Doing What Gives You Joy

In this blog I want to return to other more positive topics.

Today I lobby for doing what gives you joy. Every day or as often as possible we should do what gives us joy. This is the ultimate adjunct way to heal from an illness as well as using traditional medicine.

This claim I don’t make lightly.

The fact is that when you’re happy, it will upset other people. Those who are miserable about their own lives won’t like it that you have and express your joy.

Yet what is doing what you love if not an expression of joy, if not a life force that can help a person heal?

I think of this today as the season starts to roll into autumn. The late summer and early fall are a magical time in New York City. Street fairs abound. It’s the perfect weather to talk long walks in parks.

Finding what gives you happiness and going and doing that is the key to living well in recovery. The older I get I’m emboldened to shout louder about this and other things.

It matters to me that everyone has the equal opportunity to recover and do well after becoming ill. You should view recovery as the chance to change your life for the better.

Obviously something wasn’t working before you got sick. Post-illness each of us has the choice to continue the way things were before. Or to risk making changes to grow and get better.

We have a second chance to find joy and happiness in our lives.

What gets lost in the critical nature of a few reviews of Left of the Dial is that doing what gave me joy helped me recover. If this is a sin, let me be guilty.

When I set out to write the memoir I wanted it to be a different kind of narrative. I chose to focus on everything that happened after I recovered. My goal was to show how how I healed through creativity.

Music, art, fashion, writing, and exercise have long been in my life the five elements that gave me incredible joy.

I’m going to end here by telling readers that if anyone else tells you either subtly or outright that it’s wrong to focus on getting your needs met in terms of being happy you should question what their stance is all about.

Be happy. You have the right to be happy.

It’s precisely when you’re in pain that you should do what you love.

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Using Our Voices

You have a voice so use it.

You might feel that you’re different. You might feel that our president is a miracle worker doing the greatest good for our country.

Either way I stand by my assertion that each of us should use our voice to champion what we think is right.

Yes–I take such pride in knowing that a superstar like Ariana Grande tells it like it is. She’s not afraid to lose either fans or money by speaking her mind.

Grande’s fearlessness should instill in everyone the courage to make a difference.

I know that having read the Elle interview I was inspired to join the singer in taking a stand against how those in power use divide-and-conquer tactics to keep Americans from banding together to fight common injustices.

I was motivated to pick up Grande’s baton of bravado and pass it on to readers.

This after the interview revealed that the pop singer aligns with the Black Lives Matter voices.

One day after I wrote in here recently about Eric Garner a news report was published stating his family was still seeking justice four years later for his homicide.

I seem to do the opposite of what other people do.

In a New York Times article last week analyzing the composition of the electorate at the polls in 2016 it was stated that 53 percent of white women voted for the president.

Where did that statistic come from?

I’m convinced along with a friend that Mr. Toupee will win a second term.

For the truth about why his reign is disastrous I will refer you to the Democracy Now news articles.

To remain silent on the things that effect us is to be complicit in the erosion of the human rights and liberties of American citizens.

I’m still obsessed with the latest mascara wand. Yet there comes a time to talk about other things besides my current Diorshow haul.

My goal is to tell readers to join me and Ariana Grande–two proud Italians–in refusing to be silent about the things that matter to you.

It matters to me that real wages are still stagnant even with a booming economy. That workers aren’t getting their fair share of the billion-dollar profits of their employers.

That women are being denied the right to obtain and use birth control.

That Mr. Toupee and his ilk are rolling back efforts to curb climate change.

God is Ariana Grande

ariana grande

I shot this photo on my dining room table with an overhead light fixture. Thus the hologram effect on the singer’s face.

Reading Elle is my secret joy. I quote from the magazine to encourage women blog readers to go out and buy the magazine. You can get it in Rite Aid.

The August 2018 issue of Elle  features Ariana Grande on the cover with this manifesto below her coveted mane: God is a Woman. I beg to differ: God is Ariana Grande.

In the interview with this pop singer superstar it was revealed that Grande is Italian: part Abruzzo; part Sicilian. Though I’m Sicilian too I’m as white-faced as Casper the 1970s TV show ghost.

“You’re a real white girl,” the guy who shot the first photo for my original website told me. “Are you sure you’re Sicilian?”

It makes me proud that Grande is Italian too. Italians are not all dum-dums, racists, and mafioso. With no other group of people is it okay to slander them like is commonly done with Italians. It seems like it’s open season on people with a lot of vowels in their last name.

Ariana Grande has a tattoo that reads in fine print bellissima, or most beautiful. She’s copped to having anxiety. At her concert in Manchester a bomb exploded and her fans were sent running away. Ever the trooper, she returned to Manchester for a benefit concert.

Why I ultimately like Grande is that she doesn’t care about her reputation. I’ll quote this snippet from the Elle interview: “She is loud and proud in her anti-Trumpism and has aligned herself with gun reform and Black Lives Matter.”

You don’t say? She does: “There’s a lot of noise when you say anything about anything. But if I’m not going to say it, what’s the fucking point of being here? Not everyone is going to agree with you, but that doesn’t mean I’m just going to shut up and sing my songs. I’m also going to be a human being who cares about other human beings; to be an ally and use my privilege to help educate people.”

As per the interview too: Ariana Grande has been in therapy for more than 10 years.

Did I say Ariana Grande is Italian?

A Million Thanks

Grazie.

A million thanks to everyone who has been buying a copy of Left of the Dial every month.

The royalties cover the cost of a hot chocolate at the local bake shop.

It’s a place with a few tables and a seating area with a blanket bench.

The perfect hole-in-the-wall for having a casual tet-a-tet with a guy you’ve met online.

Or for you and a friend to meet to critique each other’s writing.

One thing I would love is to get more four and five-star reviews on Amazon.

That would be the happiest goal for any author like me who’s here to make a difference not make millions.

My other manuscripts are brewing and percolating: I’m editing and revising a bunch of books I want to publish in the coming years.

More towards early fall I’ve have more details about the career book and the first novel I seek to publish within three years.

My goal in writing Left of the Dial was to uplift and inspire readers that recovery is possible.

The theme of the memoir is: “Enjoy your quirkiness.”

Life is short. Have the macaroons.

Write Your Story to Heal Your Self

Today I presented a memoir writing workshop at the 12th Annual Peer Conference at the NYU Kimmel Center. The title of the session was Write Your Story to Heal Your Self.

I firmly believe everyone can be creative. The premise of my workshop was that you can heal the self-stigma by writing your story.

Michael Jackson sang in “Man in the Mirror” that if you want to change the world you first have to change yourself.

Healing yourself is the start of healing the planet.

I told attendees that I healed via self-expression using art forms. My love of music, writing, books, and fashion helped me heal.

Here I’d like to reprint the questions listed on page 2 of the handout I gave attendees.

Feel free to Write Your Story to Heal Yourself using these Qs as a guide:

You’re a true original.

How do you define yourself?

Language is power. Written and verbal communication are a playing field.

Whoever controls their self-definition has the power to create their future.

A fortune cookie message tells us:

The sure way to predict the future is to invent it.

Here are some questions to get you thinking.

Jot down whatever comes to mind after reading them.

What is your diagnosis? How old were you when you received it?

How did your life change after the diagnosis?

What is it you don’t like about having a mental health issue?

In what way has good come of living in recovery?

What’s better about your life now?

Write about something you have that the illness didn’t take away.

Write about an event that was one of the happiest times in your life.

If you could have a super power what would it be and why?

What do you like about yourself?

What makes you a true original?

What’s your favorite color and why?

What are you the proudest of in your life?

To sum up write a six-word memoir. Use only six words to talk about yourself and your life.

Marching On

The founder of MomsRising wrote a book Marching On about how to be effective in lobbying for change. Everything she talks about is right.

This will be the last political communique for now. I want to move on.

For today I want to add my own thoughts to the author’s.

In July 1999 I fled Staten Island for Brooklyn.

The Verrazano Bridge was known as the Guinea Gangplank because Italians moved to Staten Island from Brooklyn.

I drove over the bridge in the opposite direction long before it was popular to live in Brooklyn.

For years I had a taste of Conservatism in my own family. I couldn’t abide the Republican mentality on Staten Island.

I had a preview of what was to come: about five years ago a cop killed with his bare hands Eric Garner in a choke hold on Bay Street.

The guy’s only crime was selling loose cigarettes.

Five white guys assaulted a guy I know in a bar down on Bay Street. And none of them were arrested even though one was identified in a police lineup.

They lived; Eric Garner died.

I simply can’t–okay–understand the defenses other people give to justify that cops kill mostly unarmed People of Color.

I try to understand these arguments and can’t.

Here’s the real deal: if you’re a cop who is strong enough to kill a guy with your bare hands then you don’t need to shoot a person to remain safe.

If you’re not strong enough to subdue a person without a gun should you really be a cop?

This is what I think. Years later I’m still thinking of Eric Garner.

I won’t join a protest in the streets. This is because I take medication. If I were arrested and sent to jail I’d deteriorate without treatment.

Since I can’t protest in the streets I will use this blog to speak out when I’m able to.

The cost of silence is too high for any of us.

I used to live on Staten Island. I used to walk on Bay Street. I fled that outer borough as soon as I could.

I can’t breathe thinking of what happened to Eric Garner.

This is all I wanted to write about before returning to my “regularly scheduled programming.”

Yet be aware I will most likely return to political commentating in the future.

I urge American readers to buy and read the book Marching On.

Change is possible. It starts when each of us has the courage to speak out.

Making a Difference

In the early 1990s I lived in public housing and collected a government disability check.

I lived below the poverty line in America.

On the approval letter the SSDI interviewer had written words to this effect:

“Signs and symptoms do not totally indicate schizophrenia. Yet inability to work at a job renders her eligible for benefits.”

At the time I also collected Medicaid. Living below the poverty line is no joke.

Today in Kentucky the government is set to pass a law requiring Medicaid recipients to work at a job.

The last I heard a lot of people with mental illnesses who are still actively symptomatic might not be able to work at a job if what’s going on in their head interferes with their rational thinking.

My vision of Recovery for Everyone starts with the clock running today.

My goal is to help people recover.

My focus is on what is possible when people get the right treatment at the right time.

In retrospect I can see there was some kind of benefit when I was just starting out in having been in “the system.”

People with mental health issues who receive benefits like Medicaid are doing the best we can when our illness is severe.

At this time we might require government money in the form of checks and healthcare.

To mandate that a person like you or me has to work at a job to receive Medicaid isn’t right.

It’s not right if we’re not in the right mind to be able to hold a job and do well at a job.

Yet this is the trend in government coming to where you live soon:

Denial of the benefits people require to get their lives back on track.

Those who can are writing into law the denial of benefits leaving every citizen to fend for ourselves.

Making a difference doesn’t cost a dime.

Those of us doing well have the duty to help make things better for those less fortunate.

Call or write your elected officials to tell them what you think. Join a protest if that’s more your style.

The time is now to speak out.