Month: November 2014

Holiday Blues on Black Friday

Holiday Blues on Black Friday

Finding Hope June 2014I know it’s Black Friday but I’m not a shopper anymore, if I ever was. I’m so grateful I don’t have the need to fight the crowds and spend money to feel like it’s the holiday season. I still have memories of New York Department store shopping and driving around the mall parking lot for hours trying to find a parking space. The image of an overbearing group of hysterical women fighting over a sale table is fairly accurate. My brother and sister-in-law used to come down from New Hampshire for Thanksgiving when I was in college, and my sister and her husband came up from Virginia. Those two women are crazy shoppers even now, thirty something years later. On the Friday following Thanksgiving they were gone for the day. It was their yearly trip to mecca. Sometimes I’d go just to do something, but I have to confess the day after Thanksgiving when I had to go to the hospital to give birth to my first born son was a day I felt great relief for more than one reason!

The holiday season is a time of fun and frivolity for some but for many it is a season of darkness and despair. I’ve fought depression pretty much for as long as I can remember. I figure it probably began somewhere around the time I was ten. Either way it plagued me at a time when little attention was paid to it. I, like many, had to reach the point of being non-functioning, before help was found and I was fortunate to be living in the New York metropolitan area where progressive treatment was more readily available.

Depression just wasn’t something anyone talked about, nor was it comfortable owning up to its presence in your life. There was a stigma attached. It felt like a character flaw. It took me many years to get to the point where I talked openly about it and even now I know I run the risk of assumptions being made about me that are unfounded. I do it anyway because I believe its vitally important to talk about this painful illness so that people can get the help that is available to them. There are so many more effective treatments for depression than there were when I began dealing with it. We know so much more, not only about the human psyche, but the bio-chemical component to it and other mental health issues. It’s a beautiful thing.

The menopausal years can wreak havoc on those with a predisposition to depression. My doctor was more concerned about my mental health than hot flashes. The genetic component is real. My mother went off the deep end when she went through menopause. My sister also had a different, but strong emotional component to her menopausal symptoms. As menopausal symptoms begin to ebb, aging opens us up new points of entry for depression. We need more light for example. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) becomes more severe. Even though all of what I’ve said about depression is true, there is hope for relief.

I have experimented with every treatment available, from drugs and therapy to diet and meditation. Some things have worked, some work for awhile, some are a waste of time…for me. Everyone is different. I understand emotional pain to a degree I sometimes wish I didn’t, but the upside is that I’ve developed an arsenal of methods for coping and surviving the dark days and weeks and months, and you can too.

I wrote Finding Hope to pull together in one place uplifting quotes I found on my own midlife journey (or the first part of it) and some of my reflections on how to find hope in difficult times. I don’t ever want anyone to be alone in their suffering. It’s a terribly lonely place to be, and while it’s not always easy to let another person in to that place, it is possible to let words on a page drop in occasionally.  To reach more people I have lowered the price on the book to the lowest allowed by Amazon with the hope that anyone who needs a lift, especially during the holiday season, can have access to it. I don’t want money to be an obstacle.

Don’t suffer. Get help. If you don’t know where to look or how to begin, send me an email and I will do what I can to help you find a connection.

Dorothy

AgingAbundantly@gmail.com

A Grateful Heart

A Grateful Heart

Jim Daly  (66)I am grateful for the loving force that comes into the hearts of men and women around the globe inspiring them to reach out to the broken hearted, the poor, the hungry, and all who suffer; for humble servants of truth and compassion who break down walls and free those in bondage; for knowledge and wisdom that opens minds and lays to rest the fears of ignorance; for the abundant grace of nature and the winnowing force it sometimes brings to bear upon our arrogance, taming and teaching us the lessons of humility and strength. I am grateful for the sacred beauty and magnificence of music and art and the souls that create it; for the gift of hearing, for sight and physical sensation that allows us to take it in and to be transformed by it;  for the gift of grace and understanding extended by loved ones; for mothers and fathers who do their best to embody unconditional love and provide a safe and secure environment for children; for the innocence of children who do not yet know the constraints, restrictions and taboos of the adult and who embody joy and freedom, play and unbridled expression; for sweet smelling babies and their warm, cuddly soft bodies; for faithful pets who sometimes take better care of us than we of them. Most of all, I am grateful for life and love, for the rich and varied experiences they have given me, and the opportunity to share what has been born within me with others. I have been truly blessed.Happy Thanksgiving,

Dorothy

Late Blooming Writers In Action – 2014 Work in Progress Blog Tour

Late Blooming Writers In Action – 2014 Work in Progress Blog Tour

My Writing Space 2014
My Writing Space 2014

I was inducted (abducted, lassoed, hoodwinked, invoked, sideswiped, challenged, and above all honored) by my blogging friend and ever present source of inspiration, Laurie Buchanan, into the 2014 Work in Progress (WIP) Blog Tour. Of course I was humbled to be noticed, let alone invited to share a glimpse into my behind the scene writing endeavors.  It was an act of faith on her part to even assume I had any “work in progress”, but the biggest problem with my writing is that at any given moment I have “works in progress”…many…dozens…lost somewhere on my computer by next week. My challenge very quickly became finding one worth sharing!

Here are the rules:

1. Link back to the post of the person who tagged you  (check – Thank you, Laurie!)

2. Write a blurb about — and type the first sentence of — your next book’s first three chapters. (Yikes!)

3. Tag four other writers to do the same. (Can’t wait!)

So….

I have three books in progress and the two I’ve already published that I want to un-publish and re-write. They’re terrible. The majority of my writing is an ongoing attempt to make sense of my life from a psycho/spiritual perspective and universal ideals.  My perspective and understanding is at best a work in progress and ever-changing so I find I no sooner get a book underway than my thinking evolves and renders it inadequate – a partial truth and I struggle to live with partial truths or I daresay I wouldn’t be on this journey!  My biggest challenge is to let go of a work knowing it is insufficient and incomplete! That being said here’s what I’m working on:

(Instead of writing about three chapters, I will be writing about three books in progress – maybe you can help me decide which one to complete!)

1. Walking Between Two Worlds – Trauma & Transformation – A Memoir of Sorts: The tiny snowflake that landed on my nose when I was five is as mysterious to me today as it was then. It is still beautiful, still miraculous, still takes my breath away. So too with Love Divine. Mysterious. Ever Present. With Us. Always. I’ve walked in both worlds. Walking between them has been the most difficult thing I have ever tried to do. 

2. The Art of Aging – As menopause begins, so too does the process of becoming a wise and dangerous old woman. Recognizing and embracing this process embodies  the art of aging.

3. Reaching – A Collection of Poems –

It's the little things that spark the creative spirit in each of us!
It’s the little things that spark the creative spirit in each of us!

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my life,

I shoved my hands into the black soot of death and

reached through the bitter haze of unspent emotions,

to find fragments of me, inert, motionless and suffocating.

In addition I’ve been writing for a living most recently for iSeniorSolutions.com.

I now tag…

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden – Sage Woman Chronicles Associate Faculty Member of Chochise College, Writer, teacher, Reiki practitioner and author of the children’s book Scottosaurs the Little Dragon, Lucinda lives in Arizona. Her blossoming as a late blooming writer is a delight to behold. Her dedication to the craft and to life itself is an inspiration to me.

Joan Z Rough – One Rich Life – Joan describes herself this way: “Wife, mother, grandmother, writer, blogger, gardener, artist, healthy food nut, loves all creatures, especially dogs. Addicted to books, good movies and the grandkids. Believes in being positive, choice and taking responsibility. Easily overwhelmed by it all, but never bored. Laughing and smiling all the way.” I can’t wait until she publishes her book! (I will let her tell you about it.)

Eric Mondschein – We hear too little, in my opinion, of heart matters from men over fifty. That’s not the only reason I love reading Eric’s blog posts, especially his poetry and reflections on his life growing up in the late fifties. My husband and I both enjoyed his book Life at 12 College Road and I highly recommend it!  Dr. Eric S. Mondschein is an author and education consultant. He has a Bachelor’s degree in political science from the American University, a Master’s degree in delinquency prevention, and a doctorate in law and education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. What he did with all that education can be found on his website!

Lindsey McDivitt – A talented writer with a unique focus, Lindsey shares and reviews positive aging picture books with older characters who show the positives of living a long life, on her blog A is for Aging.  In addition she shares strategies and Intergenerational Resources that can be used to strengthen the connection between generations.  She holds a degree in Speech and Hearing Science from the University of Minnesota and worked for 25 years in long term care settings, rehabilitation centers, hospitals and the community. Her love of Children’s literature and its power to shape values and beliefs has helped create a new mission: “to help all generations see older adult as valid and aging as the valuable stage of life that it is. She is also writing children’s books doing just that!

Tag your it! (I hope you’ll participate but I won’t love you any less if you don’t! It’s a busy time of year and its always difficult to get everything done. If you’re looking for connections with like minded people it may give you a boost, but please, feel no obligation.)

A Child without Edges

A Child without Edges

art by Molly Brett
Fairy Artwork by Molly Brett – click on image for more info.

A childhood of abuse or neglect sets the stage for an adult who does not know who they are. Healthy boundaries are either a mystery or non-existent. They are either too rigid or too fluid. When we don’t know who we are, we may unconsciously cling to the rules and belief systems that were imposed on us as children, or we borrowed them from an external belief system such as a religion, a political party, or a social group. It gives us a sense of identity and security. It gives us the edges we are unable to create from within as children.

Or, we may exist without edges and live the life of an emotional and psychological amoeba. In this case, we allow whoever or whatever is in our life at any given moment to take up residence within us. We live in a constant state of reaction to, rather than action toward. Never having learned to validate our own wants, needs and desires, we wander aimlessly through life falling victim over and over again to the whims, desires and manipulations of those who don’t hesitate to tell us what our boundaries should be. The child who is ignored, drowned out, or in any other way taught to ignore her own inner voice and guidance, is a child without edges and a child doomed to suffer as an adult.

These two different reactions to abuse are a match made in heaven. They attract one another like iron to a magnet, perpetuating the chain of abuse in an endless dance. The rigid must constantly remind themselves and all with whom they come in contact, of what they believe and who they are. Beneath this drive is the unconscious fear that without constant feedback and validation they would crumble and disintegrate. It’s a life or death activity that keeps the veneer in place.  What better way to do this than to seek out those with porous boundaries, who are looking for their edges, who are willing to be influenced, and who have learned not to question or challenge?

If, however, we have the opportunity to see, sense or become aware of the ember of our real self that still glows in the recesses of our heart and soul, we can begin the exciting, albeit terrifying journey of self-discovery. We must go back and raise ourselves, give ourselves the adult guidance and structure that allows our inner child to blossom.

We once had our very own responses to life. We once had our own thoughts, our own feelings, our own deep physical and emotional expression of all that we are. We can have it again.

The disassociation I experienced after the accident was the most extreme expression of my own disconnection from myself, though it began much earlier. It is an utterly terrifying feeling to be without boundaries, to feel utterly powerless and helpless. How many children feel this way every day of their lives? How many of these children grow up to be deeply troubled adults?

As a victim of abuse or trauma, finding a connection to oneself is an ongoing challenge, but one that is not only essential but worth the effort. When we heal our own suffering, we stop the cycle. It’s time to stop the cycle of abuse.

In Search of My Edges

Still Learning

Overcoming Writer’s Block for Late Blooming Writers

Overcoming Writer’s Block for Late Blooming Writers

senior woman typingOvercoming writer’s block is something every writer must face. For new writers over fifty, it can be particularly challenging. We feel a sense of urgency as the years creep up on us. We often feel as though we are playing catch up and we have the nagging feeling that everyone else knows more than we do. The next thing we know we’re  comparing our insides to everyone else’s outsides and coming up short.

Writer’s block sounds something like this in the late-blooming writer’s mind, “I’m too old. It’s too late. I’ve missed my chance. What I’m writing doesn’t really matter. It’s all been said before. Her book is so much better than mine. Her article was so clever, mine doesn’t compare. What am I thinking? I should get back to reality and do the laundry or mow the grass, or get a real job. I should be spending my time exercising, or visiting the sick, not writing.” Need I say more? It’s the descent into every late-blooming writer’s hell.

Late blooming writers do face unique challenges. We sometimes have health issues to contend with, problems that slow us down and interrupt our progress. We may have the pressures of caring for a family member or an uneasiness with technology and keeping up with the practical aspects of the ever-changing publishing world. If we’ve spent our lives engaged in a wholly different career or none at all, there is a sharp learning curve.

We do have to own that we may not know as much as our thirty-something counterparts or the woman with an MFA. It’s about self-love and self-respect and not comparing apples to oranges.  What we are doing is important. What we bring to the written word as a fifty, sixty, seventy or eighty-year-old writer is something that youth can never duplicate.

We also carry with us one of the best sources of motivation on the planet: a sense that time is limited; that we may not have tomorrow; that today may be as good as it gets. We can’t put off what is most important to us any longer or we will indeed run out of time. When this wave of truth washes over us we have two choices, 1) run in fear far away from ourselves, or 2) get back to work.  I, for one, work best with a deadline!

Running in fear looks like a steady stream of avoidance thoughts and behaviors, most of which can be summed up in the writer’s block list of excuses above. We can spend hours, days, weeks or months wrestling with our demons or, we can get back to work. We can mow the grass, take out the garbage, bake cookies for our grandkids, knit wool scarves for our grown children for Christmas, or we can get back to work.

I will never say that staring down our demons is a waste of time, because it isn’t. We must just keep writing while we’re doing it. The truth, however, in my humble opinion based on my experience of feeling blocked, is that writer’s block is an excuse. It’s an avoidance tactic, a fear, and ultimately a choice. I said it. Writer’s block is a choice. Actually, it’s many little choices all piled together. Every time you choose not to write, you are adding a brick to your writer’s block.

Successful writers, published writers, are writers who write. Period. They’ve chosen to write, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week. We make the choice to write every single second we sit in front of computers and press the keys. That’s it. The end of writer’s block is putting one finger in front of the other again and again and again.

We Cannot Ignore the Cry

We Cannot Ignore the Cry

embersWe dig beneath the surface of our pain not only to eliminate the pain, but to grow into and beyond it; to discover who we are in the corner of our heart left unattended as life passed by. We grow weary of living on the surface, of trying to catch up with the cultural ego or our own, of trying to be something we are not.

The pain is a reminder. It teaches and instructs us. It tells us where to look, what needs our attention. An ember burns within each of us, a smoldering, glowing energy that calls to us, sometimes in a whisper, sometimes in a scream. It speaks our name. It knows us. It understands us, and it will not abandon us.

We can ignore its cry. We can drown out its voice with the loud, crashing sound of a carefully constructed external reality. We can numb it with each and every one of a myriad of addictive behaviors…both small and large…dampen it, drive it down, imagine it is gone as we turn our heads away to binge on cookies, or computers, or anger, or work, or fear, or exercise, or friends, or talking, or worrying, or…..we run away. Like children, we put our fingers in our ears or hide under the dining room table.

Or…or until…we rise up, shake off  the shackles of denial, of fear and open our arms and our hearts to that great something…and with each breath we take, we breathe the breath of life into it, watching the flame grow and burn once again or for the first time…hot and fierce forging strength and courage and a boldness we never knew we had.

We dig beneath the surface of our pain not only to eliminate the pain, but to grow strong and bold and wise, and fully present to that we value.