Non-Fiction

Pain: Don’t Interfere With My Vacation

Today I feel like a ghost who is destined to lug a hundred pounds of chains around for eternity. Okay. Not really, but I am that pale.

Yes. I have had a bit of a bug the last few days. Exhaustion. However, I’ll power through it. I have books to read, write, and friends to talk to as well.

Did I mislead you by suggesting my horseback riding in Tucson was on Leap Day?  Did I actually say that? Or was it inferred?

When I saddled up in Arizona, it was August. Yes. We grabbed a cheap flight there. No. We did not notice that the heat would kill us.  Yes. We learned our lesson. Whew!  It packed quite a wallop.

It was about three months before my rheumatologist diagnosed me with RA (rheumatoid arthritis) and fibromyalgia. I had bad edema but couldn’t use my diuretic because I’d get dehydrated.  I was in agony.  I already suffered from chronic pain but the heat set fire to my skin.  The burning was relentless.  I was cranky.

Suddenly, I couldn’t even lift my leg the short distance to step up on the old two-tone green trolley. The driver and his young son, Silas, dressed in crisp white shirts and black pants, waited so patiently for me. They were so respectful, gentle and kind. Still, I felt humiliated and embarrassed.

One of my main goals on that trip was to go horseback riding.  Besides, people touted about how the Arizona weather would be great for me. I never thought it could make the pain worse.  Regardless, I vowed we would still follow through.  So we did!  I’m so glad too because I met Sugar, a chestnut-coloured horse with splotches of white on her rump.

Every little hill and dip in the terrain jolted me in Sugar’s saddle. Every time I ducked forward to avoid being knocked off by tree branches was excruciating.  It was the same as I pulled the reins and leaned back while we descended the steeper areas. I was a natural on a horse but my back muscles locked up as tight as a bank vault.

Despite all that, I loved the Sonoran desert. It was quiet. I got some great shots of cacti and different flowers. I patted Sugar’s strong back in appreciation. She was majestic. I even managed a half-smile when we finished the trail and were back at the ranch.  I laughed when they rolled the huge wagon wheel over again for me to step on while dismounting.  I did it!

A strange thing happened later in the evening. We watched a flash lightning storm from our hotel window and the kaleidoscopic colours wowed us. It was another gorgeous sunset.  Then we decided to walk across the street to the nearest convenience store for a cold drink.

“Oh My God!” a woman said, approaching us quickly, while we finished up at the cash. I heard her sandals clicking along the floor as she got closer.  Normally,  I would have stepped away but this time I didn’t; I was so happy, I felt invincible. My friend and I exchanged blank glances. “I can’t believe it!” she went on. We turned to face her with the sheen in our eyes unmistakable.

She was short, had jet black hair with flecks of blonde in it, and had the hands of a grandmother.  Her brown eyes were huge as she yanked the red sunglasses off her face.  Motioning with her hands, she cordoned off a huge and invisible circle around us. “I see angels all around you!”

“Really?” I said, not sure what else to say. I cracked open my diet pepsi and took a huge gulp. I instantly held the cold can against my right wrist, which was still swollen and sore.

“Yes!  Everywhere. They’re all around you!” She put her hand lightly on my forearm as she spoke.  I met her glance and saw that warmth and kindness oozed from her every pore. “I just HAD to tell you!”

“Thank you,” I said.  I smiled and clasped her hand gently for a few seconds, as if she was a long-time acquaintance.

That brief encounter in Mac’s reinforced my approach to everything. Inflammation will not stop me.  Flu or fatigue will not stop me. Thunderstorms and tornadoes will not stop me.  They may give me a super-bad hair day and contort me in pain like a Cirque de Soleil star.  However, I will still mosey on no matter what.

 

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Non-Fiction

Harness a Leap-Day Ride to the Sonoran Desert

Oh my gosh. I’ve only got one and a half hours to free myself!  What do I do or say?

I want to keep writing.

I want to laugh until my face hurts and I can hardly catch my breath.

I want to Zumba like there’s no sunrise again ever.

I want to sing Adele’s songs–not that I could ever do them justice–and take up the piano again.

I want to take some time and revel in the wondrous love in my life. The quality people in my life.

Last of all, I want to view the world from this perch much more often.

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Non-Fiction

A Quick Update

Hi Friends. I hope everyone is well and rockin’ their city, wherever they are.  I don’t know if I’m living up to that these days, but I’m certainly appreciating it every second. Yes. I’ll admit it; Vancouver is Awesome.  In my opinion, so is the entire globe, for I am a traveller.

Thanks for the emails. Several visitors sent spam, which won’t be published. Nor will any obscene or abusive comments.

Some people are looking for direction in writing.  I’ll share what works for me. Hopefully, you will too. We can build a writer’s community and benefit from each other.

This is the end of an exhausting day for me, so I’ll stop here for now. Tomorrow is another day to learn, grow, and get those words down.

Good night to all. A bientot.

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Non-Fiction

Embrace Writing This Leap Year and Spring

 

As February rounds the bend, I’m surprised at how eager I am for spring.  To me, there really hasn’t been a winter.  As I say that, I’m projecting pleading eyes upon the screens of everyone who is tasting brittle cold at this moment.  Forgive me.  I’ve become a west coaster.  Embrace it.  I have.

By the way, there was no response thus far on the previous post.  Curiously though, in the most recent hockey game between Vancouver and Nashville, while two players had a fist fight, Mr. Garrett said they were a good matchup. I found this a bit outrageous but that is another blog entry and not my main purpose here.

The idea is simple.  My story is yours. Yours is mine. They all are ours.  Stories make up the fabric of our lives; sharing and interweaving them is what I love.  Poetry. Fiction. Letters. Or cryptic little blurbs called tweets.

There is no right or wrong here.  No judgment.  Or–unless you want–me chasing after you insisting, “We really MUST talk about your work.”  Just recounting life. Embracing it. Feeling it. Sometimes cursing it.

Writing for what ails you. Maddens or bores you. Excites you. Makes you cry. Piques your interest. Reveals you. Makes you laugh until you almost pee yourself. Leaves you spent.

I’m game to write everything this leap year and spring.  How about you?

 

 

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Non-Fiction, Poetry

Freeing Myself Through A Poem By Marge Piercy

 

Freeing myself from within is a huge job for me.  I have been working on it, on different levels, for decades. Still, I find comfort in words that, at once, reveal and guide me through the seemingly endless maze. This poem always helps stoke my inner power, especially as I read it aloud.

 

FOR STRONG WOMEN

A strong woman is a woman who is straining
A strong woman is a woman standing
on tiptoe and lifting a barbell
while trying to sing “Boris Godunov.”
A strong woman is a woman at work
cleaning out the cesspool of the ages,
and while she shovels, she talks about
how she doesn’t mind crying, it opens
the ducts of the eyes, and throwing up
develops the stomach muscles, and
she goes on shoveling with tears in her nose.
A strong woman is a woman in whose head
a voice is repeating, I told you so,
ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,
ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back,
why aren’t you feminine, why aren’t
you soft, why aren’t you quiet, why aren’t you dead?
A strong woman is a woman determined
to do something others are determined
not be done. She is pushing up on the bottom
of a lead coffin lid. She is trying to raise
a manhole cover with her head, she is trying
to butt her way through a steel wall.
Her head hurts. People waiting for the hole
to be made say, hurry, you’re so strong.
A strong woman is a woman bleeding
inside. A strong woman is a woman making
herself strong every morning while her teeth
loosen and her back throbs. Every baby,
a tooth, midwives used to say, and now
every battle a scar. A strong woman
is a mass of scar tissue that aches
when it rains and wounds that bleed
when you bump them and memories that get up
in the night and pace in boots to and fro.
A strong woman is a woman who craves love
like oxygen or she turns blue choking.
A strong woman is a woman who loves
strongly and weeps strongly and is strongly
terrified and has strong needs. A strong woman is strong
in words, in action, in connection, in feeling;
she is not strong as a stone but as a wolf
suckling her young. Strength is not in her, but she
enacts it as the wind fills a sail.
What comforts her is others loving
her equally for the strength and for the weakness
from which it issues, lightning from a cloud.
Lightning stuns. In rain, the clouds disperse.
Only water of connection remains,
flowing through us. Strong is what we make
each other. Until we are all strong together,
a strong woman is a woman strongly afraid.

Marge Piercy

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Non-Fiction

Freeing Myself By Speaking My Mind

 

I am so eager to work on freeing myself from within that it has been hard to focus on much else.  That is what my life is about this year and I plan to make good on it.  As it goes with such things, the steps I need to take present themselves to me; I never need to figure out what they are.

 

On Saturday, in one of my rare moments of complete relaxation from work, I was watching a hockey game which took place in Denver between that team and my home team.  I was enjoying it until I was shocked out of my mellow state by what the announcer said. This may just be coincidental, but I said something about it on twitter and my followers have dropped off since.  I mean no harm to anyone but I must speak up to maintain my good mental health. The letter I wrote follows.

 

Dear Editor:

During the Colorado Avalanche vs. Vancouver Canucks hockey game on Saturday, February 4, 2012, play-by-play announcer, John Garrett, followed a fight in the third period between Shane O’Brien and Alex Burrows.  Burrows tried to score. Someone grabbed him around the neck and pulled him down on the ice until he was flat on his back.  All the players were around him by his upper body when Mr. Garrett said: “It’s as though he thinks he’s being raped in the face.”

 

These kinds of comments flow like salt in our society–especially ones that include jokes about rape or other kinds of violence primarily against women, but crimes of which boys and men are also victims.  Normally, in an almost conspiracy of silence, most will ignore it but, from a woman’s point of view, we are half of this society. It is wrong for the future of our daughters, sons, and even ourselves to participate silently in this practice.

 

It would be nice to hear an apology to everyone from Mr. Garrett. He has a wife, two daughters and perhaps sons. Surely, he owes it to all victims of rape–women, little girls, boys and men–-who were simply watching a hockey game where a fight was happening. His words turned it into something much uglier and upsetting to myself as a survivor, and most definitely, to others.

 

Sincerely,

 

Terry Gibson.

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Non-Fiction

Nurturing Change In My Life

 

After my last blog entry, I felt a bit disappointed in myself.  This is because I could not discuss change without giving voice to the inner struggles I have around it. I will say more about that in future because I am sure I am not the only woman dealing with these challenges. For now, however, I don’t need to elaborate.

 

You see, thankfully, it is my birthday today and I promised to cut myself a break from my self-critical ruminations. I can’t give myself a hard time for quite a few hours yet.  Isn’t that wonderful?

 

To move on then, I welcome change. It is hard and I’m fearful of it but I want it with everything in me. One might conclude upon reading my blog, that I think everyone should be out marching, fighting to change laws, and lobbying government on every level. The truth is that the realities of my life dictated I do these things. I had to do them to survive, to be here for this birthday.

 

The good news is that you don’t have to do all of that. If you tire easily, are a private person, or find yourself easily agitated, I don’t recommend it, not in the least. You might think your random acts of change are too small, ineffective and useless, when that isn’t the case at all. With the gift of breath, we were blessed with the startling power of ourselves and the ability to touch peoples’ lives everywhere. The following quote captures my message perfectly.

 

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Leo Buscaglia

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Non-Fiction

Changing the World One Word at a Time

Our place is buzzing with excitement about Changing the World in 2012.  We’re up every morning supping on a special green drink, much like the one Dr. Oz recommends.  We jog in the living room and do push-ups. Yes! We are amped to do our part in this New Year.  Even the feline Queens of my home –Paco and Teeka–are stepping up and have called a House Meeting to talk all about it.  I told them I need a few minutes first. Still, I am very curious about their choice of venue.

Before I entertain that –oh my, the cats are hilarious with their version of Zumba — I must tell you about how my plans were shaken up two weeks ago. There was an unwanted intrusion in my life by a person who is toxic to me.  The surprise quickly turned a perfectly good day into a bit of a horror.  It was a lucid nightmare where I was paralyzed and couldn’t alter the outcome.  My energy and enthusiasm quickly shifted to sporadic rushes of anger, sadness, confusion, followed by the desire to run and then depression.  It also set off some not-so-old echoes from those who sabotaged me at every turn and do so to this day. These tapes, as I call them, are strings of berating, ridiculing, hateful and cruel words, all hurled down at me. In an effort to render them quiet again, I decided to address those questions and accusations, charges, if you will.

 

Who Do You Think You Are?

When I was nine or ten and had this one thrown at me, I had no clue as to the answer. That never changed for the remaining seven years I endured with my family. Today, I could reply by recounting my name, where I was born and live now, plus what I do. I would say I am a writer and observer of people and that these two parts of me saved my life. By all accounts–professional validation–I survived a family which most might not. In fact, my not being a suicide statistic was simply good luck or an outright miracle. They sloughed off my skin as if they were planing a piece of wood. The beauty of words did not exist for them with their vicious, cruel, sadistic, and misogynous ways. What did I do to deserve it? I was born and lived.

 

You Just Want Attention

When I was a little girl, of course I wanted attention. I prayed for my mother’s hugs and reassurances and kindness. I even wanted her opinion on a poem I wrote, not to be locked up in a cold dark attic. Today, however, anybody who really knows me is aware that I am shy most of the time. Even when totally at ease with people, I am socially awkward. It is obviously something I will always live with to some degree.  On the other side of the nickel, I want to Change the World!  A person like me cannot do that without some acknowledgment.  In that sense, then, I DO want attention.

 

You Think You’re Better than Others

I know I can do a better Zumba than what I am seeing before my eyes at this second. They are dancing to Barry White! Are you kidding me?

Now I must aim that question at the person behind this charge. Are you kidding me? I used to spit at the image of myself in the mirror. I overdosed on pills many times because I was such a repulsive person and daughter. If your own mother and stepfather despise you and seem to enjoy watching you slowly become a hollow shell, how much worth would you feel you have? “Anybody who feels that much love has got to be sick!” my Mom said. I believed her. It took three decades for me to even make a dent in their programming of me. I had no value to anybody. Oops. Apparently, there was one thing I was good for, they continued, while laughing. In 2012, with all the changes in my life, I feel better about myself but I am still not immune to this struggle.

 

You Just Want People to Feel Sorry For You

Having somebody feel sorry for me is different from validation, which I do like. The latter reminds me that I was not the crazy one. I was simply the first girl and middle child in a family that never should have had daughters or children.  Feeling sorry accomplishes nothing. I never wanted pity and bristle at the mere thought of it.  Like anybody else, I am just living with the life I was given and trying not to trap my energies in futile questions like Why? Or What If? I use what I know to reach out to others who may find something I do or write useful to them.

*********

I hope that sharing some of these thoughts will help restore my sense of security and give me some courage. The inner battle burns me out and the outer one, in front of me, just sent fur flying. The Queens are circling around each other in a mixed martial arts stance. I’d better get that House Meeting off the ground. Come on girls. Teeka is a streak of orange, black and white fur as I follow her lead. The location of our meeting?  She’s blocking my view. Where? The dryer?

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Non-Fiction, Poetry

Thank You

Thank you for allowing me good housing, warmth, ample food, healthcare and good health.

Thank you for my eyes and having the ability to see without them. Thank you for my ears and not needing them to hear.

Thank you for the gift of intuition, compassion for myself and others, stubbornness, the strength and integrity to trust and be trusted, and, perhaps the most important of all, patience.

Thank you for laughter, quiet, music, workouts that pour sweat, the sweetness of good friendship, and for the helping professions, which guided me through the process of saving my life.

Thank you for the encouragement and love of my partner, for intimacy, spirituality, sex, sharing and striving for a better life as a team.

Thank you for my good strong mind, having an infinite curiosity and fascination about the world, the ability to learn, appreciate subtlety, satire, and to embrace the grey areas in life.

Thank you for babies (who always make me smile), for the rediscovery of language, writing, books, and people who share my fascination with words.

Thank you for the chances I have had to travel and see elephants, horses, koala bears and kangaroos, and to embrace other cultures with appreciation, admiration and respect.

Thank you for the raw beauty of nature and that so much of the best in life requires no currency.

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Poetry, Quotes

What To Do While We Wait?

Given the speed with which December is approaching, I wanted to share this lovely poem with you all.

Many of you may have read it.  It was shared with me in a writing class last July.  By chance, I picked up

the book in the library and was enchanted yet again.  For me, it captures what giving and receiving is all

about.

 

While We Wait

 

While We Wait

we hope for bliss to envelop us,

taking away our sadness and pain.

 

The light should grow brighter

and beautiful music fill the air,

angels to appear

and magic hands come to heal.

 

But while we wait, yet can we practice kindness.

We can love.

We can serve.

We can forgive.

 

Nothing out of the ordinary,

yet God’s greatest gifts.

 

Carol Orsborn, Nothing Left Unsaid, Words to Help You and Your

Loved Ones through the Hardest Times, 2001

 

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