Friday, March 18, 2011


Hi Friends.

I don't know if anyone is still following this blog but if so, I'm now posting to Hubpages under the name of OpeningDoors2u. I've posted a couple of hubs and would appreciate comments, feedback, criticism. I'm not real familiar with this site and know I need to make my posts more attractive, enticing. Let me know what you think. I love writing but know I have much to learn about what to write about that is of interest to others and the technology of it for these sites. What an amazing day of opportunity for those of us who love sharing our ideas.

To the pain,

Monday, January 24, 2011

Take me home country roads.

I’m sitting at home on a subzero degree day thankful that I don’t have to go out and more blessed by the warm sun that is shining on my back through the sliding glass door leading out onto my porch newly re-blanketed with six inches of snow that fell soon after my having shoveled off the previous foot or so of fluffy white stuff. It’s January in upstate New York and as usual this time of year, I’m wondering why I still live here. I despise winter, have never enjoyed winter sports or activities, and suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). I was born in late November in Bangor, Maine, and have often said while gazing morosely out the window on a typical November day that if this was my first view of life, no wonder I’ve suffered from dysthymia and depression for as long as I can remember. Add in the memories I have of the many profound losses our family experienced back then, all taking place in winter months and I realize that there is embedded deep within me a hardwired brain pattern for winter blues. Every September, the battle begins, as dusk arrives a bit earlier each day, the unsettling twinges of anxiety emerge along with panicky waves of claustrophobia as I unwillingly contemplate the impending arrival of daylight savings time, the robber baron of precious evening sunlight. Soon, I’ll be hemmed in by darkness in the morning and by darkness too early in the afternoons. By mid-November, depending on the severity of the season and the number and degree of combined stresses from other sources, these mild anxieties may have escalated to a full-blown mood disorder. I had some years of psychotherapy around this and other issues and did better for several years. By forcing myself to return to therapy for some October tune-up sessions where I was able to absorb a degree of objectivity, I was able to recognize that my world wasn’t really falling apart and I wasn’t going crazy. My circadian rhythms were off and I needed to compensate. I made adjustments, forcing myself to get out socially, go dancing, be with friends, attend church, read inspiring books, play boardgames with my grandchildren, anything that assisted my brain and body to make the chemical and attitudinal shifts I knew I was going to need to survive. Those were good years for the most part. I not only survived but I thrived in some fundamental ways, managed to stay hopeful and emotionally even through the long, long Northeastern winter months, and not to drive off every friend I’ve ever had.

This year has been a tough one. The stresses have been heavy, personal losses overwhelming, the challenges of life acute, physical and emotional energy low. Efforts to access my cache of internal resources haven’t been successful in lighting an effective fire in my motivations. The wood seems damp, smoking and smoldering, giving off little heat. So, here I am, in the grip of a good case of winter blues, irritable, isolating, thinking seriously that the only thing worth getting up in the morning for is that first fresh cup of coffee. Once I get the first sips of dark brew into me, I sit with my journal, pouring out my despair and feeble attempts at praise and gratitude. I read some scripture and maybe a devotional passage and finally am able to at least begin the process of getting through another day. I’m putting this on paper and posting it here as a type of therapy for myself and perhaps for some other sufferer who needs to be reminded that Spring will come again, the air will warm, the trees will leave, the birds will sing. But in the meantime, there needs to be an effort on one’s own behalf despite the murky stream of melancholy that colors the world and the deep internal shiver that paralyzes all desire to move. There are treatments for this disorder, including light therapy (phototherapy), psychotherapy and medications. I personally avoid medications of any type but for some people the appropriate medication can provide a bridge over the roughest waters. Exercise is very beneficial but can be difficult to initiate when the mood is low.

Writing helps me a great deal. It allows me to take these vague discomforts, ruminations, anxieties and despairs and cast them out into the light of day. I find myself able to arrive at new conclusions about their meanings, to develop fresh perspective from that which has been like an obsessive dirge of despondency, formed too early, reinforced by harsh environmental cycles, replaying itself over and over in my soul. I will escape one day soon to a land of warmth and sunshine. I was never meant to dwell in this semi-dark, frozen place, beautiful though it can be in other seasons. Surely I was mis-delivered by a tired, mentally befuddled stork who was himself suffering from winter blues, who lacked the energy and motivation to carry me to Arizona where I was supposed to be born.

Keep the faith,


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Beginning Again

When I started this blog I had every intention of keeping up with it. The feedback was positive and I was enjoying sharing a few thoughts with others in this format. Then I entered grad school and writing became a chore and nasty necessity and posting to this blog was the last thing on my mind. I graduated in May and got my license in August and now am entitled to add the expensive to obtain but apparently not too valuable designation of LMSW to my signature. At least this is the conclusion I've drawn from my unsuccessful search for jobs. The competition is plentiful while the funding of services is low. This discouraging state of affairs was overshadowed by the recent death of both my mother and sister four weeks apart. I'm still waiting for the numbness to wear off.

So, as an outgrowth of the problems and challenges, I've discovered new things to write about and a renewed desire to do so. Writing helps me to work out solutions and maybe I can share a thing or two that will be helpful to others experiencing similar challenges.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

And yet another "holiday" season

As I age, I notice that time passes faster and faster. Still, it's nearly impossible for me to believe another year has passed and that we're in the midst of yet another holiday season. I ranted a bit about this last year so I won't do that again but I have to say that now that it has become a "holiday season" and not the Christmas season, it doesn't seem quite the same as it did once upon a time. As part of my course work in grad school (I just finished my last assignment of my first semester - hooray!) we have focused on issues of diversity and along with this, the oppression that minorities of all types have experienced as a result of their marginal position in the American culture. It has given me a new appreciation of these issues and consideration of what it must feel like to be different and ostracized, even if subtly, for those differences and to have the mindset of the dominant culture pushed down your throat, as it were. Some of our class discussions have been to consider when, where and why we may have felt oppressed. At first, as a born and bred WASP, I thought that this didn't apply to me but with thought, I was able to come up with some instances and to remember what that felt like and the impact it had on me, deeper than I've been prone to readily admit actually. It hurts to be judged as inferior, to have one's dearly held values dismissed, to be mocked and rejected simply for being who you are. What distortions result from efforts to redo oneself to fit it, to blend.

I like to express my own convictions. I like to have convictions but I'm finding more and more that I don't want my convictions or opinions to stand between myself and others, or to diminish others in any way. Life is hard and it takes everything we can muster to get through it some days - some years. Trouble can seem to slap itself on us like cockleburs on a pants leg. Adding to the burdens of others just isn't appealing to me, despite my personal rights to make my judgments heard. I find I have less and less to say about certain things these days, fewer (if that's possible) political opinions, advice for the prodigals, need to be known as a philosopher, intellectual, or a teacher. I mostly just want to observe and admire the amazing complexity and beauty of human life, despite its failings, and to gaze in wonder at the awesome creation as it continually transforms and performs its seasonal dances before me. Probably I'm just getting old and mellow. I'm glad about that actually. It seems like a gift - finally, after years of internal uproar and drama, of caring too much about too many of the wrong things. I'm finding myself more excited about what is unfolding before me than in trying to make things happen according to some plan of my own devising.

Well, enjoy your season any of you who may have happened upon this. Try to soak up some of what's real about the whole thing. Despite the commercials and made-for-television specials, this may not be all that obvious to discern or easy to articulate. There is a great deal of mystery in such things, much that is inscrutable. That's as it should be. We weren't meant to know it all. We were meant to behold.

Ever onward. Carol

Sunday, October 12, 2008

catching up.

I haven't had any time to write here for awhile with my new grad school project and schedule. I'm finding that it's a lot more work than I was anticipating but that's as it should be considering the level of the endeavor. I like learning, even things I don't really care much about, because my world expands as I consider other points of view and I become aware of the complexity and richness of life in this modern world. Answers to the pressing problems we're all finding ourselves in these days, don't come easily, and every answer we discover and implement affects other aspects of our crowded lives. We overlap so with others that our choices often have residual affects that we weren't expecting. Still, we tend to prefer the full, complicated, busy life to its alternative and being connected to others helps insure a healthy mind, body, and spirit. I get the desire to pull back sometimes, to hide out and indulge the introverted part of my personality. Then I think about how short our time really is here on planet earth and how quickly the human configuration of my social world can change and I decide to plod on, soaking up whatever it is that I'm supposed to be learning and contributing my meager lunch to the grand buffet. Every so often, something so astounding and unexpected happens that I'm overwhelmed with gratitude that I didn't miss it. People really are the coolest thing going and I'm glad I know lots of them and am getting to know many more.

I'm doing my field work in an elementary school. It's been some time since I've been in an elementary school environment and I find myself being flooded with memories almost every day of that period in my own life, how both amazing and awful it was and how my experiences during that period have impacted my entire life right up to the present. I'm reminded of how important it is to look children in the eye when you talk to them and to really pay attention because they know so well when you're faking it, and they feel it. We don't lose that hunger as we "grow up." We still feel it when people look through us or around us. I guess one of my goals from all this study and work is to keep reminding myself of the results of not giving people the attention and respect they need whenever its humanly possible. It's the gift that keeps on giving, as they say.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

What's important

Wow, this summer is going by fast. Between the rainy, rainy weather and a too-busy schedule, I feel as though I'm still waiting for it to start when it's nearly over. I’m at that stage in my life where the years are ticking off at a pace that’s a little scary. There’s a country song where an old man is being interviewed on his 100th birthday and his advice is “Don’t blink, 100 years goes faster than you think.” I’m not at the hundred year point yet and probably will never be but I've lived long enough to know that time is like beach sand slipping through the fingers and that the only evidence of it having ever been handled are a few clinging remains. When we think about that, we have to consider just what we want to have left on our hands and sticking to the soles of shoes when the summers of our lives are over. I, for one, have wasted more of my precious minutes than I like to admit, and there are few opportunities for do-overs. But despite the impediments to some of the grandiose plans I had for the summer, on reflection, I feel that this was one block of time that I spent well. Because I'm on my way to grad school as a full-time student, I've been aware that my schedule isn't going to have much leftover space for what remains my greatest life value - the relationships and shared love I have with a small group of wonderful individuals. This grieved my heart. I decided to schedule time with them, not necessarily doing anything fabulous (which I couldn't afford anyhow) but just basking in their auras in some way that was meaningful to each of us. I had the grandchildren over one by one and took two of them for an overnight during which we visited my sister, my niece and her children in New Hampshire then on to Lynn, Massachusetts see my mother for a few hours. I hadn't seen any of these people for several years. I spent a day running errands, shopping and watching a movie with one girlfriend, an afternoon picnic lunch with another, and attended a play with still another. I have a couple friends to go and just made a date to have lunch with my daughter, the already overbooked homeschooling mother of five of my grandchildren. It feels good to have achieved this and I have some pictures and reminders that I can post around my work station and refer to when slaving over assignments gets to be too much.

I did something else this summer. I actually made it through all 45 cds of the audio version of Atlas Shrugged, a 1084 page paperback I once attempted to read in about 1967. Very interesting, but I may talk about that in another blog.