taking care of my head, taking care of my heart . . .

Self Care Isn't Selfish Signage
Photo by Madison Inouye via Pexels

this life I have is
a heavy mountain right now
I’m drifting away


Effective this evening, I will be taking a short break. I will log back onto WordPress on Friday, June 05, 2020. Until then, all of you be well, stay safe, and “love one another.”

Mister Brown Goes Insane

Mister Brown Goes Insane

An Experiment

Photo by Pixabay via Pexels

An Audio Poem

Mister Brown lives on the corners of
Trident Avenue & 4th Street.
His rickety walk matches the
pace of a snail.
Reverend Burnham says he can’t
be trusted with the church’s
money anymore.
Something about embezzlement
and buying dope.

I stand on the corner, waiting for
The Man to pick me up for work,
and he glides down his steps
like a ghost on a mission.
I keep my wallet close to me.
He waves, I smile.
I don’t say a word to him,
but I watch him as he tries
to figure out how to get
into his car.
The door swings open,
he pushes his disobedient
body inside — closes it.

I notice the gas cap hasn’t
been closed.
I flag him down, but he’s
up the street quicker than my
hands can flail.
He hits a tree.
Cops come.
Reverend Burnham too.
Said he fell asleep at
the wheel.

Funny, I think.
He looked well-rested
to me.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium.

Non-Fiction Saturdays

I Am No Legend

mixkit-view-of-a-night-sky-in-the-city-139-desktop-wallpaper
Art by Lauren Bending via Mixkit.co

I thought I would wake up to a ghost town–to people actually abiding by the suggestions of experts and personnel equipped to follow and track COVID-19, however, restrictions are being avoided and noses are pointed upwards at them in defiance as if to say, “This is my life. To hell with you people telling me what to do with it!” As of Friday, March 20, 2020, the state of North Carolina had 137 cases of COVID-19 and the numbers are steadily rising.

Heading out to work, the roads are still as busy as they have ever been, however, when I pull into my organization’s parking lot, there are fewer cars parked–fewer patients are keeping their appointments. We actually had several walk-in X-rays today and I thought to myself, “Why the hell are you guys even here? It’s not emergent. The back pain that you’ve had for years now can wait for two more weeks.” Then, I thought–“It’s calm now. The storm hasn’t hit. People are getting everything done before they actually aren’t able to do so for quite a long while.”

I understand the rebellion, but I DON’T UNDERSTAND IT, if that makes sense. This is not something people can see, touch, or control–it hasn’t directly affected us with a vengeance yet, so most are testing it. Most want to know if it’s REALLY real. And I am over here silently screaming to myself, but also to these people, “JUST LOOK AT THE NUMBERS, PEOPLE! WE MUST DO WHAT WE CAN TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF THIS THING!” I imagine myself not being heard–a voiceless voice in the crowd, sheltered by disobedient adult-children who fear they will not get their way.


 

SyFy.com

Really, if I am honest, this reminds me a bit of I Am Legend. Of course, we don’t have the undead seeking out our blood, fearful of the light of day or ultraviolet rays, but we have a virus, a contagion, sweeping our nation in droves, and I think acting on the side of caution is wise. At this very moment, there are at least five people outside my building, huddled together, talking and laughing–having a good old time. I have my windows up for a good, night breeze, and I hear them. I wonder how many of them have even done what they have been advised to do. How many of them in their group are preparing for what could be the wildest thing we have ever experienced?

The dog and I cuddle together on my big chair like we do most nights. I turn to a good movie or read a book or we relax in the beauty of the essence of each other and we keep our distance from others. I walk her, speak to my neighbors in passing, and we come straight home. If I did not have to work, I would not leave my apartment, save for the duty of walking the Little Monster. I have my essentials. I have all that I need to survive for two-three weeks without having to go to the grocery store.

As much as I can, I am adhering to the advice and to the restrictions. Due to my job, as of today, I still have to work. We still have healthcare to provide. Our docket is not made up of only emergent cases as we have been advised to have, however, we have pared-down our schedule and many patients have canceled their appointments. I have to work tomorrow and it is a very short day. I will start my day there at the gig at 06:15 am and will prayerfully end it before 13:00 pm.

I have this feeling that when I get to work, not all sixteen patients who were on the docket before I left will be there. I have a feeling the number will be around nine patients. We shall see.

Be safe. Be careful. Abide by the restrictions implemented. Take care of yourselves, people. Peace.


 

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Non-fiction Saturdays

I Don’t Want To Lose My Mind

I watched my paternal Great-Grandmother deteriorate over time. A woman who stood at 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighed over 200 pounds. She was the epitome of “a strong tower.” For years, she carried us. We descended from her bloodline, all of us; her eyes piercing through each of our faces — her voice found in mine and a few of my cousins’.

We did not think she would become the person she was before she died but she did. When you watch the woman who helped raise you in her home for the better part of three years lose her sense of self, there is a depth to that which cannot be explained.

Everything about her demanded attention. She was not only vocal, but she also commanded a room with her presence. Her voice would echo long after she left. When she spoke, people listened. I envied that. I knew that when I grew up, I wanted people to listen to me the way they so easily listened to my pistol of a Great-Grandmother.

She married once and never remarried. I did not know my Great-Grandfather. He died while my Dad and his siblings were young. I do know that like my paternal Grandfather, he was an Army man and died before he reached his sixties.

My parents were teenagers when I was born. A bout with lead poisoning landed us a temporary stay with my Great-Grandmother whom I’d learn to call “Grandma Tiggs.”

The following story has been told to me many times . . . Shortly after I ingested paint chips from our apartment’s walls, I became sick and was hospitalized. Grandma Tiggs let me know her advisement to my parents was, “I don’t care what y’all do, but bring my baby to me.” And to her, I went. We all went. And with her, I’d find the beauty of a soul with a hard shell.

She potty-trained me by placing my potty in the living room in front of the television while letting me know that I could not get up until something was in the potty. There, in front of her television, I became familiar with Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, and As The World Turns. I snacked on apple and peach slices, whole milk, and homemade ice cream. I could not drink any juice or water until after I cleaned my plate. We ate our meals at the family dining table and nowhere else inside the house.

Her home. Her rules.

She taught Sunday School, was a “Mother” in our small church and swam at our local YMCA to relax and strengthen her muscles when she got older. I recall being in Grandma Tiggs’ Sunday School class and not only did I learn more to add to what I had already been taught in her home, but I also grew to respect her at an entirely different level.

We would begin our class by singing Jesus Loves The Little Children and end it with Jesus Loves Me. There was no favoritism issue toward me. If anything, I had to show and prove myself more than my peers. She expected that.


Photo by Malcolm Lightbody via Unsplash

Every Sunday after church, we’d have dinner at her place. My family, all of us, gathered at her table with growling bellies and mouths watering from the various delicious smells from her kitchen. We would wait until she plopped her buttocks down in her seat at the head of the table. She was our matriarch — she blessed our food.

When I went to college, I came home every other weekend and one of my pastimes would be sitting on Grandma Tiggs’ porch with her and talking. This, I did for three years. Right before my fourth year, my Great-Grandmother started showing signs of dementia, specifically Alzheimer’s disease.

Little things like my name, if I wore glasses or not, where I was born, if I used to live with her, what her address was, where she was born, etc. were foreign to her. There would be moments of lucidity but they did not last long. The disease became so crippling that her remaining living children made the decision to place her in the care of a small facility where a home health nurse and her team took on salvaging the last of Grandma Tiggs’ mind as best as they could. This is to say, they made her shift into this new era easier to bear.

She was leaving us. There would be no turning back.

I visited her. I had to make an appointment in advance. Our days became Friday or Saturday whenever I came home for a particular weekend. At first, she knew who I was. She would sit and hold my hand — pat my leg while I spoke. We would have what seemed like hours of memorable conversation. Soon after, we fell into the comforts of our past, she’d forget who I was or call me by one of my older cousin’s names.

There were many moments that I had to fight off tears because she would be escorted away from me if she stirred up the environment. I was often frightened by her behavior, however, I had to remind myself that within that withering body with the twin-like withering brain was my life-source, my Great-Grandmother.


Photo by Nashua Volquez via Pexels

I watched this tower of a woman turn into a rude, senseless, and ruthless flailing spirit. I still cannot put into words what it feels like. I realize upon writing this that there are many moments I repressed because they are too painful to recall.

Grandma Tiggs died when she was eighty-five years old. Her funeral was a home-going celebration in a church full of devoted and loyal family members and friends. It was a detrimental period of my life — her passing. For years, I would be reminded of just how quickly her mind faded and how she left me longing for more of her and her presence.

My Grandmother, Grandma Tiggs’ second oldest child is eighty-four and while she is still fully capable of making certain decisions and living on her own, she too began showing signs of some form of dementia two years ago. Gradually, her demeanor is shifting from peaceful and mild-mannered to impatient and outlandish.

She repeats herself. She forgets to turn the stove off. She refuses to listen to members of authority in certain situations. She is adamant about not moving away from her current living space and will let you know in a heartbeat that she is still very much in control.

But, she is not.

I have watched the women in my life lose their faculties, their primal sense of being and purpose, and personalities too. The one thing I fear about aging is losing my sense of self — losing my mind. It terrifies me because I have seen what can happen. I know what outcome lies ahead. I have no children to care for me or ensure my safety. Who will come to my aid?

I don’t want to leave this world a shell of a person. But I don’t get to plan the way I will die or what may cause my death. I can only hope that any major changes or disturbances won’t break the hearts of those I love who may outlive me.

I want to be a good memory for them. I hope I will be.


Originally published via Medium. The link shared is a friend link as this is a piece behind Medium’s paywall.

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Non-fiction Saturdays

Protecting My Inner Child

Respecting My Youthful Spirit

Photo by Daniel Edeke via Pexels
 

Our psyche, with its vast inner-workings, is crucial to maintain. The childlike layer of the human soul, mind, or spirit is categorized as the inner-child. I joke with people who connect with me for the first time — “I am a big kid.” This is what I share openly. Although in most cases, it’s meant to break the ice, there is much truth to this phrase.

I build bonds, strengthen love, and laugh loudly with and around children. I am at peace in their presence. Not only do I find fun and productive things for them to do, but I also enjoy most of what they enjoy too. Watching cartoons or animated films, coloring or finger-painting, and playing at the park, just to name a few.

As adults, it can be easy to lose ourselves in the bowels of adulthood and forget how happy we can be experiencing a few things that children often do. We sometimes tend to believe that our personal worlds will crash if we take a moment to lose ourselves within our younger selves. How else are we going to stay youthful if we forget how to live fully?

Seline Shenoy offers “5 Ways To Keep Your Inner Child Alive” by listing and going into detail about the five things she believes will keep you young at heart.

Creative pursuits and hobbies: Children thrive on creativity and find immense joy in expressing themselves. They just grab those crayons, paint brushes or Play-Doh and let their artistry unleash. Without the worries of being judged.

Treat yourself to nostalgia: Have you ever listened to a song on the radio that instantly took you back to a certain phase in your life? You can experience these pleasurable sensations of nostalgia by creating opportunities to remember or relive the things that you loved as a child.

Laughter, music, and dance: As we grow older, we lose our spontaneity and our ability to have a good time because we’re so worried about what people might think. I believe that we can regain our spontaneity by enjoying three universal pleasures of life – laughter, music and dance.

Schedule playtime with children: When you immerse yourself in an environment with children, you’ll notice that you take on a more bouncy and playful persona.

Go off on adventures: We can break the monotony of our routines by bringing back that enthusiasm for adventures. While it would be great to travel to exotic destinations such as Paris or Bali, we can create miniature adventures in our own backyards.

I agree with her viewpoint and the five ways to keep your inner child alive. I believe we owe it to our aging minds and bodies to try to find and keep the good parts of us thriving. When I tap into my inner child, I have happier days, I sleep harder and longer, and I feel an encapsulating sense of peace at the end of those days.

Photo by Kiana Bosman via Unsplash

When I spend time with my younger cousins, I glow. It is often hard to tear the smile away from my face whenever they are around. I entertain them by joining them in their imaginary games, I give piggy-back rides, we play choo-choo train, and take walks up and down their neighborhood, or we visit the park. With them, I succeed in completing all five things Seline Shenoy mentions above. They are keeping me young and young at heart.

The fact is that the majority of so-called adults are not truly adults at all. We all get older. Anyone, with a little luck, can do that. But, psychologically speaking, this is not adulthood. True adulthood hinges on acknowledging, accepting, and taking responsibility for loving and parenting one’s own inner child. For most adults, this never happens. Instead, their inner child has been denied, neglected, disparaged, abandoned or rejected. — Stephen A. Diamond, Ph.D.

It is important to protect and take care of our inner child. The very parts of us that give us pure joy and elation and allows us to be free without second-guessing ourselves as children often do are the same parts of us that hold on to childhood trauma. Balancing how we cater to our innermost fears and succumbing to maturity in adulthood can save us a lot of pain and sorrow.

If we silence the inner child or suppress it, we could find ourselves struggling even more in adulthood. It is okay to embrace your quirky sense of humor. Go on and tell a few appropriate yet funny jokes. Are you thinking about enjoying a ride on the bumper cars or circling around on a Ferris wheel at a State Fair or theme park? Sure, do it! Let your inner child run free. Give yourself the freedom to dance openly outside while the sun kisses your skin. Your inner child will thank you.

Balancing how we cater to our innermost fears and succumbing to maturity in adulthood can save us a lot of pain and sorrow.

For many, it is not an adult self directing their lives, but rather an emotionally wounded inner child inhabiting an adult body. A five-year-old running around in a forty-year-old frame. — Stephen A. Diamond, Ph.D.

The above is what we want to and should avoid in our adulthood. I have been blessed to always have little ones around to keep me focused on just how joyful one can be even with the pitfalls waiting for me to lose my balance. I am also aware of when seriousness is necessary and childlike behavior is not. Knowing when to give your inner child attention and allow your psyche the ability to let loose depends on the person.

We are all different and we have ways we think work for us, however, if we drown this part of our psyche, conforming to what society believes an adult should be, we could lose it forever.

I will strive to keep my inner child happy and my youthful spirit alive. I have seen the positive results from being a “big kid” and balancing my adult duties too. I think I may go outside and hula hoop or jump rope.

Care to join me?


Originally published in The Startup via Medium. The link shared is a friend link as this is a piece behind Medium’s paywall.

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