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An open letter to my niece Sue (and to all of you too.)
Life is not fair you say, and at times I must agree with you but there are somethings we are responsible for in keeping the deck clean and cutting it fairly. Sue, your zayde used to remind us when we complained of kvetched (no I am not insinuating you are,) that we have to choices in life to live or to die. The luckier we are to live through the SHIT STORMS provides us with wisdom to make tomorrow (or today) a better day.
COVID19 is nondiscriminatory, although if you ask the male or Afro-American segments of this global pandemic they might disagree. However, we have seen the very young as well as the geriatric community become infected, and most recover but millions are still dying. All we can do to survive is to follow the #STAYATHOME rules, #WASH_OUR_HANDS, #WEAR_A_MASK, so we stay out of harm’s way.
You are one of the lucky ones. I know MS is not a “walk in the park” immune disorder. However, you have fought it with all your might and we are blessed you are still here to shout and scream about life not being fair. As the mother of twins both born on the spectrum, you have given them life beyond birth. You believe in their strengths and they have developed into young adults who we can all be proud of. It has not been easy for you or them but nothing in life that comes easy reaps the rewards. Your loving husband Joe also has medical ailments that put him at high risk for the virus. Although we may not remind you of our concern and love is not to say we are unaware and non-caring. However, as he follows the protocol we know that is all you and he can do at this time.
When I say you are lucky, you found a sister, best friend with Liz who is a second mom to your children. Often when we get divorced like the two of us, it is not common to hear that both moms are friends. But you with your heart of gold found the good in Liz and she in you. I truly admire the two of you for the relationship you have. Both you and Liz have made the lives of your children better for it. I can’t thank her enough for helping both Wylie and Hayley transition through this as she did. You are one blended family!
Another lucky star or stars in your life is finding your birth family and developing a relationship with them. Not everyone is as blessed to find their birth parents and siblings but you have and you all embraced each other when often the opposite is the result. The parents who raised you encouraged you to follow the path to seek your birthright and now you have a circle of life embracing you. (I could go into what seems like Millions of Friends, but that for another time.)
However, yesterday, when Liz tested positive for COVID19, life felt unfair and you lashed out at those who don’t want to believe in the FACTS of this insidious disease. I applaud you for telling people how sad, frustrated, and anxious you feel! When this hits close to home especially to a front line worker (Liz is a nurse,) it seems even more unfair. However, we have no control and all we can do is feed Liz positive vibes, keep her family (her daughter, the twins, and her husband,) in our special prayers and thoughts. As a cancer survivor, she is at a higher risk, but as a survivor, she has the will and stamina to get well again!
Isn’t it time for all of us to wisen up and realize if we do not prepare for the worst when it happens, and it will, we will be blown away in the wind. The devastation from COVID19 could have been so much less if some in our government would have had the BALLS to get involved in stopping or slowing down the spread of this horrific disease. However, DJT did not, he, in fact, called in “Fake News.” Now we are living and struggling with the fallout.
To Sue and All, we cannot allow this to define us, we must define ourselves and become the best of our best. That includes taking all the safety precautions to keep ourselves and others safe. I ask you to keep Liz, and all the VICTIMS of this VIRUS close to your hearts and let our energies help to send healing powers.
I am adding Liz to my list of those I know who have recovered because, #IBelieve
Today was an amazing day, the first of many Sherapy: Therapy with Sherry Amatenstein. Sherry is an NYC-based psychotherapist and author. Her podcast is a little unconventional for some. Still, it is becoming more traditional, especially to Millennials, as well as working professionals who want to participate in therapy but are limited on time and travel. Each episode of Sherapy is a 50-minute therapy session. The aim is to demystify and destigmatize psychotherapy. Too many people in distress still suffer silently. None of the participants are her private patients. On Sherapy, a person can receive complimentary therapy and remain anonymous. If interested, please contact Sherry at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am so excited to have Sherry Amatenstein on our podcast show real she may be heard by clicking on https://newclevelandradio.net/sherapy-real-therapy-with-sherry-amatenstein-3/real-therapy-with-sherry-amatenstein_podcasts/ – choose a streaming service to listen to this podcast.
Sherry Amatenstein (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) is the author of The Complete Marriage Counselor: Relationship Saving Advice from America’s Top 50+ Couples Therapists; Love Lessons from Bad Breakups; and Q&A Dating Book.
She writes advice columns for www.womansday.com, www.thirdage.com andwww.brides.com, and is frequently called upon to give relationship advice on many national radio and TV programs, including The Today Show, Early Show, Inside Edition, GMA Live, CBS News, and HuffPost Live.
I hope you will enjoy the show and learn more about yourself by listening to others share their journeys.
For my friend Amy:
The post below from a few months ago. Bella is now at the Vet/hospital, getting ultrasounds and x-rays and all sorts of tests because she’s begun to disappear right in front of our eyes. I’m hoping for a miracle, but more than anything – I write with tears falling on the computer keys – I want her to be at peace and no longer in pain.
Here, the post from back when, a little about the beauty named Bella:
She chose us.
Ken wanted the sexy blonde cat. I was partial to the misfit. The crazy-ass misfit with a beauty mark right on the tip of her nose. Ken tried everything in his power to get the blonde cat chick into the cat carrier; promising her a cat collar made of catnip.
I told him he was wasting his time.
“Really?” he asked.
“She’s just not that into you,” I said, paraphrasing/borrowing a great line from Sex in the City, or another HBO series.
While we were bickering the misfit walked into the cat carrier and sat down as if to say, “Hey humans, I’m yours now and I’m not letting you go.”
Her name is Bella, and she is struggling right now with her health and Ken believes it’s because we’re all struggling so very much and she is, after all, named after the great and amazing and feisty as all fuck Bella Abzug, and he believes she – our Bella – is fighting for all of us.
Would you please send her some good love.
Thank you so much.
A lot of my friends – tons of friends – are alone this year, this Thanksgiving. Many folks are estranged from their families; from friends or from a life they once had & held.
I know this feeling. Estrangement.
And I will tell you that there were many days – many days – more than I care to count – where I’d rewind, replay, re-adjust, re-calibrate, recall, & review all the crazy ass-shit that went down, all the shit that went sideways & just blew up. Imploded. The pain was unbearable. And what I can tell you, what I know – most of the guilt & shame & regret we carry around – schlep around – is not our own. It’s not. We inherited it; a collection – a greatest hits album – an entire lifetime of family history: the anger, the shame, the guilt; years of he said, she said, they said. Fuck you, no, no fuck you. fuck you more. Years of crap. Years of garbage piled on top of more garbage.
Years of mistakes & wrong turns & rebellion that are treated like felonies instead of misdemeanors – without forgiveness, or acceptance. There is nothing worse than having the past thrown up in your face over & over & over again. To be reminded of all the crazy crap you did when you didn’t know better. When all you wanted was to be seen, to be heard, to be held – when all you wanted was to be loved.
And the truth is – the rub is – everyone has their own shit.
Everyone has their own guilt.
Everyone has their own crap that they have dealt out, that they spewed, that they tossed into the heap.
Everyone has stuff that they need/want to hide, keep secret. Everyone has stuff they want hidden deep – way deep – kept in the darkness.
We are all broken. We are all filled with shards and jagged edges and sharp pointy pieces that can hurt like a motherfucker. We are all imperfect creatures. Each & every one of us, and my heart breaks, cracks, for all my friends who will sit alone this year wishing for forgiveness over stuff they said or did when they were younger. Foolish. Over mistakes they made because all they wanted was to be loved or liked, over actions they took, words they said, because they wanted a piece of a memory, a token of a love from someone they once cherished, adored. A reminder to hold. Wishing to hear the words: I’m so sorry. To hear the words: I was wrong. To hear the words: I hurt you, abused you, mistreated you.
We treat our own so unkindly and we wonder why the world is so deeply chaotic, so deeply troubled, so deeply wounded, so deeply steeped in pain & suffering; so unforgiving, so horribly mean-spirited.
So for all my friends and all the folks out there who are deeply, deeply pained, who are sorrowful during the holidays because they have been discarded, dismissed, forgotten, left out – please know this – we get to choose who we wanna share our lives with. We get to choose who we want in our lives. We get to choose the folks who lift us, inspire us, make us feel like we swallowed the sun. We get to choose who we walk side by side with, and stand with. We get to choose who we love. Blood may be thicker than water, but water is so much easier to clean up.
So, please, love yourself.
Please, forgive yourself.
Believe in the greatness of your own life.
Believe in your beauty.
Believe in your own amazing, stunning, messy, complicated, gorgeous life.
And if anyone – one soul – makes you feel that you are not worthy, not enough; if anyone makes you feel small, insignificant, less than – they do not deserve the privilege of you.
I hold you tight.
Donald trump is not “feeling up” America, people, he is FUCKING her; he is fucking her and he is abusing her and he is raping her and he is doing this every single day. He is trafficking her. He is trafficking America, selling her out – selling her, period.. This is how he treats women. Enough of this horrifying ugly nasty shit. Enough of this vulgar man. Enough of him and his ilk. Any man who can claim that he can grab a woman by her pussy because… he can – because he has the fame and the means and the money, any man who mocks the disabled, any man who claims the truth is fake news, any man who leads his followers to chant consistently and repeatedly Lock Her Up Lock Her Up Lock Her Up, any man who demeans & disgraces & devalues women, any man who throws his allies under a bus, any man who stands with White Supremacists & White Nationalists, any man who tosses babies into cages, any man who lies through his teeth…any man like this would be out on bail awaiting trial.
I don’t want him impeached, I want him impaled.
One moment of generosity can change a human heart.
These days, here in America, are hard right now. Folks are suffering, folks are mortified, folks are feeling disconnected, folks are feeling the unbearable weight of anger and frustration and worry and scared to fucking death; fear running through their veins.
Folks need love, compassion, understanding, generosity, sympathy and goodness.
Let’s give what we have to all those who need a bit more; let’s not hoard kindness, let’s give that away.
Kindness is meant to be shared not owned.
For some families, the 4th of July is for family, picnics or cookouts, and others it is still another workday. Even if it’s not another workday, you may find yourself alone with no plans either by choice or not. This holiday like so many others, can breed depression. If you are one of the millions suffering today (or any day) face your demons and take a step forward into the light!
Depression is more common than you might want to acknowledge, and you are not the only with these symptoms. Yes, indicators that may be causing you to feel down, worthless, empty, and utterly despondent. Statistically, 1 out of 15 adults experiences this sense of sadness annually. If you are one, it is essential to acknowledge it, embrace it, and get the assistance you may need.
I have been experiencing depression most of my life. However, while I was still living at home under the roof of my parents, their answer to this malady was to keep my chin up. It is easier said than done, and without the proper tools, it may be impossible. For me, it was all about reliving my feels and crying over my woes. Once I was cried out, I was too exhausted to feel miserable, so I put on my happy face and attempted to find the smile behind my mask.
After suffering for almost 64 years, I began to acknowledge my demons in the winter of 2014. Many of those demonic fears were self-imposed and yet I was unaware of that at the time. My journey began by acknowledging I was ill as I took sick leave from my corporate job that I loved; however, the environment was toxic for me. It was with this acknowledgment that I sought help.
Help came through therapies, including psychologically, medically, and spiritually. What I have learned is I am OK! Being OK does not mean perfect. It is the imperfections that make me special, unique, and astonishing. The opinion of others is not what should define me. This five plus year journey has taught me to be true to myself. It is not always comfortable.
Stepping out of my comfort zone was difficult, but I wanted to witness the amazement of loving life. These words are spoken and sung in various ways. Demi Lovato sings about finding the love and self-confidence inside yourself before you seek acceptance from anyone else. https://youtu.be/cwLRQn61oUY
Join me as I continue to share my journey, tell me about yours, and let’s create a safe and loving world. It’s time to become more aware of our needs while accepting that we are not alone. Hold out your hand and acceptance the guidance.
Depression is not a cookie cutter illness, nor is the treatment.
Last night I had the pleasure of being part of a great event, “Don’t Forget to Laugh” organized by Melinda Smith of Heart Mojo, https://www.spreaker.com/show/heart-mojo-with-melinda-smith. The entertainment consisted of four amazing comics all with heart and soul; Bill Benden, Tim Folger (no relation to the coffee), Mike Conley, and Michael Gershe. This talented group of individuals donated their time, energy and passion for an evening to support the Alzheimer’s Association.
Melinda Smith has a walk team to support the important message that only money for continued research will help eliminate, cure, or reduce the incidents of this mind altering disease. It is not just the individual that experiences the loss of memories that suffers but all that engage with them. Although this disease is not life-threatening, it destroys the nerves that connect in the brain that makes it difficult or impossible to do common every day things like, dressing, eating, and worst of all living in a fog of confusion. Like many of us, Linda had the experience of watching her grandmother live out her life with this disease. In fact, not only did her mother become a caregiver but Linda did as well, out of love and need for a family member.
Last night’s event is just one of several Melinda Smith will be coordinating to raise awareness and financial support for Alzheimer’s and Dementia which is kin to this disease. “Don’t forget to Laugh,” was held at the Funny Stop in Cuyahoga Falls. Owner Pete Barakat of the club graciously provided the space for this comedy event. Watch for more information on “Don’t forget to Laugh” coming to Cleveland, and other areas where we can come together to support ourselves and others to help in finding a cure.
On a side note, I want to share that studies show that laughter and music help heal parts of the brain. So keep laughing, do not lock it away.
Laugh to Keep From Crying Madonna
I can’t lock my door
Oh, I don’t have no privacy
The only thing that’s mine
Is what’s inside of me
When I’ve had enough
A little voice inside
It says you’ve got to be tough
You’ve got to take it in stride
Sometimes I am foolish
I let it get the best of me
At least I know that my mistakes
Are my responsibility
I just have to laugh to keep from crying
I just have to laugh to keep from crying
I don’t have a dime
Oh, to buy those pretty things
But I hear all the evidence
You know it all sounds the same
But I’m still waiting
I’ve got my hands open wide
You know my dream isn’t fading
I keep it hidden inside
I just have to laugh to keep from crying
I keep on trying
My friends don’t understand
Oh, they think I’ve lost my mind
And I’m choking back the tears
I’ve got to swallow my pride
I just have to laugh, ah
Songwriters: CICCONE MADONNA L / BRAY STEPHEN PATE
Laugh to Keep From Crying lyrics © WB Music Corp., Webo Girl Publishing Inc., Momma Hattie’S Muse, COPYRIGHT CONTROL (NON-HFA), WEBO GIRL PUBLISHING, INC., WB MUSIC CORP. O/B/O WEBO GIRL PUBLISHING, INC.
Monday, February 25, 2019 today begins the end of the shortest month of the year with the promise of spring around the corner. In less than two weeks we will be back on Daylight Savings time, and the daylight will extend into the early hours of the evening. Although SAD is one of my struggles this winter, I was able to control the blue and grey mood swings that come over me. I credit that to my family and friends as well as to myself. Six years ago when the seasonal affects (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder) took me down a spiraling abyss, I confronted this disorder. I acknowledged my depression and sought help. It was due to an accumulation of events that 2013 was both my worst mental health year and my best!
When we face our demons, and we all have them, it becomes an opportunity to accept the challenges and obstacles that lay before and to use the intelligence (the thought processes) to cut through the heavy, dense fog that is pulling us down, down, down!
In the winter of 2013, I had no idea that I was empowering myself to become the person I always thought I was. Instead, when I reflected on who I wanted to be and who I was, I knew it was time for a change, and that it is never too late. Although change can be terrifying and often we (I) have used excuses such as I can’t change because I’m too old, or I don’t have the resources the answer was I couldn’t I was not ready. Taking the fork in the road in February 2013 has allowed me to be me.
Here are lyrics of I Got to Be Me, sung by Sammy Davis, Jr.
Whether I’m right or whether I’m wrong
Whether I find a place in this world or never belong
I gotta be me; I’ve gotta be me
What else can I be but what I am
Please do not ask someone why they are anxious or depressed, often they cannot provide themselves with an explanation so why assume they will be able to communicate with you? Anxiety is normal it is part of the flight or fight process. Without a touch of anxiety, we could place ourselves in harm’s way walking up to roaring Lion or crossing the railroad track as a train comes towards us at full speed. However, anxiety that produces dread for seconds, minutes or longer can interfere with our normal routines. I know I went through this five years ago. Up until that time I pushed and prodded through often with tears and mood swings blaming it on trivial things like a broken nail, I gained a few pounds, or I was not included in an invitation. Oh whoa was me! However, those situations were just the triggers, they weren’t the reason, and sometimes we never figure out the whys!
Anxiety can affect us all in different ways including irritable bowel, obsessive-compulsive needs, and migraines, just to name a few obvious ones. In my case IB and Migraines are my malady and recently (over the past few weeks) I have had an increase in Migraine attacks along with this on again, off again of foreboding. My fear is my anxiety will deepen and take me into depression and I won’t and can’t have that as part of my journey.
The series that I am planning for 2019 will not only help me face the demons that invaded my thought pattern, but it will bring me closer to others while I share my story I will listen to theirs. It is only in this common thread of true and open communication that we can face this disease head-on. Yes, anxiety and depression by medical terminology are diseases, and although they do not need to be terminal without support, understanding, and acceptance, for some, it is life-threatening.
This week has been difficult despite the love, friendship and support of family and friends. However, please know there is still a brewing demon called anxiety living within in me, and I must become more intentional in my thoughts and living to extinguish what is not needed for survival.