Sunday, June 20, 2010


The oil spill from BP that has slicked wildlife and polluted water is unforgivable.

Long ago I decided I didn't want to own a car because I didn't want to be dependent on Middle Eastern oil or for that matter any oil source.

The economic hardship and mental health stress on the people like fishermen who depend on the water for their income are hazardous side effects as well.

You ought to read Terry Tempest Williams book Finding Beauty in a Broken World where she talks about the utter disregard of the natural world and the genocide in Rwanda. From out of human annihilation she worked on an art project to help the people in Africa heal.

Today I was reminded of the peril of steamrolling over the natural world.

The book The Long Emergency is the most dire account of the coming end of the world as we know it that started when farmland was paved over to create shopping malls and industrial parks.

One place in the natural world that still exists is Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton New Jersey where I and the other women in my writing workshop read our work at an outdoor poetry reading. I read the Italy scene that is linked to on my author web site via an audio file. So if you click on the link you can hear me reading what I read today at the Poets Invitational.

One of the poets read about nature and he came up to us in the Peacock Cafe after the reading to tell us he liked our writing. We also praised him and started talking about the need to be in nature.

The peacocks strutted freely outside in the park. So beautiful. I marveled at how their strutting reminded me of the Nelson Mandela quote about letting our own light shine and in turn giving other people permission to shine.

The sole role of a peacock is to strut and I felt that it is often hard for people diagnosed with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses to strut their stuff in a world where their very existence is discounted. Long ago I rebelled the role of mental patient however traditionally that was the occupation prescribed to us.

We were told to silently pop pills and not make waves and collect a government disability check and exit the psychiatrist's office quickly so he could be done with us.

Ah: the proud peacock. We should all be so proud to strut our stuff without fear.

Did I nail this with my philosophy recorded here awhile ago: "here's the playing field. please join in."

It is why as I continue to add scenes to my memoir and revise the scenes I"m writing that I realize what I did was ultimately not about me: it was about shining my light so that others could feel they had the right to shine a light on themselves.

Hope is a competency. Hope can also be a kind of therapy that sustains us on the long road to recovery. By bringing my story to light I wanted to give others the hope that they too could have a life worth living.

So this is how my book differs: I don't have a Yale law degree. I'm just an ordinary person who did something she's convinced a lot of people diagnosed with schizophrenia could do too:

We can live a life of our own choosing. We can live life on our own terms.

That is how I defined the kind of recovery I wanted to have: to be able to do the things I want to do and to afford to live in my own apartment by working at a job or jobs I loved. Hey: to be able to buy a new Sade CD without going broke.

As soon as you start out on this road I suggest you define what your ideal recovery would be like and take steps to reach it knowing that in the future your definition will most likely change the farther along you reach.

I wrote in a recent Bruni in the City column for New York City Voices that the reason I succeeded in getting what I wanted is that I always had higher expectations for myself. Did I tell you in here to shoot for the stars because you could settle for the moon?

Set modest and realistic goals just starting out and as you achieve these goals begin to set goals that are just slightly beyond your reach.

I have been criticized by a peer who told me I was just a yuppie who got fumbled out by a waiter in a restaurant so popped into a program because it was the trendy thing to do. His self-stigma was something I could not forget and his comment stayed with me all these years.

Another guy who was a peer sent me an e-mail on a dating website when he had no intention of dating me. He wrote: I see your profile and wonder if you're all that. Who do you think you are? This was because I wrote that I liked yoga, walking, dinner parties, interior decorating and browsing museums. In my honesty I wrote that I was looking for a guy who was healthy and committed to his recovery.

Do you think I felt threatened or intimidated by these insecure guys? Heck no. I'm not going to date someone who continually screws up by not taking his medication or doing things counterproductive to his own recovery.

Apparently that was too much to ask.

I can pretty much shine a light on other people because that is my ethic. I see how it is in that when you or I let our own light shine we open ourselves to criticism.

Ah: the peacock.

He's going to strut his stuff and give everyone a glorious show.

We should all take a page from his book.

Enough said.

Good night.

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