cares

Sometimes, I set the timer and just “let it all hang out”,~ however,  sometimes – such as tonight – it’s more important to do a version of what AA calls fearless moral inventory. I do what I call a version of that because when I’m doing this inventory, I must sit quietly and track back where this is all coming from.


You see for those of us with severe depression, there is no “It will suddenly get better”, “snap out of it, quit being selfish”, “fake it ’till you make it” or “Pray and all will go away as if it had never been”. If such things had worked for me, there wouldn’t be the gash scar on my forehead or the long scar on my neck from the exploratory surgery to see if I’d damaged something after I’d tried to commit suicide.

And I've actually had a couple of these tossed my way ...

And I’ve actually had a couple of these tossed my way …

For those of us with severe depression, it’s a life-long job. And 99% of the time, it’s a job that’s actually quite easy…it’s that 1% which gets really, really difficult and makes even doing the simplest tasks a major undertaking.

And here’s the other “rub” … sometimes when we are going through these “dark night(s)” … it’s highly possible no one will know. We’re awfully good at hiding. There are those we can’t hide from – ourselves and our [don’t judge my term here – there’s a reason for it] higher power, and eventually, one of the two (if not both) will get our attention …

When I was at CRU, they gave us a tool called F.L.A.S.H to instantly check our feelings (which as you know, feelings are neither right NOR wrong – they just are.). F-fearful, L-lethargic, A- angry, S- sad. (not just “down” but sad) and last H-happy. Of course, being the sane adults we all were, we laughed quietly at such a childish idea. Childish until you realize that given the letter – you then must try to identify why. Not necessarily solve it, but identify it ….. Ah, not so childish or easy now, is it ….
So, after – OK, the truth – two days of F,S,S,F,A (FSSFA sounds like a bill from a drunk congressional committee) I can say I’m firmly in the H camp.

This isn’t a call for pats on the back … but rather part of my ongoing attempt to be honest and transparent with others …

We will now resume your regularly scheduled broadcast. 

Early Evening Thoughts ~ Have Lunch With God ~ Bring Potato Chips

Potato Chips

A little boy wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God
lived, so he packed his suitcase with a bag of potato chips and a six-pack
of root beer and started his journey.
When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old man. He was sitting
in the park, just staring at some pigeons. The boy sat down next to him and
opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his root beer when
he noticed that the old man looked hungry, so he offered him some chips.
He gratefully accepted it and smiled at him.

His smile was so pretty that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered
him a root beer. Again, he smiled at him. The boy was delighted!

They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a

As twilight approached, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to
leave; but before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran
back to the old man, and gave him a hug. He gave him his biggest smile ever..

When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later, his mother
was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, “What did you do today that made you so happy?”
He replied, “I had lunch with God.” But before his mother could respond, he
added, “You know what? He’s got the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen!”

Meanwhile, the old man, also radiant with joy, returned to his home. His son was stunned by the look of peace on his face and he asked, “dad, what did you do today that made you so happy?”

He replied “I ate potato chips in the park with God.” However, before his
son responded, he added, “You know, he’s much younger than I expected.”

Have lunch with God…….bring chips.

Evidently, this story has been making the rounds for awhile, but it was the first time I’d seen it and I’ve fallen in love with it ….

And For Your Viewing Pleasure ~ Evening Thoughts

It was a day full of frantic activity, a doctor appointment, back to work and more frantic activity around me. And to make the evening complete, I had to leave work much later than normal and missed the best connection to the bus I needed. As I’m trekking my way to the train ~ I get a phone call from my new (as in brand new) maintenance man who is having trouble drilling a lock.

Back to the complex … and yes, there definitely was a problem. Forty minutes later, back to the train to catch the bus home. (I was NOT singing three buses and a train!) There was yet another phone call from maintenance newbie – and while I’m getting someone to help him out…the cell phone battery runs out and the phone shuts completely down. The wonders of electronica – all my phone numbers and contacts were in the phone. So, I was without a way to call … even if I’d borrowed a phone.

It was a good time to just sit…wait…watch…and put things into perspective.

As to the Doctor visit – she is working this from an interesting perspective ~ rather than trying to start with what it could be, she is starting with what the problem isn’t. So, several serious issues were eliminated today – being honest: TB and such are not the problem. The illness is not behaving as bronchitis should, however, she is strongly leaning toward that and/or a viral outbreak…and it treating it as such. I may not have any internal bugs left when she’s done! And hopefully, there will be no major side effects from the medications. I didn’t care for the two shots I got – and certainly have no desire for any more!!

The visit today was a relief to me. It’s amazing how the mind can add worry on top of worry, without any grounds. Of course, there’s always those around who want to add their two cents into the mix ~ mostly with dire stories of someone who died from just what I’ve had going on – or ended up in a terrible state and have I been tested for (insert name of Disease de Jour here)? I know they were only trying to offer comfort and care.

The comments and emails I received were more in line with the community I enjoy. My dear friend EB sent me a delightful card today that made my heart sing this morning.

I could have played “hide and seek” and said nothing, but “sardines” is much more fun and allows people to share in all facets of life.

There is more to share – but I’m very tired, and the medicine is “kicking my butt.”

–more later

Is It Still Safe To Go Back In The Water ~ Morning thoughts

Yesterday I arrived at the doctor’s office in time for my appointment, to be met with the news that she had an emergency and would need to reschedule. However, they did know some of what she wanted done for testing, and would I have a seat and hold out my arm.

After feeling similar to a pin cushion, my NEW appointment is for tomorrow – although if there is a cancellation, they will try and get me in today. They also had some pills to take that would help me sleep and not spend all my time coughing. Did they work? Yes, they did.

I will know more tonight, and even more after tomorrow. And, trust me, I am going to be playing “sardines” (see last post) and you will know what’s going on.

This morning I was going through some news sites — and I ran across this wonderful news item. My only question? What else could they use the batter for? …

(June 26, 2007)SCOTT CITY, Missouri – Police said inmates used pancake batter and toothpaste to cover a hole they made to allow a female inmate to slide into the next cell and join a male inmate. Now steel plates are being added to the Missouri jail’s interior walls.

The hole at the Scott City Jail was discovered this weekend, said police Chief Don Cobb. He said inmates removed a block from the wall, after making a digging tool with a nail, a wire from a light fixture and a toothbrush.

The mixture of pancake batter and toothpaste looked like mortar, he said.

Prisoners will stay in a county jail until a security check is completed at the city building.

The city jail’s exterior walls already are reinforced with steel to prevent inmates from escaping, Cobb said.

“Unless they can smuggle in an arc welder, they aren’t getting through that,” he said.

Just When I Thought It Was Safe To Go Back In The Water ~ Early Evening Thoughts

When I last posted ~ I really thought my illness was fading away. That, unfortunately, turned out to be quite wrong. There are some serious concerns about what it is ~ and as a result ~ I have a doctors appointment in the morning. She wants to run a couple of tests and see if she can pin down what exactly is wrong.

To say I have mixed feelings about what is going on would be an understatement. On the one had I want to know what’s going on ~ on the other hand I’m not sure I do.

When I performed in the delightful adaptation of Robert Fulghum’s series of writings titled “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” we did a section called “Hide and Seek.” He had written brilliantly about the wonderful game – ending, of course, with “Olley Olley Oxen – All In Free! He follows that with a description of “Sardines.”

“Better than hide-and-seek, I like the game called Sardines. In Sardines the person who is IT goes and hides, and everybody goes looking for him. When you find him, you get in with him and hide there with him. Pretty soon everybody is hiding together, all stacked in a small space like puppies in a pile. And pretty soon somebody giggles and somebody laughs and everybody gets found.” (emphasis mine)
–Robert Fulghum:
All I Really Need to Know, I Learned In Kindergarten.

As he usually does, he brought the story home with the story about a man who had developed cancer, and told no one. It was discovered by everyone he knew ~ including family ~ upon his death. His idea was to protect them from worry, etc. The end result was far from what he would have wanted. His family and friends felt cheated, hurt and confused that he couldn’t or wouldn’t trust them enough to be supportive and caring during that time.

And that leads to personal community…and the need for it.

I’m going to close this with a story about Jimmy Durante. He was asked to be part of a show for World War II veterans. In his response to the organizers, he explained that he could participate, but he would be able to do only a short monologue, and would then have to leave for another event. The organizers were happy to have im at all, and agreed.

When he was on stage, however, something happened. He finished his monologue and stayed. Ten minutes became twenty which became thirty. The applause and laughter grew louder and louder. Finally, he thanked his audience and took his final bow. Backstage, someone mentioned that they thought he had to leave early. Durante said, “I did have to go, but take a look, here’s the reason I stayed in the front row.”

There were two men one who had lost his right arm, and the other his left. They were sitting in such a way they were able to clap and cheer … clapping loudly and proudly.

Daddy Dearest ~ Early Morning Thoughts

I did a little research about the upcoming holiday of Father’s Day.

About 4,000 years ago a young boy named Elmusu wished his Babylonian father good health and a long life by carving a Father’s Day message on a card made out of clay. (No one seems to know exactly where this charming and suspect legend comes from …) No one knows what happened to Elmusu or his father, but the tradition of having a special day honoring fathers has continued through the years in countries across the world.

In the Catholic Liturgical Calendar, Father’s Day is celebrated on St. Joseph’s Day ~ March 19. In the Lutheran Church, March 19 is also observed as the Feast of St. Joseph. And even other Protestants denominations celebrate a Festival of Joseph. In New Orleans, the feast is celebrated with elaborate altars and even parades.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the feast day of St. Joseph is celebrated on the First Sunday after Christmas).

The idea for creating a day for children to honor their fathers began in Spokane, Washington. A woman by the name of Sonora Smart Dodd thought of the idea for Father’s Day while listening to a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909.

Having been raised by her father, William Jackson Smart, after her mother died, Sonora wanted her father to know how special he was to her. It was her father that made all the parental sacrifices and was, in the eyes of his daughter, a courageous, selfless, and loving man. Sonora’s father was born in June, so she chose to hold the first Father’s Day celebration in Spokane, Washington on the 19th of June, 1910.

In 1924, Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national holiday, but according to several sources, the first presidential proclamation of the 3rd Sunday in June as Father’s Day was in 1966 ~ but only for that one year. Finally, in 1972 Father’s Day was made permanent by another presidential proclamation.

Any man can be a father,
but it takes a special person
to be a Dad.

Refuse To Be Afraid ~ Early Morning Thoughts

Looking back over the last several days, several themes became quite apparent. I kept trying to change the categories, but they refused to cooperate. What I kept trying to label as concern wouldn’t accept that title. What I had determined was anxiety simply refused to put on the crown and sit down. Finally, late this evening what they would accept became perfectly clear – I was the one having difficulty accepting the “word.”

I tried very hard to argue, very hard to persuade – but my mind simply refused to accept any arguments or persuasions. It would only deal with one word – fear.

There are people that talk about the three dragons that can steal life – The dragon of loneliness, the dragon of self-hate and the third powerful dragon of fear. There is much I admit I fear, and there is much I still refuse to admit to fearing. There is, of course, the reasonable fear that protects us – or makes us take action when needed. The kind I’m dealing with is the kind that can stop someone dead in their tracks. The kind that can eat away at someone until they are hopelessly enmeshed in the fencing around healthy thought or life.

I have a dear friend facing a medical procedure – her comment? “…I was kinda upset for a few days. But, I feel good, and I’m going to keep a positive attitude about this.” What an upbeat attitude about things.

As further “living without fear” … wander over to one of my absolutely favorite blogs – “Don’t Make Me Get My Flying Monkeys…” read carefully the posts about Dale. There certainly is much to fear – but I find no evidence of it … only positive attitude. (OK, I just had to borrow steal this picture from Laurie) – When talking about him being back in the hospital for a tune-up — this is the picture he gives Laurie:

And then I read “Two Lucky People” and realize that with all Yen and Jesse have gone through fear is not really a part of where they are. The fear that was creeping over me concerning my physical problem is simply melting away. In short, I had something I thought was a boil – which isn’t, and the swelling is spreading. I’ll be at the Doctors tomorrow and will know more then. In the meantime, my mind had created an incredible set of theatrical pieces (Having spent many years acting, directing and writing – it happens!!) The worst part about all those “scenes”…they had no basis in reality only anxiety and fear.

Just as I required my speech students to do, I began a search on what other people had/have said about fear.

Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.
–Bertrand Russell

Courage is fear that has said its prayers.
–Dorothy Bernard

Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make you a far happier and more productive person.
–Dr. David M. Burns

No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.
–Edmund Burke

One need not be a chamber to be haunted;
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Material place.
–Emily Dickinson

It is when power is wedded to chronic fear that it becomes formidable.
–Eric Hoffer

You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.
–Eric Hoffer

In life we don’t get what we want, we get in life what we are. If we want more we have to be able to be more, in order to be more you have to face rejection.
–Farrah Gray

None but a coward dares to boast that he has never known fear.
–Ferdinand Foch

Even the fear of death is nothing compared to the fear of not having lived authentically and fully.
–Frances Moore Lappe

I’ve grown certain that the root of all fear is that we’ve been forced to deny who we are.
–Frances Moore Lappe

Let the fear of danger be a spur to prevent it; he that fears not, gives advantage to the danger.
–Francis Quarles

There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.
–George Carlin

Fear is the tax that conscience pays to guilt.
–George Sewell

A timid person is frightened before a danger, a coward during the time, and a courageous person afterward.
–Jean Paul Richter

Fear not those who argue but those who dodge.
–Marie Ebner von Eschenbach

Fear is a question: What are you afraid of, and why? Just as the seed of health is in illness, because illness contains information, your fears are a treasure house of self-knowledge if you explore them.
–Marilyn Ferguson

Fear is that little darkroom where negatives are developed.
–Michael Pritchard

To use fear as the friend it is, we must retrain and reprogram ourselves…We must persistently and convincingly tell ourselves that the fear is here–with its gift of energy and heightened awareness–so we can do our best and learn the most in the new situation.
–Peter McWilliams

The fear of death is more to be dreaded than death itself.
Publilius Syrus

Feel the fear and do it anyway.
–Susan Jeffers

At first cock-crow the ghosts must go
Back to their quiet graves below.
–Theodosia Garrison

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.
–Eleanor Roosevelt

I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.
–Louisa May Alcott

The hens they all cackle, the roosters all beg,
But I will not hatch, I will not hatch.
For I hear all the talk of pollution and war
As the people all shout and the airplane roar,
So I’m staying in here where it’s safe and it’s warm,
–Shel Silverstein

–more to come

—Dragon picture

Another Triplet ~ Early Morning Thoughts

This weekend spent at D&D’s was interesting, enjoyable (mostly) and somewhat thought provoking. I’ll share more tomorrow, but while there I ran across these three stories, that had quite a bit to do with the weekend – and I wanted to share them. Unfortunately, I could find no authors for the tales.


One night three horsemen were riding across the desert. When they came to the dry bed of a river a voice came out of the darkness, and said, “Halt!”

The men obeyed the command of the hidden voice. the voice then said, “You have done as I commanded. Now get off your horses, pick up a handful of pebbles, put the pebbles in your pockets, remount your horses, and continue on your journey.” The the voice added, “Since you have done as I commanded, tomorrow at sunrise you will be both glad and sorry that you obeyed me.”

Mystified, the three horsemen rode on through the night. when the sun arose the horsemen reached into their pockets and found that a miracle had happened. the pebbles in their pockets had been transformed into magnificent diamonds, rubies and other precious stones. They remembered the warning, that they would be both glad and sorry; glad that they had taken some pebbles, sorry that they had not taken more.


A spider built his web in a barn, high up among the rafters, where he started by spinning along think thread attached to the end of one of the beams. With this thread still attached to him, the spider jumped off the beam and spun out more thread on the way down, until he reached the place he planned as the center of his web. From the center he then spun out other threads like the spokes of a wheel, attaching each of them to the walls and other places. finally he had an exquisitely made web, that helped him catch many fine fat flies. but he grew fat and lazy and vain.

One day he was admiring the web he had spun and he noticed the long fine thread he had first spun from the top beam and said, “I wonder what that is for? I can’t imagine why I ever put it there — it doesn’t catch any flies.”

And so on a sudden impulse he broke it. but as a result, the whole wonderful web collapsed. The spider had forgotten that the one thread — the link to the beam — supported the whole web.


A series of reverses had deprived him of money, possessions and finally of self-respect. He turned despairingly to begging — extending an unsure hand with a few pencils in it at subways stations in downtown Manhattan.

One day an elderly banker dropped a quarter in the beggar’s trembling hand, turned to go, hesitated and then wheeled on the beggar with: “I want to apologize for treating you as a beggar. You are a merchant, or course, and I came back to get the pencil I paid for.” The astonished peddler handed the banker five pencils and thanked him with wondering warmth.

Many months later the banker stopped into a small stationery store on the outer fringe of the Wall Street area. He was about to leave after make a few minor purchases – the proprietor stopped him and said? “I’m sure you won’t remember me, but I will never forget you. Some time ago, I was a subway beggar with a handful of pencils and you treated me as a business man – a ‘merchant’ you called me. that remark gave me back my self-respect. From then on I refused gifts and really sold pencils — lots of them and good ones, too. From this sidewalk business I saved my money, borrowed a bit more, and then opened this little shop. I’m beginning to make a go of it. and all because of a few words from you.”

Friends(hip) ~ Early Morning Thoughts

As I continued to think about friends and friendships today, I was struck again by the truth of the quote:

True friendship is at once selfish and selfless. And both sides are necessary. Both sides are good.

Otherwise, it becomes something that is one-sided and (as I have learned) very unhealthy. And at times, that has been a problem for me. I have had a tendency (that I still have to battle with) to simply become a conduit for the other person. It’s been a sense of giving them more importance than myself. I would placing their problems, joys, hopes, dreams above my own. I’ll be posting as to how I realized what was going on, and what I’ve had to do to make changes. Tonight, I wanted to stroll through some ideas that have meant a lot to me about friendship and what it means.

The Gift Of Friends

There are days when
bubbling from us comes
the innocent child within,
who giggles at the little things
and wears a silly grin.

There are days when
melancholy comes to
visit for a while;
the mind feels tired, the body weak;
we have no strength to smile.

There are days when
joy abundant
grabs a hold of you and me;
wraps us up in all it’s splendor,
lifts us up and sets us free.

There are days when
sorrow wraps us
in its cloak of grief and fear,
’till our hearts ache to the breaking,
’till our eyes can’t shed a tear.

There are days when
love bestows us
with its wonderment and light;
with its beauty and its mystery,
its power and its might.

And there are days when
life rewards us
and seems to make amends
by granting us a marvelous gift,
the precious gift of Friends.
–Karin Schaefer

The next poem/statements really struck a chord with me the first time I read it. As a series of simple statements – each one if packed with power and truth. I also discovered that if I didn’t agree with something he wrote, if I left it alone – I discovered he was generally right all along…

I am not your friend if. . .
you have to think a long time before you speak to me!

i am not your friend if. . .
my presence ever makes you feel uncomfortable!

i am not your friend if. . .
you have to continually say sorry for everything you don’t do!

i am not your friend if. . .
you hesitate to ask me for favors!

i am not your friend if. . .
you think i would not be curious to know your new philosophy of life!

i am not your friend if. . .
you go by what i say and do not understand what i don’t say!

i am not your friend if. . .
you think that listening to your dreams would put me to sleep!

i am not your friend if. . .
you think that seeing you in pain, would not bring a tear to me!

i am not your friend if. . .
you don’t realize how your smile brightens up my day!

i am not your friend if. . .
you would rather keep quiet when you really wanna to talk!

i am not your friend if. . .
you hesitate to ask me to stay back when you think we should be together!
–attributed to a Serbian freedom fighter

And for the final thought in this post, a very short poem that absolutely made a difference in MY outlook the first time I read it. But then – being a terminal romantic (we’re the ones that pat the sandwich after we make it – remember?) it would speak to me in many different levels.

Lost Treasures

They told me

that to truly find something,
you must first lose it.

So I lost myself,
and what I found was

They were right.
–H. Lamb

–more tomorrow

Standing In Friendship – Early Morning Thoughts

So I sought for a man among them
who would make a wall,
and stand in the gap…

As I thought about Two Lucky People (Yen and Jesse) today, I thought about a lot of people I am blessed to know. I began to send thoughts/prayers/energy their way – very specific ones I might add. There are times when people we know are hurting, ill or in serious trouble and we can be quite specific. Other times, we can only be general as the exact nature of what’s going on isn’t known, or isn’t being said.

Each one of us has a unique way of accomplishing this, but it is the love behind what is done rather than the form that makes the difference! Sometimes the situation looks so hopeless that I feel helpless. But that forces me to remember that distance is no barrier – especially when joined with others from all over. That places the love everywhere present and helps to unite even when separated by great distance. And that’s encouraging.

It’s also the giving of myself that’s the key. And by doing that, I can reach out and attempt to touch in some way those around me, those far from me that I only know by letters on a page.

You may not have ever seen me
But you know that I am here.
You can feel me in your heart
As you enter each new day.

I will always be there for you
I am your friend.

Someone to share the good times
As well as the bad.
I make no judgments by what you say
I just listen with my heart and
Hope to be of help in anyway I can.

I will be there for you now and forever
And always please remember
I am your friend!
–author unknown

And that touch – from thoughts/prayers/energy can mean so much to someone in need. Even to know that I am trying to understand, share and care…says to someone you are not alone.

And at my .. ahem … stage in life, to know that I am not alone (even at my most lonely) is a powerful force of change AND hope.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I’ve heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.
–Emily Dickinson

And the phrase “standing in the gap” kept coming to me today and I realized that really didn’t have a very good idea of what that really meant. It was in that category of phrases I thought I knew, and have used – but didn’t really have a grasp of the enormity of what it meant.

The following statement was a collection of definitions/usage of the phrase:

To expose one’s self for the protection of something;
to make defense against any assailing danger;
to take the place of a fallen defender or supporter

When I sent out thoughts/prayers/energy – however or whatever is sent- I’m actually accomplishing quite a bit. Much more than I (who has been around this awhile) realized.

The phone company’s ad line “Reach Out and Touch Someone” carried far more meaning than they realized.