Introducing "Tales of My Terriers" and Other Dog Stories…

In five weeks, we're moving to a condominium townhouse that is 25% smaller than this house with no fenced in backyard.

I confess, my Dandies are like children to me...

That means I'll be walking my two Dandie Dinmont Terriers at least three or four times a day. For the last five years, since I acquired my second Dandie, our two dogs have happily cavorted with each other in the backyard and rough-housed around indoors, as is the nature of this rare and endangered breed.

I've never had children, so Riley and Lucy are my substitutes. I don't anthropomorphize them, really. I simply adore them. And I spoil them.

I confess this unabashedly. Without embarrassment. With pride.

Furthermore, they're the best tonic in the world for my mood stability and overall mental health.

They're magically soothing. More than any medication ~ even my psychotherapy with Dr. Bob. With him, I gain insights. With them, I find serenity ~ and the odd adventure.


The Power of Reflective Writing…

I started keeping diaries ~ I guess you could call it journaling ~ from the time I was able to manipulate a pen or pencil on paper and print or write.

Some of my earliest diaries still occupy a special place in my library.

They're filled with horrid little stick drawings, charts and snippets of conversation. Direct quotes from real interactions or little playlets of my own creation.

What I loved was that I'd never lose my feelings.

I locked them up so no one was ever privy to them...

I captured them at a specific moment in time. Each entry was dated, sometimes even timed, in little red leather bound and lined volumes with tiny gold keys that locked up my thoughts and feelings so no one else was be privy to them.

Read Lily Koppel's The Red Leather Diary, Reclaiming a Life Through the Pages of a Lost Journal, based on her New York Times feature, Speak, Memory.

Oh, how it resonated with me.


Embracing Chaos and Change…

I didn't intend to write so much about my life when I started blogging for Psych Central. I never did before, but my life wasn't as eventful, either. I'm sick of being so self-indulgent.

After all, why should you care? You barely know me.

Old dogs can indeed learn new tricks...

On the other hand, learning to cope with dramatic change ~ chaotic change ~ can be very instructive, inspiring. Even life-changing. An adventure.

Changes and personal chaos of the magnitude I've faced during the last two months are among the toughest you face in life ~ short of debilitating illness and/or death.

Losing someone desperately close and beloved.

A child, a spouse, a parent, a sibling or an intimate, longtime friend. Suddenly. Or following an agonizing and painful illness.

Right now, you may be coping with psychically soul-destroying chaos...

Simultaneous job loss. Financial ruin. Selling your dream house and drastically downsizing. Now. You may be coping with this right now. Too many people are.

How do you override depression? Despair? See the possibilities through this maze of adversity?


Birthing A New Beginning…

So, where have I been, you may ask?

Where to begin. It all seems like a dream. Or, if I wasn't such a "half glass full kind a gal" ~ a nightmare...

Since my last post five days ago, here's what I've been up to ...

Preparing, lesson planning, marking, and inspiring 20 students in my Seneca College "Leadership in Society" classes
Polishing and cleaning every stainless steel surface, scouring every window sill and  burnishing every inch of marble and glass in the kitchen and bathrooms of our house ~ so everything looks "picture perfect"
Putting the finishing touches on the gardens and deck of our front and backyards
Packing up, labeling and storing in our basement all the clutter we wish to keep
Discarding, recycling and disposing of all the clutter we don't ~ liberating ourselves of a garage-full of "stuff"
Driving our beloved Dandie Dinmonts, Lucy and Riley, three hours north to Haliburton to be loved and cared for by "The Granddandies" of the Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club of Canada
Not sleeping ~ averaging just two hours per night for the last three nights ~ sleep deprivation*
Speaking with my banker, my financial planner, my mortgage broker and my real estate agent

Staying sane while residing in Stress City...


I will miss Susan K. Perry's "Writer's Mind"…

I am sorry to read that Susan K. Perry is discontinuing her blog Writer's Mind here at Psych Central because it has proven to be too time-consuming.

How well I can empathize with you, Susan.

As she wrote in her final post ~ "I thought I could keep up with a constant and frequent posting rate here at this blog, and it turned out to be impossible. I wasn't doing my real writing."

I always loved reading Susan's blog. It felt like home...

Susan's posts were always instructive and inspiring, even though I have never written fiction, she had invaluable insights for all writers, no matter what genre.

Very few people understand how demanding writing is. People I know think you just sit down at a keyboard and out flow the words. That it is effortless. Hah!


A Neophyte’s Garden…

I thought, for fun, I'd show you my little garden.

These pictures were taken a few minutes ago after three days and nights of rain and one day of sunshine.

I love every leaf, flower and sprout that Sheila and I planted on Tuesday night. When I have to dead-head, I hope it doesn't hurt the little plantings. I feel a little tentative about it but it needs to be done.

I'm showering my little sprouts with all my love...

See what you think and remember, this little garden is just taking root and becoming accustomed to a new home.

Mucking About with Mother Earth…(a.k.a. Sheila)

As I explained in my "Fear of Flowers" post a few days ago ~ I have a long and benign fear of getting my hands dirty. Especially gardening.

Before I proceed, let me explain why it's taken me a bit longer than I had hoped to get back to you with Part Two of my planting adventure with Sheila.

Please forgive me.

You see, it's all because of my right big toe...

Laugh, if you like, but it wasn't funny.

On Wednesday night this toe was bothering me. On Thursday, I had to teach. I didn't have time to think about it. Yesterday, I woke up and it was dark, purply red, swollen and excruciatingly painful.

I could barely slip into a pair of sandals and walk without limping. I had to go to a walk-in clinic where Dr. Mandell diagnosed a virulent infection ~ not Gout ~ and prescribed massive doses of Keflex, a form of penicillin.

No blaspheming intended...

This morning, I'm still in pain, my big toe is still dark red, as is the toe next to it. The redness still runs all the way down below the knuckle of my foot. The good news is that it's no longer throbbing as much.

Hence the delay with Part Two of my report on my "Fear of Flowers" ~ and my new found relationship with Mother Earth. For me, her name will always be Sheila.

Keeping You in the Loop…

Hi, All...

This is just a quick update.

Part Two of Fear of Flowers, tentatively titled "Mucking about with Mother Earth..." is on its way but won't be finished until later this evening.

I just wanted to keep you in the loop. Thanks for your comments and the stimulating conversation. We are an amazing community. Helping each other, caring for each other. And we're just barely one month old, here at Psych Central.

Don't forget to have a look at all the other blogs here. There are an embarrassment of riches. Something for everyone.

Right now, I'm experiencing inordinate stress, but I'm still with you. I wanted you to know that. You're on my mind all the time.


Fear of Flowers ~ Part One

Tuesday, June 1 at 3 p.m.

In two hours, I'm meeting Sheila, one of our stalwarts here at Coming Out Crazy. She's going to teach me to get my hands dirty, to muck around with plants and earth ~ and love it. She's relishing the prospect. I am dreading it.

The idea of planting repulses me ~ the muck and grime... We're meeting in a big green house up north to choose annuals to plant in my naked garden.

This may seem like a spring dream to you, but it's my private nightmare. All because something long forgotten that happened in Mrs. Birdle's Nursery School sandbox.

Ever since, I've hated getting my hands dirty in Mother Earth...

I have no idea what transpired in that sandbox of my childhood, but ever since, I've always detested getting dirt beneath my finger nails.

And I cannot relate to plants.

Solitude and Sleeplessness…

On Tuesday morning at 4:45 a.m. I was sleepless. I got up, walked into my study and cozied up to my 24" iMac. To write. On hope, of all things. I was sleepless because I was feeling hopeless. Rare, for me. I was exhausted. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't turn off my thoughts.

Sleeplessness is my arch-enemy...

Sleeplessness is a serious trigger for me and my hypomanic mind. In no time sleeplessness ushers in twinklings ~ bizarre interpretations of a reality smacking of mania, psychosis, madness. Bit-by-bit, but fast.

I can tell when I'm this way. When and while this is happening. I can see it happening from an onlooker's viewpoint. It's curious. I've been manic ~ full-blown and floridly psychotic ~ so often, I'm used to the signals. There's a certain comfort in that, strange as it may seem.