Saturday, June 24, 2017

Joseph Brodsky, Jewish Poet



 “There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.” 
Joseph Brodsky Jewish Poet

'A Russian newspaper declared that his poetry was “pornographic and anti-Soviet.” The authorities were worried because he was becoming so popular and his readings were attracting large, enthusiastic crowds. He was interrogated, he was put in a mental institution, and then he was arrested. His trial was in secret, but the transcript was smuggled out, and his defense of the right to be a poet made him a hero, especially in the United States and Europe. He was sentenced to five years in a labor camp in Siberia, but there was so much protest that his sentence was commuted after a year and a half. For the next few years he continued to write, but he was harassed and finally expelled from the Soviet Union in 1972. Brodsky was awarded the 1987 Nobel Prize in Literature "for an all-embracing authorship, imbued with clarity of thought and poetic intensity".He was appointed United States Poet Laureate in 1991.

I was only that which
you touched with your palm
over which, in the deaf, raven-black
night, you bent your head...
I was practically blind.
You, appearing, then hiding,
taught me to see.[ 8 ]





Hello Humans: How I managed not to kill myself yesterday

http://www.hellohumans.co/blog/how-i-managed-not-to-kill-myself-yesterday

Sam Lamott; January 2017 

Hello Humans,
Congratulations: you’ve survived the holidays. For some of us saying that takes on a whole new meaning. It is not a cute phrase but a literal statement that we have, in fact, survived. The holiday season can be an onslaught of commercialism and happiness (genuine or not), and although there is nothing wrong with the celebrating, it can be a painful reminder of the things we don't feel, objects we can’t afford, and missing pieces we don't have. It is an exercise in endurance and grit, a magnifier of all life’s shit and discomfort. In a previous blog post I named this group of people who experience these issues as “the tribe of still alive”, and if you consider yourself a member of still alive, then this love letter is for you, and I’m glad you found it.

It has become abundantly clear to me that my mind wants me dead. In the absence of a nice slow death from drug and alcohol abuse, this has turned into something less nuanced.  I’ve found merely existing exhausting at times. I have so many things to live for and be grateful for, but they conveniently escape me when I'm going through a bad stretch. I take the right action— see a therapist and psychiatrist, go to support groups, and try to take care of myself but still, there is no fool proof protection from the faulty wiring.

A few days ago I found myself on the phone with the suicide prevention lifeline, a phone number you’re either familiar with, or should become familiar with as a tribe member. This turn of events is still embarrassing to admit, as these thoughts are confusing and don't match up with the wonderful life I actually have in front of me. I felt guilty and ashamed, and I didn't have the strength to call anybody in my regular support network of friends and loved ones. My mind was fearful I would be a burden on them. It’s this shame and guilt that makes this such a deadly issue.  Our minds tell us to hide, to pretend it isn't there, and not to “bother” the people we would effect if we were no longer living (and who would do anything to help us.)

I didn't call the phone number with a razor to my wrist, or at the edge of the bridge. I hadn't actually planned out how one should go about not existing, and to be honest, there is no option that seems very attractive at this time. My point is, you don’t have to be in imminent physical danger for these thoughts to be life-threatening and dangerous, and you can reach out with nothing more than the desire to not feel the way you are currently feeling.

Our tribe has lost some amazing members this season, and it welcomes a new batch who may be finding themselves with something new, confusing, or terrifying they may not be familiar with. I want to go on the record and say that I, Sam Lamott, am a proud member of still alive, I find existing exhausting at times, and I want to renew my membership. If you are also a member, then I am your brother, we are family, and you are not alone.

 If you're struggling with suicidal thoughts please call the suicide prevention lifeline available 24 hours a day, every day at 1-800-273-8255 or visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Friday, May 26, 2017

Go To The Beach





" That incredible feeling of peace and calmness that you experience at the beach is now being referred to as 'blue space.' That’s what scientists have dubbed the effect that the combination of soothing smells & sounds of water have on your brain. The blue space is enough to make you feel at ease in a hypnotic sort of way. When you notice how relaxed you feel at the beach, it’s not just all in your head. Science says that it’s a change in the way your brain reacts to its environment leaving you feeling happy, relaxed and re-energized.


Overall, this BLUE SPACE effects you in four different ways:

1. Going to the beach reduces stress. 

Water is nature’s cure to life’s stressors. It’s full of naturally occurring positive ions that are known for having the ability to make you feel at ease. So whether you jump in for a swim or simply dip your toes in the water, you’re sure to experience a feeling of relaxation. That’s one instant mood booster we could all use from time to time!


2. The beach boosts your creativity.

Feeling like you’re in a creative rut? Well, scientists now believe that the solution to this is the beach. Being in blue space allows you to clear your head and approach problems or projects in a more creative way. Much like meditation, the beach triggers a feeling of calmness that allows you to tune everything else out & reflect on what it is you’ve been needing to focus on.

3. Going to the beach can help reduce feelings of depression.

Much like the effects that the beach has on feelings of stress and creative ruts, the beach also provides some relief to feelings of depression. The hypnotic sound of the waves in combination with the sight & smells of the beach can put you into a meditative space. In turn, you can clear your mind & reflect on life in a safe space away from the chaos of your daily life.


4. Overall, spending time at the beach will change your perspective on life.

And that perspective is going to change for the better! Nature in general has always been a factor in healthy happy lives, but the beach in particular is good for the soul."

 

 

 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Derek Walcott: Pulitzer Prize Winner &/or Monster



 I heard on the BBC today that the poet Derek Walcott died & a poem he had written, 'Love After Love', was read on air. I was intriguing enough to look for a copy on-line, but as I scrolled down the page, I felt deflated by charges of sexual harassment brought against him by several previous students enrolled in his college courses. As a woman with an MA, it brought me right back to those professors, in each of the colleges attended, who I was told 'to watch out for', or were easily recognized as predators without any warning needed. As an attractive, intelligent woman out in the real world, I fell in love with & had an affair with my own Naturapath Doctor, who was 12 years my senior. Although he was in the position of power, we were both single & frankly I pursued him & was the one who later moved on to another relationship. I heard years later that he was sued for sexual harassment by another patient & rightly so in whatever the victim's circumstance was.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

That Final Flight!




 It's interesting to me how the soft underbelly of those we love comes forth most profoundly in their birth & then in their passing.

Another chapter in a whole lifetime seemed crammed in to that last month my dad & I had together. At home he rustled the pages of his last presentation paper for his 'Wranglers' group about the brain, while asking me if flowers had a memory because they repeated the life cycle. I told him, no, that was simply genetic coding & so we went round & round as usual & then I went home & actually tried to find out on the internet if flowers DO have tiny brains. 

I stood by my father's hospital bed after our last real meal together of salmon, baked potato & fruit crisp, which he had gobbled down with gusto. On my way out, he motioned for me to lean down closer & closer until he could peck me on the cheek with that sly smile & then I kissed him on his head & he thanked me, as he had thanked Moe, the big guy who had turned him & the nurses who shifted his pillows or brought him ice. Chivalry until the end.

A week later, for all intents & purposes, my dad mostly laid in twilight between two worlds. I was wishing he didn't have to experience the shutting down of time & space & organs & thought somehow a head on collision would be more humane. I was dreading the drive over again to witness his disappearance, although at the same time I wished I was there holding his hand so he was not braving this journey alone.

I took solace that his soul was slowly arching away from the constraints of an earthly plane. How strange though it seemed that one so wearily encased could rally for that final flight!

Those days are so precious to me; perhaps more so then all the years we had leading up to them. The aching wait, the man child, the long rest into the sweet sleep of peace.

I believe you are truly in your element now.  God Speed, Daddy Dear xo

Friday, January 27, 2017

From What I Want To What Is





Yep, this is a real photo. This is me with a rope around my waist & my sister standing ominously off to the side, looking like she's ready to hurl a huge snowball at me. It's disturbing, but not quite what it seems. In New Jersey, where this was taken, the snow drifts were often over my head; thus to avoid losing me, I was put on a rope long enough to play in the shoveled part, but not to do a face plant in a snowbank.

I was listening to a woman yesterday who was talking about her addiction to pain killers as if she was sitting in front of a window watching big snowflakes beautifully swirling down, but totally blocking out the real view outside. I feel like in terms of family dynamics, I've been a slow study, but the snowflakes are at least starting to slow down & changing to rain. It may always look somewhat skewed out there, because hey, who doesn't want to idealize the family that never was; 'The Brady Bunch' into something more palatable?

One thing that is happening for me is the walking towards the fork in the road where my sisters are on one path, which is the path they need to be on & me on my path, the one I need to be on. Since my dad died & as my mother continues to fade into her distant memories, I've been on the strained side with my sisters. I have a brother, but that relationship stays the same as it always was, due to an eight year age difference.

Yes, I know; there already IS an unusual silence & there will continue to be; but it is AMAZING the lift off of MY shoulders from the letting go I have accomplished, which for now, is about the best Birthday present I can give myself.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

WELCOME TO THE PRESIDENT


Many folks suffer with PTSD from traumatic experiences in their past that evolve from not feeling safe &/or abandoned: authoritarian abuse, war, rape, neglect, a bad relationship or car accident. One learns the coping mechanisms & healing needed to go on to live 'normal' lives, while also recognizing the triggers that may again bring them to their knees. We learn to recognize & avoid situations or people who are crazy makers & return to touchstones that provide equilibrium & bring strength anew. A trigger may come when someone in our lives, (whether we want them them there or not),  is in an ultimate position of power.

Which brings us directly to Donald Trump. 

Adjectives being used to raise the internal & group alarm are: scared, sad, angry, helpless, frustrated, ect. ect. & the symptoms include, anxiety, depression, panic, disorientation, & a myriad of  'go to' coping mechanisms when feeling threatened. Over two million folks gathered together around the world to peacefully express their feelings of discontent & are empowered. The individual becomes part of the tribe that refuses to be intimidated. And yet, predictably, the person who remains in a position of power ignores the obvious & can't see "what the big deal is ",  & relies on the bubble of 'alternative facts." Today, I read he wants a recount for 'voter fraud' because although he won the electoral college, he believes he also won the popular vote. Nothing less makes 'sense' to him in his own version of reality. None of it makes sense to us.

These are the decisions I have make for myself, born out of past experience with crazy makers & my current need for self preservation:
   
1) Hypervigilance is not my friend when it comes from a place of fear. Checking the news frequently to see what craziness has happened in the last five minutes does not prevent it from happening. What DOES happen are physiological panic symptoms that alert ME I am not in control of what Trump does or doesn't do. Somehow believing that if I stay alert, I can personally control the national outcome sounds silly even as I write it. 

Posting the craziness & spending too much time on social media as part of the hypervigilant cycle is a life draining combination at best. It's just another way we try making sense of the nonsense & it becomes overwhelming for everyone. Sometimes there is nothing to be done besides backing away from the phone, i-pad, laptop or whatever else that is keeping us from ourselves. Take a walk. Breathe normal breathes. Read a book. Do art. It feels good to know we can survive & thrive in the silence.
Jennifer James once said, 'If you need to read it, grieve it, or feel it, set the timer. Don't allow yourself to do anything else for that time period; sort of like a concentrated meditation. When the timer rings, go do your life.'

"People with narcissistic personality disorder are characterized by persistent grandiosity, excessive need for admiration, & a disdain & lack of empathy for others. These individuals often display arrogance, a sense of superiority, & power seeking behaviors. People with NPD typically value themselves over others to the extent that they disregard the feelings and wishes of others & expect to be treated better than others. In addition, people amp; with NPD may exhibit fragile egos, an inability to tolerate criticism, and a tendency to belittle others in an attempt to validate their own superiority." DSM-5

Sound familiar? Speak your mind, join in the protests, write letters, push for what you want as an individual or group, but know that a crazy maker & narcissist is in the White House & there is not a damn thing you can do to CHANGE HIM. Whoever put him there will have to take him out & we have no idea when or if that will happen. Set the alarm. Then go do YOUR life.