Black & White Photo Challenge: Day Two

day two

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Seven Days In Black & White: Day One

Yesterday morning, my friend Christy challenged me to post one black and white photo each day, for the next seven days. She’s using me as her guinea pig.

No people can be in these photos, and I’m not allowed to post a caption or an explanation. I’m only allowed to post the photo. This is the first one which went on Facebook and Instagram yesterday. Enjoy the weird randomness of me. 🙂

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Be Honest With People About Who You Are

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Earlier in the day I was thinking about someone I know, and how long he had to keep his sexuality a secret, out of fear that his friends, family, and career would all fade away. It disturbed me. It still does. I’m happy that he was able to tell everyone in his life, met someone, got married, and his friendships and career remain in tact.

I don’t sit around much thinking about hiding anything about WHO I am as a person. I believe we all deserve a huge measure of privacy for things that simply aren’t someone else’s business, but I’m also judged as a heterosexual woman who isn’t married.

Between the cat jokes, which I don’t find humorous, to men, on occasion, slamming a door in my face in public. I don’t believe I am a minority, but as I look around, I know that I am, in pretty much all aspects of my life. There is always an assumption made about me. Each one is wrong.

There’s nothing wrong with knowing your worth and adding interest. There’s nothing wrong with being a strong person who, on occasion, needs to meltdown and rebuild herself out of the ashes.

I am still trying to accept me, and I imagine many people struggle with this privately. I find myself needing more quiet than normal, because I’m going through some awful things and it all wounds me deeply. But I’m trying.

I’m real. I have standards, and there’s NOTHING wrong with any of that.

Empty As A Shell

I have both nothing to say, and a lot to say, so I’ve chosen to remain silent for the past few weeks. You can never get into trouble by keeping your mouth shut.

I sit here tonight, coughing my brains out, questioning how I somehow got sick in twenty-four hours when I’ve obsessively taken precautions against illness. I’m loaded up on Benadryl, in case it’s “just my allergies”, which I love hearing every time I see a doctor and ask if I have an ear or sinus infection (except for earlier this year when I, indeed, had both). I’m trying to soothe the sore throat that I swear, I did not have a few hours ago. I swear by Ricola herb cough drops.

If you’ve been reading my work for a year or two, you know I hate getting sick. I especially hate knowing it will happen right before my special day; the one day I don’t have to share with anyone else, unless I want to. Every damn year, like clockwork. It doesn’t exactly excite me. 😦

After last year’s debacle, I don’t want to do a whole lot this year, and frankly, no one is willing to tag along. Yes, I still want to feel special, I still want to enjoy something, but I don’t want anyone making a ridiculous or offensive comment about what I enjoy, or saying something hurtful because they think they’re owed something. That attitude and behavior doesn’t fly well with me.

Someone messaged me earlier to ask if I want anything special for my birthday. I was polite, mainly because this person accused me of something I find heinous over the summer, and then I talked with my brother about it. He gives the best advice. A lot of people would be dead if it weren’t for my brother talking me down at the height of my anger. I love how he said “Don’t hold it against her for the rest of her life (Apparently he has forgotten how legendary the “female grudge” can be in my family.). Just take note that she rolls like that and remember.”

As much as I try to accept everyone as they are, I struggle with people who say shitty things and think it’s no big deal. I hate having to rein in my temper when I genuinely want to haul off on someone. It’s a boundary thing, really. Also, a person clearly doesn’t know me very well if they are asking me, on the night before my birthday, if there’s something special I’d like. Yeah, my sanity, but bourbon will do (I’m being a smart ass. My actual response was far more polite than I would like to be.).

I want things that help me create. It could be a set of artist’s markers and some very cool coloring books, or it could be a new eye shadow palette and some brushes. It could be paint and things to be painted, etc. Writing isn’t my only creative outlet. I appreciate when people honor that, as opposed to criticizing it. If someone is talented and I know they need things to occupy their mind during sleepless nights or bad days, then I am absolutely going to do something to encourage their creativity.

For a while now, I’ve been painting shells for the garden. Not because I have to, but because for 20-30 minutes here and there, it gives me something creative to focus on. It takes me away from my writing and gives me a different type of canvas to work with.

Shells with texture absorb a lot of paint to truly be “painted”, but it’s worth it when you see your crazy designs in the end. Every single design has been mostly intentional. I have about eight to finish, and even though they’ll likely come inside for winter, they are glazed to withstand the elements. After all, most of these shells once housed ocean creatures, and they survived the rough waters. Rain and snow are nothing compared to the deep, blue sea.

So as I sit here on the eve of my birthday, I encourage you to create. But most importantly, I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and try something new. It’s worth it.

copyright © 2017 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Things I’m Thinking About

Every once in a while, I believe we all slip into a “funk” or a mood we simply can’t shake. It then translates into lack of interest in things we’d normally be incredibly involved in. I know where my mood stems from, and why, but nevertheless, it is causing more harm than good. What else is new, right?

I was feeling pretty awful earlier this week after spending several days pretty much bed-ridden in pain. I made mention of this and several friends and family members told me I was “one of the strongest people they know”.  As per usual, someone tried to take that away from me by insinuating I am “not that strong” or maybe “not strong at all”. Before speaking, I suggest you live in my shoes for six months, experience my pain and suffering, and THEN you might be allowed to imply this or that, but ultimately, take into consideration the very real possibility that you don’t know me as well as others do. Or maybe you choose to see what they do not. Regardless, kicking a person while they’re down is pretty damn low, not to mention, greatly unappreciated. And yet, I wasn’t entirely shocked, just ticked off.

When someone sees you suffering and takes shots at you for no reason; it’s not about you.

There are days I push so hard to survive from one minute to the next, and there are days that take me out completely. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to do something, it means I’m listening to my body. When your body says “I can’t do this today. I need care.”, you have to listen. Just because you pushed your body the day before does not mean it will be kind to you today. Between being physically burnt out, enduring high levels of pain, and disrupted sleep patterns, I feel confident when I listen to my body. There are days I force myself to be “normal” and get things done, and there are days when my body just plain shuts down. It doesn’t mean one thing was more important than the other, but it does mean I have limitations.

In a few days, it will be my third month on muscle relaxers. They helped considerably when I badly hurt my lower back and it was one spasm after another, requiring me to take muscle relaxers, an anti-inflammatory, and spend hours with a heating pad directly where the issues were. Beyond that, they’re doing NOTHING for my neck, unless I’ve been writing all day and my neck feels tight from how I look at the screen for hours on end. I rarely look at the keyboard, which is an interesting little fact I only recently noticed about myself.

I’m writing, trying to complete the final draft of my manuscript. It was going very well, until I decided I needed to re-work the entire first portion of the book. Yes, I’m a perfectionist and a pain in the ass, but I’d rather write something amazing as opposed to something half-assed that seems familiar. Overall, anything one can think of under the sun has already been thought of already (A fancy way of saying “It’s all been done before.”), but can one put a new spin on it? Yes. And so, I have spent hours trying to figure out how to give it an alternative beginning. This involved a prologue I’m really proud of, and as I do my umpteenth read-through, it will involve some major changes throughout the storyline. I’m not pressuring myself about any of this work, but goal-wise, I am going to try writing as much as humanly possible during NaNoWriMo, next month. I’m averaging several thousand words on my good days, so why not take the new word count and see where it leads me? It doesn’t hurt to try. Again, I’m not going to pressure myself, but I AM going to work hard and write to the best of my ability.

If you did/do your best with the written word you put your name on, then you will have achieved much.

I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their week!

copyright © 2017 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Because He’s My Brother

The past two years have been incredibly hard on my brother. I have no words for what he has been through, or for the things he continues to battle easy day. For the past ten years or so, all we’ve had that we can truly count on, as siblings, is each other.

I remember the day he was born. The phone rang and I wasn’t pleased hearing I had a little brother. I was determined a sister would be coming home. And by determined, I mean adamant. There was simply no way anyone was going to convince me that a brother was a good thing.

We share the same birthday in neighboring months and our birth times are similar. We were born in the same hospital, but because the maternity ward had been moved and remodeled, our birth certificates state we were born in different zip codes.

I remember the day he came home from the hospital. He looked up at me from my mother’s arms and I was suddenly the most important person in his world. He knew exactly who to trust.

He would scream and cry whenever I was out of his visual field. I’d come running into the room and as soon as he saw me, he’d stop crying. He’d go from red-faced hysteria to laughter and giggles, because I always made him smile.

Up until a month ago, I hadn’t heard from my brother in four months. Every single day, I was convinced something horrible had happened and that I would soon get a call from a police officer or a coroner’s office. I was mentally prepared for the worst. What I got was an unfortunate shock I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But ultimately, the shock led to my brother being okay, and that is a relief.

A lot of people do not share close relationships with their siblings, for various reasons, and I understand that. But for me, my brother is the one person who will always have my back. He is someone who knows me really well. He’s one of my best friends.

I haven’t seen my brother in nearly two years, but nothing and no one can break the bond between us. He is the one living person who knows how to take the things I say. He knows when I’m truly being sarcastic, or when I’m simply making a statement. Even via text, my humor and delivery are not lost on him. He makes no assumptions with me because he actually knows me.

Together, and individually, we’ve been through a lot. It’s mind-numbing and disturbing to think about, but it’s life. Each of us is on a journey and for a while now, I’ve known that I somehow got dragged into my brother’s journey and life lessons. I wish I knew how to focus solely on myself, but I wasn’t raised to be selfish or to pretend that another person doesn’t matter. There are many people you walk away from, including family members, but I choose not to walk away from my brother because I know his heart. I don’t know one side to base my judgment on; I know the entirety.

I have the “luxury” of focusing solely on my health right now, but I know the odds aren’t in my favor. My brother has managed to survive quadruple bypass surgery, two operations due to staph infections, and several other procedures, all in less than two years. He has another treatment in a few months, and it scares me because I don’t trust it. I have a right to be concerned because as he pointed out “You’re the only one who truly cares.” He’s right, and knowing that angers the hell out of me.

Every family is different and each family’s dynamics are also going to be different. However, I was clearly raised right. I can go from zero to psycho in less than three seconds, but when it comes to most people, they simply aren’t worth it. My brother may not be of value to other “family members”, most of whom should be lined up and shot, but he’s of value to me because he’s MY brother. You don’t mess with what’s MINE, and that includes people. It may seem arrogant, but once you’re a part of my life and heart, I won’t allow you to be hurt by others.

I am proud of how far he has come, and I won’t allow anyone else to take the credit for it. He still has battles and challenges, and I will forever be a dragon slayer for him, if need be.

So today, on his birthday, I say “Welcome to the rest of your life. Don’t fuck it up.”

copyright © 2017 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

 

Questioning Everything

Hello everyone. 🙂 I’ve been both present and not-so present around here for quite some time, mostly from an emotional standpoint. I’m not going to apologize for that. No one should ever apologize for taking care of themselves, or the crap in their lives. If someone tells you their life is perfect, I’ve got a bridge to sell them in at least two states. 😦

My x-rays came back and showed nothing. That was two and a half weeks ago, and my doctor never deigned to get back to me. In fact, she idiotically had an assistant tell me my spine is “perfect” (If that was true, I would NOT be in excruciating pain every day of my life.) and to “keep taking the muscle relaxers” and “do yoga”. I REALLY didn’t appreciate the “do yoga” comment. This isn’t a pulled muscle or a stretching issue, not by a long shot. I told the assistant “Where did the damage to my spine go? It did not miraculously heal itself because IT WAS INOPERABLE.” Her response? “I’ll tell the doctor you’re not happy with the results.” Click. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! One, I never said that. Two, I stated that I wanted to find the root cause of the pain so it could be properly treated. If you’re going to “assist”, at least get your shit together. 😦 Picture the angriest face in the world, because that’s how I’ve looked at times dealing with this crap! 

I called the office today and left a message for the nurse practitioner to get the ball rolling on the MRI. They need 24-48 hours to hear back from my insurance company because apparently, doctors used to abuse the privilege of running tests and now need to run such things past the insurance. Angry, annoyed face makes her appearance.

I had an appointment scheduled with her for tomorrow afternoon, but decided to cancel. I’d rather talk with her, ask for the MRI to be pushed through, and reschedule once the results come in. It’s pointless to go in and rehash my issues with someone new, especially considering the amount of pain I am in. Just showering and get dressed is terribly painful, especially when I can’t bend down. I wake up in so much pain each day, I simply cannot commit to anything at the moment. I cannot drag myself in to the office when I can barely drag myself from one room to the next. Yes, it’s less than five minutes away, but just the thought of going in for another chat is a waste of time in my eyes. Especially since I see how much they’ve been billing my insurance company each time, and how much the insurance actually pays out. Let’s sum it up in one word, LUDICROUS. I should start sending bills to my friends/family when they call for advice!

I hate admitting this, but fighting through all of the day-to-day pain, and some extremely upsetting things I have learned over the past few weeks, has made me want to cancel the rest of the year, pretty much. There is a deep, dark cloud of depression hanging over everything. I hope & pray it all works itself out, that the impossible will soon be possible, and that changes will start working towards positivity. I hate the way I feel and when I feel this way, sharing my thoughts isn’t always wise.

I saw the new therapist last week. For now, I’ll go in once a month. Not because I feel I need it, but because it’s good to have someone in place in case I DO need it. There are some painful things coming up in my life, and in the lives of those close to me, and I might need a neutral third-party to help me get through it. I don’t love her, but I don’t hate her. I think she’s fair and I appreciate that she likes my direct approach and honesty. My doctor, apparently, said a lot of wonderful things about me to her before he left. He told her I deserved someone amazing. That means more to me than a lot of things he could have said. When someone’s perception of you is incredibly kind and positive, it’s nice to get that feedback. I am sure plenty of people don’t have the same insight into me as a person, and that’s fine, but anyone I work closely with who gets it has the opportunity to either see that in me or they can choose to see something else. That’s on them. I’ve got a hard enough time dealing with my own personal stake in who I am.

I’m writing. I am researching extensively, and trying to flesh out my characters to give them more depth. As solid as the story is, and it’s so good I can’t believe I wrote it, I know the characters need more substance. You want to get deeply enmeshed in their lives from the first chapter on, and you want to root for them. It’s already there, but going deeper is important because otherwise, I will certainly be told that the characters need more trials and tribulations. I do read-throughs on it and always think “This needs something MORE.” Being tired, in pain, worn out, and often-times triggered by the smallest things, have made me feel like I needed a break from the writing. I started research for a new project the other day. I’ve never written a crime mystery, but I’m contemplating it. Why not? It’s personally uncharted territory.

I have been managing a pain support group for well over a year now. A few days ago a member approached me to start a petition for 100,000 signatures to go in front of the President. She offered to help, as did her husband. Is it terrible that I wanted to say “Do it yourself; I’ll sign it and help you promote it.”? This is a small group of people and they only come to me with ideas that are enormous undertakings. Whenever I present something small, they ignore me. All of them. I understand that many of them assume I am a pain advocate, but the truth is, I am a patient who is struggling and can’t even fathom getting 100,000 signatures. Do I for one single second feel the current “President” gives a shit? NO. He’s trying to revoke the current status and privileges of roughly 800,000 people by what he’s done with DACA, so why the hell would he care about pain patients?! If he were a reasonable person of sound mind, I’d feel more confident that what I say will be heard. However, he’s not a reasonable person and he’s proven he’s not sane, so this feels like a fight I don’t feel I can take on. And yet, I said I’d do it. Mostly to see if it can be achieved. I don’t have any expectations.

I hope everyone had a happy, safe, fun summer. I hope you enjoy the remainder of it because Fall is definitely on its way. For the first time in a long time, I’m not excited about it, or anything, really. Each day of my life is so monotonous, I can’t bear waking up each morning. Here’s hoping that changes.

Wishing you all a peaceful and safe Full Moon.

Lisa-blue

copyright © 2017 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.