Sunday, November 29, 2009
I've begun organizing the documents that contain the information for my second book. Next weekend I buy file folders and place the contents of each chapter into their own folder. I begin writing the first chapter of the new book. The table of contents is all set to go and so is the introduction. I went on Amazon.com and no other title exists that is the same or similar to the title of my second book so I'm quite pleased. I'll keep this under wraps until the publication date nears. Also I have the ideas for two fiction books whose plots came to me in dreams when I first moved into this apartment.
OK now: I bought a new belt today and going home on the train I discovered a way to wear it: I can remove the matching fabric belt from my brown Benetton summer skirt and replace it with the belt that is black leather with silver concho ornamentation around it. You see the gears in my head are always turning and this is the latest fashion flash. A friend said she has not ever seen me wear the same thing twice. Interesting.
Today I wore the turquoise necklace and green wool jacket to dinner at Carmine's. Tuesday I return to the gym and do the treadmill for 50 minutes if I can keep up that long. Tomorrow I give a talk on recovery for NAMI.
The friend said: what I do is not unusual because other people with schizophrenia do their own thing too. This instantly cheered me. It brought things down to earth. I could understand that I resist the stigma because I'm a rebel with a kind heart. I live out loud and speak my mind because I don't seek other people's approval. I have no fear of going it alone. I will do what I feel is the right thing to do and not cave in to other people's expectations.
I'm reminded of the life of the Widow Clicquot: a truly memorable woman who ruled the champagne empire at a time when woman were relegated to being housewives.
So I would rather regal you with tales of life in the real world and my unending obsessions with fashion and music and writing and books. Just now I realize I have another belt I could substitute for the fabric belt on the summer skirt to change up the look. To border on these details is certainly more virtuous if record-skipping than to go down the dead end of a hell-and-OK I won't go there-story.
The porter took out the air conditioner and placed it on the floor under the other window in the bedroom so now there's no cold air escaping into the room. I will see if the air conditioner can fit on the top shelf of one of my closets instead. He also installed a light bulb in the overhead fixture. Sometimes I walk around this apartment with such glee at living here that I shriek at my good fortune. Luckily no one hears me.
I'm going to host a dinner party at the end of December. My mother gave me a turkey breast I can defrost that serves four people and I can make stuffing and broccoli and cranberry sauce. Could I melt cheese on the broccoli? I'll order the organic kind and also buy Martinelli's sparkling cider that also comes in an organic version.
Really nothing is gained from talking about the heartache unless you can brainstorm coping techniques. Wallowing in a pity party serves no purpose and only keeps you stuck. To move forward you need to mourn and let go and embrace your new life. It can be a better life than you imagined.
Besides: talking about the fashions is a coping skill. Dressing well is the ultimate tool for recovery. Here goes the record skipping again though I'm compelled to trace this groove now: I would rather my diagnosis be invisible to the naked eye. Dressing well is the best revenge. You can go far and you can be a star in a pair of killer heels.
Also: to rev up the dopamine by doing new things makes you feel good. So taking one new fashion risk each day could indeed make us feel good. My risk tomorrow will be not wearing the dark jeans to work and choosing instead the black pants and black lycra turtleneck and green wool jacket.
Fashion does it for me. I urge you to find and follow your own bliss. Surely life becomes inspiring when we reach for a new shirt or tube of lipstick that promises hope.
That is all I can give you in Joyful Music: hope.
To do otherwise I would be complicit in spreading misery.
Just remember that like the song tells us when all hope is gone:
Life will continue.
What a beautiful life it is.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Don't get me started on another rant. I was reading Ashley's blog that I link to on the right and someone told her she was too positive. That person sounds like they were jealous of her success. Quite frankly I don't want to read a hell-and-heartache story. There are enough of them out there so if you fiddle around the dial so to speak you'll find one grim enough for your liking.
I can only imagine if Ashley got grief about her inspirational blog that the person who commented to her would get worked up in a lather about my blog. It is after all titled Joyful Music.
Yes We Can people. Yes We Can.
It is hard-wired in my nature to be an optimist. It is also my duty as a recovered person to help bring other people up in their recovery. That has been my life's goal since I was 35 years old and I turn 45 in April. I've said it in here before that I believe in my vision that people can recover from schizophrenia.
Trust me I can name names when it comes to hell-and-heartache stories and human decency prevents me from doing so. I can only leave you with this: if you don't think enough hell-and-heartache stories exist, create your own blog and blast the airwaves with your misery. See how many people will actually tune in.
Now if you excuse me I'm going to cut myself a piece of cheery pie.
Fell asleep at nine o'clock and woke at five in the morning.
I'm debating whether to keep or return a pair of Banana Republic jeans I bought in Grand Central when I was with D. yesterday. We browsed Macy's Herald Square and also the Bryant Park Holiday Fair. I bought from a vendor a silver-tone ring. I'm not sure about the skinny jeans only because of the placement of the pockets on the back. I bought a regular size because the store did not have petites. The website has a different petite version of skinny pants. Their store in Rockefeller Center has a selection of petite clothes however I did not go there.
Oh, the dilemma: I could go to the tailor to have the jeans hemmed and ask him if he thinks the jeans look proportional in the pockets. On the website the jeans are shown cuffed and there is also a black version in addition to denim.
Decisions, decisions. I wondered if the petite version would feature legs too skinny to fit my legs in. A friend riffed on an Ellen Degeneres show where the talk show host is claiming she couldn't fit her arm inside the leg of a pair of skinny jeans.
Also: are skinny jeans supposed to bunch up? Is that the look? I will try them on once more before I leave my house today to see if I feel I can keep them anyway. The jeans I bought were in a dark denim. I would hate to wear them and have people wonder: "What was she thinking?" Of course I wanted to impress a guy and that is the reason I bought the jeans.
You can cuff the jeans however I will most likely get them hemmed unless after I try them on they look OK cuffed. Oh, oh, oh, no. What a pickle I've gotten myself into. I'm sure to most women this kind of detail doesn't matter. You can also scrunch up the hem and wear the jeans with heels for what is called a sexy look. I would still have to hem the jeans to be able to do that because the inseam is just too long on the regular size jeans.
I admit: I was impatient so bought them in a regular size. Though I went on the BR website just now and even the petite version bunches up in the legs so there you go. The kind of skinny jean I bought is not available on the website. Next time I go to the Rockefeller Center store.
You see: I just might keep the jeans. Then the dilemma is: to cuff or not to cuff, that is the question. The fault lies not in the stars but in that I was a woman on a quest to buy a new pair of dark jeans to replace my faded Loft pair which I will now relegate to a drawer in the armoire and use only to clean the house or to paint in.
Chances are I take the new pair to the tailor later and take it from there. I spend a mint at the tailor too.
Okay. I'm going to wind down this obsession and segue into something else. The train has exited the station on this one.
I gave D. a birthday card last night that he really liked. I don't see anything unusual about our friendship. He has the same kind of open-mindedness that I do. Although we are not fans of learned helplessness. We believe people in recovery need to become self-reliant. He is winding down his advocacy career and that is a good thing. He spent the best years of his life doing this. It is time for him to retire to his place in the sun.
Heck: I will not go there. The jeans are still on my mind. Let me try to distract myself by stopping at another station on the train route.
I hear there's a Lucky Brand store on Sixth Avenue near 20th Street so I might go there to see if they have the belt I liked in my size. Today I will bypass all the stores when I go to get my haircut because I have no money left.
The wind is roaring outside again. That is the one drawback to living in this apartment: I can hear the wind screaming outside.
I have the porters take the air conditioner out of the window and place it on the floor below the other window in the bedroom. There's a crack in the partition so cold air blows into the bedroom now.
Right now I sit at my desk typing on the computer wearing a Snuggly and I'm not embarrassed to do so as it actually keeps me warm. My mother bought me it in the summer when I moved here.
My train of thought doesn't seem to have a caboose today: I'm still thinking about the jeans. Also: I just bought a person on my holiday list a gift from the BR website. And mind you I'd like to buy another pair of dark jeans that fit well.
Monday night I give a talk at the NAMI Family-to-Family week 10 session. I'm supposed to talk about what I needed from my parents when I was first starting out in my recovery. Listen: I'm going to make no bones about it: I will tell the mothers and fathers that I succeeded because my parents expected me to succeed. They had the confidence that I would do what I set out to do. And so I achieved this.
There's no waffling. If you want your loved ones to recover you set house rules. Number one: get off the couch and attend a day program or a Clubhouse or do volunteer work. What your loved one does or does not want to do is of no concern. The ultimate goal is for a person diagnosed with schizophrenia or another mental illness to become self-reliant. Any adult has to make hard choices and people with schizophrenia need to do this as well. A loved one will have to do things he or she doesn't want to do if in the long run doing those things will enable them to function.
Trust me: I did not want to attend the second day program long-term. I attended two day programs for a total of two years. I fought to be taken seriously. That is possibly the only difference between me and the other ex-patients: I wouldn't settle for less. I had the goal of living independently and to do that I knew I had to get a full-time job. So I lobbied to be sent to OVR so I could be trained as a word processor.
Even the psychic told me in 1996: "In this lifetime you will be taught to do things on your own." Nobody gave me any of this: I had to take initiative to make it happen or else I'd still be warming a chair in the day program because the counselors didn't think I was capable of much else.
You will ask how I could recommend a person attend a day program when I met a lot of resistance to my goals while I attended the second one. Well: it can be a good tool for working on your recovery if you can't go to school or work at a job and don't do volunteer work. Forget about watching Ginger and Mary Ann parade about in their fashions on TV. You are the Skipper of your own boat and if you don't learn how to steer yourself to recovery you're going to go down at sea. Then you'll have to contend with the Howells.
Need I say more?
I hope you get this pop culture reference.
I have taken flak for this stance. No, it is not OK to let your loved one do whatever he or she wants while they're living at home. You want to halt their disability and one way to help them become self-reliant is to at the very least give them chores to do around the house.
Also: I have a different take on things when a mother says her son or daughter doesn't want to attend a Clubhouse because they don't want to be around other people with mental illnesses. Well: I was 32 and working at a law firm and I attended the Thursday night poetry group at Fountain House. I'd duck into a rest room to change from my suit to black jeans and a navy wool turtleneck.
That is the difference: any parent who acts passive in the face of their loved one's resistance to doing what it takes to recover is actually enabling their son or daughter to remain disabled.
Now you are going to ask: how long should it take for someone to recover? That is an individual matter. Those of us who are resilient will recover more quickly. And that is what enforcing house rules does: allows your loved one to bounce back. The longer you sit back the more likely there will be some kind of loss of functioning.
It took me three years from the time I was diagnosed with schizophrenia to the time I found my first job as an administrative assistant. That might be unusual however it proves my point: I was never far off course. I would love to see more peers speaking out and fighting for their rights the way I did in those early years.
Wow: look how far I've gone down this road. The stat counter must be dropping fast.
The wind is roaring so loud that any minute I expect Gilligan and crew to sail by in their makeshift raft on their way back home.
So I'll go sign off and leave you now to go pour some cereal for breakfast.
Enjoy your day.
Friday, November 27, 2009
I'm quite impressed with the Isaac Mizrahi book How to Have Style. It was panned by reviewers on Amazon.com so I posted my own positive review there. The book should arrive in my mailbox soon.
I toy with writing a fashion guide. One thing I have learned that I can pass on: choose carefully the items you buy and bring home. Ask yourself, "Does this fit into my life? Will wearing that shirt or pair of pants complement my style or detract from it?"
Also ask yourself: "How do I want to look?" I bought the book 10 Steps to Fashion Freedom by Malcolm Levene and Kate Mayfield years ago. It lists questions to answer to help you focus on the image you want to present. I typed up my answers and placed them in my goals binder to refer to.
This is what I wrote: "I seek to project an image that is calm, down-to-earth and approachable." Style truly is a conscious choice. You cannot have style if you buy things without putting effort into how you look. Ignorance is no defense against dressing fashionable. Today there are tons of books and magazines and there are some TV shows which can guide women.
I have 20 books devoted to fashion alone in my library collection at home.
As Isaac Mizrahi rightly suggested: you need to try on multiple items of clothing, and try on even more others, before settling on the one piece that is perfect for you.
Years ago I had wanted a friend to take pictures of me in various outfits. I will see if I can have someone do this early next year to create what's called a "look book." I have always wanted to create a look book.
The other day round midnight I was bit by a fashion bug and that is when I decided: "Choose carefully the items I bring into my life and home." So I placed in the donations bag an unusual mask pendant I had bought six or seven years ago at a craft fair. It simply isn't the look I want to project.
Thus I've decided to assess whether anything I'm considering buying is too trendy for me. As of today: I've reconciled how I dress now with how I used to dress in my twenties. I couldn't understand this dichotomy until recently. Now I understand that I have always loved fashion, it was just that how I dressed reflected the fashions of the era I lived in. So really there is no mystery what compelled me to dress the way I did.
Our lives and our style are an evolution. I accept that I'm on a life-long quest for continual self-improvement. This is reflected in my clothing choices as well. So it is clear to me that I will never be a fan of the status quo and I will always seek to refine or perfect my vision of how I want to dress, act and live and decorate my home. Right now my apartment is complete.
Last night I realized my mantra is about personal growth. I seek to keep learning about myself and others throughout my life. Life-long learning is a priority of mine because I've listed education as one of my six core values in my goals binder. The other values are confidence, health, self-expression, honesty and career.
Go ahead, chuckle: you think I'm a strange girl. I haven't said I wasn't. Who else would type up her core values and itemize the life choices consistent with her values? Who else would type up a decade-by-decade list of the things she wants to do or achieve in her life? Who else would set yearly goals and include them in her binder too?
Folks: I don't know why I do this. Actually, I do know why I do this and I'm the only one who could tell you why because if someone else used this word to describe me it would not be acceptable. Here it is: I've been there. Once you have gone over the edge you answer to no one and can do pretty much what you please. Frankly I don't care if I don't live up to what others expect me to do or be in society.
Early on I understood that having lost my mind there was nothing else I could ever fear losing. And so I took risks that most people wouldn't take because I had no fear of failure. The idea that I would not achieve what I set out to do didn't occur to me. Yet I did fail, and I failed miserably at some things. A year after I was diagnosed with schizophrenia I returned to school to take a newspaper reporting class because I wanted to get a Masters in Journalism. I bombed out after the first class.
When I wanted to get a full-time job, I took the first job I was offered so that I would get the money to move into my own apartment and live independently. I spent two years as an administrative assistant and after that five years in the insurance field. It seemed like I spent a longer amount of time in that career however it was only five years. I was unconscious; living with blinders on: I tried to make that life work long after I should have realized it wasn't the job for me.
Now I realize that to be truly happy in my work I need to work at a job where I can express myself and be creative in coming up with solutions to help people solve their problems. Thus when the library career is winding down I intend to go back to school for a Masters in Rehab Counseling so that I can become a vocational counselor for people with disabilities.
You see I'm a strange girl. I will never settle for the status quo. Does that make me unusual in a world where most people are content to watch TV for three hours every night? I spend two hours every night on my second job, keeping this blog, reading books and doing my writing. I also do public speaking and I love to perform, whereas most people have a fear of speaking in public.
I tell you that this is strange yet possibly it isn't. Whatever it is I know one thing: I chose the road less traveled and that made all the difference.
Having schizophrenia at the end of the day is liberating because I can opt out of the white picket fence, two kids and husband life in the suburbs. When I was a young girl of only fifteen or sixteen, I dreamed the kind of life I have now: living in the City and doing my own thing. Having kids wasn't something I wanted even before I was diagnosed. So the diagnosis merely reaffirmed my decision.
The Esprit motto sums up my life: "The World Is Our Culture" I can translate into "The World Is My Culture" because when I was 35 I decided I wanted to live my life in service to other people. A friend told me she felt I embrace people's differences. Possibly I'm able to do this because I always felt like an outsider looking in and like I was different from other people. This feeling was reinforced when I was growing up because I was the creative, quirky, sensitive kid in a family of Traditionals whose lives were cut from whole cloth. I experimented with my persona; took risks they wouldn't take.
Even today when the women in my family wear polyester shirts and matching slacks to Thanksgiving dinner, I'm wearing my black wool turtleneck, dark jeans and the multi-color scarf with my oversized pink stone earrings and matching ring. I live to express myself and that is the life path of a person with a 30/3 in her numerology chart.
Heavens: I have gone on and on. Please forgive me. This sounds like I've given you a back story, right? I was compelled to fill in new readers to this blog with a glimpse of what makes me tick.
Really it's no secret and it comes back to this: I live my life left of the dial. It would be OK with me if you thought I was a strange girl. I have no pretensions of needing to be accepted by others in the mainstream. I don't covet other people's approval and that in the end is why I succeeded: I had the confidence to push the envelope in subtle ways throughout my life.
That is why I take a controversial stance: that people diagnosed with schizophrenia must takes risks in order to recover. Sitting on a couch watching re-runs of Gilligan's Island just doesn't cut it.
Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to pour a bowl of Kashi GoLean cereal, have breakfast and then get ready to meet D. in the City.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
I just might make a cook of myself yet: at three o'clock today I baked brownies to bring to my cousin's house tomorrow. I didn't use the standard Hershey's cocoa tin; I used the drinking cacao which is much richer. When I'm done writing in here I will cut the brownies into nine pieces and save one for myself to have with skim milk tonight. The rest I'll take with us to Joe's.
Luckily I bought the blender for only $12 and so I used it to stir mix and beat the batter. I'm awaiting the mixing bowls from the order I placed with the young girl selling products to benefit her school. So earlier I used a 3-quart saucepan to blend all the ingredients. I wasn't going to not make the brownies just because I was waiting on the bowls.
Yoo-hoo: I should go cut the brownies now and have mine and come back and tell you how they taste. Let me do that.
Well: nobody's going to die. They're not Mrs. Fields and yet they don't taste inedible. They taste like the rich dark cacao and not like the ordinary Hershey's tin of cocoa. What they actually taste like is a mud cake. So if you've ever had a Mississippi mud cake you'll know how they taste.
It could have been worse. This first effort at baking was none too shabby. I'm quite proud the brownies came out OK. They came out OK.
Mind you: they don't taste like the brownies you bake from a mix.
I made them from scratch, OK? How do you like that? From scratch.
Now I'm tired. I'm exhausted just thinking of having to clean the dinner dishes and pots and pans.
Will go sign off.
Enjoy your turkey tomorrow.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The cognitive therapy has ended on a positive note. I've been empowered to make changes. It is the beginning of my new life and an upbeat outlook.
After the session, I stopped in Animated Closet to buy the multi-color scarf. I'll wear it on Friday when D. and I go into the City. It cost $5 more because the vendor raised the price and I didn't think that was fair yet the scarf was placed in a reusable eco tote bag so I felt I got something extra that was useful.
The Pond in Bryant Park is a free skating rink open to the public. I go back to the holiday fair on Friday with D though I won't buy anything else. We can get Belgian waffles for lunch and some apple cider.
His birthday dinner is my treat so I tell him he can order the lobster. Alas I'll most likely have shrimp because I cannot afford the lobster. I get my haircut that morning.
How is this: tomorrow even though I'm staying home I can wear the new scarf. Brilliant. I will also use the new purple pocketbook on Friday. I've taken to wearing my red short coat now as it nears December. The military jacket hangs in my closet and is ready to go. I could wear it on Thanksgiving.
The scarf hangs well and looks wonderful. I'm wearing it now. The scarf cheers me. It has pockets for your hands. The gift to myself for completing the therapy although dressing well is also a form of therapy, right?
Joy to the world.
Joy to you tonight.
I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving.
Right now I will go sign off rather than write a long entry.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Last night was not the night to cook so I ordered in crab meat-stuffed shrimp from an Italian restaurant because I wanted something different not the usual culinary fare. I have been under the weather and didn't have the energy to prepare a meal.
How to begin:
The other day I ventured into Rite Aid and bought a lipstick as if I needed to and couldn't live without it: Make Me Pink by Maybelline. It is one of the Color Sensational tubes that are a brilliant marketing ploy: the jewel-plum case is an art object you'll take pleasure in using and won't be embarrassed to show off. It looks richer than a usual drug store tube.
The color I bought was featured on a model in a fashion magazine and is a departure for me: 1960s pink. Though not as wild as the NARS color Schiap which was featured a while back in Real Simple magazine. I had debated buying Schiap when I had some extra money and it would have been too too Valley of the Dolls.
The Color Sensational lipstick tube is iconic.
I will wear this shade when I dress in black.
Just now I heard Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johanssen on the radio. She actually has a beautiful voice and I liked the song. I can receive clearly on my alarm clock radio 101.9 WRXP FM which bills itself as the Rock Experience. It's not radio sophie. I listen to it although it plays too much classic rock-n-roll for my liking.
Matt Pinfield spins music from 8 to 12 on Saturday nights and his show's play list is infinitely better plus the segues between songs are tight. He has a good intuition for mixing songs and none of them are duds. Pinfield used to spin records on FM 106.3 Modern Rock at the Jersey Shore. I stopped listening to that station when it turned to commercial music. Is it still broadcasting? I wonder.
For Tuesday's last session with the cognitive therapist I will use the new lipstick and wear a black sweater and the new gray scarf and jeans and the loafers. Animated Clothing beckons afterward.
This past week I gave my employer my life even though I was not at all well. That was a mistake. I will not do this again. Tomorrow I see Dr. Krall and ask her to give me an antibiotic and excuse me from work until Friday.
That is all I will tell you about this. You do not want to hear about this anymore.
So I will leave you to enjoy your evening.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
This much I know: I will not kow-tow to public opinion.
I'm unconventional and live my life left of the dial. I do not seek other people's approval. I would not have gotten where I am today if I let other people convince me it could not be done. The only person I have to prove anything to is myself.
Yes: the only person you have to prove anything to is yourself.
So take risks that other people would be afraid to take.
Imagine instead of agonize. Do instead of dream.
That is the secret of life and of recovery:
I always thought that when I die my tombstone should read:
Or: here lies a woman who dared.
The woman who dared is going to lie down in bed now.
I don't have the energy to continue in here.
Monday I see Dr. Krall.
Be well folks.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
This morning I browsed the Bryant Park vendors after exiting the cognitive therapist's office. I went home with a slubby gray-black scarf and wrapped up in the City early enough to come home and type in here.
On the weekend Dmitri drove us to Tanoreen. New York magazine rated this Middle Eastern "best cheap eats." A plaque on the wall reads: "Pray for peace in Jerusalem." We had the shrimp in garlic sauce with Egyptian rice-and-vermicelli. I had the pureed pumpkin soup and he had the baklava. The restaurant is crowded and loud. It's recommended you try the lamb dishes however I don't eat lamb or duck or any of those other meats.
Friday in the Esprit store I found a sporty purple pocketbook I will wear on Saturday when I venture into the City again.
I've begun working on the inspiration board: it has a photo of me in Italy wearing a red sweater and a photo of me in London wearing a red coat; also a photo of me in the red Soho jacket holding a coffee mug in front of the defunct Lolabelle's.
I'll pick up a red paint swatch or two to include on the cork board. This color figures prominently because the theme of my life now is "meditation in movement" and red is a passionate color.
Hello! I believe I told you all this already, right? I also stuck on the board the purple pin with the white letters announcing funky but chic. I'm pulled towards a trendier style and I'm not sure why. The scarf is classic and I may wear it tomorrow to meet Oliver.
Saturday I pick up the military jacket from the tailor and buy the Zig Ziglar book, Embrace the Struggle: Living Life on Life's Terms. I had ordered the book from the bookstore and it arrived last week.
Life takes off from here: I fly away, like the girl in the song "And She Was" by the Talking Heads. That was the first song I ever played on the radio.
Ladies: I bought for $5 Sephora nail polish in the tiny container, a pink polish that goes on well-highly recommended. I gave myself a manicure last night and it came out wonderful. I wear the black leather skirt, patent leather loafers, black Esprit turtleneck and the pink Oxford shirt.
Whatever will be will be. I can't know what the future holds or predict what's to happen. I don't believe in happy endings-the miraculous swoop down and eternal change. That is all I can tell you: I don't expect much to change though I will make the effort. I'm willing to take risks. So perhaps I can hold out for a miracle. It would be an accidental miracle though. An unexpected side effect.
This is all mysterious, no? Well I hold out this hope. My joy has returned like the cheerful season. On Saturday I return to see if I can pick up a scarf at the Animated Clothing booth. I saw a nice working out tank topthere as well; alas, it was $35 and I don't have that kind of money. I will see when the weekend comes how much I can justify spending. It would be super if I could buy the tank top so I might switch up to that.
The cognitive therapy has ended. It worked out well. Now is the time to be my own therapist. I understand so well that each of us has the power to create lasting change.
Will see how it goes. I wish I knew for certain how my life will turn out. The best I can do is reach out instead of going within. People rely on me to be their rock. It is not a responsibility I take lightly. So I take care of myself first: next week I return to the gym.
You see how it is:
This is what it's like when your feet touch the ground:
You are invincible.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
There you go. That's all I have to say on the matter.
Friday, November 13, 2009
I wear my black wool turtleneck from Benetton, the soft worn LOFT jeans and the black ankle boots. Pink eyeshadow and the pink chocolate lipstick. The nubby black-and-white scarf slung twice around my neck. The silver X or kiss earrings and the wide silver band ring I bought in the gift shop at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
For some reason the GooGoo Dolls lyrics run through my head about how it is sad to know life is more than who you are. I submit that the greater maturity is to accept this because it's not all about you or me it's about what we can do to serve other people in the world.
Public service is not a dirty word. Neither is compassion.
I discovered my magnetic poetry book and composed a poem on the refrigerator:
We Are the One
Just Do It
So that people who open the door or pass by will see my ethic on display.
I've slowly recovered from the attack that happened when I was in grad school. You can read about this and the cognitive therapy in the first SharePost I send to the Connection in December.
It is my contention that those of us doing well have the duty to help bring others up A person who is not doing well has the responsibility only to work on his own recovery.
I read a Diana Vreeland quote in the September Real Simple: "The only real elegance is in the mind; if you've got that, the rest really comes from it."
This I interpret to mean if you have a calm mind you will be able to be confident and take risks. A shaky mind could hold you back sometimes. This is the root of my dalliance with cognitive therapy: elegance of the mind to me signals acceptance of my quirky brain instead of resisting how it works. With this kind of therapy you train your brain to be at ease.
Tonight I dined in Bella Napoli: I had the nourishing shrimp parmigiana with mixed vegetables and a bottle of Snapple iced tea. As usual I tipped the usual waiter a little more than 20 percent. Afterward I ducked into the Esprit store. I'm a sucker for their motto: The World Is Our Culture. I bought a purple leather bag that is mod. Next week I go back with the coupon I forgot and buy a belt I saw. I tell D. to come with me before we head to Red Lobster for dinner. We can take a pedi-cab back to 42nd Street.
There was nothing to report to Dr. Altman who sent me on my way after we talked about the friendship networking service I joined and my luck with the second person I met through it. It is still too early to see where it will go however I'm hopeful. Dr. Altman understood when I told him, "You should not blab about your liabilities on the first date." I had told him I could not continue to see the first guy. This is common sense and has nothing to do with your mental illness. A quite successful matchmaker wrote a book, Get Over Yourself, in which she told readers not to reveal potential negative information on the first date. So this is not something that I'm telling you alone: an expert on dating would give you the same advice.
Besides, it is strictly a friendship-only service I joined although it does boast some romantic partnerships. So I take each day as it comes. You will read about this in "Bruni in the City: The Dating Game" in the winter issue of New York City Voices. Do subscribe. You can Google "new york city voices" and "advocacy journal" to read the paper online and submit your own article.
OK: I have no energy and I feel not at all better than I did in the morning. And I have to work tomorrow. So let me go.
Have a good weekend.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I dressed like a French woman today with the little coral floral silk scarf. I wore the brown pinstripe pants and brown 3/4-sleeve turtleneck, and the white stone earrings from the museum gift shop and my newest splurge: three autumn-color bangles in coral rust and cranberry.
Would much rather talk about this.
The woman is coming tomorrow to clean my apartment.
I tip her $20 if she does a good job. She next comes in January. I hope I can keep up this two month cleaning schedule. I really do not like to clean. It's been this way ever since I can remember: as far back as when I was a young girl. I was nine or 10 and even then I didn't like to dust the furniture or vacuum the floor. I would have been perfectly content if I could get away with not doing it. I had no concept of needing to pitch in as part of my contribution to the household.
This is how it has always been: it's not a feminist thing only the way I am: I would rather do anything than clean. It is because I am not a traditional woman in any sense of the Traditional's focus and locus.
One thing: a child should be given an allowance separate from his chores and responsibilities. All kids should be assigned things to do based on their age and ability. I resisted that and I was wrong.
OK: I hope you are able to clean your apartment or house regularly. I know someone who does this and I applaud her. I'm lucky I'm not ill-equipped to clean because I'm depressed: the only reason is I resist doing this and try to get away with not doing it for as long as I can.
Ah: let's move on to something else.
I bought for only five dollars a candy-stripe plastic band ring in raspberry-pink-and-plum. It looks delicious.
The young woman who cleaned my apartment did a good job and I tipped her $20.
The jacket is at the tailor to be hemmed. I pick it up next Wednesday after work and take it home. Would love to wear it to the talk I give at the IPRT. I would not wear gray or black if I were giving a speech. Red is my color. As a woman I once worked with told me: "Red is your color, Winter!" I like being a Winter and rarely wear clothes and makeup outside of this season's colors.
I nixed buying lipstick in the drug store when I was shopping there to pass the time before returning to the apartment. Instead I bought a sugar purer and when I arrived home I realized I did not need it. So I will donate it to the Salvation Army along with the other items on Saturday.
What does Amazon.com know that I don't know? Hint, hint: it automatically recommended for me The Newlywed Cookbook. I kid you not. I was up at 3 a.m. ordering from them the Claire Ultimo poetry dog tags kit and the website helpfully suggested I buy that book.
The poetry dog tags come with a ball chain necklace and you string the silver dog tags through the chain. The tags have words like sparkle and hope engraved on them. I'm going to use the sparkle one for my inspiration board.
I also found my black-and-white photo of Audrey Hepburn to tack to the cork board. I have a picture of myself dressed in the red Soho jacket and I'm holding a cup of coffee in front of the now-defunct Lolabelle's. That was my original photo for the Living Life column I started writing seven years ago. I will also hang on the board from a pin the red glass heart necklace to symbolize my compassion and kind heart. I'll go on Sunday to the hardware store to snitch-er, take home-a red paint swatch or two.
Ideally I'd pin up a photo of my new guy friend. Maybe a postcard from Italy or another beautiful note card.
The wind is screaming outside tonight or should I say this early morning.
It reminds me of the Jesus and Mary Chain lyrics: "The wind it screams around the trees for my psychocandy." They were one of my favorite modern rock bands in the 1980s. That's exactly how it sounds now: like someone screaming for salvation.
I'm awake now because I have to get up at 6 a.m. to get ready for a medical test that I took the day off for. Mom drives me there and then we go back to my apartment and she heats up Thanksgiving leftovers: turkey and stuffing, with cranberry sauce on the side. The real Thanksgiving will be celebrated at my cousin's apartment in Queens. Luckily I have that Friday off so I don't have to wake up early the next day.
I have a salty mouth. Hopefully I will not have to repeat this test for at least five years.
One hour to go until medicine time.
A cavity in my tooth and now this. I feel ancient even though I'm only almost 45. The other people in the doctor's office were all older and I wondered: is this really necessary at my age? Apparently it is. My primary care doctor is on top of things. She knows what she's doing. I'm the rare person with schizophrenia who has good medical treatment.
The guy on the Island couldn't be accused of malpractice though he certainly wasn't a good doctor. Dr. Krall is a Diplomate of Internal Medicine and that can only be a good thing.
Before this devolves into a rant I will begin to wind down this blog entry.
You have heard enough from me all this time and I will leave you now to enjoy the sunrise coming up wherever you live. Or the midnight sun.
I find it hard to believe someone could turn his love on and off like a light switch depending on who he decided to give his love to. This holds true for the females among us as well so feel free to replace he with she in that sentence. It is a possibility I do not wish to consider.
This is the last I will talk about this except to tell you one thing:
In April 1998 when I lived at home and was working in the City and going to school I received a call from my psychiatrist's wife that Dr. Cruz had died. I hung up the phone and slumped in a chair at the kitchen table.
Mind you this was going on 12 years ago before I even began writing my memoir or doing public speaking as an advocate.
My father must have thought I lost it because I blurted out:
"I want to see justice served for the last forsaken lot of misunderstood crazy people."
I had an ally in Dr. Cruz. He told me once that there was no stigma because he treated everyone equally and he referred to a woman who had been sitting in the waiting area with her husband and young son.
Dr. Cruz told me on my first visit to him outside of the hospital that one day I would be able to live independently and find a job.
Why did I tell my father that when I received the news that my psychiatrist had died?
I have no idea.
I told him:
"I want to see justice served for the last forsaken lot of misunderstood crazy people."
Please forgive my language: those were the words that came to me at the time.
Again I have continued in this vein so let me go and begin elsewhere.
I would like to believe that most people would be compassionate.
I hold out that hope.
This hope keeps me going at a time like this.
That is all we can do:
I logged into Blogger to begin writing this entry and was sidetracked reading AC's GainingInsight entry posted earlier today. I had a similar reaction that she did, only it was to a stigmatizing post at a website that I write for.
It hurts me that some people have no compassion for those of us diagnosed and living with mental illnesses. I spent the better part of last Friday upset about this. People diagnosed with schizophrenia need to be treated with dignity just like anyone else. We deserve extra respect for dealing with this medical condition every day. Schizophrenia doesn't take a holiday. It doesn't discriminate against who it chooses to devastate.
Last night as I wrote in the hardbound journal a friend gave me I thought long and hard about my decision to be open and honest to the people who would benefit from hearing my life story. Who else would risk making this choice? Again and again as I wrote about this I kept questioning why I feel so strongly about my role as a mental health activist. I understand that I'm a woman committed to a cause just like anyone else committed to a charity. Some women devote their time to breast cancer. My cause just happens to be mental health.
Feel free to chime in with your comments.
Hello: I must be going.
I do not want to go off in another direction in this blog entry.
I would rather post a new one that has nothing to do with this topic.
My point exactly is that treating everyone with dignity doesn't appear to be the norm so is it any wonder people with mental illnesses are treated as less than zero?
This isn't about you or me or anyone with a diagnosis: it is always only about the hang-ups of the other person making the judgments.
As Don Miguel Ruiz wrote in his book The Four Agreements: don't take things personally.
I urge you to choose recovery.
Be strong. Stand tall. Walk proud.
You are a star.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
I took the train to the Barnes & Noble on 86th & Lex and bought for the price of the expensive desk calendar two appointment books. One is a Tuscany diary and the other satisfies the decorator in me because it has colorful patterns. I keep the Tuscany one at home and the design one at work.
The Bruni in the City column I wrote for the next issue of New York City Voices is titled "The Dating Game" and has my Top 10 Tips for a First Date. In it I clarified my position on The Face Test. It has to do with whether you feel any chemistry with the other person. I do not covet a boy toy or someone with conventional good looks. I prefer a guy who is intelligent and kind and has a sense of humor. This is what I value: not whether he has chiseled cheekbones or an Armani physique.
My own beauty is an accident of genes: my mother was an attractive young woman and my father was a good-looking young man and they carried that down. My brother looks like he could be a fashion model.
I'm going to buy the Isaac Mizrahi book How To Have Style. I will also buy a cork board to create an inspiration board. The expression "If you believe it, you can achieve it" rings true here. To have a visual of what your new life looks and feels like is the first step in getting there.
Where could I buy a cork board? Staples? I'll go online and search their website.
The first step is letting go.
I decided to donate my purple leather Coach key chain to Sal's. I've had it for close to 10 years. Now I use the green strap key chain I bought in Greenwich. The Coach one I bought when I first began working as a librarian. I coveted the keys I was given because I could open and close the doors. Somebody else could use that key chain now to hold the keys to her own freedom. It was an impromptu decision to get the new green strap.
With great hope-and no regret about the past-I begin my new life. You have to let go in order to move on. A friend says my life is now complete because I have met someone. I will not go there now. You can read about it in my Bruni in the City column for New York City Voices.
This much is true: the past is over and done with as soon as it's gone. Today is the only day that matters. Take risks and you will gain confidence. "Do the thing you think you cannot do." I will take Eleanor Roosevelt up on this. Every morning when we wake up our life is a blank slate to write in as we choose. We can choose to go beyond our comfort zone. We can dare.
Five years ago I took a risk: I dared to enter into a relationship with a friend of mine. He coveted being normal as the Holy Grail. Dr. Altman told me I must have been relieved when the guy broke up with me because dating him was stressful. I lost a friendship. Girls: after you break up with someone do not try to remain friends. It's over. There can be no friendship.
So you take a risk and you will find you are stronger than all that. You must be courageous. You cannot live your life on 33 RPM in an iPod world. Go with the times. Leave the era before the era leaves you.
I realized today that if my brother died responding to the World Trade Center attacks my life would have been over. He is alive today because his fire squad responded later in the day. This is proof that God gives us only what we can handle. I would have been shattered.
True: it does not help when you are with someone who does not let you express yourself or be who you are. I wrote about this in a comment at the Connection. In the fall before I had the breakdown I wrote in my journal "The root of my psychosis is that I was not allowed to be who I wanted to be." How prophetic. You see. Now. How joining the radio station was the defining moment of my life.
The ex-boyfriend told me once:that he was "almost normal now." Then he went off his meds. There is no normal. Only what's right for you.
In my new life:
I am certain that I am OK just as I am.
I am confident that I am on the right road.
I am able to change people's lives for the better.
No: I do not regret a moment lived.
I would rather have loved and lost than not taken the risk.
Yes: I'm convinced I was better off even though it was stressful. Life goes on. Eleanor Roosevelt said something else that was true: "A woman is like a tea bag. You do not know how strong she is until she gets in hot water."
You see: I could not be involved with someone who was not humble. The ex-boyfriend was also a Tiger, the mortal enemy of little ol' Snake me. The new guy is a Rat-and the Rat-Snake combo is rated three out of four stars for its "alluring fascination." He is also a Sagittarius so I wonder about that because I'm a Taurus. My father is a Sagittarius and so is D.-who is one of my two best friends.
I am a changed person. The schizophrenia changed me. It made me a more compassionate person. I could not judge someone unless I walked a mile in his or her moccasins.
When I turned 40 I convinced myself I wanted to be married. That was a long-ago dream. It was when the ex-boyfriend appeared on the scene. I sat in Dr. Altman's office crying because I was 40 and hadn't met my life partner. He told me I was just like any single woman in the City looking for love.
After Greenwich: I am ready to begin again.
The cognitive therapist told me: "It just happened. You had no control over it." And so I go with that. Only I remembered exactly when it started: September 11, 2004 when I was riding the S44 bus to the Staten Island Ferry.
Exactly five years later-on September 11, 2009-I sat in the office of the director of the cognitive therapy practice telling him what brought me there. A coincidence? I wonder.
The anniversary of 9/11 will resonate in me forever because it is the only time I ever dealt in "What if?" I did not ask what would have happened if I didn't get sick. Nor did I ever tell myself "If only I didn't get sick." I'm a realist: I deal in the real. Yet always I know I'm lucky that my brother didn't die because that is the biggest If: He could have died. What if he died?
Exactly one month before the meltdown on the S44 bus I risked disclosure in a global way: I was the featured reader at the Cornelia Street Cafe event and read the breakdown scene from my memoir and the positive ending of the book.
Disclosure changes everything. I was on the bus a month later going to the Ferry to Manhattan to attend the IAWA event again. You may ask why I do this. You may ask why I'm open and honest. After you disclose the dynamic changes. You wonder what people think. A friend tells me I'm lucky because people have only responded positively so far.
Even today she said: "You turned a terrible thing into a good thing."
I do this because in offering you my life I want to show you there is hope. My optimism is not an empty slogan.
Today I am coming to terms with the truth: I cannot change what happened on the bus. I cannot go back and reverse my decision to disclose. I cannot be other than who I am: a woman whose life was changed forever on September 25, 1987.
God Bless You.
I hope you find some joy and happiness in reading this blog.
Keep the faith.
I believe that love will prevail in a world overrun with hate.
So I urge you to join the world.
Do the thing you think you cannot do.
My energy level has not risen yet it hasn't plummeted. It seems to be on the upswing. Slowly, slowly.
It was a lovely day in Greenwich yesterday.
I bought a green strap key chain to replace the purple Coach key chain I bought in 2000 when I first started work as a librarian. A classic brown nubuck belt from Zara. And a pair of round pearl earrings for $21 [not real of course]. I can wear the belt with the black pants and my beige sweater if we go to the theater in January again. In Claire's I found an interesting notebook with a graffiti design cover. Swag.
In Greenwich on the main street traffic guards conduct traffic.
We ate in Thataway: I had the crab and shrimp burger. I was so full I did not eat dinner until after eight o'clock when I ordered the Aegean salad from a diner.
Alas: a beautiful hot salmon pink scarf cost $190 in an upscale store so I did not buy it. We looked around and hurried out. I would like to go back in the new year to buy a pair of skinny jeans in the Lucky Brand shop. I wanted to buy a green embroidered belt in that store however they did not have it in my size. I nixed a beautiful Lucky scarf though.
I am able to write in here now because I have a half hour before the appointment. Otherwise I would not be free to do so. Though suddenly I have no energy again. After I will go the pizzeria to get two grandma slices and a peach Snapple.
Will do only what I can do. Today I dropped off the laundry rather than do it myself this weekend.
The final verdict: I do not buy the expensive appointment book from Cooper Hewitt. I would've done so if it were an offering on their website's store. It wasn't.
Yes: I remember a long-ago friend who I went to Greenwich with the first time. Where is she now? I hope she has a good life. We'd go to the Galaxy Diner in the City for dinner before we parted ways. It was another era in my life: the time before I moved here. In retrospect I learned a lesson: try to patch up whatever it is that's not right with a friend. I got the impression she didn't want to continue the friendship and so I let it be.
OK. I have no energy. Let me go look for a magazine to read while I wait. I still have time before I need to head to the dentist. Luckily I just get X-rays and a cleaning twice a year.
One thing I will leave you with:
Do not go without food and make sure you eat small, nutritious meals throughout the day.
Going on a cleanse or fast is not healthy.
Have fruit or cheese and whole wheat crackers or nuts or yogurt for a snack to tide you over until lunch or dinner.
Get checked out by your primary care doctor if your energy level is low.
Now I must be going.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Surf on over to the Connection when you're done here as I published a SharePost about the new drug Fanapt (generic: Iloperidone) that hits U.S. pharmacy shelves in early 2010.
It is late and I will be shutting the lights soon. I will possibly take a break from writing in here as I've been much more fatigued lately. I attribute this to a lack of exercise because the PA said my hemocrit level wouldn't have caused the energy drain. So I can only conclude I need to return to the gym.
D. sent me in the mail the Bruni in the City column I've begun writing again for New York City Voices, the mental health advocacy journal. The article is "Breakfast at Tillie's" and I have not dared read it though I will before I go to bed.
I am off work on Friday and that is good. I have decided to travel on vacation in April even if it means I have to draw down my savings account to do so.
It got to the point where I failed to show up to my friend's Halloween party even though I told him I would go. Sunday I'm supposed to have a friend come over and I will have to ask her to come for three o'clock so that I can do a cognitive therapy homework assignment in the late morning and early afternoon. That is all I can do: cook dinner for her. We can hang out here and talk.
So now. I have no energy. Thus I must go.
Please enjoy my author website during this temporary intermission: www.christinabruni.com
Monday, November 2, 2009
A tall guy in a dark taupe trench coat sees the book in my hand: Isaac Mizrahi's How To Have Style.
"Are you a fashion designer?" he asks.
"Oh no. I just love fashion."
"It's good to be inspired by creative people."
"Yes it is."
"Who wrote the book?"
"Isaac Mizrahi. He's been designing for 20 years. He designs for Target."
I hand him the style guide to look at. He flips through it.
The guy says: "You have a beautiful speaking voice."
"I used to be a disc jockey in college," I tell him. "I do public speaking."
"Mental health. Health. And fitness and wellness."
"That's wonderful," he says.
The counter guy tells him his order is ready and it's ten dollars.
The man pays and takes his bag. He turns to me before leaving. "Have a great life."
"You too," I say.
He exits out the door.
I order the banana nut muffin.