Monday, December 11, 2017

CLINICAL DEPRESSION: What does that mean?


There is a horrendous disease out there killing folks of all ages because it is taboo to talk about in social gathering or even at the family dinner table. First let me present the official definition and symptoms for clinical depression taken from the Mayo Clinic files: 
What does the term "clinical depression" mean? Answers from Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D.
Depression ranges in seriousness from mild, temporary episodes of sadness to severe, persistent depression. Clinical depression is the more-severe form of depression, also known as major depression or major depressive disorder. It isn't the same as depression caused by a loss, such as the death of a loved one, or a medical condition, such as a thyroid disorder.
To diagnose clinical depression, many doctors use the symptom criteria for major depressive disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association.
Signs and symptoms of clinical depression may include:
  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
Symptoms are usually severe enough to cause noticeable problems in relationships with others or in day-to-day activities, such as work, school or social activities.
Clinical depression can affect people of any age, including children. However, clinical depression symptoms, even if severe, usually improve with psychological counseling, antidepressant medications or a combination of the two.
Now I will tell you about clinical depression from my own personal experience not to solicit sympathy, but rather to shine a light on the reality of recovery. In 1983, I began having serious symptoms in my neck and shoulder areas. In addition to severe pain, my neck muscles involuntarily twisted so that my head  stayed turned to the right. This caused me to lose my balance, making it impossible to walk or drive. My shoulders ached because of the awkwardness of my head positioning. At first I went to my family doctor who prescribed anti-inflammatory medicine, and ice and heat treatments. After two weeks with no change, my hubby and I sought help from several neurologists. After being pricked, scanned, blood tested, and a ten-day stay in the hospital, none of these men and women could come up with a diagnosis. One told my husband that I was suffering from a degenerative muscular disease that would ultimately kill me in six months. 
It was with that dire announcement that severe depression kicked in. Besides my husband, I had three children that needed me and I was totally useless. I stayed in bed 24/7 in the dark, refused to eat or have any human contact, and had thoughts of suicide. When I looked into the mirror, I didn't see my 'self' anymore, just a hollowed out shell of what once was a person. About three months into this hell, in the wee hours of the morning, I quietly opened my secret stash of pills, spilled a pile of them into my hand, and proposed these two choices: swallow them all and be relieved of my suffering, or face up to the fact that this was my 'new normal' and make the best of it. I threw the pills up against the closet door and watched them rain down like snowflakes, rolled out of bed, crawled to the stairs and slid down to the main floor on my butt. Upon reaching the kitchen. I pulled myself onto a chair and waited for the household to stir. Needless to say, everyone was more than surprised to see me sitting there. By no means did this one act eradicate my depression, but it was a start.
From that day on, it was my mission to find out exactly what I had and to find ways to either cure or curb the symptoms connected with it. Dr. Zorb, a neurosurgeon in Oakland who couldn't identify the muscular abnormality, encouraged me to see a psychologist since he believed certain diseases can be mentally induced. After being diagnosed with clinical depression, for two years of talk therapy with an amazing psychologist, biofeedback, and the right dosage of an antidepressant, the depression as well as the physical torment faded, and I was able to go on with my life! Was it easy? HELL NO! Was it worth it? HELL YES!
In 2000, my symptoms reappeared, but this time I was ready to be proactive. I researched online and found a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic who specialized in cervical dystonia, my condition finally had a name!.  After a thorough evaluation, Dr. Walter began Botox injects in my head and neck, which relaxed the muscles so that the twisting subsided. To-date I still receive these shots  every three months at UPMC, Oakland. 
As far as the depression goes, when my symptoms reoccurred, I immediately sought out a therapist and began sessions again. Within three months, my depression all but disappeared and hasn't been a problem since. However, because I never again want to find myself in that cold, dark hole, a place without hope or allowance for human comfort, I continue to take a maintenance dose of an antidepressant and most likely always will. 
I tell you my story so that when you personally or others you know and love are faced with the two choices that I contemplated those many years ago, you will choose the latter. If I hadn't, I'd have missed out on some of the most awesome times of my life.  Depression is an illness like cancer or diabetes. It is nothing to be embarrassed about, and can be treated so that you can return to the living. Don't give in to the desperation, be your own activist, and emerge a winner! If I could do it, so can you!

Blessings and Peace!










Monday, December 4, 2017

My Most Meaningful Christmas Present

One day this week, someone posted this question on Facebook, "What was the most meaningful Christmas present you ever received?" Answers ranged from a return to health to a jet black Jaguar and everything in between. No matter what you perceive to be the gift you'll always treasure beyond all others, that special something is always tied to a specific time and place in your life.

Christmas Eve was a very sacred event in our family when my brother and I were growing up. Since we lived in Zedo's house, naturally his rules on this day were religiously upheld. No one other than the immediate family members were permitted to enter the house and sit down for the traditional Christmas Eve dinner. Once seated with Zedo at the head of the table, Baba to his right, and the rest of the guests gathered according to seniority, Zedo would pray in Slovak, then lift his shot glass to wish his wife, children, their spouses, and his grandchildren a blessed Christmas. The adults did likewise as they toasted Zedo in return. Next every child would stand and recite Christmas wishes in Slovak. Zedo and Baba would beam with pride to listen to us, perhaps going back in their minds to their childhoods when they'd done the same so long ago.

(Since we all attended Catholic school, the nuns began teaching us a festive speech early in November. No two classes ever learned the same greeting for that particular year.)

The women would then return to the kitchen to bring out the mushroom soup. Everyone received a small bowl and ate the sour mixture in silence. We were told that the meaning behind the soup was a reminder of the suffering we all must face in life. And since it wasn't the most pleasant-tasting soup in my opinion, the suffering started right then and there, at least for me!

When the bowls were removed, traditional favorites like babalki, langosh, navy beans, and fish were passed around the table and enjoyed along with happy conversation and boisterous laughter. At the end of the meal, Zedo again said a prayer of thanks, and after hugs and kisses, everybody returned home. Those who left would be back on Christmas Day to gather around Zedo's table once more, this time including some very special family friends.

As clean-up got underway, my brother and I were told to go upstairs, get into our jammies, and jump in bed! Nobody had to tell us twice on this Night of Nights!
About an hour or two later, we'd hear a loud bang and run to the top of the stairs. Zedo would be standing at the bottom, smiling and pointing to all the presents surrounding the 8ft. tall tree he'd cut and trimmed just days ago.

I know it's taken me a while to get to my most meaningful Christmas present, so here goes. Instead of rushing to see who's name was on the largest package like my brother, I'd immediately go to my stocking hanging from the mantle. It was about two feet long and always contained the same things each and every year until we were practically in our teens. There would be a coloring book, a fresh box of crayons, a drawing pad, pencils, gloves, socks, candy canes, AND MY MOST MEANINGFUL CHRISTMAS PRESENT, the largest, roundest orange I'd ever seen that smelled absolutely heavenly! It was always on the very top of the stocking so I could see its brilliant color peeking out as if to say, 'Merry Christmas, sweetheart, and a Blessed and Peaceful New Year!' I would hold it gently in both hands and kiss its sweet skin. Just looking at this simple piece of fruit brought tears to my eyes, yet put a smile on my lips.

The orange had and still does have a special place in my heart since it was my Dad's favorite fruit. Baba told me that he'd even eat the peels!

Merry Christmas, Dad, and a Blessed and Peaceful New Year!
Always and forever!

One last note on our Christmas Eve dinner: By today's standards, our family's traditional meal would be considered a 'poor man's' sustenance, but we felt like royalty at my Zedo's table!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

My Favorite Time of Day

I'm a morning person, always have been, so for me my favorite time of day is very early when the light begins its ascent in the eastern sky. I'm usually outside with my dog breathing in crisp, fresh air and looking up at the stars. I'm an old hand at spotting the Little Dipper and the North Star, which by the way, isn't the brightest one in the heavens as many of you have been led to believe. Its astronomical name is 'Polaris' and can be found by locating the last nova at the tip of the ladle's handle.

Before coming back into the house, I like to play this little game of trying to witness the appearance of dawn from the start. Funny thing though, because I take a few seconds to check on Shadow, pull a weed, or inspect a brown patch of grass, more often than not, I seem to miss daybreak's arrival altogether. 'Dawn', my latest attempt of poetic expression, gives you a more eloquent explanation of this unusual ritual, and I included it at the end of this post for your perusal.

Once inside, it's the silence that I absolutely love! The peace and quiet allow me to pray, meditate, and center myself without interruption. It's my own personal time to assess my 'self' identifying the areas which need a little work; it's my own personal time to get in touch with the Spirit within; and it's my own personal time to reflect on what I'm being called to do.

Since I'm up between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m., I have plenty of 'alone' time. Drinking that first cup of coffee and reading the newspaper while listening to the gentle breathing of my dog as she takes her early morning nap, is priceless! I wouldn't trade these special moments of my day for all the gold found in a rich man's house.

During the early morning hours, I also spend time writing. Whether doing a post for my blog, working on a new book, or just dabbling in poetry, this is when my mind is the clearest, my imagination, most creative, and my resolve to complete a story or poem is at an all-time high.

After three hours of precious silence, the creak of footsteps above me signals that the end is nigh. With the sound of running water, I know hubby is awake and will soon be coming down the stairs with a smile and a happy greeting. If I must forfeit the treasured moments of the early morning, giving them up to seeing my better half, sharing the newspaper, and talking about our plans for the day is well-worth the sacrifice. Besides, there's always tomorrow!

As promised, here is my latest poem, 'Dawn'. Comments and critiques are welcomed.


                                                                                                                  Dawn


Sitting and waiting,
Facing the East
Determined,
I will not fail.

Time passes slowly,
Like forever.
Steadfast though,
I dare not blink.

A mere distraction
Robs my resolve.
Yet again,
I’ve missed my chance.

   Far in the distance,  
Dawn has appeared.
Quietly,
Her presence made.

Strokes of light color
Splashed ‘cross the sky,
Replacing
The blackest clouds.

Yellow and orange,
Some white, some blue,
Gradually
She ousts the night.

Softly and subtle,
Her kind rays glow
Unassuming,
But far from weak.

Amazingly strong,
So bold her intent,
Arming all
With hope and promise.

As Day brings the sun,
Dawn’s gift remains,
Replenished
Possibility.

Perhaps tomorrow…

Sitting and waiting,
Facing the East
Hopefully,
Her coming, I’ll see!


          Enjoy your day, no matter what part of it is your favorite! Blessings and Peace!













Monday, November 6, 2017

MAKING LOVE vs HAVING SEX!

During a recent episode of the Dr. Phil Show, a divorced couple railed at each other's lack of parenting skills with regards to their thirteen year old daughter. The father's expectations of the girl included making good grades, following house rules, and abstaining from drugs, alcohol and sex. On the other hand, the mother allowed, even encouraged her child to quit school, smoke weed, drink, and have sex. Her main objective was to be a friend to her daughter not a parent!

Initially, the mother's lack of healthy parenting skills angered me, but upon further consideration, I concluded that she had gone astray and was in need of a serious wake-up call before she lost her precious daughter to drugs, alcohol, and sex forever.

Today's post is my attempt to deal with just one aspect of this dire situation, having sex too young and for all the wrong reasons.  I feel compelled to define both making love and having sex by utilizing simple metaphor. My hope is that their differences will be evident, one, a sacred union between two people who love and respect one another, and one, a human drive that once met dissipates until the next urge arises.

****************************************************************

Yesterday, since we were having company for dinner, I decided to make one of my famous apple pies. I began by gathering all the ingredients needed for the crust: flour, salt, Crisco, butter, ice water, vinegar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch. After placing everything on the counter, I went in search of my huge mixing bowl.
I'm never quite sure where I'll find things because when my hubby empties the dishwasher, if he doesn't know where something belongs, he tends to put it in the most unusual of places! Eureka! Found it exactly where it was supposed to be. "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!"

First I measured out the flour and salt and, after sprinkling in a whisp of sugar and cinnamon, mixed everything into the bowl. I eyeballed the recipe's amount of Crisco and softened butter and added them in. Using a pie crust cutter, I furiously worked the concoction until tiny, pea-sized balls began forming. Once I'd completed that process, I dropped a tablespoon of vinegar into the ice water and poured small amounts of the liquid over the 'peas' while stirring them with a fork. In a few minutes, a cream-colored dough ball emerged, and after cutting it in half, wrapped each smaller ball in waxed paper and stuck both in the fridge for an hour.
If using vinegar in pie crust seems odd to you, try it just once and I guarantee you'll never go without it again. My Baba swore that the vinegar made her crusts flakier, and only divulged her secret to a chosen few. Consider yourselves chosen!

Now for the filling. Upon opening the fruit bin, I discovered there were no apples! I knew I purposefully bought two bags on Thursday to make the pie. Before I could question him, my hubby retrieved the fruit from the hall closet asking, "Where do you want me to put these?"
You can guess where I'd like to have suggested he put them, but I graciously refrained from doing so. 

After washing and peeling a combination of Gala and Granny Smith apples, I doused them with water and lemon juice which keeps the fruit from turning brown  (another technique my Baba taught me). I then placed them in another large bowl, added a handful of sugar, cinnamon, and corn starch and blended everything altogether and set them in the fridge, too.

Since the 'chilling' hour hadn't yet lapsed, I had time to clean off the counter, get out my rolling pin (actually I still have the one my Baba used), prepare the glass pie pan by spraying it with PAM, and place two pieces of waxed paper adjacent to one another which I use as a dough board.

Next I carefully removed one ball from the fridge, placed it onto the waxed paper, and trying to handle it as gently as possible since the heat from your hands can actually change the molecular make-up of the dough, covered it with another sheet of waxed paper and began rolling away. After achieving the desired pie shape, I lifted the top sheet off, picked up the dough by the bottom layer of waxed paper, and deposited it into the prepared pan.

It was time to add the filling. While in the fridge, the apples, sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch intermingled, forming a kind of syrupy liquid which is exactly what you should expect. Using my hands, I palmed every last bit of mixture into the shell and dotted it with pats of butter and set it aside while I tended to the upper crust. Once finished, I positioned it atop the juicy filling, gingerly squeezing the edges of the two crusts together to prevent seepage.
Again these little things were handed down to me from my Baba, who was the smartest woman I ever knew!

Finally I set the oven temperature to 410 degrees, and the timer for 20 minutes. While preheating, I brushed the top shell with egg whites.When the oven signaled 'ready', I placed the raw pie on the middle shelf and waited for the magic to happen. When a second ping sounded, I lowered the temperature to 375 degrees, again programmed the timer for an additional 25 minutes, and when finished, eagerly anticipated the emergence of a picture-perfect apple pie!  Lastly, I removed the pie from the oven and placed it on the cooling rack where it would remain until after dinner .

With our company's arrival, squeals of delight penetrated the air. They were enticed by the tantalizing aroma of apple pie, and had no qualms about expressing their elation.  "We knew you'd make one of your famous apple pies," one guest exclaimed, "You're the best!"

After enjoying dinner and meaningful conversation, I served each one at the table a piece of pie topped with vanilla ice cream. I watched as they took their first bites, and was extremely gratified upon seeing their smiles of contented satisfaction.

Although from start to finish, it took me about three hours to prepare, bake, cool and delight our company's taste buds, in my opinion, it was time well-spent!

AND THIS MY FRIENDS IS THE MEANING OF MAKING LOVE! (metaphorically speaking)

*****************************************************************

Yesterday, since we were having company for dinner, I decided to buy an apple pie. I drove to the store, found a stack of humdrum choices, paid way too much for one, returned home, ripped the pie out of the box, set it on a plate and shoved it in the fridge. When our company arrived, the whiff of Febreze for Pets floated in the air causing one guest to remark, "How old is Shadow, now?"

After a dinner devoid of meaningful table conversation, I attempted to serve each of our guests dessert. Two of the women refused, one complaining of a headache, the other saying she was on a diet. All the men, however, woofed down the cardboard crust and canned filling in seconds. One even had the audacity to quip, "Hey, how about another piece?"

From start to finish excluding the shopping trip, it took no more than five minutes to unbox, plate, slice, and serve this facsimile of a pie, and in my opinion, was definitely far too much time spent on something that offered little in the way of satisfaction! I didn't see any smiles either!

AND THIS MY FRIENDS IS THE MEANING OF HAVING SEX! (metaphorically speaking except for the headache and being on a diet part )


I'm not sure if my simple metaphor to explain the differences between making love and having sex brings home my intended message, but for the sake of that child and her misguided mother, I had to try.

As parents, our primary job is to RAISE our children, NOT BEFRIEND them!


Monday, October 30, 2017

RAIN, RAIN, COME AND STAY!

It started at around 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, and rained almost non-stop throughout the rest of the weekend. I swear I began hearing the haunting sounds of, 'Rain, rain, go away! Come again some other day. Rain, rain, go away, little (insert name) wants to play,' a jingle we kids chanted back in the day.

Actually I love the rain, its pitter-patter, its splash off my shoulder, its puddling on the ground, its purifying of the air, and the the fresh smell of the outdoors when it's over.

When I was a child, while sitting on our front porch as thunder rumbled across the sky, my Zedo (grandfather) would tell me stories of his youth in Czechoslovokia. He said they worked the fields, planting, maintaining, and harvesting, during thunder, lightning, and heavy downpours. He and his brother, John, viewed Nature with reverent respect, and believed they had nothing to fear when inclement weather rolled in.

Occasionally I'd run off the porch during a storm and twirl around in the grass, trying to catch rain drops in my mouth. Zedo would look at me lovingly, proud of the one grandchild who inherited his courageous, independent spirit.  Although he never said it in words, the twinkle in his eyes spoke volumes.

On the other hand, my Baba (grandmother) was petrified of thunder and lightning. As soon as the skies darkened, with her rosary beads in hand, she'd head for the basement stairs, close the door behind her, and pray for safety while sitting alone in the cold, damp cellar.

Zedo and Baba were like night and day, one silent, pensive, and stern, the other, chatty, humorous, and easy-going. I like to think I somehow absorbed all of their qualities, and am so blessed to have spent my entire childhood under their roof. 

Rain is nothing but water, and above every other element, water is essential to the preservation of all life on Earth. Whether it be plant, animal, or human, without water, in a very short time, everything on the planet would die.

Too, water is symbolic of the Spirit within each of us. Just as people satisfy thirst with water, our subconsciousness and consciousness are replenished with the presence of the Spirit. To continue to grow and evolve into the actualized beings we are intended to be, by allowing ourselves to be a channel through which the Spirit can freely flow, we contribute to the growth and evolution of others as well.

'Rain, Rain, Come and Stay' not only refers to the watery drops that fall from the clouds, but is a prayer offered to the Spirit to 'come and stay' within our minds, hearts, and souls more completely for the betterment of everyone.

Blessings and Peace!

'








Monday, October 23, 2017

'DANCING MAN'

Upon waking a few days ago, from the moment I opened my eyes, the song, 'I Hope You Dance,' by Lee Ann Womack, was rolling around in my head. No clue why, but since it's one of my all-time favorites, I continued to press the replay button, so to speak. I believe the lyrics to be a prayer, one reminding us of a powerful and loving God, and reinforcing the fact that we are free to make choices that hopefully have positive impacts throughout our lives. I've included the first four verses and the refrain here for your thoughtful consideration, and I've also taken the liberty to bold those lines that are most meaningful to me:

I HOPE YOU DANCE
sung by Lee Ann Womack
written by Tia M. Sillers, Mark Daniel Sanders


I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty-handed

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance
I hope you dance


I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances but they're worth taking
Lovin' might be a mistake but it's worth making

Don't let some hell-bent heart leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out reconsider
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
(Time is a wheel in constant motion always)
I hope you dance
(Rolling us along)
I hope you dance
(Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder)
I hope you dance
(Where those years have gone)

I hope you still feel small...
http://www.songlyrics.com/lee-ann-womack/i-hope-you-dance-lyrics/

You might wonder why I titled this post, 'Dancing Man' since to this point I've made no reference to it. So.....

After drinking my morning coffee and reading the paper, as usual I checked the list of emails I receive daily on Yahoo. To my pleasant surprise, I spied one from Artsonia, a company conducting a fundraiser for my grandson's school,  referring to Kaden's new artwork, 'Dancing Man!'  I Hope You Dance, Dancing Man, coupled together in the space of 30 minutes on the same day!!!!!! How freakin wild is that?


After studying Keith Haring's simplistic, monochromatic works , Kaden and his group expressed their ideas in this interesting piece depicting joy and movement! 


Check out Kaden5562's artwork on Artsonia, the largest student art museum on the web. Don't forget to join the fan club and leave a comment on the website.
ARTSONIA.COM

I don't believe Kaden has ever heard Lee Ann Womack's song before, but I think his group captured the true essence of its meaning in this delightful form. In 'Dancing Man's' simplicity, we can see that no matter what adversities we are currently facing,                 'When you come close to selling out reconsider
                                    Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance
                                    And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

                                    I hope you dance...'


Young children have this innate ability to seek positive solutions for whatever life throws at them. Yes, they may kick and scream when a situation isn't self-serving, but they are quick to reconsider their options, and  most often, choose to dance!

I pray that your reflection on 'I Hope You Dance' and your careful study of these ten and eleven-year-olds' portrayal of life, 'Dancing Man' lift the Spirit within you and prompt you to celebrate every moment you've been given. Blessings and Peace!










Monday, October 16, 2017

THE UTMOST UNUSUAL, WEIRD, UNEXPECTED, WONDER-FILLED DAY!

Last Tuesday began as usual, but as the hours ticked by, it became abundantly clear that it would become THE UTMOST UNUSUAL, WEIRD, UNEXPECTED,  WONDER-FILLED DAY!
  • Awoke at 6:00 a.m.  
  • Took the dog out, picked up the morning paper
  • Poured a cup of joe, grabbed a breakfast bar
  • Changed Shadow's water, gave her two bacon strips
  • Meditated with prayer and centering
  • Read the paper
  • Checked book sales 
  • Read FB posts
  • Brushed teeth, washed face, and dressed for zumba class
  • Drove to Anytime Fitness
Nothing unusual to this point, right? Right.
  • Met up with a few Zumba regulars
  • Was asked if I was going to lunch with them (didn't know about lunch date)
  • Graciously accepted invitation
Folks, if you've never eaten at the Bistro Iceburgh before, do yourself a favor and head on over to the corner of 4th Street in downtown Irwin. You can build your own salad with fresh greens, multiple meat and veggie choices, various toppings and at least 20 different dressings from which to choose. The salads are enormous, and with the exception of one of our Zumba buds, who nearly consumed the whole bowl in one sitting, could easily feed a family of four for a mere ten bucks. But I digress...
  • Casually chatted about varied topics
  • Heard someone say something about an 'esoteric' presentation 
  • Gathered outside to say good-byes when presentation came up again
  • "I want to go," popped out of my mouth
  • 'Dawn' invited me to come along with 'them' and offered me a ride
Still not in the category of the unusual, except for the 'them'.
  • Received a call at 2:00 from 'Dawn' saying 'they' were in front of my house
  • 'Dawn' was in the driver's seat, 'Mellow', riding shotgun, 'Your Highness', in the back seat
  • As I got in the car, I thought, "What the hell am I doing going to a 7:00 p.m. presentation in East Liberty on something I knew nothing about with three kids nearly 30 years my junior at two o'clock in the afternoon"?
You've got to admit things ARE getting a little bit weird now!
  • Headed for Homestead which just happens to be a stone's throw from Munhall, the place where I was born and raised
  • Compared notes on the Homestead area
  • Proudly said that the mayor was an old family friend I'd known since the age of five
  • 'Dawn' called the mayor, "Betty," which absolutely horrified me
  • Parked in front of an apartment building and approached the front door
Picture yourself walking up the pathway to a place you've never been before with three people you barely knew to do God only knows what! (for me, the scary movie, 'Halloween' comes to mind). Actually 'they' were there to paint walls. When asked if I enjoyed painting, I responded with a loud and clear, "Hell, no!" 

At this point, you've got to admit 'unusual and weird' might not be strong enough words to describe my experience thus far. Oh, and it's about to get even better!
  • Stairway and interiors rooms eerily similar to those in my grandparents' home in which I grew up
  • A train whistle outside carried me back to the Fifties in one split second
  • After exploring the entire unit, settled on the back porch to read about abuses in a particular Amish community (perfect selection)
  • Asked 'Mellow' if I could get a lemonade, but never did
  • While reading, heard some muffled voices and bangs of unknown origin 
CREEPY!

  • Decided to check on the 'kids' (if one thing I've learned in my 73 years on this earth is that kids always need to be checked on)
  • 'Mellow' was washing baseboards
  • 'Dawn', high on a ladder, washing windows (by high, I mean up on a rung)
  • 'Your Highness', the only one actually painting
  • Felt guilty about not being useful, offered to help wash windows
  • Had a bucket placed at my feet, and a rag in hand before I could even entertain the thought of changing my mind
  • Took 2 hours to clean two double-hung windows that hadn't been kissed by Windex in a very, very, very long time
During this period of the day, things were beginning to normalize or so you might think, but, as par for the course, you'd be wrong!
  • Announced that 5:30 quitting time was fast approaching
  • The 'kids' ignored me and continued their work
  • So, in my teacher voice, I instructed 'them' to wrap it up in five minutes
  • Freshened up with cold water and a paper towel 
  • Put on deodorant and a clean blouse
  • At some point, 'Dawn', 'Your Highness,' and 'Mellow' did likewise
  • Headed out for dinner
Now for the 'unexpected'. Surely you'd think that since we were so near Homestead's Waterfront, a fairly new development of businesses, apartments, and eateries, we'd be on our way to an establishment well-known for its good food and pleasant ambiance. Wrong again.
  • Pulled into a COSCO lot and exited the car
  • Gained admittance by 'Dawn' flashing her membership card
  • Studied the menu placed high above on easily-read placards with pictures and prices included
  • Selected a 'chicken something' encased in a tubular crust and a lemonade
  • Sat at a picnic table to eat and take in the eclectic ambiance of Christmas trees set up right next to the Halloween display
  • When finished, we tossed our paper plates and off we went

If truth be told, 'Dawn' had asked beforehand if it was okay with each of us to go to COSCO's, for dinner, and with no objections logged, it was a unanimous group decision. I must say, though unexpected, my meal was delicious, the price was definitely right, the company was delightful, and the ambiance, it was unusual!

Perhaps it took awhile, but finally we get to the 'wonder-filled'!

  • Signed in at the registration table, dropped five bucks in the donation basket
  • Had to insist 'Dawn' exchange seats with me since she had me sitting squarely in front of the speaker
  • Listened to the introduction of Mr. William Meader, an esoteric philosopher who teaches and lectures in various countries around the world
  • Took part in a brief centering exercise before the presentation began

From his first words, Mr. Meader, in a soft-spoken tone, captivated my attention, and for the next 90 minutes or so, enlightened my mind with sacred information I had either never heard before, or had never heard it explained exactly in that way. The title of his talk,"The Cry of Humanity", began by going back to ancient times, passed through the centuries, and circled completely around to the sorry conditions we are experiencing in our world today. The crux of his presentation focused on what he referred to as, 'The Seven Rays of Divine Manifestation.' With my limited knowledge, I would do a great disservice to Mr. Meader in trying to explain this topic, so instead I've provided an attachment for your thoughtful consideration. Believe me, if you're looking to discover an answer to the age old question, 'Who Am I?' it would certainly be worth your valuable time. Upon finishing his remarks, Mr. Meader allowed ample time for questions from the audience. Towards the end, I asked, "if the Rays of our Soul and Personality would ever be one and the same, and would they then be operating at the same intensity?" His response was, "yes, and yes." He then answered by saying that when such a phenomenal occurrence happened, that person would then become the Master. I was certainly satisfied with his explanation, but was absolutely baffled when he unexpectedly added a seemingly off- the-cuff exclamation to me. "You'll get there," he said and turned away to entertain another query.

THE UTMOST UNUSUAL, WEIRD, UNEXPECTED, WONDER-FILLED DAY was nearing its end, with only the ride home left.

  • Upon leaving the building, my head felt like it was three times the size which made me dizzy and a little wobbly on my feet
  • Walking down the embankment, 'Dawn' shadowed me to offer support if need be, but I shooed her away (I find it difficult to accept help even when its clear assistance might be needed)
  • I tripped trying to navigate the curb, only to have 'Your Highness' stop my fall with her outstretched arms
  • Got in the car, closed my eyes, and listened to the constant reverberation playing in my brain, You'll get there, you'll get there, you'll get there.
  • When the kids dropped me at my front door, they waited until I was safely inside 
After almost spending eleven hours in their company, I believe I now know much more about 'Dawn', 'Your Highness', and last, but certainly not least, 'Mellow' than I did at the beginning of THE UTMOST UNUSUAL, WEIRD, UNEXPECTED, WONDER-FILLED DAY! And what I know is that we can be very proud of our young people who are definitely the hope for a better world in our not so distant future!



I couldn't figure out how to add the atttachment, so here it is:

*THE SEVEN RAYS OF DIVINE MANIFESTATION
William Meader
                                                                                                       www.meader.org

I.  WHO AM I?
 A.   The question we ask ourselves every day of our lives
                 1.    Subconsciously or consciously
                                   2.     Attempts to answer this question include:
                                           a)   Personal relationships
                                           b)  Chosen career paths,
                                           c)    Personal beliefs
   B.   Spiritual perspective of this question
                       1.     Search for the Soul
                       2.     All Souls inherently conditioned by love 
                       3.     Significant variations exist between Souls

                 II. NATURE OF LIGHT

A.   White light, through a prism, is divided into seven unique colors
B.   Light of God expressed Itself in seven unique qualities
1.       In Esoteric Philosophy, these are the Seven Rays of Divine Light  
a)       Purpose of Divinity
b)       Divine Love
c)       Divine Intelligence
d)       Beauty of Divinity
e)       Clarity of Divinity
f)         Vision of Divinity
g)       Manifestation of Divinity
2.       Every human Soul is an express of one of these Seven Rays

                                          III. DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVEN RAYS

A.  Ray 1 – The Ray of Divine Will and Purpose
1.     Reveals the Purpose of Divinity within the human kingdom
2.    Stirs the 1st Ray Soul to express the power of divine purpose thru loving strength and one-pointed vision
3.     Role is to shatter forms that no longer adequately express God’s Love
4.    Liberates Divine Life from outworn modes of outward expression
5.     Frees the Life to seek new forms to express Itself more radiantly
6.   In ancient record, known as The Light Which Annihilates

B.  Ray 2 - The Ray of Love and Wisdom
1.  Conditions all of life with Divine Love
2.  Reveals the unity that underlies all apparent diversity within creation
3.       Expresses love through compassion and   understanding
4.       The Ray of inclusiveness
5.       It attracts all unto itself
6.       In ancient records, known as The Cosmic Magnet

C.  Ray 3 – The Ray of Abstract Intelligence and Activity
1.       Provides the underlying intelligence in all of nature
2.       It is the force that animates human thought
3.       Reveals the Mind of God within the consciousness of humanity
4.       Gives spiritual understanding to all human activity
5.       Most associated with karma, remembering what was, and what is to be
6.       In ancient records, known as The Keeper of the Records

D.  Ray 4 – The Ray of Harmony Through Conflict
1.       Creates a sense of equilibrium and beauty in creation
2.       Seeks balance and resolution to the warring dualities present in the human experience
3.       Ability to see both sides of opposing ideas and seeks harmony between them
4.       With harmony, beauty emerges
5.       All life contains a hidden seed of spiritual harmony
6.       In ancient records, known as The Seed that is the Flower

E.      Ray 5 – The Ray of Concrete Knowledge and Science
1.       Pursues correct knowledge
2.       Clarifies life through scientifically precise examination of reality
3.       5th Ray Souls dedicate their lives to finding solutions to problems facing humanity
4.       Spiritual purpose is to show that knowledge adds understanding of the Spirit
5.       In ancient records, known as The Dispenser of Knowledge

F.      Ray 6 – The Ray of Idealism and Devotion
1.       Instills a yearning to spiritually aspire
2.       Influences humanity to realize the Spirit within
3.       Lifts humanity to realize something greater than life awaits those who aspire toward the Light within
4.       6th Ray Souls believe that the path to enlightenment is in letting go of human desire
5.       In ancient records, known as The Negator of Desire

G.     Ray 7 – The Ray of Ceremonial Order and Magic
1.       Best known for bringing order out of chaos
2.       Purpose is to translate spiritual ideas into tangible realities
3.       Influences humanity to outwardly creat according to Divine intention
4.       7th Ray Souls are true magicians, since through the power of the spoken and written word, they are naturally able to create positive change in the world
5.       7th Ray Souls understand the power of speech for creating new forms for Spirit to express Itself through
6.       In ancient records, known as The Keeper of the Magical Word

IV.  THE PATH OF SELF DISCOVERY
A.  The Spiritual Journey
1.       Who Am I? is gradually answered
2.       It is the quest for the Self, the Soul that we are seeking
B.    Individuality of the Soul
1.       Each Soul is a fragment of Divine Light
2.       Each Soul has a unique spiritual mission to fulfill
3.       Introspection is most important in identifying which     Rays are working through us and at what level of         intensity.




*I’ve taken the liberty to simplify Mr. Meader’s handout and blog post, http://tinyurl.com/yde6d7j7,
 by outlining the main points of The Seven Rays of Divine Manifestation for my own understanding.