Sunday, December 24, 2006

Heather Martin - When Are You Coming Home?

This 6-year old is missing her brother who is in Iraq this Christmas. Grab a tissue before watching.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

My New Apartment! YES!

I finally got some clips together to make a video of my new place. They are mostly shots of the grounds, but there are few indoor shots as well. I skipped the kitchen and the bathroom because if you saw the video "I Want it All" then you saw a kitchen and bathroom identical to mine.

I took these video clips while walking to get the mail. I just love the feel of this place. It's so serene. I feel like I am at a resort or something. It's very, VERY different from where I came from. I am so glad to be out of that high-rise. I DO deserve better -- and now I have it. Life is good!!!

This morning it occurred to me that I moved on November 29. If you are into numerology, you know it was 11/11. No wonder why it went so smoothly! I didn't choose that date on purpose, either. The only 11/11 I paid attention to was November 11th. And now we are heading into the year of 9, probably the most powerful of all the numbers. Three 3s! If you're not into numerology, then you probably think I'm crazy. Well, guess what -- you're right!

I'll be going to my sister's for Christmas. Both her boys will be there this year. Hopefully I can talk them into making videos! I hope everyone has a great holiday. I'm sure the celebrating will begin Friday at 5:00pm and end on Tuesday morning. Ya think? Have fun!!!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Two turtle doves and a cockatiel named Cinnamon

Karla came to visit the other day and she brought her white dove, Rosie, and her baby cockatiel, Cinnamon. Karla's mother told her she had to find a new home for Rosie, so guess who volunteered to take her? I can't turn away a homeless dove. It's against my nature! So this video shows Rosie's introduction to Angel. Even though they have female names, they are both male doves. (Don't ask me how that happened). Anyway, male doves must establish domination, and they do this by climbing on top of the other and holding down wings. This means they are dominant, at least for that moment. Lots of dove fighting in this video. Some pretty candid words from Karla, too, about men in general.

I plan to make a video of my new apartment, but I wanted to be more settled in first. You can see some of it in this video. I just love my new place! It's so clean and new and plush! The grounds are gorgeous, too. I could be video taping the grounds right now, but I have been incredibly busy unpacking and hanging pictures and all the stuff you do when you move. I have to admit, I'm loving the whole process. I am so OUT of government housing! I still can't believe it!!!

Angel had no problem whatsoever adjusting to her new home. She settled in immediately, and you can tell by the picture how content she is here.

Beware, this video may offend some viewers.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Moving Day!!!

I'm all moved into my new apartment! I'm tripping over boxes and rearranging furniture and making this place my own. There's so much to do! I just now got internet access -- I've been without a phone or internet for 5 whole days! I'm still without cable - or even an antennae! I feel like I've been at a retreat of sorts. That's what this place reminds me of. There are pathways and water falls and picnic areas. There's even a clubhouse with a bar and a gazebo with two large swinging benches! I keep discovering new things every day. Well, what else can you do (besides unpack boxes) when you don't have anything else to do? Oh I've missed the internet! But I'm BACK!!!! I haven't even checked my email yet. I wanted to put this video up first. So many people have shown interest. I'm simply amazed at the quality of friends I have. I am one lucky girl!

Buy the time we began moving in to my new place, my camera battery died, and I had no energy left to retrieve my spare battery. But I'll have plenty of opportunities to film this place. Meanwhile, this video is of friends and family moving me out of government housing once and for all!!!! (Yes, I helped. I sure didn't shoot videos the whole time!)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Friday, November 17, 2006

I did it!!!

Today I read my recovery story downtown at the Department of Human Resources (DHR). A videographer filmed it all, and he'll be making recordings available to everyone at DHR! I should be getting a copy, too (or else I will raise hell).

This was such an empowering experience, and I got a GREAT response! One man asked how long it took me to write my story, and he told me it he thought it was incredible. One or two of the governor's advisors were there, and a bunch of program directors. They were all so positive!

I just couldn't believe all these bureaucrats sat and listened to recovery stories all day long and got something out of each one. They seemed truly interested!

I've always been terrified of public speaking for fear of my mind going blank and the notes not helping. But I learned today that it is TOTALLY OKAY to read your speech word-for-word rather than use notes as guidelines. Last night I read my story to Angel a few times (lol) and then I pulled it out right before speaking. I will never turn down a speaking engagement again. It felt natural and effortless.

In college I flunked speech and dropped out of school altogether because the final speech overwhelmed me to the point of hospitalization.

Kinda ironic.

The positive responses posted on this blog and in private email tipped the scales for me going. If I made any difference whatsoever today, so did you. That's what I call the "ripple effect."

Monday, November 13, 2006

My Recovery Story

I was asked by Carol Coussons, Director of Consumer Relations and Recovery, to tell my recovery story this Friday at the Department of Human Resources. I need to give her an answer tomorrow (Tuesday), so I thought I'd write it here and just see what comes out. If my thoughts are together enough, I may do it. This would be a huge step for me because I tend to shy away from public speaking. But this seems important enough to at least consider, so here goes...

I spent the better part of twenty years in and out of psychiatric hospitals. The average length was three months. The longest admission was a year at Topeka State Hospital in 1984. I've been in private, public, and county hospitals in four different states. I lost count of how many times I was involuntarily committed, as well as how many diagnoses I was given, along with their corresponding treatments. I became institutionalized from being hospitalized so often, and when I wasn't hospitalized, I was in various outpatient day treatment programs.

I was given many messages while in the mental health system. I was taught that I was inferior to the mental health professionals who were in charge of my care, and I became convinced that I was incapable of caring for myself. Psychiatrists were gods who knew more about my brain chemistry than I did. I was told I would always have this illness, regardless of the diagnosis at the moment, and I would be on medications the rest of my life. I became highly dependent on the system for all of my needs. I was treated like a child, and that's exactly how I acted. I was considered too irresponsible to hold down a job, and I've been on Disability my entire adult life. I basically lost my 20s and 30s, a time when my friends were learning how to navigate the world and getting their lives established. Instead, I was learning how to navigate the mental health system and getting myself established in psychiatric hospitals.

The root of my dysfunction, initially, was due to childhood trauma. This was never addressed within the mental health system until many years later in 1988 when I was diagnosed with multiple personalities. Even then, the doctors knew nothing about how to treat me, so I became a guinea pig until I finally found a private therapist who specialized in childhood trauma AND took Medicare. This was after spending 15 years in the mental health system. The childhood traumas were processed the first three years of therapy, and the next seven years were spent processing the traumas that occurred within the hospitals.

The hospitals were not pleasant places, but I knew my way around. I knew all the loopholes, and I knew how to get my way, even if it meant spending a week in seclusion and restraints. I learned from hospital workers that there was something inherently wrong with me. As a result I had very little self confidence and no self esteem.

Living on Disability has been both a blessing and a curse. It's been a blessing because at least I had food to eat and usually a roof over my head. It's been a curse because of the financial constraints imposed by Social Security. You can only make so much money before they take away your check, so where is the incentive to work unless you make more than what is allowed? There are some incentives in place, but you are still trapped in poverty unless you get a decent job that pays enough to live somewhere that isn't a slum or Section 8 housing or a government high-rise, which is where I live now. And it's very hard to find a decent job when your resume is skimpy and full of gaps.

This high-rise is just another extension of institutionalization. The walls and floors are made of concrete and the halls echo from the slightest noise. All the maintenance people have master keys that they use if you don't answer your door fast enough. Inspections are constant and relentless. There's really no sense of "home" when you don't have privacy. The fire alarms go off at least four times a week, and they are always false and ear shattering. It's always noisy here, both inside and out. There are no bathtubs, only showers, no carpeting, and no escape from neighbors who panhandle at your door looking for drug money. The drugs and crime are rampant and frightening. The lease is like a book, and the rules and regulations are impossible to keep up with. I've lived here eight years, the longest I've ever lived anywhere in my life. It's actually the best place I've ever lived.

I haven't wasted my time while on Disability, though. That has been another blessing. I've had the freedom to follow my passion and learn all sorts of things that the average person wouldn't have time for. I learned to play the drums and the flute and draw portraits to sell on the side. I even wrote a book! I have always had a passion for computers, and when the internet became affordable, I taught myself web design.

A few years after moving into this high-rise, my case manager came for a home visit and suggested I use my computer skills to volunteer at Community Friendship, which is a mental health center a half a mile away. So that's what I did, and it was a bit triggering at first because of all the day programs I'd been in before. But this time I was a volunteer, so that made it tolerable. While I was there, I heard about a peer support group they held twice a week, and I decided to give it a try. I found myself looking forward to every meeting, and during that time, I never missed one.

One day in February 2003, I overheard someone talking about a certified peer specialist training that would be held in April. I looked it up on the web and found an application to fill out, so I sent it in along with my $75 registration fee. I had no idea how I would get there because this particular training was being held in Millegeville, nowhere near a Marta train station. But all the logistics worked out and Community Friendship paid for everything. I will always be grateful to them for that.

Before the training began I learned, to my horror, that it would be held at Central State Hospital. I immediately called the CPS Project and asked for my $75 back because there was no way I would be able to tolerate being anywhere near a state hospital for two weeks. But the person I spoke to at the Project talked me into going after all. I still don’t know how she did that. This was a huge step for me, and I was terrified.

The training was probably the most intense and powerful event in my life. I learned that I had hope and that I could recover. I had never thought that was possible, and it took some time even after the training before it began to sink in. I learned that just because I was diagnosed with a mental illness, it didn't necessarily mean what the doctors said it meant. They weren't gods after all. I learned that I am a person first, not a diagnosis. I eventually learned on my own that I could live quite well without a psychiatrist or a case manager or even medication. I learned that I could take care of myself after all, and support is always available through my peers. They understood me. I could talk to them and they actually listened without trying to drug up my problems or advise hospitalization. They let me cry on their shoulders when I needed to, and they could cry on mine. If only I had known of the power of peer support when I was in and out of hospitals. If only peer specialists were there at the hospitals with me. Nothing compares to getting support from people who understand on a level that traditional professionals simply cannot.

If I were to suddenly be in charge of the entire mental health system around the world, my first priority would be to hire peer specialists to work in the hospitals and mental health centers as advocates, program directors, case managers, nurses, doctors, and technicians. Many people who have been diagnosed with a severe mental illness have earned their degrees and certifications. There is no reason why they shouldn't be hired to do the work of professionals who don't have a clue what it's like to live with a diagnosis of mental illness. I would also make sure these peer specialists were paid the salary they deserved, with full benefits. Just imagine the elements of compassion, respect, empathy, and dignity the mental health system would finally acquire if peer specialists were truly utilized as the greatest asset the mental health system could ever hope for.

The next priority would be offering advanced directives for all my peers. And when it comes to treatment, the ideal situation would be presenting an array of options, including holistic alternatives, and practicing informed consent. These do not typically exist in the current system, mostly due to psychiatrists being influenced by the marketing tactics of the drug companies, not to mention the overall practice of coercion and force within the system itself. In my experience, psychiatrists are regarded as the official experts who have little faith in the intelligence and expertise of their patients. How many psychiatrists do you know who offer their patients the PDR to read about the medications being prescribed? Or the DSM? I've read both, but I didn't get them from any psychiatrist. Just because a person is diagnosed with a mental illness does not make them incapable of exploring their options and making decisions about what they ingest into their bodies.

Mental health professionals have their own stigmas toward people living with a mental illness. We are inferior, needy, dependent, and irresponsible, and we don't know what's in our best interest. How could we possibly make our own decisions all by ourselves without any input from them? We need them! And so the same old message continues.

Since my CPS training, my outlook on life has changed immensely. I no longer go into hospitals when I feel overwhelmed or depressed. It's been six years since my last hospitalization, which is a record for me. I no longer take medication, and I haven't had a psychiatrist in years. I use alternative therapies such as spirituality, nutrition, exercise, supplements, and peer support. I now work as a webmaster for the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network and the CPS Project, and I am finally making enough money to move out of this high-rise. In two weeks I'll be moving into an apartment complex that I could only dream about in the past. I'll have actual carpeting, a deck, a garbage disposal, a pantry, and a bathtub -- all the things most people take for granted. The complex also has a pool, two tennis courts, and a state-of-the-art fitness center. No more government housing! No more slums! No more homelessness! I am slowly but surely getting away from the system altogether.

I still have symptoms, if that's what you want to call them, but now I have coping skills that I never had before. I didn't even know what coping skills were! If I fall into a debilitating depression, I treat myself like royalty. If I get overwhelmed, I cry a lot and then gain perspective. If I cried in the hospital, I'd be given a pill. Now I have spirituality, peer support, and a WRAP plan, which all remind me of the things that work for me personally.

This is my wish and my greatest hope for every single person who has ever been diagnosed with a mental illness. You are not alone, and you can recover!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Psychiatry is WAY behind!


New York Times

"Psychiatry has made great strides in helping kids manage mental illness, particularly moderate conditions, but the system of diagnosis is still 200 to 300 years behind other branches of medicine."
- DR. E. JANE COSTELLO, a professor of psychiatry at Duke University.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Legitimacy of Psychiatry

Quote of the Day:

"Ever since the American Psychiatric Association admitted no lab tests exist to diagnose any mental disorder, the entire legitimacy of psychiatry has become questionable. Couple this with the 19 international warnings about how psychiatric drugs have been linked to causing diabetes, liver failure, violence, suicide and sudden death, it becomes apparent that strict constraints against psychiatry must be called for to protect children."

Lawrence Hooper, MD
Health Committee Chairman of the San Jose (CA) Branch


That's what psychiatrists have going for them. No one questions their methods. Those who do are called insane or Scientologists or both. I'm neither, but I have been called both. Many times.

What if everyone except you heard voices that weren't there? The world would be set up to accommodate the lifestyle necessary for hearing voices all the time. It would be a different place altogether, a different planet. Just imagine...

Now imagine yourself taking a little blue pill that causes you to hear voices like everyone else. The pill works great and you are hearing voices! You are now a part of society and you can live a semi-normal life as long as you take this pill every day. Never mind that it causes you to sleep all day and gain weight and see everything blurry. You can hear the voices, and that's all that matters.

So, who gets to decide what really matters?

It all depends on what planet you live on.


I'm not entirely against psychiatry. I'm against force and coercion. I believe in the concept of informed consent, which doesn't exist in psychiatry. The only answers I ever got from a psychiatrist were "this pill will help your depression" or "this pill helps with anger" or "I know the side effects are rough, but if you give it more time, it will start working." How stupid do you think I am, doc? Geesh! Oh, let me check the PDR myself.

Which is what I ended up doing. I read other books, too, many of which were for scholarly professionals. I learned the terminology. I learned how diagnoses were made. I learned that every person I knew could fit into at least one diagnostic category. I learned how easy it was to diagnose anyone.

I would be grateful to psychiatry if they treated me like something more than a label. I would also be grateful if a psychiatrist told me my OPTIONS after diagnosing me with a chronic, incurable mental condition that has STIGMA stamped all over it. But I never heard options. I eventually learned about them on my own through newsletters and conferences run by people who also lived with the STIGMA of mental illness.

This STIGMA is so ingrained in society that even mental health professionals carry it around like a shield of armor as they walk the halls of the insane asylums.

"Okay, the hospitals are cleaner now than what they were in the 40s. The pictures are prettier. No more lobotomies because of the invention of Thorazine. ECT is still used, but the patients don't convulse or break bones. We can't use it as punishment anymore. Oh, but we always have our needles handy.

We'd use a taser, too, if they'd let us. Just give it time..."

Mental patients have always being the lowest on the totem pole in society. This goes way back, since the beginning of time. Some things never change, either. I don't know how many times I've been considered "demon possessed" and had exorcisms done on me. It's really no big deal to be exorcised, truth be told. You just yawn a lot.

The history of the mental health system is a story worse than any horrors you could conjure up on your own. There was a time, a couple hundred years ago, when psychiatrists were inventors of torture devices that would theoretically cause an insane person to "snap out of it." The competition was fierce, too, and the marketing of each item was as relentless as the drug companies marketing today.

The horrors may have changed over time, but the STIGMA lives on. People are afraid of what they don't understand, but what they don't understand is that they, too, could be diagnosed just as easily as the next person. And STIGMA follows you around like a dark shadow.

It's everywhere, even within your own thinking.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Fire Alarm

Here is the new fire alarm that was recently installed in an intercom inside everyone's apartment. It's much louder than what you hear in this video, and it often repeats over and over for 30 minutes or more when it goes off. Nevermind that it's always a false alarm. The fire trucks still come. Yesterday it went off four times, twice at night. Also yesterday they shut off the water for the second time this week (without warning) AND they had inspections of everyone's apartment and gave out $25 fines for any infractions. I cannot WAIT to move!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Laughing Quadruplets

Are you depressed? A lot of my friends are, and I just wanted to do something to distract everyone from their depression, at least for a few minutes. So here is a little video that may help. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My eBay Account was HACKED!!!

And eBay could care less.

Late Sunday night, around 11:00pm, I received an email from eBay saying that they pulled an item I was selling off the site because it was illegal.

I have never sold anything on eBay. I've never even tried. I've always been a buyer!

So I went to my eBay account, and lo and behold, 35 items were listed in my sellers account. I didn't even know I had a sellers account. I thought I had to sign up for one if I ever wanted to sell anything. I still don't know the answer to that one.

Each of these items being sold were pirated DVD copies of various TV shows, like Desperate Housewives Season One DVD boxed set. New in box!!! (yeah, right)

Then an email pops in saying that item #2857463 (or whatever) has been sold for $70.00. I'm freaking out by then, and I decide, first of all, to unlist the remaining items before anyone else bids on them. I had to do some searching on eBay to figure out how to unlist them, and when I did, I learned it was a three-step process for each item. I won't go into details, but it took me hours to unlist these items.

Apparently, this hacker used my account primarily for the sellers fees, so now I have a balance at eBay for $115.00 in sellers fees. I was up the whole night sending emails to eBay (who still have not responded), and to the people who had placed bids. Two people got duped into sending their money to these hackers before I could stop them.

Finally, around 2 or 3:00 am, things settled down. Before that, the listings were coming in as fast as I could unlist them. I changed my password and all other security information, and finally the hackers stopped for the night.

Then yesterday, I got another email from eBay telling me they removed an item I had listed to sell because it was illegal. I went to my account, and there was nothing listed. Nevertheless, eBay suspended my account for 7 days.

What I really want to do is CLOSE my account altogether, but eBay won't let me into my account at all now that I am suspended. Even if I could access my account, how do I close it? I couldn't find anything on the website that tells you how! Besides, eBay will probably insist on me paying those sellers fees before I can close the account!

This is messed up. I am staying away from eBay FOREVER! They won't answer my emails about my account being hacked but they sure don't hesitate to send emails about the illegal items I am supposedly selling. They don't hesitate to charge me for sellers fees, either!

This has never happened to me before. What a world we live in! What a world what a world what a world...

I wonder -- does this happen often and eBay routinely sweeps it under the rug? That's what they are doing with me. Maybe they don't want the general public to know about their flawed security system. Maybe they will lose customers -- and sellers fees (which is how they make THEIR money).

Take this post as a warning. I doubt I am the only one in the world this has happened to on eBay, but funny you don't hear about it. I never have. Just don't let this nightmare happen to you. Stay away from eBay!!!!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Kitten Composer

This video from YouTube is too cute to pass up. Can you say, "Awwwwww...."

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Dear Friends

I know I gripe about living in this government high-rise, but there are some incredible and blessed people who dwell here with me. This video is my way of paying tribute and saying a few goodbyes. I hope you will see the treasures I see.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Hell is where I live

Since I know I am moving soon, this place is getting to me more than ever. It's heavy and dark and noisy all the time. I am going to use this space to complain, so if you don't want to hear what it's really like, please skip this post.

Last night, after a weekend of depression, I was watching American Idol Rewind (some special they had) when suddenly I hear a loud siren from the intercom they'd just installed in every apartment. It sounded like a car alarm at first, then a LOUD voice screaming "Attention! Attention! ATTENTION!!!! A fire has been reported in the building! Go to the nearest exit immediately. Do not use the elevators!!!" It repeated for about 30 minutes. I can't tell you how loud it was, but I turned the TV up as high as it could go to try and drown it out. No, I did not rush to the outdoor stairway. I knew it was a false alarm like it always is, so I tried to finish watching the show. The whole atmosphere in my apartment was as loud as a war zone, I swear. I felt sorry for Angel, who I know was asleep at the time. Nobody could sleep through that.

So finally it stopped, and I tried to drift off to sleep. I had the strangest dreams, and then I'd wake up, then more strange dreams and more waking up. It was a long night. Finally, just before dawn, my chance for sleeping was shot due to the constant noises outside.

I had a friend stay over one night with her daughter, and I'll never forget the look on their faces when they were woken up by the same morning noises. They looked shocked and they said, "Wow, this is LOUD! How can you live like this?" I hardly noticed the noises before, but now they are really getting to me. Major, endless construction, metal banging against metal, traffic on I-75 (a block away), horns honking, sirens blaring, people yelling, gunshots or something equally disturbing. It just goes on and on without a break. I honestly don't know how I've lasted here this long.

So there was nothing to do but get up and get ready to catch the infamous Kroger bus. That was the last thing I wanted to do. My energy level is incredibly low, and those shopping trips are stressful and hectic.

So I decide to get myself in gear amidst the noises in the hallway. The maintenance people were beginning their day on my floor. They contribute to the morning noises by banging their carts and mops and ramming on doors. I get paranoid that my door will be next, and who knows what they want! It's something different every time.

This place is so institutional, I feel like I am back at Topeka State Hospital. People here either die or are dying of AIDS, alcoholism, old age, heart attacks, etc. There's a white board downstairs that announces the latest death. Someone new every week. This morning it was a lady named Rosa who I was friends with. We weren't best friends or anything, but she was always so sweet to me. Last week it was a guy named Terry who I used to have wonderful talks with about nutrition and herbal teas and his days of homelessness. He was also an avid reader and wrote a few Sci-Fi books. He died alone in his apartment, like they all do, and the only way anyone found out was because of the smell. That is typical.

Before I moved in, they had just gotten rid of the rat infestation. So now, 8 years later, the rats are back. I've seen two so far. And the roaches are so relentless, I spend tons of money on every product available to get rid of them. Nothing works for very long. Maybe a day.

And doing laundry is more than just a chore. There are 5 washers and 5 dryers for 250 people. Usually the washers are broke except for two, so there's a long line of people waiting their turn for the next available washer. It takes all day.

And the post office! I need a whole blog for that story! Oh wait -- I have one, lol! It's at titled "Morris Brown Post Office Discriminates." I battled with them for three years to change their policy about delivering to our doors when necessary. I thought it was settled, but they are once again refusing to deliver my medication from which requires a signature confirmation. I just don't have the energy to battle with them anymore.

The other residents here stopped caring long ago. They are resigned to their fate. It is incredibly sad. I get to leave but they are waiting to die. I am surrounded by wheelchairs, walkers, bingo, and other nursing-home activities. This truly is an institution. No privacy, either. The maintenance men use their master keys if you don't answer the door fast enough. It makes me paranoid just to take a shower.

Just going downstairs to take a walk is a hassle (even when the elevators ARE working). People are constantly stopping me in the halls, wanting money or cigarettes or whatever. Today I walked to BP, and was stopped on the way by a woman who lives here. She was drunk and crying about her daughter, who just had her purse stolen. When I finally got away from her, I heard loud screaming. I turned around, and it was the same woman screaming at her daughter who was trying to push her down. She was hitting her, too, and the screams faded the faster I walked away. Two cops just passed them by like nothing was happening. I had to do the same, feeling guilty and irritated because there was nothing I could do without getting punched myself.

It's a hopeless situation for everyone here, and they just live with it like I've been living with it for years. Most of the older people here grew up picking cotton and are now retiring in this hell hole, dirt poor, illiterate, and waiting to die.

So how did I end up here, and why have I stayed so long? Because I don't deserve better. That was drummed into my head since childhood. And I've been living up to those expectations. That's why this move is so significant for me. This move is a far cry from what I am used to. I don't deserve better than this, and in fact, this place is better than the last place I lived. So now I am having to work through a paradigm shift just to accept that I DO deserve better. And you know what? So does everyone else who lives here. But they were beaten down long ago, and that's how I feel at this moment.

I know this is temporary. I know I have hope. I'm just not feeling it right now. I'm confused and scared and depressed. I've always sabotaged success, and this time I can't sabotage a move upward. I just can't! I would die here.

Right now, there are the never-ending noises outside my window -- that endless construction -- and in the echoing hallways outside my door. Someone is yelling really loud. Who knows what it's about.

Okay, that's enough. The pity party is over. Angel is cooing softly.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Free Hugs Campaign

If you can watch this video without smiling, you win!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Apartments, Darlene, and Lonelygirl15

First of all, thanks to all who sent comments both here and in private emails. You all totally ROCK!

Jody and I both "knew" somehow that I would get an apartment the first day -- and it would be the first one we looked at. This all came true (even though we spent the whole day looking at the other apartments, too). In the end, they denied my application due to my income not being three times what the rent is and because of a spot on my credit record where I didn't pay a bill from the GAP. That charge was justifiably disputed (long story but trust me on this) and I learned that once you dispute a charge, they simply turn the account over to another credit company. I could continue to dispute the charges again and again or I could write to the two major credit corporations to document my side of the story. (Advice alert -- don't fall into the trap of department store credit cards!) Other than that, my credit was flawless. So Jody decided to rent out the apartment herself (on paper only) and she believes in me enough to risk being accountable for me paying the bills on time. I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- my sister is the greatest sister anyone could have. She has always been supportive of me in any way she can, and this just takes the cake. She and her husband recently bought a townhouse for their son who makes the mortgage payments, so they are his landlord -- plus they have a great investment now. They are making plans to do the same for me but they have to refinance their house first. They are talking about it happening in a year or so. A lot can happen in a year, though, so who knows what's in store for me in the long run. Either way, I am through living in ghetto dumps owned by the government. No more fire drills in the middle of the night. No more maintenance men banging on my door every few days to check something they have to check in all the apartments. No more panhandlers begging for money everytime I walk out my door. No more unwelcome neighbors panhandling at my front door. No more rats or gigantic roaches. No more fears of all the night noises. No more meals on wheels delivering to my apartment and me having to tell them which apartment they are really looking for. No more elevators! No more sirens. No more paramedics coming to the wrong door (mine). No more constant and ongoing noises from construction that never end. Ahhhhh.... I've actually had maintenance men use their keys when I didn't answer the door fast enough. It makes me paranoid just taking a shower. I've been very lucky they haven't walked in on me during a shower. Very lucky! So goodbye to all of it!

The apartment is $635 a month plus utilities, which run about $200 a month if you include cable, phone, and internet. I know I can pull this off. My savings account is bulging, so I will be able to buy the things I need for my new place. There's also a Kroger right across the street! Two different bus routes stop right in front of the apartment. No more survival mode. I will just have to cut corners on my daily spending, which I've done before and never went without anything I needed. So it's all good.

I won't get to move in for two months, though. That's the soonest the apartment will be ready. It's a ground floor apartment, which I insisted on. I could have moved into another apartment this week but it was a level up and a bit more expensive because it overlooks the pool. I chose the other apartment because I don't care about looking at the pool or climbing stairs. Who knows when my MS will flare up. So the wait is worth it. I'll have time to save even more money and build up my savings to a very comfortable level.

Needless to say, I am very excited about this move!

I know I said that I wouldn't mention Darlene anymore, but I was very angry at the time. I found peace with her decision even before Jody and I went apartment hunting. I know her well enough to know that she had an unexpected "hunch" that the move was wrong for some reason. I've gotten those hunches myself about other things but not about that move. So of course I was pissed. I also know when I get those hunches from Spirit, there's nothing I can do but follow my gut feeling even though every ounce of my being says to resist it. I know it wasn't about her son needing a room when he comes home for visits from college, although it was the final point of decision for Darlene to write that email. Do you have any idea how difficult it was for her to write that email? It was most likely one of the hardest things she's ever had to do -- and she didn't really know why. But writing that email was the best she could do in her situation, considering her other choices. Knowing Darlene, I can understand why she didn't call me instead. I haven't spoken to her but I found my own peace within. I had to find peace for my own sanity!

If she hadn't acted on her hunch, I would be making a mistake by moving in with her. That is hard to admit, but it's true. Hindsight... Also, I didn't get the same hunch, so I was driven to pack all my things and get myself in gear to move. I have talked about moving for years, but Spirit knew I would not take action unless I had one helluva good reason. Moving in with Darlene was my reason. If I had a hunch, even for a moment, that the move was a mistake, I never would have prepared to move. I would have fallen victim once again to my plight in government housing. So Darlene was as much an angel as my sister in this situation, even though she has no idea. I'm so glad she followed her gut on this. I know it was hard. I'd like to say I forgive her, but the truth is, forgiveness is irrelevant. She did what she had to do and I'm grateful for it.

On a whole other subject...

I don't know how many of you visit YouTube, but there's an interesting story that has hit the national news. A 16 year old girl who calls herself "lonelygirl15" has been video blogging for months about her life stuck in her bedroom, homeschooled, with religious and strict parents, few friends, and boyfriend troubles. She has become very popular on YouTube and her videos get as much as 700,000 hits each. I have been following her story from Day One, and last week it was revealed that she was an actress who was chosen by a production company to play the character of lonelygirl15. She is actually 19 or 20 (can't remember) and she is nothing like her character in the videos. They plan to turn it into a movie, I think. I don't know, and I don't really care one way or the other. I enjoy her videos and I will continue to stay subscribed. But the main reason I am writing about this is because of Karla. She is the true lonelygirl15. Karla's story is nearly identical. She is also 16 and homeschooled with boyfriend problems, few friends, and a religious parent. I thought of Karla every time I watched lonelygirl's videos. The similarities are uncanny and downright amazing! But Karla is not an actress. It's truly HER life!

I just had to throw that in because the rest of the world will never know that someone in this world is really leading the life that lonelygirl15 shows in her made-up character.

That's all for now. I will keep you posted on my life -- and it is very real (in case anyone was wondering). Acting is definitely not one of my talents!

I hope life is treating all of you very well!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I Want it All

This video shows my apartment hunting adventures yesterday with my sister. I have a much more involved post coming next, but for now this video says a lot.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Betrayed AGAIN!

Darlene backed out of our moving plans. Just like that. In an email for goddsake!!!She didn't even have the balls to call me on the phone!


She made the decision without even talking to me about it. I feel DISSED and MAD AS HELL! I'm mad at myself for trusting her and buying into her BULLSHIT! There was no incident to provoke this new development. We were both on the same page, and we were communicating regularly. She KNEW I was already packed and ready to move. I got rid of a lot of my stuff, too, so I would fit into that room. I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS!!! I've been crying for two days over this -- not because of the move but how she had NO REGARD for me whatsoever! At this point I wouldn't move in with her if she PAID me! How stupid of me to trust someone who has proven again and again to be untrustworthy. She claimed to have changed and DUMMY ME believed her. I will never again fall into her CRAP! NEVER NEVER NEVER!!!!The reason she gave was because her son, who is in college in Idaho, needs the room for when he comes home to visit. But I don't even trust that reason! I don't believe anything she says anymore. Her words mean nothing. It's all empty bullshit. ALL OF IT! I feel like such a fool!

I also paid her $200 to have the room ready this month so I could move in gradually. If she would have told me over the phone (at least) and said she changed her mind and she has my money in her hand to send me, I would have a scrap of respect left for her. But Small Claims Court, here I come!

I will never EVER give her one ounce of my time or energy again. What a fucking waste of time and hope and trust. She has no idea what she just did. This is the last you'll ever hear about Darlene from me. Karla, on the other hand, will be in my life forever. She told me she was relieved in a way that I wasn't moving in because she knew her mother would eventually hurt me. Karla and Darlene may be mother and daughter, but my relationship with Karla is very healthy and something I cherish. Even though Karla is a teenager, she is WAY more trustworthy than Dalene is even capable of being. I promised Karla that if anything ever happened between me and Darlene, it would not affect our relationship one bit. And it won't.

Meanwhile, I am surrounded by more support than I realized I had. All my friends are genuinely angry about this because they know the hopes and dreams I had about this move are now shattered. I called Jodie in MN and she said to never doubt my feelings of betrayal because that's exactly what this is. She let me cry on her shoulder. Then I called my sister who also let me cry on her shoulder. She is very solution oriented and set up an appointment with an apartment finder. We're checking out apartments this Saturday and there's already quite a few lined up. I have not withdrawn my 30 days notice. Nothing at this point is hindering my move. It's time for me to leave this place. The energy here is heavy and it is wearing me down. Because I don't drive, even a simple shopping trip is a major ordeal. I feel like all I do is try to survive, and I am sick of being in survival mode all the damn time. I deserve better.

Yesterday, after reading Darlene's COLD email, I realized I had no food in the house. So I decided to walk to Publix and pick up enough food to last a few days. The minute I started shopping, I heard the song "So you had a bad day...." Then after checking out and loading my items in the pull cart, I walked out the door to see a major downpour! So I waited until it died down enough to make it to the bus station. It's about 4 blocks away. When the rain turned into a sprinkle, I walked to the station. Another downpour happened on the way, and I got soaked! My groceries were soaked. I stood and waited for the bus, but the route had changed to running less frequently. So I waited and waited until the rain stopped, then I walked the rest of the way home, 5 blocks, soaking wet. As soon as i walked in the door, the radio (which I leave on for Angel) was playing "So you had a bad day...."

My mind was so blown that I ended up going to bed and sleeping for 12 hours. I don't get it. I just don't.

I do know that everything happens for a reason, and even though I am confused about the reason, I need to cling to it regardless. I have to believe there's something better in store for me. Success is the best revenge, and I'm more determined than ever to succeed. No way is Darlene going to affect my success! No way is she ever going to affect my life!!! Good riddance to her! As Christ would say, "I never knew you." Another chapter of my life has ended, but I am not clsing the book. I may be a sensitive soul, but I am also a survivor.

I decided to write about this here because I know I have internet friends who actually CARE! Thanks to those of you who are reading this. You mean so much to me!

Monday, September 04, 2006

My Hometown

This is a video I shot today when Demetrius and I decided to walk to the store for a pack of cigs. We both are in denial about our smoking habits, and we end up buying a pack every day or so instead of buying enough to last a few days. Neither of us want to admit we smoke, and we blame each other for our smoking habits. But this video is not about smoking! I just wanted to capture our walk together through our neighborhood. I'm moving soon, so it's time to create memories of my current neighborhood in Atlanta. I've never lived anywhere as long as I have here, not even during childhood, so this really has become home to me. It will be sad to leave, but I know it will be much better where I'm going.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

One bird, one wish

I could not resist posting this video. If you know anything about me, you'll understand why!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

NYTimes Article

The New York Times:
Web Guitar Wizard Revealed at Last
YouTube is too good to resist.

I will admit, I am a YouTube junkie. Most of the videos are pretty bad, but every once in a while I will come across something that blows me away. This video, titled "Guitar", is one of those. I found the video through an article in The New York Times this morning, titled "Web Guitar Wizard Revealed at Last." I'll post the link in a minute.

Right now, I am writing this from the YouTube website, and it's the first time I've tried their "Post to Blog" feature. Consider this a test! I hope it publishes okay. Here goes...

Monday, August 21, 2006

Dreams coming true

Here's a post I totally forgot about:

"I have a vision of a large aviary, garage sized, full of doves. It's a dove rescue aviary. I know people who have let their pet doves go free, and they are found in trees just sitting there for days. Eventually the hawks get them because they do not fly very well. They need a safe haven and to know that they are beautiful symbols of peace. The world needs to remember peace."

It looks like my vision is coming true! Karla told me about a HUGE outdoor aviary beside her house. She only has one dove at the moment, but she's getting two more rescue doves. And Angel will get to be in there as often as I let her. It makes me really excited about moving. Four doves! Who could ask for more?

I think Angel will adjust quite nicely to the move!

Meanwhile I am slowly packing a little each day. I've accumulated so much junk the last eight years, I will be hesitant to accumulate more after I move. I am having fun getting rid of everything I don't need. It makes me feel lighter. There's something to be said about the simple life.

I'll be making lots of videos once I move, especially of the aviary. Woo hoo! Can't wait!

Friday, August 18, 2006

No More Cliff hangers!

The bombshell news is not as major as I made it sound. Please forgive me for the drama. There is no cliffhanger. I do have news, however! I am moving in with a family I have known for 15 years. Here's the story...

Around 15 years ago I was living in Arkansas and had run out of places to live. I was basically homeless. My sister Jody in Atlanta invited me to move in with her and her husband. She bought me a plane ticket, and I moved in with nothing more than a suitcase. Within a week I found a newspaper ad wanting a live-in nanny to three children. Karla was two years old then, and she is still in my life today at 16 years old. I only lived with them for about a year, then I moved on with my life, We've been in touch off and on ever since. They are in a couple of my videos, but "Violent Family" probably has the best shots. (I just now realized that this story is a repeat from that "Violent Family" post -- but if you're anything like me, you totally forgot.)

Never in a million years would I have guessed I'd be living with them again. We had our rough times and even hated each other. But there's always been a connection underneath it all.

It still makes no sense whatsoever for me to move in with them.

My plan all along was to move into a bigger place because I was outgrowing this one. Instead I will be moving into a single room with far less space. I will be getting rid of most of my stuff and living as simply as possible. This is incredibly -- and surprisingly -- appealing to me. I should have been a monk. Except I didn't know this was appealing until I began entertaining the idea.

When I go to that house, I feel a sense of "home" that I haven't felt since I was going to Cedar Hill Enrichment Center every few weeks. Before that, the last time I felt a sense of "home" was when I was living with Caroline -- my roommate in Arkansas. I've never felt that way while living here in this highrise. I have never belonged here, and I miss that sense of belonging. I know I will have that feeling when I move in with -- who I call -- my spiritual family.

The family consists of Darlene, the mother of Karla and Alex. She and I first met when I arrived on her doorstep with a suitcase. We had been talking on the phone and decided I would be ideal for the nanny job. Karla was a big responsibility for me back then, yet Darlene did as much, if not more, than I did. Karla had two moms, and to this day she calls me her second mom. Karla also had two older bothers at the time, but I mostly dealt with Karla.

In 1996 I decided to get back into mental health advocacy, and I found an advocate named Jim who helped me get on the mental health center's advisory board. Jim and I became close friends, and I introduced him to Darlene. They fell in love, got married, and had Alex. Jim died of cancer when Alex was four or five. I wasn't anywhere around back then and had no idea about Jim until much later. Now Alex is 9 years old.

So I will be living with people I have a deep bonding with.

Darlene and I had a hard time even considering this. I still don't know how it was brought up! But it feels as if a decision was made on a higher plane and we're just carrying it through. It could just be a stepping stone for my true purpose. It could be a lot of things. But I feel a strong sense of purpose. No agenda, no "fixing" anything, no clue whatsoever. It's the weirdest thing.

I feel like this is a leap of faith. There's nothing more to it. We'll just have to see what happens. I feel good about it, though. Right now, that's all I'm focusing on.

One thing Darlene said the room did not have was a closet. Hmmmmm.... I started looking on the internet for one, but yuck yuck yuck. It felt too overwhelming! Then suddenly a brand new wardrobe from a local hotel landed in Kenny's hands. (Kenny is a family friend). Apparently a former neighbor who worked at a hotel asked Kenny if he needed a wardrobe. So there goes my closet worries! Little things like that keep happening. As long as I've known them, it's always been that way.

In other news...

I've started a new blog called Pet Memorial. Of course it was inspired by Miracle, but it was also inspired by other pets who have died within the last few weeks. It seems to be a theme in my life, and it began at the most unlikely place: Funny the Vlog. Bev takes in foster dogs and she video blogged a litter of puppies. When one of them died, I cried my eyes out. It was so sad to me, more than it "should" have been. I'll never forget that puppy. Then Miracle died shortly afterward, and Sue's cat on the same day. Jodie's dog Sophie, who I grew to love while in MN, died a couple days ago. That was the deciding factor behind the website. I remember how healing it was for me to make "A Tribute to Miracle" on the day he died. It is healing in a way that a memorial service is healing.

I miss Miracle more than words can say, but I am seeing more miracles in my life since he left. I think of him every time another one happens.

Oh yea, and the person who I thought the news of me moving would freak out was my sister Jody. We had sister night last night, and I finally told her. She is doing her very best to digest it. This truly was a bombshell for her.

I'll keep you all posted, and I promise - No More Cliff hangers!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Goin' Back

I just got back from my trip to MN. I captured so much footage, it will take two videos to cover the highlights! The theme of this video is children and pets. I was surrounded by both everywhere I went. It was great! The soundtrack is a rare pre-Queen recording of Freddie Mercury. He must have been in his early twenties when he recorded it. Very vintage sounding. The kids in the video are Jodie's girls, Emily and Sarah. Also featured are Ellis's babies, Logan and Parker (the MN Twins), and their big brother Evan. I have watched Evan grow up on the videos Ellis sent me, but this was the first time I got to meet him! Very special weekend :o)

I hope everyone is doing well. I love hearing from you!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Psychiatry is not a real job!

This was the video EM, Sue, and I took the afternoon Miracle and Sam died. We were mostly letting off steam and laughing until it hurt. We had cried enough that day.

This is also the video that will be the first in our new project. I will post the blog link here when I have it ready, and I will be cross-posting to both blogs (so you won't miss anything).

This project will be about mental health recovery. We will be dispelling the myths surrounding mental illness. We will be blowing the minds of some people (who I will not mention here). We will be using podcasts and video to speak out about the oppression our peers face every day because they have a "mental illness".

We have all been told we were hopeless. We have been in the back wards. We have seen and experienced agony that most people can't imagine. There was a time when we had no voice. That time is over. We now have the Internet!

We'll be doing interviews with leaders in the mental health consumer/survivor movement. We'll be making fun videos like this one. We'll be making serious videos, too.

The doctors said we were incurable. They drugged us up. For some, it helped. For others, it made things worse. But psychiatry is the only profession that can force patients into taking powerful drugs that they know are making them worse.

It's not all doomsday, though. We DO recover. Some of us are cured! Many of us are simply artists who live and think outside the box. All of us have immeasurable potential. My hope is to get the message across to everyone who cares about the truth.

So that is the project in a nutshell. The idea came to me at 3:00 in the morning, and I've been obsessing ever since. I feel so driven to do this. I want to bring more people in, too. With this project, there is room for anyone who wants to speak out about mental health recovery.

This blog is quickly becoming a mish mash. Bring it on!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Death of a Miracle

This morning I realized that I had not told you anything about what happened to Miracle, so that's what this post is about. It's a sad story.

Monday I was in a rush to meet EM and Sue. I had woke up that morning at 3:00 AM with an idea for all three of us, and I couldn't wait to share it with them. I said my goodbyes to Miracle and Angel, and spent the day with EM and Sue talking about my idea (which I will share later). Sue was grieving for her cat, Sam, because she would be put to sleep the next morning. Sam was her best friend of 15 years. EM and I did all we could to comfort Sue and help watch over Sam to keep this beautiful cat as comfortable as possible on her final night.

I came home later that evening and immediately looked for my birds. I don't cage them, which is probably the stupidest thing on earth, but I can't STAND to see my birds caged. This stems from all the years I spent in psychiatric hospitals, often locked in a tiny room called "seclusion" for being "bad." Once I spent a week in one of those rooms, and that was enough for me to think about how birds must feel in a cage. I am probably wrong about how they feel, but I just know I can't stand to cage my birds! So I have trained Angel over the last ten years to keep herself safe when I am gone. Angel had been "mentoring" Miracle (who never spent more than an hour in a cage -- and that was to take him outside), and Miracle was following Angel everywhere, mimicking everything Angel did.

I came home and saw Angel right away. But Miracle was missing. I looked and looked and could not stop looking. I was in a panic. After an hour or so, I realized the only place I hadn't looked was behind the refrigerator. The adrenaline rushing through me allowed me to pull the refrigerator away from the wall with amazing strength. That's when I saw Miracle. I thought he was okay at first and just waiting for me to find him. I was SO HAPPY he was okay! But when I picked him up, he was limp and barely able to move.

I laid him on my bedside table and watched over him all night. Every time he moved, I would wake up from my twilight sleep and tell him I loved him more than anything in the world. I honestly thought that if he made it through the night, he would recover. I also knew of the possibility he would not make it. He was so tiny.

That was a long night for both me and Sue and EM and Miracle and Sam. I didn't call EM or Sue that night, and I hadn't planned on calling them the next day. I knew that EM and Sue were putting Sam to sleep, and I didn't want to take away from Sue's experience.

In the morning, I moved Miracle to a towel at the bottom of his cage. I checked on him every few minutes. I could tell that, even though he made it through the night, he was still dying. That's when I told him to please go. I would be okay. Angel would be okay. His suffering was too horrible to allow to continue. The phone rang right at that point. It was Sue. She immediately knew something was wrong, and I cried for the first time since it all began. I don't remember what I said except, "Miracle is dying!"

The next thing I knew, both EM and Sue were on their way over. I went to check on Miracle again, and he had just died. His little body was still warm but Miracle was gone. The phone rang again right at that point. It was Sue telling me they were on their way upstairs. It took them maybe 5 minutes to get here from EM's, and Miracle had died during that time.

The three of us cried together for what seemed like hours. It probaby was. I'd lost all sense of time by then.

We wrapped Miracle's body in his towel, and we buried him in EM's yard. The hardest part was carrying him in the towel to his grave. I am still crying over that one. He was just a baby, for godsake! He was supposed to have a good, long life! HE WAS MY BABY!!! HE WAS MY BABY!!!

I went home to be with Angel for a while, and then the three of us got together later that afternoon to shoot video at a Home Depot parking lot, of all places. I'll be posting that video within the next few days. It was an amazing day, one that words really can't describe in a blog or anywhere else. The implications of that day, the day when our beloved pets died within a couple hours of each other, the day we all grieved together, are beyond description. Something very tragic and beautiful happened for all of us. There was a shift within each of us. We all felt it. We also have a new friendship we'd never had before with each other. Nothing is more precious or sacred. I need to quit writing. There are no more words beyond what I have written.

Thank you, readers, for finding love in your heart for a baby white dove named Miracle. He will be dearly missed.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Little Five Points

My friend E.M. lives at Little Five Points. How awesome is that? I love the bohemian aura surrounding the area. This video is a bit different from my others. Maybe a bit more artsy fartsy.

E.M. caught the same video bug I have! So we went out yesterday just to capture video scenes that we could later edit into something meaningful. This was my edit. I'll point you to E.M.'s when she is ready. Right now I'm in a rush to get this posted before I leave. I'll write more later!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Back from Iraq!

Brian is back from Iraq and was discharged from the military! Brian is my nephew, Jody's son, and he just turned 22. Jody and her hubby just re-finished their basement, and this was their first party that extended to the basement. It was actually like having many parties in one house. Every room in the house was filled. Jody always throws the best parties, and this was no exception.

As for Brian, he just wants to have fun. I don't blame him one bit! I'm just glad he's home.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Gay Pride 2006

Demetrius and I went to the Pride Parade in Atlanta on June 25, 2006. No, I'm not gay (not that there's anything wrong with that, hee hee) but I have been in the gay scene since I was a teenager. I am 100% supportive of gay issues, and going to the parade was wonderful! Even the downpour was fun! I have never been caught outdoors during such a major rain storm in my life! But it actually made the day perfect.

I'd like to see more footage of Gay Pride weekend around the country. If you know of another video, please direct me to it. I'd really appreciate it!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Sister Night

It seems like forever since my last post. Hi all!!! I'll post more often from now on! (Of course I said that a few months ago). Anyway, life has just been good. I've decided that this is the time my Higher Self set up for me to just get into a healthy routine and have fun with everything else. No drama. No sense of dread when I wake up in the morning. No stress. Just breathing and enjoying life without worry. Ahhhhhhh...

So this video is about fun. Sister night is whenever Jody and I go out. Sometimes we invite others to join us, but most of the time, it's just the two of us catching up. We've done this for ten years! On this night, we invited Sherri and Karla to go with us. Sherri is like a sister. She may as well be! She and Jody have been inseparable since they were in their early teens!

Karla has become more like a sister than a goddaughter to me lately. We just have a blast together! She'd never gone out for sister night before, so this was a real treat for her. Afterward, her ride home got lost trying to get here, then he disappeared. I still don't know what happened to him. So Karla spent the night with me and I took her home on Marta the next morning.

It was just one of those nights you feel good about the next day. The goodness, the "rightness" lingers on. The four of us had never been out before even though I consider both Karla and Sherri my family. They never met until tonight. The whole evening was very unique.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Best Friends

This will probably be the last dove video I make for a while. The next one will be when they are the same size. Will you be able to tell them apart? So far, I can. Miracle is still a lot smaller than Angel. He follows Angel everywhere, too. Watching these birds is the best meditation I've found so far.

Angel is 10 years old, and Miracle is almost 5 months. Enjoy!

Click picture to watch video.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am into numbers. My favorite number is 333. I see certain numbers all the time, either on a digital clock, a license plate, a phone number, an ad, just anywhere. The numbers are 111, 222, 333, 444, or 555. Also 1010, 1111, or 1212. Never 666. Hmmmmm. I wonder why that is.

Today, according to mass consciousness, it is 06/06/06 (and The Omen premieres)! But it's really not 06/06/06 today, not according to numerology. The year 2004 translates to the number 6 by adding the digits together. The real 06/06/06 happened on June 6, 2004 and June 15, 2004 and June 24, 2004, and no one even noticed!

This year, 2006, translates to the number 8. So today is June 6 in the year of 8. The days to watch this year would be August 8, 2006 or August 17, 2006 or August 26, 2006. (All translate to 888). Next year the days to watch will be Sept. 9, 2007 or Sept 18, 2007 or Sept 27, 2007. All are 999 days. Very powerful numbers. Probably the most powerful of any combination.

I do believe we are headed toward something. I don't know what that is for sure, but I see it as "the shift." I see the shift as a global awakening, where everyone will become keenly aware of everything they say and do. No more secrets from ourselves or others. For some, it will be no biggie because they already know themselves well. Others will be getting too much information, and it could be uncomfortable.

I don't think the world will end, but I do believe it will change. And it's something to look forward to! I'm so tired of corrupt institutions that aren't even aware how archaic they are. The educational system, for one. All bureaucracies for another -- and that covers a lot! Organized religion is another huge one. I'm not talking about any certain religion, but organized religions seem to serve themselves more than they do their congregations. Poverty, hunger, and AIDS have become so intolerable, nobody will be able to look away anymore. All corruption will be exposed, and in the end, nobody but the system itself will be held accountable. Of course there will be individuals involved, but it's the system they are using that allows for such corruption. There are loopholes in everything! But as global awakening happens, all of these things, fully exposed, will naturally fall away. A new society will be slowly rebuilt to reflect the new awakening.

Those are my current "end of the world" predictions. I reserve the right to change them as things unfold :o)

Happy 06/06/06 everyone! I can play along. Boo!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Violent Family

I have a unique relationship with Karla and her family. I've known them for 14 years. When I lived in Arkansas in 1992, I had exhausted all my resources and found myself homeless, so I called my sister in Woodstock, GA. She immediately invited me to fly to GA and move in with her until I could live on my own again. Within a week, I found an ad in the paper for a live-in nanny for Karla, who was two at the time. I moved in the following day, meeting Darlene (Karla's mother) for the first time. I was there for about a year, then I moved into a personal care home to work with Alzheimer's patients, but I kept in touch with Karla's family. We've had our ups and downs, but recently Darlene offered to help me with my MS. She is a Reiki Master and has powerful intuitive abilities. She also works at a health food store, where I get the supplements she suggests. She is doing this for me on a weekly basis at no cost. Needless to say, we are friends once again, and the connection is still there, stronger than ever. I never thought that was possible. I am so thrilled!!!

Darlene's ex-husband died about 4 years ago. His name was Jim Brice, who was at the forefront of the mental health consumer movement at the time. I helped him open Georgia's first drop-in center for mental health consumers. We were great friends, and I introduced him to Darlene. They fell in love and got married shortly afterward. I even went to their weddings -- and I don't do weddings! They had a son (born at home) named Alex. He's 8 years old now (I think). He looks just like Jim, and he's a great kid!

So the family consists of Darlene, Karla, and Alex. There's also Kenny, who I met recently, and he and Karla have a very interesting relationship. They are very close friends. This video shows the day I got my first Reiki session with Darlene. I hope you enjoy it even though violence is the theme. They really aren't violent, but I couldn't resist making this video.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Go Taylor Hicks!

Go Taylor! I know he's going to win American Idol, and I am going to win a Red Lobster dinner! Both he and Katherine had a bad night last night, I thought, but Taylor still pulled it off. Unfortunately, Katherine bombed. It would have been better if she had sung "Over the Rainbow" much earlier in the season, but she had just sung it last week! And again last night! It was good, of course, but it was really her only "memorable" song of the season. I don't think she should be standing in the top two. Chris should be there! I'm glad Taylor is there, though. Only a few hours before the red carpet show, then the elimination show begins! Sorry to bore you non-American Idol fans, but I had to say my piece, and there you have it. American Idol will be over after tonight! Eeeeek! Whatever shall I do on Tuesday and Wednesday nights? Maybe some of the things I've been procrastinating.

I decided today that I would get some things done. Laundry was one of them. I just got back from the laundry room. It is not a good day to do laundry. The three working washers are being used, and there's a long line for when they finish.

That's kind of been my day today. Earlier I decided to take the birds out on the porch for some fresh air and sunlight, right? Nope. Just as I got my birds settled in their cage and out on the porch, the maintenance crew decided to wash down the porch. They were using these loud machines, and they had a yellow caution strip by the door. It looked like a crime scene. So I took my birds back home.

So I thought it was time to write in my blog. Not a whole lot is happening right now, which is wonderful! I feel so free! I wake up in the morning and nothing is pulling at me. No appointments unless I am the one making them. Tomorrow I am going to Karla's where her mom will do Reiki on me. She has always been a wealth of information when it comes to nutrition and holistic medicine. She and Karla both work at the health food store, and Karla is becoming just like her mother in that area. I learn so much from both of them. So tomorrow will be a fun day!

Speaking of nutrition, I just got a new book the other day, and I can't put it down! It's 20 years old but way ahead of its time. It's called "Fit for Life" by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond. (Read the reviews at Amazon!) It's mostly about eating high-water content foods (like fruits and veggies) and proper food combining. Wow - did you know that raw, ground sesame seeds have more calcium than any other food? Anyway, the book says to eat fruits or fruit juice until noon. Always eat fruits by themselves and on an empty stomach. Use proper food combining throughout the day until 8pm, and stop eating after 8pm. The book explains so much about the body's cycles and how it digests food. The book teaches how efficient your body really is, especially when you treat it right. I am so inspired to work this program and make it a lifestyle. When a book makes you think logically and use common sense, it's a winner. I highly recommend this book (I got it for a penny plus shipping at

I will be uploading another aquarium video soon. There are some strange looking creatures in our world. Strange but remarkably beautiful.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Georgia Aquarium

One of the greatest perks of living here is having the largest aquarium in the world (besides the ocean) in my own backyard. I walk there often, usually in the late afternoon when nobody is there. I have a season pass, so I can go as often as I like, and I do go often! Now that I have a new video camera, you can count on aquarium videos here! This is my first one. I hope you like it!

It's so peaceful to watch how fish live compared to humans. There is no drama or agenda or betrayals. No money or politics or bureaucracy. Fish are just fish, and all they do is be authentic and live peacefully with each other. It's a world that we haven't learned too much from, at least not now. But they are wonderful reminders of how we could live if we wanted to.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there in cyberspace and in my own backyard. This is a special Mother's Day for me this year. My mother called me a couple weeks ago. It was the first I'd heard from her since I told her I was diagnosed with MS. I thought she had disowned me, and I wrote her that in an email. I think that's why she called but she said it wasn't. Then she apologized for putting me though that. She assured me it wasn't intentional, and I believe her, but she kept apologizing anyway. It felt good. She's never apologized before, and her apologies went so much deeper than about her not contacting me after the diagnosis. She is dissociative like me, so I can imagine her reading my email then immediately blocking it out. That's just her. This conversation was special, unlike any we'd ever had. I felt like the newborn in me bonded for the first time ever with her mother. I also realized I am my own best mother, and I am a damn good one (to my surprise). If it weren't for my diagnosis, I would never had known that about myself. But I am a 24/7 mom, which is impossible for anyone else but me.

My mom and I talked a lot about motherhood. We talked about a lot of things. I saw her in a different way that day. I saw her as a person, a peer. Not as a woman who should be this or that way because she carries the role of "mother." She is just another person trying to survive in this heavy, intense, and often painful world. The truth is, my mother has been through more than I can even imagine. She is a strong woman, and she has held it together through everything. The compassion I feel for her is unlike anything I'd felt for her before. I admire her as a woman even more than a mother. I admire myself as a mother! So happy Mother's Day to us both!

After our talk, I cried for two days straight. I know it was all my inner children who have been looking for a mother their entire lives. And they were crying of relief that their mother is always there now. Always. They are safe. They are me, and I am trustworthy, capable, and responsible. This was among the most healing times of my life.

When I sat down to write, I had no idea what I'd be writing about. This just poured out. I hope everyone reading this will remember and recognize their mother within. Everyone has inner children who are still crying over their boo boo's.

I have many external mothers, too. My mom had 11 brothers and sisters, mostly sisters, and they have all played surrogate mom to me throughout my life. Big shout out to Robin, who is one of the strongest mothers I know. And Donna Manning, who knows what it really means to mother birds. My friend Ellis in MN who just had twins - KUDOS! I can't wait to see them in July! And my best friend Jodie in MN, as well as my sister Jody are wonderful mothers!!! As far as I am concerned, if you take care of yourself, you are a mother!

Oooh I have so much more to say, but I think I will go ahead and close for now. I will be uploading a new video I shot at the Georgia Aquarium! I think it may be my best yet. So if you haven't been to the largest aquarium in the world, you'll want to stay tuned!


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A Day with Karla

Karla is my goddaughter. Not officially, but we both know that I am always here for her. I was her full time nanny when she was 2. Now she's 16 but acts 22. I love hanging out with her. We like doing the simplest things together. Going to Wal-Mart is a must. We also hit Value Village, restaurants, and the health food store where she works. This girl knows more about nutrition than anyone I know. I am so proud of her! I went to see her last week, and took loads of videos. Then I broke my camera AGAIN! But I did not hesitate to find the exact camera on eBay for only $75.00! There something really cool about buying something that used to be expensive until their new model comes along. The camera is great, plus I have all the accessories. So now I am just waiting for it to arrive. Meanwhile, here is a video of our day together.

The dove in the video is Karla's. Karla has always had doves since she was 8 years old. She actually gave me Angel ten years ago! She also gave me CJ and DJ, so in a way, she gave me Miracle! I just know that I probably would have never known the rewards of having doves if it weren't for Karla.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Watching the Fights

I feel like one of those new mothers who can't get enough video footage to show everyone they know. But this one is priceless. Really! It shows Miracle (and later, Angel) watching the pigeons fight outside the window. This is a typical morning scene. Please forgive the low quality of the video, but enjoy it anyway!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Void

I wish I had something wonderful and exciting to write, but I don't. I am in a Void. This is freedom like I've never had before. I have friends, but I notice that I can't spend too much time with any one of them. I'm a loner. I've always been a loner at heart, and now I can embrace that side of myself rather than feel guilty for "isolating." I hate that word! It was used often when I was in the mental health system, especially when I was in hospitals. I remember one hospital where I had to share a room with eight women. The room was built for four. The staff would lock the door during the day so none of us could "isolate" alone in that room. They'd rather us be bored to tears in the day room. Anyway, I used to hide under the bed until they locked the door, then I would have the luxury of alone time for hours and hours, until they noticed I was missing.

There's nothing like a mental hospital to drive you insane.

But I digress. I am a loner. And that is OK! It doesn't need to be labeled. It doesn't need to be fixed. I've been this way since birth, ok???

So my social time is limited by choice. Sometimes I don't answer the phone. I rarely answer the door unless it's a package being delivered. So the fact that people have been leaving my life is only a reflection of what I wanted all along. I don't have anyone breathing down my neck to go do something. My time is my own and I am SO SELFISH with it! Finally!!! Meanwhile, the friends I do have already know this about me, and they respect and honor it. Those are true friends. I only have a handful, but that is more than enough.

So what am I doing with all this free time? I should be changing the world or something. But luckily I stopped "shoulding" on myself a long time ago. No, I'm not spending my time changing anything, not even myself. I am who I am! Oooh I just noticed a gray hair. Eeeeeek!

The friend who accused me of stealing from her has never contacted me. I am not counting on that - ever. I'm just glad she ended the friendship while it was still new. Another friend of eight years ended our friendship the same day. Can you believe that? Then I ended another friendship a few days ago. This person would not stop calling me, even after I told her I needed space. Good riddance to all of these people! My BEST friend lives in Minnesota, and she and I already know we have to limit our time together. She calls maybe once a month, but she is someone I would always answer the phone for. In fact, I will be flying out to visit her in July! Booked my flight today! I have another friend in Minnesota who just gave birth to twins. Minnesota Twins! (Sorry, I just had to throw that in)

So, I guess long distance relationships work best for me. I do have a friend who lives in my building but he is highly respectful of my space (after I trained him). I wonder how many other loners are out there who feel guilty about it? Are YOU one of those people? If so, please know that I understand. I've never had anyone tell me that before, not when it comes to alone time.

I tend to attract people who drain me. That chapter in my life is officially over. My radar is way too sensitive to those energy vampires now.

So now what? Void...whatever happens happens. I have no agenda anymore. I just am who I am, and now I am enjoying being me.

Oooooh American Idol is on tonight! Go Taylor Hicks! Or Chris! Or Paris! I like them all this season, but I am predicting that Taylor is going to win. I have a bet going with my Minnesota friend, Jodie. She says Chris will win (and he should, to be honest). The loser has to treat the winner to a Red Lobster feast when I come out there in July. If Chris wins, I will be happy anyway because then I'll know that American Idol is more about talent than having a huge fan base. That's not to say Taylor isn't talented! I love that guy! But Chris is technically better than anyone, and that seems so obvious to me.

One day I will give up all my addictions. TV is one of them. The computer is another. I wonder what life would be like addiction-free. Is anyone reading this 100% free of addictions? I seriously doubt it, but anything is possible!

Okay, the rambling is over. I actually had a lot to say, but my mind went blank when I started to write. Oh well. It's all part of being in the Void. :o)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Turf Wars

Recently, Miracle has been venturing into the livingroom, Angel's territory. He had been spending his days in my bedroom at the windowsill. But I guess watching pigeons eat and fight became boring to him. Plus, Angel has some interesting stuff! So he's been exploring everything. Angel tolerates it for the most part, but sometimes, he gives Miracle reminders of whose turf it really is.

Click picture to watch video