Consent

I do go quiet sometimes. I stop blogging for a minute. As a self professed monk, I think my vocation demands it. 🙂

I say that with a smile because, to be absolutely honest, my time in silence is often my favorite. I do still write, I do still knit, I do still embroider….but, I don’t feel the need to share. This blog is an open diary of my life for anyone and everyone to read. And some thoughts and feelings are meant simply for me and God, especially some of those felt in that quiet, silent embrace.

I’ll put it to you this way. If I’m blogging, I’m spending time with you. If I’m not, I’m spending time with God. And once you feel His presence, it’s very hard to let It go. It feels too good to let go. Your body doesn’t hurt, your mind doesn’t hurt. There is no fear, there is no anxiety, there is no constraint….only consent. Thomas Keating discussed consent in one of his sermons and it was a shift in my own thinking.

You have to consent to God’s love, for God’s love doesn’t make demands. Nor does God’s love require credentials, memberships, earnings.

God only asks that you love Him as equally as He loves you…And when you consent to that love, when you freely hand yourself over to that simple divine principle, then loving everything gets so much easier. Especially loving yourself, your enemies, or anything else you might despite. Everything gets easier once you consent to that love and just let it wash over you like an ice cold shower on a blazing hot day.

UntitledIf you’re lucky, you’ll enjoy 10 minutes of silence with God and you’ll feel a smile creep across your face. You’ll feel Him in ways that cause butterflies to bloom in your belly. You’ll feel him in ways that make you stop everything, pause, and stop what you’re doing just to experience something like you have ever enjoyed in the physical world. It is an absolute disregard for death and of pain, for it is the eternal presence, the source of ever giving love and every given life.

And if you’re a self professed monk (like myself), those are the moments you crave. Those moments in silence give life to all that you create…the things you make are just manifestations of your time spent alone with God. If you’re a self professed monk, you want to extend that 10 minutes of bliss into something much longer, something that digs deeper into the soul. You’ll structure your life around that desire for silence to invite the Divine….and for the hands to fumble through whatever He should desire be made. We trust His design. We have faith in His plan. We consent to what will be….in His name.

Sorry if I got all preachy on you. Just letting you know why I’ve been quiet. 🙂

If you appreciate my work and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you so much for reading!

I –

I’m Basically Just a Long Piece of String

He said it with all sincerely, with genuine heart: “I’m so happy to see you do that.”

I finished gobbling the last of my peanut butter sandwich before asking, “What?”

“Eat….”

It’s so true. For the past month I’ve been on a diet. And I know some heads can’t swivel around to the idea that diets aren’t just for losing weight. Diets are a designed regiment of healthy eating. Yes, skinny people need diets, too. My weight has always been really low. I max out at 120lbs while being 6 feet tall. In other words, I’m just a really long piece of string. Last year my weight got dangerously low, to less than a hundred pounds. It’s a condition of my subconscious. When I’m stressed I stop eating.

All of that changed a month ago. I was given a gift card to Publix, so I could order some groceries. So, I put it to some amazing use. Tired of hearing from big boys how to put on weight, I went hunting down scrawny dudes like yours truly. This one gent gave me the best advice ever. “Eat something, anything, anything at all first thing in the morning. While you’re waiting for the coffee to brew, grab something out of the fridge and have a bight. This will increase your appetite. Your body will be wanting MORE.”

So, I did…..And four weeks later I’m eating five times a day. Now, it’s nothing massive. I grab one of those Dole Fruit Cups of diced peaches (you know, those little four packs they come in) and start nibbling on that while I wait for the coffee. A few sips of Java and I’m suddenly adding yogurt to my fruit cup. Another cup of Joe and wouldn’t you know, I’ve added cornflakes to the mix.

Two hours later, I’m snacking on a creamy Peter Pan peanut butter and Smucker’s strawberry jelly sandwich…..(See? I have to pause to go make myself a sandwich now. Just writing it with some description made me hungry for one.)

Two hours after that I’m having a bowl of tomato soup with a grilled cheese and turkey sandwich. Two more hours and another snack, then dinner, then a snack, then a bowl of ice cream….then catching myself up at 3am raiding the fridge for that DELICIOUS Publix southern style potato salad and classic baked beans!!!! (YUM, dammit, YUM!)

I have watched my personality shift…and have found some safety and sanctuary over the last month within myself. (Wow, Gregory. Do you think that what, how, and when you eat might affect someone’s mood??? Someone’s physical and mental health? Groundbreaking, Gregory, just….groundbreaking.)

I went from eating one meal a day (out of obligation, I imagine) to eating five. I went from feeling caged and depressed to being the Rockstar that I know I am. 🙂 I have more energy, I have more creativity, more desire….more love. I know with food prices what they are, it’s gonna be rough to keep it up, but I don’t care. I’ll double up on knitting teddy bears and embroidering my felted bags. (Donating when you’ve read something I’ve written that you like helps!). But, even if we have to take out a loan to pay for groceries, then so be it, because I love what FOOD (of all blessed things) what FOOD has done for my demeanor, my mind. (I can’t wait to see what it does for my body! My midzone is getting a little thick, so that’s why I had suspenders on my list 🙂 I’m having to unbutton when I sit. Isn’t that awesome?)

296805029_767691081025494_474285982699957025_nAnd I no longer weigh myself. I find it foolish. I just want the people that see me on a daily basis to notice it in my face. Weight is not my concern. Health is. I know I’m doing ok if any one of them should happen to say, “You look like you’re in a really good place right now.” (The morning lady at 7-11 said that to me today! I giggled, said thank you, and bought us both a candy bar!)

Then to hear Phillip comment how happy he was to see me eating really made me feel….I don’t know. Proud, I guess. A big element of my life was tackled, not destroyed. That’s not the kind of man I am. I don’t kill. I convince. So, I convinced that part of myself that clung to the normal, self deprecating, sinister part of me that wanted to self destruct, that things would be so much better if I just made the damned effort. That part of me isn’t dead. It’s been convinced to be grateful now that it is freed of anything bad that it it had tasted before….and to lovingly gobbling up all that it can with appreciation.

If you appreciate my work and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you so much for reading!

I –

Just Being Comfortable

Things have been splendidly quiet here at Honeychurch. There have been no mild highs and no extreme lows….just a superbly simple stability. We don’t want for much, Phillip and I. We find so much value in moments, not things.

So, it was interesting when it was suggested to us that we have an amazon wish list for anything we might need. My brain went blank. I couldn’t think of anything, even if I were to consider making a wish list. I get posed this question every year at Christmas by mother, “what do you want for Christmas?”

…..and my mind goes quiet.

I guess when asked if there are things I need, I buckle, because the things I could use to make life a touch easier would be silly to some. I mean, if you had a wish list, what would you ask for?

UntitledFine. I’ll go big. I’ll boldly ask loudly for the one thing I think I’ve been working for my whole life. I want a one acre property near Dade City, Fl. I’ll have a one bedroom cottage with a fence….and on the other side of that fence is Phillip and HIS one bedroom cottage. A few miles east is a Publix….and a few miles west is St. Leo’s Monastery, where I can finally become a layman. I’ve written a best seller and all that we need will be taken care of long after the both of us are gone….so that surplus goes to helping any and every soul or charity we can think of that could use some help. Much as I have been blessed with the kindness of so many of you, we’d turn around and send it right back to others we believe in, that could use some support.

(I love day dreaming).

In the meantime, I could use a box fan. You see, Phillip and I don’t use the air conditioning. We’ve been here nearly three years and the first month we moved in was in the middle of summer, so we had the air on. Our bill was about $250 a month. Then the weather got cooler, the air went off, windows went open, we bought a couple of box fans and the bill dropped to about $95 a month….and every summer since, we’ve allowed this house that was designed for breezes to do its job. But, this morning one of our box fans fell over and broke.  It is quite amazing the difference in the air when one fan goes down. The heat index of 104 is surrounding the house, whilst the humidity begins seeping in through the cracks. You can certainly notice a difference.

So, what would I put on my wish list? A box fan…

If you can help with that, I’d be more than grateful.

UPDATE! The fans were purchased! THANK YOU SO MUCH! So many of you did suggest a wish list for anything else I could use, so I spent a little while racking my brain. Yes. Yes, I could definitely use some new socks and t-shirts. So, here is my wish list.

If you appreciate my work and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you so much for reading!

I

Royal Bears For Everyone

sutton2Since Phillip was out of work for a few days, I’ve been ramping up production of quite a few Bear and Blanket sets so we can finish paying rent. I’ve been having a ton of fun with these bears, loving how no two look exactly the same, each of them with their own personalities, each with a dominion that is uniquely theirs. I call them my “Ursus Royal” series.

The next little Bear and Blanket set is Sir Sutton of Sleepytime. He resides of a land where bears no what it means to unwrap a blanket, toss it on the grass, lay on on your back and do nothing but take the best nap ever. He’s in the shop now.

dreamsThe other two bears are fast behind, though. Trying to get the Duke of Dreams finished by tomorrow. Set in a land of colors reflected off the clouds, he floats quietly behind like the sky, keeping all those beautiful together so that others may enjoy them whenever they see a sunset or sunrise.

Then there is Lady Latte, of course. She lives in a land where bears spend their days at cafes, sipping the most delicious of fancy coffees, while licking honey biscuits absolutely free of charge. (Can’t wait for you to see the colors of her blanket, over flowing with the colors of cream and cappuccino).

latteSo, please come back to the shop often, and I do mean often. These little bears don’t last very long, which is good. I don’t have too much time to waste. With that, I’ll get back to work and finish them up for you! Don’t worry! There will bears for everyone!

If you appreciate my work and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you so much for reading!

I

 

Phillip Flips to Fifty

I will not lie to you….I’m hungover. So, this might be one of the most precious, or most disastrous blog posts I’ve ever written.

It seems cider doesn’t agree with me. I’m a classic drinker. I can hold my liquor. But, for some messed up reason cider seems to throw everything off balance, including my equilibrium…which is why I guess I kept walking sideways yesterday, only correcting myself once I hit a wall. But, don’t worry! Nothing terrible happened….I just played it off. “Phillip, have you seen the mural on this wall? Fasc (burp!) fascinating…..Gorgeous. What is that? A frog?”

Why? Oh, why did I have two (ok, three) pints of cider and go all stupid? Because today Phillip flips to fifty. Yes, today is Phillip’s 50th birthday, but seeing how he had to work today, we decided to celebrate last night….which is another lie. We celebrated at 1pm and were in bed, wrecked in the head, watching crap tv by 5pm asking, “What the hell just happened?” (Full disclosure, we were gifted a case of Mike’s Hard Lemonade for his birthday at 11am….and we might have started there. Anyway! Don’t plan to incriminate either of us, just giving the facts.)

9c96ad0dd433c20bb7e8935147b3d9b7__united_states_florida_orange_county_orlando_northeast_orlando_east_robinson_street_2414_sportstown_billiardshtmlWe had decided to go to Sportstown, an institution, if you ask me. The perfect place to play. A place I’ve been going to since I was in my 20’s. It looks like a basement rec room in the suburbs. The type of place where the parents know you’re going to drink, smoke weed, be vile and ridiculously stupid….but, you’re in the basement and mom and dad can come and check on you if they need to. You’re in a safe place, plush with comfy couches, baskets of nacho cheese, pickled jalapenos, air hockey and ski ball. What can go wrong?

Absolute nothing went wrong. It was a great outing, a wonderful afternoon in which we foolishly celebrated Phillip’s birthday. No one else was there! It was us and the bartender, which is how we flow, you know. I’m agoraphobic and can’t be around a lot of people….and Phillip is just awkward and weird. He frightens people….He’s reading this right now and agreeing with me, so no emails about how I talk poorly about him. Dude is over my shoulder NODDING right now.

So, we liked that we had the whole place to ourselves….at 1 o’clock in the afternoon on a Thursday. 🙂 Who else would be there? We never got to the jukebox. We love the jukebox because we love messing with people’s heads. It’s true! Whenever we go to Sportstown we make a point of leaving with some wild song on the jukebox as we make our exit. We were going to pick George Michael’s “Flawless.” But, there was no one there to mess with 🙂

So, this is where we came home, made some ham sandwiches, plopped in the bed and asked that serious question that anyone on the precipice of 50 may want to ask. Midlife. Half life. Shelf life…What have you done and want do you want next?

The answers to those questions are never truly spoken. Quite simply, they’re felt. No matter how you to try to verbalize it, what it means to reach an age where you realize that life will someday begin to fade away can hurt you, if you’re not careful…

Then we remembered the many of our friends who didn’t make it this far….the same friends who were convinced people like Phillip and I wouldn’t make it past 30. Yet, here we all were in a space meant for fun, the spirit of long gone friends around us….All of us laughing at the irony of it all: they were all gone and here was Phillip flipping 50.

He said, “Today was good. I felt 15 again….” Turning 50 allowed him the chance to feel youthful again. If you could see his face, he looks like a solid, happy man undefinable in age. He has a boyish buoyancy about him. He might have gone to work today with two different pairs of socks because he is about as hungover as I am right now. But, that’s not the sort of thing you care too much about as you mature, is it?

So, ya’ll wish Phillip a happy birthday. I’m going to eat something greasy and go back to bed….

If you appreciate my work and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you so much for reading!

I

By the Grace of an Abusive Father

I think the further you go down a spiritual path, the more you’re inclined to look back and ask where and when in your life the first steps were taken. Was that first step to follow God my decision or His? Or was it decided mutually? After all, we’re inclined to follow in the footsteps of the Father, but we don’t have to, if we don’t want to. 

My father has been dead for about 3 or 4 months now. And as hellish as our history was, the thought of him comes to me on occasion. Blocking out bad memories is the worst thing anyone can do, so I work with those memories in a way that is less painful. 

I realize that the first steps I took towards a spiritual path, towards a life in reverence to God, was the moment my father first hit me. I was so young, and so confused. I didn’t hate him then, I just didn’t understand why he resented me so much. The more adolescence took over, the more I wanted away from him for good. But, I wasn’t aware of the spiritual life then. I was only aware of the physical life and found myself trying to find a father figure in any older man that would have me. 

I was so desperate for a dad that I have no choice but to admit to living the worst sort of lifestyle in my early 20’s: so eager to be loved, I did anything.

Then through the series of some beautiful events, I found myself walking into a Benedictine monastery and asking the monks not to, “let me leave until I’m human again.”

In the quiet, in the silence, in the charity and mercy, and long walks through the orange groves, I had found my true Father, had found that emptiness in my history, in my person, filling with warmth. All resentments were lifted, all needs for revenge squashed, all desperate needs to be validated by anyone who would sexually have me were erased.

I was at peace, free of the sadness that comes from having not been loved by someone; free of the darkness that comes from living every day over and over with no new outcome; free from making pain a normal part of life, and making love a suspicious attribute of someone. 

I understood then and there that I wanted to make this spiritual life that I witnessed and explored for just a moment, the cornerstone of how I structured my life….for in this life of hermitage I get to spend as much time with the One True Father nearly every moment of every day. And in that time I am afforded the most amazing love; a love that brings good people into my fold, a love that allows debates to be settled with hugs, a love that allows the daily gift of sunlight, and a love that happens by just smiling at a stranger and changing their day forever. You don’t have to scream in order to change the world! You can shift the hearts of cruel men simply through prayer….

And there is a lot of forgiveness in that love. I was asked if I thought my father would be in hell? No, of course not. No one who believes in a just, loving, forgiving God would ever admit to the existence of hell. My father, as all, was accepted into the beauty of Heaven, with forgiveness and compassion.

To be fair, it’s very difficult to take even one more step on any spiritual path if you don’t recognize that particular Holy forgiveness. 

71Through the faults of my father, and through my father’s own pain, I was given grace. Whatever hell happened in my father’s head to make him that way, was in many ways a God send for me, for my own soul. I don’t know what my life would have been like had my father been a well adjusted, decent man. I just can’t imagine it would be as blessed as this life. For, I may never have experienced a spiritual pain had my father not been physically abusive. But, in that pain, he and I were both saved, I think. 

I imagine my father is in Heaven, finally experiencing the love he never truly felt while he was alive. I hope my father is smiling….for now we both understand what we were both missing that whole time: the love of our One True Father.

Writing and knitting are pretty much my only income at the moment, so if you appreciate my work and would like for it to continue, please donate or peek around the shop. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you so much for reading!

 

 

 

Ditching Political Jesus

I have been struggling to understand this notion that Jesus was a liberal, or a social democrat. Conservatives want to snatch Him up for themselves and say he defends truly great Americans. This conversation always tends to pop up during elections, so it isn’t unusual. But, I think it’s strange that people would want to taint the teachings of someone so blessed with the poisoned arrows of politics.

To begin with, you’re under the foolish impression that Jesus would turn your eyes from God for one minute to consider something as ridiculous as a political party’s platform. Secondly, if you think that Jesus would stump for you on the campaign trail would mean he would have to reject the other party. Now that word is important: reject. I can’t imagine Jesus standing along side a nominated politician. I can’t imagine Jesus would applaud the term, “Let’s beat them in November!” I can’t imagine Jesus would give his blessing so that you could shred your opponent with hit pieces, planted stories, lies and gossip.

But, some will argue that we should support all social spending governments for Jesus believed in helping the poor, feeding the hungry, tending to the sick, distributing wealth, etc! YES! HE WAS! But, I take offense to your interpretation of what that means, for it goes against the nature of the Christian belief.

The entire concept of Christian salvation relies on the individual desire for a connection to God. And the only way to do that is through love. Love can be packaged in the form of concern and charity, but it is ultimately how a Christian finds salvation: by giving of himself to others, through the desire to give and share kindness. A Christian does not wait for the government to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, or tend to the sick on his behalf. He is implored to do so by the loving strength of mercy that resides in everyone who reads the words of Christ in red: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

Your soul, your human experience, is diluted by demanding someone else to take care of these things for you. You are missing the grace of that moment where God, You, and the one you showed concern for become the new trinity.  The Father (God), the Son (that would be you now!), and the Holy Spirit (that great bliss from having been given love, now sharing it).

Conservatives, don’t feel you’re off the hook. I get bothered when I hear you say, “God fearing, American, Christian values.” Again, I worry about any Christian who is afraid of God. I think they’re more afraid of what the Church thinks, rather than what God thinks. And statements like these always make me feel as though piety, fear, ridicule, judgement and chastisement are all one heartbeat away from normal for the Christian thought. To have these ideas supersede the ever expanding Grace of God is a sin, if you ask me. That precious part of you that hears God in silence, whispering “love,” starts getting replaced with the noisy screams of judgement from a pulpit.

UntitledLiberals, when you start screaming about “the separation of church and state,” do you think you could start with your campaigning? Could you please not be so hypocritical as to tout Jesus as a carrot in front of people, then say months later, there is “too much prayer in our schools?” Conservatives, when you start saying that you are a “Christian,” could you please stop cultivating Jesus as a warrior, a soldier? In the presence of so many hostilities in the world it is easy to use Christ as a symbol of defense and protection, fighting along side us. It is understandable. But, in the process of doing this we forget who Christ was. We forget that he is the ultimate beacon of hope, we forget that he is the ever extending grace of God’s love for eternity, we forget that he is the light and the way for all….

So, let’s start ditching the “political” Jesus, shall we? That is until at least both political parties have Jesus figured out…..

I bet once a few politician truly realize they’re a Christian, they’ll leave politics forever.

If you appreciate my blog and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you!

A Rush to the Emergency Room

Under any other circumstance I would have said, “NO!” George is 70 years old and has a tendency to drive like Mr. Magoo. And I’m not kidding, he runs around town in a Model T Ford.

But, there my old friend was, his tires back spinning in the driveway as he pulled, a puff of dirt and dust smoking up from the road. “I got a call from your mom! About Phillip! Let’s go!”

About an hour before I received an email saying that Phillip had been taken to the emergency room. Not having a phone I panicked. I needed to get there. So I did three things. Email my mom and told her to call George. Emailed my friend Kara and asked if she could take me to the hospital. Then put in an order online for a yellow cab. I wrote up a letter and put it on the front door. “If you’re reading this, thank you! But someone got here first and I HAVE TO GO! THANK YOU!”

95I sat on the front steps waiting….waiting for someone. There was George, the Yellow Cab right behind him. I made a quick dash to the cab. “Thank you, but my friend is here. I’m going to cancel.” Driver kindly said thanks and drove off.

We piled into George’s truck (today was not the day for the Model T). He pulled out fast as I asked, “Hey do you have Kara’s number?”

“Of course.” He dials her up.

“Kara? It’s George.”

“I’m walking out the door right now. I’ll be there in five minutes to get him.”

George quickly turns the wheel, careening us into traffic. Phone in one hand. Smoke in the other. Neither hand on the steering well. “Don’t worry about it! I got him!”

And off to the hospital we go.

“Dude, if you need to hit that bicyclist to get there faster, go for it,” I said.

He puts his hand on my shoulder. “Calllllmmmm dowwwwnnnn.”

“Sorry. Last message I got was that he was in triage.”

We swerve, weave through traffic at top speeds. I don’t give a damn. I don’t care. Get me there! NOW!

We make our way to valet admitting.

“George, just slow down and I’ll roll out. We don’t have time to wait for valet.”

He pulled up to the front door with a screech. “I’m out,” I said leaping to the sidewalk. “I’ll call you later!!!!” And off George drove, nearly crushing a few valet attendants as he squealed out of the parking lot. (That really is just the way he drives. Whether it be a dire situation or just a quiet drive to the corner store, that is how George drives).

I walk into the hospital with a big bag on my shoulders. I learned this from my mother’s advice. “Take a charger, some cash, and some crochet to work on.” So, I did.

I would also like it to be known that I was firmly at home this morning, just in my  PJs when all of this started. The moment I heard Phillip was in the ER I grabbed the nearest pair of jeans (filthy, on the floor) and the closest t-shirt I could find. Phillip’s “MAD MAN KNITTING” t-shirt. It looked like a tent on me. So, I looked wretched to begin with….carrying this big bag of who knows what on his shoulder. To make things worse, I pull out my keys. A medal of St. Benedict is on my key chain. So, I’m holding and rubbing right in front of my chest what looks like a detonator. I saw it. I caught my reflection, wasn’t surprised at all that I was quickly flagged.

A few officers took notice, came closer as someone asked at the desk, “Can I help you?”

“I’m looking for someone who was recently admitted.”

“That desk over there.” The desk with the cops!

A police officer asked for my ID, printed out a badge, handed it to me than told me where to go. (They never asked to look in my bag).

And through some twisted halls and stairs, there was Phillip on a gurney behind a curtain. I went to him.

He was loopy, attached to an IV drip. “Phillip, you know the whole world is going to be dying to know how you ended up on life support long before sickling ol’ me.” I grab his hand, “What’s wrong, sweetheart?”

“I don’t know. I feel like my kidneys are failing. They took blood and made me pee. I think they’re taking me for a cat scan soon. My whole body hurts, like it’s on fire. But, I’m so cold!” Soon after they wheel him out and I’m left for the next two hours to sit and crochet quietly in that little screened off partition….that look on my face: a face that screams of fear and faith doing battle….

I notice a nurse walk by and do a double take. She giggles kindly and says, “I’m sorry. I thought I saw my mother for a minute.”

I can’t imagine I’m the only person to have sat in the emergency knitting or crocheting. Maybe people just don’t do that sort of thing anymore. Maybe they just pull out their phones. Or, just maybe the last time she remembers a scene so similar is when her own mom was sitting in the emergency room, waiting to know what’s happened to their loved one.

A few hours later and the doctor greets Phillip warmly. “Hello! You’re perfectly fine. You have a terrible case of colitis. Your colon is so inflamed it’s pressing on the rest of your organs, which is why your kidneys are hurting you. Nothing to worry about. We’ll get you some antibiotics and you should be ok.”

I snickered with relief. His condition was painful, but not life threatening, nor even life altering. THANK YOU, GOD!

Once Phillip was dismissed, I used his phone to call us a cab to the Walgreens near home where Phillip’s meds were waiting for us. The cab pulls up, I open the door to let Phillip lounge in the back seat (they had given him valium before we left), then crawled into the passenger seat. To my great surprise, it was someone I have know around town for the last 20 years. “This is awesome! Oh, my goodness! How have you been, Gene! Are you still married to the Russian ballerina?”

He just laughs. “Actually no! This is quite the surprise! How are you?”

“Well, picking up the husband from hospital. Don’t worry, he’s just fine. I am so glad you showed up. I had no idea how long I was going to have to wait.”

He says, “Funny you mention that. I wasn’t accepting any calls right now. But, my phone lit up and it said, ‘Gregory.’ I thought, ‘It can’t be that Gregory. I haven’t heard from him in years. I wonder if my old friend could use a ride…..and here you are!”

We had the best ride to Walgreens, catching up and getting reacquainted and once we arrived and I tried to pay the fare, he wouldn’t allow it. “No, it was really good to see you again, Gregory.”

“Thank you, Gene! Like wise! I hope we see each other again soon!”

I grab Phillip out of the back seat and toss him into Walgreens. He ping pongs down the aisles stoned out of his mind. “Aim for that chair, sweetheart,” I say.

Once at the pharmacy window, everything was a breeze. “Sure, here you go. Your order is ready. Ok….total comes tooo….$975.”

I’m not fibbing when I tell you I shrieked, “WHAT?????” so loud that they heard me in the parking lot.

I start going through the bags of meds. One of them was $700! Another was $180! WHAT???? He doesn’t need life saving medications! He needs to relieve some bloat!!! WHAT????

She looks at me so kindly. “Do you have insurance?”

“No.”

“Do you have any kind of discount card?”

“No.”

“Do you know about GreatRx?”

“No.”

“Have you ever seen the commercial?”

“No.”

I swear I was waiting for her to ask me if I currently lived in this century. Instead she said, “Pull up the website on your phone and I’ll give you the codes to the medications and they usually offer discounted prices.”

“THANK YOU!”

So, I sat in that chair for a good 10 minutes coming up with discounts that still could in no way help us. Eventually I just tossed the phone to Phillip and got up. “I have to pee.”

Off to the restroom and back. On the way back to pharmacy I pass two coworkers talking to each other. I catch the eye of one and he catches it back. I look away then look to him again to find him nodding and smiling and saying, “Yes, it’s me!”

“Felix! WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? I haven’t seen you in ages! How are you? You look great!”

“Your face looks so heavy, man.”

“It’s been a rough day.”

“You always seem to make those some of your best days though, don’t you? Least from what I remember. Chin up. You’ll be fine!”

“I can’t tell you how great it is to another friendly face right now.”

I head back to the pharmacy, grabbed the paperwork from the hospital, looked around at what each of the meds do and said, “Ok. We’ll take the antibiotic and the anti inflammatory.” I declined the $700 bottle of Metamucil.

And we were off! Headed home…..finally. I had time to think on the way back to Honeychurch.

Through every step of the journey I had run into someone I knew, a friendly face at every turn, reminding me that I had angels guiding me home, Phillip safely in tow. My agoraphobia might have really kicked in, might have really swirled in my head like the sort of maelstrom that takes you down, way down, and doesn’t let you back up again. But, no. I never even THOUGHT about my agoraphobia because I was distracted by so many joyful reunions!

Each of them reminded me with absolute sincerity, “You are going to be just fine. You are surrounded by loving friends.” My mom, George, Kara, that kind nurse (I bet I run into her in 10 years and go, “hey, I know you!”), Gene, Felix, and that helpful pharmacist….and to anyone who was praying for us…..I was surrounded by angels and loving friends. (Kinda hard to tell the difference these days 🙂 )

Well! My turn to catch some sleep!

If you appreciate my blog and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you!

A Friend of Gregory

It’s about 7am and I step into my workspace and open the blinds. My desk is set before this enormous picture window that overlooks the front of Honeychurch. I notice the first rays of day catch the golden raintree with brushes of warmth. I sit down to check my emails while I wait for the coffee to brew only to find my inbox is bursting at the seams.

I start reading them, one after another, each of them telling their own struggles with mental illness, each of them sharing the understanding of what mental illness can be like, what it can do to you, how it can  toy with you, even when you think things are going great for you.

It’s about 9am and I’m just now getting to my coffee. I couldn’t stop reading. Some people don’t like to share what they feel publicly, but so many of you were so ready to tell me in private that you felt that you were not alone, that someone else understands.

And as one email said in the most touching way, “You have a beautiful way of talking about pain….”

53That made me feel so….loved. I just sat here for about 2 minutes trying to think of the right word to complete that thought. How did I really feel? Tears were in my eyes, for in reading that the only thing I could feel was a wash of love baptize me in a way. Reading these emails made me feel connected (in the truest spiritual terms) to every single one of you that reads this blog. Even if you don’t communicate, if you’re reading this, I feel you now. I truly do.

I have a tendency to spill with the deepest urgency on how I feel, writing with an honesty about my experiences with mental health. The funny thing is, I’ve always felt that this was my therapy…..It never dawned on me that someone might read what I write and feel that what I have to say about this whole mess inspires them, affects them, and helps contribute to their own therapy.

I guess it’s the same principle as “sharing” in Alcoholics Anonymous. Get it off your chest, say what you have to say. You might be surprised. Someone might listen and think, “I understand. I feel that in my soul. I just wasn’t able to say it, but someone else did and it makes me feel so much better to know that I am not alone.”

I step to the podium. “Hi. I’m Gregory…and I’m crazy.” The room quietly responds, “Hi, Gregory.” I’m not sure if the term is still used, but alcoholics used to code each other in public by calling themselves “a friend of Bill W.” I wouldn’t have the slightest problem if anyone out there seeking help anonymously wanted to call themselves “a friend of Gregory.” It would be an honor, actually.

I’m grateful that this blog is a place where I can freely share the life that I have, because my writing about it helps me work through the muddle. I have time to think, to reflect, to experience it all over again before landing on the page with what I’m feeling. And I am becoming increasingly grateful that so many of you read what I have to say about my own challenges and find some benefit in that.

After all….we are all in this together.

I have a few more emails to read. I’m sure after this blog there will be more! And I don’t mind that one bit. Because if you need to share, then please do so….I’ll be here listening, for that is how we heal: by sharing and listening.

If you appreciate my blog and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you!

Feeding Myself Back to Health

In my last blog post I had talked about all of the changes we are trying to make around Honeychurch because of my poor health of late. So that I would be inspired to sit outside more, Phillip set up a couple of chairs under this gorgeous, canopied Ligustrum tree right next to his succulent garden. Speaking of succulents, he brought a ton of air purifying plants into the house, especially mother in law tongues. I’m slowly breathing myself back to health.

85I’ve been trying to do more physical activity. I’ll get up for at least an hour and try to do something more manual, like painting the living room. It took me three days, but I got it done. And I have another gallon of paint so before I paint another room, I’ve been using the full can to do squats with, holding the can in front of me as I bend my knees as deep as they will go, then slowly up again.

I tried walking up to Hobby Lobby the other day. Half way there (which is NOT very far), my legs felt all noodly, wobbly, wonky. I told myself I could keep going and make it back again just fine. Thanks be to God, my Hobby Lobby lady was there and that made all the difference in the world. I apologized for the way I looked and said, “A good shave and a long nap is all I really need right now.” She was so sweet to say that despite being scruffy looking, I looked good. I blushed and bowed my head.

I made it home fine, I just couldn’t walk a whole lot after that. It wiped me out.

My appetite is slowly coming back. Lack of energy, due to lack of air, was helping to keep me on some ridiculous diet of “too tired” to eat. Sad, isn’t it? SAD what the head can do to you at will. But, Phillip was bringing home more sippable things to eat, and that started to help heal me quicker than solid foods. Solids were just….too heavy. I’ve also started drinking Naked’s Green Machine. For something so strange a color, it sure is tasty.

45And speaking of green things, I’m hoping to accomplish two things today. One, sell the two bears and blankets in my shop then walk up to the plaza, to Sprouts next to Hobby Lobby, grab the ingredients to make spit pea from scratch. I want that to simmer in the crock pot all day, that rich layer of chicken broth, onions, celery and bacon wafting its way like a dream through Honeychurch. I think the aroma alone would make me feel better, and making progress. And it is one of my favorite soups of all time. SO rich in protein and so easily digested. Of course, the walk is the other important part of what I want to accomplish today.

I need to work my legs for a purpose today: feeding myself back to health.

If you appreciate my blog and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you!