Posts Tagged With: Love

ABOUT ME & MY JOURNEY

In this blog I bear my soul. I’ve suffered some rather traumatic family losses in my lifetime and have overcome some rough stuff: the loss of my only child; an infant son, a 40-year dysfunctional, (but comfortable), relationship with grief, suicide and drug addiction in the family, and everything from quitting a 35 yr smoking habit, to overcoming prescription drug addiction, to my challenges with bipolar disorder. smiling glasses allieGOOD

Now, at the age of 54, I’m facing a whole new world through clear eyes! Everything is fresh and exciting, and challenging and scary . . . and I’m embracing it all!

In this blog, I share (purge) my past experiences, however painful, raw, or revealing. And I share new adventures . . . both emotionally and physically out in the world. I take you into the world of bipolar disorder . . . or maybe to the local cancer center to meet cancer patients who heal through their art, or to an art gallery exhibition, to the local park to snap pics, or maybe downtown to our wonderful City of Detroit!

I’m on the cusp . . . of change.

I believe in celebrating the people and places around me. I will seldom vent, rant, or approach something in a negative way. If I don’t enjoy an art show, or a new business, or a new artist, I simply won’t blog about it. Anything else is just too easy. I look for the good, the funny, the kind, the loving, and the inspirational things; and they are EVERYWHERE! I hope to make you laugh, or cry, or maybe even think about things a bit differently.

So, please, join me on this beautiful, incredible, painful, and amazing journey called life. And please, share your thoughts with me by leaving a comment on my blog! Also, to “Follow” me on my journey, just enter your email address in the “Follow” box and you will be notified by email each time I post a new blog entry.

Thanks for visiting! Be safe. Be careful. And please . . . remember to be kind. xoxoJulia

*Blog content & photographs © 2013 by Julia Kovach, unless otherwise noted.

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Categories: Addiction, Bipolar/Depression, Downriver/Detroit, Michigan, Humor, Inspiration/Motivation, Kindness & Compassion, Mental Health, Suicide | Tags: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

YOUR GIFT

I am thinking of you so far away.

You must be sleeping now.

Snoring and alone – waiting for me to place myself inside your arms.

Your sounds comfort and reassure me.

I long for you.

What you have given me . . .

– more than the food I eat

or the greeting cards I read

– more than the things we plan

or where we decide to meet

– more than the gifts you give

or the way you make me feel

You have given me something I can cling to . . .

hope

Categories: Holidays/Birthdays, Love, Poetry, Romance/Dating | Tags: , , , , | 28 Comments

THE OTHER SISTER

There were four daughters born to my parents. The eldest died of lung cancer at the age of 52. The second eldest took her own life at the age of 39. Then there is me. And then comes my youngest sister who, although very much alive, has always seemed fragile and unreliable.

I was the strong one, the confident, unshakeable, unafraid, independent middle child and the fixer of all things unacceptable or unjustified. And I proudly wore that label for most of my life.

Until it caught up with me.

Until all of that self-imposed responsibility chipped away at my boulder-like core and I began to diminish . . . one small piece at a time, until finally crumbling, when I was needed most.

I am great in a crisis. No kidding. Point me towards an explosion and within minutes, I will assess the situation, determine the damages, and map out a plan of action. Because that is what I do. I fix things.

And I expected no less from myself when my Mom recently suffered some sudden and very serious health issues.

The moment she arrived at the hospital, I went into work mode. I made inquiries, recited the millions of memorized bits detailing her medical history, confirmed information, and ensured that the greatly appreciated hospital staff was doing their jobs.

I did not know it, but that was the easy part.

What I did not anticipate was the change in Mom’s behavior. It was due to hospital psychosis, a temporary psychiatric condition that affects many older patients who become hospitalized. I learned that it is an elderly patient’s involuntary negative reaction to the overstimulation, confusion, and unfamiliarity of a new and hectic environment, coupled with the debilitating effects of their physical ailments. Its symptoms present in irrational and sometimes violent behavior such as hallucinations, depression, attempts to climb out of bed, removal of intravenous tubing or other devices, paranoia, fear, or a demand to return home.

And Mom delivered it all . . . full blast. And man, was I unprepared. And ill equipped. Even though I knew that this new condition was not her fault, I reacted badly.

I suffer from bipolar disorder. (Read, “Being Bipolar” at: http://wp.me/p2ckKM-hF ). I am hypersensitive to sounds, my brain obsesses, races, and rarely stops, I’m over-emotional and often prickly and annoyed. Hospitals, grocery stores, and nightclubs are three of my most difficult environments, in terms of sounds and the frustrations and difficulties of interacting with the public.

Now, take the unique ingredient of hospital ambiance: the bright, harsh lights, the steady barrage of sounds – like beeping machines, sounding alarms, blasting intercoms, and the boisterous staff who assume that everyone has a hearing deficiency, and add to that the challenges of having bipolar disorder, and then add to that the stress of a critically ill family member who now suddenly seems out of her mind . . . and what you have is the perfect recipe for a mental breakdown.

Mine.

I am not kidding. I am terrified that I will awaken one morning in unfamiliar and padded accommodations and not know how I got there. I’m pretty sure that’s how it happens – you just awaken in that room. I don’t think you feel it coming on. And if so, it probably feels something like this.

I remember standing, trembling, in the doorway of Mom’s hospital room. She was on a ventilator and could not be sedated because of her dangerously low blood pressure. She was highly agitated and was trying to remove the vent. She was still irrational the day after its removal and was demanding to leave.

Everything negative and bipolar triggered in me. Even though I knew that Mom could NOT help it, I was angry with her for being difficult and for struggling. I was horrified at the tubing, the fluids, and the sound of the ventilator and her gurgling. I felt tortured by the alarms that went off each time she tried to sit up. I resented that she had not taken better care of herself. Hell, I even resented her for being old. And then I really saw her . . . looking so thin, frail, and helpless, and I hated myself for feeling as I had. The guilt was overwhelming. I wanted to run away and hide. Or to just die.

I watched Brenda, my remaining sister, the younger less competent one, as she stood at Mom’s bedside and gently held her shoulders down while explaining to her why she could not leave. She stroked her hair and lovingly whispered her reassurances. And Mom quieted.

Hysterical and unable to bear it, I went home and cried myself to sleep.

But Brenda stayed at Mom’s side and calmed her down, over and over again, throughout the entire long night.

The next morning, I arrived early to find my sister exhausted, but still there.

I hugged her and began to cry.

“All this time . . . I thought I was the strong one. But I was wrong. You are. I have never given you any credit for anything. I have always criticized you and judged your choices. I am so sorry. I was wrong. I didn’t know.” I said.

In the days since then, Brenda and I have talked more and have become closer. We know that when it comes to the medical care and daily living assistance now required by my reluctant, stubborn, and sometimes selfish parents, we both have different strengths. I am the one who remembers every single medical detail, handles the quick decisions, and ensures a plan of action; and Brenda is the one who is patient and compassionate. She is the understanding and calming force, the one that gets my parents to listen and to accept. After all, none of my action serves any good if they will not listen or receive our help.

I was the fixer for way too long. It was impossible for me to learn anything new because I already knew it all; I had the answers to everything. My ears were not listening and my mind was not open. Nor was my heart.

But I have corrected that.

Mom is currently, somewhat stable. But she is not well and she is not out of the woods yet. We have a long journey of unknowns before us.

And I am suspecting that along with bipolar disorder that I may be suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder. I have seen first-hand, too many dead bodies, sat with too many dying ones, and witnessed too many collapses and injuries. The images flash through my mind. I jump out of my seat if someone twitches. My heart races if the phone rings. And I cry the moment I open my eyes in the morning. I do not know how long this level of anxiety can be sustained or this constant stream of adrenaline can be tolerated before something in me just . . . goes.

But I am trying to take care of myself. I have an upcoming appointment with my therapist, and meanwhile, I have learned to say a few things I have never said before:

  • “I have a mental illness. I am bipolar. I can’t handle someone else’s instability.”
  • “No, I am sorry, but I can’t do that”.
  • “Please, help me”.

And I am not alone anymore.

I have some really terrific friends who love and accept me, keep me in check, and sometimes can even make me laugh; they are good medicine .

And I have a really wonderful and compassionate little sister who steps up to the plate and accomplishes what I cannot.

Her name is Brenda.

She is the strong one.

Categories: Bipolar/Depression, Family, Inspiration/Motivation, Kindness & Compassion, Mental Health | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 41 Comments

THERE IS NO TIME

We contemplate but do not understand elgin upclose

We try to control but settle for measuring

Like day into night

Summer into winter

Life into death

*

When joyfulness visits

we cling desperately

trying to preserve it

and hold it still

but it takes flight

and vanishes into happiness

*

And when the sadness comes

as it will in life

as it should

it stands forever frozen

full of emptiness and sorrow

CLOCK FRZN SNWY

*

The twisted tragedy

is that we fight to hold on

and struggle to let go

*

It teases and tortures

*

Years have passed since I lost you

Or was that just a breath ago?

I close my eyes and live a lifetime

and then I blink . . . and you are gone

*

In this magnificent remarkable life

there is sweetness in the rain

and comfort in a quiet winter morning

A WINTER SCENE

There is wondrousness

in birth, growth, change

*

And there is healing

in the laughter of friends

*

And there is love

*

These things cannot be frozen

but they can be captured and embraced

and treasured

forever

*

The bitter sweetness in the grieving

is that the greatness of our pain

is the measurement of our love

*

It is a blessed and glorious grieving

sunrise for blog

There is no time . . . there are only precious moments.

Categories: Grief/Healing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

THE WHITE SHIRT

There he is, so handsome in his dark suit and white dress shirt. Even the sun celebrates our reunion as she bounces off the skyscrapers and dances teasingly on the rim of his glasses.

“Julia!” He calls to me.

I love the way he says my name. It sounds so eloquent and romantic, adorned in his educated accented European-ness.

I go to him and climb into his open arms.

My hands slide beneath his suit and pull him close. My face finds that place where his neck and shoulder meet, and nestles there. His shirt is crisp, cool, and fresh. I like its starchy white formality. His muscles tighten beneath my hands. I like that, too.

We stand still in our embrace. I could stay this way forever and live a lifetime with my face buried in the safety of his shirt.

Passion, like hunger, will subside if you ignore it long enough. Things go silent. I thought them departed, but they were only dormant.

Now he is igniting me; like starting a car . . . or a fire.

Through closed eyes the moments come, overwhelming me, reminding me . . . of all the wanting, of all the empty nights, and the eternal missing hours.

“Uhhh . . . I forgot how good this feels” I whisper.

He pulls me closer.

“I’m so glad I forgot”, I whimper, “It would have been excruciating”.

Remembering that this is just a visit and our time limited, a feeling of dread washes over me as a new thought comes. I say nothing and quietly fight the tears . . .

“Now, I will have to forget all over again.”

CLOSE UP the one!

Categories: Love, Romance/Dating | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

NEW YORK CITY **IS** ART!

I just returned from my first visit to New York City. It was wonderful and brief and I fell in love and somehow, I managed to miss out on every single art gallery and museum. Sheesh.

Why, you ask me? What happened?

I will now confirm the airheaded-ness that most of you have always suspected I possess, by telling you the truth. I forgot. I forgot all about the museums I have waited most of my life to see, because she seduced me.

New York City seduced me. And I loved every single crazy, magical moment of it.

How did she do it? With lights and colors and flashing billboards and music and vibrant electric people-energy! Here, let me give you a small glimpse.

I thought my seizures would have kicked in with all these colorful, flashing lights, but they didn’t. I only had one seizure, and that was during a performance of the Lion King. I hardly noticed though; I was having a panic attack because I was stuck in the middle of a row, and with all my sweating and deep breathing, it came and went unnoticed by anyone but me. What a case.

But a show unlike anything I have ever seen! The sets, costumes, music, and performances were off the charts! It transformed me to Africa!

And the biggest surprise? The City of New York herself is the most unique and stunning display of art I have ever seen!

I forgot all about galleries and museums because everywhere I looked I saw amazing things.

It started with the view from my room.

And the people on the streets. AS art. And making music.

 

 

NYC is the fashion capital of the world because even her buildings are the best dressed anywhere!

 

 

Even Mother Nature gets in on the act.

 

Sometimes her buildings are clad only in red, white, and blue.

 

 

Rockefeller Center.

 

I never imagined buildings as being beautiful. Until now. These unadorned and magnificent buildings decorate the skies.

 

 

 

Reflections of buildings.

Reflections of a child. (Do you see me?)

I even made a few creative new friends!

(Yikes! It looks as if I’m being groped! Lol).

But NYC is not limited to artful people and buildings. No, there are also plenty of wonderful sculptures!

 

 

 

 

And the message is everywhere.

We must not forget to . . .

Checkout time is 12:00 noon.

Gosh, I love this city. Until next time, New York . . .

Categories: Adventures, Art, Love, Patriotic/Political, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , | 30 Comments

NEW YORK CITY LOVE

Our journey shared flew quickly by

yet is frozen still in time

Our journey shared was here and gone

but is forever yours and mine.

 *

This love I know is new to me

and is for things I had not dreamed

This love I know for everything

was waiting to be freed.

 *

A place can change a person

and I became a part

I will carry you inside me

and I will wear you in my heart.

Categories: Adventures, Love, Patriotic/Political, Poetry | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

ART HEALS

I don’t know a thing about art. All I know is how it makes me feel. But I haven’t let that stop me from exploring this aw-inspiring means of expression. No way. In the last few years I have been attending art shows and gallery receptions, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that art is always about so much more than art.

Regardless of the name of the exhibit, the theme of the show, or even the title of a painting, creative expression far exceeds any label we may attach to it.

Art is all about life.

And boy did I learn that this past week. I hardly know where to begin, so I’ll start at the start.

Meet Patricia Izzo, award-winning Fine Arts Photographer and painter.

Patricia’s a pretty heavy hitter in the art world. Her fine art photography has been featured in numerous national publications like American Photo Magazine, Home Décor, and Woman’s Day, just to name a few. And her images can be seen in the 2010 Harold and Kumar III movie. She’s had extensive exhibits throughout the Detroit Metropolitan area, the East Coast, and Traverse City Museums, and she published a fine art photography book called, “FRAGILE AWAKENINGS” in 2008. She’s a board member or is active in, just about anything that promotes the arts. She creates it, teaches it, promotes it, changes it, advances it, and shares it with children. And she is the artist-in-residence at River’s Edge Gallery, right here in Wyandotte, Michigan.

I see her as a compassionate woman, a creative genius, and a . . . well, a sort of spiritual guide.

I run into Patricia at the DOWNRIVER COUNCIL FOR THE ARTS (DCA), in Wyandotte, and she tells me about her involvement in an upcoming art show there, called, “ART HEALS”.

She mentions something about some art classes, some kids, and the Josephine Ford Cancer Center, and I eagerly agree to meet her there the following week.

I think I’m just going to watch a couple of art classes and, then at the end of the week, go to an art show. But Patricia is a little bit sneaky . . . she is going to take me on a life changing journey instead. I just don’t know it yet.

As I drive to meet her the following Tuesday, I am flooded in memories of my small encounter with cervical cancer over 20 years ago, my subsequent surgery and cure, and the fear that I still feel all these years later when going for a pap test. I think of my sister who passed away six years ago from lung cancer, of my friend who lost her breasts, and my other dear friend who lost her mom. I think of my childhood friend who is currently undergoing chemotherapy right here at this facility, and how I’ve never visited her during her treatment. Sheesh. How did I not think of all of this earlier? I blink back the tears and swallow hard to get the lump in my throat . . . down.

I arrive at my first visit to the Josephine Ford Cancer Center to observe the Children’s Support Group as they gather to make paintings for the upcoming art show.

My photographs are limited to the art and the creative process, so I hope you enjoy them! And hospital gowns are worn as smocks so the acrylic paints won’t stain clothes.

The room isn’t gloomy and dark with talk of pain or cancer. The kids lighten me and I am blown away by their incredible wisdom and insight, and their uncanny ability to remain silly and playful. I take their full impact head-on and heart-full.

Hands this small should never need to know the word cancer.

 

Below is a photo of each child’s artwork both in progress, and as displayed at the “ART HEALS” exhibition. I will let the art speak for itself.

  

Painting: “STRENGTH”, by artist Alex Rupp.

 

  

Painting: “FLOWER CHILD”, by artist Amanda Rupp.

 

  

Painting: “ME”, by artist Chad Donahue.

  

Painting: “PLAY”, by artist Evan McKeith.

 

  

Painting: “POSITIVE”, by artist Jadem McKeith.

  

Painting: “FIGHT CANCER”, by artist Jared Sturdz.

 

  

Painting: “GO TEAM CANCER”, by artist Marissa Lewandowski.

 

  

Painting: “REACH YOUR GOLE”, by artist Melissa Rupp.

 

  

Painting: “VICTORY”, by artist Rachel Sturdz.

The oldest artist in the class is 18 years old and wears this message on her t-shirt (front and back):

  

She also creates the “FLOWER CHILD” painting. I just adore this girl! I think we are soul sisters!

As the day draws to a close, Patricia casually invites me to a Women’s Art Therapy Class that is meeting on Thursday.  Their art will also be displayed at Thursday night’s show. Of course, I am interested and once again, I agree to meet her at the Josephine Ford Cancer Center.

And once again, I am unprepared for the creativity of the artists, and the spirituality and power of very wise and humorous women. The short time I spend with them is enough to cause marvel at their uniqueness, and be affected by all .

I title this photograph, “Beautiful Warriors”. True strength does not have to be loud and hard; these women are kind, compassionate, and incredibly strong. “It is the rain that grows flowers, not the thunder.”

Artists, Left to right: Sue Spotts, Ruth Ann Brayman, Nancy Pitel (artist who subs as teacher), Patricia Izzo, Shirley McBroom, Brenda Kahn, (not pictured, Deborah Helton).

 

The artists and their work at the “ART HEALS” exhibition:

Painting: “PEARL EARRINGS”, by artist Sue Spotts.  Sue has discovered her enormous talent only in recent years and is humble and casual about it. She says of my writing craft, “you’re just using a different brush”. I love that. A very gentle and humorous warrior.

 

Painting: “MEDITATION GARDEN”, by artist Ruth Ann Brayman.  Ruth gives glory to God by hiding a cross in each of her beautifully detailed paintings. She has the most lovely eyes; painted like an early summer morning blue sky misted by a light fog.  A sweet and loving warrior.

 

Painting: “CABIN IN THE MEADOW”, by artist Shirley McBroom.  Shirley’s incredible artwork shows perception, depth, and a wonderful natural talent with shadows. She reluctantly agrees to this photo, although she is as lovely as her painting. A warm and gracious warrior.

 

Painting: “EXHALING HOPE”, by artist Brenda Kahn. Brenda hiked 8.5 miles around the mountainous trails shown in this painting. We talk briefly, but intimately, and I realize that I, too, am a cancer survivor. My eyes brim with tears. She welcomes me warmly and somehow, I feel honored to be included in such elegant company. A gentle and graceful warrior.

 

Painting: “KAYAK CALLING”, by artist Deborah Helton.  Debbie is currently working on a painting of a cabin she has up north in the woods. We bond in agreement that it, “looks like a small piece of Heaven!”  She herself is like a delicate, but strong flower that one might find growing in the shade of a beautifully wooded piece of paradise. A soft and kind warrior.

 

Completing the “ART HEALS” exhibition, are paintings created by the children of the SandCastles Children’s Grief Support Group.

And from the mouths of babes . . .

  

  

After visiting with the artists and with other admirers such as myself, I go home with my creative hungers satisfied and my heart full. I feel blessed and grateful.

On Friday morning I rise, tired, but still basking in the afterglow and glory of an incredible week and amazing people.

But my day begins early today.

Once again I walk into the Josephine Ford Cancer Center. My friend smiles and says, “Oh, Julia, you made it! It’s so good to see you!”

I swear she’s got the elegance of Grace Kelly.

Soon, we celebrate that her lab numbers are up and while she is getting her chemo, we spend the time in intimate chat and laughter. I treasure the moment and mark it as forever precious.

I look over at her and smile.

I have come full circle. What a journey.

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

A special thank you to Patricia Izzo, all the artists, the Downriver Council for the Arts, and the wonderful staff at the Josephine Ford Cancer Center, for welcoming me and graciously allowing me to share in your magic. You are all a treasured surprise and have deeply touched me. I hope that I have done you justice; I fear that I have not.

The words have yet to be created for those as wonderful as you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Art, Downriver/Detroit, Michigan, Grief/Healing, Inspiration/Motivation, Mental Health, Photography, Physical Health | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

A BRILLIANT STAR

A brilliant star was plucked from the night

but Heaven got brighter

Can that be right?

I think of you and I understand why

You’re making God smile

and it lights up the sky!

Categories: Grief/Healing, Inspiration/Motivation, Love, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , | 13 Comments

LABOR DAY GIFTS

This week’s blog is dedicated with deep gratitude to my dear friend, Pat Petroline; aka Doc, Momma Patti, Miss Lu, LuLu Yang-Master Chef.

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

Making a critical mistake is like getting bit in the butt by a dog . . . you don’t see it coming, you feel the shock of realization, the horrible pain upon infliction, and unless you’re simply unlucky enough to be a random target, you should probably limp away having learned a lesson.

We seldom get a do-over.

Saturday I took a three hour journey across the State of Michigan on a less-than-desirable emotional task of sorts. Without prompting, my friend, Patti, offered to accompany me. I cried during most of the drive.

We arrived, tended to my dreaded personal business, and began the three-hour drive home. I cried during most of the drive back too.

After a restless night, I awoke on Sunday morning in a terrible panic. I telephoned Patti and hysterically screamed that I had to return. I had made an awful mistake and had lost something very precious.

Fifteen minutes later we were on yet another three-hour trek.

We arrived on the western coast of Michigan, managed to un-do my previous day’s doings, and retrieved what I thought was priceless and forever lost.

Yet again, we took one final trip back to Southeastern Michigan. This time we laughed the whole way home.

Two days, twelve hours of driving, and 800 miles later, I walked away having learned two really amazing things:

ONE: Recognizing a mistake is the first step to learning from it. And sometimes, if you are quick enough and lucky enough, you get a do-over. But you have to try or you will never know.

TWO: My friend Patti is a one of a kind blessing.

When I called on her for help for the second time, she did NOT say that she was busy with weekend holiday plans, or that she was tired from her busy week at work. She did NOT say that she was needed at home with her family, or that she just couldn’t handle another six-hour trip. She did NOT complain once during the entire two-day fiasco, and she NEVER called me crazy or irrational or stupid for making the mistake that started it all.

No, when I called her, sobbing and screaming, “I have to go back now!  Can you come? Can you come, please? How soon can you get here?”

Her calm and simple reply was, “I’m on my way. All I have to do is put on my shoes.”

And that was that. No questions and no judgment.

I love her so much for that. I wish I could adequately show my gratitude by buying her something special . . . like a house! LoL.

Patti, thank you will never seem sufficient. And nothing you ask of me will ever be too big.

A do-over.

A rare and special friend.

And a labor of love . . .

Categories: Adventures, Friends, Kindness & Compassion, Love | Tags: , , , , , | 15 Comments

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