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Caveat Emptor!

 

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OMG…these socks are obscene!

 

Dear Reader:

Let the buyer beware is very good advice! I should have considered it before I impulsively picked up an innocent looking pair of socks sitting by the cash register and added it to my purchase of a very respectable t-shirt.

In my defense:

  • My daughter had returned to school after her Spring Break the day before and I was feeling sentimental and missing her.
  • Winnie had chewed up my “evening/bedtime socks” and I needed another pair.
  • They were wrapped in ribbon imprinted with the brand name MOTHER, MOTHER, MOTHER and folded so that you could only read “MOTHER”.

I really feel that the sales girl in the chic little shop on Ocean Avenue should have warned me. But, since she did not…Winnie’s got two new chew toys!

Michele

 

I Am a Prozac Queen

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Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions

Dear Reader:

I feel anger and contentment, sorrow and joy, anxiety and enthusiasm, along with fear and courage… sometimes all in the same day! And, yet, I am a “Fluoxetine Queen” as defined by the Urban Dictionary.

Fluoxetine Queen

An enthusiastic and outgoing advocate of the drug Fluoxetine, more commonly known as Prozac, especially one who has used the drug and experienced its benefits or one who is dependant on it to function normally.

There are some who will be surprised to hear that, despite pharmacological intervention, I feel every spoke in the Wheel of Emotions. Indeed I once consulted an orthopedic surgeon regarding my ankle.

He perused my paperwork and inquired, “I see you’re on Prozac…so you’re happy all the time, huh?”

He was an older doctor and I believe he needed to retire or take a continuing education course. I never saw him again and I never had the surgery he recommended. Maybe you can tell by my tone that his question miraculously caused me to feel something other than happiness. I was irritated, annoyed and downright angry.

Early in my blogging career, I wrote a post entitled In Praise of Prozac. I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve been depressed and that I was brave enough to get treatment. I want to be part of the movement that seeks to destigmatize issues relating to mental health. And, I’d like to reach out and offer compassion and hope to anyone who is suffering.

I decided to re-visit the topic after reading the New York Times front page story  Many People Taking Antidepressants Discover They Cannot Quit. I had an immediate reaction to the story. (I’m not the only one; less than two weeks after its publication there are over 2,000 reader responses.) You see, I am one of the “many…who cannot quit.”

When I filled my first prescription for 20mg of Prozac, I was a stay-at-home mom with a four-year-old daughter. My 35-year-old brother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer the month before. My husband’s job was demanding and my support system consisted of only a few close friends.

Matt and I had been very close and it wasn’t surprising that I felt overwhelmed and heartbroken. But, it was clear that I was not simply sad. I struggled to get out of bed and into the shower every morning. I was irritable. Each day seemed to bring physical aches and pains, despite the fact that I was not sick or injured. I remember most clearly a feeling of heaviness, exhaustion and emptiness.

I might have continued to suffer had it not been for my beautiful daughter. After I had a panic attack while at the bookstore with her, I knew I needed to do something. I had to take care of myself so I could take care of my child. I set up an appointment with a counselor and saw my general practitioner.

The only question I remember asking my doctor, “How does one stop taking antidepressants?!”

I do not remember his answer.

But, I didn’t re-visit that question for nearly a year because Prozac improved the quality of my life and relationships. It did not deaden my emotions; it made them manageable again. I continued to feel sad, but that emotion did not paralyze me. I often felt tired, but I did not feel utterly depleted. I no longer felt like a detached viewer of my own life. I felt  present again. The random, unexplainable aches and pains disappeared and with them several other prescriptions. And the fear was gone; I could leave the house without worrying that I’d experience another panic attack. I felt equipped to handle the responsibilities of motherhood.

I was not successful the first time I tried to taper down my antidepressant, nor the second time…nor the third. Seventeen years after my first dosage, Prozac still makes it possible for me to live my best life. Why does a strong, content, fulfilled woman need an antidepressant? I don’t know and neither does my doctor.

If you’ve done your research, as I have, you’ve probably seen depression defined as a “chemical imbalance” or a “serotonin deficiency.” But, that’s an oversimplification. Experts really don’t know what causes depression or how it affects the brain, nor do they understand exactly how antidepressants improve the symptoms.

But, this is what I know:

  1. Prozac and counseling helped me face a huge loss.
  2. Prozac continues to help me.
  3. I have no regrets.

Antidepressants will continue to grab headlines and much of the press will continue to be alarming. That’s just the way it works. You are not likely to see Antidepressants Save Millions of Lives Every Year printed across the front page of any newspaper. And yet, I personally believe that is the bigger story.

Prozac hit the market a mere 12 years before I needed it. So, in a very real way, I am a guinea pig. I can live with that. After all, I am a Fluoxetine Queen!

Michele

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let There Be Rain, Hail…and Sunshine!

Dear Reader:

It’s been an amazing Spring day. This morning I woke to the sound and the sight of frozen pellets of rain bouncing about in my garden! Hailstorms are not a common occurrence in California. It’s very exciting for us. It brings everyone to the windows to watch. And after it’s over, we must inspect what’s left.

Winnie is ever curious, but she returned to the warmth of her cozy bed shortly after her first encounter with ice. I imagine her paws were very cold.

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Winnie’s First Hail

A couple of hours later, the sun appeared and our little four-legged trouble maker resumed her exploration of the garden.

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Look Who’s In the Lemon Pot!

What was the weather like in your neighborhood?

Michele

Beauty in the Ordinary

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Dear Reader:

There are so many ways to feel happy. Sometimes, a moment can bring on a smile that lasts for days.

I showed up at the gym for cardio today, as usual. I was feeling exhilarated and energized at the 35 minute mark on the arc when a young man climbed on the machine next to me. I had met him the week before. It was impossible for me to forget his name.

I removed my ear buds and said hello. I was feeling so good that I couldn’t resist teasing him.

“Oh, Matthew, that was just a talk test,” I said.

The look of terror in his eyes was amusing, but he was too sweet to torture. I’m into humor, not cruelty, so I quickly assured him that I was fine. I imagined him imagining me collapsing near his feet and requiring immediate emergency care!

Five minutes later my workout was done and he peaked at the numbers displayed on the screen of my machine.

“Wow, you just did 40 minutes on that thing,” he exclaimed.

Not long ago, I felt self-conscious when I found myself sweating next to a young, fit person. But, today I was impressed …with myself. I knew his praise was genuine. That was a gift, but it wasn’t the only one he presented to me, without knowing it.

If you know me or have read my posts, you are aware that I lost someone very special to me in 2001. He was 36 at the time; I was 40. I will live the rest of my life looking for him… and finding him.  My brother, Matthew, seems to appear in the face of any young man who is kind to me…and also happens to call himself Matthew.

Look for the beautiful, in the ordinary, and you’ll find it!

Michele

 

 

 

Baseball is Back!

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Dear Reader:

Just in case you didn’t know: it’s baseball season! Last night my San Francisco Giants beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 14th inning! Nothing better than a hard-earned victory over your greatest rival.

I was not at the park to share in the moment to moment agony and thrill, but I’ve been there enough to know what it felt like and sounded like. It was cold and loud. I could almost taste the Ghiradelli hot chocolate and hear the chant: BEAT LA!

Just as the fans jumped from their seats and yelled, my husband and I let loose in our living room scaring our dogs. The only thing that is possibly sweeter than warm chocolate is a walk-off home run to BEAT LA! 

There are so many things to love about the game. As a reader and a writer, one of the ideas I love the most about our national past-time is that it seems to be the perfect metaphor for life. None of these ideas are original, but for your benefit (and my pleasure), I’ll expand on the similarities.

-The season is 162 games long. It’s twice a long as basketball which ranks second at 81 games. So, the team that struggles in the beginning may end up World Series champions! We all hope for a long life with plenty of time to realize our dreams.

-It takes a team to win the game. There are all-stars, but, in the end, everyone has a position to play…everyone contributes in some way. I am grateful for my “team” that includes family, friends, neighbors, bloggers and doggies! I couldn’t manage without all of them.

-Hitting a baseball is hard, just as life is hard. Even the best players strike out…a lot! In 2017, hitters were retired on strikes 21.6 percent of the time…and yet, they just kept coming to the plate! Self-talk for me sometimes consists solely of this: make the effort.

-Every game, like every day, is unique. You never know what to expect when you show up at the ballpark. Isn’t it nice to be surprised?!

Spring has never been the same for me since my husband introduced me to the joys of baseball. I’m hoping for a season reminiscent of 2010, 2012 and 2014, but baseball being baseball, this year might turn out like last year! As long as we frequently BEAT LA, I’ll be happy!

Cheers,

Michele

 

Goosebumps and Tears

 

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Dear Reader:

I was riveted by CNN’s coverage of the March For Our Lives in Washington. My reaction was both physical and emotional. With goosebumps on my arms and tears rolling down my cheeks, I watched survivors speak with eloquence and passion.

Their anger and pain seemed to burst from the screen and fill the room. And yet, the intensity of feeling was tempered by resolve, strength and determination. These “kids” who were thrust into the spotlight, in a way they wouldn’t wish for and couldn’t foresee, are leading a revolution. They are not going to be cowered by the NRA or politicians or POTUS or anyone who might disagree with them.

As I watched, I remembered how powerful I felt as a teenager.  I was idealistic and opinionated and I wanted to affect change with my words. I was optimistic solely because I was young and strong, just as the Parkland students are. They are not plagued by doubt. Their youth allows them to believe that if the cause is just and the effort great, they will succeed.

After the news switched from the march to politics, I turned off the t.v. and felt surprised that my overwhelming feeling was one of hope.

Here’s to the kids!

Michele

My Journey to Strong: Chapter 4

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Chapter 4: Balance is Important

Dear Reader:

You could say that I was “unbalanced” before I started working out. I’m not talking about the fact that walking, quite regularly, led to falling! I’m referring to “life balance”.

In the words of the incredibly bodacious Jennifer Lopez, “Beauty is only skin deep. I think what’s really important is finding a balance of mind, body and spirit.”

I’m a natural-born student. I love to learn and I love a challenge; my mind has always been a priority for me. I’m blessed to have a loving husband, an amazing daughter and generous friends. My outlook on life is positive and my faith is deep. Before I began training, I had two of Jennifer’s bases covered.

Since November, I’ve integrated the “body” component into my life. I’ve got a routine: Tuesday/Thursday for strength training, Monday/Wednesday/Saturday for cardio.  I have a more balanced life and it feels good. Exercise has given me more confidence and energy.

Thanks to all of you who have supported and encouraged me. I hear you: I’m sticking with it!

Michele

 

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Dear Reader:

What has 460 calories, 14 grams of fat and 63 grams of sugar? Unfortunately, it’s a small  Shamrock Shake from McDonald’s. It has 35 different ingredients…35 for a milkshake?! The first ingredient is low-fat milk…that’s promising, but the remainder include chemicals, preservatives and sugar, in all of its many forms.

I spent the 70’s enjoying this sweet treat as often as I could during the month of March. (It was great to be a skinny kid!)

I still love milkshakes and peppermint, but I just couldn’t enjoy any small beverage that takes around 40 minutes on the arc trainer to work off.

So, I created my own green treat and my hubby and I found it to be delish!

Michele’s 6 Ingredient Shake

One pint vanilla ice-cream: I used Dreyers (7 grams of fat, 13 grams sugar (every once in a while!)

1/4 cup low-fat milk

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. peppermint extract

3 drops of natural green food coloring

whipped cream: you decide how much!

Blend and enjoy!

Michele

 

 

From the Pink Shed is A Year Old!

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Dear Reader:

I became a blogger one year ago today! I celebrated the occasion with cake…vanilla with strawberries and whipped cream! There was champagne, too!

When I was young, I had a pen pal and I loved it. As an introvert and a writer, it was the perfect way to connect. Now, I feel like I have many pen pals from all over the world. There are so many wonderful people to meet in the blogosphere.

Blogs and Bloggers I Love:

Sal’s Blog – Irregular Thoughts From A Regular Guy

Gardening Nirvana – Sharing my journey in and out of the garden

Marie McLean – Reading/Writing/Banter

silkannthreades – about the little things in life .

Killing Time – movies, tv, etc.

Busy K – You must do the things you think you cannot do. 

OTV Magazine – Shout out to Shareen Mansfield!

And, Tamara Jare at My Botanical Garden – You were one of the first to follow my blog. I have your art in my shed.  And I feel so close to you that it’s hard to believe you are 6,000 miles away! We will meet someday; I’m sure of it.

I took the time today to look back at the “letters” I’ve written to you, dear readers. It was fun to see which posts were your favorites and reflect on mine.

Most Popular Posts:

Hopelessness and Heroines

TGFT!

My Journey to Strong: Chapter 2

No Regrets

Posts I Like Best:

It’s Not Over Until It’s Over

She’s Flying

Maui Time

AND…all of the above!

Thank you Kristin, Beth, Laurie and NATALIE!

Cheers to blogging,

Michele