A Traveler’s Terrene

You only live once. What are you going to remember the most?

What it means to be Courageous January 29, 2009

My friend Linea is courageous; her story, inspirational. She is one of the millions of people who suffer from bipolar, yet so many of whom are too afraid to talk about there illness. Her mother, Cinda, teaches about mental health conditions, yet as a mother had to watch her daughter spiral into suicidal depression. Together they have written a book that broaches this topic from both angles, as a person afflicted with bipolar disorder, and a loved one’s family fighting to save a life. Together they share their experience in hopes to raise awareness and bring hope to those who are affected with bipolar.

Because of the current stigmas of bipolar in today’s society, many chose to remain silent, paralyzed by the fear of what others may think or how they would react if someone was to find out. Yet, this illness needs awareness. And, frankly–and this is just my opinion–I don’t like the word “illness” as most medical journals describe it. The word sounds cold and sterile, making you uneasy before you know what it means or understand what it is. The word “disorder” is a bit better. Imagine your  bedroom in disorder–clothes scattered on the floor, books strewn on the desk and the bed is unmade. Is a messy room scary? Is a messy room horrible? No. A messy room is life. Sometimes you just don’t have time to make your bed, or do your laundry. Sometimes things in your room are in disorder, just like, the emotions and thoughts in one’s head for people afflicted with bipolar. And, whereas you are responsible for your messy room, a person with bipolar gets the raw end of the deal–he/she didn’t chose to have  bipolar, it is a brain disorder that happens to them.

So this time, imagine that instead of you making the mess in your room, a stranger comes into your room and starts trashing it–clothes are ripped from the hangers, the sheets torn off the bed, and someone (that bastard!) ripped all of the pages from your favorite book and chucked them across the floor. Now, further imagine that this happens everyday. Or, maybe not even every day, but maybe on a day that you were really really really happy, and then you came home to find your room in disarray. I would be angry at life. I would be depressed. And, depression and feelings of hopelessness are two of the biggest symptoms common with bipolar which can often spiral to more harmful moods or actions:

“As I moved through depression, mania, suicidal ideation, drugs, alcohol, an overdose, self-mutilation, and bulimia I knew I needed to make a difference for others struggling with the same demons. Hospitalized with a 24 hour one-on-one hospital aide I could not help but cry for those less fortunate than me. I cried for those unable to get the help they needed due to financial needs and many other issues.”–Linea Johnson

Fortunately for Linea, she had a loving family and supportive friends that were able to get her through her worst of times–she survived to tell her story. Unfortunately, however, many people afflicted with bipolar don’t tell anyone and they become suicidal before they can get help. If you have any of these symptoms, I encourage you to talk to someone. You are not alone. If you know someone with these symptoms, I encourage you to offer your support–and, if that is not enough, then help them get treatment or seek a doctor for medication.

Don’t be afraid to speak about this condition, there are millions dealing with bipolar everyday. It’s life, just like a messy room.  Things in life happen, but it’s our reaction to the situation that marks who really are. Be strong. Be courageous. Talk to someone, and get help if you need it. And, as Linea puts it, “bipolar is not an illness, but added wisdom.”

To find out more on bipolar, and to follow Linea and Cinda’s book go to their website

To learn about Linea’s struggle with bipolar and read words of inspiration, check out her blog.

To learn about Cinda’s role as a professor in special education and her experience as a mother of child with bipolar, refer to her blog

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If you never ask… you’ll never get an answer. January 27, 2009

When I sent my question to Paulo Coelho five days ago, I half expected it would be lost among the hundreds if not thousands of emails he probably receives, after all he gets 230,000 unique visitors a month and he can only answer one reader’s question a day. But, being the optimistic person I am, I sent the email anyways. After all, when have I ever not done something just because the odds were against me?

Well…* drum roll please*….I’m am delighted to say that my email was chosen to appear on Paulo Coehlo’s blog! I feel honored that he chose my question and gracious for the time he took to respond. Coehlo has a true gift in bringing inspiration to many people’s life, especially my own. Seeing my words next to his further ignites my belief that anything is possible….you just have to let go of your fears, push past your doubts and go for it!

“…keep on knocking every door. It’s always difficult in the beginning, but if you truly believe in what you’re doing, keep on running those risks. Life tend to be very generous with those that follow their dreams,” writes Coelho in an earlier blog post.

My dream is to be an author. And, obviously I still have a very long road ahead of me, but like Coehlo says, if you keep pursuing your dreams and stay true to your path, things tend to fall into place.

Go to Paulo Coehlo’s blog to read my question and his response!

And, don’t forget to pick up a copy of The Alchemist: this is a must read and a truly inspiring story.

 

Finding Serenity… January 10, 2009

Hotel Deca

Right now I am sitting on a purple velvet sofa in front of warm fire. A skinny sugar-free Carmel latte’ in hand, I am warm on both the inside and out.  The walls are decorated with large pieces of art–oil on canvas–my favorite. There is a tall dark wooden book shelf to my right lined with colorful glass vases that reflect the dim light given off by the frosted glass lamps lining each of the two columns in the entrance way which are jutting upwards like tulips glistening in the yellow sun, constantly reaching for that warm ray of light. Instrumental music is playing from the speakers overhead, it is a combination of jazz and spa-like melodies enhancing my surrounding like smooth whip cream on top of a steaming hot chocolate–it just wouldn’t be complete with out it.

My leather bound journal is lying open next to me, lusting for attention like a women lying naked on her back in bed.  Black ink covers the page, words for my book are staring back at me as I type them into a Google document. Words I wrote while in the airport coming back from California, on my brother’s couch in Kenmore, during a traffic jam in Bellevue–materializing on paper when I finally get the opportunity to isolate myself and write, which has been infrequent since I have been back in Seattle.

Writing has become a drug: I want to write all the time, and the cravings only intensify when I can’t get my fix. I have become an addict. I’ll be out with friends, watching my nephew, hanging out with my family–all of things I want to do, but with an addiction, you have no control over the feelings affecting your mind and body. My fingers beat the table, yearning for my keyboard–I want to feel the keys under my fingertips, I ache to see the words fill the wall of whiteness in front of me, I lust after the emotions that fill my insides as I write, overwhelming me like a storm in the sea, rising and falling, thrashing ferociously and then suddenly–everything becomes calm.  A feeling of tranquility rushes through me.  I am in my zen. I have found serenity.

 

Daily Challenge: Push Yourself November 19, 2008

I have now written 15,545 words for my first novel. My target goal is 50,000 by the end of the month, as I am taking part in the National Novel Writing Month , which is a creative writing project through the course of November that challenges you (as in anyone!) to get off your lazy bum, stop making the thousands excuses about “lack of time” and finally sit down to write the book you’ve always talked or dreamed about writing.  This event worked out perfectly in timing as writing a book is one of the top reasons I chose to live in Italy, and has been great motivation.

I have 34,455 more words to go, and am quite far behind as I only have 9 writing days left (I’m going to Switzerland in 2 weeks so that will cut out a few days). But, it is my own state of procrastination (or rather anticipation to spend time exploring Correggio and the surrounding areas) that has left me trailing a few laps in this race.  However, slowly by slowly I am gaining speed–last night I forced myself not to go to bed until I had written 3,000 words. As 4a.m. rolled around, I finally did it…3,011 to be exact…

Will I be able to kick it into gear and sprint to the finish line in time? I will soon find out…

My daily challenge to you is to push yourself to finish a goal, or start it for that matter–one that you’ve always had on your list but never have gotten around to accomplishing.PUSH YOURSELF…little by little…or like me, if you are far behind, kick yourself into high speed and start sprinting towards that finish line!