Liven Your Space - A Resource for Healing from Mental Illness
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A New Book is Coming


Happy Valentine's Day to all ....

Also wanted you to know, I've been writing a new book in collaboration with a friend. It's about the downs and ups of living with mental illness, a challenge that is little understood and often poorly managed.

From what I've read, a typical schizophrenic tends to live less long than their peers. Since I should have been dead 15 years ago, I figured I had time to write and even rewrite if necessary. 

Now the book is almost in the final editing stage.

Getting Religion Part XXXXVII Home

In 2006, I moved less than a block away to Russell's.  The arrangement was that I would have a bedroom, a place for a computer and for my library of books.  I'd also have a place to store my paintings and kitchenware, the china, glassware and cooking instruments I'd accumulated over the past thirty years. 

The funny thing was that I'd  never cooked.  Never knew how to cook. Mama had always done the cooking when I lived at home and, when I lived on my own, I'd always eaten out except for staples like yogurt, fruit, and  salads.

Getting Religion, Part XXXXVI Mama Dies

The process of Mama moving into the local nursing home happened quickly. One night she fell from a chair while watching television.  Russell and I, working together, got her into her bed. Later that night, after Russell had returned to his house, she fell again. This time, her 180 pound frame was unresponsive.  Her speech hard to understand. The ambulance was called and off to the hospital she went and then the nursing home. After cleaning out her cluttered and ramshackled house, the place was auctioned off and, over a period of seven years, the money gone.

Getting Religion - Part XXXXV Life in the 90s

I kept flying throughout the 90s and continued following Dr. Lebensohn's advice for good living. 

Because of my seniority at United, I had plenty of time to pursue things that interested me - everything except cooking, a realm that belonged solely to my mother. I painted off and on each week, started taking flute lessons, signed up for creative writing classes at the community college, began Tai-Chi, drove mother on visits and errands, and continued to attend church and meditate.  My dance card was full and demanding even as my mental confusion had pretty much dissipated.

Getting Religion XXXXIV Meeting Deepak Chopra

My meeting with Ansel Adams took place sometime in the late 1980s. During this period and into the 90s I began to follow Dr. Lebensohn's advice to try different forms of meditation as means of gaining greater ability to focus my mind.  While I'd worked hard at engaging with people during work and social events, trying to gain confidence in pursuing pro-social behavior,  I also still needed to spend a lot of time alone, making sure to keep my mind orderly, quiet and grounded.  I had learned the hard way that over-stimulation was dangerous, that my overstimulated mind was especially dangerous if I let it willfully wrap around bad thinking and compulsions.

Getting Religion XXXXIII: Meeting Ansel Adams

On a spring morning heading for San Francisco from Dulles Airport I learned that Ansel Adams was one of the few first class passengers. Ansel Adams. His name was on the manifest and he sat alone at the lounge table. I'd admired him and his work since college art classes at William and Mary. His photography of natural places were world famous.  His pictures of mountains, rivers, and sky graced calendars, coffee table books, museums and art galleries. And now here he was, just a few feet away from me as I attended to my galley duties, setting up carts and trays, preparing meals so I could avoid traveling down the aisles and interacting with people.

Getting Religion XXXXII The Day I met Maya Anjelou

A conversation with Maya Anjelou was one of three conversations that first opened my eyes.   

It was a flight from Dulles to San Francisco.  She was sitting in first class, seat 7B, back near the galley of the stretch DC 8, and I was working as "galley slave" preparing food and carts for dinner service. 

After dinner was over and the movie was being shown, somehow Maya and I started talking.  The movie didn't interest her and without warning, this kind-faced African American woman began to talk to me.

Getting Religion XXXXI Conversations

Even before I became inspired by Paul's message, Dr. Lebensohn insisted that I participate in conversations. 

"You can't be so involved in yourself," he would say. "You must reach out to others. Only then will you discover that people are approachable, interesting and have problems as you do; that you are connected to them." 

Every day he required I talk with people. I did as I was told.  Despite my feelings of inferiority and self-doubt, I forced myself to strike up conversations with passengers on my flights or those I would run into in Warrenton.

Getting Religion Part XXXX A Sound Mind

A sound mind. I couldn't imagine anything more important.  At the time, everyone seemed so clear-headed compared to me. And yet, according to Paul, a sound mind was available to me and others like me who were confused, lonely, and alienated from a sense of self.  

According to Paul, a sound mind wasn't an accident, it was a gift; one that could pull us away from fear; one that in conjunction with love and compassion, could transform us from an unhealthy state into a state of peace, clarity and purpose.

Getting Religion XXXIX

When I first started going to church with my mother, I stepped through the door easily.  I knew the people there, I had gone to church there as a child, and I wanted to believe the message of Jesus would be a nice change from the confusion in my mind. When I was introduced to the words of Paul however I was puzzled and annoyed. What had I gotten myself into?  Not willing to give up on the guidance from my doctor and my own inclination that a church connection would help anchor me, I felt I had to go deeper.