The Magnolia Story

Read it now: The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines with Mark Dagostino.

I’m able to watch HGTV’s Fixer Upper house decorating and remodeling show. It features the husband Chip and wife Joanna who have four kids.

The show was an instant sensation. The book is a revelation.

The Magnolia Story is more uplifting and inspiring than any book I’ve read recently.

I recommend buying the book and keeping it on hand to read and savor.

Joanna’s wisdom is the prime selling point for buying the book:

“It was such a blessing to find myself thriving in the middle of the pain. Unless you find a way to do that, there’s always going to be this fake illusion that once you get there–wherever ‘there’ is for you–you’ll be happy. But that’s just not life.

If you can’t find happiness in the ugliness, you’re not going to find it in the beauty, either.”

I’m buying a copy to give as a gift.

More than this, the underlying theme of perpetual miracles given to Chip and Joanna Gaines can seem impossible for others to obtain.

The duo kept having an endless spate of triumph just when the hard times threatened to do them in. It’s best to overlook that they were luckier than a lot of people have been. Their financial struggles came through loud and clear in the book. It proves that they were not privileged; they were just fortunate to have benefactors who believed in them.

Finding your own benefactors could be the sole topic of a book of its own.

I say: use this book to your advantage in crafting your own “magnolia story” for yourself and your loved ones.

Be joyous when others succeed. Be proud when you succeed. Get support from others and give support to others in times of need.

Power your own flowering story’s book with love and compassion.

That’s the true message of The Magnolia Story: kindness can be a raft carrying us over to a better place.

 

The Thoughtful Dresser

Catherine Hill was a holocaust survivor.

After she got out of the concentration camp she made fashion her passion–and recovered because of it.

Her life story proves that fashion isn’t frivolous. You can read in detail about her life in the Linda Grant book The Thoughtful Dresser: The Art of Adornment, The Pleasures of Shopping, and Why Fashion Matters.

An image consultant I employ recommended this book. It’s right up there in the pantheon of great fashion books.

Sent to the camp, Catherine was given a cotton sack dress to wear. She cut the hem into a strip and tied it around her head like a bandanna. The Nazis didn’t like that of course.

After she moved to Canada, she opened and ran for years a successful high-end fashion boutique.

At her husband’s request (he was soon to be her ex) she had the yellow star tattoo removed from her arm.

The yellow star is a reminder of how hate turned the Nazis against Jewish people, against those with disabilities, and against the infirm.

As soon as I was diagnosed with SZ I thought to myself: “Right–and if I lived in Germany during WWII–as a person with SZ I’d have been sent to the gas chamber.”

That was one of my first thoughts after getting the diagnosis I kid you not.

Catherine Hill survived–I hear she’s writing a memoir and I’d love to read it.

I met a senior citizen holocaust survivor 17 years ago for about five minutes. I was so distraught that she’d been in a camp. Yet the better thing was that she got out and lived to an old age.

I know another guy whose mother fled with him to escape the Nazis–and they were able to come to America.

I think of these things now. The point of writing this blog entry is that each of us needs to challenge the haters in society and in the world. We need to actively take a stand.

We are on the cusp of the destruction of human rights all over again–a far greater threat to our planet than any environmental hazard.

Acting self-serving, promoting a self-interested agenda–is not the way to live our lives. The level of hate in society–the divisive rhetoric– has reached a tipping point.

Hating a person you haven’t ever met, calling them a racist, or in the opposite killing them or imprisoning them–is the new Great American Shame.

When Mr. Toupee applauds cops, we’ve sunk to a new low. When AG Jeff Sessions institutes mandatory minimums for prison sentences for non-violent drug offenders, there’s no hope for repairing what’s broken in society.

It’s also a great shame that I or you or anyone can be the object of hate by someone who hasn’t even met us.

The yellow stars might be gone, yet they can’t be forgotten.

George Santayana was oft-quoted: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

A Million Thanks

I want to give a million thanks to everyone’s who’s bought a copy of Left of the Dial in print and Kindle e-book versions.

So far Amazon hasn’t changed the wording of the book description even though I requested this two weeks ago. I hope for the changes to go through by the end of this week.

I changed a sentence to “The book gives hope for healing by doing what you love.”

I cut out “achieve your pre-illness dreams” and replaced the end of that sentence with “have a full and robust life.”

That’s because the point of recovery isn’t that a person has to be able to achieve their pre=illness dreams. The point is that you can have a different dream that’s even better than your original dream after you’re in recovery.

I’m writing a career guide. I’m writing a novel. I will have more information about these books in the coming summer.

I’ll end here with a million thanks to everyone for tuning in to this blog.

Rock On, Females!

Rock on, females!

Though I find it all very sad that when a woman turns 50 or older–and she dares look like she’s fifty or older–she’s considered not attractive.

It’s women editors at magazines setting this tone of an expiration date. They’re complicit in this vanity trap–for perpetuating that a woman is only as good as she looks.

We’re complicit for buying magazines that endlessly preach salvation from old age via anti-wrinkle products.

Even Deborah Harry of Blondie has gotten a facelift. She’s 71, and still rocking. Harry was interviewed in Bazaar recently.

Facelift aside, I commend Harry for having her own sense of style, her own imaginative use of language, and her own tempo. Harry marched to her own beat–and Blondie now has out their 11th album.

I say: if you want to get a little wrinkle relief or get Botox or do something: that’s your choice. More power to you for wanting to make yourself happy.

Only I just think it’s sad that women often choose to go under the knife not because they want to be empowered. A lot of them might be doing it because they think they’re all washed up at 50. There’s a difference.

By all means, go under the knife if that’s what you want to do. It’s a personal choice that each of us has the right to make.

It’s just that I think there’s a double standard: women are held to a higher standard of perfection. And men get to go around acting like they’re hot shit regardless of the scowl on their faces or how they treat other people.

I’m going to use a photo here of Deborah Harry. In a way, it might illustrate the case for a good facelift. That’s not my intention.

My goal is to show women that we can be rocking at 50 and beyond, at 60 and beyond, and yes–at 70 and beyond.

You live that long–you get to choose how you live your life. Rock on.

deborah harry

 

 

 

Insanity

Wise up:

The current Republican alternative healthcare bill that was voted into law denies benefits to people living with mental health conditions. It’s stricter and more severe and drastically reduces spending on mental health. It increases premiums for the very people–those of us with mental health conditions–that have historically been unable to pay on our own for healthcare.

This is insanity.

Now more than ever none of us can afford to remain to remain silent on the things that matter to us.

It matters to me that the U.S. gets wise and institutes universal public healthcare.

Some of the very people who voted for Republicans are the ones paying $515/every 3 months with their own money for asthma inhalers–thousands of dollars a year on healthcare.

Now Mr. Toupee’s tax reform is supposed to delete from the tax code the ability to deduct medical expenses if you itemize your deductions on your tax return.

That leaves the asthma inhaler folks paying through the nose–pun intended–for healthcare without being able to get a tax break for doing this.

Sane? I think not.

I don’t endorse this insanity.

Speaking Out as a Form of Self-Care

I like this Martin Luther King, Jr. quote:

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

It matters to me that I champion what “pro-choice” really means in its various manifestations:

The right to choose how we want to live. The right to choose love not hate. (Or the right yes indeed to choose hate if that’s how we want to live.)

It matters to me how people treat each other.

It matters to me that I speak out against hate and yes oppression.

In a way, people with mental health challenges have been repressed from speaking out and oppressed from having power.

I’ve talked in here before about my analogy to slices of the pie in how people compete with each other.

It comes down to self-care. When no one else seems to care about you it’s imperative that you care about yourself.

Refrain from internalizing the message that there’s something wrong about you. That there’s no hope for what you can do.

In 1988 I had to fight to be taken seriously. I rebelled the role of mental patient. Which is ultimately why I wrote about other things in Left of the Dial. I wrote about how I used fashion and music to heal. It was revolutionary because I didn’t focus on symptoms.

It matters to me–it has mattered to me from Day 1 of my recovery–that none of us are identified by our symptoms or our illness or our lack.

As an Author and a Dilettante/Lover I’ll continue to champion treating other people with dignity. I’ll continue to take my message of hope and healing wherever I go: on the street; on the stage; on the pages of the blog.

It’s 2017. We can’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. We can’t be afraid to challenge the haters. It’s time to rise up and use our voices to tell our stories.

Recovery is a human rights issue. I might be the only one who is so blunt to state it like this. I want to cry when I hear that a person has been institutionalized for 12 years or longer. The greatest thing is that they got out.

Everyone has the right to be supported and cheered on in their pursuit of having a full and robust life living in recovery. Now “full and robust” will look and be defined differently for each of us.

 

Say Yes to Mental Health Treatment

The Republicans are set to vote into law today the gutting of mental health services enacted under the Affordable Care Act while President Obama was in office.

The Republicans are set to roll back progress by eliminating mental health treatment and charging higher premiums for fewer kinds of mental health service.

The Republicans are set to deny mental health constituents coverage for addiction treatment.

It will become illegal to have an abortion. Yet when your fetus turns 18 and develops schizophrenia or another mental illness or a drug addiction there will now be no treatment available for them. Write your elected officials and thank them for this.

Makes sense right? Makes sense to have voted into power the people who are voting today to eliminate funding for mental health services for the very people who need it.

Cue the sarcasm. Is there an emoji for sarcasm? You know where I stand.

If you live in New York State here are the telephone numbers of the elected officials you can call to tell them to vote NO for the MacArthur Amendment that denies citizens treatment for mental health.

Rep. Lee Zeldin Long Island 202-225-3826
Rep. Peter King Long Island 202-225-7896
Rep. Dan Donovan Staten Island 202-225-3371
Rep. John Faso Upper Hudson Vally 202-225-5614
Rep. Elise Stefanik North Country 202-225-4611
Rep. Claudia Tenney Binghamton 202-225-3665
Rep. Tom Reed Finger Lakes Region 202-225-3161
Rep. John Katko Syracuse 202-225-3701
Rep. Chris Collins Western NY 202-225-5265
Tell your congressperson that:
  • The American Health Care Act would leave millions of Americans without mental health coverage and strip Medicaid funding.
  • The recently-introduced “MacArthur Amendment” would let states get waivers allowing health insurance plans to¬†not cover mental health and substance use treatment and charge people with mental illness more.
  • It’s outrageous to even suggest that mental health coverage is optional and to charge people more because they have a mental health condition.
  • Medicaid coverage is also under threat. It covers important mental health services that help people with mental illness get better and stay better.
  • Please tell Representative_______ to keep what works for mental health and REJECT the American Health Care Act and the MacArthur Amendment. Thank you.

I telephoned my guy in Washington. The line was busy. I’ll call again to try to get through.

I’m posting this same blog entry in the Flourish blog.