My Seasonal Affective Disorder makes me want to hibernate until spring.

It’s baaaaack!  I hate this time of year.

Lucky Otters Haven

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Graph I made showing my mood pattern throughout the year. It’s this way every year.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my SAD.

SAD is triggered by the lack of light and shortening days for those affected with it. During the shorter days the brain produces more melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that induces sleepiness in certain animals, like bears. It’s the reason why some mammals hibernate until the warmer, longer days of spring. Unfortunately, some humans retain this biological urge to hibernate, but because we must continue to live productive lives, our natural urge to sleep is ignored and seasonal depression is the result.

I seem to suffer from a weird form of SAD. The fall is much more depressing to me than winter. Most people with SAD feel terrible in late fall AND all winter. But for me, I start feeling depressed sometime in mid-August, when the…

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I got a new smile for less than fifty dollars! (Don’t look at me like that — keep reading!)

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Hey girlfriend!  You don’t have to do that anymore.

 

I have a problem many people today have.

I don’t have dental insurance.  I haven’t had dental insurance in about 20 years.   Although I try to take good care of my teeth and brush and floss at least twice every day, I have not had regular checkups and I certainly can’t afford any expensive dental work on my own.

I had strong, beautiful teeth as a child and didn’t get my first cavity until I turned 13.  But since I turned 50, my teeth have become a lot weaker and much more prone to decay.   I also have a sweet tooth. My love of sugary treats has certainly done me no favors.

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Me and my winning smile in 1977.

In spite of my careful dental self care, over the years I have lost all my back teeth (molars) and find it difficult or impossible to eat steak or anything that requires a lot of chewing.   But that’s okay.   You can’t see those teeth.  I can still eat most other foods.  I’m not confined to eating soft foods like yogurt and macaroni and cheese.

My real problems began about three years ago, when one of my front incisors developed a pinkish orange tinge to it.  It soon became sensitive to hot and cold, and I realized that tooth had a cavity in the back of it that wasn’t visible but was hollowing it out.   I couldn’t afford to have it capped or fixed or replaced, so I lived with it, brushing it constantly, hoping against hope I could ward off the inevitable:  tooth loss.

Last spring the tooth finally split in half while I bit into a piece of bread, and about a month later the rest of the tooth chipped off.  It was horrifying to look in the mirror and see a gap there right in front of my mouth.   But even more horrifying was what I saw next to it:  the tooth next to it also had a huge cavity coming in from the side.  I would soon lose that tooth too.

I called dentists but all the quotes for implants, partials, or bridges were in the thousands of dollars.  Not to mention pulling the rotted teeth which would require me to face my fear of being in a dentist’s chair for a painful procedure.  Even professional veneers are very expensive.

The Internet is such a huge blessing.   I looked for cheaper alternatives and was intrigued by the “flippers” that pageant contestants use to make their teeth look perfect.  Of course, those “flipper” teeth are too white and too perfect. I wanted something more natural looking but it was a start.

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The package appears to contain the “bleached” teeth.  I don’t recommend those.  On the right is the “natural” color in “small.”  This is what I ordered and I am very satisfied.

 

I finally came across a video about a man who had lost most of his front teeth and tried a product called Imako Cosmetic Teeth (I can no longer find the video I saw, but there are others on Youtube).   I was very skeptical, but I watched the entire video and the man looked so much better with his new teeth.  It looked so easy and hardly cost anything.  (There are also “how to” videos in case you need help getting your teeth to fit).

I did a search for Imako Cosmetic Teeth and looked at some other brands as well.   In the ads, the Imako teeth looked the most natural.  They cost a little more than some of the cheaper alternatives, which looked like Halloween teeth and were blindingly, fake white and ugly.   What I liked about the Imako teeth was their natural looking color: the “gums” were a natural flesh tone rather than bright pink, and the teeth were available in an off white “natural” color which was much closer to the color of natural teeth.

They cost about $40.00 plus tax and shipping.  I ordered the top teeth (my bottom teeth are fine).  They come with a set of thermal plastic beads which melt at low temperatures and are used for molding them to fit your mouth.  I ordered the “small” (recommended for women) and received them in about a week.

It takes some patience and time to get the teeth to fit your mouth.  You might have to practice for a bit.    The teeth are made of a flexible plastic that becomes more flexible in hot water.     Microwave the teeth in water for a couple of minutes, and then while they are soft, fit them over your own teeth (you must have at least one or two natural teeth for them to stay in place).   You can also shave down the “gum” or even the teeth themselves with the tool provided in the package to make it thinner if you need to, but be careful because they are fragile and break easily.

I actually did something you’re not supposed to do.  I cut the teeth in half, since using the entire row over my good teeth on the right side of my mouth made me look buck toothed and I couldn’t close my mouth properly.   I only needed to use the half that covers the left side of my top teeth.

In order to get them to stay put, I had to melt the plastic beads (they have a low melting point and turn to a clear goo when microwaved in hot water).  As they began to dry (but are still pliable), roll a spaghetti like piece and fit that over the back of the “gum” of the teeth and then press into place in your mouth.  The soft plastic will make its way into crevices and gaps between your teeth.  Keep pressing in place until the plastic dries, and then carefully remove the entire piece from your mouth.  It should now be a custom fit, and almost “snap” into place, but I still find I need to use some extra strength Polident to be sure they stay and don’t slip out.

I won’t show a picture of my “before” teeth because I’m too embarrassed, but believe me, my smile was ugly and in photos, I could only wear a closed mouth smile.

Here’s a selfie I took of my new smile, which looks natural and very much like my original smile.   The fake teeth can be seen on the upper right hand side of my mouth (actually the left side).  The rest of the teeth are still my own.  The one next to it was taken almost five years ago, before I lost any front teeth.

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Please be aware that you should not eat any chewy or hard foods with these teeth in place, but you can drink and speak normally without worrying about them falling out.  They should be soaked in peroxide or denture solution after each use.  Do not sleep with them in place.

I’m posting this today because I know how much it sucks when you can’t smile or hate to have your photo taken because you’re embarrassed about your teeth.   If you think you can never afford to have an attractive smile again without spending a lot of money, you’re wrong.   This may not be the perfect solution (or a permanent solution), but if you can’t afford thousands of dollars in dental work (not to mention the time and trauma of it), this is a workable solution. It cost me less than fifty dollars.  I hope this helps some of you having dental issues.

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I used to be a dominionist without even knowing it.

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I’ve written about dominionist Christianity extensively, so I won’t describe it at length here.  One of the most toxic and abusive doctrines of dominionism is that if you are vulnerable in any way — if you are poor, sick, disabled, mentally ill, or even a person of color (in dominionist doctrine, people of color are believed to be derived from the line of Ham, the son of Cain, who was Adam and Eve’s “bad” son — in the past this has been used as “biblical” justification of slavery) — these are all indications of God’s disfavor and people “afflicted” with these things deserve their lot.   In contrast, God’s favored people are always rewarded with great wealth, perfect health, and no disabilities.  They are also usually white and Republican.  This is why dominionist Christians feel no obligation to show compassion toward the sick, poor and disabled (as Christ would do) — because to help them would be to go against God’s will.   It’s also why they seem to think unlimited power and greed (and oppression of others) is perfectly moral.

But getting back to myself.  While I was never a dominionist Christian or even a conservative evangelical, my attitude in the past toward myself was a very negative, self punishing one.   I always had at least a nominal faith in God, but I truly believed he disliked me and my terrible luck, my bad relationships, my inability to form close relationships, my emotionally abusive family, and my poverty were all punishments God was inflicting on me because he hated me.    I looked at others and saw how fortunate they were (or at least seemed to be) and felt like God must like them much better.  Sometimes I thought God only put me on earth as an example to others of what not to be.

This made me feel completely worthless and made me want to hide in shame from the world.   It made me painfully shy, which only exacerbated my problems meeting people and socializing.    In my recovery from narcissistic abuse, I realized this negative, self defeating narrative was self inflicted due to internalizing abuse inflicted on me when I was young.   I began to realize that I had good qualities and never had the chance to develop them.

I like myself now.  No, I’m not living my “dream life” (that would involve traveling all over the world and writing bestselling books) and I will probably never have a high powered, high paying career at my age.  I probably won’t ever achieve all my dreams, but really, who does?   I’m still on the lower end of the income scale, but I wouldn’t say I’m impoverished anymore.   I have enough money to be comfortable and even buy a few luxuries (like occasional inexpensive vacations, beach trips, new books, the occasional dinner out, and nice clothing).

I’m still alone (not in a relationship), and even though sometimes that’s lonely and I even occasionally feel sorry for myself, I also know I prefer things that way for now.  I’m still working on myself, trying to find out more about me and what God wants for me (and what I want for myself).

I feel fortunate to have two wonderful adult children, both of whom I have a great relationship with, and three awesome cats.   I also live in a beautiful part of the country, with endless opportunities for photo taking and just enjoying the natural world.  Not everyone is so fortunate to have that.

Recovery from narcissistic abuse coupled with reframing God as a benevolent and loving Father who wants all his children to be happy and healthy rather than as a punishing and hateful bully who favors some of his children over others (and rewards them primarily with wealth and material abundance) has made all the difference.

I think this is why I find Christian dominionism so triggering and scary.  Not just because it’s become a real threat to our basic freedoms and rights, but because it’s a toxic, abusive, and hateful belief in an avenging, constantly angry, narcissistic God who likes to bully and punish the most vulnerable.  That sort of God, to me, is as bad as the devil.   I think that God was made in his narcissistic control freak human makers’ own image.

I’m so glad I don’t believe in that God anymore.

 

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4 years of blogging!

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WordPress reminded me of something today.

Four years ago today, I started this blog!   Wow!  It certainly doesn’t seem that long.

While originally a place where I could document my recovery journey after going No Contact with  my malignant narcissist ex-husband (and coming to terms with the upsetting realization of having come from a family of narcissists), over time it has evolved.

I’ve always included many posts covering other topics that pique my interest, intrigue me, make me think, make me feel, or make me laugh.  I like to post photographs (both ones I take and ones I don’t), memes, and cartoons.  Sometimes I just like to share random “shower thoughts.”

Over the past two years (it’s hard to believe it’s been that long), this blog has become more political.   Since Trump seems to fit the criteria for NPD or Malignant Narcissism, it wasn’t too much of a leap from writing about narcissism in general (or as it pertained to my family and other people in my life) to writing about the narcissism of a man who is abusing all of us from afar (whether we want to admit it or agree with that or not).

I feel like the first two years of immersing myself in the subject of narcissism and narcissistic abuse, and setting about my own recovery,  prepared me to better understand the much more existential and serious problem of Trumpism.

As far as this blog, I never stopped including posts about nonpolitical subjects, personal posts, photographs, and even occasionally a new article about narcissism or narcissistic abuse that has nothing to do with politics.   I cast the net wide for my own sanity, and I think doing that makes this a better blog.   It’s also more fun that way.

Here’s to the next four years!

 

 

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When time stands still: 15th anniversary of 9/11

It’s now two years since I wrote this article. I’m posting it again this year.

Lucky Otters Haven

394261 14: A fiery blasts rocks the World Trade Center after being hit by two planes September 11, 2001 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) 394261 14: A fiery blasts rocks the World Trade Center after being hit by two planes September 11, 2001 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Not too long ago, one of my regular readers spoke of seeing a bunch of military tanks practicing for a martial law takeover. In America, I am hearing of an increasing number of incidents like this. I try to avoid the news, but there’s an increasing and unavoidable sense of panic that our nation may be on the brink of a removal of all our freedoms as martial law becomes the norm rather than the exception. It’s very frightening.

But what I really want to talk about is the feeling of unreality and dissociation that accompanies seeing something like what my reader did.  She said when she saw the tanks, she felt as if she was dreaming. It didn’t seem real…

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Planting trees.

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Going forward…

I found this meme that shows tips from Robert Reich and wanted to share it because I think it’s really important going forward.   Please share.

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“Free Fall” (video)

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After posting Julie Gautier’s underwater dance video “AMA” the other day, I was led to watch some of her other short films.  She is not only a talented underwater choreographer, dancer, and freediver, she is also an incredible filmmaker.

Gautier’s husband, Guillaume Néry, is a championship freediver (diving without any breathing equipment), author, and public speaker.   Here is the video Julie made of her husband diving into Dean’s Blue Hole, located in the Bahamas.   A blue hole is basically an underwater sinkhole, and they are common in the Bahamas.   This video was filmed entirely on one breath.  

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That tempting dark blue is just nothingness all the way down.

In “Free Fall,” Nery slowly makes his way down a gentle incline of pure white silty sand toward the edge of the sinkhole (Dean’s Blue Hole is 663 feet at its deepest point).  He stands at the edge of the abyss for what seems an eternity, and finally dives down into the darkness, and it seems just like he’s flying.   When he lands, it’s not at the deepest part of the blue hole  (I don’t think reaching 663 feet is possible for freediving — no one can hold their breath that long); I’ve read it was around 300 feet or a little over that.   But who cares?  It’s still mind blowing.   It’s really like another planet under the ocean, with a different sort of “air” that allows you to fly down into canyons, and rock climb back up to the top with ease.  

“Free Fall” is quite possibly the coolest video I have ever seen.   What’s so amazing about it is no special effects whatsoever have been used.   Everything you see here is exactly as it happened, from Julia’s perspective (who was filming it and probably also there to provide her husband with an oxygen tank, if any problems developed).

How can something appear to be so completely exhilarating, and at the same time be so utterly terrifying?   The darkness and depth of that blue hole is spine chilling, but when the camera pans upward toward the sunlight filtering down deep into the darkness,  I had to catch my own breath in awe.

The song (“You Make Me Feel” by a group called Archive) is pretty great too.  I think it’s just perfect for this video.

Please watch and comment!

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Women in America: will we soon be wearing “burqas” too?

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Women in Afghanistan wearing burqas.

If Trump’s ultraconservative pick Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed,  we women are vulnerable to losing all our rights — and I’m not just talking about abortion.  It may well include birth control as well, and a lot more.  There’s already a horrifying new Arkansas law that was just passed last week.  The  law says a rapist can sue a victim if she seeks to obtain an abortion.  Rape victims in our culture are being newly demonized, just as they were in patriarchal times in the past, of being temptresses who “teased” or tempted the man to rape her, because, you see, men are incapable of controlling their lustful urges.  It’s always the woman’s responsibility to tame them.

I hear more and more horror stories about pastors at fundamentalist and evangelical churches who tell abused wives that the way to solve the issue is to “get right with God” and “submit” to their husband.   Of course we all know how well that works out in real life.   It doesn’t.  Many of these women end up emotionally or physically destroyed, or dead.   Such women are often forced into leaving their churches in order to stop being shamed for being an abuse victim.  If they leave their abuser, the church will usually shun them rather than offer any kind of support, even if children are involved.

This regime would like to erase everything women achieved during the 1960s and 1970s.  Ideally, they would like us to lose our voting rights too, bringing us back to the early 1900s.

All this is only the tip of the iceberg, of course.    Life for women who are not wealthy, white, evangelical Trump supporters is going to be hell on earth, and that’s what they want for us.   This regime is misogynistic and hates women.  They don’t want us to have any kind of voice or any autonomy at all.   They want us barefoot, pregnant, and subservient to the patriarchs who get to tell us what we can and cannot do.

We all know what will happen if Kavanaugh gets confirmed.   I’m not going to name what those things will be.  We all know.  It may take some time, but it will happen.

I’m not giving the man the benefit of the doubt.  At first I wanted to, but after seeing his cold and heartless reaction to the father of the murdered Parkland student (and then calling Security to have the man removed), with his assistant making the “white power” symbol with her fingers right behind him, the message was loud and clear.

Here is a picture of some young Afghan women in the the early 1970s, before the Taliban and Sharia law came and changed everything.   They look like any women of the free world, don’t they?

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This quote is from the article, Women in Afghanistan: The Back Story:

Until the conflict of the 1970s, the 20th Century had seen relatively steady progression for women’s rights in the country. Afghan women were first eligible to vote in 1919 – only a year after women in the UK were given voting rights, and a year before the women in the United States were allowed to vote. In the 1950s purdah (gendered separation) was abolished; in the 1960s a new constitution brought equality to many areas of life, including political participation.

But during coups and Soviet occupation in the 1970s, through civil conflict between Mujahideen groups and government forces in the ’80s and ’90s, and then under Taliban rule, women in Afghanistan had their rights increasingly rolled back.

This is what happens when religion and the state merge. The end result is always oppression of women and groups of people deemed to be “other” or “sinners.”   There are no exceptions to this.   Mixing religion with politics always ends badly, especially for women and those who do not submit easily to the regime.

In the 1970s, women in Afghanistan, like American women (and women in all developed countries) were discovering new freedoms, finding their voices, and being granted new, hard won rights.   The young women in the photo above look happy and carefree.   Most likely, they had no idea that in a few short years, all that would be lost.

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Another image of young women in pre-war Afghanistan, 1970s.

I’ve always wondered what it must have felt like to be an Afghan woman during the early Taliban years, as the regime began to remove women’s freedoms and rights while enforcing draconian new laws on them that were much harsher than the rules men were expected to follow.

It must have felt quite a bit like what it feels like today to be a woman in America.

The Handmaid’s Tale seems like it could be prophetic: a peek into a possible future for American women if Christofascist politics isn’t stopped in its tracks right now.  I can’t even watch the show.  I find it too upsetting.  The book was enough for me, but boy, was it eye opening.

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“AMA”: another deep water story.

This video may be one of the most beautiful, sublime, and unusual things I’ve ever seen.   It’s a short film called “AMA” by underwater dancer/freediver Julie Gautier (I found it while watching a series of other diving videos, which I’ve been kind of obsessed with for a couple of days for some reason).  I promise this video isn’t as disturbing or depressing as the last one I posted, though you may find the emotions it evokes rather sad (I did).

It was filmed at The Deep Joy/Y40 in Padua, Italy, which is recognized for being the deepest swimming pool in the world.

I’m amazed by the length of time this woman can hold her breath, even though it may have been carefully edited to look seamless when it may have actually been filmed in separate takes.

I’m not going to try to interpret what story she is telling here.  In Julie’s own words under the video:

“Ama is a silent film. It tells a story everyone can interpret in their own way, based on their own experience. There is no imposition, only suggestions. I wanted to share my biggest pain in this life with this film. For this is not too crude, I covered it with grace. To make it not too heavy, I plunged it into the water. I dedicate this film to all the women of the world.”

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