When We Are Dying We Will Embrace The Love Of Those Around Us

It’s a brisk September morning. The chill in the air is minimal, but after a 90 degree day it feels freezing. A few yellow leaves drop to the ground as I walk with my daughter. The kids are back in school so there is much activity. Many dogs accompany their families on the walk, and we see many bike riders pass on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail outside of DC.

It’s mornings like these that I treasure. Walking my children to school, talking and laughing along the way, saying hello to passing friends and neighbors. Life is fleeting, my children are growing so fast, time is so precious.

I come home to a quiet house, the silence is both welcoming and unsettling. I pet our bunny Peanut and hamster Zaychu to remind myself that I am not all alone.

I think for a few moments about death because September 25th will be the one year anniversary of the day I almost died from multiple bilateral pulmonary embolisms. I am so grateful to be alive, but am still haunted by that day. I am still trying to recover both physically and mentally.

I look at the devastation that is going on in Houston, Florida, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and once again I am reminded of my blessings. I sip my chamomile tea as thousands of people are struggling to find drink, food, shelter and clothing.

We never know when tragedy will strike. We never know when we will require assistance. We never know when our last day will come.

That is something that we all have in common. That is what makes us human.

I remember the tough year I just had, and see the tough times many people in the world are facing, and I feel saddened.

Then I look up from my keyboard and witness the humanity, courage and love that always follow each and every tragedy. Each and every personal loss.

It is like a tide that ebbs and flows throughout our lives. Sometimes we’re up. Sometimes we’re down. But, hopefully we will have loving friends, family and community members around us as we tread carefully through this life.

There are constant reminders of the fragility of life. There are constant reminders of the heroes and helpers who help us pick up the pieces.

They are there without a moment’s notice. They are not there to seek accolades. They are just there to help.

If we all try to be like them, then our world will be a much better place.

When we are dying we will embrace the love of those around us. When we are dying we will think about whether or not we made a difference in other people’s lives. When we are dying we will think could we have done more? Could we have loved more?

The answer is always yes.

We can always do more to make ourselves and others happy. We can always do more to make others smile. We can always do more to help our neighbors who are without food, shelter or healthcare. We can always do more by standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

One year ago I almost died.

This anniversary means so much to me. I will raise a glass to old friends and new. I will hug my family and celebrate that I’m still here. I will try my best to appreciate each new day that I’m given. I will try my best to help others however and whenever I can.

I will think about what will happen when I die a little more often now after surviving my blood clots.

When I die, I know it will be with a clear conscience and a full heart. But that time is not now.

Now, it’s time to live.

 

 

 

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Nothing’s Gonna Change Our World…Unless We Do

‘I read the news today…oh boy’ – Manchester looks like its been at war.  ‘A crowd of people stood and stared,’ they’d seen terrorism before. Beatles lyrics are currently racing around my head, music is my comfort today.

Twenty-two people killed, including children as young as eight years old. More than fifty injured. The distressing news just keeps coming. It’s getting so hard to hide my sadness and tears from my children.

How do I protect them from the news? How do I protect them from this increasingly dangerous world?

Images of the Newtown tragedy flash through my brain, as I see a mother cry for her missing daughter. People/children were once again going about their day. People/children were once again murdered.

With no warning. With no reason. With no emotion.

They are now gone. Their families are still trying to find them or find out if they are among the victims. Their families all have our sympathy, our thoughts, and our hearts. We hug our own children safe in the knowledge that they are okay today.

But what about tomorrow?

What new tragedies await all of us?

Today a bridge of pain connects us to Manchester, just like many bridges before. This pain seems unending in recent years. This pain is heartbreaking.

I wish it would stop.

I tell my anxious daughter a few details of the bombing, because I know that she will find out about it at school. I want her to hear my words first. I want her to see my face when I say this is a horrible tragedy, but this is far away, it will not directly affect you.

I never spoke to her about how I was in New York City on 9/11. How I walked for miles among traumatized ashen people. I never told her that her Aunt lost her best friend in the bombing of Pan Am 103, and worked in Tower One of the World Trade Center. I never told her how close to home tragedy has struck. But I have said those words of comfort to her before, about Newtown and a few other tragedies, because I needed to calm her fears.

My words which usually speak passionate truths were carefully edited, carefully cooled down to help her deal with the news. To help her deal with the fact that the safe little world in which she currently exists is shrinking. With each bomb blast, shooting or death from cold hands she will be unwound. Her idea of safety is slowly being liquidated to pay off the debt of her survival. Her artistic brush is forced to paint a picture of a world in frequent mourning, over mornings such as these.

When I was younger I frequently watched the news with my mom. I am not able to do this with my daughter, for it is too often filled with tragic headlines and scary events.

So instead I shield her from as much devastation as I can, surround her with love and comfortable things, and pray she will gain the strength to get through such difficult times.

I let her see me write blogs and poetry often, I tell her that getting out our emotions in a positive way is a blessing and a necessity. She hears the tap tap of the keyboard and the click click of the mouse as I pour out my feelings. I hope she always remembers these sounds. The sounds of subsistence, the sounds that help me get through my toughest times.

I am glad that she has her art to ease her mind. I hope that it always does. I hope that the stroke of her paintbrush can help her survive, thrive and put some color into this often gloomy world.

I often tell her that we should always help others when we are able to. That so many people need assistance, and that there is nothing wrong with asking for it. I tell her that it’s okay to pause her world in order to help someone in need.

After tragedies I feel helpless, sorrowful and weak. I wonder what kind of world we are leaving our children. But watching the kindness of strangers, bystanders and everyday heroes always lifts me up. These people make it possible to see the light in the darkness, the way through the pain.

I want to be one of these people. I am trying to teach my children to be like these people. The light-bringers, the change-makers, the bastions of hope. People who see others as equals and worthy of compassion. People who feel it is our duty as citizens to help lift others up, because they know we will all fall down at some point in our lives.

Manchester needs us now. The world needs us now. We must take a long look in the mirror of truth, and put an end to our apathy. I have been looking in this mirror for years, I am ready to make a difference. I realize that it all starts with me.

And as the tears flow from the sights and sounds of a city that’s an hours train ride from Liverpool, I know that nothing’s gonna change our world – unless we do.

Kathy ❤

Poetologie

 

In This Time of Darkness, Send In the Snow

I am a snowflake, I stand tall and proud. I’ve fallen to the ground, from an ominous cloud. I’m cold on arrival, but I melt when I hear. The drums of injustice, pounding very near.

The world seems so much darker since Donald Trump was sworn in on January 20, 2017. His first 80 days in office have been a disaster, and have incited many people to protest often. He continues to harm and insult countless individuals and communities, just like he did on the campaign trail. Some were anticipating that he’d magically change once he took the oath of office, but I never had that hope. I saw what he was, because I listened to who he told us he was. Many didn’t listen close enough or believe it. They just chose a few things they liked about him, and dismissed all the rest. Some of these people are regretting their decision to vote for him, but not many of his core supporters who seem to stick by him no matter the cost. Even through the threat of nuclear war.

That makes me very sad. Sad that people support such a hateful man, who surrounds himself with cruel, divisive people. Sad that he was elected even though Hillary Clinton had almost three million more votes. Sad that the world’s opinion of the United States has now changed. Sad that I cannot let my own children listen to their President speak. I will not let them hear his hateful rhetoric. I will play back old speeches of Barack Obama so that they can hear the words of a wonderful, eloquent man. An intelligent, devoted family man whom I, and many citizens, loved and will always love. He will always be my President.

I will teach them about compassion, and the difference between legislation that is created to hurt us, and legislation that is created to help us. I will show them how people’s actions speak louder than their words. I will show them all the progress that was made during Obama’s Presidency. I will show them how the Trump Administration is desperately trying to erase all of that progress, and target certain people/communities with a big smile on their face.

I will teach them the value of voting in every single election.

I will show them what love is, and that helping people is an essential part of being human. I will teach them not to judge people by the color of their skin, or by what religion they follow, or by the amount of money they have. I will teach them that we are all equal and should be treated that way.

I will teach them that snowflakes are beautiful, and to be called one is not an insult but a compliment. It means that you care about the world and all of those in it, not just yourself or people like you. It means that you will speak up when necessary, and won’t let your kindhearted ideals get trampled to the ground.

When I heard about the Muslim Ban and saw all the chaos and inhumanity at the airports months ago, I cried. I cried for all those affected, for their families, for our country, and for my children.

I was so happy that they were born while Obama was President. The world seemed so much better, safer and happier. I know that some terrible things still happened, but having Obama at the helm was very comforting. He strived for peace, equality and the greater good. He was a kind and decent man, and when he spoke I got chills down my spine. I knew that I was witnessing greatness. I feel sorry for those that didn’t.

I do believe some people are coming to that conclusion now, and are realizing that harmless emails were actually a diversion from a sinister plot to make America fascist not great. Many people made a mistake by not voting, or by voting for the wrong candidate. Now our country is in great peril. Now a traitorous egomaniac is at the helm.

I believe Michelle Obama said it best when she spoke to Oprah “we are feeling what not having hope feels like.”

I know exactly what she meant, and that is the feeling I have had since the election. I am left with a giant hole in my heart now, and a feeling of dread that I have never felt before. I am scared for my country. I do not support Trump as President and I never will. That is a hard thing to admit and have to deal with, for I consider myself a very patriotic person. I love this country. But, I love it so much that I will not support those who try to destroy it. Things are not normal right now. I have always watched every Inauguration, and wished every President well. Not this time. This administration is like no other. The hate, intolerance, discrimination, and fear it perpetuates is unacceptable.

That is why I am a snowflake.

I was born with a lot of compassion, even though I was not treated well for many years. I was always able to try to put myself in others shoes. I cried easily at the sight of pain or injustice. I always wanted to help, though I wasn’t always able to.

Some are not born with a lot of compassion, but it can be taught, it can be practiced, it can be developed. It can be learned by watching others who exhibit it. It will not be shown during this administration, that is why I hope it doesn’t last long. I hope it doesn’t have to time to destroy people’s lives, jobs, families, healthcare, and the environment.

I don’t want to watch the country I love burn. I want the beauty that Obama and those before him created to remain.

I was very sad on January 20th. I am still very sad about what is going on, and about how Trump is trying to move our country quickly toward fascism. But on January 21st, during The Women’s March on Washington, I found hope again. Hope came in the form of millions of snowflakes wearing pink hats. I could not get enough of the coverage, the speeches, the signs, the women and men who marched for a better, more fair and diverse world. A world I believe in. A world I want to live in.

Though I live close to Washington D.C. I could not march due to my health, but I felt like I was right there with them. I found the light I was looking for, I found my fellow snowflakes.

Many conservatives use the term snowflake in a derogatory manner. I don’t care though, I am proud to be one. I am proud that I, and so many others, care about our fellow citizens, and about our world. I am proud that we want to help others, and to make the world a better place for our children, and for everyone. We will march, protest, call our representatives until the cows come home, because we know that many things in life are worth fighting for, and our country is one of them.

I am so proud that so many people in our country, and around the world, are standing up to the injustice that surrounds us. It gives me hope, it helps me sleep at night. I am able to look in the mirror knowing that I did my best to try to be a good person, and to make a difference, no matter how small.

I don’t know how our new President, or many of his followers look in the mirror at night. I don’t know how they post about how glad they are that the refugee children that have been turned away have nowhere safe to go now, then kiss their own children good night. I don’t know how they say “build the wall,” with such glee, and turn their heads while other’s are bullied and beaten because of such hateful rhetoric. I don’t know how they cried while Angels were shot down in Newtown, but cheer when Trump talks about removing gun-free zones at schools, and while he gave a Sandy Hook denier a seat in the White House Press Room. They looked away while the people of Flint had no drinking water, and voted for someone who will allow all of our water to be polluted. They believe all of the alternative facts and have no idea what the truth is anymore. What examples are they setting for their children?

I will follow the marchers, the scientists, the environmentalists, the civil rights activists, those who fight injustice, and those who dream of a brighter future for all of us. Those who realize that the swamp has not been drained, it has been filled with unscrupulous billionaires who are okay with following a tyrant who is beholden to Russian interests. Money is their God, and their savior Jesus, is just a poor immigrant.

I am glad that the world is watching. I am glad that those who were banned from our country know that the majority of Americans do not agree. I am glad that most of us do not agree with the deportations of Dreamers and non-violent immigrants. I am glad that they see that most of us care. That we will keep protesting and fighting for them, and for what is right. Fighting for the heart and soul of the nation we love.

They say a storm is coming. It is a storm of millions of voices starting to rise. Winter is here. A winter that could last many years.

We are the winter. We are the snowflakes. We will fight injustice. We will spread love. We are indivisible. We are stronger together.

We will try to replace all of the pain that will be created, and all of the woe that we feel, with a beautiful bright layer of fresh fallen snow.

And as we march, we will leave millions of footprints in the snow that will never melt.

snowflakepoem

I Will No Longer Be Silent

Last week I read a story about a local Virginia waitress who was given a receipt back from a customer that said “we don’t tip black people.” I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I couldn’t believe how close I lived to this restaurant, to this horrible racist act. I felt really sad when I read it. Sad for the waitress, and sad for our country.

Sometimes it is hard to believe that it is the year 2017. I knew that Trump’s rhetoric was unacceptable the moment he declared his run for the Presidency. I knew right then that I would never vote for him, nor anyone like him. I did however, expect him to tone it down at some point and at least act like had some humanity. But, as we all know now, he did not. He just keeps getting worse, and he has empowered and given voice to the followers of his that are racist and/or sexist.

I never expected him to win, though technically he didn’t. I had more faith in my country. I never expected so many people to vote for him. I never expected Russia to interfere in the elections, making them void in my opinion. But this is the reality we face now. The question is what do we do about it?

I am a chronically ill person and a mom. I don’t have a big following on social media, and I don’t really care. What I do care about is having a voice and sharing it. I also care about making a difference no matter how small, and helping others when I can.

I grew up in a suburb of New York City. I was shy, neglected, and allowed people to walk all over me. That continued for many years until I finally found my truth. I finally found my voice. I realized that telling the truth does indeed set you free. I found that having a voice and sharing it is very cathartic. It is also necessary, especially now.

There were not many African American children in the area I grew up in. I went to a high school that wasn’t very diverse. It was mostly Irish and Italian Americans. I remember one incident where some of the boys were bullying one of the only African American students for no apparent reason. They were being very cruel and calling him offensive names. I just sat there and watched and didn’t say anything. I was shy and too nervous to speak up, or to stick up for him when it mattered most. After a few teachers came and broke up the altercation, I went over to one of them and gave my account of the situation. I told them that the boy did nothing wrong and was treated very badly. To this day I feel guilty about it. He had no one to stick up for him. I just sat there silent.

Another incident happened when I was looking for an apartment of my own. The landlord said to me “you can’t bring any black people here, the neighbors won’t approve.” I was so broke and desperate for an apartment that I just nodded and said that I was interested in the apartment. Blind acceptance once again.

There are probably more of these incidents from my youth, but these are the two that stick with me. I didn’t have my voice yet or any confidence. I didn’t do the right thing. I didn’t recognize my own white privilege.

Something changed in me after the shooting at Newtown. I completely broke down and had trouble getting over it. I began to heal by recognizing other people’s humanity despite all of the darkness. I struggled to find my own. Where had it been hiding? What had I actually done to help others? I took time to look within myself and I didn’t like what I saw. Though I was a wife and mother, and had a wonderful family, I wasn’t doing enough. I wasn’t using my voice. I hadn’t found it yet. I started writing a lot and it finally became clear who I was and what I wanted to do.

I didn’t want to sit in the shadows anymore. I wanted to continue to find my voice and use it to do some good in this world. My writing is one of the biggest ways I intend to do this. But, as a neighbor, citizen and friend I can do so much more. I no longer intend to be silent.

Silence can shut many doors. It can overcome you and blanket you with guilt. It can cause you to lose yourself and ignore your own truth. It can hurt others, it can cause much pain.

It can allow a harmful, intolerant person to gain much power. It can end relationships, it can end lives, it can ruin democracies.

I am tired of seeing and reading about other people being bullied or harassed just because of the color of their skin, or because of their religious or sexual identities. I am tired of the the rhetoric of our 45th President.

I am just one person. But one person can make a difference. Whether it’s in their own households by raising kind children, or in their communities by not staying silent while others are harassed or persecuted for no reason.

I promise to use my voice for good and to no longer remain silent. I will speak up when I hear others disparaging certain groups of people, or I will walk away when I have to. But I will not participate by remaining silent or nodding my head when I don’t actually agree.

I’ve done that for far too long and I am sorry.

Please join me and we will help to make our country more compassionate and tolerant. One voice at a time. One word at a time. One kind act at a time.

I will no longer be silent…

I Am No One. I Am Someone. My Story of Domestic Violence

Many years ago an ex-boyfriend drove me deep into the woods of a small Connecticut town. It was a beautiful sunny day, and there was a very scenic view. I was enjoying the ride until he said to me “if you ever lie to me or cheat on me, I will bury your body in these woods.”

He then added “and no one will ever find you.”

He spoke these words so clearly and matter-of-factly, as if he had been planning this for months. He was totally serious and made sure I knew it. It was at the point that I knew I would never get out of this relationship alive.

I was dating a man similar to my violent abusive father, the cycle continued. Just like Julia Roberts’ character in “Sleeping With the Enemy,” I had to make a plan and gather the strength and courage to leave him.

We had been dating for a year at the time, and there were many signs of abuse such as yelling at me constantly, pushing, punching, grabbing me so hard that my arms were black and blue, throwing objects at me, threatening me and putting me down often. I slowly recognized these signs of abuse, but was stuck, torn apart, and felt like I had nowhere else to go at the time. Plus, I really felt like I could change him by smothering him with love and kindness. But that never works, people only change if they want to and receive the necessary help that they desperately need.

At the time I was no one. I was just a carpet for others to walk all over. I had no confidence, I had no inner strength, I had no soul. I was just walking down an endless deep dark path, and I never felt so alone.

Due to an abusive childhood, I thought that it was normal to be treated the way my ex treated me for awhile. I thought I deserved it. And like many abuse victims, I thought I could change my boyfriend into a loving man. I believed him each time he said he’d never hit me again, though the look of satisfaction on his face said otherwise.

I would look at other couples who were in love, and wish I was in love with someone kind. Instead I was dating a monster. This monster was very good looking and charming. He fooled many people. He made a fool out of me on many occasions. Nothing I ever did was good enough, nothing I did was ever right. I was constantly walking on eggshells, trying to please him so that I could have some peace.

But, I was fooling myself, for there is never any peace in an abusive relationship, and there never will be. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence – “on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.”

I started secretly seeing a psychologist on my lunch breaks in Manhattan. The walks to these appointments were terrifying, but after each one I felt a bit of a release. I was finally able to tell someone, I finally showed my bruises to someone. The look on my psychologists face said it all, and she slowly helped me gain the courage to leave. All of the shame and fear I had been feeling came pouring out, like an endless ball of pain. It was finally unraveling, I could finally breathe again and dream that happiness would someday be within my reach.

Soon after, I left my boyfriend after a heated fight. I ran into some policemen on the walk to my mom’s house, and they escorted me the rest of the way. I did not tell them what had happened.

I had run out of the house, fearing for my life, and left with only the shirt on my back. I had no other possessions, but I had my life and I had my dignity. My family took care of me until I healed, and figured out what to do. I finally told them and my friends what I had been enduring. My ex tried to keep me away from these friends, but once I told them they said to run and never look back.

I was weak and did look back a few times and called my ex out of loneliness and desperation. We even got back together for a few weeks. But the same cycle of violence occurred and we broke up for good soon after. I was lucky that he convinced himself that it was not worth it, and I never saw him again.

I continued counseling for a few years which helped me to figure out a plan. My plan was to be alone for a long time until I learned to really like myself for the first time in my life. I learned to embrace the quiet and treasure my solitude. My hobbies of writing poetry, rollerblading, kayaking, and photography helped save my life. These hobbies filled my time and were my constant companions.

They would never hurt me. They would only enrich my life and help me grow.

These hobbies built up my body and my spirit, and they allowed me to move forward.

Please be aware of all of the signs of verbal and physical abuse. Teach them to your children. Let them know that they cannot treat people this way, and that they should never allow anyone to treat them this way. It is not acceptable to abuse others.

It is true that love and relationships can be hard work. They can have many ups and downs. They require lots of patience and lots of respect. They should, however, be mostly filled with love and happy memories. It should not feel like hard work all the time. You should not change who you are to be with someone.

You should never accept anyone hitting you.

If they do, quietly walk away. Ask others for the support you need and deserve.

You are not a punching bag.

And whether the abuse is physical or verbal, you do not have to stay.

Make a plan, and leave right away or as soon as you can.

It is much better to be alone and alive, than it is to be abused.

Someday, when you are removed from your horrible situation, you will learn from it. You will learn to like yourself again. You will grow and blossom into the amazing human being that you are. You will live again. You will find happiness. Many have walked in these same footsteps. I was one of them. Let us lead the way. You are not alone.

Just keep saying these words over and over until you believe them. Then go ahead and take your life back and learn to live it!

I am someone. I am good. I am compassionate. I am special. I have great worth, and no one can take that away from me. I will unravel this ball of pain that consumes me. I will transform it into a great ball of light. This light will brighten my world. It will lead the way to better things. It will help me move on and be happy. It will help me love again, and share that love with the world. Life is a circle, not a cycle. My cycle of abuse is over. I will not let it overtake me again. I am finally free….

Kathy ❤

Poetologie

If you ever need help you can use the following resources:

  • If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.
  • For anonymous, confidential help, 24/7, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or  1-800-787-3224
  • http://www.ncadv.org/

 

 

Yes, Virginia…We Need Stronger Gun Laws

Virginia, throughout America your little friends are crying. They have been affected by their parents, and other Americans, cynicism, divisiveness and apathy. They know the scary things which they see on the news. They comprehend the violence occurring every day on their streets. Their minds are not little. They see the bloodshed. They feel the loss of their innocence. In their great big worlds dreams are being replaced by fear, art is being replaced by a picture of their friends mother crying at their child’s burial. They are not too young to grasp the fact that their classroom closets are now our inept way to cope with the reality of gun violence in our nation.

Yes, Virginia there is a need for stronger gun laws. Those of us who are willing to put politics aside and march toward a safer, more peaceful world know this. Your world should be filled with joy and fireflies, sprinklers and bike rides, carnivals and endless laughter. We should always put you first, and do what we can to protect you from harm. So that your world will be like an infinite poem, one that provides a rhyme and reason for your beautiful life.

We should not turn a blind eye each time we hear a story of another child killed by a gun not stored safely, or by a person intent on doing harm to school children or innocent bystanders. Over thirty thousand beams of light are extinguished each year by a gun. This light should not be forgotten, these flames should continue to burn in each one of us.

Not believe in gun laws? You might as well not believe in the pursuit of happiness which our forefathers fought so bravely for. So many people are fighting every single day for you and your happiness Virginia. They walk the streets, they make phone calls, they attend tough meetings. You may not see them, but they are there just as sure as the princesses that fill your dreams. Many of us choose not to see these unsung heroes, but many of us do and march to the beat of the same drum.

You can take apart this drum and see the rim, tension rods and tuning screws, but you cannot see the depth of the heart that beats for you and for all Americans. These hearts are strong, these hearts are united, these hearts want you and all children/people to be given a chance to lead a full, wonderful life. They believe in stronger gun laws and background checks because they work and save lives, not because of a secret agenda. Their agenda is pain. Their agenda is a mother’s tears. They want these tears to stop flowing. They can see the reality of the situation, but they remain hopeful. They want to fill your world with this hope, and they want you to revel in the beauty of this nation. The beauty of friendship, the beauty of community, the beauty of love.

No gun laws? That was never the intention of our forefathers, for they knew we must create, amend and uphold the laws of our land so that we can all be safer and free. Many years from now, I hope you are able to look back on a wonderful childhood, free from the fear and constraints of a violent society.

We have the ability to make that happen. We are the adults, and yes you should believe in us. You should believe in childhood fantasies and fairy tales. You should walk the streets with a smile on your face, and lots of love in your heart. You should believe that we will keep fighting for you and never let you down.

Kathy ❤

Poetologie

* This blog post is inspired by, and follows the format of the famous editorial “Is There a Santa Claus?” which was printed on September 21, 1897 in The New York Sun

 

A Letter To My Kind Hair Stylist Who Eased My Anxiety

To My Kind Hair Stylist:

When I entered the salon you worked at I was filled with anxiety for no reason. It’s just something I deal with daily. My generalized anxiety has become much worse since I developed Lyme Disease. Regular daily chores and trips to the grocery store/hair salon/mall/restaurants fill me with anxiety. I wish I didn’t have to feel this way all of the time, but for now I do. I’m working hard to overcome it, but that could take many years.

And so I made myself walk into your salon. I desperately needed a nice haircut, and I took a deep calming breath and hoped for the best. The salon was beautiful, and had a nice relaxing atmosphere. The staff were all really nice and brought you out to meet me.

There was something about you that immediately put me at ease, and that is no small feat. You had a big smile on your face and a nice, tranquil demeanor.

You brought me to your chair and asked me a few questions about how I wanted my hair cut. I answered your questions quickly as I was still nervous. Then you proceeded to wash my hair. The scalp massage really helped me to relax. I felt okay as I walked back to your chair.

I had to immediately bring up a few health issues, as my Lyme Disease makes me more sensitive to chemicals, and I have to make sure there are no nut or shellfish containing products used due to me and my son’s food allergies.

You did not roll your eyes at all I told you. You kindly and sincerely answered all of my questions, and even checked and rechecked the product labels to make sure they were safe.

Even though you were very young, you had a certain patience and understanding about you that usually comes with age.

Whatever topic I brought up, you offered words of wisdom well beyond your years. You were sympathetic, perceptive, and very knowledgeable.

I was so grateful to be able to loosen up and be distracted enough to actually enjoy my haircut for the first time in years. You have no idea how much that means to me.

After talking to you for awhile you brought up the fact that you had recently donated your kidney to a boy you had been dating for only a year. Then it all made sense.

You aren’t just a thoughtful young woman. You aren’t just a patient woman. You are an Angel on Earth.

You had actually saved someone’s life, and I was grateful to be in your peaceful presence.

You gave off an air of acknowledgement, because you’ve already been through so much.

You were able to put me at ease, because you understood struggle.

You were able to show much kindness, because you know exactly what it means to walk a tough road.

You were also able to give me the best haircut I’ve had in years, even though you are just beginning your career.

When my haircut was through, you gave me a big hug. Not a forced one, a real genuine hug from your heart. That had never happened before in my 40 plus years of getting haircuts.

It was very sweet, and special, just like you are.

I believe deeply in thanking people who have shown me or my family kindness. I believe in thanking people who make my day, or go out of their way to help others.

Thank you for putting me at ease and making an ordinary trip to the salon an extraordinary one.

You are very good at your job and I wish you all the success in the world.

I also wish good health to you and your boyfriend. I hope the special bond that exists between the two of you lasts forever.

I will be back for more haircuts and will refer my friends and family too.

I have never thought of writing a letter/blog to thank a hair stylist before. That’s because I never met one like you.

I am altering the words of Sir Elton John to say:

My gift is my blog, and this one’s for you….

 

 

 

 

You Were Supposed to Be an Abortion

“You were supposed to be an abortion,” was one of the last things my father ever said to me. It was during Thanksgiving 2004 that he uttered these words to me, and to all sitting at the holiday table. I was shocked, embarrassed and hurt, but not surprised.

I have felt unwanted and unloved my whole life. Like an uninvited guest burdening an ongoing dinner party. A dinner party with not enough food, joy or warmth. I was just one more mouth to feed, one more diaper to change, one more screaming child in a house on the verge of destruction.

I know my mom did not want this, but it was an easy way out for my dad who was on the brink of a nervous breakdown. He was a cop who walked the beat in NYC, he was a man who often beat his children when he was off duty. He loved a can of Budweiser more then he loved his own kids.

He suffered from mental illness but refused to get help. He spun out of control and we were all caught in his web. Sometimes he was an itsy bitsy amount of fun, most times he was as terrifying as Shelob the giant spider from Lord of the Rings. He was a spinner of lies and broken dreams, he was a predator to our happiness.

He called me Foe as a joke from Jack and the Beanstalk’s Fee Fi Fo Fum, but he was actually my foe. He was never truly in my corner, he never protected me, he never told me that he loved me. He even held a loaded gun to my head and asked me if I wanted to die first, on one dark night.

I like so many others was born into a home without love. The love had died, just as surely as my dad wanted me to. I was just a reminder of this fact, an exclamation mark to an unhappy marriage and life. When I was able to understand this, I suffered my first broken heart.

I have been trying to mend my broken heart ever since. I have not fully succeeded, and will spend the rest of my life trying. My past has led me to making many bad decisions, and to at least one unhealthy relationship.

It wasn’t until I matured and took the time to understand myself and my needs that I began to make better decisions. I learned to love the person that I thought was unlovable. I began to slowly heal. I learned to look at life through a new lens, I finally saw a path toward happiness.

There were many bumps in the road of course, and many wrong turns, but I managed to learn from my mistakes and get right back on the road. I steered clear of abusive personalities, and slowly found myself surrounded by kind, supportive people. People who understood pain, physical and/or mental, people who truly care about others.

This took awhile and was not easy, but was very worthwhile. It is much better to be alone than to be with people who constantly hurt you. It is much better to wait for good things, than to rush into bad situations. It is much better to take the time to truly love yourself. You are amazing. You are a gift.

I had waited my whole life for someone to tell me that they loved me and really mean it. What I didn’t realize was that I needed to hear it from myself the most. When I was finally able to look in the mirror with pride and feel self-love, my life changed course.

I met a wonderful man and have two wonderful children. I try to tell them that I love them often, for I know what it feels like to crave these words. I try to show them how much I love them often, for I know what it feels like to be neglected. I try to hug and kiss them often, in the hopes that it will protect them from an unkind world. I try to show them kindness, so that they will show the same kindness to others.

I only saw my father once after that Thanksgiving. It was on his deathbed. There were no apologies offered, no warmth shown, no love for my unborn daughter that grew in my big belly, no I love yous, no big movie screen goodbyes.

I just leaned over him for the last time and kissed his forehead. I said a quick prayer for him to finally find peace and happiness.

I no longer needed him. I never really did. I walked out of that hospital room with all I ever really needed.

Myself, some self-love, and a whole lotta love to spare.

What My Neighbors Taught Me During The Blizzard of 2016

I live in Northern Virginia in one of the areas hardest hit by Winter Storm Jonas. My town’s recorded snowfall was 36 inches, but with the snow drifts it was even more.

We were very lucky that we did not experience a power outage in the freezing temperatures, and that our house was stocked with food. My husband is a registered nurse, and we were fortunate that he was off during the storm, because the wonderful emergency and health workers out there have to go to work in any weather condition.

A day after the storm ended, he cleared our front steps and part of our driveway, but the large amount of snow required many breaks be taken. During one of his breaks, a neighbor, who we do not know, proceeded to use his snowblower to clear our entire sidewalk, as well as the sidewalks of many of our neighbors. He did this out of the goodness of his heart. It was a pure act of kindness, and we were all blessed to witness it.

The next day I was so relieved to see that they finally plowed our street. Two of my biggest concerns during the storm was what would we do if the power went out, and what would we do if we had an emergency that required an ambulance, or a trip to the ER?

These thoughts terrified me, and multiplied with each inch of fresh fallen snow. My son suffers from life-threatening food allergies, and I have had to call an ambulance for him recently due to severe croup. I suffer from Chronic Lyme Disease, Asthma, and other chronic conditions, and am often sick or requiring an ER visit. Plus, an accident can happen to anyone, even while at home, and the roads were impassable.

The first day we were barely able to get out the front door, so when that snow was gone, I felt a little less anxious.

The plows had a very difficult time clearing the snow, and worked on our street for what seemed like hours. When they were through a huge pile of heavy snow remained blocking my driveway.

My husband was at work, and I had very few spoons left, but I knew that for our safety, I had to clear the area.

My ten year old daughter offered to help me, but was unable to do it for more than a few minutes. It was hard work removing snow from a huge area of what was now over four feet post plow.

It was a beautiful sunny day, but I wasn’t feeling very sunny inside. I was tired, nauseous from my daily antibiotic, and wishing my husband was home.

Then like a ray of sunshine two of the young high school/college age girls from two houses down came over and said that they were going to help me. I couldn’t believe it, it was incredibly kind of them. When I was their age, I was nice, but in a complacent sort of way. I was wrapped up in my own world and problems, and I don’t think I ever went out of my way to help a neighbor shovel. I was very impressed with these girls and glad that my kids saw them helping me.

snowmaggedon 2016 girl neighbors helping

After a few minutes of shoveling and chatting, another neighbor came over with the kind gentleman’s snowblower (which cleared our sidewalk the day before.) This was a great sight to see, and our mound of snow would be cleared in no time! He removed all of the remaining snow quickly, efficiently, and benevolently.

snowmaggedon 2016 mike & snowblower guy

The street was filled with neighbors helping neighbors, and was as it should be. They all helped each other clear their driveways, and rescue their buried cars. This lasted for hours, and continued after I went inside to rest.

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I’m incredibly grateful to all of them, and appreciate their kindness. They didn’t have to help me, but they wanted to. They represent the good in this world. They are an example of the kind of positive stories/acts that should continue to go viral, to drown out the negative ones.

I will never forget the Blizzard of 2016, and I will never forget what my neighbors taught me:

  • When you don’t have many spoons left, there is always someone to lend a helping hand.
  • We are surrounded by good people, we just have to take the time to realize it.
  • If you have a snowblower, shovel or a smile, you can make help make someone’s day.
  • We should all be considerate, and try to help our neighbors more.
  • For every unkind person, there are many more kind people to make up for it.
  • If you are the recipient of an act of kindness, point it out to your kids, then maybe they will realize its value and strive to give back someday.
  • Heroes are all around us, and are born from everyday acts of grace.

All of us face many storms or difficulties in our lives, some more than others. But if we learn to open our eyes and see the acts of kindness that are born from such storms, we can help each other get through.

We can help this world become a much warmer, brighter place. We can help each other melt any hearts that may have become icy, or burdened by piles of snow.

Kathy ❤

Poetologie/Nuts About My Son

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A Letter to All Those Who Have Ever Been Kind to Me

The passing of David Bowie to cancer, my friend’s young husband to ALS/Lyme, and my father in law to pancreatic cancer, have really been weighing heavily on me. I am 46 years old now, battling Lyme Disease and 5 other chronic conditions, and I feel like it’s the end of an era.

I am no longer in my twenties or thirties, and life is passing by very quickly. It seems the older I get, the faster the time flies.

I constantly read about the untimely death of so many, due to illness, violence, or accidents.

We never know when our time will come.

We shouldn’t spend our days contemplating this, however, we should spend our days being thankful and giving thanks. Planning for the future, but living in the moment. Enjoying and spending time with our loved ones. Helping others.

In case I have fewer moments left than expected, I wanted to write this letter. Please feel free to share it if you like it, or if you can relate to it.

To All Those Who Have Ever Been Kind to Me:

I have lived many years. I have seen many things. But, what I remember the most are the encounters with those who have been kind to me.

Some were friends, some were family, many were complete strangers.

You gave me a sweet smile, a pat on the back, you opened many doors for me.

You helped me grow, you helped me relocate, you helped me move on.

When I was down, you helped pick me up. When I was happy, you shared my joy.

You served me many meals, you sold me many items that I needed to survive, you drove me where I needed to go.

You helped me when I dropped my groceries, you helped me when I dropped the ball, you carried my luggage to the airport.

You provided my medicine, you provided me with shelter on a cold night, you provided me with companionship.

You taught me literature, you taught me how to sew, you taught me how to live.

You paid the bill when I was low on cash, you held my hand through the hardest times, you never let go.

You walk by me everyday, you see me at family gatherings, you are a pleasant memory.

I am thankful for every single one of you who were kind to me, and who showed me how to be kind. I am glad that I met you.

I am forever grateful, and I will never forget you in this life or the next.

I will take you with me wherever I go.

For you are in my heart, my soul and my mind.

I hope that you have a blessed life. I hope that you live a life filled with love and happiness.

For you brought happiness into my life, you deserve my eternal gratitude and the best that life has to offer.

You are my poetry.

Thank you for showing me how beautiful life is, and for providing me with the subject for all of my poems.

 

Love Kathy

Poetologie ❤