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TToT: Landscapes of Skies – Morning Chatter, #AtoZChallenge #10Thankful

“I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl could be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”

—Daisy Buchanan, The Great Gatsby

For April Fools’ Day this year: Tourism Ireland claimed they were saving power by having sheep keep the grass trimmed, George Takei announced he was running for office, and that’s just the start of it.

It may have been a week of
tomfoolery,
but also of sunshine, birds, flowers, and beautiful skies.

I learned my brother and Vincent Van Gogh share a birthday.

Thanks, everyone, for your delightful and helpful descriptions last week, for what a rainbow looks like to you.

Anyone want to take a crack at describing Van Gogh’s painting? I’ve never seen a rainbow, but I’ve also never seen the stars.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful that I was published again.

My Wedding Won’t Be Like My Sister’s, but That’s Okay – A Practical Wedding

I received a lot of positive reactions that I wasn’t necessarily expecting.

I am thankful to learn that writing is hard for everyone.

You have to be able to stand not knowing

Oh, of course, I am not glad to hear anyone feels this way. I just know it’s easy, as a newer writer, to feel like things will never go where I want them to. This writer has been published, books, and she still gets down on herself. It is oddly comforting, that it isn’t likely to get much easier, the further down the writing path you find yourself.

I am thankful for writers who are willing to stand up for others.

The Men Who Won the Presidency – Full Grown People

This essay hits the nail on the head. I am glad Full Grown People has returned, after being on hiatis. It seems to be moving to publish more of these kinds of open statements and I think that is important.

I am thankful, again, for a doctor who cares.

This doctor is doing all she can to help me feel better. In my experience, that doesn’t always work so well, but her sincere desire to try means a lot to me at this point, after some doctors I’ve seen over the years.

I am a little nervous to try her latest suggestion, but I will see how it goes. If it doesn’t help, then we return to the drawing board.

I am thankful for my brother.

He turned 30 and we didn’t get to celebrate like you should celebrate the start of a new decade of life, but I’m just thankful he’s here to celebrate it at all.

He had a seizure on the eve of his 30th.

I am thankful that my brother is okay.

It’s not a good sign that he’s had a seizure twice in only a few weeks, but luckily he has a doctor appointment this week and maybe he’ll have to increase his medication.

You never know when one will come on. He must have bumped his head on something as he fell because there was blood everywhere.

We’re all just so relieved he came to and phoned his friend, who thankfully could tell right away that something wasn’t right, and went straight over to check things out.

I am thankful my violin teacher and I could work on some problem solving and practice strategies.

When most people move out, I prefer to move in.

We discovered I could keep my arm straighter, in the proper position, if I stand against the wall to play. I rest my right arm against the wall and then I know not to bring it inward any.

It’s a bit of an odd place to be, but hopefully it’s just until I get the hang of things better. I need to know the feeling of where my arm should be, just like I need to learn to feel where my fingers should be.

We are working hard to find ways so I can practice more efficiently. Every lesson we discuss things in a slightly different way.

It was exhausting, but a good kind of exhausting.

I am thankful I got my entry in by the deadline.

The Alice Munro Festival of the Short Story

I doubt my abilities sometimes, but if you don’t submit, you’ll never win.

I wrote something that I quite like. I am proud of it, but we’ll see what the judges think.

I owe some of my family for their input.

I originally did not give my main character a name. Then, as I was working on the final touches before submitting, I realized what day it was. I am not a fan of April Fool’s Day because I am too gullible for my own good, even on a day I know jokes and pranks will be occurring. I did snap up a bit of, what I hope will be good luck, by naming my main character April.

I thought since the deadline was April 1st, it felt meant to be somehow.

Speaking of jokes and pranks…

I am thankful for humour and light things with Canada’s leader and a sitcom star.

Did you hear about this?

Matthew Perry responds to PM’s April Fool’s Tweet

I can’t tell you how nice it felt to read this and be able to smile at a story I read in the news for once. I say I can often be gullible, but I can’t believe some took this seriously. I needed this kind of lighthearted humorous exchange, between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Matthew Perry (Chandler) from Friends.

I am glad Canada has a leader with a decent sense of humour.

I decided to try the A to Z Challenge, for the first time, on a whim this year. I hope I will be thankful for that decision, as April goes forward.

A to Z

We shall see.

“To be an artist means: not to calculate and count; to grow and ripen like a tree which does not hurry the flow of its sap and stands at ease in the spring gales without fearing that no summer may follow. It will come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are simply there in their vast, quiet tranquility, as if eternity lay before them.”

—Rainer Maria Rilke

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Happy Hump Day, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections

Bell Let’s Talk Day 2015: Love and Depression

Lana Del Ray, Young and Beautiful from The Great Gatsby Soundtrack, on YouTube

I had gone through episodic times where I felt pulled down by sadness and despair, mental health issues had touched my family, but never had I experienced anything like this before.

I fell in love with someone with depression.

The first six months of a new relationship are thrilling and exciting. Depression was kept at bay, at least from me, and maybe even him.

However, once real life crept in and time moved along, reality set in.

I had no real clue what to expect or any clear understanding how I would handle being the girlfriend of someone whose good days were good and whose bad days could be pretty bad. If I had been more prepared, I still don’t know how I would have prepared for the worry, the fear, and the stress. I was so far in love by the time I would learn what living every day with depression in my relationship was going to be like, that by then there was no going back and I didn’t want to.

What do you do when you care so much for someone by then? How could I turn back, how did I see our life going forward, and what was I to do when the bad days began?

If I were this weighed down by these questions, just imagine how he felt. I did and I tried, constantly. I often grew obsessed by trying so hard to put myself in his shoes, even for a moment, to feel what he might be feeling.

“I know…I know,” I continuously told myself. There was no way I could. My ability for empathy drove me crazy thinking I could truly understand, even attempt to.

There’s no real way to describe the weight of it.

One moment our love felt like enough to carry us through the dark days and the next thing I knew a wall shot up between us, boxing him away from me, somewhere I could not follow and felt unable to travel with him. I could kick and I could scream but what would be the point if the wall would not come down, only dismantled, brick by brick, by hands that were not my own.

It’s times like these that I felt his struggles and him struggle most acutely.

Helplessness would threaten to overtake me and I could feel the undertow threatening to pull him down and away from us, from himself.

I didn’t want to feel the anger, directed at nobody in particular but at myself more than anyone else.

Love, I hoped, could be the answer. I could have told myself before falling, how naive of me and just how unrealistic of a hope this was, that depression and mental illness could not be battled and defeated strictly with the love of a good woman, not even me.

While I lived day to day with these realities, on the other hand, my guilt grew with every sad day he had. Why wasn’t I enough to stem the flow of his pain? What more could I do.

How selfish of me, to think this way. This wasn’t about me, but soon love and pain became so tightly entwined that I didn’t know, some days, how to separate the two elements.

If I wasn’t careful, my guard was let down, and we would wake to one of those blue bad days.

Winter and January, following the busy days of the Christmas season and with the start of a new year, these ran into some particularly dark days, when the cold and the snow made for one long season. I could fight the stir-crazy and the cabin-fever, but easier said than done for him. Soon my fear of this time of year was very much a rational one.

Then the days would lengthen and the sun would shine. Would these environmental factors be enough?

Medication, enough sleep, enough sunshine, fresh air and exercise.

I knew the ins and outs of what could contribute, in both good and bad ways, to the harshness of depression.

Love and stress were much greyer of areas. I couldn’t be that perfect girlfriend I so wanted to be for him, one that would be the difference between being his salvation and a part of the problem.

Silly were these thoughts I started to have. I could not make anyone happy that was not happy with themselves. If there were an imbalance in our relationship or in his brain chemistry, how much control did I have over these things?

If I could only make him laugh more. If I could only make him his favourite meal or offer him the right amount of peace and serenity at the end of a long day that he told me, in the early days of dating, I had been enough to provide.

“All I could do was love him,” I would tell myself.

I would hear the soon all-to-familiar words coming out of his mouth, that he just felt blue that day, just not himself, and my stomach would drop and my heart would sink.

How was it possible to feel both my stomach and my heart all the way down in my feet?

Here we go again, but no and wait…he didn’t choose to feel like that. I just had to wait it out and it would pass.

It would pass, right?

I am using this date, January 28th, Bell Let’s Talk Day to write about these extremely difficult memories of the harder parts of love, in among the tricky minefields of depression.

I believe, though I could not make his pain and his suffering go away, that I learned how to become an even more loving, sensitive, and compassionate person for my own sake. I will take this into any future relationships, whether depression is an issue or not, and I will know what it is like to love someone, no matter what they may be living with, all the more deeply and entirely without self-absorption.

I had to get over the fact that although I hoped my own experiences living my own life with some of the extra hardships I have might have been the thing to hold us together. I had to face the fact that all the love in the world that I hoped I could give might not be the thing to ensure a for-certain future. I knew the cure for depression wasn’t in my own hands.

I can honestly say that watching someone you love go through such ups and downs of depression, when you witness the sometimes daily roller coaster, is one of the hardest experiences life can throw your way.

I wanted to write about it though, as hard as it is to talk about for me, because I feel that it’s important to speak about. I never wanted to admit I felt such guilt and anger with myself, so hard for me to admit, but these feelings are a part of a very important period of my past.

As important as it is for us to talk about mental illness, to “stop the stigma”, I know I would have benefited from hearing experiences like mine before I felt what it felt like when love and depression mix.

How could I s

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History, Special Occasions, This Day In Literature, Writing

The Great Fitzgerald and the Banning of the Book

“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and the Damned

This Day in Literature: writer Francis Scott Fitzgerald was born in 1896 in St. Paul, Minnesota

He is one of America’s best loved authors of the 20th century. His life was marred by turbulence and tragedy, not ever really receiving the kind of recognition or status he might have liked. He was able to make a living, whether from short stories, his handful of novels, or Hollywood scripts. His life was simply brought to an end much too soon.

Fitzgerald represents America in the 1920s and the jazz age and the start of a fleeting materialism, pre-Great Depression era materialism..

He rose to fame quickly and this fame ended too soon, with his premature death in late 1940 from a heart attack.

He wrote his greatest novel, “The Great Gatsby”, when he moved from the U.S. to France in 1924-25 when the novel was published. France was surely thought to be a much more conducive environment for creativity.

His love story with Zelda is one for the ages, being refused his proposal until he could support her. He returned to her after the publication of his first novel, “This Side of Paradise”, and they were married. They had a daughter, Francis, his name sake. He went on to battle depression and alcoholism and her depression, required treatment in a mental insitution. I am highly curious about their relationship and I am sure there is much to it that is unknown, but how much of it could have just as easily been written into one of his extravagant stories?

I do not know about him like some probably do, but when I finally got to reading Gatsby last year (in preparation for the Leonardo DiCaprio film to arrive in theatres), I felt a strange thing; I had an odd sense that I was meeting Fitzgerald, or a certain version of him on screen. Leo played Gatsby, but to me he could just as easily have been Fitzgerald himself. It can’t be an accident and I am most likely not the only one to see it, likely because he put some of himself into his characters. What was autobiographical and what was purely fiction and a snapshot of the times?

I may have the unpopular opinion here and I mean no disrespect to the long-deceased writer, but the movie brought The Great Gatsby to life for me in a way that the book itself did not. I was stunned into silence by certain lines and passages in the novel, but overall the movie made a stronger impact. This is not usually the case for me.

(The movie came out before I started this blog, but I will be writing a backtracking movie review of The Great Gatsby here soon, but on this day I will focus specifically on Fitzgerald himself.)

Of course if it weren’t for F. Scott Fitzgerald, the man, there wouldn’t be any story to be brought to life by Leo and others. I can only say that his greatest novel, “The Great Gatsby”, represents a certain early decade in the century of my birth, one that seems so far in the distance for me and yet not so far as to be unimaginable.

I thank F. Scott Fitzgerald today for writing that story of grandeur and excess of the rich in 1920s society, with one mysterious man named Gatsby.

***

Also, This Week in Literature: Banned Books Week!

Out of all the books I have read or hope to read I don’t believe many or any of which are considered banned books. I would be interested in hearing thoughts on this from anyone else.

I know the issue of censorship is a complex one. I also know how lucky I am to live in Canada, a place where I am free to read whatever the hell I want. I know too that if a book is controversial enough I can’t say I would be so open, but the need for a week like this is intriguing to me. I hope to investigate it further in future years.

Have you read many “banned books” or how do you feel about the term or the act of banning any type of literature?

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