Love You Forever ~ Like You For Always

283225_10150717555315230_2261605_nToday my youngest (birth) child is 18. By our cultural standards she is now considered an adult. This is a strange thing for me and I feel reflective.  What kind of world is she entering? Did I do enough? Is she going to be ok?  The world is remarkably different place from when I was 18 in University and starting my life. I mean its different for every generation – but we are at a turning point ecologically, environmentally and culturally.  I thought the cold war was scary – but really that was a cake walk compared to the world she will inherit.

Time moves along quickly, and with step children older than my bio kids – I find myself a happy grandmother.  I started when I was 25, and here I am on the edge of 48…and its over? Not that parenting ends when your kids are “all grown up”, but today feels like a milestone and I am sitting still in wonder…

When my eldest daughter, soon to be 22 was born my first thought was (and please don’t laugh too loud fellow parents…)  1604417_10201998266532853_1125646257_n

“I am NEVER going to say the world “No’ to her because it is “negative”. I will find alternatives”. Seriously…I said this.

Then at 6 months old I recall looking at her and thinking…

“This is easy. I haven’t screwed anything up yet!” wow.

That was very last time I ever had such a thought.

231007_10150568344230526_4533870_nMy sister Danie and I used to joke that in the instant you gave birth, a large grey cloud called “guilt” emerged over your head and just sort of followed you around like your own personal little rain cloud for the rest of your life. Sad but true – parenting seems to be a constant process of questioning yourself and questioning your own parents. If you aren’t careful you can develop chronic “not-enough-itis”

Not-enough patience

Not-enough time

Not-enough me to go around….

37114_1633022579275_4524107_nWe try and improve on what we think our parents did wrong. We all intend to do better and inevitably we all end up repeating some of the same mistakes and improving on others. It’s a slow adaptation one generation to the next. But one generation at a time we improve because we become conscious of what we do and do not want for the world and our children.   And frankly, what the world is demanding of my kids is very different than what it needed from me at that age.

Personally,  my only real goal with my kids was to guide them to be confident loving individuals who would make healthy loving choices for themselves and become a beneficial part of this planet. I have never believed that how they accomplish this is any of my business.

“Your children are not your children…” says Khalil Gibran. They belong to life itself.

They are perfect to me.  All seven of them. 284885_10150717521390230_6646268_n

I am not a parent who pushed my kids to achieve in school. I also didn’t berate them for what the system would consider “failure” – I don’t believe in failure if you take everything that doesn’t work out for you the way you think it should have and learn something from it.   Everything “bad” can be made into something “good’ and useful if you look hard enough.  But then, admittedly, you get better at parenting one child after another.

My eldest daughter, a patient and creative soul, was my “tester” child. She was my textbook. My second child, my son, was my tester boy. They taught me everything – and we grew up together.  After these “birth” experiences – the universe decided that my prophecies as a five year old declaring to my mother that “when i grow up I will have seven children and live on a farm”, came true…and here we are. My four beautiful step-children, and three biological kids. Time FLIES when your running like a mad-woman.

In two weeks my youngest step son will be 18 and that’s it. I have accomplished what my grandmother said was my job – “get them to 18 alive”.  Phewf and what a ride it was.  And I loved every part of it. Even the hard parts – if you can call them that.

Now the wheel turns, and I am a grandmother.  I learned about being a grandmother from my mother. She raised the bar for grandmothers all over. She was the best. 981297_499916463412877_1698475491_o

For the past two days have been spent with my eldest granddaughter who is seven years old and curious about every leaf, every tree,..and most especially the faeries which seem to leave her gifts all over the farm.  And get this… She calls me grandma!  It took a full day of her being here for me to respond without delay to this new name. And as happy curious seven year olds go – she calls me grandma allot.

“Grandma come push my swing! grandma can I go sit on big mac? Grandma can we make cupcakes? Grandma can I have one more sleep here? – grandma can I have three candies instead of two?  Grandma do you love me…?”

Oh my yes. Yes I do.JOSEE AND MADISON SUMMER 2010

My own mother used to say her heart was big enough to love everyone as much as she loved me.  I didn’t really think that was possible… I get it now.

And grandmotherhood holds special priveleges that are “stress free options” for having fun with kids. OK don’t tell anyone but for breakfast yesterday I gave her a banana and a cupcake.

Why? My hard work is done.  Let her mom teach her nutrition…I’m GRANDMA!

My own mom – my biological mom – was the most awesome grandparent ever and an epic spoiler. I called her my “parenting partner” because there is simply NO WAY I would have gotten through raising seven kids-  soccer games, graduation ceremonies, broken arms, hospital visits, exhaustion…

The difference is I never thought to be “unlike” my mom in my own parenting.  I was so well loved by her that I strive hard to repeat the kind of adoration and extreme acceptance  she showered over me. I want my kids to feel the same “I love you no matter what” feeling I had and will always carry me. That awesome unconditional love that is simply present when needed but also the confidence that says

“I believe in you and I don’t feel the need to tell you what you can figure out yourself.” DSCF6559

This starts young – showing them that you are there, you believe in them, but you don’t need to figure it all out for them because you have faith in them. Sometimes its really hard not to control and to let go…really really hard. We say dumb things to our kids sometimes…

One of my favourites being “don’t cut yourself with that knife…”

Duh. Kids know that already.

Or “put your coat on its cold”

Relax. When a kid is cold, they will find their jacket.

1923346_10306495229_7743_nMy youngest daughter has taught me so much about how to love without controlling. When she was 12 or 13 and entering the tumultuous teen years, she and I being so very similar butting heads repeatedly. One day she declared to me that she was going to “trade school” to become a hair dresser. I did everything I could to change her mind. Lets face it, in my generation “trade school” is what people who couldn’t read properly or were coming out of jail did. MY KIDS would go to university – and have a “real” education.

Ah how things have changed.

Now we are learning that UNIVERSITY degrees are a dime a dozen. A kid with a Master’s degree is now more likely to go home and play videogames after their brains have become “overeducated” and they cant think for themselves.

I love my kids brains’. They are amazing thinkers. And I REALLY love that when I completely opposed her going to “trade school” she ignored me entirely instead having a strong enough disposition to follow her heart.

sara awesome

I watch her now, doing what she loves, making people happy and ambitiously following her own heart and I really like that about her – and all my children.

They know themselves, and are true to their desires and commitments.

 

Remember when I said I don’t take credit for my kids wins or losses?

Maybe that was a little bit of a white lie because I have to secretly admit to you now that at the “end of my parenting”, here where I sit on the precipice of a whole new experience (grandma!) – I feel very proud. 1016214_499878303416693_198530389_n

My kids will be ok. They certainly wont be pushed around by this sometimes harsh world and its your funeral if you try to relegate them to a box manner of thinking. There is NO box in their world – and those are the kinds of people we need more of on the planet. They think for themselves, they do their best and they follow their hearts. And they are kind.

 

That’s it…my job here is done.

I Love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be (and even after…)

Mom.

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On Children

 Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,

which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them,

but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children

as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,

and He bends you with His might

that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as He loves the arrow that flies,

so He loves also the bow that is stable.

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Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired? H.A.L.T.!

301549_10150375411088656_541083655_8281137_1256522812_nFor those of us who live with depression, whether we can are on meds, off meds – the bottom line is that living with (sometimes unpredictable) emotional fluctuations can make it really hard to plan the  future..or sometime just an hour from now even.   Something that helps allot of people keep focus on balance in the day is also one of my family’s favourite – H.A.L.T. I’d like to share it in case its new to you and can help for next time the blues comes knockin’…

What it means seems obvious – when your mind starts twisting out and you feel your mood plummet…just STOP.

Stop everything if you can and check your basics. Are you hungry, angry lonely or tired?  This focus can help you to regain balance and avert deep depression when you begin to feel out of whack.  It’s also part of being emotionally responsible for yourself.  Over time it becomes easier to remember.

H.A.L.T:

Hungry ;

can mean you need food. Let’s stick to basics. Admit it, when we are emotionally overwrought we re not often inclined to be putting our physical well-being at the top of the to do list. We are more likely thinking …and drowning in thinking. All of ours, and the world’s problems at once.   Our thoughts have run away with a “mind of their own” (did I really just say that?) and we quickly lose body needs awareness. We forget to eat, or we eat crap. Carb;s usually – just for a moment of a little dopamine.

Seriously – Not having the proper minerals and vitamins when you are a clinically depressed person, can be life threatening.   The food we intake directly affects the way in which our brain produces dopamine and serotonin. I don’t know how you can do that in your diet.  I’m sure there are a million line resources. I believe that  many doctors obviously need to be more multidimensional in their approach to patient knowledge.  They need to be more like health partners and less like people that think they know more about your insides than you do. They have to really be thinking about the whole person and the situation.

So, that’s where you come in,  Someone with depression has to be very responsible for this most basic requirement.  When you feel that you are quickly spinning into the abyss, take a second, ok well maybe take 30 and check out what your body needs.

1- Drink water – in fact start your day with it. You wake dehydrated.  I don’t know much about the brain but I can imagine that`s not a great start for it.

2- Lay off caffeine – stop wrecking the start of your day by giving yourself a hyper dose of anxiety. Drink tea – you`ll live

3- Refined sugar is bad. Period.  It sparks mood swings, physical energy crashes etc… We are trying to avoid ANY crashes here.

4- Meat takes alot of energy for the body to consume. Plus it`s gross. I don’t eat it.

5- Eat whenever I`m hungry.  Small amounts.

6- Indulge your food fantasies sometimes. What the hell. One life.  But don`t do it when you`re sad.  Again, sugar never helps depression.

ANGRY:

Self explanatory. If you`re angry, stop, don`t RE-act (Def: Acting outwardly the angry you are feeling – creating a negative action twice).

Especially if you are in position to react to what someone else is saying to you it is always best to find some space and come back to it if you need to once you have checked your other indicators.

One of my grandmother`s favourite sayings was

“Don’t ever say something to someone you’ll have to apologize for. Especially if you don`t like them.”

LONELY: One of the hardest things to do in depression is reaching out to express yourself, but it is vitally important and healing.

There is an ocean’s difference between peaceful solitude and abject loneliness.  In mid-depression (if there is such a place) often people feel and see only themselves, and not in the best light either. Surrounding yourself with friends who understand you and are empathetic to your experience is really important.  It’s also part of what can be in your control.   Making relationship choices is empowering.

TIRED:

Most basic for all of us  but especially people with depression: you must sleep regularly and well.   One of the symptoms of a prolonged depression is insomnia. At this point a person is really so disconnected form the body that they have messed up their circadian rhythms and can’t return to a normal routine of sleep.  Thoughts race and we all know you cant run from yourself.

There is a reason why sleep deprivation has been used as a  favoured technique for torture throughout our war torn histories.  People make bad decisions when they are exhausted. For people with depression, exhaustion can lead to suicidal ideation difficult emotions like hopelessness and despair.  No one wants to live like that on purpose.

Fake it till you make it doesn’t mean you’re lying or being fake…not really.  But it helps to act as if you already feel good…to feel good this doesn’t mean lying but more like acting out positivity.  When someone asks you how you are, don’t go into a forty minute diabtribe about your woes, try staring by saying something positive, or grateful.  This can have a huge effect on the whole energy of the interaction.

 

You know how sometimes it feels as though just in a MOMENT you can fall into a depression,

Keep in mind that the same thing applies to the opposite …in a MOMENT you can fall out and back into contentedness.   Say yes to things that feel good for example.  Taking care of basics puts everyone in a better position to make the best daily choices on their own behalf and help create this outcome.

Peace~

 

 

 

 

AWAKE

August 19

Awake

The world is reeling,

And I can’t sleep

Cause its shaking us

Right off our feet

We’re one step away

From going in too deep

Crowds roar and fire

As they take to the streets.

You can’t tell us, ,

It’s gonna be alright,

When entire nations,

Are ready to fight.

There’s no going backwards,

From this point on, It might be better,

To forget right and wrong.

Some who protect us,

And others defend,

Kids in the street,

The sword and the pen.

But the world keeps spinning,

As she is bound to do.

The one she needs to heal,

Is me and you.

Forget what you think,

And drop everything,

Cause times are a changing,

And we’re on the brink.

Catastrophe doesn’t have to be,

All so bad,

If we put down our weapons,

And walk hand in hand.

I know that sounds hippie,

But what is our choice?

Take back our nations,

With our hearts and our voice.

 

there is nothing stronger,

That a like minded group,

We are the creators

Of this messed up soup.

So another child is dead

And we are responsible

For allowing the fear,

That brought on this trouble.

Wake up from your dreams,

It isn’t all bad,

Remember, you are bigger,

Then what you think you had.

We have one more day

Let’s start it right

Black red or white

We’ve all got to give up this fight

Dedicated to Ferguson, Missouri and every other messed up place

Why Robin Williams’s Death Can Be A Good Thing…

writing

My first reaction to Robin William’s suicide death announcement on facebook was astonished  anger.  I felt like he had somehow  copped out, jumped ship.  I was starkly reminded of my dear friend Anne who also committed suicide a month and a half ago…it has been a tough summer.  Lots of people are giving up.

Then sadness took me, in a big way. Maybe it because I am grieving so many significant personal losses and for some very real reasons Robin’s death felt very personal to me. Not only as a fellow sufferer of depression, but because I grew up with him.  All my favourite movies and some of my best moments with my kids include him. He could make me laugh and smile and feel like anything was possible when no one else could. He felt like a friend.

My family has some epic stories, but one of my favourites was when my sister, now an artist but then a high ranking administrative person for Bell Canada was travelling through Los Angele’s and she had the opportunity to meet and speak with him. The one thing that always reminded in the traditional retelling of the story was the effect that his eye had – gentle and full of love she would say. Smiling eyes. robin

And now he was gone.

Depression. Suicide.  My life has been plagued with these two words.  So understandably my next reaction was fear.  If depression could take Robin, then it could take ANYONE…even me.

My story..

I was first diagnosed with depression when I was 15 years old, in university. I was young and far from home and would experience great jags of unhappiness.  A University hospital doctor told me I had depression – a clinical explanation for a chemical imbalance in my brain.  In those days my depressions were only days long – usually right before my period and would disappear in a flash as soon as I would begin.  I never mentioned it, although it felt so terrible because people made so many jokes about PMS – but for someone like me, on occasion, PMS were the two r tree days when I couldn’t make a decision, I couldn’t read two pages in row cause I had no concentration, and I hated myself.

After graduating with my first degree at 18, I came home, worked in a bar (yes it was the Pioneer in case you were wondering) because who in their right mind would hire a kid with a degree in political philosophy.  I had my first child at 25 and within weeks of having her, the depression came back. This time they called it “post partum disorder” –  again my sadness had nothing to do with me – it was BIOCHEMICAL. They gave me magical pills.  SSRI’s had hit the market but barely.  I am not sure which kind it was this time – probably Prozac was about all they really were using in those days.  Thus began my 17 year journey on pharmaceuticals and a coming to terms with depression.

Lots of people have tried to explain to me what depression is.  My easiest depressions only last a day, and the worst one lasted 7 weeks, I was in bed and I came about as close to dying as any living person wants to get.

silhouette-woman-grievingHere’s how it felt to me…

Depression…

    1. Hurts my body. Aches and pains like I am an old lady.
    2. Depression destroys my concentration. I cant read or even watch an entire tv show
    3. I don’t sleep – forget that.
    4. Make me feel like I am no good for anything or anyone.
    5. Makes me believe the world would be better without me
    6. Makes me feel hopeless – no matter what I do nothing will ever feel good again
    7. Causes me to make bad decisions
    8. I suffer from “not-enough-it is” in a deep depression. Nothing I am or I do is ENOUGH.  It;s exhausting.
    9. Depression causes me to harm myself and make bad choices on my own behalf
    10. Makes my family feel hopeless and out of control
    11. Makes my family and friends feel as though they have done something wrong
    12. Causes me to isolate
    13. Makes me feel as though I cant rely on my emotions so I cant make plans = I never know what I will be like in a day or two or three…
    14. Makes it so I am not able to get a full time normal world day job – again the unreliability factor.
    15. Makes me feel ugly, stupid and unlovable unworthy
    16. Sometimes – depression makes me want to stop living (I will differentiate however between “not wanting to live” and “suicidal” -= there is a big difference)

and so on…

Over the years they tried to give my personality lots of names… bi-polar, severe hyper manic rapid cycling depression (this means I m like Eeyore all the time…), border line personality etc.

I was just sad. That’s all. It was a terrible way to live. I would wake crying, sleep crying, no joy, faking everything in my life.  Trying to be the best mom possible, but incapable of really engaging with anyone – because I was incapable of engaging with myself at the time.

So a (male) doctor says he has a pill I can take that will fix the “broken chemistry” in my brain and I will then be NORMAL. I emphasize male because I don’t think any woman who had had a child would have diagnosed me the same way.

But I was so attracted to the possibility of the all encompassing NORMAL. My doctor wanted me to understand…

He drew me a diagram and explained it to me like I was an idiot…

“See these two lines here Josee…” he asked indicating a drawing of two parallel lines about 3 inches apart on a piece of paper. “most people have emotions within those lines” he says drawing an up and down squiggle.   “Your emotions are like this” he said letting his pen go wildly outside of the lines…

Wow. I am nuts.

Then he says something like,  “The medication will bring you inside the lines.  You can have “normal emotions like everyone else”.

Oh lord…I was so happy. They had invented A NORMAL PILL!

Finally someone explained why I wasn’t “NORMAL” (this word was later explained to  me by my Alanon sponsor as which only existed as a setting on a washing machine :)) why I didn’t feel like other people, and why I was SO much more emotional than I “should be”.

It started with anti -depressants, and by the end I had been prescribed every conceivable antidepressant and then some…seroquil, desyryl, welbutrin, celexa, paxil, elavil name it – I took it.

The results?

I didn’t play guitar or sing for 13 years.

I didn’t write

I didn’t draw

I didn’t paint

I forgot what made me joyful

Nothing in life was ever exciting.

Sex was meh…

Was this “normal”?

Not creating for someone like me is like being the walking dead and I became so empty it was ridiculous.

Depression is genetic in my family . I was raised by my maternal grandparents.  My mother told me the story of her first suicide attempt at only 9 years old. Poor thing – luckily the bottle of pills she took were laxatives, which we can almost giggle at, except to consider what kind of despair a child of nine must feel to down a whole bottle of anything, causes the laughter to turn into a choke in my throat.

My grandmother who raised me was a chronic suicide attempter.  In fact, by the time I was 10 I had saved the life of or witnessed the attempt to die of most of the women in my family.   The men (my “brothers” and maternal grandfather” called them weak and “crazy”.  I have one that still does to this day sadly. )  But their uneducated redneck discompassionate attitudes regarding mental health and emotional wellbeing is very representative of a big chunk of western culture. It is these attitude that prohibit a frank open honest discussion.

I would like that to end today.

*suck it up…” they would say.

That’s not helpful.

**I want to say right away that medications are important, and if you are prescribed and antidepressant to get your chemicals back on track and this is comfortable for you, take them, and get your balance back.

But medication is not where it ends,

it can be however where healing begins.

what is healing?

It is ACCEPTANCE OF YOURSELF.

ALL YOUR 2000 PARTS, PERSONALITIES AND EMOTIONS.

Unfortunately psychologist want to focus on your past and tyour problems and psychiatry is looking at “the problem”  only the medicinal aspects to cover symptoms.

It is not enough.

You have to go after THE ABSOLUTE UNADULTERATED  AWESOME BEAUTIFUL TRUTH ABOUT YOURSELF.

ROBIN WILLIAMS’S death can help us remove the stigma overshadowing a potentially open and healing dialogue on this silent deadly killer…robin love eys

No one is going to say he was

    1. Weak
    2. Should have had a better sense of humour
    3. Unintelligent
    4. Had a sad life anyone would want to escape

etc.

We all know,,,Robin Williams was an AWESOME human being – I am so grateful that he was here.

But another part of me understands and can sometimes relate to his hopelessness.

The Buddhist in me finds that his death will cathartically open this dialogue.

Robin Williams is such a key example of someone whose depression led to addiction (avoidance is pretty normal when you feel like crap all the time).

12 step programs are amazing…except for one teenier thing debilitating thing aspect of the 12 step culture…self righteous sobriety. The I’m better than you attitude is not helpful to someone who struggles and although it is are and you will find that 99% of the people you will meet will be supremely authentic and supportive, there are assholes everywhere in life. Right> Like they say in the program – learning to ACCEPT  (even the assholes) is the key.

Good luck though…If you are a person with long term sobriety and you slip – sometimes program people in these programs can be painfully judging and unforgiving – fearing for their own sobriety I suppose.

 

It must have been very hard for him to go back into the program in 2006 after 20 years of sobriety.

The thing is lots of people said they were “so surprised” when he started drinking again.

I always will remember what my mother, 27 years sober when she died said to me

“Never be surprised when an alcoholic drinks. Be surprised if he stays sober”

 

The world requires a dialogue – depression is epidemic and we need to openly share our stories, remove the stigma and walk TOGETHER.

Opening this dialogue and being very honest with myself has been a cathartic experience.

 

I’d like to begin this dialogue.  The only way to heal and see the amazing BENEFITS of having depression are to share our stories, openly.

 

Let it begin right here.

 

This is what i do for my depression today…

 

    1. REMEMBER YOU CANT FIGHT THE OCEAN WITH A TEASPOON…
    2. I try and let myself feel whatever I am feeling.  Trying to NOT be sad, not be depressed NOT BE…anything…is what got you into this mind mess in the first place.  So if you feel like crap…LET YOURSELF FEEL LIKE CRAP.
    3. Identify where the feeligns exist in your physical body – where are your emotions when you feel sad? I find my solar plexus hold this energy.
    4. Don’t use weed for depression. Weed is great – but not when your depressive. It doesn’t work It will make you feel way worse.
    5. Find five things to be grateful for every day – write them down. Or even better share them on social network and help others relate to gratitude.
    6. Eat healthy – treat yourself like your best friend.
    7. Do something nice for yourself; take yourself on a date to a movie, do your hair, a bath? something.
    8. DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING. In massive depression – get up, brush your teeth, make your bed. Do the basics.
    9. Keep a journal. Write every morning,. Don’t edit. Everyone needs a place to spill their guts.
    10. Dont focus on the word “depression”.  YOU are NOT your illness. You are WAY MORE AWESOME than you can tell at this moment.
    11. Find the cool parts – I don’t know ONE fellow musician, artist or writer that doesn’t have some sort of what they would call “mental illness”…although now I am remiss to call it an illness given all the talented beautiful people I have come to know.
    12. Meditate. trust me there is nothing better to remind you that YOU are not YOUR THOUGHTS.

IF YOU SUFFER FROM DEPRESISON PLEASE REMEMBER WHAT I AM ABOUT TO SAY…

** Depression comes from unexpressed emotions.  *not because you have cured depression but because you have found the awesomeness in it.

You know – what we are looking for in life is NOT happiness…It is the ability to handle all circumstances with a peace inside that cannot be shaken.

Everyone can do this.

YOU CAN DO THIS.

Depression is a gift that makes you do the work. People without depression do not need to go  as deep into their self understanding as you can. And the purpose of life IS to understand ourselves better.  Depression is a gift of understanding.

I am suggesting a global open the door on depression initiative.

We need to talk. Openly and unabashedly.

Let us begin this dialogue today.

Tell us about your depression, your story, where has it taken you. What has it taught you?  Where does it come from? Can you identify some needs after talking about it?

Share together. Don’t be afraid.  We will catch you. I promise.  Its a process…and it has to begin somewhere.

I send you real love – although we may never have met I really do understand we are all connected  – we are each other. The more we heal each other, the more the whole world will benefit from your awesomeness.

COME OUT AND SHINE TOGETHER.

In love and service,

Peace