MY JOURNEY IN SIGHT – PART 8

September 12, 2014

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A month ago, I met a good friend at Descanso Gardens. I didn’t take too many photos because the sunlight bothered my eyes. Seeing the beautiful images I did capture that day remind me of how blessed I am to have my eyesight and my wonderful friend, Carol.

A month ago, I met a good friend at Descanso Gardens. I didn’t take too many photos that day because the sunlight bothered my eyes. This image reminds me of how blessed I am to have my eyesight and my wonderful friend, Carol.

For a week after using the serum tears, I was deeply depressed. My eyes hurt and my vision was foggy even though my eye doctor said my eyes looked “fine.” I began to lose hope of ever conquering my dry eye condition and reclaiming the “normal” eyes I once had.

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I had definitely lowered the bar a while ago. This wasn’t about acuity (vision); it was about living with discomfort and constant pain. I could accept poor vision, but not pain.

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My online dry eye support group knew exactly how I felt. I plan to write more stories about this group. It is comprised of men and women, young and old. One woman has lived with her condition over 25 years already. Many of the new members want to pull their eyeballs out!

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What I continue to find so beautiful, is how this group is filled with hopefulness. When someone is overwhelmed, another member suggests things that might help him or her.

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After my serum tear fiasco, I poured out my heart and received many caring and concerned messages.

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My new friend from this group named Susan was very appreciative of my story. She had just gotten a prescription for serum tears because I had encouraged her to push her doctor for it. Now she wasn’t sure whether to try them after hearing about what I had experienced.

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Susan and I began writing daily and I was touched by how caring she was. It turned out that she didn’t live too far from me. That was amazing since the online group was international. Susan had suffered with dry eyes for about ten years. She had attended several meetings of a dry eye support group in Orange County, which was about two hours from where we lived. The leader of that group was a very knowledgeable person and quite willing to help others. Her name was Judi.

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Susan had recently spoken with her and shared my story; now Judi wanted to get in touch with me.

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I was open to it.

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Judi began by emailing me a ton of literature and eventually we spoke for an hour on the phone.

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Her messages resonated with wisdom, knowledge and incredible compassion. If I allowed an image to form, it would be of seeing myself lying on the ground. Suddenly gentle hands caressed me and sweet messages of hope were whispered in my ears. With the help of those hands, I managed to pull myself back up.

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What stood out to me in Judi’s messages were several things. Certainly she had an incredible amount of knowledge. But what really helped me was when she acknowledged the psychological impact of my condition and reassured me that I wasn’t going crazy.

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You are not crazy or a hypochondriac; they just don’t have the answer or know how to treat you. God can make a way when it seems there is none. Don’t give up.

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And her mentioning God really touched me.

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No one can understand how bad the pain of dry eyes can be unless they have experienced it. We have more nerves in our eyes than anywhere else in our bodies. I can remember a young man, many years ago that wanted to have his eyes removed because the pain was so bad; he was in his 30’s. That was so very sad and I wonder whatever happened to him.

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I have also struggled with anxiety and depression my whole life, especially after the age of thirty. I have recently learned that anxiety and depression makes the pain of dry eyes worse – and the pain of the dry eyes makes the depression worse. It is a vicious cycle.

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I can say that my struggle started 14 years ago and my eyes are better now than when I started but also I have learned to be much more proactive in treating them. It always drives me closer to God, to depend and trust Him – to spend time with Him – to be grateful for His grace and faithfulness in all areas of my life.

Judi

After about two weeks, my eyes recovered. They weren’t “normal,” but perfectly adequate for all the things I do. The pain subsided and helped me appreciate how much better I was. I was relieved that I was able to perform at my niece’s wedding above.

After about two weeks, my eyes recovered. They weren’t “normal,” but perfectly adequate for all the things I do. The pain subsided and helped me appreciate how much better I was. I was relieved that I was able to perform at my niece’s wedding above.

Twenty years ago, I helped bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents as a support group leader for an organization named Compassionate Friends.

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Whenever I have written about the things that helped me to survive my grief, I usually mention how I benefitted from support groups. “Hold hands with other people who are also suffering. Take baby steps together,” is often how I frame it.

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It seems like I followed my own advice when my dry eye condition began to overwhelm my life.

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Coral Rose close up

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One of the hardest things for me as a leader at Compassionate Friends was helping the newly bereaved.

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They were in shock, bewildered at how their “normal” life had suddenly disintegrated. The grief journey they were beginning seemed like a horror they could never survive and dying to join their loved one seemed far easier.

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Part of reason it was so difficult for me (back then), was because I was on the same journey and I couldn’t really say that it would get “better” with honesty. The journey from where the hell began was arduous and excruciatingly slow. The best that could be hoped for was to hold hands with others and hang on.

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What I gained from helping other people with grief was a sense of purpose. It made me feel that all of the suffering I went through strengthened me. Now I could do something useful, my son was an “angel on my shoulder,” hugging and holding me as I comforted other people.

These are lyrics from my song “Wonder Why.” I recently finished the vocal and guitar additions for my song.

These are lyrics from my song “Wonder Why.” I recently finished the vocal and guitar additions for my song.

It was when Judi reached out to help me that I realized how I was getting something back for all that I had given.

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The experience was quite spiritual for me.

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As horrible as bereavement was, I have looked at it as a pathway toward enlightenment. Grief took me away from God and eventually I found a way back. I try not to imagine that God orchestrates all the misery in this world. Because of my eye pain, I know I have gained far more compassion and depth.

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I know that things could be worse and things could be better. The number of painful diseases that exist in this world are endless and I cry for anyone who suffers. Even with dry eye disease, there are people whose eyes are disfigured and scarred, who cannot drive or face daylight at all.

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So many things happen in life that I do not understand. For myself personally, I strive to stay positive as I follow my dream.

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I keep smiling and there’s a reason for that. It’s because my eye pain has not stopped me from arranging songs, recording vocals and writing new music. I even began composing a new song last week.

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I am currently working on a large illustration assignment that is going very well. Somehow, I always manage to find time to write for my blog.

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I am very close to all three of my children. I have two sons who live with me (17 and 23) and they keep me busy shopping to fill our refrigerator. I play tennis and I swim several days a week.

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How is that possible?

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My explanation is that there are angels are all around me.

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Coral Rose

© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

MY JOURNEY IN SIGHT – PART 7

September 9, 2014

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This picture was taken on the day my blood was drawn.

This picture was taken on the day my blood was drawn.

My serum drops arrived on a Monday morning. My son burst into my bedroom to announce, “Mom, there’s a big package at the door for you!”

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Only a week before, I had driven for two hours to a distant facility to have 21 vials of blood drawn that would be used to make these revolutionary eye drops.

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Of course, the dry ice was far more interesting for my son as I removed the seven precious bottles of serum. I put six in the freezer and one in the fridge. I wondered how long it would be before I could start squeezing the bottle and putting the tears in my eyes.

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Serum Tears and box

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I looked to see if there were any papers in the box but there were none. There were a few instructions on the bottle telling me to discard it after a week and to keep it refrigerated at all times.

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By late afternoon, I checked the bottle in the refrigerator and it wasn’t frozen anymore. It was time to use them! The drops that went into my eyes were cold, slimy and kind of shocking. They were definitely refreshing. I imagined my eyes were soothed every time I blinked.

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The instructions on the bottle said to put one drop in each eye every two hours. I didn’t follow a tight schedule, but used them whenever I saw the time had gone by. By bedtime, I had used them at least 4 times.

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I could hardly believe that bottle contained my own body fluid!

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Serum bottle

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That first night held a momentous event for me. I performed for the first time in eight months.

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Before my dry eye condition overwhelmed my life, I used to perform weekly at the Open Mic at Kulak’s Woodshed. From the moment I walked in, everyone there welcomed me back with open arms.

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Singing in front of an audience was still difficult with my eye discomfort. But I could tell that I was able to handle my pain much better since I had been on a “healthier track.” I wasn’t looking at my eating as a diet, even though I had started to lose a few pounds. Certainly, I had gained a lot of weight in the months I hadn’t gone to Kulak’s and it took courage for me to put myself out there.

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Playing at Kulak's 12

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Before I began performing, I mentioned to the host that I had “eye issues” and it was difficult for me to open my eyes.

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I am sharing my performance on YouTube for the first time in years. Below is a link to it:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEPFa7foQUs

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Butterfly of death

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Unfortunately, everything changed the next day.

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Just after I woke up I noticed my vision was cloudy. It was rare for me to go back to sleep, but I did so because I thought perhaps I was just tired.

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By evening, I finally acknowledged that something was wrong as the fog in my eyes became more and more dense.

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Now I was far less excited to continue putting the serum drops into my eyes. I wondered if perhaps this was something I needed to stick with. Maybe my eyes were healing this way?

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This post on my Internet Dry Eye forum really gave me a lot of hope.

This post on my Internet Dry Eye forum really gave me a lot of hope.

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I posed my question to the people on the dry eye forum I belonged to. One woman responded and said she had experienced a little discomfort at the beginning but after that she was vastly improved. I continued using the drops.

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The next day, my pain was even more intense. Clearly this was not normal. I tried calling the pharmacy that made them. Their phones were not working.

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I felt so discouraged and disappointed. (Eventually, I did reach them and they took down information from me to look into whether my drops had a problem. I never received a call back.)

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It was very hard for me to concentrate and do my illustration work. All I wanted was to be in the place I was before I began using the drops. About a year ago, I was dealing with this level of severity almost every day. Now I appreciated my progress.

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By Friday, I had already stopped using the tears and prayed things would get better. A friend told me that my eyelids and face looked swollen. I decided that I should to be checked by an eye doctor.

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But when I called, I was told there were no appointments available.

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I continued to insist that I needed to be seen and was given a lengthy evaluation over the phone. I listed my symptoms and the receptionist seemed unconcerned. She still would not give me an appointment so I told her I wanted my doctor to call me back.

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Two hours later, the receptionist called me back and said; “Your doctor said she doesn’t need to see you today.”

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I was livid! I felt smoke coming out of my ears and eyes. At that moment, I hated my doctor.

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I took a deep breath and continued to insist upon an appointment. My heart was pounding while I was put on hold. The receptionist finally came back on and said coldly, “Okay, you can come but you’re going to have to wait a very long time.”

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I hung up and began crying. I decided to call a good friend before leaving in order to calm myself.

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My friend used to work in a doctor’s office. She said, “Don’t take it personal. You were being screened out and that’s done regularly. Your doctor probably wasn’t even told about your situation.”

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Scared Eye

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An hour later, I was in the waiting room. I was prepared to wait a long time and certain I had done the right thing by coming in to get checked. I was the last patient before lunchtime and the examining room area was deserted. Finally my eye doctor came to get me.

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I told her how much I appreciated her fitting me in during lunchtime; I didn’t want to appear angry.

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I described the pain and fog that began only a day after using the serum tears. My eye doctor said, “I told you serum tears weren’t a cure.”

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But I had many questions for her because in the last few days I had learned a lot. It turned out that my bottle was only a 20% solution and I had heard that wasn’t nearly as effective as 100% serum. A reaction was unheard of.

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She replied, “Well, if they bothered you with 20%, then it would be even worse if they were 100%.”

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I asked her if the saline could have bothered me. She said it definitely wasn’t the saline. But it did look like I might have contaminated the bottle. I had touched it to my eyelid whenever I put the drops in. It sure would have been helpful to me if there had been clearer instructions.

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Did I have an infection? This cornea doctor would soon find out.

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As she put the yellow dye into my eyes, I gasped because it burned so much. Only a moment after looking with a magnifier, she announced in a chipper voice, “I don’t see any problem at all; your eyes look very good actually.”

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Now I felt embarrassed for insisting upon this appointment.

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I walked out of the building and didn’t know what I was feeling. I was glad I didn’t have anything wrong, but at the same time I began to doubt myself. I was such a demanding patient.

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And my butterfly of hope was smashed to the ground.

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dead butterfly

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Facebook Post on Blog

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The support I received from my Internet group helped me so much.

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Only the week before my tears had arrived I had rallied to encourage another woman to get them prescribed by her doctor. After my ordeal, this woman was very concerned about whether to move forward to get them.

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She and I began corresponding privately. I had made a new friend and her name was Susan.

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Susan and I

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To be continued . . .

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Playing at Kulak's 11

© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

WON’T STAY EMPTY

August 30, 2014

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Being a food illustrator certainly has me thinking about food.

Being a food illustrator certainly has me thinking about food.

A month ago, I asked a friend on Facebook if I could use a photo she had posted of a garden castle.

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When she “liked” my last blog post, I wrote: “What did you think of my artsy images created from your vacation photo?”

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That was when my friend admitted that she had “liked” my post but hadn’t yet had a chance to read it. I wrote her back with:

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No worries! I write a lot and understand how it takes time to read my stuff, especially if you’re busy. But I love how you are always so supportive.

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Also I know some people don’t like metaphorical writing. So here’s a summary of my last Princess story: SHE FINALLY WENT ON A DIET LOL!

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The Door and Butterflies

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My last story ended with the Princess receiving a key and her mission was to find a door for it. That is why this post title is a line of lyrics from my song “The Door.”

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Below is the third verse from that song: 

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As you look upon

the empty spaces when I’m gone

You will see – someday

I know you’ll fill them

They won’t stay empty

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I originally wrote those words with the hope that my “ex” would one day feel better – long after I had gone through the door.

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But whenever I sing those words, instead I imagine my mother is speaking to me. She was a very optimistic woman and I know she would want me to feel better. When my child died, my mother grieved for me and for her grandchild. No parent wants their child to suffer.

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Grief is like a door – I’ve often spoken about going through it, rather than around it. I know from my own experience after losing my child that going through the “door of grief” led to my healing. I’ve met people who never went through that door until many years after their loss. Despite the passage of time it was as if their loved one had just died. And there are people who never imagine they could heal. Everyone handles grief differently.

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The key and butterflies

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I no longer suffer from intense grief over the loss of my child. But in the last few years I’ve experienced many other kinds of losses. Sometimes I’ve noticed that a recent loss can trigger painful feelings from my past.

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I’ve used the term “empty spaces” to describe an aching void inside of me; it represents a longing for something missing in my life. Perhaps that is another way to look at grief.

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I’ve acknowledged many times how much I miss my mom, but I haven’t really cried much to release those feelings – I’ve suppressed my tears. Pushing down feelings and stuffing them inside is not healthy.

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I can express myself through singing and songwriting, but it hasn’t been enough. It’s been far easier for me to find other ways to deny my empty spaces. Food has been something that I’ve often used to numb myself. No matter how much I eat, the emptiness remains when I’ve eaten for the wrong reasons. And after that, I’ve beaten myself up for my weakness.

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I realize I’ve written a lot of “heavy” stories lately. Now I feel ready for a “lighter” approach.

In this baby picture I’m thinking, “Mommy, keep feeding me!”

In this baby picture I’m thinking, “Mommy, keep feeding me!”

A few weeks ago, I had a wonderful turning point. I became tired of waiting for motivation to get into shape and eat healthier. I was ready!

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I thought of another way to look at this and it is rather funny. I’ve decided to “divorce” food! My relationship was very unhealthy and below are some parallels to my former marriage:

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1. I was miserable, but figured I’d deal with it when I was ready.

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2. I preferred to be safe and comfortable; making any changes seemed monumental.

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3. It was a relationship that was more fun when I was with other people. (Lest I be misunderstood, this was not about cheating on my spouse. It represents how socializing took away some of my emptiness because my ex-spouse seemed far more jovial and less negative in company. With food, certainly it was more fun to eat out.)

I'm swimming to Cancun!

I’m swimming to Cancun!

All of a sudden, a light bulb went off and I realized it would be great if I could start swimming laps again. It was a really hot day and the idea seemed refreshing. I hadn’t swum laps in over two years.

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I looked online and found out where there the nearest YMCA facility was. I was amazed that I was able to squeeze my large body into my old bathing suit.

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The first time I went to swim was on a Sunday. The YMCA pool was at capacity and I had to sit on a bench until the lifeguard gave me a sign that I could go in. Even though it wasn’t a great lap swimming experience, I did feel very relaxed afterwards.

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I was so pleased with myself for doing this!

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The next few times I swam during the week. The pool was practically empty and it was great.

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The only hitch was when I had a panic attack because I thought my towel and bag were stolen in the shower room. I was dripping and certain where I had left it hanging. But it was gone!

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Next I went into the locker area to discover my clothes were also missing.

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Suddenly, I realized that this was all because I was in the MEN’S locker room. I made a beeline out of there quickly – WHEW! I was semi-relieved that I hadn’t run into any naked men.

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Once again, I was reminded how I really need to look where I am going.

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That leads me to the topic of my eyes. A lot has been happening for me and I plan to write an eye update very soon.

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Blood Draw 2

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Thankfully, my blood has replenished and I’m not as empty as I was after my serum blood draw from two weeks ago.

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The technician told me she had never drawn blood for serum tears before. I was explaining to her about it and enjoying our conversation when she said, “Okay, we’re all done!”

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I hadn’t even noticed all the vials being drawn!

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I took some pictures and sent a text message to my friends.

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One friend wrote:

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“Yikes. Glad you are finally able to get started on it. Hope they gave you lots of cookies after.”

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No cookies for me now that I’m on track!

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And I’ll end this post with my favorite text response:

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“Whoa! Vampire party favors!”

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Blood Draw

© 2014 Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

THE WALLS YOU’VE BUILT

August 29, 2014

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I created this filtered image from a good friend’s photo. This castle exists somewhere in a garden in Europe.

I created this filtered image from a good friend’s photo taken while traveling in Lichtenstein, Europe. 

My post title is a line of lyrics from my recent song “Misunderstood.”

For me, there has been no misunderstanding about the purpose of my journey. As I search to find insight from my life experiences – my true goal is to inspire healing and find joy in life.

Perhaps I was naïve when my journey began in 2010. Sustaining joy has been elusive for me. But I’ve continued to face challenges and my most recent ones have been difficult for me to overcome.

I never want to lose hope or stop dreaming.

Due to my dry eye condition, I have not felt “normal” for some time. I continue to learn a lot about dry eyes, which can be considered a disease. I am not alone with it and reading about what others go through with this syndrome is heartbreaking for me. There are many causes and many degrees of suffering.

There is another line of lyrics in my song that I find fitting. It is: “You pretend that you’re okay, but this chill won’t go away.”

The chill that I’m feeling is the one that comes from pretending. I continue to maintain composure even when I’m not really okay. It takes tremendous energy to plod onward when you’re in pain. I’ve always believed that I would find a way to feel better. Unfortunately, much of what I’ve done hasn’t been helpful, especially in regards to food. True peacefulness happens for me when I harness my thoughts.

A few weeks ago, I was in a very low place and wrote a story. It is a story about trying to get out of Hell in order to find a way back to Heaven.

The good news is that I am on my way!

Since I wrote my story, some things have occurred that haven’t been easy for me. But I have not fallen down. I’ve found a way out of Hell and do not plan on going back.

CASTLE FLOWERS Pastel

THE PRINCESS TORE DOWN THE WALLS

God continued to bless the Princess.

The Princess was grateful for all her blessings. But unfortunately, the Dark Witch caused the Princess so much pain that the Princess had difficulty smiling or opening her eyes.

Melody continued to comfort the Princess, but the Princess was succumbing to her pain. In a panic, Melody called out for Hope and Dreams to help find a way to save the Princess.

As two shimmering butterflies fluttered next to her, Melody explained that the situation with the Princess was dire. She said, “The Dark Witch will not allow you in there, but somehow there must be a way to get you in. I’ve tried with songs and it hasn’t worked.”

Hope said softly, “We won’t stop trying. But we’ll still wait nearby in case she finds a way to free herself.”

Dreams added, “I’m in total agreement with Hope. Even if she doesn’t want to see us, it’s okay. I remember there was a time when she told us never to come back. But we waited for her then and we will this time, too.”

Melody wiped her eyes and thanked them. Hope and Dreams were such beautiful butterflies. She watched them sail softly into the sky with their colorful wings dancing in the sunlight.

Butterflies blue sky

The Princess once dreamed of being free. But now prison walls surrounded her and unfortunately they were ones she had actually built. Brick by brick, she had walled herself in as a way to shield herself from pain. Gradually the bricks piled higher and higher until they blocked out the sunlight and kept her in darkness.

Pain came in the form of many distinct images for her.

Sometimes, she saw a white spider. Other times, she imagined a Dark Witch holding a broomstick. The Dark Witch delighted in poking the Princess’s eyes with the stinging end of a broom to torment her. Her spell was so evil that the Princess could feel pain even when her eyes were closed.

The Dark Witch stood guard at the entrance to the prison where the Princess was. Like a scarecrow; she wielded her broom as a weapon so no one could enter.

Somehow Melody was able to avoid the Dark Witch by floating upon sweet melodies directly into the Princess’s heart.

Dark Castle

The Princess had tried many times to wrestle the painful broom from the witch’s grasp. But she could not tear it away from the Dark Witch.

In order to survive, the Princess relied upon Melody for help. Melody blanketed her with music and the Princess sang loudly to drown out her pain. Many times, her voice became plaintive cries because she was so sad.

Closed eye

The Princess used food to combat her pain and sadness. It was a very familiar source of comfort and like a drug. But even though it numbed her pain, it caused her to sink lower and lower to the ground from the additional weight she carried.

Finally, the Princess could not move and she decided she had truly succumbed to grief.

DISCOURAGED

A long time ago, The Princess had been in a similar place. But back then, she had her mother and father to comfort and support her. There was no one now to hold her and give her that kind of love. She missed her mother so much; they had been especially close. Even though memories of love sustained her, she was also burdened by memories of suffering.

2 weeks before she died

The Princess was so grateful for Melody. Her precious fairy stroked her and gently hummed sweet melodies into her ears.

As the Princess lay upon the ground in darkness, she wondered how she would find a way to lift herself up. Once upon a time, she was so proud of her courage and willingness to seek freedom from negativity in her life.

Now she was a prisoner in her own mind. She had walled herself in and succumbed to sadness.

Melody & the dark Castle

She could not open her eyes and she could not see the sky. She missed looking at the mountains and dreaming most of all.

Pain Surrounds Me

The Princess could not stand the suffering anymore. It was clear that no one was going to rescue her. The only escape possible would be for her to find a way to free herself.

Her most inspiring songs began to play loudly in her mind and she forced herself to open her eyes. She was not going to let the Dark Witch destroy her.

The Princess prayed that Hope and Dreams were still waiting for her. With memory of their colorful wings dancing in an expansive sky, the Princess became determined to find a key that would allow her to leave her prison.

Even though she felt so heavy, she struggled to stand. In some ways, she was so burdened by her weight and in other ways she was so empty. She was unsteady as she stood up; she felt drugged.

Gleefully, the Dark Witch blocked the Princess’s path with her broom. The Princess suddenly had an amazing revelation. That broom not only tormented her eyes, but it also was the reason for her emptiness. She relied upon that broom to sweep away any thoughts related to grief. That was why she was empty!

In a fury, she screamed at the Dark Witch, “GO AWAY! Why are you torturing me? What have I done to deserve this?”

The Dark Witch did not answer.

The Princess continued to plead and question.

B&W Castle

Finally, the Dark Witch replied, “I’m guarding your prison, Princess. My name is Guilt.”

The Princess grabbed the handle of the Witch’s broom. This time she felt certain she had the strength to yank it away. The Dark Witch gleefully stabbed the Princess in her eyes with the stick ends of the broom. The excruciating pain brought the Princess to her knees.

The Princess detested that broom. She was done sweeping because there was never an end to it. She wanted to stop drugging herself to escape from pain. She decided she was finally ready to search for a way to free herself. It was time to let go.

The memories of love finally overcame the memories of suffering. She felt so much love within. She was bursting with music to share and had too many things left that she wanted to do with her life. Guilt was about self-hatred, not love.

And Guilt would never allow Hope and Dreams to be with her and the Princess missed them so very much.

Even though the Dark Witch continued to use the broom to taunt her, the Princess let go. The broom clattered to the floor beside her and she kicked it away.

Guilt would torture her no longer. And the Princess would no longer sweep away her grief; she would allow it.

Now the Dark Witch lost her power because the Princess stopped holding on.

My Eyes Stay Dry

In the darkness, the Princess saw a glimmer of light and color. Two butterflies alighted next to her. Together they carried a key that glowed in the darkness.

Hope said, “Princess, this belongs to you – we’ve been waiting to give it to you.”

Dreams added, “We’ll stay with you now Princess – you will be okay.”

The Princess held tightly to her key and cried and cried; perhaps now joy would return!

But her next task would be to find the Door.

Butterfly to Castle

© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

PAINFUL WORDS

August 26, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

Butterflies blue sky

Click the blue link below to hear a live performance of my most recent song:

MISUNDERSTOOD – Judy Unger at Kulak’s Woodshed 8/25/14

I also want to share my newest song with an instrumental/karaoke version:

MISUNDERSTOOD-Guitar Instrumental Copyright 2014 by Unger

All of my music is otherworldly for me, especially when my lyrics reveal additional meanings I never imagined while writing them.

On my last post I shared my newest song “Misunderstood.” During the time I was composing my song, I wrote a metaphorical Princess story that was very personal. Initially, I was hesitant to share it but now I have decided to.

This post is named “Painful Words” after a line of lyrics in my song “Misunderstood.” My song was written two months ago after I had a blow up with my oldest son. Now other feelings have surfaced for me related to the lyrics of my song.

I had an epiphany when I remembered that many years ago there were painful words, which were difficult for me to forget. They were screamed at me by my mother.

Perhaps I had this revelation because I am dealing with grief surrounding her fairly recent death, in addition to my divorce after a long marriage.

The painful words I have difficulty forgetting were ones my mother yelled when she found out I wasn’t a virgin. I was twenty-one years old and engaged to be married at the time. This incident caused us both unbearable turmoil. I had never seen her so angry and I was devastated that I had disappointed her so much. To appease her, my husband and I married secretly six months before our scheduled wedding.

I always knew that my mother deeply loved me and never meant to hurt me as she did. Later on, I confronted her and she was very sorry. So many times I was certain that I had forgiven her, but still a chill always lingered deep inside of me. I assume she felt misunderstood.

Because of my music I have once again found clarity – exquisitely sweet and comforting.

Now I have an even a deeper connection to my song.

Your wounds are raw

THE PRINCESS BECAME A DRAGON

The Princess could not take off her armor.

It protected her and without it she felt naked. She also retreated because of her embarrassment and shame; she did not want to be judged. Yet there was no escape from judgment because she dispensed painful criticism to herself on a daily basis.

She was certain everyone could see how she was covering herself and disinterested in her appearance.

The armor only added to her misery because she already suffered with constant eye pain. The Princess even tormented herself for not being more grateful because she knew things could be much worse.

There were signs of what could have been devastating to her if she hadn’t been so lucky. Within the past few months, the Princess had fallen to the ground three times. It was because she couldn’t open her eyes to watch more carefully where she was walking.

She decided God was holding her close each time she fell because miraculously she wasn’t injured.

The Princess began to feel like she was definitely not herself anymore. Once upon a time she danced through her days singing. Now she was simply plodding. She began to wonder if the magic potions the doctors gave her to help her eyes were instead interfering with her thoughts.

Then one day, she looked into the mirror and horror spread through her. She was not a Princess any longer.

She had become a Dragon!

Although it shocked her at first, it wasn’t really a total surprise. She had begun to notice flames shooting from her mouth and many things easily triggered it. When her former Prince became a Dragon after they were married, she was certain it was because of the wicked spell of unhappiness. It seemed like now that wicked spell had transformed her, too.

The Princess wanted to be happy. Even if it was elusive, her best moments were when she was peaceful.

But unfortunately, she had few moments of peace because of her “little dragons.” She traded peacefulness in order to make their lives comfortable, to make them happy. And she felt like she had little choice about it.

Long ago, she believed that love from her children was her purpose for living. But she had no words for her children now, her “little dragons.” They weren’t even little – they were 17, 20 and 23 years old!

She had cared for the “little dragons” from the time they were born and dreamed that someday they would be completely independent. It truly was a dream because they faced many difficult hurdles; but she was determined somehow they would get there.

Although they had certainly made a lot of progress since she left the dragon; the Princess was tired. She only wanted to take care of herself and without peacefulness it was difficult.

The little Dragons expected nothing from their father; but they counted on the Princess. Their father planned to live in a faraway place for the rest of his life. In a year’s time, he would be gone.

Her offspring did not really understand her. They accepted their father as a Dragon, but not their mother as an imperfect Princess.

The Princess certainly loved her children, but she often felt overwhelmed. Because of her eye pain and resulting stress, she began to feel a fire growing inside.

One day, her eldest “little Dragon” fanned her flames. He criticized her and told her she wasn’t doing enough as a mother. The Princess was very hurt because she had devoted and sacrificed so much of herself for all her Dragons.

Since the time when she was a child, she was never able to express anger.

But when she expressed her hurt to her son, he became angry instead. She felt her face growing hot and raised her voice to him and flames began to shoot from her. He threw the fire back into her face and then the Princess erupted. It was so intense that she couldn’t speak for a long time afterward.

When the fire and smoke cleared, only ashes remained.

The Princess cried inside when her son said he did not trust her anymore and that she had traumatized him forever with her outburst. For several weeks he did not return to the cottage where they lived. The Princess was devastated. Everything she had said in anger was misconstrued or misunderstood.

The Princess told her son she loved him and was sorry – she honestly was. But she knew was not really forgiven.

Painful words

She never wanted to explode again, but at the same time she didn’t want to continue to suppress her feelings like she had in the past. This was all new and horrible.

And that was when she realized she was a Dragon.

Once upon a time, her children joined her on a journey to a new and different life.

But having all three of them in her small cottage ended up being far more challenging than she anticipated. Her cottage was not really her castle and many times her “little Dragons” were very unhappy with her.

Trying to make them happy was a habit that the Princess couldn’t seem to break. Now it was worse because of the guilt she carried over hurting their father. Seeking forgiveness from them left her exhausted.

She was definitely tired of being a perfect Princess. As a Princess, she was Cinderella – on the floor looking up as she toiled. She was easily manipulated by guilt and her true companion was self-criticism.

It was ironic how she was never lonely when she was alone. But the worst thing was how deeply she felt misunderstood by them. She would always love them with all of her heart, but sometimes she wished she could fly away.

But then God blessed her with a new song. The dragons that surrounded her dissolved into a beautiful sunset and became butterflies instead.

Butterfly sunset

Now the Princess was ready to shed her armor.

Her beautiful song reminded her why she was a Princess. And when she sang it she discovered she was able to fly away.

I performed "Misunderstood" last night at Kulak's Woodshed. It has been 8 months since I've done this due to my eye problems.

I performed “Misunderstood” last night at Kulak’s Woodshed. It has been 8 months since I’ve done this due to my eye problems.

© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

MISUNDERSTOOD

August 19, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS 

This floral painting of mine was created using black and white watercolors. I am trying to get away from seeing things in black and white, which is my metaphor for extreme thinking. When I expand my mind, I’ve discovered beautiful new shades of tonality.

This floral painting of mine was created using black and white watercolors. I am trying to get away from seeing things in black and white, which is my metaphor for extreme thinking. When I expand my mind, I’ve discovered beautiful new shades of tonality.

Click the blue link to hear audio:

MISUNDERSTOOD-8/18/14 Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger

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MISUNDERSTOOD

Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger

You won’t forgive me for that argument

Those words you heard I never meant

Your wounds are raw; too hurt to move on

You say your trust is gone

-

I know you’re hurt; I wish you knew

Nothing can change my love for you

You pretend that you’re okay

But this chill won’t go away

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Misunderstood, left with regret

Painful words you can’t forget

I’d take them back, if I only could

 ‘cause now I’m left misunderstood

-

The walls you’ve built protect you now

I want to tear them down somehow

Misunderstood, left with regret

Painful words you can’t forget

I’d take them back, if I only could

Instead I’m left misunderstood

My lyrics in progress are always very revealing. I share my lyric drafts even with areas of words scratched out.

I share my lyric drafts, including areas of words scratched out.

Less than two months ago, I wrote about how I transform my emotions into a song. It is something I do unconsciously and is such a blessing to my life.

I must thank my arranger, George for inspiring me to create my newest song “Misunderstood.” It was his encouragement that truly helped birth this song.

I had come to one of our sessions feeling very depressed. I told him how I had gotten into a horrible fight with my oldest son a few days before. George was sympathetic and told me to express my feelings by writing a song – he even suggested that I name it “Misunderstood.”

I happened to have discovered four beautiful chords on my guitar the day before. I shared them with George and he began to play them on his piano. Instantly, my heart was grabbed with the excitement that every passionate songwriter knows. My glorious new song was emerging!

I know you're hurt

It took us several sessions to create an arrangement for this song. Even though it didn’t have lyrics, it wasn’t long before I found the words. I tried to “compose” a beautiful melody but it seemed to have a mind of it’s own. Even when I found what might have been a “better” choice, I sang whatever melody came out of my mouth.

Originally I wanted to sound like Barry Manilow with a modulated last chorus. But I lost my connection to the song, so the electric guitar and drums had to go. George erased the solo/last chorus and we created something else.

George also directed me while recording harmony. I love the harmony on this song because it makes the song even more emotional for me.

Singing is such a pure form of expression. I sang the high notes for the last chorus because it felt like what I needed to do in order to release my pain.

Take it back

Below are more beautiful words from my new friend, Sandra who lives in Denmark. I introduced her on the last post and she wrote this sweet message after I emailed her a recording of “Misunderstood” in progress.

Dear Judy,

It’s late here in Denmark now: 23:43 at night, and it will not be long before I go to bed, and I will rejoice very much to again get a nice letter from you. You must be well and take care of yourself. I think of you so often and send you my light and healing energy from the depth of my heart.

Thanks for emailing me your latest song “Misunderstood.” I really like it; I actually really loved it and have started to sing it a little.

I like to have background music playing while I walk around here and work; it is so nice. Judy, you have to promise me that you will never stop playing or making music; you’re so clever. Your thoughtful lyrics that you sing with your pleasant voice make me cry. Just wait and see – when we suddenly see each other one day, I will cry for hours when you play and sing to me.

You said you wrote the song after an argument with your son, but it can easily be understood as something that happened between a couple in love.

While I listened to the song, suddenly I saw a movie where a woman was driving her car up a mountain road. It was the start of a movie with your song running in the background as film music; it fit perfectly! I certainly believe that your music could be used for film. Your song invokes many feelings and your relaxing voice is like pleasant waves; your music could fit nicely in a love story or a drama.

Thank you, dear Judy, for sharing your life and your art with me. God bless you,

Sandra

We can't undo

B & W Half Lilly B

My son has no idea that I wrote this song. What emerged from our conflict were many feelings related to the divorce that had been suppressed. Even though the chill between us has subsided, his wariness and my regret have exhausted me.

Perhaps that is why my song is so comforting. It transforms my painful situation into something exquisitely beautiful. I can express my regret in a different way, instead of bending over backward to prepare his favorite foods.

Below are more scrawled words of my lyrics in progress for this song. My very first page began as a way to express feelings without concerning myself with rhyming. Those lyrics in progress are intimate and revealing.

It seems like sharing here is the antithesis of being misunderstood.

I feel understood now.

Misunderstood first lyrics

Rose B&W What I said I can't undo

© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I HOLD ON

August 16, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

 Last week, I corresponded with a lovely woman in Denmark who found my blog. She sent me this remarkable photo of a butterfly that landed on her windowsill. I will share some of our emails at the end of this post.

Last week, I corresponded with a lovely woman in Denmark who found my blog on the Internet. She sent me this remarkable photo of a butterfly that landed on her windowsill. I will share some of our emails later in this post.

This post title is a line of lyrics from my song “Somewhere I Can’t See.” The wisdom in my song begins with the very first line of:

Everything that I have gone through led me to this place

I like to believe that what makes me a touching songwriter is my ability to use my life experiences – good and bad – as an ingredient for my songs. The inspired place where I want to be is one that was reached because of all the challenges I’ve gone through in my life.

I recently finished a new vocal for “Somewhere I Can’t See.” It has beautiful harmony and the lyrics profoundly speak to me about my life. Here is a link to hear and read more about this song:

Story behind SOMEWHERE I CAN’T SEE

SOMEWHERE I CAN'T SEE

“Somewhere I Can’t See” has two interchangeable lines on the chorus that cause me to cry. They are:

I hold on – to love that’s in my memory

I hold on – to the love that heals me

I named this post “I Hold On” because it refers to several things. I am holding on to hope of finding relief for the physical discomfort caused by my dry eye condition. It has been almost two years since my eye problems began in 2012.

And to help myself feel better, I hold on to memories of how I once felt adored in my life – cherished by my parents and even by my former husband. Even though it was my choice to divorce after a long marriage, I am still experiencing a lot of grief.

Last week I was blessed to receive another assignment from Tillamook. I’m going to be illustrating ice cream sandwiches. In that photo of a box above, are sandwiches made especially for me. They were shipped in that box with dry ice. I was amazed how they didn’t melt sitting at my door for several hours until I got home.

I’m going to be illustrating 4 packages of ice cream sandwiches for Tillamook. Inside that box, were several ice-cream sandwiches made especially for me (they were shipped with dry ice). I was amazed how they didn’t melt sitting at my door for several hours until I got home.

Last week, it was very uplifting when I received a new illustration assignment. It looks like I’ve held on to my art career after all!

But what really helped me was a wonderful exchange with a lovely artist/guitarist from Denmark named Sandra. Her words were a beautiful sign to remind me how inspiring my journey truly is.

I now want to share excerpts of our correspondence below: (Her words are in blue)

Hi Judy,

I cannot stop looking at your artwork. Have you ever been to Europe and Scandinavia (Denmark)? You are welcome to come and visit me! I do not know you, but I feel like I know you through your art.

Hi Sandra, I’ve never been to Europe. Your generous offer touches me deeply. You don’t even know me! I will look forward to meeting you someday. I’m glad you love art. I feel that way about music. :)

Dear Judy,

Yes, you are very welcome to come and visit me in Denmark, and I would like to show you this beautiful country.

I moved here about 1 year ago, because I wanted to live in nature and away from the big city. In Soro, it’s absolutely beautiful with a wonderful lake, forest and beautiful culture. AND YOU ARE WELCOME!

Have a good day, Sandra

Hi Sandra,

I love hearing about where you live. I haven’t really travelled much. I often imagine going to Europe – it fascinates me. Of course, if I visited you our language differences might be frustrating! But music and art are a universal language.

It’s interesting that you see my art as who I am, whereas I feel much more defined by my music. My music tells stories about my life and my singing voice is my fullest expression. To me, my art is something that represents the “ideal,” without any emotion in it. But I’m touched that my art moves you.

I don’t think I’ll be traveling to Europe soon, but I’ll save your email and keep it in mind for the future someday. Thanks for writing.

Judy

Dear Judy,

Thank you for your letter, which made me really happy. I’m glad to hear that you use your music to express your feelings, because it is the meaning of music for me.

You might think there is not much emotion in your art, but I can tell you that when I saw your artwork I was immediately in a magic place. I found myself suddenly in the middle of a fairytale. Therefore, can I allow myself to say that I know you through your art?

I am otherwise very critical and it’s not easy to impress me, but when I am touched and someone makes a difference to me, I want to let them know.

My door will always be open to you and have a nice weekend!

Sincerely, Sandra

I appreciate how you’ve opened the door for me. And I even have a song named “The Door!”

Best of luck, Judy

Dear Judy,

I listened to your song “Beside Me Always.” I heard the song again and again and I cry and cry and feel the Universe in your heart; your pain is huge.

I am so sorry about what happened to your son, Jason, because he left you so early. It is a great tragedy when parents have to bury their own children – I do not think that any pain can be greater. I’M SO SORRY, BECAUSE OF YOUR SON!

Many people might say: “It was 22 years ago and time heals all sorrow,” but I know that you feel it as if it happened yesterday. Why? Because I know the pain in your heart hurts and it NEVER goes completely away!

I understand that you express your feelings through the music – YOU DO IT VERY WELL, BECAUSE YOU MADE MY CRY. I COULD FEEL YOUR LOVE TO YOUR SON IN YOUR SONG – I HAVE NO DOUBT THAT YOUR SON IS PROUD OF YOU!

I’d like to send you a little package with some stuff from Denmark, so you get a taste Scandinavia. Sincerely, Sandra

I just savored your message, Sandra. When I get a message like yours, it is such fuel for my journey and where I want to go with my message and music.

Of course, I remember the anguish of losing my beloved child – that will never go away. But the pain has eased and I really believe in sharing my hope of healing. When I sing, I release all of my pain. To connect my music to another person far across the globe is such a wonderful thing to treasure.

So I thank you!!! As far as tasting your food – I couldn’t refuse that. But I also hope you’ll allow me to share a CD of my music with you, too! Have a wonderful day.

Judy

Dear Judy,

Thank you so much for your courtesy and your kindness!

My English is so bad, because I’ve never read it in school! I learned only Russian throughout all school years (because I come from a communist country). Therefore, I am so glad that you can understand when I write something, because I know that I express myself miserably in English. Thank you for understanding!

Thank you so much because you want to share your CD with me, it is a great honor for me, and I look forward to it, thank you! I walked around my apartment and then I found myself singing your songs!

J U D Y! You are amazing!

My door will always be open to you! And I am also pleased to hear the song if it is on CD.

When I said I would send some things to you so that you can “taste” them, I did not think pizza, but more some real Danish things like: Danish beer, Danish amber, Danish design, Danish porcelain, Danish glass, HC Andersen books, etc.

Sandra

Sandra, your English seems to be working fine to me. Don’t put yourself down. It’s amazing how you have expressed yourself so beautifully in ways that go beyond language. :)

It’s sweet of you to mail me something from your country. It will really entice me to visit you. I would suggest you only mail light things; nothing heavy is necessary. And since I don’t drink any alcohol, there’s no need to send beer. (I don’t like the taste – that’s why!)

Good luck with all that you do, Sandra. Stay well and thank you for giving me a big smile. I love imagining you singing my songs. I can share chords with you if you’d like, since I know you also play guitar.

Judy

Dear Judy,

While I sat here and wrote an email to you today, a giant butterfly flew in through the window. I hurried to take a picture with my IPhone. See how nice it is!

I believe it is a message from the sky to you and me – I saw a butterfly like it on your Youtube video, as I was listening to your music. It was such a fantastic experience.

Sandra

Wow! Sandra, that is so strange. I was just working on an image of a butterfly to add to my blog. It’s not the exact same one – but it’s incredibly coincidental.

Butterfly-Lacewing

Judy, Oh … my … God!  It’s incredible! Is it really possible that this is happening? WOW!

I am quite touched, because when the butterfly flew into my room, I could feel “something special in the air” – something divine, and I got up from the E-mail I was going to write to you and took a picture. It was a very special experience … and then you write that you were going to paint a butterfly, which looked very much like the one that came to visit me :)

I am sending a picture of the butterfly! Please, look only at the butterfly and not at my unwashed windows :)))

I am very happy now! Thank you, dear Judy. People say in Denmark: “There is more between heaven and earth than you think!”

THANK YOU FOR A BEAUTIFUL DAY, JUDY!

Love, Sandra

Greek Lineup Tilamook

Hi Sandra,

Yesterday was a special day in many ways. First of all, your messages touched me deeply.

Then in the afternoon I received a very large art assignment that took me by surprise. I thought my career as an illustrator was over because I didn’t have much work for years. But now that I’ve gotten divorced and could really use the income, I’ve been blessed with a wonderful client named Tillamook. They always are wonderful to work with. I’m going to be illustrating ice cream sandwiches for them.

I hope you’re having a nice day. Thank you again for all of those beautiful butterfly pictures.

Take care,

Judy

Dear Judy,

Thank you for your letter, which makes me happy. I am so glad to hear that you’ve got some work. I know it is not easy when you are divorced. I have been divorced since 2004 and know how hard it is to pay all the costs alone.

What a good sign you got with the butterfly – it was quite unique, wasn’t it? I’ve never seen a bigger and more beautiful butterfly in my life! And it flew into my room while I wrote to you – it is so obvious that it was for you! I am so grateful to heaven, to give us signs all the time. Thank you, Lord! And thank you, Judy, for you’ve made my life richer and you’ve made me happy with your art and music.

I like to listen to your songs when you sing and play all alone, without any other music. That way I am not distracted by other tones; I concentrate only on your guitar and your voice. Every time I hear you sing, I cry … when I listened to your song with other instruments, I had goose bumps, but I did not cry because I could not get into the depth of your heart. I was distracted by the other music!

I love your seashell song, it is so beautiful … I feel like going to the beach so I can put my feet in the sand, listen to the sea and sing your songs while I look at the sun going down … my fantasy! I look forward to hearing from you again.

All the best, Sandra

butterfly at the window 1

© 2014 Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

NO ORDINARY PRINCESS – PART 3

August 12, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

  I share my “castle” with my two sons. I’m glad my youngest son put up this sign after breaking a jar, but he could have done a better job sweeping up the glass.

I share my “castle” with my two sons. I’m glad my youngest son put up this sign after breaking a jar, but he could have done a better job sweeping up the glass.

At the age of 54, I am navigating a new life as a single woman.

I live in the same two-bedroom coop where I grew up and both of my parents passed away in the last few years. I moved here shortly after I separated from my husband in 2012. I was married for 31 years and my divorce only became final a few months ago.

At one point, all three of my children lived with me. There were definitely challenges having one bathroom, which was something I dealt with when I was growing up. For my children it was a little more challenging since their former home had four bathrooms.

My two sons who live with me are 17 and 23. My 20-year-old daughter moved out to live with friends six months ago and thankfully, we are still very close.

It was a huge adjustment for my children when I separated from my former husband. Now that two years have passed, I’ve seen a lot of progress toward healing for them. But occasionally there have been setbacks and difficult moments.

Anger was an emotion that was taboo for me – in my marriage and while growing up. Sometimes, I’ve felt underlying anger from my children because I hurt their father. All of this has been painful.

With my divorce, I was the “perpetrator” and my husband was the “victim.” I carry guilt because I knew my husband had no idea that I would end our marriage after so many years.

My children are not interested in much of what I’m doing and as far as I can tell, that’s pretty typical of kids their age. Yet many times my children have expressed that they hate my music and writing because it caused me to leave their father.

And if my children knew that I called myself a Princess and their father a Dragon – it might upset them even more!

My illustrations adorn all of the Del Monte pickle jars. I'm only sharing this because my son broke a jar of them in the kitchen.

My illustrations adorn all of the Del Monte pickle jars. I’m only sharing this because my son broke a jar of them in the kitchen.

I’ve tried to be the “Queen of the Castle” where I am.

A few months ago when I felt overwhelmed, I encouraged my youngest son to spend time with his father over the summer break. With both my sons gone now on a three-week trip, I am a Queen on vacation!

There aren’t any crumbs and messes for me to complain to them about. The toilet seat hasn’t been left up. And the best part is not hearing the cacophonous sound of shooting from their video game system.

But I do miss their smiles and sweet love. My sons are wonderful men – tall and strong. My youngest son is over 6′ tall so it’s hard for me consider him my baby anymore.

Since I’ve discontinued taking hormones, my emotions have calmed down. Having privacy and quiet time at home has also been like medicine for me; I feel very peaceful. I am determined not to allow my emotions to build up like they did a few months ago.

For this Princess post, I’ve decided to share a story about how I’m not an ordinary Princess because I don’t believe royalty has to kill cockroaches.

Crown & Roach

My roach story starts when I was home with my 17-year-old son about two weeks ago.

We had just finished dinner and he began yelling to me from his room. I was editing music and had my headphones on. It was so annoying and I wasn’t going to yell back. The Princess decided to ignore him unless he actually got up and came into my room.

But in the distance I could hear him still calling me. I slipped off my headphones and said in an exasperated voice, “Is this an emergency? I can’t hear what you’re saying and if you want me you’ll need to come to my room.”

I had just raised my voice and wished I had ignored him better. And because he continued calling me, I became even more irritated.

I probably was annoyed with him also because when I stood up, my foot hurt. It was because I stepped on a piece of glass in the kitchen earlier in the afternoon. He had dropped a jar of pickles before I came home and the house smelled like dill when I walked in.

This was not a castle for a Princess by any means!

I tromped down the hall to his room. “This had better be an emergency,” I announced as I came into his room.

My son was sweating and darting all around me. “Mom! You won’t believe this large cockroach I saw. Will you help find it and kill it?”

After lecturing him about true emergencies, I said, “No! I’m sure there’s plenty more where it came from. Deal with it!” My large son needed to grow up.

I walked out of his room and no sooner had I sat down at my computer, there he was again. I sighed.

He clearly wanted to be with me. I gave up trying to do anything – it was time for me to focus on him and for us to hang out together.

My son sprawled across my bed and told me all the reasons why roaches grossed him out. And the one he saw was so big that he couldn’t possibly go to sleep tonight. I listened to his fears and reassured him; the roach wasn’t going to hurt him.

As he talked, I was glad he had socks on. Sometimes, he brushed flakes of skin from his feet onto my bed.

Finally, he went out of my room and I put my headphones back on. My peacefulness lasted about five minutes. My door flew open. He was panting and begging me to come to his room to rescue him. 

I was resigned as I followed him.

And there it was!

It’s antennae bobbed up and down. It was about 4 inches long and I’d never seen a roach that big. It was on the wall close to the ceiling. I wondered how I could kill that monster without squishing its guts everywhere.

My son was giddy with excitement to know that I was going to take care of it. After a moment of thought, I gave orders. I told him to bring me one of his big shoes and a broom. As he raced to bring me the items, I kept my eye on the roach.

When he handed me a light canvas shoe, I said, “Come on! I need a heavier one to smash it!”

Then I said, “Go get my cell phone and take a picture of this.”

He snapped a single picture of me. Later on, I wished there were some close-ups – but of course, that was risky because it might have zipped away.

I took a deep breath and lifted the broom. My son snapped, “Wait!” He pulled his bed away from the wall so I’d have more room.

I eyeballed the black insect and then swung my broom at it. It fell right off the wall and disappeared.

Who was I kidding? I knew those bugs were fast. Just as I was thinking how I wasn’t swift enough, I saw it on the floor flailing on it’s back.

I calmly took my son’s big shoe and smashed it.

My son began dancing with relief. It was worth everything to see his face.“

Did you see how big it was? I wasn’t exaggerating, was I?” he shouted.

I smiled and told him to get me a paper towel. As I wiped up the bug, my son confessed that the worst part about killing bugs for him was the spurting sound they made when they were squished. I was so proud that I killed it and the wall was still clean.

I dropped the roach’s remains into the toilet and flushed. I made sure the lid was down in case it clawed its way out. That had actually happened to me once before with a roach I thought was dead. Remembering it was enough to give me nightmares!

I was so glad I gave my son the attention he demanded that night. We bonded over this.

I was definitely a hero and not an ordinary Princess!

Be assured – this is a Photoshop re-enactment!

Be assured – this is a Photoshop re-enactment!

Well it turned out that this story has an even better ending than the one of me simply killing a roach.

The next day, my son came home from school and said, “Mom, you’re not going to believe what happened in one of my classes today.”

I listened and tried to keep a straight face when he told me there was a cockroach on the wall in his classroom. It turned out that his teacher was also afraid of roaches. And it was a male teacher, which I found humorous.

My son said, “He went out of the room because it bothered him so much.”

I asked, “So then what happened?”

My son beamed and said, “I saved the day.”

I grinned and replied, “Really? What did you do?”

He said, “Oh, mom! It was so easy – I just took my shoe off and got a broom to knock it off the wall. Then I smashed it, picked it up with a paper towel and threw it away.”

I could hardly believe it.

This was just one of those sweet parental moments – when you realize how much your child has truly learned from you!

There’s something about me holding a broom that is reminiscent of a witch. But I’ll save that thought for the next story.

There’s something about me holding a broom that is reminiscent of a witch. But I’ll save that thought for the next story.

© 2014 Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

MY DREAM – PART 2

August 11, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

MY DREAM

Click the blue links below to play my song:

MY DREAM #2-Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger 

MY DREAM #2 Karaoke & Guitar-Copyright 2014 by J Unger

Click the link below to read about and hear my first version of this song:

STORY BEHIND MY DREAM-PART 1

MY DREAM

Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger

 

Like the sky after sunset my dream still glows

A river of warmth, through my body it flows

Filling my soul, it makes me whole

Helping me cope, my dream gives me hope

 

Like shade in the summer, a misty spring rain

My dream is so soothing; it heals all my pain

Making me sure, then I’m secure

I may be low, but I’ll never let go

 

My dream it feels so certain; I wait behind a curtain

One day I’ll face the world’s embrace

And the message I’ll bring with joy when I sing

My dream is where I’m going; it’s all about my knowing

With courage I grew and I know it’s true

My dream will get me through

 

I may be stressed, but my dream has me blessed

One day I see I’m soaring free

 

My dream I hold so tightly

In darkness it shines brightly

All my desires, my dream inspires

My dream will save me; the gift God gave me

My dream is where I’m going; it’s all about my knowing

With courage I grew and I know it’s true

My dream will get me through

My dream will get me through

 

Recently, my apartment has been quiet because my two sons are on a three-week trip with my ex-husband.

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It has been interesting as I adjust to the solitude; I’ve been writing a great deal. Soon there will be a lot of new songs and stories added to my blog.

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At this time, I want to share a new song arrangement for my song “My Dream.” A lot of my upcoming stories will reflect more of my feelings surrounding dreams.

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Like shade in the summer

Currently, two themes that are constantly tangling in my life are: Letting go and holding on.

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I want to hold on to memories, hope, love and dreams.

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I want to let go of: judgment, criticism, guilt and sorrow.

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My dream shines brightly

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I did write some new chorus lyrics for this second version and they are those words above. This is now only the second time where I’ve used the word “God” in my lyrics. It is because I have found myself to be far more spiritual and that has begun to emerge in my writing.

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My dream definitely illuminates the darkness in my life. Unfortunately, my eyes have continued to be a curtain for me.

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I love to dream of when that curtain opens someday.

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Like the sky

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Now I want to share an exchange of comments between Sandra Blake Callahan and myself. Sandra, who is terminally ill, wrote a beautiful post on her blog aptly named “Dare We Dream.” Clicking on it is a link to her story.

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Dare We Dream?

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Oh, Sandra – today I sang a new version of a favorite song of mine named “My Dream.” You were in my mind. Really, dreaming is such a beautiful way to go to places that uplift me. It keeps me smiling and peaceful. I wish that for you always.

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Judy, I studied the Holocaust while in college. I did not fully understand how people who lived were able to go on with their lives. Then when I read
 the book “Man’s Search For Meaning,” it simply validated that there are some things that can never be taken from us. When we stop dreaming, hoping and finding meaning in our life – we are not really living. I cannot imagine where one finds the strength to do these things when suffering the loss of a child. You inspire me.

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Your beautiful words always touch me deeply Sandra. You are so right about finding meaning from life. Somehow, I was able to transform my suffering into meaning. I will always be sad that my son died, but I’m not defined by his death anymore. I have chosen to look at love as my salve – it started out as love for my surviving children and now I’m learning that loving myself enough to follow my dreams is what matters.



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2014-08-11_13-30-04

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Love can do so much for us if we let it.

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MY DREAM and butterflies -

© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

MY JOURNEY IN SIGHT – PART 6

August 4, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

Spider and the Eye

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Sometimes, if feels like my eye problems have taken over my life. I seldom perform with my guitar anymore and prefer to be in my apartment. My interest in traveling has disappeared.

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A few weeks ago, I described my struggle with eye pain and subsequent depression to my hypnotherapist, Connie. I said, “It’s like I’m wrestling with a treacherous white spider.”

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I told her how when I had the upper hand (where I had distracted myself from the pain), I stood on top of that ugly spider and shouted, “You are not going to wreck my life!”

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And then there were those other moments.

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I could see myself lying prone on the floor held by the painful grip of that “white spider of sadness.” I was discouraged and overwhelmed; overcoming it felt hopeless. And I felt like I was a failure for not being able to accept it.

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Connie listened thoughtfully and then she said, “Let’s talk about acceptance. How would you define it?”

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The first thought that came into my mind had to do with grief. Healing from my son’s death took a long time and was certainly the hardest thing I ever had to accept. I said, “My struggle with grief was much harder than this. For years I was angry and certain my life was ruined. But with healing, I have truly accepted that he is gone and will never grow up. I’ve chosen to look at him as my angel. I can now see that his death didn’t ruin my entire life and even had a positive affect upon me in some ways.”

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Then I mentioned a few words that came into my mind to define my acceptance. They were: resignation and surrender. I battled grief for many years and with my surrender came peace.

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Connie’s eyes were bright when she said, “Those are interesting words to define acceptance. But surrendering sounds like giving up. Is it possible you can’t accept your eye pain because you still are searching for a remedy that might help you? If that’s the case, why would you want to surrender?”

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I took in her words and grinned.

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It was another one of those moments where I wanted to give her a huge hug.

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She was absolutely right!

This butterfly is a Rose Swallowtail. I love to add my own artwork to stories on my blog.

This butterfly is a Rose Swallowtail. I love to add my own artwork to stories on my blog.

Although I was miserable, my dry eye doctor told me I had to wait several months before making an appointment with her in order to give the current remedies time to take effect.

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I was on hormone replacement therapy and began using a testosterone compound cream on my eyelids. I prayed these two things would help alleviate my dry eye pain. The theory behind taking hormones is that menopause causes dryness.

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Unfortunately, I suffered even more because the testosterone cream I rubbed on my eyelids caused a burning sensation in my eyes. I diligently tried not to rub my eyes but it didn’t make any difference. My eyes were on fire!

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It became difficult waiting to see my doctor. I plodded through my days trying to distract myself from the pain and fogginess in my eyes.

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Then I became extremely emotional and edgy. When I had a blow-up with my son where I was shrieking at him, it was really out of character for me. I was always able to hold my emotions in check and although I wanted to express myself more now – flying off the handle was not my style.

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Sunset 3

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I had been taking hormones for 2 ½ months. It was clear they weren’t helping and perhaps were actually contributing to my moodiness. I decided to discontinue them. I still used the testosterone cream every night, as well as Restasis eye drops, compresses and eyelid wipes.

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Finally my eye appointment arrived. I was determined to convince this doctor to give me a referral for serum tears. It wasn’t simply that my HMO would pay for it – it was because having those tears made from my own blood was a complicated process. I knew a woman who travelled to several far away locations to get them because they made such a difference for her.

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When my doctor came into the room, she was very serious. This dry eye specialist was very professional and I could tell she cared even though she didn’t smile.

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I updated her on the regimens I was following. Ironically, tears streamed down my cheeks when I shared how my life was horribly affected by my dry eye condition.

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I became very emotional when I said, “I’ve fallen to the ground three times since I last saw you. It wasn’t because of my vision. It was because my eyes hurt so much that I can’t really open them to see where I’m going.”

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I began sniffling and said, “I wish I could have seen you sooner. I’ve been waiting months for this appointment!”

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After she examined me she said matter-of-factly, “I’m going to try something on you today that has helped some of my other patients.” My curiosity piqued – what was she going to do now?

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Spider and the Eye B&W

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She asked me to rest my chin and press my forehead against a large piece of equipment. Then she opened a bag of tools that held needles and tiny tweezers. My heart pounded as she explained how she was going to open my tear glands and squeeze out the clogged oil.

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She began by poking my upper and then lower lids repeatedly with a sharp tool. She said, “I can see your oil is very thick. If this helps, you can come back again and I’ll do it more.” All I could think of was how I wanted to run away forever from this hospital!

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I flinched with every sting. As she worked she also pinched and squeezed my eyelids; I was gasping and hoped it would be over soon.

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My eyes were sore and dripping as I walked to my car. I prayed it would help. But as I drove home, I was elated.

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It was because she agreed that I could get the serum eye drops. Within a week, I would be receiving the information for them.

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Eye on Facebook

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I subscribe to a support group for dry eyes on Facebook. There are approximately 150 members and most everyone is going or has gone through so much of what I have. Many members bemoan how nothing the doctors gave them helped, but occasionally someone mentions a miraculous moment of relief they found.

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About six months ago, I asked if anyone on that forum knew about serum tears. No one replied or mentioned using them. That told me that it was definitely a tough remedy to obtain. But a “friend of a friend” spoke to me about them and I definitely wanted to get them.

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After my recent appointment, I wrote an update about my eye condition on this site. I ended my update with these words:

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For me, the worst thing about this condition for is depression. I don’t want to live this way for the rest of my life and it gets me down. I try to stay hopeful and will certainly share how those serum tears work once I get them.

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After I wrote my update, I received this comment:

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Judy, my ophthalmologist told me about what you’ve described and said this: “Doctors USED to take needles and open up the glands and then express the clogged oil but they found out that it did damage to the oil glands so that isn’t done anymore.

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And then that same day, there was a post from a woman who had used the serum tears. She wrote:

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I just wanted to share: For the last five years I’ve suffered terribly with severe dry eyes. Autologous serum eye drops gave me my life back. I’m not exaggerating. It was mentioned by the fourth doctor I saw as a last resort. It should have been at the top of the list.

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Here were more comments that followed her post: (my words are black and bold)

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Why are doctors so hesitant to try them? Do they have a lot of bad side effects?

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They don’t. Over and over, doctors kept pushing the pharmaceuticals even after I explained that they didn’t help and caused extreme irritation. This is what happens with medical treatments that are proven BUT have no pharmaceutical company to promote them – doctors don’t hear about it. The serum drops changed everything. I’m so glad I didn’t give up!

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I believe it’s mostly just lack of familiarity. Doctors don’t read the studies so they aren’t aware how good serum drops are for healing the ocular surface, nerve damage repair etc.

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I was ready to pluck my eyes out. I’m not exaggerating. It’s only been a week and I would say there has been at least a 25 percent improvement. My eyes are definitely functioning better. The associated Blepharitis has dramatically improved, as well. I am thrilled that I tried this.

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Well, I have been trying to get my HMO to prescribe them for me. I had to try a lot of useless remedies first but now I’m going to get them soon. I even met and spoke to another woman who told me that they really helped her. So thank you for sharing and I’m so glad you found relief!

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I am so grateful for the wonderful friends in my life. I took this picture to capture a beautiful table set for dinner by two friends who wanted to lift my spirits.

I am so grateful for the wonderful friends in my life. I took this picture to capture a beautiful table set for dinner at the home of a good friend. She and another friend wanted to lift my spirits.

© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

NO ORDINARY PRINCESS – PART 2

July 31, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

This is a great photo for me to share as a Princess. I am about seven or eight in this picture.

This is a great photo for me to share as a Princess. I am about seven or eight in this picture.

When I began my blog, writing was magical and healing for me from the start. For the first time in ages, I started to see humor in my life. I know that helped me cope with the tremendous stress I had going on at the time.

Perhaps the title of “No Ordinary Princess” has inspired me because suddenly I have many funny things to share.

Taking this photo “re-enactment” made me nervous. That’s the only electronic key left for my car and I can’t afford to drop it!

Taking this photo “re-enactment” made me nervous. That’s the only electronic key left for my car and I can’t afford to drop it!

Last week, I definitely did not feel like a Princess.

I was racing out of my house to meet a friend for lunch and just when I finished using the bathroom and was ready to leave, I accidentally dropped my car key.

My unfortunate timing had the key sailing down the drain precisely at the moment I flushed.

I dropped to my knees to grope into the toilet (pee only), but it was long gone. I still have one more and aside from taking the photo above, I plan to be very careful with it.

Judy in the forest

I’ve gotta look where I’m going!

Being careful is something I really must focus on. Seriously, I’ve fallen a few times recently because when my eyes hurt, I don’t fully open them to see where I’m going.

With humor I also realize that I must watch what I’m doing when I’m text messaging. Sometimes it’s absolutely critical that a message doesn’t go to the wrong person.

The day after losing my key down the toilet, I had an embarrassing experience related to texting. It all began on the day where I planned to record guitar for three of my songs in the afternoon.

I was very much looking forward to it because it had been two weeks since I had recorded anything; usually I recorded song vocals several times a week.

But Darrin (my recording engineer) had been on vacation for a week. When he got back from his trip he had a lot of things to catch up on and was too busy to fit me in.

Finally, he was able to schedule a session with me.

I wanted to be prepared. Whenever I record guitar, I always change my strings. The guitar sounds so tinkly with new strings and that sweet sound lasts for about six hours.

In the morning, it took me about 45 minutes to change my strings. After that, I practiced and kept tuning my guitar.

Changing my strings

Around lunchtime I received a message from Darrin cancelling our appointment; his prior session had unfortunately ran over.

I texted him and begged to know if he could fit me in for even half an hour. He replied:

I’m at a session in Hollywood :( so I’m not at my place. Otherwise I surely would!

As waves of disappointment swept over me, I began to mull over alternatives. I remembered there was another studio I had recorded at six months earlier. It was a little farther away, but that could solve my problem.

I made a phone call to the other studio and even though my appointment was a few days later, I felt better. My guitar strings would still sound okay. I’d have my guitar tracks done and when Darrin had time I could record vocals.

I felt so proud of myself.

I decided to share my good feelings with my therapist, Connie, after texting her to confirm our next appointment. I wrote:

I was supposed to finally record with Darrin today and he cancelled at the last minute. I was so bummed. He’s been too busy to fit me in for 2 weeks. I’m going to record guitar with this other guy on Thursday. That will get me back on track. Empowered!!!!

I yawned and stretched after taking a brief nap. I looked over at my cell phone and horror began to spread through my body. The message I thought I had sent to my therapist had gone to Darrin!

I quickly wrote:

Please ignore my message. It’s pretty funny because I meant to send it to my therapist. I’m having a bad day and accidentally flushed my expensive car key down the toilet.

The truth was I hadn’t flushed the key down the toilet that day (it was the day before), but I put it in my message for effect. All evening I kept checking my phone for a response from Darrin and when there wasn’t one I didn’t sleep too well. Later the next day I decided to send another message. It was:

Question:  Are u ever going to let me come to record again? Sorry about my message yesterday. After being so overworked, I’m that sure wasn’t a nice message u received from me. I would love to sing vocals when u have time. Please forgive me.

A picture of Darrin at the recording console with his dog nearby. She's never in the room when we record, though.

A picture of Darrin at the recording console with his dog nearby. She’s never in the room when we record, though.

EPILOGUE:

Darrin easily forgave me. I was nervous for the next few sessions, but he was especially kind and eager to fit me into his schedule. It turned out that it wasn’t so horrible.

I did go to another studio to record guitar for 90 minutes. My fingers were sore and I came home with a lot of tracks to edit. It probably took about 12 hours of my time to edit the recordings for those three songs.

But when I mixed those recordings in, my guitar had a booming sound. I ended up not using them and had to use another recording. Below are some recent guitar mixes I’ve done:

WONDER WHY Guitar & Karaoke-Copyright 2014 by J Unger

MY DREAM #2 Guitar & Karaoke-Copyright 2014 by J Unger

NO WORDS #2 Guitar & Karaoke-Copyright 2014 by J Unger

I like adding pictures to my stories. Taking a walk every day helps me clear my mind as I listen to the music I’m working on.

I like adding pictures to my stories. Taking a walk every day helps me clear my mind as I listen to the music I’m working on.

A week later, I had dinner with a few friends. The women all laughed when I recounted my story about Darrin and the misdirected text message. It seemed that everyone had a story of their own to share.

My friend Linnae guffawed and said, “Just make sure you look at the name on top before you push send!”

And how ironic that only a day later, I sent a message to Linnae that was meant to go to Darrin. Luckily, it wasn’t anything embarrassing. Linnae wrote back. (Her words are in blue):

Hey you texted the wrong person again. Glad you weren’t talking shit about me. LOL!

I wrote back with:

There is not a shitty thing I could imagine about you except all the crap we’ve both had to deal with!

You are too funny! Be sure to look at sender BEFORE you send. Good thing you’re not into “setting.” Damn auto-correct – I meant “sexting!”

I quickly texted her back while laughing aloud. I wrote:

Thanks for setting me straight. SEXTING sounds like the excitement I need LOL!!

All of a sudden, my eyes opened up and my heart started pounding. I wrote her one more time.

Oops! I thought I sent that last message to the wrong person!!!!

iPhone message

damn auto correct

ThThanks for setting me straight.

© 2014 Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

NO ORDINARY PRINCESS – PART 1

July 28, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

No Ordinary Princess

The book cover above is one that I illustrated a long time ago.

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Last month, the artwork was finally returned to me after being lost for over 25 years.

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It was found when the publisher, Harper Collins was closing their offices. I’m guessing that someone probably discovered it at the bottom of a file cabinet. For such a long time I only had a slide to work with and now I have the original art to scan instead.

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It is an amazing coincidence how I recently wrote about my song “No Words” and chose that sunflower/butterfly cover image to go with it.

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Only a week ago I finished the guitar and vocals for my newest arrangement of “No Words.” It has intricate harmonies and creating it was very rewarding. The link below is to my song and story:

#444 NO WORDS – PART 2

NO WORDS 2

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I love the title of the book I illustrated called “No Ordinary Princess.”

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That’s because shortly before I separated I started to call myself a Princess. Seeing myself as a Princess allowed me to write feelings I might not have been able to express in any other way.

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I chose that image from my subconscious freely and one thing that I’ve learned from hypnosis is how important it is to allow images, thoughts and words to form without judgment.

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Unfortunately, there is a dark side to my Princess metaphor – the Dragon.

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In the beginning, the image of a Dragon was a metaphor for my ex-husband. Sadly even though he is physically gone from my life, the dragon continues to haunt me. Certainly there are issues related to our children – but it is more than that. I see the Dragon as a metaphor for unhappiness.

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The Dragon also represents my inner critic or judge, which is always there in my mind. Feelings of low self-worth and of living with suppression and criticism for many years plague me. Staying positive has been an inner struggle, especially since I’ve had constant dry eye pain.

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The word judge leads to “judgmental” and that stirs up such negative feelings for me.

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In many ways, I’m so proud of how different I am compared to how I was brought up. I really try to be open-minded and go out of my way not to judge or criticize anyone. My mother was always very sure about everything – there was right and wrong, good and bad and she saw everything as black or white. I do tend to follow that by thinking in extreme ways; I often miss out of seeing possibilities that lie in the gray realm.

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I suffer greatly because my inner critic or the judge in my head is not kind to me. Therefore, although I try to be kind and open-minded with other people, I am very judgmental with myself. That has led me to discover why I need a lot of healing at this time in my life.

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I want to explain why I have discomfort surrounding being a Princess. Writing helped me to understand those feelings, so this has been a great opportunity for me to find insight.

This photo is blurry, but it brings back memories of carefree times when I played my guitar and had many boyfriends.

This photo is blurry, but it brings back memories of carefree times when I played my guitar and had many boyfriends.

Feeling like I was a Princess began during my childhood. My parents adored me and nurtured all of my talents: art, writing and music.

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Before I was married, my future husband also adored me. But everything changed after we were married. I discontinued my music and drifted apart from my close friends; I was very unhappy but chalked it up to my immaturity. I told myself that I just needed to grow up and lose my unrealistic expectations about happiness.

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Even back then, I had a lot of judgment about my feelings. I ignored my intuition and I even stopped keeping my diary because I couldn’t bear to write my true feelings.

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Because I was in such deep denial and couldn’t face the prospect of divorce, I blamed myself for my unhappiness. I did seek out therapy, but everything pointed back to how controlled I was by my mother. I suppressed every thought I could about the lack of intimacy in my marriage.

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My career kept me very busy. I was driven to become successful because my husband seemed unhappy with me. I thought that perhaps if I made more money he would be happier.

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That issue about making money still haunts me. So often, my thoughts related to money become convoluted because my self-worth was tied into it for such a long time.

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It is unfortunate how the image of a Princess can lead me to such a dark place. Once again, black and white comes into my mind with the darkness of the Dragon countered by the enlightenment of the Princess.

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The judge berates me and tells me that I was pampered and did not appreciate my husband’s hard work. I took care of his needs for so many years and this thinking drives a stake right into my heart because of the guilt I carry about ending my marriage.

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My ex-husband would certainly think that I was pampered. I had a housekeeper to help me and he hated waking up to go to work. I always felt so grateful to have flexible hours with my career and appreciated that my husband was reliable and provided for his family.

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But even though I had a housekeeper, I never relaxed. My husband wasn’t happy about the expense and hated the invasion upon his privacy. Having a housekeeper made it possible for me to continue working as an illustrator and when our children were young, I often needed extra help on the weekends when I had large assignments.

This picture is of Jason when he was three. My children always had plenty of art supplies to work with.

This picture is of Jason when he was three. My children always had plenty of art supplies to work with.

I really needed help from the start because our first child, Jason had many health problems. He refused to eat and vomited constantly. There were times when I had to race him to the emergency room once a week due to his heart arrhythmias. 

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Later on we had children with special needs. I needed behavioral help to deal with meltdowns and was constantly going to court against the school district in order to gain help for my children.

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So what truly allowed me to survive was the support that came from Rosa; she worked for our family for over twenty years and my children considered her to be their second mother.

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But my husband wasn’t too happy with her and the animosity between them tore me apart.

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Because the amount of work Rosa had to do was overwhelming, our house was never clean. I wasn’t able to keep up with all the demands from my challenging children; I set my work aside to advocate for their special needs for many years. My husband criticized Rosa to me every time we were together because our house was dirty. He was angry that our children didn’t behave better; that things were constantly in need of repair because our youngest son wasn’t watched more carefully or disciplined.

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I rarely spoke up, except when he picked on our son. There was always underlying tension. It became especially hard when my parents became ill and I brought them to live with us while they were on a waiting list for an assisted living facility.

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It was one of the hardest years of my life. I felt appreciative that my husband “allowed it,” but at the same time his moodiness and anger worried and upset my parents. The guilt and anger that I carried suffocated me.

This picture was taken two years ago. Rosa is still very close to my children and me. She comes over once a week to cook dinner and help out with all the laundry. No cleaning is required from her and she is my family now.

This picture was taken two years ago. Rosa is still very close to my children and me. She comes over once a week to cook dinner and help out with all the laundry. My children always are so excited to see her. She is part of my family and always there for me – as I am for her.

When I began creating music and writing in 2010, I dreamed I’d make a lot of money and become famous. I told myself a story about how if I became successful, my husband could retire from the job he disliked so much and then he wouldn’t be so angry all the time.

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Two years later in 2012, my father was dying and my mother had dementia. I dealt with it alone and was at a very low point. The constant pressure and criticism from him was too much and it began to dawn upon me that I had a lonely existence. I hated his company and could not find any other way to deal with my feelings except through my songs.

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It was my beautiful music that gave me the clarity and courage to continue my journey in a new way.

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I ended my marriage so I could live without the constant stress and suppression I carried for decades. It was ultimately because of self-love and the feeling that I deserved more from life.

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So the true reason I am “No Ordinary Princess” is because I feel that I have something extraordinary to offer the world. I could not have found my courage if I hadn’t been blessed with those gifts that have healed me: my music and writing.

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I reclaimed being the Princess from my childhood.

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As I embrace dreams that I abandoned for many decades while caring for my children, husband and parents . . .

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I do feel like royalty!

Clicking on this makes it larger.

Clicking on this makes it larger.

In looking for an attachment for this post, I found a page from my diary that I wrote at the age of 19. It truly tells my story. The line where I wrote, “Smiling is my favorite habit next to eating and biting my nails” hits me hard. Below is a transcription:

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Life is busy. Is it real? I feel detached sometimes, like a wandering entity put to the test all the time. It’s kind of lonely, too, esp. when I spend my time cheering and pleasing other people all around me who really have no idea what I’m really like. Very few people have ever come close. Parents can come to a certain point – where they know certain parts perfectly and never know others. But in the midst of my stage, which I act upon well during the course of the day – I wonder if I’m feeling. Am I happy? I guess if I’m smiling. Am I sad? I’m not crying. Smiling is my favorite habit next to eating and biting my nails.

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Judy with crossing bars

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© 2014 Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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