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. 

That’s So Darwin ~ Late Evening Thoughts …

Absolutely one of my favorite awards to read about are the Darwin Awards:

“Darwin Awards: We watch the watchman watch the watchmen.”
Natural selection deems that some individuals
serve as a warning to others. 
  Who are we to disagree?
The next generation, ever and anon, is descended from the survivors.

Here’s the link to their site  …. for sheer enjoyment ….

The problem with these awards, they are awarded posthumously.  You know, for those who have [thankfully] removed themselves from the gene pool.

As I was wandering around the internet … I discovered some folks that I think I’ll keep and eye on to see if they … um … show up in the awards.

darwin award nominee1 darwin award nominee2 darwin award nominee3 darwin award nominee4 darwin award nominee5 darwin award nominee6 darwin award nominee7These should be fun to follow right???



And They Came To Believe And It Came To Pass ~ Late Evening Thoughts

[updated video link 9/26/2012]

Hopefully, by the time I’m done this post will make sense.  Starting with Friday, this was an amazing weekend for me.  I celebrated a dear friend’s birthday, went with two VERY dear friends to Rocky Horror Picture Show with a wonderful, silly and noisy audience, and Sunday went to a club where I actually felt free to dance and not worry about the “youngers” standing on the sides going “ewwwww”!  I also, at the club had my inner theater geek (30+ years in theater will do that do you) explode as I got to see ~ but sadly not touch ~ the computerized controls for the entire light system.  Yes, it was an amazing, exhausting but fun weekend.  A true mountain top experience.

As we all know, you really can’t live on the mountain top ~ you inevitably must go down into the valley.  And that’s where I came to today.  One thing I’ve learned is that there’s really no good grass or water on the mountain top, it’s down in the valley.  While the valley may not be totally comfortable and it’s certainly NOT the high of the top, it still is very, very important and extremely worthwhile ~ if you let it.

As I was dealing with the “down” of today, my mind went to some of my friends complaints that I have a tendency to believe in people far longer than I should.  I know that it is sometimes a problem.  I had one person I was trying to help who fell into the pattern of using me to “have a place to stay to sober-up, get a little food to eat, clothes washed and a little money” – rinse, repeat.  I have another that I have such a soft spot for…a couple of years ago, he was trying to spark a business and I made an investment.  Not in the business, but in him.  I believed in him then, and I believe in him now.  I’m seeing some pay-off from the investment, but I must be the only one so far.

But as I was wondering in my mind ~ there is a saying that “My mind is a dangerous place to wander in, unaccompanied ~ especially at night ~ I began to question my belief in people.  Then, my inner “me” took me back through much of my life … the problems in college, relationships that failed – badly, the three suicide attempts.  It was the third attempt  (which I posted about here before – feel free to read the history),  when at the CRU – the Crisis Residential Unit – that someone actually said they believed in me.  Now, don’t get me wrong, there were plenty that believed in me, but somehow I had to come to the bottom before I could really realize it.  And as I climbed out of THAT “slough of despond” I became acutely aware of how powerful our belief in someone can be.  Oh, I’ve done it before, but there always seemed to be an agenda.  Now, I’m working agenda free.

To me, that’s where the power really begins.  You see someone not just as they are, but as they could be for themselves…..not as the person YOU want them to be.  I can’t change anyone, I can only encourage and believe in them.  They may not take the paths I would have or would have chosen – but they are on their own journey not mine.

I’m going to post more on this at another time, but also during the “down” of today, I found this video.  Here’s the power of only ONE person believing in someone.  He had only one person, his grandmother…I still cry each time I watch this video.  I want my life to be as she is … in the background, but believing.  That’s one of the things I’d like to be remembered for when – in the not too distant future – I’m gone that someone will say: “He believed in me”.

First off, I’m sorry there will probably be an ad (it is from You Tube after all) and please watch it all the way through and see what terrible power being told “you’re not good enough” can have over someone.  I’m not saying we have to encourage someone when they obviously can’t do something.  There’s no way at my age and (ahem) physical condition I’ll be an Olympic athlete – but there’s other things I can do…. and so can you.

[It appears I own an apology to Freemantle AND X-factor UK …Here’s the video embedded]

See people where they are, and for who they are … and as I used to tell my speech students, don’t change the pattern, just eliminate the flaws.

Early Afternoon Thoughts ~ The Day You Think You Are Too Old To …

When I flew up to Montana several years ago to conduct my Mother’s memorial service, I stayed at her house.  On the coffee table was a book whose title I believe was “Getting Old Isn’t For Sissies“.  As I glanced through the book one statement struck me and has stayed with me since.  Part of the statement is the title of this post:

“The day you think you are too old to do something, is exactly the day you should do it …” 

That has governed a lot of my thinking over the past few years.  I love the statement “I will get OLDER, there is nothing I can do about that.  However, I refuse to get OLD.”

At my current … ahem …. age,, I know that I’m no longer 21, 31, 41 or even 51 … but I have developed a love for life and living that I pray I never lose.  That’s why, when I saw this video today, it really struck a chord with me.  I have admit I laughed and laughed while watching this.  This fellow is amazing and so are those around encouraging him.  He’s certainly not lost his love of life!!!

(sorry that it’s a link…for some reason it won’t embed!!!)

Which got me looking for some of my favorite quotations and some new ones…

Getting older is no problem. You just have to live long enough.
Groucho Marx
The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.
Madeleine L’Engle
Part of getting older is realizing that you can integrate all these different areas of your life, rather than the adolescent mindset, which for me lasted a long time, which says, ‘It’s all or nothing.’
Chris Robinson
The minute you’re born, you’re getting older.
Doris Roberts

This one is probably one of my favorites:                                                                                           Do not regret growing older.  It is a privilege denied to many.  ~Author Unknown

The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.  Doug Larson

Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years.  We grow old by deserting our ideals.  Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.      Samuel Ullman

I still have a full deck; I just shuffle slower now.                                                             Author Unknown 

What are some of your favorites?

And We Got Here How? (Part 3) ~

As I continue this ramble through time, I stopped last just at the Birmingham riots.  As I said, these riots and other events that followed showed us that we were not living the quaint life we all thought we were.  As I said, we knew that the “Leave It To Beaver” shows were far from reality, but it was a “reality” that we seemed to cling to as what could be and, more importantly, what SHOULD be.  The race changes knock a deep hole in that belief.  As I was growing up during that time, a lot of “get back to where they belong” and “they don’t know their place” seemed to crop up in a lot of conversations.  No, those exact words weren’t the ones that were used but the intent was the same.  “Uppity” was also a word I was introduced to …

This whole upset I don’t think has ever really gone away.  Because what seemed to come on the heels of all that was, of course, the Kent State demonstrations and the photograph that still haunts today …. (BTW this photo was taken by John Filo)

Now, the second hit arrives.  This wasn’t a death by a terrorist, by a criminal or an accident.  This was by someone who was a part of a group that we all believed were there to protect us, help us and get us through the tough times.  Now, we had new terms “dirty hippy”, “radical” “peacenik”, idiot sponger” and such.  Also remember, during much of this time Dr. Carl McItire and others like him were causing everyone (including myself) to be frightened of communists everywhere – but especially where you least expected them.  This was actually a “whistle” to be afraid of anyone that didn’t look like/sound like/act like/marry like/eat like/smell like whatever the standard was at that time.

So, this allows folks to easily move back and forth from “not like us” and “not white like us”.  . And this also cemented even further the cynicism and distrust that had bubbled onto the surface of so many lives.

Sunday is the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the events that would (in my mind) show how we got here ….

And We Got Here How? (Part 2) ~

Over these next few posts, please keep in mind that much of this occurred while growing up in Montana.  Some things seemed very far away, but it didn’t mean I wasn’t deeply aware of what was happening – especially as a university student.  Of course, Montana didn’t have a large population of ANY Ethnic group….as Dick Gregory once said at the University of Montana – Missoula: “If someone wanted to hold a race-riot in Montana, they could use the high school Gymnasium…”

We, in Montana, were not the only ones with a quaint view of life.  Even my Mother knew that “Leave it to Beaver”, “Ozzie and Harriet”, “Father Knows Best” were not exactly the reality of all time.  That didn’t mean, however, that this didn’t color how we wanted our world to be/look.  Also be aware, that I grew up in a “peace at any cost” household, so a son who was sticking a toe in the waters of activism – let alone some of the OTHER choices I was making in my life – probably caused no end of consternation.

Probably nothing hit our lives more than the one photo that I posted … the fire hoses being turned on school kids.


Now, this part of the story is a little muddled in memory, so bear with me.  I even contacted my sister – she’s “slightly” older than I am to try and clear up some confusion.  I think we really confused each other even more …

In the late 50’s, my Father’s Rotary Club wanted to sponsor a foreign exchange student – from Africa.  At that time, in our town of Kalispell – there were one family of blacks and one single guy who’d been a shoeshine guy for as long as I can remember ….

There was concern about what – if any – problems there might be.  (Remember our quaint view here folks).  At that time, one of the more popular cafe places in town STILL had a sign in the window that said: “No Coloreds Allowed”.  My Dad took it upon himself to visit every business in town and find out if he would be able to shop there, eat there, go there, etc.  According to my Mom, the results somewhat shocked him….and he went on a campaign to change that.  Sadly, the sign in the cafe stayed – but everything else seemed to work out.

Problem solved, you say … and I’m sure in many minds it was.  But you know the drill – as long as everyone knows their place.

Birmingham not only challenged that, but showed that there was a lot more going on then people were willing to admit or even face.   At that time, there were more blacks in town.  I have no idea what they thought, but I do know that what out neighbors and friends thought pretty much mirrored what was being said/thought elsewhere.

More on that next post … which WILL be sooner, I promise!!!!