Emerging from the GREYS

I don’t usually write about depression, but here goes. I grew up with a mom who suffered with bi-polar depression her whole life. I seemed to have not inherited that condition, but occasionally I get a bit too excited and some years back I occasionally got a little lost in the excitement.

The depression side is another story. As a young woman I cried a lot, even hoping that if I cried enough, I would empty the depression tank. Didn’t work. Years of therapy, mostly CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy, helped a lot.

But just in  the past three months I fell into something “grey” and it lasted longer than usual, much longer than I expected.

Reasons for depression are not necessary if you suffer from the clinical kind, which I have never  had specifically diagnosed. Mostly my life has included situational depression, pretty much the way of the world for most people.

This was different in the fall of 2017. Doors of opportunity closed in my mind before I could even consider taking action. I even began to feel unliked and unloved. I had some good days, even ones I believed were a full escape from the “grey”, but sooner or later the underlying prowler caught up with me.

The fact is that right now and for the past eight days I am out of the grey and into technicolor. What happened? I got a call to lead a funeral/memorial for a young man who died at the age of 32. Cancer.

Why did this change me? I can only speculate and hope this might be helpful to anyone reading this.

I was needed. This was devastating for his family and I could help; I had the skill to come in and facilitate a dignified and temporarily uplifting event in his honor. I would throw myself into this preparation with one thing in mind for the following three days: gather tributes, design a celebration with music, poetry, speakers and readings from two dozen friends and family who could not attend in person.

The focus shifted dramatically outside of my own life and into the lives of those grieving for a truly wonderful person, into the life of a 32 year old full of wisdom and kindness, quirks and goofiness.

The depression is quiet, the grey is lifted and I could not do this alone or even with therapy in the months of November and December. But I never gave up hope that something was out there, something would happen if I kept my heart open. And it did. Fulfilling a purpose larger than myself was my response to someone’s need. It was the great gift this young man’s life provided.

Twas a Couple of Days before…

When I was ten or eleven, my Dad told me that most of life is lived in anticipation. I understood him at the time as saying we live in hope.

Another year passed and I understood anticipation as wanting to accelerate my growing up, desiring to be old enough for the good things to happen: turning sweet 16; becoming 21. Every age or stage after that was too much to think about,

Now in my autumn years,  I can look back and see anticipation’s influence over the years. In a few more days, I will experience Christmas for the 73rd time. Anticipation sweeps over me, but not like it did when I was a child. The magic is in my memory but the rush and push and society-pervasive anxiety is all too clear.  I am living in this anticipation knowing it will be over soon. It will pass. Soon, the love I have for others will have no strings of hastily assembled wrapping paper, overspending, making buying mistakes, and worry. WHO NEEDS THIS NONSENSE?

Christ was a good Jewish boy who left us inspired messages and excellent role-modeling. How did His birthday turn into such craziness?

Maybe next year I will draw the line on this holiday. In a couple of days, this will be done. Anticipation. Sweet anticipation.

Last Day of the Fall Semester

Message from an Empty Classroom

It’s December 6th and this date has been in my calendar for the past three plus months, always looking like it was very far away. There’s something in the air here today, a networked vibe pulsing across the campus that says: “Whew! Almost over. Going home. Graduating soon. Gonna see my sweetheart in another week.”

Snow is even in the forecast for this weekend and amnesiac zombies are looking forward to it. Snow is the one thing we love to love when we first see it and the bloom is very much off the rose as soon as the second snowfall settles in.

The four weeks ahead till the Spring semester used to feel like a long time as well, four weeks without having to get up at 5 AM to start my day. But that, too, is amnesia. It goes so fast and all the plans I have to accomplish so much over the break are reduced to one or two.  But there is today, the only day I have. It is alive and electric, even under grey skies, and that has good energy. Happy December 6th.



Daily Prompt: Age

via Daily Prompt: Age

Many people claim age is relative. Relative to what? Probably to frame of mind, attitude, all those things we read in predictable FB posts from friends over 50.

There is no question that aging has extraordinary benefits, and probably the most beneficial is how we stop caring about the small stuff. Been there, done that is the perfect much overused answer to telling ourselves that we don’t need to repeat history.  Our own earned life choices made us slightly more capable of thinking twice before naughty or nice.

Age is a measure of time, which is a measure of space in time, which helps us track the framework of the illusions we construct to make sense of the everyday.

I love my age and I even sometimes use the word old. My age is relative to measuring events between birth and death. Not a bad deal to live into old age.  Better than the alternative, (I hope) .

What am I doing here?

I am a writer in development, really living a writer’s life mostly in my head. WordPress is an outstanding opportunity for discipline. Accountability. Showing up every day. Publishing something for others to read. Reading others posts for learning, growing, finding meaning, becoming a better reader and writer.

I have had three previous blogs starting first in 2006. They all died, even though Blogger blogs never die.

I invite you to join me in discipline, as I expect to join you as well.  I will write and want you to write back, in any way you want. My work will be personal, anecdotal, mostly about relationships, marriage and weddings (of course the first one is not a commercial post, just musing). I am a wedding officiant and a university level writing teacher, so those are two vital interests of mine.

I live in Boston, MA; I teach composition at Northeastern University,  and I am a frequent student participant at Grub Street.