Life’s changes

It’s 6:20 A.M. in San Diego. We, Fearsome and myself, just boarded United Flight 307 to Chicago. Our final destination is my hometown, Roanoke Va.

Life in our (The Better Half, Fearsome, 7 dogs and myself) San Diego home of more than 25 years will change dramatically at the end of this next week. We will be flying my mother back with me to her new home which is our home.

I’ll spend the week keeping Fearsome out of the moving boxes and suitcases as we pack up the final items left in my family home. Mom has lived in that house since 1957. Dad passed about 2.5 years ago and my oldest brother followed him a year later. The era of our core family in that house has passed and Mom is totally cool with that. It’s time for a new family to give it new life and it is time for Mom to head west to her final horizon.

Emotions will ebb and flow this week. Memories both happy and sad will surface. Laughter, tears, love, hope and gratitude will be shared.

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Loss of voice

Distraction, stress, work, travel, change and worry get in my way of late. Get in my way of thought, expression, creativity and writing. Sometimes it’s hard to clear my head, focus and write. Therefore my posts of late have suffered and are frankly lacking. My reading, interaction and commenting of fellow bloggers is even more lacking.

But I must post. I must post even if it’s just a picture. I must I must I must.

Thanks for sticking with me. This too shall pass. Until then step 1.

Blogging Benefits

A benefit of blogging that I enjoy is that of friendship.

Yesterday I received a surprise package in the mail from Meanwhile Over in Cali.

Thanks R.J. !

Next week I will have the pleasure of meeting Travel Penguin for a morning meal.

Our banter, comments, humor, insight, advice, empathy, respect and understanding make for a wonderful community. We come from all places and all walks of life. I love being part of this here blogging community and I wish to express my gratitude to all those in my blogging circle.

Hug!

Where have we been?

Absent.

Elsewhere.

Distracted.

Missing.

The time has come. Mom is ready to move out of my childhood home. She’s lived there since 1957 and raised 3 boys there. Dad passed more than 2 years ago. She finally retired in December. Her last dog passed at the new year. The house is too much work for a little 86 year old lady.

It’s her decision. She is ready. She has decided that she wants to live with us in San Diego rather than with my brother in our hometown. She hates winter and loves dogs.

I’ve spent the last two weeks back east helping her sort, clean, decide, pack, throw out and donate. Her ticket has been purchased. I fly back Mother’s day weekend. We spend the week finalizing. She flys back with me, first class, to her new home in San Diego on May 18, 2018. Her new home is the first floor bedroom of our house.

Fearsome has been a big part of it all. From getting stuck on packing tape to literally getting himself caught in the recycle bin when the lid fell shut. He’s there all the way.

So now you know. We’ve been beyond work distraction to major life changes. We need to reflect on this more. We will post more about aging, emotions, family, changes, life, blessings and gratitude.

Gratitude for the opportunity and ability to support the one who once supported me into her final phase.

I’ll call it what it is.

A blessing.

Belonging

Does a need to belong keep me from living life?

I live my life out there yet to some degree or another I’ve always had a yearning for acceptance at some level. I’ve found that a desire for acceptance will sometimes inhibit me. Inhibit my expression in order to conform.

I have a hunch that others around might on occasion have a similar feeling.

What I’ve learned, that I don’t always practice, is to just get out there. I must remind myself to go out and live. Express without hesitation. Look for similarities. Share and enjoy love, life and laughter.

Naysayers may shake their head. I say let them. Who knows, maybe I’ll inspire them.

Don’t conform.

Find a tribe.

Resonate.

Be accepted.

Belong.

Best. Music. Video. Ever.

Blind Melon – No Rain

I can.

I can listen.

I can feel.

I can empathize.

I can forgive.

I can love.

I can better.

I can support.

I can speak.

I can share.

I can march.

I can serve.

I can donate.

I can understand.

I can be honest.

I can value.

I can cry.

I can change.

I can make a difference.

I can laugh.

I can hold.

I can stand.

I can challenge.

I can question.

I can grow.

I can learn.

I can vote.

I can improve.

I can volunteer.

I can protect.

I can hope.

I can believe.

I can teach.

I can lead.

I can follow.

I can act.

I can be.

I can.

Can I?

Can I make the world a better place?

Can I improve things around me?

Can I help others?

Can I do better?

Can I find faith?

Can I positively impact my Community?

Can I facilitate improvement?

Can I understand?

Can I listen?

Can I speak kindly?

Can I communicate effectively?

Can I change?

Can I have compassion?

Can I support?

Can I be of service?

Can I accept?

Can I challenge?

Can I find and share gratitude?

Can I improve myself?

Can I love?

Can I empathize?

Can I learn?

Can I grow?

Can I lead?

Can I be a good example?

Can I inspire?

Can I believe?

Can I instill hope?

Can I share peace?

Can I be better?

Can I?

Can I?

Leadership

Leaders don’t sit idly by and allow opportunity to pass them up. They step into opportunities that not only improve their lives but society as a whole.

Leaders lead societies toward betterment. They do not allow society to grow stagnant and then fall into decline by accepting substandard ideology or promoting only self serving interests.

Leaders have passion. Leaders value honesty. Leaders inspire. Leaders serve.

These are leaders:

We just supported these leaders. We just donated to their cause.

Their cause? March For Our Lives

You can learn about t and support their cause by going to: https://www.marchforourlives.com

Yes it is a worthy cause to support young people. To inspire them by getting behind them. The time is now to allow the youth to be the adults in the room since our elected officials obviously are not.

Screen shot of our comment on their gofundme page with our donation.

We’d like to Thank Blobby for his post and Anne Marie for her comment that motivated us toward doing something today.

Rhythm of Life

There is a rhythm to life. A rhythm that moves, changes, comes, goes, returns and revolves. Whatever rhythm we are in, we must never forget that “This too shall pass”.

This too shall pass, whether it’s bad or good. That’s the rub. Good things pass as well.

We choose to which it is we focus our attention.

Sammy Davis Jr. in Sweet Charity. Bob Fosse is genius.

Gaslighting

Having survived an abuser in a physical,  mental, substance and emotionally abusing relationship I can relate to every point in the article below:

 

Psychology Today

Stephanie A. Sarkis Ph.D. Stephanie A. Sarkis Ph.D.

11 Warning Signs of Gaslighting in Relationships
Gaslighting is a manipulation tactic used to gain power. And it works too well.
Posted Jan 22, 2017  (original article at this LINK )

Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. For example, in the movie Gaslight (1944), a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind.

People who gaslight typically use the following techniques:

1. They tell blatant lies.

You know it’s an outright lie. Yet they are telling you this lie with a straight face. Why are they so blatant? Because they’re setting up a precedent. Once they tell you a huge lie, you’re not sure if anything they say is true. Keeping you unsteady and off-kilter is the goal.

2. They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof.

You know they said they would do something; you know you heard it. But they out and out deny it. It makes you start questioning your reality—maybe they never said that thing. And the more they do this, the more you question your reality and start accepting theirs.

3. They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition.

They know how important your kids are to you, and they know how important your identity is to you. So those may be one of the first things they attack. If you have kids, they tell you that you should not have had those children. They will tell you’d be a worthy person if only you didn’t have a long list of negative traits. They attack the foundation of your being.

4. They wear you down over time.

This is one of the insidious things about gaslighting—it is done gradually, over time. A lie here, a lie there, a snide comment every so often…and then it starts ramping up. Even the brightest, most self-aware people can be sucked into gaslighting—it is that effective. It’s the “frog in the frying pan” analogy: The heat is turned up slowly, so the frog never realizes what’s happening to it.

5. Their actions do not match their words.

When dealing with a person or entity that gaslights, look at what they are doing rather than what they are saying. What they are saying means nothing; it is just talk. What they are doing is the issue.

6. They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you.

This person or entity that is cutting you down, telling you that you don’t have value, is now praising you for something you did. This adds an additional sense of uneasiness. You think, “Well maybe they aren’t so bad.” Yes, they are. This is a calculated attempt to keep you off-kilter—and again, to question your reality. Also look at what you were praised for; it is probably something that served the gaslighter.

7. They know confusion weakens people.

Gaslighters know that people like having a sense of stability and normalcy. Their goal is to uproot this and make you constantly question everything. And humans’ natural tendency is to look to the person or entity that will help you feel more stable—and that happens to be the gaslighter.

8. They project.

They are a drug user or a cheater, yet they are constantly accusing you of that. This is done so often that you start trying to defend yourself, and are distracted from the gaslighter’s own behavior.

9. They try to align people against you.

Gaslighters are masters at manipulating and finding the people they know will stand by them no matter what—and they use these people against you. They will make comments such as, “This person knows that you’re not right,” or “This person knows you’re useless too.” Keep in mind it does not mean that these people actually said these things. A gaslighter is a constant liar. When the gaslighter uses this tactic it makes you feel like you don’t know who to trust or turn to—and that leads you right back to the gaslighter. And that’s exactly what they want: Isolation gives them more control.

10. They tell you or others that you are crazy.

This is one of the most effective tools of the gaslighter, because it’s dismissive. The gaslighter knows if they question your sanity, people will not believe you when you tell them the gaslighter is abusive or out-of-control. It’s a master technique.

11. They tell you everyone else is a liar.

By telling you that everyone else (your family, the media) is a liar, it again makes you question your reality. You’ve never known someone with the audacity to do this, so they must be telling the truth, right? No. It’s a manipulation technique. It makes people turn to the gaslighter for the “correct” information—which isn’t correct information at all.

Could a country, a people, a society be gaslighted? 

Connection

I am part of humanity. My experience is that we humans are a social race. A social race in need of connection.

I find that I am happier and content when I connect with others. It seems to me that those I come in contact with also enjoy connection.

So instead of division why don’t I focus more on connection? Methinks me might need to extend a bit more energy reaching out to others rather than turning inward.

Today I contemplate focusing on reaching out. Today I contemplate looking for similarities.

Today I share with you in order that I might connect with you, someone whom I may not know well but might connect with as humanity.

Watch it. Watch it until the end.

Nightmare

One of my issues with nightmares is that I cannot scream. I’m left defenseless in alerting anyone within hearing distance that I’m in distress. It is impossible for me to call for help as I’m only able to muster an almost inaudible whine or moan. All the while the terror continues and I’m trapped unable to vocalize or alert anyone.

Last night was another one of those moments. I was laying on my back with my hands clasp across my abdomen in a wonderful slumber when I was awakened, in my dream, by an alien the size of my hand landing on the back of it. It was the right hand as it was clasp on top of the left. The alien immediately started injecting venom into the back of my hand through quills extending out of its small body. The alien had control of my hand and I could not move it. The pain was minimal the paralysis frightening.

Once again I couldn’t scream but only make a faint moan while trying to yell for help. I tried and tried to squirm away and finally from my struggle I was able to make a slight movement as I woke up with a slightly audible whimper. Needless to say getting back to sleep, once I realized that my recent vivid experience was but another nightmare, was not an easy task. My adrenaline was flowing and even though there was nothing on the back of my hand, fear was present.

Fear that next time I need help I will not be able to vocalize my need. Fear that I’ll be paralyzed. Fear that what I had just experienced was actually real.

Words

Words are things.

Words get into you.

Words affect.

Words are powerful.

Be careful of the words you say. Be careful of the words you allow into you, your home and around those you love.

Write only good words, speak only good words, allow only good words and share only good words.

I am not perfect, may I strive toward good whenever I possibly can.

Good starts with me. Good starts right here, right where I am.

MLK

“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jet-like speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness” — then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.”

…Martin Luther King Jr  …April 1963

Hey Fearsome! Why you so quiet these days?

Flu

or something like it.

Damn this cold/flu thing. I started to feel something coming on right before the new year. Then I felt ok. Then I felt something coming on. Then I felt ok. Then I really felt something coming on. Then I thought I beat it because I again felt ok. Then last week it hit. Hit hard. Got a little better.

I had this trip to Florida and I felt as if I was on the mend so I made the trip. I had a good day flying and the next day I wasn’t feeling so good. Three days later and I’m just plain sick.

I don’t write when I don’t feel well. So hang in there and enjoy the daily beard postings.

I sit in a hotel room pretty much almost 24 hours a Day right now. I’m grateful the room and bed are comfortable. I head home Saturday. Hopefully I’ll be feeling better by then.

Angels

I know that this isn’t all there is. Even if Sandra Bernhard sings her rendition of Is That All There Is? so incredibly one could almost believe her…

Yes Dear Fearsome fans I have posted that one before, to good reviews I must add.

I believe that there is another dimension beyond that which I experience at this moment. I understand that I am limited to the five senses that to which my current body experiences this life that I am blessed to live. I know that there are other experiences that I am not able to comprehend while living within the confines of my earthy body.

There are many writings of those who have passed and returned to their bodies only to continue living the life that they were. A name for this phenomenon is near death experience.

I worked for many years in intensive care units and emergency rooms. I’ve witnessed death many times and I’ve witnessed near death as well. I’ve worked in delivery rooms and witnessed not only 100s of live vaginal births but c-sections, stillborn and multiple births. I’ve even resuscitated conjoined twins, or Siamese twins if you choose to call them that. I’ve watched the breath of life reach the depths of lungs for the first moment out of the womb, watched that life leave the infant and then resuscitate life back into that infant just as I’ve resuscitated life back into an adult heart attack victim under my earthly body’s hands.

I didn’t actually give that life back, or give that life in the first place. A power much greater than me did that. My hands were but tools present at the moment. Tools hired by the hospital to do what hospitals do which is aid people in their own journey into life, through life and out of life. My experience was but a blessing to sculpt me into the man I am today.

I don’t know what the other side is. I haven’t been there. I believe there is another side there. I know because I’ve had several experiences where the other side reached to this side to give me a message I needed at that moment. These experiences were both inside and outside my hospital environment. Maybe the energy that reached out to me did so because of my experience and my open mind from those experiences.

I will not write about those in detail at this moment in time. Maybe one day I will, and again maybe I never will. Those experiences were as real as I am and as real as the words in this post. They are burned into my memory. One even happened in the very room in which I sit writing this post.

I do choose to commit to calling the energies that contacted me and energies that brought life into and out of being in front of my eyes, angels. I believe that angels do exist. My definition of them is that thy are a positive energy from the other dimension that I cannot yet experience, but one day will. Unlike Sandra’s lyrics, I do not think that experience will be yet another disappointment.

In many of the writings I’ve read about out of body or near death experiences is that each and every one of them has noted that their pets were there to greet them. Not just special human loved ones, but the very pets they loved and cared for during their life. It’s a consistent story line. I believe them.

Earlier today when I looked in the corner only to find it empty I cried. Then I smiled. I know Nina was looking down on me. She is but one of many angels waiting for and watching over me. I know one day she will be there to greet me as well as Cephas, Nikky, Tess, Matty and Diva. God willing that I have many more years here there will be many more than the few names I just mentioned.

I believe that my previously lost human loved ones are also with me.

Angels.

I Believe.

What of life?

Nina is still with us and peaceful in her bed.

Nina sleeping 12/28/17

It is a quintessential winter Southern California day. Crystal clear blue skies, bright winter sun and 72 degrees F. Nina has spent some time on her patio today, eaten well and napped in her beloved corner bed. Our housekeeper, whom Nina adores, is here cleaning. The other dogs are napping and occasionally barking at the construction workers doing the remodel next door. All in all a nothing unusual beautiful day. It is peaceful with just a little stimulation.

Planning it out couldn’t have turned it better. Our dog sitter who was with me as we rescued Nina together is out of town. Nina adores her as well and she will be back in San Diego tomorrow. She is coming over to be here with us when the veterinarian arrives about 5 pm. Tomorrow is forecast to be as beautiful as today. The Better Half already had scheduled the whole week off, so between the two of us someone will always be home tomorrow.

Earlier Abner and Patsy tried out the comfort of four beds piled together when or housekeeper was busy cleaning…

Patsy (with toy) and Abner reinact the Princess and the Pea. 

The joys of life are abundant around here. It’s not gloom and doom. It’s sweet, with the bitterness of reality. The big questions loom. Why? Why are we here? What? What is this about?

Should we loose ourselves in contemplation of the unknown? Or should we just enjoy the moment even though we know the inevitable?

My answer? Enjoy the moment.

I believe there is one sole purpose for life. The purpose I believe in is love.

I am here to love. I am here to share. I am here to give. I am here to serve.

What are giving, serving and sharing? Love.

I am here to love. Period.

Responsibilities of pet ownership

Last October marked the 3 year anniversary of our adoption of Nina. Nina’s owner had passed away and she had been left outside for a year behind an empty house. Her story starts HERE.

That was the day I discovered her. She was an older dog but full of energy, happy and playful. I wrote more about our decision to formally adopt her in this follow up POST.

We never really knew how old Nina was, but she has become a very old dog. In the past 6 months there has been a rapid deterioration. If you look back at her previous post there was a spark, a happiness and energy. Unfortunately due to age this is Nina today:

Nina on December 27, 2017. Official age unknown, estimated age 14-15 years.

Nina has a warm comfortable home that she has loved for the past three years. She has had regular medical care, dental care and grooming. She grew all her hair back after adoption and never had a flea again. She gained weight, ate well, played, walked and rarely ever barked. She had a short but happy life here.

I write because the time has come. We must make that decision that every loving pet owner never wishes to make.

She is confused. She’s not able to walk well. She can’t see nor hear. When she is able to walk, it is in circles as she has developed vestibular disease. She is often incontinent. She eats, but needs assistance. She appears uncomfortable.

We may not have to do it today, but we may. I just got the number for an in-home euthanisia Vet. I’m about to make the call to ask the questions and possibly schedule.

With tears I write. With written words I gain strength.

UPDATE: The in home appointment has been made for Friday 12/29 at 5 pm.

Pain

Short, sweet and to the point.

The trip back east last month when I met up with Anne Marie and Mistress Maddie before I met up with my family in Philly to train into NYC was fabulous!

What wasn’t fabulous is that during boarding for my flight home I didn’t think. I neglected to remember that being post operative (18 months ago) for a Left Rotator Cuff Repair/Bicep Tenodesis/Acromioplasty that I should never ever lift heavy weight above my head. Well that and having a history of Right shoulder impingement which also contraindicates lifting above the head.

I usually always check bags, this trip I used a roll aboard. The overhead was full and getting the rollaboard in wasn’t easy. Before I sat down I decided, not my best thinking, that I should make sure the full bin would close. I lifted it without success and it didn’t close. Rather than leaving it alone for a flight attendant to close I immediately tried again and harder.

It didn’t close. However both shoulders had a quick poppping sensation and I sat down with the immediate intense pain being in my post operative shoulder. I reached into my backpack under the seat in front of me and grabbed four ibuprofen (800 mg) and two extra strength Tylenol. I know my pain and what it was going to take to manage it.

During the first half hour of my 6 hour flight home, the pain in the left subsided as the pain in the right shoulder grew increasingly intense. My right shoulder had a history of impingement and had already had it’s limit of 3 cortisone injections. A previous MRI had confirmed that issue.

Right now I sit at my surgeon’s  office awaiting my pre-operative appointment. Surgery is scheduled for next Monday 12/18 to correct the Acromium impingement of my right shoulder. Topping it all off is the fact that during my Florida trip I pulled my back.

Bilateral shoulder pain, low back spasms and a topsy-turvy whackadoodle political environment of recent has made Shawn moody. Fearsome isn’t happy with my moodiness but I have to say that he’s a bit moody himself. The dry Southern California Santa-Ana weather conditions have made him a flyaway dry mess.

Pain. Yes we have it. Pain we are doing something about it. Pain sure doesn’t make life easier. Pain isn’t as bad as many others have it.

We are thankful for an incredibly good health plan, good doctors, a loving spouse, good friends, healthy finances, eight wonderful dogs and an amazing home.