Gravity

Young girl filled with big dreams it’s fine to carry on, all grown even when you cannot do it alone.
There will be others just like you who’ve survived the awkward teenager years, pimples, bruises and broken hearts.
They’ll care enough to remind you how perfectly precious you are.
It’s okay to fall or fuck up; when you’re doing your best.
Life will get harder than you can manage, but none of us carries the burden or heavy lifting alone.
I’ll be right here to remind you to soar.
I’ll be your gravity when you’re down in the dumps, spiraling out of your comfort zone.
Silly girl, your dreams will become quieter with age but never less full.
All the colors are yours to suit your mood.
I love you colorblind, and the blackest of Neptune’s blues.
You are prettier than the atmosphere three billion light years forgotten from here.
I will whisper in your ear when you’re fast asleep to always, always care.
To emote, to feel, to share.
To gift away love.
I hope you always, always care more.
Never, ever less.
No matter the cost.
Or the climate.
There are no grand secrets to surviving tragedy; it’s okay to experience pain and fear.
I will be here to keep your feet planted and your arms outstretched towards the stars, while tears cascade down your cheeks.
There will be many joyful, magic moments to sustain you.
I promise.
Living is pretty even when it hurts.
You are loved because of your flaws; more than rainbows, puppies, unicorns and silly human things.
I am gravity and I am here to help you stay grounded to the earth.
You are the cosmic miracle of constellations and suns and moons colliding and exploding in the stratosphere.
You are the happy accidental human, dying since way before birth.

I hate the word #BiPolar. It’s ugly, an overused throwaway word.‬ #I’mAWhatever

I couldn’t resist responding to the lovely Carol Adriana Estrella‘s post on Facebook this morning.

“Doing a small survey:
What are your first thoughts when you hear the word “bipolar”. Being that is an illness, I see it used around A LOT as an adjective or a subject.”

Visit the very hip and informative blog Is Ok Not To Be Ok to view some of the varied responses (including my abridged one).

Carol explains, “I did a very informal survey today asking people what were the first thoughts that came to their mind when they heard the word: bipolar. I got an incredibly array of answers from the usual (and often not funny) jokes, to what a harsh reality is to live as a bipolar individual.”

Thank you, Carol Adriana Estrella for starting the conversation today.

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I hate the word, “bipolar.” It’s ugly, an overused throwaway word. Call me whatever. I’m a ‪#‎Whatever‬ if you must. Jackie works too.

The forward from GEORGIA PINE explains how strongly I feel about the word(s), “BiPolar Disorder.”

“Perspective

I wrote The Vast Landscape, the prequel to Georgia Pine at a dark, scary time in my life. Harrison, the brash heroine, was someone tangible I could cling to. She gave me reason to get up, to go on, to fight, a much-needed respite from what was happening in my real, everyday life. I made the conscious decision not to write about manic depression, the disease that has disrupted every neuron firing through my beautiful, chaotic mind. Bipolar Disorder, the label I detest, is en Vogue. It appears in trendy bestsellers, Oscar winning films and sensationalized television. It’s glamorized, modernized, made to look cool. Trust me, it is not. Mental Illness is the train wreck, the ugly, cruel, exhaustive, intangible, and solitary battle. It does not discriminate among rich, poor, smart, stupid; it brings grown men to their knees, ripping whole families apart. Writing The Vast Landscape freed me to live my dreams on the page. Harrison is I, I am she, mixed together so deeply the lines disappear. The outlines blur, intentionally. Was The Vast Landscape reality or fantasy? That is for the reader to decide. We are all disabled, broken parts, lost individuals, trying to find our way. Truth is what you know, here and happening now. There is only love and love is the bravest character of all. Harrison is the voice in our heads, asking the important questions. Where do I fit? Why am I here? Will I love, be loved? We are born with a fixed expiration date, yet we carry on, walking this earth the best we can until we’re pixie dust. Cherished, kept alive in memory and yellow parchment, we become precarious, aged photographs in a cardboard box. Lives touch, intersect in the most unpredictable yet meaningful ways. The essence continues because you do. Harrison leaves the door open a crack. I seize the opportunity to revisit my whole, healthy self a bit longer, live in the mystic beach home I adore, dream eyes open. Hope is our greatest asset. To choose hope against the worst possible odds is the true measure of life.
The story continues in… Georgia Pine.”

Excerpt From: Jacqueline Cioffa. “Georgia Pine.” iBooks.

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I am somebody’s child, you know. Jacqueline Cioffa #mentalillness  

I never cared much about looking back when I was young.

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I could not wait to leave this house, this town get out and experience stuff. You know the obstinate dreamer looking for bold adventure. It worked. I ran. I ran fast and far, and kept running. That’s the funny thing about developing a serious illness, you are forced to re-prioritize. Becoming insane in the middle of Manhattan did not bode well for me or the strangers that crossed my path. The fancy friends eventually grew tired and gave up on listening to the paranoia, illusions of grandeur or understanding the enticement of pretty pink and shiny purple horses or the flickering lights of the carousel. Ones you can’t dismount or runaway from or dismiss, like the mania and depression you can’t out run. Round and round you go, in perpetuity. There are worse things than glaring evil stares when dancing alone in a Radio Shack in Harlem. There are even worse things than sitting on the floor in the middle of Rite Aid, Gatorade in hand, sobbing because you don’t know where you are, why the room is spinning or if you’re going to hurl from the strobe light storm happening inside your brain. There are even worse, more horrific things than why you’re all alone sitting on the cold, dirty floor. You are sure there are. You watch the news, bad shit happens. This bad to you, you’re not so sure.

Mortifying, that’s what mental illness is. Ruthless, ugly, hide your face in shame from the judgmental, fearful stares. The noise level in NYC is just too high. You can’t stand when passerbys brush against you, the subway screeches to a halt, or the taxis whizzing past. The bright yellow hurts your eyes. You can’t see. You can’t hear. You cannot process the incessant, relentless buzz, hums and whirring noise.

S.T.O.P.

I am somebody’s child, you know.

I am somebody’s child, same as you.

I used to love the Carousel screaming and running towards it, arms flailing like the happy carefree girl I once was.

What I can’t figure out is what the hell I’m supposed to do? Now. With this.

Some people are addicted to the mania jonesing for the next high, the visions, euphoria.

No, no, no.

Not me. I’ll take the black hole depression and blasé every single time. It’s quieter and peaceful alone in the dark. Except for being skinny, that part of the mania I’ll keep.

There’s only one thought to trust, one way to save yourself.

Maybe, maybe if you go back you might find your way.

Safe passage awaits.

Home.

Maybe I’ll breathe easier there.

Maybe the familiar, childhood home might save me.

Probably not. It’s my best shot.

You see, I don’t care if I live or if I die. I know that sounds harsh, exaggerated, self-indulgent but it’s not.

I only care how I live and where I’ll die.

I’ve been asking my mom about her mother as far back as I can remember, cataloging the information in a deep, pooling reservoir of serenity where I could reach in calling on the stories to be soothed.

I have tidal waves of memories, and ripple effects of love stored in my brain.

My grandmother, May, died in her sleep before we could meet. Fifty-three is too young to leave, she was barely getting started I bet.

I know some things about her. She liked to fish and the solitude of being on the water. We have that in common.

She drank a Manhattan every night after work. She was a baker’s daughter, my mom still makes her molasses cookie recipe at Christmastime. She loved her husband who’d get sick, (like me) and then better but never quite the same.

“Don’t bother your father,” the phrase handed down to her own daughter.

May worked in a plumbing shop with him, raising her children to be responsible, gentile and hardworking.

It was a simple, honest life.

She liked to dance, but didn’t go out often.

She loved gardening, planting roses and peony  bushes.

Did you know it takes peonies a full year to bloom? 

Maybe May knew while planting the seed, her heart full of family.

An invisible string from the heavens touching mine, her orb a sweet- scented blushing pink.

Maybe she knew, probably not.

She’d adored diamonds like me, wore an outrageous sparkling solitaire with facets that shimmer and catch the light on my finger. I only wear the precious heirloom on special occasions or when I’m morosely blue. It makes me feel pretty inside, close to her.

“You never told me I looked like her,” drilling my mother with yet another ten-thousandth question.

She nodded, “it makes me sad and happy at the same time.”

Home, a place one doesn’t fully outgrow and never truly leaves behind.

But home, this home however much I am the failure for needing to return is where I would like to live and how I would hope to die.

Not necessarily the physical dwelling, but the contentment feeling and serenity of a happy place inside.

Surrounded by love. Less alone.

Unencumbered by the weight of heavy living.

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“Legacy can feel heavy, sad or even sweet-smelling at times. I am the gatekeeper of this home, but not the original keeper of the key.”

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Shine On

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There is in fact a whole earth with enough space to roam, create, inspire, dream, conquer, share and uplift.

I believe this to be.

#truth.

I will not waste one second, one millisecond needing or lusting after your shine.

Stephen Hawking’s quote suggests, “There ought to be something very special about the boundary conditions of the universe and what can be more special than that there is no boundary?”

No boundary, what a revolutionary concept.

The eminent, brilliant physicist agrees, “Women. They are a complete mystery.”

Yes, they can be.

In the simplest, rudimentary terms women are the enigma.

Most beautiful when they accept and reflect the luminous, radiant shine.

Not ignore, or deflect.

Comparison and envy are time wasters, dimmers that dull the reflecting pools of light.

Shine on.

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True gray with primary colors whirling all around

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I wasn’t going to write a sappy. I wasn’t. But, I jumped. 

My father was and always will be the great love of my life. It’s been seven years, the 5th of May. I know the date I was there beside him. My mom, too. I can’t speak for my brothers, nieces or anyone who had the good fortune to meet him. He taught me everything I know about kindness, loyalty, humor, respect, family and faith. His faith was unnerving, never wavering for one second. I was a hellion, a wild child and my dad never judged. He watched and waited to pick up the pieces. There are too many stories. One I remember vividly. I was 18, spoiled brat, came home drunk, puking my guts out. I don’t even drink anymore. My father cleaned me up, put me to bed and slept on the floor beside me. I can still feel him near, even if I can’t see him.

“Take care of your mother, be a good girl. I love you with my whole heart.”

Okay dad, I’ll try. Although I’m not sure I’m doing a bang up job. Her and I, we fight. Argue. A lot. Rarely agree on anything. I’d like to wring her neck. This woman, the person I call mom I aim to please. She wanted a cordless vacuum for Mother’s Day, not a fancy car, Dior or diamonds. Something useful with a purpose. That’s all. I’d be so lucky and well-adjusted to be more like her. The original, fearless warrior.

I’ve experienced the love of a father like mine, and a mother. Together, they made our family complete. Wherever you are Choff, I hope you’re winning and smirking that devilish grin. The heavens and the orbs are in your favor. It’s your time.

I have to go right on living. It’s rudimentary. Five-year old mathematics, numbers you live a whole life by.

I think they stink. Crap odds. I have to stay anyway, a while longer. I guess. The canvas resets to a stark sterile dove white, a color choice off a paint swatch. The happy, unhappy complicated family colors muted and wiped clean with the stroke of a paint brush. Obliterated by a sixty dollar gallon of paint.

I close my eyes and trust I will see them, the shade memories. I trust they were indeed real, trust they will remain to guide and comfort the remaining journey.

Putrid acid green, Pepto-Bismol pink, sherbet orange and garish gold marble swirls alive in the brain.

Life lived in increments and numbers. The numbers they never lie.

I hang crystal prisms in the bedroom window to capture the sunbeams washing over my face, remembering the weight and light of a kind of pure and selfless love.

It wasn’t perfect, I’m not deluded I know that.

Life was solid, a true gray with primary colors whirling all around.

And that, you can build upon.

Six feet of dock stretches out over a flat, refreshing cool body of water with no threat of jagged rocks, seaweed, or prey absolutely nothing that could hurt you.

With each breath we count, constantly weighing the risks, odds and numbers.

Me, I love to swim. I need to remember that more often.

Inside every jump right before you hit the water lives the dream and infinite possibility.

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On the Walk

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Last night ‘on the walk’ Lupe and I saw a shadow in the midnight black, bone-chilling distance. An elderly man lying helpless in the snow, black cold, car door wide open, -7 degrees below. He lives two doors down, a neighbor and I don’t know him at all. I tried to lift him with my will, powerless to pull him up by myself. I stayed close,  reassuring him he’d be alright. My mind spinning, trying to figure out what to do. I finally bolted next door for help. Together Roberta (go Roberta) and I got him into his car back to semi-safety and warmth, nearly frozen. All because he wanted a pizza from Pizza Hut, his dignity and independence. I’m sad. I’m sorry for the millions of lonely people, elders with no one looking out for them. Nobody hardly knows or cares they exist. Ass frozen, bones cracking, all ninety pounds of the man matters, he has a story. Same as I, same as you. I’m no saint, no do-gooder just a person trying to survive with a shred of decency.

I am however hyper aware.

I understand how excruciatingly painful, palpable the loneliness feels even while surrounded and cocooned by deep love. My mother, an old woman now (I hate admitting that) anxiously watches out the window, awaiting my safe return. I know how blessed I am to look towards the house, to glimpse the shadow of a small person looking out. I smile inside, relax my breath. I know with absolute certainty one person is missing me when I’m gone.

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Sometimes, I go away without leaving the insulated safety net of a home-built on fierce, ferocious, all-encompassing Mother-love. Sometimes I go away terrified I won’t find my way back. No matter how far I travel, the heart always knows instinctively the way home.

I’ll be more mindful now when I pass.

“Let There Be. Light. Let There Be.%22 #TheVastLandscape #quotables-2

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The Ethers

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light living under the ethers   colorless, evaporates quickly when exposed to air     you can’t touch it, but you know it’s there            beautiful, bizarre, momentary earth

Thread the Needle

lavender, peppermint healing

Authenticity. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the word, gargling, swishing it around in my mouth and spitting it out.

If I only show you the photoshopped, concealed, makeup pretty me you’ll never understand the underbelly. The crunchy grit, rawness hidden beneath. The really good stuff, the honest kind that matters. Most days I can only see how my illness defines me. Every single piece that’s been stolen, the immeasurable, inexplicable loss of self. The shame, self-hatred, feelings of worthlessness, doubt, insecurities, paranoia, fear, inappropriate remarks, irrational behavior and the myriad of negatives that live inside my broken, chaotic mind. Not to mention the physical excruciating pain, dizziness, anxiety, numbness, sweats, chills. Or the forty-ish pounds of added weight, the personal fuck you reminder of the crazy scales. Matters of life and death, I stopped counting the pounds. There are the ‘friends’ who conveniently vanished, stopped calling, texting. I admit, I’ve cried, hid my face in shame, lived with resentment and assumed the worst. It must be my fault.

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truth. same me.

That’s not what this day or this post is about. Today is about threading the needle and the incredible luck I’ve been dealt. Yes, luck.

Somewhere in-between psychosis, wanting to die and twelve years of psyche meds, twelve years of disappointment, fight, agony, fear, mania, depression and feeling sorry for myself, I forgot. The crucial element. Luck.

My therapist, whom I adore talks it out with me. She said something that kinda’ stuck, “you’re not the norm.” I didn’t quite get it. “Most of my patients (mentally ill) don’t have anyONE. You have more than one, you are not alone.” It’s so true, I am never alone while living with this solitary, suck-ass, fuck-off, bite-me disease. It’s authentic no doubt, there is no room for false illusion.

I am lucky. I’m lucky I have a home, a comfortable safe haven. I’m lucky to have a kindred spirit animal, Lupita lovely who comforts me when I am buried inside the madness, teaches me patience, moral responsibility and makes me smile more times than I can count.

I’m lucky no one asks too much of me, no conventional job, financial stress triggers. Don’t worry, I own that guilt. Guilt is a wasted emotion I excel at. I am lucky I still have the capacity to have a clear thought, battle the bad ones. I’m lucky I live with someone who does not let me wallow and knows when I am not wallowing at all. I’m lucky I have the one who puts her aches, pains and disappointments under her tongue and bites down hard dealing with the crazy that is her daughter. I am well aware even when I’m not gracious, nice, and pretty goddamn awful. I’m lucky there is more than one person checking in, wishing me well. I’m lucky for the ones I didn’t expect with the kindest hearts.

I’m lucky my heart is the bigger muscle and my mind the smaller one. I’m lucky I have a wicked imagination. I’m lucky I can still lose myself in the words, writing and dreaming on the page. I’m lucky god, buddha whoever sent me and gave me some gifts to share. There is something beautiful in the ethers, beyond our fixed expiration date. I’m lucky I believe in that. I’m lucky I’m sensitive enough, intuitive enough, aware enough and kind enough.

I’m lucky I have a stubborn, ugly mean streak too. It keeps me alive.

I could go on and on but that might seem manic, crazy, mad. Stirring up all the uncomfortable feelings, words and foreign adjectives that swirl inside your mind. Forget it, I didn’t write this for you.

I’m lucky if my experience helps the solitaire, lonely person  struggling like me feel less alone.

I’m lucky I choose authentic however scary it may be, I am the lucky in-between.

I’m learning luck is not a state of mind but one of heart.

Labels, I am lucky I’ve plain worn them out.

Walk it out
Walk it out
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End the Stigma      http://bringchange2mind.org

Drowning, on Repeat

I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord

the dark squashes me in broad daylight

And I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life, Oh Lord

big moments, big, big grandiose moments

important things

still waiting, still hoping, oh Lord

do you hear me, screaming

silent plea

Can you feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord, oh Lord

faith is a five letter word hard to swallow

rocks, pebbles slice and cut going down

I bleed red same as you

Well, if you told me you were drowning

I’d jump in and regret it

I would not lend a hand

yeah, I would unwilling

hatred, tick embedded disease

I’ve seen your face before my friend

don’t have any

friends, strangers, foes, allies, enemies

who cares

But I don’t know if you know who I am

how could you, hide my face

so complicated, hard to navigate

Well, I was there and I saw what you did

everything I thought true

wrong, wrong, wrong

big moments don’t come

I saw it with my own two eyes

I misunderstood, got it wrong oh Lord

I did that, sole responsible

I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life, oh Lord

keep waiting, hope dwindling

fight or flight, fight or flight, fight or flight

Lord can’t save me now, joker, charlatan

penny player

all in

thick of it

Stranger to you and me

DRUMROLL, Phil Collins

Play, repeat

Oh Lord, I forgot

love that song

Phil Collins, In The Air Tonight partial lyrics

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copyright Drummerworld

 

neglect
neglect

“It all comes back to a red metal bench in the woods on a small hill by a nothing- special pond. The air is sweet and wet and fall is here for now. Ducks sleep near the brisk, damp water waiting to take flight to sunnier places, offering no solution. I shiver and squirm in my own discomfort, clenching the bench, determined to will myself better. I’ll sit there god damn it, you fucking divine coxsucker, I’m as stubborn as you, until there is something to look forward to. I’m not pretending rosy and cheery just maybe a hint of curiosity.”

-excerpt The Red Bench by Jacqueline Cioffa