Posts Tagged ‘optimism’

TAKE ME AWAY – PART 2

April 8, 2014

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Mom & I

Link to the first part of my story about Take Me Away (and to hear audio):

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#422 TAKE ME AWAY – PART 1

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My arranger, George told me immediately that he did like the word “pain” in my song. But I wanted to escape my pain, so I wondered how could I change that lyric line. My preliminary lyrics are below:


Far from pain

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I ended up changing a “peaceful place” into a lovely day; I was elated because it was such a beautiful change!

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How I arrived at finding those new lyrics was very touching for me.

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Holding you again

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My parents bed

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“I’m crying while I’m dreaming”

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My dream was so real! I actually thought I was shopping with my mother again. It was such a wonderful feeling to be with her. I was safe and loved. She listened to every little detail I shared with her about her grandchildren.

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But when my dream began to change, I was in a state of panic. Instead of shopping, we were walking in a very cold place. I was confused – how was it that we were in a snowy place where it was so dark?

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I held her hand and suddenly the ground seemed to open up and she screamed. I heard her splash into dark water right in front of me. I was afraid to jump in because I knew it was hopeless – I could not reach her and I would die if I followed her. Her eyes were huge and bulging and I gasped with the horror of it. I thought I even saw Jason below her in the icy depths. This was too much for me handle.

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I prayed for it to end.

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My eyes were wet with tears with the realization that it was only a dream. I covered my face with my pillow and cried.

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In my dreams

Notice that my bed is the same one my parents slept in for decades. (Of course with a different mattress!)

Notice that my bed is the same one my parents slept in for decades. (Of course with a different mattress!)

“Holding you again”

A few days later, I had a similar dream. This time I woke up quickly to escape the horror of losing my mother in my dream.

As I lay there, I thought about how so many times I had woken my mother up when I had nightmares as a young child. I remembered how she would help me fall back to sleep. Now I was an adult and she was gone forever.

A tear trickled down my cheek in the darkness.

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And then I heard a voice that was reminiscent of what I used to say to my mother. The voice said, “Mommy, can I stay with you until I fall asleep?”

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I said, “Of course! I love holding you.”

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I felt a gentle squeeze of warmth across my chest and shoulder. It was so sweet and lovely.

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It took me away . . .

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I was peaceful and fell back to sleep dreaming that I’d see him again someday.

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Jason & Judy on recliner

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“A lovely day”

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My new song “Take Me Away” life was like a soft blanket over my entire day. It surrounded me with sweet notes and a melody that took away all of my sadness.

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I could feel myself coping better. On top of everything else, I was working on an illustration assignment. My artwork came out very well and I was pleased about it.

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Illustrating

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I seldom write about my children anymore, although they are a huge part of my life. All three of them are very close to me. Going through my separation and divorce impacted them greatly even though they weren’t young children. My oldest son is 23, my daughter is 20 and my youngest son is 17.

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I easily get teary with the memory of the shock on my youngest son’s face when he found out I was separating from his father. He begged me over and over to reconsider. At one point he was on his knees crying – it was a horrible moment in my life – and his.

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Moving to a new home and adjusting was a slow process for him. He attended a new school where he began to thrive and bloom. Gradually, his discouragement and anger toward me began to subside.-

I was beaming as I watched my lovely son perform and sing in his school play this past weekend.

I was beaming as I watched my lovely son perform and sing in his school play this past weekend.

Over the last few months, some amazing and wonderful things have happened for my son. His eyes constantly twinkle with excitement about life.

This past weekend he performed in a musical at his school. We bonded a lot as he practiced singing his solo so I could give him tips.

I was really touched when he asked me a favor. He wanted me to write him a handwritten note that he could read before each performance to help him stay calm. I couldn’t imagine being asked to do anything more beautiful.

His first performance was for his fellow classmates at school. When I picked him up he had so many wonderful things to share with me about his day.

We were almost home when he even asked me about my day. I hardly expect that from my teenager!

I told him I was thankful my illustration assignment had gone so well. My client liked my work and it was approved and accepted. I was definitely in a good place.

So it was on this particular day that I received the inspiration for my new song’s lyrics.

As I pulled into the driveway of our coop, I said “Honey, before you get out could you please help me with a lyric change for my new song?

He said, “Sure, mom! How can I help you?”

I said softly, “Can you think of a replacement for being taken to a peaceful place? It sounds too much like death. What other words could convey comfort?”

My son’s eyes were bright and his face was shining. Without hesitation he exclaimed, “How about a lovely day? Take me away to a lovely day – it even rhymes!”

I listened and mouthed the words; at first I wasn’t sure. But then I realized it was perfect.

Being taken to a peaceful place – away from pain represented an escape.

Lovely was different. Lovely was a word that invoked so many things.

It even had love in it.

My new lyrics were now about a lovely memory and that definitely took me to a place of healing.

And it happened on such a lovely day! 

Note to my son

© 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.

TAKE ME AWAY – PART 1

April 7, 2014

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TAKE ME AWAY with my guitar
TAKE ME AWAY

Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger

 

I’m on a road; I’ve traveled so far

not sure where I am or where you are

I long to escape when I go to sleep

but my dreams are so vivid; they make me weep

I know you are gone; I just can’t move on

 

Take me away to a lovely day

where I’m holding you again

it’s hard to face; I’m crying while I’m dreaming

of seeing you someday, but in my dreams

you take me away

 

for the first time I’m on my own

everything’s changed; all that I’ve known

I wanted to leave my sadness behind

but memories of us fill up my mind

I know you are gone

I just can’t move on

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Take me away to a lovely day

where I’m holding you again

it’s hard to face; I’m crying while I’m dreaming

of seeing you someday, but in my dreams

you take me away

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Take me away to a lovely day

where I’m holding you again

it’s hard to face

that you’re gone forever

every night and day

in my dreams

you take me away

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FLOWER GARDEN

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Click the blue link below to hear audio of my newest song:-

TAKE ME AWAY-4/7/14 Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger

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I work with an arranger named George once a week. He is very private and prefers that I don’t share any pictures or use his last name.

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George has been a musician his entire life and we have been working together since 2010. We often joke about how it went the first day I came to him. It was only a few months after I started playing my guitar and singing again; I had not done music for over thirty years. I saw his ad on Craiglist and it caught my eye with the words of: “If you’re a songwriter, let me help you sound great!”

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At our first session, I sat down next to George and asked him how many songs I could work on during our three hours (his minimum); I wanted to get my money’s worth. So on that first day, we didn’t arrange anything at all and George recorded me warbling a few songs.

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If I ever want to be reminded of how far I’ve progressed, I simply listen to 10 seconds of any of those recordings! At that time, I hardly imagined that I would passionately embrace arranging my music with him on a regular basis. It was after I separated from my husband that I felt free to do that.

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After our first session, I returned to George to arrange one song at a time during a single session (I usually spend 3-4 sessions now on one song). I would come to him about once every two months.

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For two years, I worked with George to rediscover every song I had written as a young girl. George always told me: “Jude, one day I know you’ll write something new. All this old stuff is just about purging.”

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This is an example of an old song where all I had was this sheet. “No Words” didn’t have any verses and I couldn’t remember the melody.

This is an example of an old song where all I had was this sheet. “No Words” didn’t have any verses and I couldn’t remember the melody.

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He was right; eventually, I began writing brand new songs.

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It was thrilling to rediscover the magic of songwriting after three decades of silence. It began slowly with the expansion of old unfinished songs. In some cases, I wrote new lyrics for songs that had chords written for them long ago. In other cases, it was the opposite; I used lyrics from the past and composed new chords for them.

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I can’t believe that I wrote this page 33 years ago for one of my song compositions. I no longer write out music anymore.

I can’t believe that I wrote this page 33 years ago for one of my song compositions. I no longer write out music anymore.

All of my song compositions as a mature woman have helped me to heal. Many of my rediscovered songs addressed my grief over the loss of my son who died in 1992. I was amazed how my sadness and grief from almost two decades before began to ease once music re-entered my life.

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I was far more prepared to cope with the death of my father in 2012, because my song “Set You Free” was truly a gift to guide me. And only a year later, I sang “Set You Free” to my mother as she took her last breath on earth.

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The song that truly changed my life was “The Unknown.” It led me to divorce my husband after 31 years of marriage.

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THE UNKNOWN

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“It all starts with a magical moment”

After four years of working with George, our working relationship is sweet. George teases me and calls me “sis.” I call him “bro.” We both feel that we were destined to work together.

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There is never a shortage of music for me to create with George. Even when I’m not arranging a brand new song, I enjoy working with him to create new arrangements for older songs. We experiment to find ways of making every song arrangement unique, while at the same time we often go back to certain sounds I love.

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I have sometimes wondered whether there are other singer/songwriters who have as many multiple versions of songs as I do! I love every version and plan to release them all someday.

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There is nothing like the excitement of creating an arrangement for a brand new song. A new song lifts my spirits, but it takes a lot of energy away from other things I want to work on. At every session, George tells me, “C’mon sis, your new stuff is great – just bring me a few chords and we’ll start working on arranging something new!”

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It’s hard for me to understand how I am such a passionate songwriter when I seldom consciously choose to write a song. I cannot compose a new song by simply playing my guitar and wishing for it to appear.

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A song unfolds for me, and it usually happens at a time when I’m very discouraged.

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It all starts with a magical moment.

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Blue river

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Like magic, suddenly I will hear an exquisite melody and beautiful chords appear on my guitar. My life transforms as my new song’s melody envelops me with energy and joy. Despite the beauty of this process, I would not have created my recent songs if it weren’t for George continuing to prod me.

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Last December, I was dealing with eyesight pain and depression as I sat across from him with my eyes half closed. I told him I was definitely not in the mood to write any new music.

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But then, I remembered an old instrumental from 1980 named “Waterfalls.” Because I had studied classical guitar, I had a few instrumentals in my repertoire and had even turned one of them into a song with lyrics before. My instrumental, “Farewell” became the basis for my song, “You Were There.” “Every Season” was also an instrumental song before I wrote lyrics for it.

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I always envisioned how one day the piece “Waterfalls” could become a cool song. It had great chord changes, but how in the world would I compose a melody for such dissonant chords? There certainly wasn’t a chorus with a hook either.

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George’s eyes twinkled. He said, “Okay, let me hear those chords.”

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As part of the process, I share below my instrumental “Waterfalls,” which I recorded in 2011. Click the blue link to play audio:

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WATERFALLS GUITAR INSTRUMENTAL-Copyright 2010 by J. Unger

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Cool waterfall

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I pulled out my guitar and demonstrated each chord for him, note by note. He quickly translated them into piano chords for his keyboard.

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I came home from that session with a single track of keyboard guitar. It was reminiscent of “Waterfalls” but clearly different. It was the first time we had arranged something that was so unfinished. I had an assignment; I needed to write lyrics and compose a melody for it.

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George found ways to shorten and streamline “Waterfalls.” I could feel the verses, but not the chorus.

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A month went by and I was still stumped; I told George I was having trouble developing the song. He added a few instruments to the verses in hopes of inspiring me. Now I really loved those verses. They sounded spooky and cool – and had me imagining that I was travelling somewhere. As I listened with George, I hummed a makeshift melody for fun. I sang, “Take me away!”

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George looked at me and said emphatically, “That’s your song, Jude. Take Me Away!”

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For fun, George added the sound of a tropical rainforest at the beginning. I laughed and thought it was a silly title. I didn’t take him seriously because I felt it wasn’t very original.-

TAKE ME AWAY IN PROGRESS-Copyright 2014 by Unger


Waterfall and Rainbow

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Another month went by and I still wasn’t able to finish “Take Me Away.”

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Finally, with honesty I told George I didn’t really like the chorus chords that he had helped me write. Some of his chords were taken from my old instrumental; I didn’t care for anything except the verses.

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George tried again and wrote some new chorus chords for me. I liked them more than the prior ones, but no magic melody came to me.

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Then one night, I decided I’d pull out my guitar and see if I could figure out my own beautiful chorus for “Take Me Away.” I started with some of the chords George had written and then I went somewhere else . . .

-Colorful Guitar

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It was then when I had a magic moment!

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Within an hour, the chorus chords were formed and the melody began to play. My heart was dancing with joy. This was exactly what I needed to be doing. I was transported somewhere else and taken away from all the stress in my life.

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With anticipation, I couldn’t wait to share what I had composed with George. I came into our session with a big grin and handed him a paper with the new chorus chords on it.

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As we added other instruments, the magic continued. I was hooked and my beautiful new song was born. The song arrangement was gorgeous, but the only problem was I hadn’t written any lyrics for it yet!

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I wanted to finish my song, but I still was not sure what it was going to be about. I searched deep within my heart for words that would move me. It was no surprise that my lyrics were sad and painful. The sentence of “Take me away to a peaceful place, far from pain of losing you,” was exactly what I was feeling as I missed my mother and father.

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I also knew that I was channeling the intense grief of other people. I could feel myself writing and dedicating my song to them. This song was for Tersia, Sammi, Relinda, Julie, Len and Brenda.

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At my next session with George, I was almost reluctant to share my lyrics. He listened and told me he did not like how I mentioned pain. He said, “I thought you were going to write about being taken to a tropical place on a vacation!”

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I let him know how I wished I had been able to. The truth was that I wasn’t feeling like going anywhere and I couldn’t invent words that weren’t honest.

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Still, there definitely was a place that I wanted to go.

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I wanted to go to a place that would heal me.

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Mom & I on the waves

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© 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.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

March 16, 2014

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Russian River & Ocean 3

I love to share music. Below are some recent arrangements where I’ve added my guitar playing in. The vocals are still in progress.

 

SET YOU FREE #2 – KARAOKE WITH GUITAR Copyright 2014 by Unger

THE UNKNOWN #4 – KARAOKE WITH GUITAR Copyright 2014 by Unger

 

Acknowledgment (noun) ac·knowl·edg·ment – acceptance of facts, thanks

 

In order to better deal with PSTD (post traumatic stress disorder), I have begun to acknowledge many things that I previously have shoved back down.

 

The fact that acknowledgment also means “thanks” is very inspiring. I am very grateful that God blessed me with many wonderful talents. Writing, singing, composing and illustrating have allowed me to cope.

 

In the last two years, both of my parents have died. I can acknowledge that fact.

 

In addition, I acknowledge that I am also dealing with the end of my marriage of 31 years. A week ago, I recorded a love song I wrote when I was twenty. I sang with emotion, while at the same time pushing down the heartache that I am 54 and it has been over 30 years since I’ve experienced romantic love.

 

Links to stories with recent new vocals to love songs I’ve recorded:

 

IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN

MEANT TO ME – PART 2

 

As I have started to acknowledge more of my feelings, I’ve found insight into that special time when I began writing my blog with joy and abandon.

I always knew that writing helped alleviate my loneliness from missing my mother when she began to decline. But when I opened up my heart and shared intimate feelings on my blog, it was because I desperately needed understanding I found nowhere else in my life.

 

It was after my friend Susan died that this revelation came to me. With her death, I lost a friend who offered me tremendous understanding and compassion. Susan acknowledged my traumas even though she hadn’t experienced the things I had (such as the loss of a child).

 

Currently, I am dealing with many different kinds of losses. Whenever a friend has acknowledged my grief and/or challenges, I have been greatly comforted.

 

Recently, a good friend did just that. Her message is below:

 

Judy, it really is amazing how you’ve kept going as well as you have. You may find this interesting–it’s a well-known life events stress test. Based on what I know about you, you top the charts! 

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http://www.cliving.org/lifestresstestscore.htm

 

Her link was to a website where numbers were tallied for any life-changing events. I checked a lot of boxes. Here was my list:

 

Marital separation, divorce, death of close family members (my parents and a child), personal injury or illness (my eyes), change in financial state, death of close friends, change of career, daughter leaving home, change in living conditions, revision of personal habits, change in residence, change in social activities, change in family get-togethers, change in eating habits.

 

My score was 533. The site only listed above 300.

 

Here was what was stated about any score higher than 300.

 

Score     Comment

300+      You have a high or very high risk of becoming ill in the near future. This scale shows the kind of life pressure that you are facing. Depending on your coping skills or the lack thereof, this scale can predict the likelihood that you will fall victim to a stress related illness. The illness could be mild – frequent tension headaches, acid indigestion, and loss of sleep to very serious illness like ulcers, cancer, migraines and the like.

 

My guess is that “and the like” (at the end of the above paragraph) could include dry eyes.

My friend Marge took this picture while we were walking through a park together. It matched my blouse in color. I noticed a heart shaped shadow before I saw the sign. It held great meaning for me because I believe self-love is very important when coping with challenges in life.

My friend Marge took this picture while we were walking through a park together. It matched my blouse in color. I noticed a heart-shaped shadow before I saw the sign. It held great meaning for me because I believe self-love is very important when coping with challenges in life.

Originally, I had thought about naming this post “Grief 101 – Part 3.”

 

But I decided that acknowledgment was far more important for me to emphasize. It applies to how acknowledgment leads to comfort and understanding during any difficult time in life.

 

 The three parts of that word that touch me are:

 

1. How important it is to allow myself to cry and grieve. I acknowledge what huge changes I’ve gone through (without going to a place of judgment that I’m wallowing in self-pity.)

 

2. Expressing honestly how when a friend acknowledges my challenges rather than judges my sadness, I am truly comforted.

 

3. Being thankful for all the goodness in my life, despite my challenges.

 

For more on this subject related to grief I share two links, which are incredibly moving and educational. Because these women are grieving deeply, they get the point across with far more intensity.

 

DOYLE’S WIDOW – SOLITUDE

GRIEF: ONE WOMAN’S PERSPECTIVE – ANOTHER VOICE

 

Grief is appropriate when a person experiences loss.

 

I strongly believe that healing is possible, but grief is still a monster that must be dealt with.

 

The isolation from grief is a horror that is truly indescribable. It is a feeling of being completely alone from any other human on this planet with unbearable pain.

 

It is beautiful to comfort someone by acknowledging his or her challenges, pain and grief. It helps them feel less isolated and cared about.

 

It is far better than encouraging a friend to “move on,” “get over it” and “be happy.” This minimizes their loss. Instead of bestowing comfort, it causes even more anguish.

 

When my son died, I knew that most people could not imagine the agony of my grief. I believed that I was coping in an amazing way – working and parenting my living children took every ounce of my energy.

 

On rare occasions, I felt judged by someone for grieving too much. When that happened I was simply incensed, especially if it came from a family member or friend – it was a huge betrayal that caused me to withdraw from them. All I could think of was how he or she might be more understanding if they had experienced the death of their own child.

 

I still maintain that I have healed from the death of my son, but now I carry new wounds.

 

I only want encouragement from friends and am extremely sensitive. I realize that was why I became very upset when a friend sent me a well-intentioned message last month.

 

My friend expressed worry that I was drawn to grief, and as an example pointed out my recent trips: attending a memorial in Northern California and going to Yosemite to meet a terminally ill blogger. My friend’s message ended with a statement that there was no end to sad stories and that I needed to actively pursue happiness.

 

This message was a trigger.

 

Triggers, triggers, triggers!

 

Triggers are things that cause me enormous pain because all of my suppressed pain from the past explodes with a trigger.

 

Criticism is always a huge trigger for me because I lived with constant criticism for years in my marriage.

 

I wasn’t sure how to respond to the message. I certainly appreciated what on the surface appeared to be very caring and concerned. But I felt very misunderstood and criticized.

 

I wrote a response to express my feelings:

 

I appreciate that you are concerned about me and your message is caring. But I must explain because you cannot understand what I’ve lived through. The loss of a child is something I’ve healed from, but it did change me forever. I’m never going to be the person I was before that. A wound may heal, but there is still a scar. I’ve also chosen to view my scar as something that represents a profound effect upon me.

 

Helping others with grief doesn’t make me sad – It is meaningful and very rewarding.

 

I’ve gone through a lot of loss in the past two years: my marriage, my eyesight, my parents and the life I knew for over 30 years.

 

I actively chose to pursue happiness by making huge changes in my life!

 

With all those changes, it is understandable that I have a lot of emotion. These days, I cry with joy easily, as much as with sadness.

 

I’m certain that I’d feel better if my eyes didn’t hurt all the time. But I continue smiling and doing what I love to do. I love to sing, compose, write and help other people. I also hope to touch people in many ways beyond grief.

 

For example, I had no idea that the lady who cleans my house shared a CD I gave her with her church. I’ve been invited to sing there because many people feel that my songs are about God and I’ve inspired them! I’m fine with that and plan to perform there soon.

 

I’ll let other people balance out their life by partying! They have no idea how grief can strike anyone at anytime – and are fortunate to be unscathed. If I can make a difference as I have to someone feeling hopeless, I’ll die with a smile at the end of my life.

 

Judy

In this picture, I’m with my childhood friend, Joni

In this picture, I’m with my childhood friend, Joni

My friend had no clue about how much I enjoyed my recent trip to Yosemite where I met a fellow blogger, Sandra Callahan who is terminally ill. It was certainly not about grief.

 

That trip was a wonderful time reconnecting with my childhood friend, Joni. Meeting Sandra motivated me to go in the wintertime, which was something I found courageous and quite beautiful. Joni and I did spa treatments and hiked; I played my guitar and composed music on the porch. It was a very relaxing and healing trip, not at all sad.

 

All the posts I’ve written about the death of my friend, Susan helped me to understand my journey and how far I’ve come from when it began. My trip to her memorial was a wonderful opportunity to see my deceased mother’s two good friends, whom I’ll probably never see again. To me, that was a beautiful way of processing my mother’s death. It meant so much to Susan’s mother and brother that I was there. I made a difference and was uplifted as I sang my heart out.

This picture reminds me how my mother was a miracle, because after she broke her hip and didn’t have surgery, she lived three years and was able to walk again.

This picture reminds me how my mother was a miracle. After she broke her hip and didn’t have surgery, she lived three more years and was able to walk again. 

I am grateful for the friends in my world who offer understanding. Only yesterday, I was struggling with my eye pain while shopping in a supermarket. Everything was foggy around me and I barely could smile.

 

I came home, put away the groceries and retreated into a darkened room. It was then that I noticed there was a missed call and a message on my cell phone from my friend, Joni.

 

I listened to it and cried a lot of tears for a woman with dry eyes.

 

 

Click the blue link to play audio:

 

AUDIO OF JONI’S MESSAGE ON MARCH 13, 2014

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Transcription:

 

Hey Jude, It’s Joni! No need to call me back – I’m in traffic. But I just want to say thank you so much. Your music just brightens up my day and makes me feel at home, comfortable and safe. God bless you – your songwriting is amazing. I feel so blessed to be a part of it and that you do that. It’s just so amazing. Have a wonderful day and let me know how you’re doing.

Joni is my friend who encouraged me to play my guitar again at the age of 50. Music changed the course of my life.

Joni is my friend who encouraged me to play my guitar again at the age of 50. Music changed the course of my life.

Heart Shadow

© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2014Unauthorized 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’M CRYING WHILE I’M DREAMING

March 15, 2014

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This picture was taken during my recent trip to Northern California.

This picture was taken during my recent trip to Northern California.

My post title is a lyric line from my latest song composition that is “in progress.” It stood out for me as a perfect description of what I’ve been going through.

Originally, the music for my song was inspired by a classical guitar instrumental named “Waterfalls.” I composed it when I was 19 years old. I’m not sure what my new song with lyrics will be named yet, but so far “Take Me Away” stands out as most likely, though I’d prefer a title that hasn’t been used so many times before.

 

Click the blue link to play audio of my arrangement in progress:

 

TAKE ME AWAY Midi in progress – Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger

These are the lyrics for the first verse of my newest song that is slowly being born.

This is the first verse of my newest song that is slowly being born.

Beautiful scene of the ocean

I begin my post by sharing some photos of the beautiful coastal scenery I saw in Northern California two weeks ago.

I stayed with a family friend, Liz after attending a memorial for my friend Susan Rasky. I haven’t travelled much, so it was very special when Liz drove me through some beautiful places the following day. Liz and her husband lived in Sebastopol, Northern California and both she and her husband were geologists.

 

After having lunch with Liz’s mother at a senior center, Liz took me for a long drive back to her house. It turned into a three-hour looping trip through redwood forests and coastline and the scenery was quite spectacular.

 

Every so often we stopped so I could take a picture. I appreciated Liz’s knowledge about the area’s history, geography and climate. But most of all, I was fascinated and simply loved the fact that I was with a geologist.

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Cool Rock

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That’s because I collected rocks as a child and have always loved nature. After my father died, it was touching for me to see my old rock collections when my oldest son cleaned out the coop where I moved into. I wasn’t surprised that my dad had saved them because he never threw anything away. I guess I’m still attracted to cool rocks because I even brought one home with me from my recent trip to Tucson.

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Cool Rock 1

 

Within short distances, a rolling meadow would suddenly become a rainforest. The road followed a river that I occasionally caught a glimpse of. It was called the Russian River and its water level was very low, due to drought.

 

While on our excursion, I was inspired by one incredible moment that happened when we pulled off shortly before hitting the coastline.

 

Russian River & Ocean 2

 

We had followed the Russian River through a redwood forest and were at an estuary where it met the ocean. The view was quite breathtaking; this was definitely a place to stop. Liz parked and I got out to use the bathroom. As I walked back to the car, instead of marveling at the incredible ocean vista in front of me, I turned around toward the hills and said to Liz, “Wow, those are interesting rock formations over there on the other side of the highway.”

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Jenner by the sea

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Liz smiled. Suddenly, I received a fantastic geology lesson. As I listened to her, I grinned because if I hadn’t noticed those rocks, I might have missed out on this.

 

Well, it turned out those rocks were more than special.

 

I had just noticed rocks that were found nowhere else in the world!

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Jenner close up

 

In this town of Jenner where we had parked, those outcroppings represented the Earth’s mantle. For rock to be thrust up to the Earth’s surface from so deep near the core – it was truly an incredible force of nature.

 

And this was the spot where geologists came from all over the world to see.

 

Right near our car, there was an interesting boulder. I pointed it out to Liz. For over five minutes she examined it and described all the minerals to me in that rock.

 

I took her picture, which she gave me permission to share.

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Liz examining rock

Prior to our excursion, I appreciated this fortune I received in a cookie during the luncheon I attended with Liz and her mother.

Prior to our excursion, I appreciated this fortune I received in a cookie during the luncheon I attended with Liz and her mother. 

I have to admit that I have not felt like writing and sharing much these days.

 

I like to write with complete honesty. When my blog and journey began, I never held back. The excitement and joy I felt in 2010 is something I will always remember and hold onto. I certainly hope I’ll discover those feelings again someday.

 

Unfortunately, I suffer constantly from debilitating eye pain because of dry eye syndrome. The pain and fog resulting from this condition has cast a cloud over my life. My emotional pain (as a result) has me crying a lot of the time.

 

Is that not ironic? I have so many tears for a woman with dry eyes!

 

Even as I plod through my days I continue doing the music that I love, though everything is more difficult for me. When I walk outdoors, I usually close my eyes. This habit of closing my eyes has made it tough to be with other people. Closing my eyes does not even alleviate my discomfort either.

 

It hasn’t been easy driving because my eyes must be open for that. My acuity (results from viewing an eye chart) is adequate – so I don’t worry that it’s a safety issue. But my eyes hurt more when I concentrate hard.

 

But I am honest when I admit that I have reached a low point. I saw another eye specialist for dry eyes two weeks ago and was given a steroid cream to use on my eyelids at night. I have not felt much improvement since then. In a month, I’m scheduled to have a minor procedure that will insert tiny tubes into my tear ducts permanently, which I’m not sure I’ll do yet.

 

I have decided that my motto of “nothing stops me” is not serving me anymore – especially in regards to overeating. My own body has been screaming at me to stop. I have no choice now except to listen.

 

I had to finally face the fact that what I’ve been doing in order to cope has resulted in a lot of extra weight. Eating is simply like taking a drug; it is a numbing mechanism for the pain resulting from shoving feelings back down inside.

 

Although I’ve avoided dieting by preferring to soothe myself with food, thankfully something has shifted since I’ve returned from my last trip. I’m back to a healthier eating track and am hoping my eyes might improve if I lost weight.

 

I continue to utilize hypnotherapy to harness my mind and help myself. As I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I realize how adept I am at pushing down painful memories.

 

Recently, I had a pivotal hypnotherapy session where something really clicked for me. I came home with a new word and a new approach for my challenges. That word was ACKNOWLEDGE.

 

I carry a lot of old habits and coping mechanisms – grief has unfortunately been a familiar part of my life. I have no doubt that my dry eye syndrome has worsened because of suppressed grief. I’ve felt pressured to uphold an image of a “poster child for grief.”

 

Also, I dislike feeling as if I’m a “complainer” because of my eye problems. I don’t want pity from anyone and certainly avoid self-pity as much as possible.

 

Unfortunately, thinking that way has blocked my ability to acknowledge a lot of painful parts of my life.

 

Like a victim of amnesia, my former life is remote because I’ve forced myself to separate from any pain I start experiencing. Therefore, when I’ve thought about my parents, it’s as if they’re strangers even though their deaths were fairly recent. My mother died in my arms only a few months ago – but my heart has been numb and blocked.

 

As I acknowledge the truth about how much I miss them, my grief is surfacing like a tidal wave. Crying over losing them is understandable because they inhabited such a large portion of my life.

 

I found it very disturbing to realize that what I couldn’t acknowledge during the day surfaced while I was sleeping.

 

In many dreams my mother appeared to me. We were holding hands and laughing, and then suddenly she died. Each time it happened in a different way.

 

One of my worst dreams was when I saw her fall through some ice we were walking on. I tried to grab her as she reached for my hand in the icy dark water. I silently screamed as she descended; then I saw Jason looking up at me from the dark depths below her.

 

Mom's Hand at death

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For certain, losing my parents has not been comparable to the loss of my young son.

 

I shoveled dirt onto my mother’s coffin during her funeral, I was calm and marveled how accepting I was of her death at that moment.

 

When my son died, I wanted to jump into the very hole where I was shoveling the dirt. I wished I were dead and inside the coffin with him.

It has been hard to remember my parents this happy because they suffered so much at the end of their lives.

It has been hard to remember my parents this happy because they suffered so much at the end of their lives.

Writing lyrics is something that happens for me when I’m not trying so hard. As I listened to the haunting chords in a completely weird guitar key of Eb minor – I wanted to envision going somewhere peaceful in nature. That still might happen for the second verse, which is not done yet. I wrote the first verse a month ago and couldn’t decide where to go with it.

I did know that I wanted to be taken away. I wasn’t sure by whom or where, either. A few days ago, I wrote new chords that I hoped would inspire me to finally write a chorus.

But it was really tough when some words spilled out of me as I searched to find those lyrics.

It was the line of, “I’m crying while I’m dreaming” that hit me hard. It was natural and understandable.

My recent dreams were the basis for my song. I wrote a few more lines and decided my song was being born. It was so healing and amazing for me.

Perhaps, God was taking me away from my pain after all.

Take Me Away lyrics© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2014Unauthorized 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 4

March 1, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

Eye regimen close up

I’m working on arranging a new song, which has no lyrics. It began as a classical guitar piece that I composed 35 years ago. 

 

Because I lead a musical life, I find this dissonant and spooky song speaks to me. I named it “Waterfalls” back in 1979. For this new arrangement, I plan to write lyrics and record my guitar into the song later on (my arranger, George, plays a keyboard guitar for most of my arrangements).

 

What will my song be about? The music says, “Help me get through this painful time trying to deal with my eyesight!”

 

Clicking the blue link plays my new arrangement in progress:

 

WATERFALLS ARRANGEMENT IN PROGRESS-Copyright 2014 by Unger

 

This blue link is to hear my guitar instrumental that was recorded three years ago:

 

WATERFALLS GUITAR INSTRUMENTAL-Copyright 2010 by J. Unger

 This image was for my song “Retreat.” But it feels perfect to go with my upcoming arrangement for now. I don’t think I’ll name my song “Waterfalls,” once I’ve written lyrics for it.


This image was for my song “Retreat.” But it feels perfect to go with my recent song in progress. I don’t think I’ll name my song “Waterfalls” once I’ve written lyrics for it.

“There was always hope . . .”

When I think about how many eye specialists I’ve seen, my head spins.

 

I have two conditions: Dirty vision due to posterior vitreous detachment and dry eye syndrome.

 

Unfortunately, my dry eye condition is the one that has really made me miserable.

 

I keep hoping I’ll find a way to alleviate my pain. According to the last cornea specialist I saw, it worsened and became a chronic problem because of hormonal changes related to my age (I’m 54). But primarily, it was brought on by cataract surgery.

 

Still, I can’t help but wonder about an emotional component. I know the body can exhibit things that our mind does not allow.

 

When my son had violent meltdowns, I developed severe rashes on my elbows that were constantly bleeding. During one of my mother’s early hospitalizations, I was afflicted with severe stomach pain. I even remember when it began – it was triggered by the smells in the rehab facility where she was. I ran to the bathroom and my horrible nightmare turned into microscopic colitis.

 

Those awful ailments only added to my misery because they lasted for several years and made everything I did harder.

 

I am extremely grateful that those conditions eventually faded away.

 

My eyesight problems remind me of my true weakness. I survived my empty marriage by ignoring the things that upset me – I looked the other way.

 

But where do I look now? Not only can’t I escape fog and dirty vision, I’m in pain and it’s too much. 

I was disappointed after paying $500 for an opinion from a doctor at the world-famous Jules Stein Eye Institute. He spent 10 minutes with me and an associate examined my eyes. I still have not received a report from him and it’s been a month. He called me the next day to ask me why I wanted it, and I found his attitude annoying. He said he would not put anything in his report that indicated I deserved reimbursement because it caused problems for him in the past.

This is a filtered photo from my recent trip up north. It does represent how I feel with the glare and fog. Nature and the outdoors are healing, but my eyes still hurt.

This is a filtered photo from my recent trip up north. It does represent how I feel with the glare and fog. Nature and the outdoors are healing, but my eyes still hurt. 

My bedtime ritual has become fairly time-consuming. Despite doing all the things I’ve listed below, my eyes still burn and have sensations. I have difficulty concentrating and often close my eyes when I walk outdoors. I bump into things a lot!

 

Judy’s Bedtime Eye Ritual:

Wipe eyelids with special eyelid cloth and cleaner

Put in Restasis eye drops

Start humidifier – do not slip on the wet floor

Put in eye gel drops

Warm up hot compress in the microwave

Put on iPod and relax with compress over my eyes

 

(The last step is the one I like best)

Eye regimen close up

Twice now, I’ve seen an ophthalmologist who is a cornea specialist through my HMO.

 

At our last appointment, I let him know that I was following a regimen of all his suggestions. This doctor said sweetly, “I’m sorry, but there’s nothing else left that could help your condition. It’s incurable.”

 

So I reminded him about something I knew about – plugs in my tear ducts. Twenty years ago when I wore hard contact lenses, I had two inserted. They stimulated more tear production and helped. Only one of them remained.

 

He said, “Sure, I’ll put more in for you.” That was when I learned that there were four, not two places for those plugs.

 

I would have two more inserted that would give me three plugs. However, the upper lid tear ducts were much more difficult to have the plugs put into.

-

It was very painful as he pulled on my upper eyelid and pressed down. I tried to remain steady as I felt the sting of his tweezers. It took almost fifteen minutes and my eyes were dripping. There was no numbing for this procedure and I used every technique I could think of to stay calm and still.

 

When he was done he said, “It’s likely that they will fall out, but if you think they helped then I’ll cauterize the surrounding tissue to make them stay in permanently. Let me know.”

 

As I left, I wondered when I would get relief since he told me to return in six months.

This is a sculpture that was on the property of a vineyard that I visited last week. It is actually a memorial and all those white dangling items are ripped sheets with a prayer/message to someone who died. There are many stories to be told with those words.

This is a sculpture that was on the property of a vineyard I visited last week. It is actually a memorial and all those white dangling items are ripped sheets with a prayer/message to someone who died. There are many stories to be told with those messages.

Soon I have to decide what kind of medical insurance to buy when my divorce is final (still waiting on paperwork).

 

I’ve had the same HMO since I was born. Although I’m ready to leave it, I do love my primary doctor. Even though I was not given “permission” to see an outside specialist for another opinion (meaning my HMO would reimburse me), my doctor really did try to advocate for me.

 

His last message to me was, “I have another patient who was given the run-around. I sent her to a colleague of mine that I went to med school with. She’s a retina specialist and might be able to help you also.”

 

I told him I was willing, and a referral was sent. It helped when he mentioned another patient was given “the run-around.” I wasn’t alone with my problems!

 

I sure didn’t hold out much hope for this eye specialist. I was so tired of having my eyes dilated.

 

The appointment came up quickly and I prepared myself to hear the same speech of, “Sorry, but there’s little that can be done for dry eyes and PVD (posterior vitreous detachment).”

 

As I sat in the waiting room, I heard my cataract surgeon’s voice nearby. I put my head down and hoped he wouldn’t recognize me. He was the last person I wanted to see even though many doctors have told me he did an excellent job with my implants.

 

The artist's eye

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My name was called and I went into the examining room. Immediately, I liked this doctor. She was energetic, young and sharp.

 

I mentioned my primary doctor’s name. Suddenly she became bubbly and used his first name while recounting memories from when they were both in medical school.

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I noticed she was confident, but not arrogant. She seemed to really want to help as she sat down next to me. When she asked me to describe my problems, I didn’t know where to start.

 

My voice did not reveal my emotional turmoil at first. But because she was so compassionate, I felt as though I could allow myself to vent all the frustration I had over my condition.

 

Tears began to spill onto my shirt, which was such an irony for someone like me suffering from dry eye syndrome.

 

She handed me a tissue and said, “You know, I consider dry eye syndrome to be a disease. It is chronic and affects your ability to function. It’s not only hormonal. The fact that you wore hard contact lenses for many years is another factor – that created scar tissue. But even though I can’t treat your dry eye condition, I have another cornea doctor that I want you to see. There are still things you haven’t tried. Have you heard of serum eye drops that are made from your own blood? It can be a miracle. Another idea would be to create a moisture chamber for your eyes by wearing goggles at night.”

 

I listened to her rattle off more ideas to add to my other rituals. I didn’t expect much from this appointment, but suddenly I had a doctor who really seemed to care.

 

Then she said, “Okay, let’s take a look. I’m going to examine you now.”

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The artist's eye 2

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In the darkness, I drifted off in my mind to avoid the pain. If my retinas were still intact, I was always grateful. Thankfully, they were this time, too.

 

She said softly, “I cannot imagine how you can see with the dense amount of junk in your gel. I can see it! There are ghost blood cells and enormous floaters. It’s like a curtain of spider webs.”

 

I was amazed to hear her words. That was exactly the way I had described my vision.

 

She was enthused when she said, “I can clean it all out for you. It would take just ten minutes. It’s up to you whenever you’re ready!”

 

“Is that considered a Vitrectomy?” I asked.

 

She nodded, indicating it was. The way she described it, it didn’t seem nearly as radical and dangerous as I thought it was. Suddenly it sounded tantalizing.

 

For another half an hour, she explained more about the procedure to me. She said she didn’t want to appear overconfident, but had never experienced a bad result. “If a doctor experiences a bad result, it can leave them fearful. I’m not on the opposite side telling you there aren’t risks. The reason for my success is that I choose my patients carefully. You are actually a perfect candidate. Yes, there are risks and with this procedure, and your risk of a detachment is slightly increased. But you are at risk for a retinal detachment even without doing anything at all!”

 

She mentioned that she did not do the surgery on anyone who did not have lens implants. One risk of the procedure was developing cataracts.


“You already have had cataracts, and that is another reason I could do this.”

 

Then she added, “I attended a workshop recently and the same doctor you just saw from the Jules Stein Eye Institute was there!”

Filtered trees

 

She shared more about that workshop.

 

“The purpose of that workshop was how people who suffer with your problem have their life deeply affected. You are an artist and I can see how much you are aware of detail. This is all about your quality of life and this procedure could make a huge difference for someone like you.”

 

I left that appointment with a surgical packet and was given an appointment with a new cornea doctor to help me with my dry eye syndrome.

 

I drove home with my eyes half-closed. The pain was unbearable. But my heart was filled with hope. I wasn’t going to jump into having a Vitrectomy, for sure.

 

Before I would consider surgery, I first needed to get my dry eye condition under control.

 

I had a lot to think about. The specialist I had paid $500 to see made me promise not to touch my eyes. He said that he had many patients who had lost their eyesight and wished they had known that ahead of time.

 

This new doctor seemed terrific. But I needed to really think through everything. That wasn’t easy to do when I felt desperate about my condition.

 

But now I had some hope.

 

And hope was everything for me.

Retina Surgery Consent

© 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 3

February 4, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

An example of the detail on one of my illustrations. This job was for a bank brochure that stated, "We have all the tools you need." I need tools to help me cope with my eye discomfort!

An example of the detail on one of my illustrations. This job was for a bank brochure that stated, “We have all the tools you need.” I need tools to help me cope with my eye discomfort!

It is astonishing for me how my blog title also relates to my stories about my eyesight issues.

In 2012, I had difficulty seeing and was told that cataracts were probably the reason. I was vulnerable at that time because I had recently decided to end my marriage of 31 years. I trusted that my vision would improve and I’d be happy with the results; most people were.

 

But unfortunately, I suffered from many complications following those cataract surgeries at the age of 53.

 

Recently, I’ve been brought to my knees by unrelenting pain in my eyes.

 

My floaters from PVD (posterior vitreous detachment) no longer are my focus. It seems that my dry eye syndrome has gotten worse. As a result, I have fog and sensations that have only added to my misery.

 

I cannot concentrate and sometimes it’s hard for me to even open my eyes. The pain is so disturbing that I am teary and frustrated.

 

The medical profession has not been able to alleviate my condition. I have carefully followed a regimen of wiping my eyelids at night, using a hot compress twice a day and Restasis eye drops. I don’t want to blame myself or anyone else for this condition.

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I simply want to live without my eyes making me crazy!

I miss my younger eyes. And not for cosmetic reasons.

I miss my younger eyes. And not for cosmetic reasons.

Therefore, I was anxious for my appointment to come quickly with a top eye specialist at the Jules Stein Eye Institute in Los Angeles.

 

Finally the day arrived.

 

It was a long morning – a 90 minute drive and over an hour of interviews and eye exams before I would see the top doctor. The cost for this appointment was $475.

 

Before seeing the top doctor, I saw his associate who did my retinal examination. I honestly wasn’t too thrilled when this first doctor introduced himself.

 

I said, “Where’s the doctor I’m supposed to see?”

 

He explained that I would see the top doctor after he examined me. I was a little suspicious, but then I found this man to be very compassionate and informative.

 

I held onto his words when he said, “You are very near-sighted. Yes, you had your vision corrected with the lens implants and cataract surgery. But with extreme nearsightedness, the brain can have trouble adjusting.”

 

I almost cried when he said, “You’re not alone, I’ve seen many other patients that suffer and cannot manage to get used to their new vision.”

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Tool Medley super closeup

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I had brought with me a sample of one of my illustrations. When I showed it to this doctor he nodded and said, “Well, you this makes even more sense to me now. Look at your attention to detail – and now your focal distance has been completely changed. That is huge!”

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Tool Medley

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So I heard once again that with my myopia, I have watermelon shaped eyeballs. The membranes over them are thin and pulled taut. This explained my eye gel separation and why floaters and blurs have bothered me so much.

 

When the top doctor finally came in the room, I felt like I was seeing a celebrity.

 

I shook his large hand and said, “I liked seeing your picture on the Internet. I feel like I know you.”

 

He replied, “You mean, my picture didn’t scare you away?” I noticed his voice was deep and buttery.

 

His confidence was alluring; he was a large man and his aura was powerful and reassuring. Gently he told me that advances were coming that might help me – someday soon, but not yet.

 

My voice quivered when I asked him if there was any way he could help me; I was so miserable. I held back my tears as much as I could in order to say those words.

 

He said, “I don’t specialize in dry eyes, so I can’t help you with that. But please, do not let anyone touch your eyes. No surgery or a laser on your floaters – please promise me! I’ve seen many patients who wished they had known that before they ended up losing their vision.”

 

He recommended I have some eye scans for a baseline and said my HMO ophthalmologist could call him to discuss it.

 

I was graced by his presence for exactly ten minutes. He swooped in and swooped out.

 

His last words were that he was certain that I would improve without any treatment at all; it was inevitable. I prayed it would be soon.

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Autumn Sunlight

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I had opted to go alone to this appointment. The paperwork recommended that I should have someone drive me because my eyes would be dilated. I brought my dark sunglasses and planned to drive home carefully as I had on many other occasions.

 

I did not want to lean on any of my friends and was certain I could manage this myself. Being on my own was easier.

 

I put on my dark glasses. But as I was entering the elevator, I didn’t see the door was closing and it slammed into my arm. As pain shot through me, I felt the wall of tears pushing outward. I held them back and swallowed. I wanted to scream.

 

When I got into my car, the dam burst. I began to sob loudly – it was such a relief.

 

Suddenly, someone was standing next to my car and banging on my door. I opened the window and a man said, “Are you leaving? I want your parking space!”

 

He had no idea I was crying. I caught my breath and drove home playing music to soothe my pain.

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Flower Pot in Orange

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Later that night, I scrolled through Internet forums to see what people had discovered as remedies for dry eyes. I couldn’t believe that I was now looking at yet another support group in my life. I clipped some paragraphs that spoke to me.

Depression and dry eyes

Irritation of dry eyes and social well-being

 

Then, I came across a study related to the high incidence of dry eyes in war veterans with PTSD. It caught my eye.

 

Because of hypnotherapy, I try very hard to be in touch with my subconscious. I have often felt that I am suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

 

What happened next was so unsettling and horrifying. I was only trying to imagine what trauma I experienced that could relate to this.

 

Waves of realizations began to sweep through me.

 

Images circled and attacked my heart with unrelenting anguish.

 

All I could see were eyes!

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Dad's eye

 

My father’s eyes . . . Filled with pain for months before he died. And then I sat with him and listened to his death rattle for a week. It was shocking to see him die with his eyes and mouth open.

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my mother's eye

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My mother’s eyes . . . A week before she died, her eyes conveyed such resignation and sadness. It haunted me terribly and I wrote about it. Shortly after, I listened to her death rattle for a week until she died in my arms. Her eyes also opened at the moment of death to look at me.

 

My husband’s eyes – filled with anguish and shock that I wanted a divorce.

 

My children’s eyes – filled with anguish and shock that I wanted to divorce their father.

 

And lastly, Jason’s eyes . . . It was a horror to see my child dead and his lifeless eyes were what shocked me the most. They were wide open and staring in different directions.

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Ocean of Tears

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I am grateful that I have this blog to express myself. I receive wonderful support from it.

 

I’m often asked how I’ve managed to continue writing and composing music while coping with tremendous stress. It seems that doing those things is actually what has sustained me.

 

Below is a 2-minute audio excerpt from one of my recent shows. Click the blue link to play audio:

 

Judy Unger-Speaking Excerpt from a Show on 11/10/13

 

TRANSCRIPTION: (My words are in bold)

 

I’ve been coping with some complications from cataract surgery last year. But nothing is stopping me. I heard one of the ladies here say that. “Nothing stops you!” And that’s one of the things that fuel me . . .

 

(Woman in the audience) “You’re a rock, Judy. You’re a rock!”

 

Oh, I don’t know; it’s funny; I’ve had a lot of images in my mind from hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy really helped me to release a lot of my grief. And in hypnotherapy, you pick images. I’ve chosen rocks. Once, I picked a piece of granite. So nobody can take me for granite.

 

(Audience laughter)

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I like puns. Yes, I am a rock. But I don’t do rock music. I’d be stoned!

 

(Woman in the audience) I have a question. I just want to say, like how did you push yourself to actually do your thing?

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I know, isn’t that miraculous with all this turmoil going on? Yes, it’s a miracle!

 

(A friend in the audience) That’s what pushes her to do it!

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Okay, here’s my story. I was basically lost.

 

And something miraculous happened. I didn’t believe in God. I didn’t have any faith about anything. I was just a shell of a person. Though I deeply had a lot of love for my parents and children.

 

So, the person in my life I was actually closest to was my mother. When she got sick and started to decline, I was lost. I was terrified. I started to write. And when I started to write, I opened up my heart completely. Everything poured out of me. And then I started a blog.

 

And when I started my blog, it was an amazing experience. I started to feel happy again.

 

(Woman in the audience) Your songs are so intense – riveting.

 

And they’re all true. That’s why I sometimes think my life is a musical because every song is real for me. It’s a story and I’ve lived it. I can connect to my heart in a way that is so healing for me. And whether or not anybody ever heard a song of mine ever again, I’ve healed because of my music. That’s my message – that I really feel is very important and I work tirelessly to share this – is you deserve to be happy.

 

Guitar Bliss

© 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 SHINING STAR

January 26, 2014

BLOG TABLE OF CONTENTS

Shining Star

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MY SHINING STAR

Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger

 

Shining star so bright

You wink to me every night

Moonlight glows upon my bed

I hear your voice inside my head

 

Shining star so bright

Surround me with your lovely light

I reach for you in my sleep

You comfort me while I weep

 

In my heart you will stay

I’ll hold on to our dream forever

The stars above, remind me of our love

Each and every day, wherever you are

You’re my shining star

 

Shining star so bright

Even though you’re not in sight

With my eyes closed, your breath I feel

You whisper in my ear to heal

 

Shining star so bright

I’ll dream of you tonight

 

In my heart you will stay

I’ll hold on to our dream forever

The stars above, remind me of our love

Each and every day, wherever you are

You’re my shining star

 

Click the blue link below to hear audio of my newest song:

 

MY SHINING STAR-2/8/14 Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger

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My shining star

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This song was born from deep love:

 

From the love given to me by my parents, who are now my shining stars above.

 

From love to and from my dead child, Jason. He is a dream I will hold onto forever.

 

And perhaps from someone I will fall in love with someday.

 

I dedicate my song to anyone with a broken heart, longing for someone they love.

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Silhouette

 

The Princess was deeply in despair. She could barely open her eyes, so she simply closed them as she trudged through her days. The Princess felt ill. It was getting harder and harder for her to see where she was going.

 

To escape her pain, she decided to travel away from her castle. It was not easy for her, but she was grateful for the beautiful memories from her adventures.

 

Melody, who was a guardian fairy to the Princess, continued to pour a musical elixir over her. The magical notes gently blanketed the Princess and kept her safe.

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Castle

 

Every night, the Princess played her guitar before going to sleep. When she began to discover haunting chords, she was elated. A new song was always a priceless gem of healing for her.

 

The Princess was not feeling well, so the notes were especially sad. She was very patient as only one chord was revealed each night.

 

Even though the Princess had no idea what the words would be, she began to sing a beautiful melody that made her cry.

 

She hoped the words would come soon so she could finish her song. She tried and tried and knew it would happen when it was time.

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 Breakfast w. Mom

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One day, it finally happened! She came across an old poem she’d written for her mother.

 

The Princess missed her mother and her father deeply and thought how those words were very touching. The poem was about a shining star.

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That night, she was at a very low point. She collapsed upon her bed and cried. Releasing her tears was a relief and now she was calm. At that moment, she heard the words forming in her mind.

 

Although it was hard for her to open her eyes, she peeked through her eyelid slits.

 

Moonlight was shining through the curtains and her empty bed was lit by a glow. It was then when she thought of him.

 

He was her “knight in shining armor” and she knew she would meet him someday. Throughout her life she kept imagining him – her future love. His words were soft and sweet, but there was never any visual to know what he looked like.

 

Now she realized his inspiration was with her and she could hear the words to finish her song.

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Meadow in Fog 2

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There was so much love between them – even if he was only in her imagination.

 

Sure enough, there was one line that grabbed her heart and made her cry. It was over the same melody that had touched her before she’d even written words.

 

The line was, “I’ll hold onto our dream forever.”

 

Over and over she thanked God for this song. It was so gorgeous. His love and hers would be something she would always dream of.

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And such a beautiful dream it was indeed . . .

 

With her eyes closed and tears streaming, she said aloud, “Thank you, God.”

 

But then she heard his voice again inside her head.

 

He said, “Mommy, never give up hope.”

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Jason and our dream

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© 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 HEAR YOUR VOICE INSIDE MY HEAD

January 19, 2014

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Lunch with mom 4

Click the link below to hear the most beautiful arrangement I’ve ever heard for any of my songs:

 

MY SHINING STAR – KARAOKE Copyright 2014 by Judy Unger

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MY SHINING STAR – KARAOKE & GUITAR INSTRUMENTAL

 

 

My voice teacher, Kimberly once told me something about songs that I found fascinating.

 

She said that when I share a song; it does not belong to me anymore.

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Her reasoning was that every person interprets a song with his or her own life experience. Whatever inspired me to write the song is irrelevant because my interpretation is mine alone.

 

The reason I mention this is that I recently wrote a new song, which I plan to name “My Shining Star.” I wrote it imagining a future lover speaking to me, and I’ve had a prophecy about that for a long time. But it turned out that my song actually held interpretations that I didn’t even realize until I started singing it. Tears gushed forth with the revelation that my song once again was a gift of healing for me.

 

As I begin to share about my newest song creation, I must mention how the idea for it actually began. It happened when I left a comment on one of my favorite blogs. It inspired me to write lyrics to go with the haunting chords I’d recently composed.

 

My comment was to Julie Goyder who writes a touching blog that I follow. Julie lives in Australia on a large acreage of land with her 20-year-old son. Her husband is in a nursing home; he suffers from Parkinson’s disease and prostate cancer. She spends a great deal of time and energy taking him on excursions and gave up her career. Clearly, she is completely devoted to both her son and husband.

 

Because Julie is a positive thinker and has a great deal of humor, her blog is really special to read. I relate to many things that she writes about and she has been especially supportive of so much of what I’ve written.

julie-ants-and-ming-2009

Last week, Julie posted that her husband had an aggressive episode due to his dementia. He was uncooperative and the nursing home called her trying to get him to calm down. Over the phone he shouted expletives at her and she lost it.

 

http://jmgoyder.com/2014/01/09/one-hour/

 

I commented on her post with the following:

 

Dearest Julie,

I suffered so when my mother had dementia. She was my best friend. I remember one thing that helped me was to see her as two different people. I could hear my “healthy mom” speaking to me when I was in deep despair. I wrote a poem and I want to share it with you. I’ve revised it a little to fit your situation. And I share a link to my story where I wrote it below. Hang in there. 


Love, Judy

 

http://myjourneysinsight.com/2011/05/31/279-i-know-youd-tell-me/

 

My mother & best friend 2

 

YOU CAN NEVER LOVE MY LOVE


Copyright 2011 by Judy Unger

 

You can never lose my love


You are my shining star


From the time I met you 
I have loved you completely


The last thing I want is for you to be sad


Your happiness is something I want most for you


Your joy wraps around my soul


Fighting to stay alive is worth it


just to see your smile


I am not who I was and I am sorry


I didn’t plan for this to happen


Even when I’m scared and confused


You must know how much I love you


I wish you didn’t have to see me this way


I have so many wishes


But wanting you to remain happy
 is the wish I want most


Please don’t cry or be sad


You are so strong, so beautiful, so blessed


How fortunate I was to love you

I will be your shining star


To always remind you from above


You can never lose my love

 


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Julie wrote:


What an amazing friend you are, Judy – thank you so much for this. It is so beautiful! Julie

 

Judy wrote:

Well Julie, you are an amazing friend  as well. Here’s another blessing: By sharing that poem with you I became inspired to write a new song using it as a basis for my lyrics. So in helping you I achieved inspiration to help myself! Love is universal. It has comforted me whenever I’ve projected love that I long for due to death, absence or illness.

 

So happy for you my inspired friend!

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This is a link to Julie Goyder’s blog: http://jmgoyder.com/

Tuscon landscape

While on my short travels recently, I began working on finding chords for a new song. While in Tucson I wrote verses. It was very much like a classical guitar instrumental with dark minor chords.

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The forest with a filter

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Then while I was in Yosemite I wrote the chorus, which was in D major.

 

This song was quite different musically than anything I had ever discovered before. I was puzzled how both those parts fit together when one was a minor and the other a major.

 

But when I compose, I simply listen for what my song is supposed to be and allow it to happen.

 

For weeks I’d hoped to find inspiration for my lyrics, but I could not even write one line. Depression and discomfort in my eyes had me plodding through my life, so I let it go.

 

But after leaving the comment on Julie’s blog, I began to ponder the concept of a shining star and it was intriguing. As much as “my shining star” seemed like a cliché, it still spun a lot of ideas for me.

 

There were a lot of metaphors with a shining star. Light in the darkness was one. Light was clarity and darkness was confusion. Light represented illumination; darkness represented feeling lost. Those certainly fit into my frustration with my eyesight.

 

When I imagined that someday I’d fall in love again, I saw the image of a “knight in shining armor.” Originally my song started with an idea about the love from someone I would eventually meet, which was something I had envisioned for many years.

 

But most importantly, a shining star represented love that came from the heavens and fit in perfectly with how I have personally coped with grief. The loss of my mother resulting from dementia was the beginning of my poem. With her death only a few months ago, now she truly was my shining star.

 

Grief was all about love for me. My song poured forth and dazzled me with its beauty.

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But it held another meaning for me that I did not expect . . .

 

I hear your voice inside my head

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© 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.

YOU WHISPER IN MY EAR TO HEAL

January 16, 2014

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Whisper in my ear

 

Click the blue link below to hear the most beautiful music I believe I’ve ever composed. I will be finished soon.

 

MY SHINING STAR Arrangement in progress-Copyright 2014 by J Unger

 

Message on a grief forum:

I ache for my son…. every second of every minute of every hour of every day. I understand that he is never coming back. I will never see him or touch him or hear his voice or hug him or smell his unique smell, ever again. I know this, I understand this and I have been able to get through each day with this knowledge.

 

It’s hard not to feel resentment when you see the people around you enjoying the joy their children give them as they move through the milestones of life. I watch as life moves on and think about those of us that have been chosen to walk this horrendous path and try to make sense of how we have been touched with unbearable sorrow while others seem never to be touched. My faith was shattered when this happened and it remains shattered to this day.

 

Now the hurdle that remains in front of me is the knowledge that I will wake every day to the heaviness on my heart and the hole in my soul with no cure for this and yet I am expected to go on. I love my family dearly but I know I am just existing…. waiting to die.

These are words I wrote two years after my son died in 1992.

These are words I wrote two years after my son died in 1992.

Response from another member:

I sit here crying. You have put my heart into your words. I will never be whole again, just broken and different. I’ve lost my only son, my only child, my only family. I need something to hold onto and pictures of my son just are not enough.

 

My reply:

There are few ways to describe the amputation of a soul. But you did it so well. I remember wanting to die. Then I realized I was a living dead person for many, many years. Like a blackened forest with no sign of life, one day a shoot takes hold. The forest is never the same. But life can return. I pray it does for you someday. You carry so much love for your son. The hole inside you that has sucked you in will eventually become a huge scar. Life will never be the same, but you won’t be suffering like this. I am so sorry. I cry because I remember that pain well.

2nd Year A

There are indeed many of us walking wounded out there. The problem is that there are so few of us compared to those who do not have to walk this path. It isolates us on a day-to-day basis because we can never put it out of our mind. Many people sympathize with us, but then push that aside and move on. We are screaming inside and smiling on the outside. They cannot possibly understand this pain nor do you want them to. I am where you are…. trying to move on. I find that I am learning how to pretend very well and hide my true feelings.

 

This was our second holiday season without our beautiful boy and I managed to put the tree up. That’s it. Nothing else. I guess that was a big step.

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Judy, Jason & guitars

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My words:

Grief is isolation in the purest sense. I surrounded myself with fellow grievers and although it helped me to survive, the exquisite agony was always there. And such a burden it was. It left me unable to think without reliving his death for years and years. I hate to say how long it took me to “feel better.” I do not say recovered. There is no recovery from this. 

 

My wisdom after 20 years is that healing is possible. It is imperceptible at first and not adequate when the pain is so horrific. But it happened for me. I was blessed to find something where my son returned into my life in a beautiful way – through music. Just this past weekend, my son came into my bed at night and held me close and whispered a new song into my ear. I haven’t recorded my vocal for it yet. But the music speaks – it speaks very clearly.” 

 

I’m thrilled beyond words that my beautiful son is my inspiration every day of my life. He is gone, but has returned to me in a different form. That is healing. And it is possible. I am living proof.

 

Love, Judy

 2nd Year D

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Judy, that is very beautiful – it brought tears to my eyes. My problem is that I can’t see getting over 34 years of this beautiful soul…. ever. I am happy you have found this way to connect with your son and that it gives you peace.

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tell your story

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Thank you. You will not get over it. And comparisons aren’t helpful either. When I was deeply grieving I would have told you my situation was worse because I had to deal with a young child whom I was a caregiver for. My daily life was ripped away and his room remained with all his toys and clothes to go through. I thought it was much worse because of that. 

 

But later on I learned that child loss is a horror at any age. Whether a son lives 34 years or dies as a baby – it is longing for a future that is only a dream and not a possibility.

 

You cannot see the road in front of you because you are shattered. It is about putting one foot in front of the other. But you are moving forward. Because I am far ahead of you, I cannot really take your hand. But I am proof that peace is possible. 

 

Sometimes, things are there that we cannot see. Grief is that way. Thank you for telling me that my song touched you. What you don’t know is that my song has lyrics and they are dedicated to you because when I sing them – I know they are for you. My son whispered this song to me for a reason.

 

I’ll share more soon. Love, Judy

 

Jason and straw hat


While I weep-

© 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 2

January 15, 2014

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CRYSTAL TEAR 3

Three weeks ago:

I drifted into the hypnotic sleep quickly and deeply. The peacefulness was so beautiful and I heard Connie’s voice softly say, “Allow an image to form that represents your heart.”

 

The first thing that came into my mind was a tear. I tried to describe it.

 

“It’s a crystal teardrop – and is almost like an upside-down heart. It has no facets and is smooth and clear.”

 

I marveled at the beautiful image I had picked. Just that week, I had sung a vocal for a new arrangement of my song “Crystal Oceans.” Maybe it wasn’t a coincidence that I chose a crystal.

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CRYSTAL OCEANS 1

 

Then Connie said, “What would the crystal teardrop tell Judy if it could speak?”

 

“The crystal teardrop would tell her that there is beauty and clarity that results from her tears and sadness. She has a pure heart.”

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CRYSTAL TEAR 5 filter

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After I awoke from hypnosis, Connie and I discussed the image of my crystal teardrop further. I found a negative aspect to it – crystal meant that my heart was like stone, a lyric line I had written describing coldness and lack of feeling. Crystals were hard and cold.

 

But as Connie and I talked about it more, I realized that crystals were something to be treasured and each one was unique. And crystals grew from powerful forces in nature.

 

My tears flowed easily. That was why the image came to me.

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CRYSTAL TEAR 6 filter

-

Two weeks ago:

I arrived for my hypnotherapy session completely distraught. My eyes were foggy and the sensations were impossible for me to ignore.

 

There have been several times in my life when I had physical conditions that were definitely stress-related. Over time, those problems resolved. One eye specialist recommended hypnosis as a way to deal with my discomfort related to posterior vitreous detachment.

 

Now I was suffering at a time when I had less stress than usual in my life. I desperately wished I could solve this mystery. The greatest stress I had was because my eyes were always bothering me!

 

Connie began our session by helping me with a technique known as “tapping.”

 

First, I spoke about what I was feeling. She took notes and then our work began.

 

I followed her lead and she repeated words that I had just said. I repeated those words while at the same time tapping areas of my body in a repetitive fashion.

 

Tears were pouring from my eyes as I repeated painful phrases:

 

“I’m angry. This isn’t fair. I don’t want to live with this condition. The doctors told me I’d just get used to it – but I can’t! I could have surgery that might cause me to lose my eyeball! I don’t know what to do. I’m lost!” 

 

The tapping went on for about ten minutes and then we stopped. Connie asked me how I felt.

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CRYSTAL TEAR filtered

 

Feelings were all in the forefront now. This technique was excellent at causing me to let down my guard. Tears and feelings kept gushing out.

 

I sobbed, “Oh, I have a lot of baggage around doctors! After all, my son died following heart surgery when I was told his odds were excellent. They were wrong!”

 

With those words, I realized that I had not truly let go of past trauma.

 

I cried and cried. And then I felt better.

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Jason Surgery

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Today I had an appointment with my regular doctor. He was very sympathetic and kind as he looked right into my pained eyes.

 

I could feel my lip trembling as I thanked him. He told me he would be my advocate and put in a request that my HMO cover the cost for my second opinion. He said it would probably be denied – but it was still worth trying. I felt so grateful for him.

 

Together we went over my entire history of eye issues that began shortly before I had 3 cataract surgeries in 2012. Since then, I had seen at least five different eye specialists within my HMO and had gone for another outside opinion, which I was not reimbursed for.

 

Before I left, I mentioned something that Dr. Sam had suggested – was there any rheumatological testing he could do to look for other causes of dry eyes?

 

My doctor said, “Wow, your friend really knows his stuff.” Yes, I’m going to order lab tests for that right now.

 

I asked him how long it would be until I’d get a decision from the HMO. He said, “Don’t cancel your outside appointment. If it takes a long time that will actually work in your favor. Let me know what you find out from the doctor you’re seeing at Jules Stein Eye Institute.”

 

I told him I certainly would.

 

I walked to my car. My eyes were half closed and I felt like something was crawling under my eyelids. This could not be normal and I hoped I’d get some answers soon.

 

I closed my eyes and sat in my car. I wanted to listen to a recording of the new song I composed over the weekend.

 

Even though I didn’t feel well, I was completely lifted out of sadness because God had sent me this new song. It helped me in such a magnificent way.

 

I was blessed.

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Judy in the forest

© 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 1

January 12, 2014

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My Shining Star

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“Hello, this is Angie. I was on vacation for a week, but I was looking at your chart note and he wants you to contact him only if you want surgery. So let me know if you want surgery. If you do, then I’m going to pass the message on to him and he’ll have his surgery scheduler schedule you. Okay? Give me a call back at  . . .”

 -

Audio Transcription of Phone Message from 1/7/14

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My eye

 

Something was wrong. I was having trouble concentrating because my eyes were slightly burning and foggy a great deal of the time.

 

On a daily basis, I was suffering and plagued with intense dry eye syndrome again – the familiar feeling of feathers and sensations started to make me crazy!

 

This condition was worse when I was away from home. It plagued me during my recent trips, so it wasn’t about spending a lot of time on a computer.

 

Gradually, it dawned on me that something had worsened. I was overwhelmed as my eyesight became more and more unbearable. My mind chattered to overcome negative thoughts and sadness. I was losing the battle.

 

The eye department and facility where I had my cataract surgery did not give immediate appointments unless it was an emergency. This wasn’t an emergency, but clearly I needed to address it. The last time I had gone to that facility with similar symptoms, I received admonishment that my condition was irreversible and I just needed to “get used to it.” I was given a prescription for eye drops (Restasis) and told that eventually my nasty floaters and blurs, which were a result of Posterior Vitreous Detachment in both eyes, would be less noticeable.

 

It occurred to me that perhaps my physical discomfort was tipping the scales for me now. It was hard for me to open my eyes. I closed them and tried to ignore the dirty vision in front of me, even though I began to feel desperate. Ophthalmology appointments with my HMO were never easy to get and it wasn’t truly an emergency. Or was it?

 

Depression began to descend upon me like a dark cloud. I found myself crying easily and realized I needed to do something. But what could I do?

 

I decided to call a retinologist whom I had last seen ten months earlier. He seemed compassionate and willing to help me – but the only way he could do that was through surgery. He said it would be best for me to wait and get in touch with him the following year if my problem hadn’t improved.

 

He could restore clear vision with a Vitrectomy, but it was an extremely risky procedure and he would do it only in circumstances where a patient could not function otherwise.

 

But when I called, I kept reaching a recording that his secretary was on vacation. I tried calling back several times with the hope of simply scheduling an appointment. My calls were not returned. A week later, I finally received a call back.

 

When I heard the voicemail, which I transcribed above – I was very upset.

 

Such extremes! On one end, I was told that there was nothing that could be done and the other choice would be to have radical surgery. There had to be another answer! Perhaps there were other options. I was tired of only seeing things in black and white, which I often found myself doing.

 

I went on the Internet and saw that there were other remedies for floaters.

 

I contacted my regular doctor to tell him what was going on. He was really the best part of my HMO, because he was terrific about following up anytime I asked him anything.

 

Once again, he was my champion. Within an hour of my emailing him, the retinologist suddenly called and was willing to speak to me.

 

I described my symptoms and the retinologist explained that surgery would only worsen the dryness I was experiencing. Vitrectomy was what he specialized in and with a 10% chance of losing my eyesight, it wasn’t something I would consider. He said, “I can’t help you, but you can see a cornea specialist for the dryness.”

 

The following day, I was given an appointment. I couldn’t believe it!

 

I explained my symptoms to this cornea doctor. He said, “Dry eyes tend to worsen with age and hormonal changes. Sadly, it isn’t something that can be cured. Cutting into the eye with cataract surgery has a permanent effect upon the production of tears. Artificial tears are not the same in terms of lubrication as natural tears.

 

He was right about that. I poured them into my eyes and it made no difference. I still felt sensations and pain. He gave me his favorite remedy. He told me to microwave rice in a tube sock, and then use it as a warm compress on my eyes twice a day.

 

I followed his instructions, but found little relief.

 

In the Los Angeles area where I lived, there was a world-famous eye clinic at UCLA. I decided it was time to go outside my HMO to get another opinion.

 

I asked my good friend, Dr. Sam to find the name of someone I could see. He followed through and I scheduled an appointment with a well known doctor. It would be on the first Monday in February. This was going to cost me a lot of money, but I decided it was far more important than anything else I could buy.=

I copied this from a site on Facebook called Sun Gazing. Not sure who the artist was, because I want to give credit.

I copied this from a site on Facebook called Sun Gazing. Not sure who the artist was, because I wish I could give credit.

My hypnotherapy sessions every week became very intense as I worked hard to discover ways to help myself. I plodded onward and was thankful for the relief I found during those amazing sessions. 

One thing I learned, was that I was not being gentle with myself. Criticism was something I had lived with all of my life. Being self-critical was a habit I wished I could overcome.

 

Two words also played over and over for me. They were: compare and despair.

 

Those words weren’t helping me. True, I had already suffered the horrible loss in my life of my child. That meant nothing could compare and there was no allowing for despair. And it meant I wasn’t grateful for all the possibilities that my situation could be much worse.

 

As my eye condition began to overwhelm me, it reminded me very much of grief.

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Closed eye-

AN UGLY CONVERSATION

 

What I am about to share is very ugly. It is about the chatter that has gone on in my mind and encompasses so much energy. There are two voices in my mind that battle endlessly.

 

I try to use a filter to help myself. I call it the GENTLE FILTER.

 

This conversation I am sharing is an expression of complete vulnerability. I am honest and raw.

 

One voice is called: GRIEF. Grief represents sadness and hopelessness.

 

The other voice is the INNER CRITIC. That voice is judgmental and harsh.

 

GRIEF:  Oh my God! Please, please – I cannot face opening my eyes. It hurts and it’s horrible that I have to look at what is right in front of me. I cannot accept this. I just want to see the way I used to without fog, blurs, shadows and ugly lines swimming all over my eyesight. My eyes burn and I don’t want to open them. Why did this have to happen?

 

INNER CRITIC:  You are weak – come on! You’re lucky that you can still drive and see well enough to function. This problem is a result of your inability to accept the aging process. You are making your own problem worse. You are suffering with this because you are unwilling to be happy about your life. Now that you’ve radically transformed your future by ending your 31-year marriage, did you think you’d be free from suffering?

 

GRIEF:  I know it could be worse, I want to celebrate that it isn’t blindness or cancer. I am grateful for all the beauty in my life, but I’m still sad about this. I sure miss my mom and dad. They really cared about me and would have helped me figure out what to do.

 

INNER CRITIC:  You don’t really miss them. They would have only suffered to see you going through this. It’s better they’re gone.

 

GRIEF:  I have grieved so many things in my life. I believe in healing. I’m okay about so many other losses – but not this. I cannot find a way to get used to this. Also, I was so proud to be a shining example of finding joy again in life. Now I am a fraud because I don’t look forward to the future anymore. I want to hide and curl up in a ball. What is the point of anything when I want to just close my eyes? I thank God every moment because I have my music to soothe me. There is still so much I want to do, but I don’t feel well. I think I’m ill.

 

INNER CRITIC:  You’re not ill. You are suffering because you aren’t willing to face your grief. You are over-eating and biting your nails – all of this is a result of your weakness. If you treated your body better, you would feel better. This is not about your eyes.

 

GRIEF:  I surrender. I give up. I’m sad.

 

GENTLE FILTER:

 

You are suffering and trying to comfort yourself any way you can. Do not give up hope.

 

Sad eye

© 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’M GRATEFUL FOR THE GIFT I WAS GIVEN

January 1, 2014

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Judy & Joni on the last day

My four-day jaunt to Yosemite National Park went by quickly.

 

I’ve already written about the experience of meeting fellow blogger Sandra Callahan, her husband, Chris, and sister, Angie.

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This story is about my beautiful friendship with Joni whom I’ve known almost my entire life.

 

A few months ago, Joni visited my mother the day before she died; Joni loved her very much. Growing up, Joni had an abusive childhood. My mother often comforted her and influenced her deeply.

Judy, Joni & Shirley 2

Joni and I had never taken a trip together as adults. As children, I dreamed of playing with her but we seldom were able to. It was because she was forced to work at her parents’ dry cleaning store every day after school and on weekends.

On a few occasions, her parents allowed her to join my family on a vacation. I wrote about us with this story: #244 WE GREW UP SO FAST

Judy, Joni & Shirley

During our time in Yosemite, Joni and I explored and rested. We had a picnic after hiking to see waterfalls. On another day we marveled at giant sequoia trees. I definitely will carry wonderful memories from our time together.

Judy, Joni and a waterfall

I love how pictures can convey so much. There aren’t any pictures of me playing my guitar, but that was something I enjoyed greatly in our cozy room. I even composed a beautiful guitar piece that I’m certain will eventually become a new song once the lyrics are revealed to me.

Judy in Yosemite

Joni in Yosemite

Judy horizontal in the forest 1

In the early morning on the last day of our trip, I sat in the lobby of the main lodge. I wanted to let Joni sleep-in undisturbed for a little while longer before we checked out. 

I was typing on my laptop in front of a crackling fireplace when I heard Chris Callahan’s voice. We moved to a table and over coffee, both of us chatted.

 

I had to ask him, “What would you say was the best part of your trip this year?”

 

His answer surprised me. He said, “This trip was terrific. But meeting Joni was definitely special.”

 

For the next few minutes he elaborated how Joni reminded him of a rosebud that was starting to blossom. He explained how when he met Sandra, she was quite different from the woman she grew into. The process of watching his wife bloom filled him with pride.

 

I catalogued his words in my mind to share with Joni later on. 

Joni smiling 2

Our trip was truly an opportunity to relax and for Joni a spa was the best way to do that. Six miles from our lodge there was another lodge that had spa facilities and we both booked massages for our second night.

 

For her, the experience of receiving a massage was ultra appreciated because she knew so much about it. Joni was a licensed massage therapist. It was not her main business, though. Her primary business was called J.L. Window Interiors.

 

I’d never asked Joni to give me a massage – I was a little shy about it. For me, anything relaxing sounded great. So my massage was scheduled first and the experience was lovely. The therapist and I chatted about many inspirational things.

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I hadn’t thought to even bring a bathing suit to Yosemite. I went into the sauna and steam room wrapped in a skimpy towel. The facility provided a cushy robe that I wished I could take home.

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Judy's relaxed

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I had even forgotten a hairbrush and everybody said my new curly hairstyle was terrific.

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Post Massage

 

Joni loved the water with cucumber slices in it.  After being steamed and massaged – I felt like jello. But now I was starving and ready for dinner.

 

Joni said sweetly, “Jude, would you mind if I did a little bit of writing for an hour?”

 

She said she was in an inspired mood and had brought with her a small notepad that she found in my car. Of course, I told her it was fine.

 

Earlier, I had asked her if she would like to write something about our trip to add to my blog. I was certain her perspective would be nice to share. She was quite touched that I had asked her; she told me she was honored and excited about writing something.

 

After an hour, I was famished and went to find her in the spa waiting room. She handed me twelve hand-written pages from that notepad.

 

It was one of the greatest gifts I have even been given.

 

Judy & Joni yellow background

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Below is a transcription of some of what Joni wrote:

 

Dear Judy,

 

You make me, or you enable me to feel wanted. It’s a big emotion, feeling wanted. Everything about your being emanates caring for or nurturing others.

 

Jude, you went through a lot at 18 with your journey through life.

 

For 30 years you were silent and all was dark. But unlike you, my dark night started early in my formative years. Trauma, the lack of self-confidence, the loneliness and burns from the dragon of darkness shackled me. My scars are deep inside. Doubts spring up and there is no light or emotion – only ice. It’s hard for me to make lasting interactions with others.

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Younger Judy & Joni

 

I hear your songs and melodies in my head, which brings down the walls of discouragement; I know I am loved. Sharing your journey heals me. You’ve allowed me to see into your world of grief and healing and I treasure every moment with you. You give me hope because you care.

 

I treasure your goodness, depth and ability to bring people together. Your connection to Susan, Angie and Chris brightens my life. I look deep into Susan’s eyes and I connect to her goodness. Her look and her “touch” is healing. I’m moved that you care so much about someone you have never met.

 

Joni &  Judy

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You sang to her last night with a quality that has been unrivaled. This connection with Susan should heal you and bring you some of the love you need to heal your own princess.

 

I love you, Jude. It’s fantastic to love someone and to be able to say that and to mean it with every fiber of your being.

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Judy kissing Joni

Clicking on this makes it larger. There were 12 pages.

Clicking on this makes it larger. There were 12 pages.

© 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.


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