Gratitude photo challenge #8

Today is something I’m grateful for with Texture. It’s the sentiment on the foil wrapper.  

Gratitude photo scavenger hunt #7

Today is something I’m grateful for in My Closet. 

Me, in my closet. The antique dresser that was my grandfather’s. My husband’s weights. But the thing I’m grateful for is my acceptance of my body. It took me a long time to get there — years and years. But I love the way I look. If someone doesn’t, I honestly do not care. 

Gratitude photo scavenger hunt #6

Today is something I’m grateful for that is Hard. 

This is a piece of artwork I made for a client a few months ago. Sometimes art is hard — this painted guitar had 3-D elements that were very hard to make. On another note, the piece was hard to conceptualize because I had no idea what to do for the sing “Proud Mary.”

Gratitude photo scavenger hunt #4

Today is something I’m grateful for that is Soft. That’s my Eleanor Rigby. 

Grief: and I’m not sorry for what I’m feeling/bring the ceiling to the ground

I’ve been working on this post for some time. Since mid-September. And it just doesn’t seem to get finished.

Grief is hard. And there are many kinds of grief; death is only one. And many things have been written about grief. I’m sure there is not one thing you’ll read in this post that will be an “a-ha” Oprah moment for you, but maybe a “hmm, ok” moment. Or maybe you’ll go look at cat videos. That’s fine, too.

In Psychology class in high school I learned the five stages of the Kübler-Ross model of grief. Grief can be a death or some life-threatening illness or a life-changing situation.

The first stage is Denial. Of course. Then comes Anger. Anger is what I’m writing about today. Denial says “this isn’t happening. This can’t happen to me. This is a dream/nightmare. No, this isn’t real.” Denial can last for a while until the boom lowers.

There is nothing wrong with anger. Anger is an emotion that is essential in life. Many people are very slow to anger and are pretty mellow most of the time. There is something to the stereotype of the redheaded temper. In the R.E.M. song “Redhead Walking,” Michael Stipe sings “When ginger hair gets all fired up/She beats them in the night/That redhead walking, uh/Don’t get close/She’ll warn you with her growl”

In other words, you have been warned.

Oh, anger. My friend of fire and rage that I do not welcome with open arms. Rage starts in your freshly painted red toes, then bubbles up to your gut and simmers. It will simmer until it can simmer no more. It starts as a low rolling boil until it pries its way into your heart at a full boil. Full boil is dangerous. Full boil can find its way up your esophagus onto your tongue and make you spit words you cannot take back.  Rage goes up to your eyeballs and makes them hot. Have you ever been so angry that your eyes felt hot? That, my friend, is rage.

What rage gets right is John Cusack in High Fidelity screaming out the window at his ex-girlfriend, “If you really wanted to mess me up you should have gotten to me earlier!”

I would prefer to stay in anger because the next stage is Bargaining, such as asking God to change the situation or the “if only” talk and I don’t buy that. That is for the ones who think wishing will change things. Wishing gives you hope, but isn’t an answer. It won’t change anything. Wishing is “someday my prince will come” while wearing rags and standing around a well in animated movie. Wishing is for dreams. I stick with anger. Anger makes sense. Anger is logical. It’s the stage Batman got stuck in and it worked out pretty well for him.

I prefer to stay in Anger because the step after Bargaining is Depression and that is a dark, dark place where I do not wish to visit. You see, I’ve had the Big D since I was 16, and even though I’m doing well now with medication, Depression doesn’t care. Depression will suck me in and hold me down on that dark place. Depression makes me want to suffer. Depression wants to make me stay in bed and wallow in emotion that drenches my eyes and stings after awhile. Depression robs you of everything in your life that should bring you joy. Sure, you’ll laugh at something once in awhile — depression allows you that — but it’s always waiting like the Eternal Footman holding your coat, snickering bastard. That’s depression.

So, here it is in November. And the Anger is still there. I skipped bargaining because my mind knows better. I’m between Depression and Acceptance. I go back and forth. More questioning than anything. More thoughts that are singular and won’t end up as blog post or a Facebook status — just a “what the fuck was that?” Just a “did that — was that — who does that — and why — and how did we get here?”

Then the Ben Folds lyric from House — “I’m not sorry/For what I’m feeling/Blow the walls out/Bring the ceiling to the ground”

Because I’m not sorry for what I’m feeling. And dammit, bring the ceiling to the ground.

It doesn’t matter what the grief is caused by. Over the past twenty years I’ve lost love ones, I’ve lost babies, I’ve had friends enter and re-enter my life, I’ve had them exit – just like that, I’ve moved 12 times, I’ve lost a business, I’ve lost — I’ve lost — I’ve lost. So, maybe it’s delayed grief over several things. Maybe it’s not. But it’s real. And it’s real hard. And it will get easier. And I’ll go on. I’ll go on a little lost for awhile, but I’ll go on.

Which brings me to a song by Phosphorescent that’s a go-to for me these past couple of months. It’s “Song For Zula” and I posted it last month, but it sticks with me because it’s truly about grief. Here’s the first stanza:

“Some say love is a burning thing
That it makes a fiery ring
Oh but I know love as a fading thing
Just as fickle as a feather in a stream
See, honey, I saw love,
You see it came to me
It puts its face up to my face so I could see
Yeah then I saw love disfigure me
Into something I am not recognizing”

That — right there — is grief. “Something I am not recognizing.” And further in the song is what I think is somewhere where I am right now — between Anger, Depression, and Acceptance:

“You see the moon is bright in that treetop night
I see the shadows that we cast in the cold clean light
I might fear I go and my heart is white
And we race right out on the desert plains all night
So honey I am now, some broken thing
I do not lay in the dark waiting for day here
Now my heart is gold, my feet are right
And I’m racing out on the desert plains all night”

I don’t know if that’s what Phosphorescent was intending to put across, but I know what I get from it. Because I am broken, but I’m not waiting for day because I’m, figuratively, racing on the desert plains all night.

And with that, this post is finished. Like so many things.

Gratitude photo scavenger hunt 

Today is something I’m grateful for in The Park. 

My cute family. 

Gratitude photo scavenger hunt #3

Today is something I’m grateful for in the City.

Ben Folds. Just Ben Folds. In concert.

Gratitude Photo Scavenger Hunt #2

Today is something I’m grateful for in Nature

Cayenne. My favorite rose. 

Gratitude photo scavenger hunt

Y’all know I usually hate this kind of thing, but Hillary over at The Second Forty and I were looking for a November blog challenge and she found this one we kinda like.

Today is something I’m grateful for In Color.

Pink. The cake my three children made for Mother’s Day.

Always and Never: about Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath would have been 85 last week. I thought I’d write something about her.

Sylvia Plath was a great poet. Like most poets, she was a tortured soul. I wouldn’t be so bold as to say that most writers are tortured, I only know myself and what I’ve read about other writers. Psychiatrists debate over whether Plath was Bipolar or Depressive. What I know is that in the last 6 months of her life she attempted suicide in several different ways. She was a resourceful girl. I’ve read a great deal about Plath. One article I can’t get out of my head said “died by her own hand,” which is stupid because that makes it sound like she slapped herself to death. In the weeks before her suicide, she had someone coming to help take care of her two children everyday. She was seeing her psychiatrist everyday and he had tried to have her hospitalized for weeks, but there were no beds in London. He put Plath on an antidepressant days before her suicide, but antidepressants take a couple of weeks to start working. Maybe if she had started the antidepressant a month prior she wouldn’t have considered suicide. Maybe if there would have been an empty hospital bed. Maybe if she and her husband hadn’t been estranged. Maybe if she hadn’t been in London. Maybe if…

Depression creeped in early for Plath. She attempted to slit her own throat at 10 years old after the sudden death of her father. Her father died after having his leg amputated due to gangrene due to an infection from advanced diabetes. In a stanza of her most-noted poem, “Daddy,” she wrote:

Bit my pretty red heart in two.
I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.

I’m sure there were other factors besides her failing to get into a writing class at Harvard that prompted her suicide attempt at 20. She gashed her legs open before seeing a psychiatrist who started her on electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). After that she hid under her porch, swallowed all of her sleeping pills, and fell into a coma before her family noticed and brought her to a hospital where she was brought out of the coma and sent to a psychiatric hospital. She stayed at the psychiatric hospital for four months and was given a course of ECT, insulin treatments, and psychotherapy. I can’t imagine four months in a facility. I could hardly stand six days. At 23 she went back to college at Cambridge, where she met and married her husband, Ted Hughes, the following year. Later she taught at another alma mater, Smith, but found it hard to write and teach simultaneously. She friended other writers —Anne Sexton and Robert Lowell — and began a more confessional type of writing (sort of what I do on this little blog). She was transparent about her suicide attempts and struggles with depression and self-harm in her writing. As I’ve said many times, writing is therapy and Plath self-medicated in this way — but of course, it wasn’t enough.

Plath’s mother said Sylvia’s favorite words were “always” and “never,” which is telling. To me, those words are so Bipolar — very me. Everything is extremes. That is what this disorder is.

We have to remember that this was before the modern anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, anti-psychotic, anti-everything drugs we have now that much of the time aren’t the wonder drugs that a lot of people without mental illness think they are. If it all worked, we wouldn’t still have psychiatric facilities. Anydrug, Plath seemed to be okay for awhile (because we with mental illness CAN be okay, but still have depression). She and Hughes had children, she miscarried, they moved a couple of times, and she wrote. Once she crashed her car in an attempt at suicide. That’s kind of the thing about Bipolar Disorder and Depression. Like I said, you can seem okay, but not be okay. You can function, but not be functional. Everything can be alright and then suicide ideation comes up and you crash your car or take a handful of pills. She published the semi-autobiographical The Bell Jar to mostly positive reviews. Much discussion was made about the semi-autobiographical themes of the novel and Plath herself. If you’ve read the novel and know much about Plath, you can’t help but draw comparisons. Only a month after its publication in the U.K., Plath committed suicide. Before the publication, Plath intercepted a phone call from her husband’s mistress. They separated.  She moved into the former home of poet William Butler Yeats. She went on with life, with caring for her children, and with writing. She was fine. Then on February 11, 1963, knowing a nurse would be coming at 9 am, while her children were sleeping, she opened their bedroom window. She left food and something to drink in their room, closed the door and stuffed a towel underneath. She went to the kitchen, again stuffed towels under the door and sealed it up with tape. She turned the gas on and put her head in the oven. She was 30 years old.


My favorite poem by Sylvia Plath is “Mad Girl’s Love Song.” This is it.

“I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan’s men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you’d return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)”