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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Tough as Woodpecker Lips

Laugh with me, Journeyer!
It is 8:29 on this Sunday morning and, for those of you who follow these weekly posts, you know what’s coming…
We are on the road, AGAIN…
Another nine to ten hours of driving today, this time to take Beauty back to college.
As I looked through this week’s photos, the experiences seemed so far away.
Given the fact that we’ve covered so many miles over these past seven days, I guess those happy moments were that distant.
Time seems to warp when our lives are crazy busy, when we’re juggling children and work and phone upgrades and paying bills and washing laundry and watering plants and feeding people and pets and walking ourselves and our animals and trying to keep relationships going…
“Tough as woodpecker lips.”
Though I can’t recall the context, I haven’t forgotten what that gold old southern boy gym owner said during last weekend’s seminar.
“What exactly does that mean?” I asked.
“I’m not really sure, but you can imagine how tough they must be,” he replied.
That’s what comes to mind this week, Journeyer!
We are all as tough as woodpecker lips, because that sort of strength is what it takes to survive life, sometimes.
My cyber friend, Angela Schmoll of The Reluctant Grandmother comes to mind right now.
Today is the one year anniversary of the last day she saw her son in the flesh, the last time she hugged him, the last time she got to tell him, in person, that she loves him.
Today is also the one year mark since she hosted a granddaughter’s birthday party, the event that brought the family together.
Today, as she celebrates the growth and boundless joy of one child, she grieves the end of another life and mourns the incessant turmoil that contributed to that demise.
All I can say is that we do have to be as tough as woodpecker lips when life presents us with such extremes.
Join me Journeyer, in holding space for Angela, for all of us who might be facing such complexity.
And let us remember that always, always in the midst of chaos and uncertainty there are moments that feed our happy organ, instances that make us smile, warm our heart, give us a sense of peace, or present us with closure…
Moments like these simple pleasures from my hectic week…
The Hampton Inn’s fun little welcoming gestures that remind us of simpler, more relaxing times…
In the elevators...

In the hallways…


I loved walking the beautiful LSUS campus one last time, strolling down these arbor-ed walkways and listening to the song of the cicadas...


My mama’s heart swelled with pride as Fave’s friends and neighbors and peers talked to us about how much they’d miss him, about the wonderful role model he’s been for their own little ones…


…when he talked about how much fun he had decorating for Halloween and entertaining the neighborhood children…


I loved listening to Fave and his roommate, an underprivileged youth mentor, delight in how excited the group was going to be with all of the donations he was leaving to them…

I was so happy to be able to say goodbye to many of these people who have become like family these past four years…

This quote taped to the gym door certainly talks about how striving for new heights is like being tough as woodpecker lips…

Speaking of closure, I enjoyed seeing Fave’s enthusiasm as we made final visits to some favorite stomping grounds…

…visited a few places he’d wanted to see but had never gotten to…

Isn't this sexy?

The "little fella," a blue-tailed Skink that Fave rescued from inside the boot store


…and I loved the wonder in his voice as he pointed to this glorious "sendoff sunset"…

…and I loved sharing in his excitement when he spotted his first armadillo…

Rounding out the week was Beauty’s twentieth birthday gathering…

...taking her back to college (photo to come)...
And school shopping and lunch with Big Guy (who didn't want his face in the photo)…

These are the moments that carried me through a very tough week, Journeyer, one in where I definitely had to be as tough as woodpecker lips…
What about you? What instances brought you joy or peace or happiness?
Until next time, yours in healing, hope, and happiness.


    ~AE

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Nanu Nanu: Hello Depression, Goodbye Robin Williams

Robin William's suicide has put mental health awareness in the spotlight again. And it has sparked a firestorm of thoughts and opinions from those who feel our mental health system is "the worst," to those who believe the illness doesn't exist, to those who think a person should just suck it up and accept whatever reality they are in.

As someone who has dealt with depression for years, and as a resourceful individual who has faced the tragic reality that fewer and fewer mental health professionals are taking on new clients, I believe that our culture has come a long way in the past twenty years, but I also believe we have so very far to go.

We need so much more: more research, more collaboration with insurance companies, a greater openness, and education that helps our communities realize that depression is not something to be shunned or ignored, it is a disease just like so many others out there.

Glennon Melton recently made the comment that "People who need help sometimes look a lot like people who don't need help."

We are only three, Glennon, Robin, and me. There are millions more of us. Please, please, please, don't give up, don't give in to seclusion or silence. You matter. You are loved. You have choice.

I've been thinking about doing a more in-depth piece on this subject, but Mr. Williams untimely and tragic death has brought it to the forefront so much sooner.

People remember where they were and what they were doing when they learned of the deaths of JFK and Martin Luther King, Jr. and when they heard about the planes hitting the Twin Towers.

Warren and Fave and I were cleaning out his bedroom closets, the moving boxes piling up in the hallway, when he got the text.

"Oh, wow. Robin Williams committed suicide."

I'm sorry, Robin. I'm sorry our mental health system isn't stronger. I'm sorry that you had to experience depression, sorry that you felt you had no other choice to end the madness and the pain and the doubts other than to claim your own life.

Nanu Nanu, Neighbor. Goodbye from all of us who you never knew loved you and hello to whatever this next chapter might offer.

Below is a musing about Depression, originally published on July 11, 2011.

On Depression

Depression. It lives all around us. In every walk of life. It often resides in unsuspecting places. In unsuspecting persons. And yet, sometimes it sits undetected, right in front of us, in a Hidden Objects picture, of sorts. We know something is there, inside the image that is Our Self, but we just can’t put our finger on it.

I first learned of my own depression some fifteen years ago. At the time, the therapist I was seeing indicated I’d likely been depressed since my teenage years. The thought infuriated me, especially the part about needing medication. I didn’t like the idea of pumping pills into my body. Not that I’m against modern medicine, but depression didn’t seem like a justifiable reason. When my counselor posed the question, “Would you deprive yourself of chemotherapy, if you had cancer?” I came to see Depression in a new light. Depression is an illness. A bonafide sickness. Depression needs treatment, just like any other disease.

A low dose antidepressant, coupled with continuing therapy, brought about a new clarity. Depressed thinking is always askew. Sometimes the thoughts are merely a little off kilter, and sometimes they are drastically distorted. For those who have lived with depression for an extended period of time, the one consistent is that the skewed thinking is considered normal, it isn’t questioned, it is believed to be how everyone exists. Yesterday, the Oprah Winfrey show featured a young woman named Chelsea, who as a seven-year-old girl was forced to live in a dog crate. Not having any other examples, she believed her experiences to be no different than those of everyone else. One of the most important details to note, however, is that she wished for something different. She recalls finding joy and longing in pictures of her teacher’s daughter, who had her hair all done up in pigtails and pretty bows.

When we suffer depression we, too, long for something different. We don’t like the feelings of frustration and failure, hopelessness and helplessness, sadness and self-loathing. We want to feel better. We yearn for confidence, for positive and uplifting feelings. That longing, especially when the emotions last for an extended period, can be a sign of depression, for depression is often an insidious illness, appearing to us as slowly as the objects in a complicated I Spy game.

I have been planning this post for weeks. I have looked forward to the end of the school year, to the end of June, which I describe as a hamster wheel month. I wanted to wait until I could give the writing the attention it deserves, when I could carve the post out without feeling rushed by one of the many parental or household obligations. Had it not been for a series of figures who recently came into my field of vision, I might have procrastinated my reflection a bit longer.

Two weeks ago, I was speaking with a woman who had been concerned about her own forgetfulness. Though this lack of thought focus often leaves us worrying about the possibility of Alzheimer's, her physician diagnosed depression, a common symptom of grief, and one that is certainly unsurprising given the unexpected death of her child a little over a year ago. Yesterday I read an article about Britney Spears and thought about how she has overcome such a troubled past, one so painfully played out in the media. There had to have been some level of depression present during that troubling time. This morning I happened to catch a snippet of an interview with Rick Springfield on The View. The words depression and book caught my ear. A quick search on Amazon tells me his book, Late, Late at Night was released last October. Rick’s memoir details his long battle with this disease. Who knew? That is one of the most incongruous, ridiculous features of this illness: A person can appear bubbly and happy and successful and living a fairy tale life, when in essence they are coping with one of life’s most unglamorous, too often closeted facets. Depression.

I uncovered my final clue about a month ago. I noticed, once again, that I wanted to run away, after a difficult family situation. I could just move to some place like France and start my life over. This fantasy, in and of itself, doesn’t depict Depression. We all want to escape our lives from time to time. Why, Calgon’s slogan, “Calgon, take me away!” has lasted for more than four decades. But my depression symptoms have been slowly surfacing since last fall: a perpetual feeling of overwhelm, a perpetual state of forgetfulness, intermittent thoughts of self loathing—those that come from the gut, beyond the typical questions of worthiness. This Escape Plan, however, is a whisper that comes from deep within, revealing itself like the Sixth Sense that we often ignore.

Acknowledging these subtle undertones is the first key. Depression manifests itself differently in different people. Some of us treat our friends and family badly. We recognize we are being snippy and snarky. Sometimes we give credence to this behavior by turning the behavior into sarcastic humor. Some of us turn into ourselves, becoming introverted and less active. We recognize our frustrations and feelings of overwhelm, placing blame on the shoulders of the extraneous.

Our external lives do impact our moods. We all face stressful times. Life is an ebb and flow of demanding, restful, traumatic… This fact makes it difficult for us to decipher if what we are experiencing is indeed Depression or situational discomfort. Death. Loss of home, job, limb, security. Middle Age. The changing or declining health of ourselves, or our parents. The cyclic nature of parenting, our children’s detachment as they discover who they are, as they mature and evolve into adults, themselves… Every event impacts our psyche. The level and length of the impact will help in determining if we are depressed, and the appropriate course of treatment. If you are unsure, talk with your physician or schedule a visit with a therapist.

The realization that Depression had likely reentered my life disheartened me. The knowledge that I could do something about was inspiring. Tracing my behaviors of the past months, the first point I recognized was that I had slowly eliminated my daily vitamin regimen after last year’s family vacation. I had simply gotten out of the habit. The B vitamins are excellent mood stabilizers, and had been a part of my supplemental intake for more than ten years. My first step was to reinstall the intake of vitamins into my daily routine. Now I want to work on breaking the other behaviors that are counterproductive to my good mental health. I want to return to the lifestyle of eating less and exercising more… Chuckle. Chuckle. A saga for so many of us!! And yet, the choices are ours. The power is within us, if we choose it. If we work to create new habits…

We know that comforting occasions affect our state of being as much as the uncomfortable. That is why we long for moments that bring us joy, why we celebrate the approaching rest periods with “Over the Hump Day,” “TGIF!”, and why we count down the days to our vacations. Research has also proven that exercise and light are often key elements in helping prevent or combat depression.

Guess it’s time to begin plucking more of those healthy images from the Hidden Objects of my life. It’s two o’clock in the afternoon. Time to shower. Time to walk the dog. Time for some fun in the sun with my kid…

Until next time, yours in healing, hope, and happiness.


    ~AE

Monday, August 11, 2014

Heating Things Up & Slowing Them Down

Phew! Is it ever hot and muggy on this Tennessee morning!
Though I knew it was wishful thinking, I hoped that those dark clouds blowing in last night would have brought with them a little cooler air.
Um, no.
This morning’s air is stifling, muggy like a swamp.
As I walked across the parking lot, wiling my mind to think about this post, all I could think about was how freaking hot it was, how gummy my skin felt at the end of the long day in a sweatbox gym yesterday.
It’s seven-thirty and the morning and it’s already heating up.
Voila!
Though that will be one of this week’s last Happy Moments, it’s a great way to start. Titles and words and wondering how we’re ever going to string them together to make some sort of sense are like our best friends and worst enemies.
And aren’t we in our glory when those thoughts pop into our head?
Could those Moments be the creatively genius sprites Liz Gilbert says we all have access to?
If you haven’t seen her TEDTalk about our universal brilliance, it’s a must see.
Thanks to Madame Liz, I’m feeling happily brilliant this morning!
That expression about things heating up is relevant in so many ways, Journeyer.
As you know, we are definitely warming our tires and burning up the highways as we make the roughly three thousand miles trip to help our son relocate from Shreveport to Charlotte.
The landscapes thus far are spectacular and scenery changes provide a fresh look at an otherwise ordinary life.



Imagine this gloriousness if your view wasn’t filtered through a bug stained windshield!

Fortunately for Fave and Warren and I, our seven day marathon trip is being broken up into several components.
Warren and I have been working feverishly in preparing to leave, so we welcomed our nice first respite.
We made a stop in my hometown of Raleigh, where six of our family members were able to join us for dinner.
Thanks to Yelp, I found this fabulous place called The Poppyseed Market.

According to our delightful waitress, Emily, the restaurant began in one small room and then took over two contiguous spaces as it grew. The owner named the establishment after her grandfather, whom she called “Poppy.”
Our delightful waitress! Look at those dimples she inherited from her mom!
Sign over the Kitchen Door
If you’re ever in the Raleigh are, this place is an absolute must for great ambiance, local brews, and food that is unparalleled, whether it be a sandwich…

…an authentic Philly Cheesesteak…

…beet salad…

…or the most scrumptious North Carolina raised Butternut Squash lasagna…

I’m drooling just remembering how each bite of that deliciousness tasted…
Following that meal, we popped in to see my dad and stepmom; they weren’t supposed to be in town but ended up canceling their trips due to a health issue. No matter how brief the visit is, spending time with family is always a good time.
Heck, and I say this jokingly and with all the love in the world, but sometimes with families brief is even better.
And when you have a sis who stays up all night with her partner preparing a delicious send off breakfast, life just gets better and better.


The second leg of this trip is broken up by a training seminar that Hubby and Son are putting on in Tennessee.
For any of you Crossfit enthusiasts, this magnificent building has everything you need to heat up those muscles and maximize your workout.
I, myself, don’t like sweat running down my bra or my back, or dripping from my forehead for that matter!
I guess you could say I’m a little bit spoiled since all of my exercise growing up was either in or near a pool.
The thirty people I’ve been watching and photographing these past two days certainly don’t seem to mind a sweaty body, but then, they do come prepared with gallon jugs of water and sweat rags and appropriate clothing.

Hmmmm…I wonder if there’s something out there that would disguise the tomato red flushing that comes with strenuous exercise and makes my face look like a salad topping…
Guess that’s another problem for a different day!
Speaking of this group, they have been one of my week’s fondest, happiest memories.
In a few short hours a number of them have become like a part of our big extended family; they are warm and generous and interested and totally interesting people, people who aren’t afraid to share their stories and their lives and their vulnerabilities.
That sounds weird, right, that these strong, athletic individuals would be vulnerable? But aren’t we all that way when we are first leaning something new? When we are tackling something we’ve never done before?
The smiles on their faces as they set new personal records and learned something they didn’t previously know or the excitement they exhibit when something they didn’t quite understand before coming to this seminar suddenly makes complete and total sense…all of those Moments have fed my happy, Journeyer.
Isn’t it great how happiness spreads like that?
Other moments that made me smile include the boxes of donations I delivered to the Salvation Army and the chocolate chip cookies I made for Big Guy and Beauty before leaving home, sort of like sweet forget-me-nots.

I delivered a few of these treats and a card to an elderly, widowed neighbor who would be undergoing surgery to remove a segment of her cancerous bladder in two short days.
And I dropped off a few to the auto body guy who is ready to repaint Zee! I am so excited about this first phase of restoring this little car to her glory days. And there’s nothing like buttering up the guy who’s going to paint your car.
Talking about sweet, there’s nothing like spunky and playful ten-week old kittens to brighten your day. The young couple Fave is staying with rescued these felines from the dumpster in their apartment complex.

The sight and scent of these fresh blooms was a welcome reprieve when we stopped for a potty break after so many long hours in the car.



And then there’s this little bit of bittersweet joy…
Bessy, named after the handle my grandpa gave his automobiles, has safely transported our family all over these United States for more than seven years.

Though her exterior is starting to rust from years of New York’s salted winter roadways, her heart still chugs along…
Fave commented numerous times over the seven hour trek from Charlotte to Tennessee about how comfortable the seats were.
Happy happens, Journeyer, whether it be sitting on a comfy chair inside a 2004 minivan, staring at the landscape around us, waking from a good night’s sleep, or in the conversations we have with others.
That said, I’ve even had a few delightful (some might say delusional) exchanges with myself.
One other glorious side effect of this trip lies in the fact that Warren and I have a break from the heavy conversations we’ve been having since beginning therapy.
That sort of work is equally necessary, exhausting, and frustrating, for there is always tension and trauma when we have to revisit our old painful stories.
Who knows, maybe this little diversion, this bit of slowing those discussions will heat things up in an entirely different context.
What about you, Journeyer? What sorts of events or Moments heated up your joy this past week? I’d love it if you’d share any or all of them here!
Yours in healing, hope, and happiness.
    
~AE

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Choice Between 'Yes' and 'No'

Journeyer, you’re not going to believe this, but we are on the road.
Again.
{Insert Chuckle.} You know that old saying, “Sometimes it’s better to laugh than cry.”
The only thing I’m not really looking forward to is these next several thousand miles as we drive from New York to Charolotte to Nashiville to Shreveport…before loading up Fave’s house and making the eight-hundred-and-fifty mile trek back to Charlotte, where our boy is relocating to.
And then we have the five-hundred-plus mile drive back home…
I’m not looking forward to what all those hours in the car are going to do to my already tight muscles.
So I’ve tried to prepare as best as I can: I’ve packed my best pair of walking sneakers and am determined to take the time to give myself a daily walk.
I matter enough, my body matters enough that I am making that commitment to myself.
I am looking forward to taking in scenery as I set out on foot in these different parts of the country.
Warren and Fave have a weekend seminar in Nashville, and I expect that region to be simply breathtaking as I meander on foot.
In preparation for this trip, Hubby has been working all sorts of crazy hours.
And I do mean CRAZY.
He’s been leaving the house before eight in the morning and working until eight, nine, ten…even eleven o’clock one night…
Those changes in schedule tend to create a bit of anxiety for me, body memory of those days of infidelity.
Warren has also picked up a few extra jobs, regular customers who have had some immediate needs that he found himself saying ‘yes’ to.
Toss in a few other minor details like a title that hasn’t arrived for a truck he recently purchased, which necessitated a great deal of time tuning up another vehicle…well, you can see why he’s been away so late every night.
After finding out he’d taken on yet another job, this thought went through my head: When you say ‘yes’ to one thing, you are saying ‘no’ to another.
Of course I was thinking of it in terms of: You saying ‘yes’ to that job is saying ‘no’ to dinner with the family, it means the leaking shower head is going to leave rust marks on the tub for at least another few weeks
He doesn’t have a problem saying ‘no’ to everyone else.
That is where our brains go, right?
But then it dawned on me.
That philosophy works on my end, too.
When I say, ‘yes’ to the fear and the anxiety, I am saying ‘no’ to trust.

That sort of apprehension is like a hazy pollution that clouds my memory of all the times he is home for dinner and for all those times he does say ‘yes’ to the house, the kids, the lawn, the leaky toilet, to long hot tub soaks beneath a sky filled with shooting stars.
You know that conflict that’s gnawing at your heels right now?
What is it?
To what are you saying ‘yes?’
Do you have financial worries?
Are you saying yes to Starbuck’s and eating out and movie nights?
Warren and I took Beauty and Big Guy for dinner and a movie the other night, to the tune of a one-hundred dollar bill!
The dinner tab included waters all the way around and a twenty dollar certificate at Olive Garden.
And our movie treats were comprised of four one-dollar boxes of candy.
The fact that that type of double-header outing is a rare treat for us is what allows us to travel as much as we do.
That and the cooler of drinks, fruits, veggies, and homemade sandwiches that we always pack.
What other things can you choose to say ‘yes’ to?
So often we allow ourselves to get swept up in drama or turmoil or uncertainty.
And though it’s a pretty natural reaction, what also tends to come with these occurrences are the feelings that we are not in control. Of anything.
We begin to feel that we don’t have any sort of choice.
And, yet, ultimately, we do.
Even when unsuspecting sadness or joy or anger descends upon us, we can choose who we react to it.
Choice is the foundation upon which The Five Facets Philosophy is built.
Whereas tragedy or misfortune, and the grief that ensues are often not within our power, healing is.
When it comes to healing, we are absolutely in the driver’s seat.
Today, I’m choosing to begin a new reflection and to spend more time focusing on the choices I’ve been unwittingly making…
What about you? Can you identify a particular incident where saying ‘yes’ to something might make a difference in your life or heal some hurt?
Until next time, yours in healing, hope, and happiness.


    ~AE

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

#IBaredIt: Bare It. Share It. Better Boobs., Banding Together for Breast Cancer Early Detection


Journeyers, WOMEN EVERYWHERE NEED US!
Last week I posted this piece, one designed to encourage women to have their annual mammograms done.
I highlighted how my recent mammogram experience made my week’s Happy Happens column.
I briefly discussed a few of the physical and emotional discomforts we women (and men) face in the name of good health.
During the exam I asked the nurse if I could take a few photos of the machine.
The intent was to demystify the procedure and to disarm some of the anxiety so many people face at the mere thought of the experiment.
Nurse Arr allowed me to take the photos, but told me I needed to contact the PR department for approval.
Being the law-abiding, good doobie that I am, I phoned their guy (FROM THE HOSPITAL LOBBY), told him about my weekly column, why I felt it was important to talk about mammography, and explained that there were no people and no other identifying details in the image, other than the examiner’s initials, which I would be editing out.
I e-mailed him the photos: One of the right side view of the machine, one of the left side view of the plates, a rear image of the imagining screen, and the photo I took of the digital image of my breast.
I contacted him as a follow-up before the post went to press, but didn’t hear back, and since he said he didn’t think it should be a problem, that their main concern were privacy issues, I went ahead and published the piece.
And I shared on social media with the teaser Bare it. Share it. Better Boobs.
I established the hashtag #IBaredIt and asked everyone to share the post in an effort to help mobilize people everywhere, to ADD a little something to helping the cause.
AND YOU DID!
You shared and retweeted and +1’d.
You said that this is important to you, too.
Guys and Gals, I am heartbroken and a bit miffed to inform you that I have had to remove those pictures. Here is the correspondence I finally received this evening:
“Apologies for the delay in responding. Our compliance team struggled with this because although we understand your desire to use these for the blog, and have no desire to stand in the way of the spirit of your work on it, the photos’ existence does violate our policy. It was very kind and considerate of you to reach out for permission to use them. However, we are unable to grant that permission in keeping with our policy on photographs taken with what would be considered unauthorized equipment.”

As far as I’m concerned, the hospital is acting out of fear and is not taking into account the extreme measures taken to be discreet and to present these images in a tasteful manner.
This very fear is standing in the way of women’s health. It SCREAMS: BE AFRAID.
And that is the VERY thing I was trying to stop.
So, here’s what I want us to do.
And I know we can.
Two simple things:
1)   If you are a company or a doctor or nurse or medical equipment rep or anyone with access to AUTHORIZED SHARABLE photos of mammogram equipment, POST THEM. POST THEM and TAG them with the Bare It. Share It. Better Boobs. #IBaredIt campaign slogan. Post them in the COMMENTS BELOW or on THE FIVE FACETS FACEBOOK PAGE or TWEET THEM or +1 them to all of your people. HECK, DO THEM ALL! (Please be sure to share only the photos you have permission to share.)

2)    Share this post and if you’re so inclined, THIS ORIGINAL ONE, and let women everywhere know that we don’t have to be afraid! Early detection is the greatest cure we have. LET’S GET BEHIND IT! SAY ‘NO’ TO FEAR AND ‘YES!’ TO MAMMOGRAPHY.
Thank you for already saying that you care about this cause, and thank you in advance for helping me spread the word again.
Yours in healing, hope, and happiness…
          ~AE

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Connections

I opened my eyes for the last time at 9:22 this morning.
I’d woken a few times, alert only enough to realize that Warren had crawled back into bed to cuddle, and when I heard Big Guy’s footsteps on the stairs.
“Good morning. Have fun at practice,” I said before falling fast asleep again.
But when I heard Warren’s truck start and crunch on the drive’s gravel as he left for work, I knew I’d slept far later than I’d ever imagined.
With fatigue still beckoning me back to bed, I forced myself to hit the ground moving.
Now 10:43, I’ve made the bed, showered and dressed, eaten breakfast and transferred this week’s happy images from my handy dandy iPhone to my computer.
I’ve brushed my teeth, my hair and swept the crumbs from my English muffin off the countertop.
Normally, I’d be wide awake and ready to tackle the day, but even as I sit here and type, an overwhelming fatigue beckons me back to slumber’s darkness.
Today is August 3, the early stages of a new month.
And for me, that always means raging hormones that wreak havoc on my body.
A hysterectomy ended a ghastly flow that paralleled that of Niagara Falls.
Okay, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration; it was more like the currents of its counterpart, the Bridal Veil Falls.
The doctors had been telling me for years that my blood pressure spikes had nothing to do with my menstruation, but I knew better after tracking it for three years.
I felt some better, now that I wasn’t bleeding damn near to death three or four days out of each month, and I thought I’d feel even better after I had my right ovary removed.
Once the doc went in, she discovered why I’d been having those “tugging sensations,” as that little body part had fused itself solid to my uterine wall.
Alas, every once in a while, and around that time of the month, I am still plagued by exhaustion, crankiness, and other bizarre bodily issues like diarrhea.
All attributed to my womanhood.
As I’ve struggled through the tiredness, each and every day, I’ve also been analyzing it…
Certainly, certainly, this is not the time for me to be trying to solve life’s complexities and ironies, not the time for me to be dwelling on that which drives individuals to say one thing and do another, not the time for me to be analyzing why people lie and cover things up, or why people can call themselves friend and yet are unsupportive and indifferent, it’s not the time for me to be wondering why I can’t let go of the desire to hang on to those people, it’s not the time for me to be expecting to solve the strife that weaves itself in and out of the marital veil, and it’s definitely not the time for me to be musing about why parenting can be so freaking hard at times…
Now that our travels have slowed, my mind has been running rampant with those thoughts, with ideas for The Five Facets, and with a longing to exercise my brain in ways I’m not able to do (as often as I’d like) during the school year.
I’ve gone back to writing three times a week, a training ritual that always feeds my happy organ!
If you missed them, you can find this week's musing here and here.
I’ve been finding and reading and connecting with new people like Jennifer over at The Deliberate Mom, who wrote this fabulous piece about the personal connections we make through this wonderful world of blogging.
I was able to reconnect with one of my earliest blogging world friends, who dishes up the most diverse selection of food for thought and fodder found on the internet. The timing of this week’s piece, If you’re not part of the solution, was like a little dose of anecdotal therapy.
And I had a deliciously real-life tête-ê-tête with a girlfriend I haven’t seen IRL for far too long.

Mouthwatering, blackened, grilled haddock

And now, as I stare at the week’s photos, trying to pull something that links my happy moments together, I realize that this week’s theme seemed to be all about connections.
I ended last week by gathering with friends and will end this week by going to dinner and a movie with Warren and Big Guy and Beauty.
The True Blood glass my friend gave me

Imagine these words are photos of our Olive Garden dinner and theater experience! 
Relationships are vital to my existence, be they bonds with the universe...

Hummingbirds regularly alight on this post outside of my office window, before dropping down to drink

The beginning and ending of a rainbow that appeared during one of Big Guy's soccer matches


...bonds with others...
Big Guy and I had lunch at Panera Bread, where I had this delicious salad...
out on their terrace...
where we had fun watching these little birds who were waiting for crumbs...


Warren and I watched one of Fave's fellow teammates compete at the Crossfit Games, where he came in second!

Warren and Big Guy helped me pick out a new bike!
While shopping, I spotted this red grill, which reminded me of Auntie Squirrel from Salt Lake City, who has a house full of red appliances and accessories

...bonds with myself...
Cooler weather always draws me into the kitchen, where I love whipping up a homemade meal!
Homemade chicken Alfredo in my new James Burke stoneware bowls

I made two batches. One for us and one for a friend who's been sick. The gift of giving always feeds my happy!

Writing...reading...riding my new bicycle...and a little pampering with a haircut and some fabulous new shampoo. Just love Paul Mitchell products!

...or bonds with that jar of honey roasted peanuts that somehow manages to carry me through those days of hormonal surge…

You know what I say: Just like the proverbial shit happens, happy happens. It's right in front of us, waiting for us to give it a front row seat in our lives!

What about you? What Moment(s) fed your happy this week?
Yours in healing, hope, and happiness,
          ~AE