27 April 2007

Sometimes, ya just need a good cry...


Seasons In The Sun Lyrics

Goodbye to you, my trusted friend.
We've known each other since we're nine or ten.
Together we climbed hills or trees.
Learned of love and ABC's,
skinned our hearts and skinned our knees.
Goodbye my friend, it's hard to die,
when all the birds are singing in the sky,
Now that the spring is in the air.
Pretty girls are everywhere.
When you see them I'll be there.
We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun.
But the hills that we climbed
were just seasons out of time.
Goodbye, Papa, please pray for me,
I was the black sheep of the family.
You tried to teach me right from wrong.
Too much wine and too much song,
wonder how I get along.
Goodbye, Papa, it's hard to die
when all the birds are singing in the sky,
Now that the spring is in the air.
Little children everywhere.
When you see them I'll be there.
We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun.
But the wine and the song,
like the seasons, all have gone.
Goodbye, Michelle, my little one.
You gave me love and helped me find the sun.
And every time that I was down
you would always come around
and get my feet back on the ground.
Goodbye, Michelle, it's hard to die
when all the bird are singing in the sky,
Now that the spring is in the air.
With the flowers ev'rywhere.
I whish that we could both be there.
We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun.
But the stars we could reach
were just starfishs on the beach

Hello, Walt

Walt passed fairly peacefully this afternoon.  Bonnie takes great comfort in this and so much more.  He has touched so many lives and as his journals are here, online, he will continue to affect folks.  Bonnie reminds me that Walt is now my guardian angel and is truly spiritual and surrounds us all.  Hello, my friend, and welcome to a carefree existence!


It seems at the moment that so much of my life right now is in limbo.  Waiting is excruciating.  Last night, the nursing home called Bonnie and said that Walt's condition is deteriorating quickly and to come in.  I've not yet heard what is what.  Hopefully, this has been as peaceful as possible.  I wish I were geographically closer, but I know that I probably would add to confusion and crisis if I were actually there.  Besides, emotional, mental, spiritual support can be more comforting than physical presence.

In other me-news, the Dept of Education, my doctors, my counselors, and me are locked into a strange dance.  All my folks, the doctors, the counselors, the other care-givers are all rallying and willing to see this through.  Now, if only the dept of education would give us some straight answers and some consistency, stop negating their own stories and policy, we could move forward.  I've already been told by the Dept of Education that my loans will be discharged, however, I've not received documentation regarding that.  Instead they have told me that they need more info, but refuse to tell me what that info is.  My doctors' offices are doing all they can, refaxing forms to the Dept of Edu again and again, but to no avail.  I am past confusion and desperation.  This whole thing has had a toll and altho I know that this is par for the course for a gov'ment bureaucracy and all, it doesn't make things any easier to wade thru.  Urk.

Will update on Walt as I can.

24 April 2007

Blah blah blogs

I've been canceling accounts that I've not used in sometime.  I wanted to try a bunch of different types of forums.  Some are pretty cool, but I didn't want to spread myself out even thinner (not that I'm thin, ya know, but I need to focus on a few things rather than so many).  But there were a few good entries, and I wanted to include those here before I cancel out the useless blogs.

Consolidation is what I'm sayin'.

There was so much going on in my life, then slowly things slowed down in an absolute way. But to me, life still seemed too hectic and I was stressing over the smallest thing. Now, I have cut even more "obligation" from my life so that I can focus on developing some other areas. Like writing, like learning German, like swimming and working out on a more regular basis, like attending to my own needs and becoming and being healthier.

I know for some folks, that my life might be more than ideal. For me, I'm not exactly sure why it seems that I have less of an ability to handle things that don't weird others. Like my phone service, there is a problem and I just haven't the energy to deal with the hassle of it.

And even this, sounds like I am sniveling.

But, I am devoting this journal space to sorting out all those pieces and parts that are so overwhelming, confusing, little, hurt, vulnerable, proud, stubborn, loud, smart, hidden, scared, indignant, etc. So, at times this might be intense, at times it might make little sense, at times i might be sniveling. The cool thing is, it's mine.

IFS (parts is parts)
When I began to see this current therapist, I was curious about the model she uses. It's called "The Internal Family Systems Model" or IFS for short. It is a combination of several existing models and tends to emphasize certain elements of them, so that it is not an entirely new model (and really what is?) but a definite improvement of any single one of the models by themselves. It addresses some drawbacks while accentuating the positives.

What makes IFS, IFS is viewing all of your parts as making up a huge system, that helps you to function, by protecting you, managing certain aspects, crisis super heros that rush in to save the day. That's my take on it. Looking over the website, http://www.internalfamilysystems.org/model.htm, to get a better idea of the formalized model's vocab, I see that they call these Firefighters, Managers, and Exiles. These parts exist along with the Self.

The managers are usually those that are protectively guiding you through situations. These parts often deal with presentation of self, wanting to keep things smooth, and looking good. The managers often shield the self from anything that may bring to mind vulnerable emotions and feelings. Those emoting parts are called exiles, because the managers are quashing them down from contact with the self, banning them to hidden unacknowledged areas. Then there are the firefighters that come to the rescue when memories and emotions flare up. Overeating maybe a firefighting way to drown emotional pain for some.

Now I know that some of you may be thinking, "parts?!?" I think that we all have referred to multiplicity of self. When you are faced with a difficult decision, you may say that part of you wants to do this, and part of you thinks that this other choice might be best. This sort of thinking doesn't make you odd, it makes you human. For me, it's more of a matter of paying attention to my parts and my self than a matter of my not relating to parts.

The main thing about this model that appeals to me is that instead of scolding myself into eliminating a part, this model is about accepting those parts and valuing them and honoring that they helped you to function and survive. It makes it so much more likely that one part won't be so overwhelming, if you don't try to delete it. Sometimes that part just wants to be heard.

I think about my two dogs as an example. I have a 65 pound black lab who is 5, named Shaddow. And a soon to be 4 yr old rat-cha (rat terrier/chihuahua) who is about 5 to 10 pound, named Ziggee. Shaddow is very loving and gentle. Ziggee is a happy guy but more demanding because he loves attention. Shaddow will hang in the back, and let Ziggee rush up and grab all the attention. I can tell that Shaddow wants some love too, but Ziggee is right there, hogging it all.

Well, I discovered that if I pay a ton of attention to Ziggee, give him enough love that he knows without a doubt that I love him. Reassure him and saturate him with my love. Then, after he is not so wild with need, I turn to Shaddow. Now, Ziggee will try to squirm in. Ijust tell him that I do love him, but this is Shaddow's time and he needs to let her have her love too. He usually is so happy and satisfied that he lays down somewhere close, so he is near. But he gives Shaddow all the time she needs too. Shaddow knows that I will spend alot of time with her and scratch all the hairs loose and give her lots of attention and love too. So she is willing to wait til Ziggee has had his turn and then she gets her turn of lots of love too. That's kinda how I look at some parts that clamor for attention.

Understood? understand me!!
All my life, as far as I can remember at any rate, I have explained my thoughts ad nauseum. There are a few reasons for this. I'm aware of some of those reasons.

When I was a child, the principal at one of my many schools had commented with exasperation that I had a reason for everything. And I did. I didn't see how that could possibly be a bad thing.

Even as a child, especially as a child, I was very mindful and considered things in from as many perspectives as possible because my parents raised me to be critical and expected me to be able to answer any debatable point. So when I was held accountable for my actions, by omission or commission, I had a reason ready for what I had chosen to do (or not to do). I didn't understand the concept of rhetorical questioning and so I would speak up when asked something like, "what were you thinking?!?"

It became important to me to be understood from a very early age. This means that sometimes I can be pedantic and tend to supply way more of a thorough explanation than was really wanted in the first place. Sometimes I can be mindful of that, but I am never sure at what level of detail my own answers should be. If I ask for clarification, the conversation becomes awkward and often dwindles off into confused avoidance.

However, I need to work on this area and see if there isn't an effective way for me to rein in my own need to be understood by providing exhaustive explanations. Ya know, like the lengthy explanations provided thus far!

My guy is coming with me to my counseling session on Wed. It is not meant to be couples counseling, or even for me to say things to him that I feel I can't in any other environment (that's not an issue). There are times when I try to describe, to explain, a session, and I fail to do so adequately. So this week, he has some time that he will be available on Wednesday (a very rare oddity) and so I asked him and my counselor if he could come. Both said yes, and my counselor moved our time from our normally scheduled Tuesday to Wed.

The main reason I wanted him to come was so that he could see what a session is like for me and also see what some of the issues are that I'm working through. This counseling is very different from the run of the mill talk therapy and I feel we do get some tremendous work done. I feel better about this therapy than I have about others.

My counselor said that she will approach this as an observation session, and ask that he observe, but not interrupt. That he can feel free to give feedback and ask questions after the session, she will set time aside for that. From my perspective, since it is not an active session which is demanding his participation, I think he is more comfortable with the idea of coming to it. He said that he actually wants to do it, that's why I changed the session from Tuesday to Wed. I don't want him to feel like he NEEDS to do this or any sort of pressure.

Spring has sprung!
My guy did observe my counseling session this past week. He does have a better idea of what the sessions are like, the IFS model and how it can work, and the sorts of issues that I am dealing with at this time. I really appreciate that he made this effort with me, it was a huge step for our relationship, itself.

Now on the lighter side of life, here on this Mississippi Farm...

I have mentioned my furrbees before in this journal. Stella is my 6 month kitten and she just had spaying surgery a few days ago. She is much much better now then for the first day afterwards. In a week or so, I will take her back to have her staples removed.

Ziggee is my lil cat in a dog suit. He is a rat-cha and a bit bigger than Stella, much smaller than Shaddow. Shaddow is my 65 pound black lab, sweet and gentle.

Ziggee is terribly excited about spring. He is just terribly excited about something all the time. Exuberant joyous excitability!! The other day, he was pouncing on clumps of weeds and sending up pollen puffs, and then he would pounce on the next clump. I was getting such a kick out of just watching the lil guy.

Shaddow is practicing her zenlike deep breathing and yoga like postures. She is now engaged in the dead dog pose. She can hold that pose for tremendously long periods of time.

My friends from New York sent me a package which included treats for us all! Tea for me!! Stella's favorite toy, the Really BAD Dog catnip head; Peanut Butter treats which resemble fig-newtons, but are solely for doggy consumption (altho I may wanna try one, I am resisting the urge, so far); bone shaped rawhide chews; and a tug-toy that is quite humorous, although I may be the only one to find it such thus far. I'm sure that when Ziggee can see Shaddow using it, he may decide to give it a try.

Thanks so very much, my dear friends!!

Wow, where to start?
Happy Spring! Tomorrow, my mom is coming for a visit. She lives about 8 hrs away, so we don't get to visit with each other often. She's staying for a few days and I am just beside myself with excitement. I don't care how old I am, I feel like an eager child whenever my mom and I can get together for a visit. yea!!

I've spoken with my counselor about my need to explain things, the last couple visits. There is a part of me that wants to rush ahead and explain everything, because I don't want to take the chance that I might be misunderstood because I didn't voice something that I should have. There is a part of me that is holding back on that rushing ahead part and being more of a 'well now, let's be reasonable' thinking part that is saying CURB your enthusiasm, Debra!!

And I discovered that partly why I feel the need to explain stuff is because so many times when I don't voice my opinion or my thoughts, I'd get run over. Or when I'd say something, but not a BIG long explanation, then folks would say stuff like, well ya know, you weren't very clear. So instead of addressing that, in some other healthy way, I would try to avoid being misunderstood, by voicing every thought, explanation, opinion, etc.

So there is that part that has no voice. That is NOT bad, because voicing things, as you can see, can be taken to the extreme and be disastrous. Voices need not be necessary. There are times when having no voice means that you can still communicate strongly and clearly and effectively.

I am becoming more aware of the need not to explain and more aware of not needing to speak at all. I know that I will not always so the right things, at the right time, to the right amount, but I think I feel a bit more relaxed about the possibility that I can choose to remain silent.

Mom's visit
My mom came to visit this past week. She got in on Thursday late afternoon and we spent the evening basically catching up with any big stuff that has been going on in each other's lives. Friday I did some errands and she got to see some of the town and in general what sort of things I do. We both haven't played Monopoly in forever and so it was fun to have played each other Friday night. Saturday, we went to the Bollinger Family Theatre in Bruce, Mississippi. A few friends of mine came to visit Sunday and Monday. Mom and I watched a few movies and listened to some books on tape over the stay and she left this morning.

So those were the things we did, but here are the things that were most important. Mom and I were very companionable. We were relaxed and easy with each other. There were a few topics of conversation that we agreed to disagree without being a big deal. We were able to discover things about each other that were new and surprising and pleasant.

We talked and talked and talked. That's one of the things I love about visits with mom is that we can actually have conversations and talk about a multitude of things and subjects and discuss things without there being lots of commotion. Yes, we are different but we are ok with those differences without feeling a huge need to combat and persuade. In lots of ways we are alike too. And it is funny when we realize how similar we are.

It was a good visit with lots of good points and very relaxing. Yea!!

I ruminate, lots. I will toss and turn things about and tear them apart and replay them mentally until I am way way way too stressed out and reading intentionality into things that were innocuously stated. Knowing that it is something I do does not make it lots easier not to do. But I can't not do it unless I would be aware of doing it, if that makes sense.

I do know I do it and I have gotten better about not doing it overly much. There are still times when something hits my triggers all just right and off I go, for a saunter down the ruminating row. I am working on reducing the disproportionate reactions I can sometimes have and to not let those hair-trigger reactions overwhelm me.

Mom and I were speaking about ruminating the other day. She pointed out that I do come from a long line of ruminators. My father and my grandfather and his mother and and and and and ... all seem to have been verbal ruminatiors and rehashers.

Although I come by it honestly, I am aware that it can be extremely unhealthy. And often times ruminating and explaining go hand in hand. Like they have here.

Another area that I am working on in therapy and out is anticipation. I don't mean that in a positive way. I think that we can go to the extremes with just about any thing and for me, anticipation has been something that has been troublesome rather than moderate and helpful.

By anticipation I am referring to those things where I think I know how the other person is going to react and what it is that will be said and how s/he will feel and think and based on that I then think my next thought in reaction and such and so forth. This can result in some very unsavory unfair moments. It can be extremely damaging to a relationship.

So it is something I have become aware of doing and am in the process of trying to get that under control somewhat. It isn't fair to others when I think I know how they are going to react and base my own reactions on that. Second-guessing folks isn't healthy either. I don't do that too much, I don't think, but I do anticipate and that is not fair to the other person. It doesn't give them a chance to react to stuff and make their own decisions and choices and it strips them of their autonomy to a point.

I wouldn't want someone to do something because they think they know how I would react given the choice. I would at least want the option of choosing my own thoughts, reactions, and such. So it is something I focused on today in therapy and am still thinking about at times. We will continue to discuss it next week.


It's more than respect, kindness, caring, or even love.  It is all those things, and more.  It can be felt and shown for strangers, for friends, even for enemies.

To me, having compassion means that I can hear you.  I can listen and understand.  I can have empathy.  I can be supportive.

Being compassionate means mostly that I am there for you, in whatever way possible.   It means that small, mundane tasks are done for you, so that you don't need to focus on those things.  It means not needing thanks or gratitude or reciprocity.

Compassion means that I respect you autonomy, your choices, your decisions.  Compassion means that judgment is not passed, lectures are not given, disapproval is not expressed.  Compassion is something that we all need more of, to give more and to receive.

Compassion is unreserved.


For many many years, I didn't watch TV at home.  Sometimes I would see it while out, at the gym, in the doctor's office, at a friend's, ya know places where you might see a partial episode of some sit-com, and about 17 screaming obnoxious commercials.  About a month ago, I turned the TV on so that I could watch a movie on my VCR.  And WOW was I surprised...

See, since I've been here, in Mississippi, on the Farm, for the past five years, I've only had two channels (fuzzy and fuzzier).  So when I turned the TV on and a clear picture popped up, I zoned out and got sucked into the drama, drama, drama.  The sole channel is a Fox affiliate, which means I get to see such shows as American Idol, 24, House, Drive, Bones, Are You Smarter than A Fifth Grader?, and ya know, Jerry Springer, where I get to see the skanks, ho's, and boneheads go at it...just like going to the local Wal-Mart.

By far the most entertaining (and not in an intentional fashion) aspect is the commercials.  In fact, I watched one in particular over and over, paying attention to it every time it played, trying to figure out what the hell the dude is saying.  You might have wondered too.  It occupied my mind so much so that I Googled it.  That is so very sad, pathetic really.

It's the Strawberries and Cream Starburst commercial with the weird lil wired dude with the dutch-boy haircut and the colonial-cut costume.  I couldn't figure out what the hell he rapturously sings in joyous climatic screeches.  Now, now I know.

And boy, ain't my life more complete now that I know he truly is "a little lad who loves berries and cream"?

23 April 2007

Warm Wishes for Walt

All of your warm wishes, thoughts, and prayers for Bonnie and Walt are wonderful and appreciated.  Some of you have asked for their address so that you can express your love and concern directly to them.  The hospice care will see that any cards or notes get to Bonnie and Walt.  Bonnie isn't sure which room he will be using, as of Wednesday; but we are certain that there will only be one Walter Wenzel there!!  So if you would like to send a note, please address your thoughts to:

Walter Wenzel
The Highlands at Brighton
5901 Lac De Ville Boulevard
Rochester, NY  14618

Walt is sleeping peacefully for the most part, but is aware of the love we feel for him.  Rest assured that he is receiving quality care and adequate pain medication to ensure the comfort levels are sufficient.  Bonnie appreciates all of your friendships and is glad that people are so supportive.

22 April 2007

Near and Dear

Over the past month, I've really realized how much Walt and Bonnie have become a part of my daily life in the past year and a half.  Walt is the typer of the two, letting Bonnie know what's going on with whom and posting entries from the both of them.  They do so much together, having been married for about 37 years.  It is rare to see a couple so companionable as they are, together, and for others.

They have become true friends to me.  Walt was always present online, when I wanted to chat.  We could be serious, and contemplative.  We discussed and advised each other, counseled and shared thoughts.  He and Bonnie are so very caring and kind.

We could be silly and witty and nonsensical.  They would make me chuckle and I would keep them posted on the Furrbee Frolix.  We have become closer and closer in so many ways that it seems odd to think that we have not met in-person, face-to-face.

Over the last few months, since the Holidays, we've exchanged cards and packages.  They would send me treats for the Furrbees and tea for me.  I would send them a variety of teas that I knew they couldn't get in their area.

About a month ago, Walt was absent from IM and eMail and posted no entries.  Bonnie called me and told me that he'd had a heart attack and they were getting his diabetes under control a bit before they could do by-pass surgery.  I've used the phone more this past month than I have for years.

See, it's hard for me to use the phone.  It is much more comfortable for me to IM/eMail.  My own parents and my guy and my friends know that I don't use the phone and they expect to leave voice-mail for me if they do call, because they know that I won't even hear the phone ring, let alone answer it.  But Bonnie doesn't use the computer.  Putting aside my own trepidation and phone-phobias, I've been speaking with her fairly often.  It's the least I can do, because I wish we were closer, geographically; so that I could be there for them thru this.

Walt is dying.  They've thought and talked this through and have decided that this route is best.  So, hospice care has been providing as much comfort and kindness as possible.  Walt is at peace within his mind and spirit.  Should we all be so thoughtful when our times come.

Bonnie and Walt are so very near and dear to me in so many ways.  It's hard to say good-bye for this time, to Walt.  But I would rather know that his wishes and choices are being respected than to be selfish in my own wishes.

Go sweetly, Walt.  Love you.  Debra