4/29/2016

I Ask You to Speak Up

"Drinking caused all of my panic attacks. If you stop drinking, the panic attacks will be gone." -- Drinking behavior, mostly long-term abuse, can cause a person to have panic attacks, but many things can cause panic attacks, such as OCD, Panic Disorder, and PTSD. I never had any panic attacks during the years when I drank; however, I have had them throughout my sobriety.

"My girlfriend is cheating and crazy. I think she's bipolar." -- Who knows his girlfriend's real story and whether or not she's just lying, truly ill, or maybe she never had the opportunity to get help. This comment was made by a store worker while I was in line. When I came to the front of the line, I responded with this:  "I'm bipolar, and it's a brain disorder, and I'm not crazy, and I've never cheated on anyone in my entire life." This is absolutely true, and it actually began a wonderful dialogue, and I was quite moved when I left the store.

"Sorry it's so manic around here." -- this was a comment made by a celebrity to a person interviewing her when she was referring to her "manic" apartment. I hear such things all the time. The word "manic" is a medical term for a state that is horrifying and real, a symptom of a brain disorder, just as one would have symptoms for Cancer, and the word is not to be taken lightly, and it's certainly not a word to describe a messy apartment, just as the word "depression" refers to a medical condition, not to a simple "sad day." People minimize these terms constantly.

In a group of friends, a man said, "Ha, ha, ha, can you believe it? They were trying to go as far as to get me to have shock treatments." He was speaking about his experience in a hospital, and he described "shock treatments" as something from a horror film. Reality:  this is an archaic term for Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECTs), a treatment that has been continually shown as terrifying and painful in the movies, a stigma that prevents many seriously ill patients from getting the treatment that they desperately need, and this, in turn, leads to a rise in suicides. In reality, these treatments are used routinely for severe mania and depression, and they cause no pain; but rather, they help a patient's brain to begin to recover and start functioning normally again. They have saved many, many lives, and they continue to do so.

"They threw me in the psych ward!" I like to call it a hospital. That is a place where people go for treatment, help, and to avoid suicide. No one can be involuntarily placed in the hospital, unless they are an immediate and clear threat/danger to self or others. This person actually entered the hospital of his own accord, but his words suggest otherwise.

This was all within a one-week time period. I hear comments such as these at least once a day, usually more.

Stigma kills. The suicide rate in the United States is higher than ever, according to a New York Times article that was published on April 22, 2016, called U.S. Suicide Rate Surges to a 30-year high. The article states, "Suicide in the United States has surged to the highest levels in nearly 30 years, a federal data analysis has found, with increases in every age group except older adults. The rise was particularly steep for women. It was also substantial among middle-aged Americans, sending a signal of deep anguish from a group whose suicide rates had been stable or falling since the 1950s."

If you hear words that send forth damaging stigma, I ask you to speak up. Speaking up increases awareness, educates, and saves lives. I ask you to think about the movies and TV shows you watch. I ask you to think about the words you choose, because supporting stigma is supporting lack of care, lack of research, and lack of overall respect for those with brain disorders. We are talking about a medical illness. Not only do we have to fight the illness itself, but we have to fight outside disrespect and abuse.

What if I changed the above-mentioned comments I heard to read the following:
"Drinking causes all diabetes. Once I stopped drinking, my diabetes was gone."
"My girlfriend is cheating and crazy. I think she has Cancer."
"Sorry it's so Parkinson's around here."
"Ha, ha, ha, can you believe it, they were trying to go as far as to give me chemotherapy."
"They threw me in the Autism clinic!"

See what I mean? I ask you to speak up. I ask you to think about Facebook posts, Twitter posts, all media that surrounds you, because people with brain disorders deserve respect and a chance to get well, just like everyone else. Searching for better treatment and possible cures takes a fight against stigma, which eventually leads to awareness, education, money, research, and support.

From time to time, my Mom will look at me and say, "Honey, I think they're going to find a cure." Usually, I don't respond, but this time I did. I said, "No they won't, Mom, because no one's looking."

I ask you to speak up,
C.A. MacConnell

4/28/2016

Something I Believe In

From my horoscope today...something I believe in:  "being honest and real is what will earn you the respect you desire."

What I Really Look Like


This is me yesterday.

<3
C.A. MacConnell

Photo: Herman

Herman

This isn't a National Geographic award winning photo; however, I'm posting this because Herman the heron never usually lets me get this close. Usually, he flies away. So this is a rare shot. A thunderstorm was rolling in, so maybe he was thinking about where to go, I don't know. Anyway, here he is. It must be lonely being a heron. I never see them with other herons. Always chilling alone. But they're so beautiful.

Be who you are. Be beautiful.
C.A. MacConnell

4/25/2016

I Always Believed You

When I was little, I watched my fair share of Sesame Street, and some of my favorite characters were called the Twiddlebugs. They were these minuscule, alien-like, secret residents that lived inside the plants of Ernie's window box at Bert and Ernie's house. I loved those Twiddles; I was fascinated with the whole mysterious nature of when they might appear, because they only showed up at random times; they weren't on every episode, and it never seemed planned. Rather, they were magically spontaneous. With great expectancy, I would watch, thinking this:  They might come today. They might not. But they might come! The mystery of it all made it entirely mesmerizing. And when they did come, even though they were tiny, they faced adversity with all of their Twiddle might; that is, mainly, weirdness. But one thing was true:  the Twiddles never tried to be anyone else. They were genuinely strange, funny troopers all of the time. To me, there was nothing better than the idea that somewhere, out there in the world, there existed a weirdness that I could count on. I always believed that they would make it to the zoo or the roller rink, and they always did, in their own hilarious and creepy way. Those. Big. Eyes. Ha.

But hands down, I thought that Snuffleupagus, Big Bird's imaginary friend, was the raddest character on the show. Did you know that his full name was Aloysius Snuffleupagus? What was maddening and interesting to me was the fact that Big Bird was the only one who could see Snuffy until the 17th season of the show. At that time, for some reason, the writers decided to allow Big Bird to finally introduce Snuffy to some of his neighbors. Until this time, no one ever believed Big Bird about Snuffy. Seventeen years. On his own, with no outside support, Big Bird believed for seventeen years.

I can relate, Big Bird. I've been telling people about my stories and dreams for about thirty years now, and I think I finally have a few convinced. Just wanted you to know, about Snuffy, I always believed you.

Today, let me embrace my weirdness, be spontaneous, and let me believe.

C.A. MacConnell

4/24/2016

Photos of the Day: Greens, Snakes, and Lions





As a Leo, I had to spend time with the lions. :)
Love,
C.A. MacConnell

Photos: Elephants




Good luck for the day. I have some elephant earrings I wear too. :) I love elephants. I may go see some today with my date Dean, who's a toddler pushing twenty. Ha. Hopefully, I will keep up with him and his teeny Chucks that fit in the palm of your hand. Some kids rock. Other people's kids, haha.

C.A. MacConnell

4/23/2016

Photos: Shores















I've been thinking about water and beaches today...how I would like to chill in the sand for a while...it's been forever. A li'l dreamy, I guess,
-- C.A. MacConnell

Upon Greeting, the First Thing People Said to Me in the Past Week

Comments by Women
1. "Do you mind me asking...how much do you weigh?"
2. "I see you got your hair cut again."
3. "You are small."
4. "Sometimes you are too thin, but right now you look good...I mean, you're still thin."
5. "You look good." -- while scanning my body from head to toe with her eyes, and while I was bloated, sweaty, and hadn't showered in two days.
6. "I mean, you're glowing." -- after a weight comment.
7. "You are not fat. You are tiny. I mean, you look good."
8. "You look healthy." -- every woman cringes to hear this one.
9. "You look better than you did." -- this is the worst, in my opinion, 'cause it's like, what the fuck, did I look like shit before? Ha, ha.

Comments by Men
1. "Your hair looks supercute."
2. "I like your hair."
3. "I like your new hair."
4. "Did you get a new hair cut? It looks cute."
5. "I like your hair."
6. "You look cute as a button." -- a man, but admittedly, my Dad, so this one's biased. ;)
7. "Your hair looks good."
8. "Hi."

Interesting. I prefer the simple "Hi." The women seem more negative and more focused on weight, and the men just see the new haircut. Overall, the men's comments are more positive or indifferent -- not a judgment, but more of an observation. If I took the women's comments literally, I'm not sure if that would mean that I'm fat, healthy, or thin; their opinions seem skewed on how I should be. Very confusing. If I took the men's comments literally, I'm pretty sure that would just mean that my hair's all right. Very clear.

But what about just saying, "Hi, how are you?" or "What's new with your week?" I never comment on people's bodies or appearance when I say hello...wait a minute, yes I do...I may say something like, "You look smokin'," or "You look hot," or, "I like your shoes!" ha, so I guess I do it too, but it shows how focused on it we all are. So bizarre.

In an interview with Russell Brand, comedian Sarah Silverman (I'm paraphrasing here) once commented that Mother Teresa was never sitting around worrying about her cellulite, that a woman can't have time to both save the world and focus/worry on her body. I love that notion. The ridiculous nature of it really cracked me up.

Today, I dare you to ask someone, "How is your heart?" followed by "It's so good to see you and know you."

C.A. MacConnell

4/22/2016

The Place to Be


The Place to Be, a Haiku

Place to Be
Like the Octopus
Love Your Arms

-- C.A. MacConnell

4/21/2016

When the Connections Become Real

"Everything happens for a reason." We've all heard that phrase, right? Actually, I believe it.

When I was little, I started taking riding lessons from a woman named Mrs. Griffin. She only had a two horses, and a tiny outdoor ring, so during a few rainy weeks, lessons were cancelled. In the meantime, Griffin said I needed to buy a riding helmet, so Mom took me out to a place called Red Fox Stables, a barn equipped with a tack store. As a result, we ended up talking to one of the instructors who sold us a package of lessons. After that, I no longer rode with Griffin. I became a Red Fox rider, and I ended up spending a good part of my life at that barn. Later, they sold the barn, but I admit that I still wish this land was mine:



I leased a pony, owned two horses there, made a slew of friends, started teaching at the young age of fifteen and after college (I went there for horses but ended up in the writing program...another lovely connection), I worked at Red Fox as a professional trainer. I remember Red Fox as an integral part of my life, both in childhood and adulthood. Being around horses really saved me from myself for many years, and it turned into a wonderful career. Wholly, it changed my life.



And still later, I used these experiences to flesh out my first book, GRIFFIN FARM. Then when I had to deal with back pain from all of the riding, I checked out some yoga classes, which later led to a career in teaching yoga:



So strange. All of this happened -- Red Fox, college, Griffin, yoga, two careers -- simply because we had to buy a helmet one day. If it weren't for that, my life would have been wholly different, I'm sure.

Isn't it amazing the way our life patterns unfold? But in the divine sense, I usually don't know why things are happening in the way that they are until much later. I wish I could foresee such growth, guidance, and reasoning, but I usually only notice it in hindsight. When the truth comes to fruition, when all of the connections become real, it can be so beautiful.

In preschool, I met a girl who became my best friend until I was fourteen or so, when life, school, and such separated us. Then our entire families became friends. We did Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, everything together, all of us. We still stay connected. A few months ago, this girl's younger sister contacted me; she had moved back in town, and we had coffee. So then I struck up a closer friendship with the younger sister, and now we walk and hike together at least once a week. It's a time that I look forward to the way some people anticipate Christmas. All because I met the girl's older sister in preschool.



Connections. I believe in the "god inside," but I also believe that there has to be something magnificent out there, something pushing and pulling us closer to each other, closer to a higher self, and closer to a higher power, if we wish to seek it. But the answers may come at the strangest times and in the meantime, life can seem so much like a confusing mystery.



Let me know that my higher power is in charge today, that what is happening is right for me, right now, for my journey. When I think this way, I feel peace.



C.A. MacConnell

4/19/2016

Little Man the Lonely Miniature Horse

Hello, this is very important information. Besides the Little Caesar's commercial with the origami and pterodactyl, Little Man the Lonely Miniature Horse is the best commercial of all time, in my opinion. If I had a horse, it'd be at least 16'3, and I'd name him Little Man. :)

C.A. MacConnell

Quote of the Day

"Let's see, how can I put this. I'm interested. I want to hire a 'mature' person like you."

4/18/2016

Open House

Hi there. Just tightening this li'l poem up a bit. I like the rhythm of it, yes. Kind of a longing, love poem, one artist thinking of another. Hope you have a beautiful night! I intend to, because I met and petted Cindy the miniature pony the other day (who was shedding, man), and she told me that I am not allowed to accept less than love and light and beauty. The faucet keeps dripping. Other than that, I know I am lucky. Much love and light to you,
C.A.

Open House

I think you would
like this place.

Shower water turns cold to shock.
Think short, kid fingers
burning in the snow.

I slip into my blue jacket.
I lace up my combat boots.

Outside, some windows slide open,
and the rest resting slam
shut. Somewhere, sweat

darkens a neck. Others
surely shiver home, straight

into the vein. Scattered in the square,
sleeping on benches,
tattooed girls cross and uncross,

pulling at wide-stretched
ears, twitching and laughing

near lonely, old men. Late skater boys
fuck, snake, paint, relate.
One of them, the smallest,

a half-finished painting…
well, he looks like you –

gaunt and buried within a yellowish glow
of lamp. I want to walk
with you. I want to step

on the heels of your shoes.
Alone feels right in this artist

light. Muted, a heavy makeup, it hides
the deepest flaws.
A splinter breaks free.

Now it’s caught in my curls,
and love is the man

who finally pries it loose. Well, now I am
almost inside. I feel almost
pretty. I think you would

like this place.

C.A. MacConnell

Photo: Art, Nathan Sawaya


Art by Nathan Sawaya

Got a chance to see "The Art of the Brick" show. All of the pieces were entirely made of LEGO bricks. Amazing, really...the detail, and the artist's ability to visualize each unique piece. Some held such emotion, like these two. I attempted to make a little sculpture after, but it fell apart, which breaks my heart.

C.A. MacConnell