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Monday, February 28, 2011

CBS news draft lottery nov 1969

I don't expect you to watch the whole thing, but it is a memory that brought fear into the hearts of many a young person and parent alike. It is worth remembering. No matter where you stand on politics, the past is never far enough to forget. Or it shouldn't be.

Polar pleasures

 To see a World in a grain of sand
And a Heaven in a wild flower.
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
        -William Blake

Friday, February 25, 2011

Moments that have stayed with me

My first real memory, I was very small. I could not speak yet, and I was sitting in one of those wind up swings on my grandparents front porch. It had stopped swinging and I wanted someone to wind it up again. It was probably the spring or summer of 1962. It is funny, the things that stay with you. I am amazed that the moment was important enough.

My next memory is the day John F. Kennedy died. I was sitting under the dining room table, playing with my little brother, and my Parents, and Grandparents were crying. It scared me, to see everyone upset. It was November 22, 1963. I was not yet two years old. I am just 11 months older than my brother, so he was almost one. He says he remembers it, too.

I am not going to bore you with all of my memories. The truth is, I have forgotten so much that I should remember. Some memories are just feelings, fears, scars. Some are stories that my Mother told me of her childhood. She was a wonderful story teller, and her memory was long and vivid. She could describe smells, sounds, sights, feelings. I would wrap myself up in her stories. She was a bright and shining light.

I hope my Children remember some of the stories I have told them. I know that in the past, on long drives, I would start to recall something to share, and they would say that they already knew that, so I think I have been successful. I hope that someone remembers me fondly.

When my son Zack was born, I would just sit on the couch, in our apartment, and stare at him, with the greatest love. I never knew I could love someone so much. He fascinated me. He was a content baby, and seldom cried. He was big, and smiley, and happy. His eyes were the clearest blue.

Nate was born 14 months later. I was a bit more tired, having two babies, but he was a welcome sight. He looks more like my side of the family. Zack looks exactly like his Dad. It was nice to see someone with familiar features. He was a fiery baby. He cried a lot. He was sensitive, and allergic to milk. In the first month, I had to drive to my Mothers house, 150 miles away, just to get a break. He never slept. I never slept. He grew out of it, though, and became a happy toddler. I had two sweet, beautiful, smart little ones. Life was good.

My memories have a way of sneaking up on me. I hope to have them forever, but do not take that for granted. Memories are a precious thing. Meaningful and meaningless alike, they are all lessons.

My Sister in Law just asked me to administrate a Facebook group that is all about nostalgia. It is called Duluth in the 70's. She got too busy, and it was started just for fun, and all of a sudden 780 people were counting on her for little pieces of remembering. Now I am trying to navigate through the decade, and look for fun things. It is harder than it looks.

Coincidentally I started this post before she asked me out of the blue, so for today's post I asked about where they were during John F. Kennedy's assassination. It has nothing to do with the town I was from, nor was it in the 70's but comments started pouring in. People love remembering, even the painful stuff.

I leave you now, with this quote:  Underneath the tapestry, there is a mesh of various rough threads.
                                                                                          -John O'Donohue

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Farm life

 I spent the morning with my friend Margie. She lives on a very large farm. She names every cat, and believe me, there are a lot of cats. Every cow, every horse has a story. She is an amazing woman, with a generous heart.

I took her "to town" shopping at Walmart. She looks forward to getting out, but does it rarely. Her shopping list was simple, toothpicks, a new bra, flea and tick medicine, acid reflux medicine, and a pocket calendar for this year.

We had lunch out at a slow food restaurant. She ordered ice cream for dessert. On the way back home we stopped at Kentucky Fried Chicken for her dinner tonight. Her husband will be surprised and delighted. He is an easy going man, with an easy smile and quiet ways.

This summer she is going to teach me to ride a horse. She knows just the one, for my first experience. She has it all planned out. I will bring lemon bars, or perhaps her favorite dessert, date bars. We will ride on a trail she has on her property, along the river.

It was a very good morning, indeed.

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Blue Sky

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Something I painted, a long time ago.

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The power and poetry of words

I am not in any way qualified to speak on poetry. I have written some, who hasn't? I am qualified on the dirty little secret that words, all words, have power. Fear, shame, unspeakable words, they are present in our minds, our souls, always.

Mental illness, Satan, incest, rape, murder, poverty, homelessness, pollution, poverty, violence, war, politics, rot, decay, death, cancer, slavery, bigotry, racism, addiction, the list is long. The list of words that cause us to flinch, and back away, is endless.

I am more than the words I write here. I am a soul, encased in a body, a frail being, vulnerable. I am also powerful. I am more than just some soul, I am part of something bigger, a universe, God. He is with me, on this journey, and I have faith that it is for some purpose that I am up, writing this, when I should be getting rest.

I have had a feeling, the past few days that something is not right. My son Zack has not contacted me, since December. I have a feeling that something is very very wrong. Just writing that, now, makes me quiver. I am tearing up, and I hope that I am just being irrational. I want to be wrong. I want everything to be status quo, whatever that is for him, and his love, Caitlin.

The power of words, is what I started with, here, on this journey. I am going to leave you with these humble words.

If you wish to know the Divine, know the wind in your face and the warm sun on your hand.  Buddha.

The rest is the journey, I suppose. Whatever happens, I know that I have the strength to survive. I will live to fulfill my destiny, and then I will go on.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Simply Red - If You Don't Know Me By Now

Open Water on the Black River

This is my very first attempt at making a video with music, and it isn't good. The music crescendos nicely, but doesn't fit, but hey we all have to try new things. I drive by this bridge, everyday, on my way to work. I stop, sometimes, simply to look at the water rushing. I have seen eagles, porcupines, deer, fox, all sorts of wildlife, here. It is worth sharing, I think.

Another big snowstorm is coming, tonight, or tomorrow morning. I will be out, enjoying nature until then. Perhaps I will bring my camera, and find something worthy. Peace!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The well worn path to serenity

I sit here, at the computer, writing this note, with a sense that whatever I say will not be worthy of the title I put on this post. I know that I am no closer to serenity than I was twenty years ago. I am doubtful that I will ever be serene. I have an anxiety disorder. My mind races, and I find it frustrating at times, and a gift at others. Yes, a gift!

I do feel that my constant awareness of disaster has saved me numerous times. I am more aware of my surroundings. I do not want to stop being afraid, so I won't. Serenity is light years away for me. I do try, though. I strive to be serene. I want to feel peace. I want to be calm, but it feels all wrong, to me. It is foreign to my nature.

I have been prescribed Anti anxiety medications. I use them when I feel totally overwhelmed. I use them when it is the only way I can function. I define function as being able to go about my daily business, driving to work, and caring for patients, or clients, or whatever the politically correct word of the day is. All they seem to do is stop me from obsession. But of course, I worry...yes worry...that they are a crutch. I am not functional, not real, not pure.

I drink a glass of wine, every night. One glass of red wine. I worry about that, too. Why? Do I have a problem? No. I worry that it is a crutch, that it, too, subdues my impulse to be hyper aware of  everything. I am never spontaneous. I think everything out. I try to make it look like I am a free spirit. That I am secure, but it is just a mask.

I am not afraid of dying. I am not afraid of failing. I am not afraid of what other people think of me. I am afraid of feeling. I am afraid of feeling, of fear, of sadness, of loss, of success, of being seen, of being...of being.

There is a reason that the only people who follow this blog, except for three people, have never met me. Those three people, Missy, Nathan, and Jerry, have all seen me at my worst, and looked past all of that. I let them in, once, so they are welcome to read this stuff. The rest of you I feel free to speak to, simply because there is little chance that you will ever see me, or know me. Sick isn't it?

Yes, I have tried therapy. Talk therapy only works if you trust the therapist. They always try to get to a place that feels wrong to me. I don't want to discover all the stuff, I have stuffed. I just want to function, today. I want to be the best me I can be, today. My last therapist, during a session, told me to "just get over it". Really? I paid for advise I could have gotten from any 15 year old with an attitude? Perhaps she was having a bad day, but...really? Group therapy, tried that too. I befriended others in the group and began care taking instead of caring for myself. Blah, blah, blah.

So why am I letting all this stuff emerge on this page? I have worked too many hours this week. It is only Wednesday and I have put in way too many hours. I have given too much to my job, and I am tired, and pissed off, and feeling sorry for myself. I am not teetering on some breakdown. I am just very tired. I need to get this all out of my head, and shift towards serenity.

Meditation, prayer, solitude, photography, art, nature, exercise, they are all helpful. I use them regularly. What I need now, is sleep. Who sounds like a 15 year old with an attitude now? Me. I apologize. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Monday, February 14, 2011

Straight from the heart, a love letter to my Husband


I wish I could describe, in breathless detail, my passion for you. When I gaze into your green eyes I feel safe. You calm me, like no one else can. You are my love, and my home. Where ever you are, I am with you, always.
Here are just some of your charms...

You can not walk past a football, basketball, soccer ball, and not touch it. You are like a child in your enthusiasm. It always makes me smile.

We are travel companions. We like a lot of the same things, and our differences compliment each other. You love to take the back roads. There have only been a few times when you have left me in fear. I remember one time when we took a dirt road and came across an army of orange clothed, gun toting hunters. I thought we were going to get shot.

We have driven up and down mountains, with our breaks smelling, my nose in a book. You are brave when I need you to be. You are my hero, that way. I just leave it to you to keep us safe, and you always do.

I remember camping in the Rocky Mountains, in a tent. We pitched the tent after traveling all day. There was snow in the fire pit, but we thought nothing of that. That night we awoke to scratching outside the tent. Swish, swish, swish. The tent moved with the sounds. You jumped up, a big knife in hand, to save us! Luckily the big Grizzly Bear outside turned out to be snow sliding off the tent. I think we spent the rest of that night in the car, if I remember. It was 22 years ago, now.

I remember traveling through Montreal. We didn't speak French. We did it!!! This was before GPS. We got a cheesy hotel room, and if I remember correctly we left the lights on all night. I was afraid of the roaches. An adventure!

Portland, Oregon, 1989. We went to visit your best friend, after leaving Zack and Nate with their Dad, in California. We stayed with Mike for a few days. He showed us around. He brought us to a crack house! A CRACK HOUSE! Dang! We were out of our element. We didn't do drugs. We knew nothing of that stuff. We were stuck! It was a Hell I was glad to leave behind. The next day he took us to a mushball tournament. I had never heard of mushball. It looked like softball to me. He told us that the neighborhood was very dangerous, and that there were drive by shootings there, all the time. Nice! I was glad to leave Mike. I wondered why you and he were friends. I know now, that you are a faithful friend, and never leave a man behind. You were his only true friend. You saw through the crap, and saw Mike. He is mature, now. He is a family man, a business man.

I have 23 years of stories. I have been through Hell and back with you at my side. I am grateful for our hilarious misadventures. I am grateful for our passionate life. You illuminate my emotions. You, Jerry, only you.

Love, Jane

Friday, February 11, 2011


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                                                    Ring the bells that still can ring,
                                                        Forget your perfect offering.
                                                       There is a crack in everything.
                                                         That's how the light gets in.

 _Leonard Cohen

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Greatgrandmother's Barn

An old barn, caving in, and a rockpile. Perhaps to some, but there is a story here. My Mother-in-law's
grandmother lived here, on this property. She lived simply. She farmed, raised her children, survived harsh winters and long hot summers.

The property is used as another farmers field, now. Cows graze in the yard where children used to play, and flowers used to be planted. The rock pile, which legend has it was once filled with snakes, is just part of the landscape.
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Schizoaffective Disorder

This video touches on the illness my son Nate suffers with. We all suffer, really. Mental illness touches people in ways you can not imagine. This video contains a statement that Schizoaffective disorder may be genetic. I may be at fault, somehow. I ate right, exercised, put my children first, even before they were born, and I am still to blame. My genetic material was faulty. I will own that.

Furthermore, I will cultivate compassion. I will work for social action. I will find a way to use painful emotions to cultivate wisdom, compassion and courage. I believe that in the midst of chaos there is its opposite. I just have to find out what that looks like.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Will I get the lesson, or will I just get the pain?

Some things in life, are not life lessons. They are just terrible, shattering moments. I believe this with my whole being. Moments when you can not step back and say...what have I learned from this?  These things are worthless, and should never have been.

I am not going to blog about this pain. We all know it exists. I am not defined by it, nor will I give it credit, for my soul. Hell no!!!

Having been battered, by circumstances, does not define you. I am not the victim of anything or anyone. I am alive, and it is my duty to own it!  The lesson, if there is one, is that.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Frosted trees and Cardinals

It was foggy, and cold today. The weather painted the trees with the most beautiful frost. The birds were out, singing. To have this day, to enjoy, was a blessing. I needed it!  I walked on a frozen river and looked at the magnificent view, with camera in hand, of course! 

Thursday, February 3, 2011


"We make a living by what we get.We make a life by what we give." Winston Churchill

The dictionary beside me defines commitment in three separate ways. The first: To make secure, and put in safekeeping. To entrust. The second: To place in or send to a prison or mental institution. The third: To pledge or assign to a certain course, or use. I am going to attempt to examine commitment.

To begin I am going to start with the last definition: To pledge, or as I define it, a vow. We make many promises throughout our lives. We go to job interviews, and put our best feet forward. We guarantee the interviewer that we are the best people for the job. We have the skills, the dedication, the knowledge, and the flexibility to get the job done. It does not matter what is going on in our lives outside of work, we pledge to leave it at the door, and be what the employer needs, to get the job done.

We commit to a relationship. We will be there for those we love. We will be loyal friends. If we have a dispute, we will work together to solve the problem, gently. We will confide, honestly. We will play together, fairly. We are companions, faithful to the end.

We commit to our children. We will raise them with the values we consider most important. We will use our resources, physical and financial, to keep safe the people we brought into this world. It is the one commitment that I personally know that I would give my life for. My children are my hearts most passionate purpose.

We commit to ourselves. Our values are our commitment. We must have a grasp on who we are, and what we are made of. If we can not save ourselves, we will be no good to anyone. This last one, for me is the most difficult to grasp. I am a caregiver, by profession. I am a caregiver, by nature. I am loyal, faithful, and like many, I spent years, putting myself last. I thought that being behind the people, I committed to, meant that I was noble. I do not like the phrase, but I am codependent.

I have actually been described as "too nice" in yearly job reviews. I worked hard, gave my all to my patients, employers, and left my crap at the door, and was rewarded with a smaller raise, for being "too nice". That was before I realized that by letting stuff like that bother me, I was giving power, where it was not deserved. I gave up my power for someone else's opinion. I work daily to be my own advocate, now. I know who I am. I know what I value. I do not become diminished by other peoples opinions, I become educated by them. It is my right to change my mind, if I see fit. It is my priority to know that I am the best person I can be, for me.

The second definition: To place in, or send to a prison or mental institution. This touches my life, as well. I have had to go to court. I have had to call the police, on both of my children, at one time, or another. I did this to make them safe. I did this to show my love for them. Neither of them will ever describe me as being "too nice" I am sure!

My Husband stated that he thinks I blog too much about the children. I considered what he said, and I justified myself with this... I think about them, night and day. They are my legacy. Then last night, I got a call from Nate. His mental state was unstable. He vented, hung up on me, called back, vented some more. He told me he could read my mind, and that I was laughing at him, in it. He told me I didn't care about him, if he lived or if he died. I stayed calm, on the telephone, and this pissed him off more. He wanted an excuse to act, and I wanted him safe. After he told me he never wanted to see me again, and hung up for the second time, I called the owner of the institution, where he is currently placed. I wanted them to know his mindset, and I wanted to make sure that he was safe. I spoke to the Administrator for probably an hour. I feel assured that they are doing everything they can for him. She is smart, and she is experienced. She knows more about this that I do. I am leaving his health in her hands. This is big, for me. It feels right.

I will leave you with this quote...

"I won't have any money to leave behind. I won't have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind."

                                                              Martin Luther King Jr. "I have been to the mountain top" speech
                                                                  April 3, 1968

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Healing Choices

When in the course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness....

The Declaration of Independence, action of Second Continental Congress. July 4,1776.

I realize that if you wanted politics blasted in your face, you wouldn't be reading this blog. I am not, a "political" person. I am just someone, who happens to be descended from immigrants who risked everything to come to the United States of America to give themselves and their families a better life. I am two generations away, on all sides, from people who crossed the ocean in search of something. Brave people, all.

What is unique is that all of my grandparents are of different nationalities. Their parents immigrated here, not knowing the language, with just a dream. My paternal Grandfather was French. My paternal Grandmother, Czech. My maternal Grandfather Scottish, and my maternal Grandmother Swedish. They had different traditions, different religions, different languages. They came here, leaving behind all that they knew, for a better life. A better life, for themselves, and their future families. I am here, because they dared to dream.

Sometimes I just shake my head when I think of that. I used to wonder why my son, Zack left home at the tender age of 14 to roam the earth. He is a wanderer, and a generation or two ago, he would have been expected to provide for his family at that age. I come from brave stock, I do. Zack is probably braver than I am, I don't know. I miss him, everyday. He called the other day, from Florida, somewhere. I never know where he is, or where he plans to land next. I pray for him everyday, and every night. I am reduced.

Nate, my younger son, is safe, once again. He is in a group home for the mentally ill. I talk to him everyday. I plan to visit him, on Saturday. He is 2 hours away, and I hope the weather cooperates. He will need everything again. Clothes, books, electronics, personal needs items. I will gather what he needs, and bring him what I can. He is going to AA meetings, and seeing doctors. I have been researching his particular mental illness and there is a new medication, specifically for it. I hope it is right for him, and that he is given a chance to try it. His actual diagnosis is Schizoaffective disorder. It is a mood disorder with all the symptoms of mania, depression, and hallucinations. He hears voices, which he calls demons and God. He laughs to himself, and has a very short attention span. He is very intelligent, and artistic. He has dreams, and I pray for him every day and every night. I am reduced.

I started this post with a point. All men are created equal. All people deserve affordable healthcare. They deserve a chance to thrive. I am a Democrat. I believe in the democracy that my ancestors invested their lives to secure for generations to come. I believe in healing choices, and I believe in second chances.