Covid Day 12

Still crazy after all these years – 10 a.m.

https://share.icloud.com/photos/0Sm_k_vUeFVrsMk8ynD3hAlpQ

Tobacco soothes my lungs – and grounds my speedy energy. Don’t just listen to my words claim it – watch what happens to my energy:

https://share.icloud.com/photos/079BsCmdUZ4at2k8pMoPcGpnQ

Struggling with the Covid?

To listen to me reading the text from this post click on this link:

https://share.icloud.com/photos/0NqJGF50VMOiZzfM_yH519_0g

Folks –

I have been struggling with some health issue – that I think is probably the Covid virus – for about 12 days now.

On Day 5, last Friday, I was so sick – and kind of delirious – that I started to put my affairs in order, making plans for my dog, etc.

Then, on Saturday and Sunday, I made a miraculous recovery and thought I was in the clear. Each day after that, I improved a little bit – but stayed clearly sick. Yesterday I got concerned that I wasn’t seeing very clearly.

This morning, I seemed OK for about an hour – then got smacked down with a wave of weakness and dizziness that put me back in bed, coming in and out of consciousness.

After a couple of hours, I got up – and got progressively (a little) better over the course of the day. Then tonight my lungs took a big hit – first time I have had any symptoms there.

That does have me pretty worried. The people who are closest to me know that I am at a very peaceful place in my life – really complete, especially grateful for the 20 months since I had a life-changing spiritual experience on June 26, 2019.

My blog healingvalidations.com offers a video journal of the last year and a half of my life. The very first post in the blog summarizes that story. (Click the link at the very top of the post to hear me read the post to you – that’s more fun.)

In case I do actually slide off the board, please remember:

1) From my “waking up” experience on June 26, 2019, I have had one hell of a ride. By far the most exciting time ever. Happy almost all the time – even in the most difficult of circumstances.

2) my blog is both my journal and my legacy.

There are probably 200 more videos in my phone. I talked with a friend about maybe somebody fishing them out. But the most crucial ones are already up there.

3) I am right now at the most peaceful place with Terry that I have been for a long time. He loves the roles of husband and father – and is doing a heroic job of taking care of his family during the pandemic. I am very proud of him.

4) If I go now, I leave with at least a couple of agendas incomplete:

I wanted to sue Mission Hospital and the American psychiatric Association. My blog post about mental health may still be useful somehow somewhere.

I wanted to get laid one last time.

But my message again and again from life – and from my friend Sam, who rode in the van for 10 days and who I loved as much almost as my son (4 or more videos about her, maybe only one posted – in the post about rehab programs):

The last instruction I gave her as she went into the convenience store to buy us a pack of cigarettes was “Only non-additive cigarettes. Fork over the seven dollars for American Spirits if you have to.”

When she returned with some red package that I did not recognize, I said in playful disgust,

“Oh God – menthol too. I forgot that you’re a menthol smoker.”

She gave me the sassiest, cutest little look and said just as playfully,

“You can’t always get what you want.”

I laughed really, really hard. She nailed that line better than the Rolling Stones.

Love,

Majo John

P.S. feel free to email me this weekend.

I may even bounce back and be here next week. This would not be the first time that the rumors in my head of my impending death were greatly exaggerated.

Framing Brittney Spears – and other talented girl “commodities”

Two weeks ago, I knew like nuthin’ about online abuse of girl celebrities. Now, thanks to NPR’s shows 1A and On the Media, I’m ready to do battle for these girls.

I first heard of the phenomenon of these girl celebrities being treated like property on NPR’s On the Media:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/on-the-media/id73330715?i=1000508828844

Then, yesterday, NPR’s 1A show dove deep into the same topic.

https://the1a.org/segments/britney-spears-sexism-celebrity/

In this segment, I was especially impressed with Rebecca Black. This young woman had a big hit in 2011 with her song Friday.

https://pandora.app.link/lRH6D9mhceb

Despite that song’s fun lyrics and infectious beat – and Rebecca’s tender years (13!) – she was subjected to tremendous online abuse by both professional music critics and hordes of would-be critics wielding the power of the social media Comment.

Well, Rebecca – with lots of support from her family – survived all that, learned from it and is back in black.

Her remix of that original song is a thumb-in-your-eye triumph, with sassy touches she could not have pulled off at age 13, like the line “It’s the fucking weekend, people!”

The song itself is wonderful: buoyant, celebratory and so-danceable – perfect Friday music.

But the music video is the real master class on busting ass. Cartoon visuals make it absolutely clear that Rebecca Black is back – large and in charge. It’s a blast!

https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=iCFOcqsnc9Y&feature=share

When I tweeted about all this yesterday, I looked up Rebecca’s Twitter handle: @MsRebeccaBlack. A vulnerable 13-year-old girl no longer!

Based on all these stories of young women fighting back against a corporate (and sometimes patriarchal family) establishment intent on using their talent (and often their sexuality) for others’ profit, I started creating a “Girl power!” playlist. I found some of these songs – and some of them were recommendations from Pandora.

https://pandora.app.link/SgTEY8sjceb

I had the virus last week – and lack of tobacco almost killed me.

My macrobiotic friends back in Syracuse, 40 years ago, taught me that the reason most of them smoked cigarettes – at least occasionally – was that tobacco is very yang. When their intensive spiritual pursuits got them out of balance – got them too “yin” or expanded or spacey – tobacco was a great tool to get them back in their bodies, solid again.

My expanded, positive, high energy has – for my whole life – been very hard to keep grounded.

30 years ago the psychiatrists erroneously diagnosed me as having bipolar disorder because my energy swings tend to be so intense. I certainly am way outside of the typical bell curve in this regard.

Because medical psychiatrists have refined the process of judging/labeling people into a pseudoscience, they were incapable of seeing this difference as simply different.

If the only real tool that you have in your toolbox is the hammer of diagnosis, then every struggling person you encounter looks like a nail – a disease.

Even my last wonderful psychotherapist, who I saw weekly for seven years and genuinely loved – and knew that she loved me – was still so imprisoned in the psychiatric mindset that, when I struggled to convey to her the good places that my “up” energy would take me, she dismissed all that with one sentence: “You’re not sleeping enough – you are disregulated.”

I liked and loved and trusted her so much that I allowed this dismissive judgment to crush that particular wave of my insurrection against the psychiatric power structure. It took another couple of years – and a super-powerful spiritual experience – for me to finally wriggle free from that death grip.

Here is my most complete statement to date about my relationship with tobacco.

https://share.icloud.com/photos/0GrHUvn8-G5TbZk2c4MJJswVg

Covid Day 7: Sun, 2-21 “Thanks friends and happy spring.”

Audio of Majo John reading this text:

https://share.icloud.com/photos/05OuliTY98TtcyRn_qTKNdlEw

Pretty much out of the blue, the virus ( or something) jumped me real hard over the course of last Monday.

I live way out in the country – and I have been very sick. Saturday, very worn down from several days of being sick, when a friend on the phone asked me to “promise me that you will stay alive until tomorrow”, I just couldn’t promise.

“Last night I fought sleep because I was afraid that when I woke up, I might be dead.”

I think it was the help of friends on the phone yesterday that allowed me to fight back last night and this morning.

I tell the story of my capacity to fight even for my own life kicking back in, in this emotional and scenically beautiful 8″ video, filmed in the lower pasture of the farm where little Panchita and I have mostly parked our camper van to stay indoors for the coldest months of the winter, January and February.

We still were spending our nights in the van for the whole month of December. To hear a description of our very real difficulties on Christmas Day – and the very generous and even heroic efforts by my friends to get us in out of the cold – either scroll down in this blog until you get back to December 27, or enter “Two sides of Spruce Pine” in the search bar in the upper right column at the top of this blog. You can access this search function anytime you are in this blog.

(Or click on this link:

https://healingvalidations.com/2021/01/05/two-sides-of-spruce-pine-nc/)

Thanks, Majo John

“Thanks friends and happy Spring“:

https://share.icloud.com/photos/0LkudKdmx-4IXtHK0ap7lLeFw

Adopting Panchita

Reprinted from mybuddysblog.wordpress.com)

Listen to Majo read this post:

https://share.icloud.com/photos/0a3OUQ1xQKFT3URD9QJ50m4yQ

It took me about five years after Buddy’s death to be ready for another dog.

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My Buddy, age 10

In that fifth year, I started showing signs that I was ready.  I was asking a lot of customers in my grocery store checkout line about their dogs – I was really curious about the dog, but especially about their relationship with the dog.  These sometimes extended conversations made my checkout line even slower than usual, but I often just ignored the signs of anxiety or even irritation in the person next in the line.  “Hey, we’re talking about dogs here – this is important!”

I started talking about dogs in my weekly psychotherapy sessions.  Lorrie, my psychotherapist, had recently lost her beloved dog Poppy and totally understood why this topic was important enough to use a therapy session for it.

After one of these sessions, I came home and told my roommate Marvin (who was crazy about animals, and I knew would be interested in this) “In my therapy session today, I got really clear – I’m ready for another dog.”  Marvin seemed totally unsurprised by this and said with great poise, “I’ve got your dog.”  Well, I was surprised.  “You’ve got my dog!?” Marvin explained to me that his good friend Lucy had told him that morning that her MS had progressed to the point that she could no longer pick up her tiny (5 lb.) dog Toni – and she decided that it was time to give her up.

Sherri Lynn cashier with Toni
Toni the junior cashier, at Earth Fare

Marvin – who always spent time with Toni on his frequent visits with Lucy and was very fond of the adorable little dog – had that morning promised Lucy that he would help her find a home for Toni.  So he was, in fact, completely unsurprised by my disclosure.  Toni was an extremely sweet, very special little dog and he was sure we would be a match.

When we went to visit Luci and Toni, I was immediately smitten with this adorable little yorkipoo.  Lucy was obviously having a hard time with Toni’s imminent departure, but said “We have been saying our goodbyes – our karma with each other is complete.” Lucy’s roommate said two very telling things during our half-hour visit.  Shortly after I got there, she said “Toni is really liking you already.”  And as I was leaving with Toni, she said, “She’s really happy to be going with you.”

with diana
Toni with Aunt Diana, in front of Battery Park Apartments

I adopted Toni at age 8.  We immediately became very close to each other.  People would frequently say, “She adores you.”  She was a rarified being – almost another species than a dog.  People on the street, who had never seen her before, would often say “She’s an angel” or “She’s an angelic little being.”

I had Toni for just two years.  A year into our life together, she was walking even less than usual and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.  The vet said, “Like people with heart disease, she may last a long time – or she could have a heart attack tomorrow.”

After a slow decline, she was diagnosed with liver disease and I knew her days were numbered.  Three days after the liver disease diagnosis, my friends Lisa and Karen punctured my denial: “She’s looking really terrible – it’s time to let her go.”  Three days later, I had the mobile euthanasia vet come to my apartment – and six of Toni’s best human friends joined us as we let her go.

I took Toni’s death hard.  People in our senior living facility almost immediately started asking me if I was going to get another dog.  I was very clear with them: “It’s way too soon to be asking me that – I’m not going to be ready for another dog for at least a year, maybe two.”

Toni died on October 1, 2018.  On December 22, I was at Petsmart – strictly to buy a “smart tag”.  I was doing professional dog sitting and was about to have a seven-day overnight pet sit with Freddie, a very cute 20 lb rat terrier.  I got the gig through Rover.com and Rover recommended that for an extended job like this you should get a smart tag with your information on it – and put that tag on their collar for the duration of your visit with them.

As I was looking at the tags at Petsmart, the overhead speaker announced that Rusty’s Rescue from Marion, NC, was having a dog adoption day.  Much to my surprise, I had just a few days earlier begun thinking about getting another dog.  On this particular Saturday, I was very clear with myself that no way was I yet going to get another dog – “But let’s go just look at them, to get some idea of what I’m looking for.” Famous last words, right?

The first two dogs I looked at were very cute, but didn’t stir my heart.  The third dog – sitting way back in her crate, was a chihuahua.  I have never liked chihuahuas.  But she looked at me.  She stared at me with her big brown eyes.  For what seemed like an eternity, she just would not break eye contact with me. 

When I finally broke the eye contact, I think I said out loud “My doggie.”  I took her for a walk around the parking lot, but I knew that was just a formality – she was already mine, and maybe even more so I was hers.

in Susie's car
Pancho in one of her favorite places – in the car.

By the time I drove away with Pancho, we were already totally bonded.  Three days later I took her on a walk on my favorite stretch of the Mountain-to-Sea Trail, where I had taken Buddy many times.  I knew that a leash was unnecessary.  She stayed right at my heal for the 30-minute walk.  We belonged to each other.

FB profile 4-19
Panchita and I bonded fast – like right away.

 

How to approach my videos of Appalachia in the year of the pandemic…

Listen to this text in Majo’s voice (10″):

https://share.icloud.com/photos/04aBX9C5VIBavF-pjuX4Lp_kg

Last April, at age 73, I fled my subsidized senior apartment building in Asheville, North Carolina to prevent being quarantined in that building.

I spent the next week living out of my car in Asheville. I posted information about the events of that week on Facebook. At the end of that week, a good friend of mine – concerned about me from what she was seeing about me on Facebook – texted me that she had a little walk-in basement apartment in her own home out in the mountains, and that I should come out there to get away from the mean streets of pandemic Asheville.

My little dog Panchita and I spent six weeks out at Petula’s house in the mountains. (I have given her the name “Petula” to protect her privacy.)

On day 2 out in the mountains, I realized why I had been so unhappy in Asheville. “I was meant to be living out in the mountains all along!”

The power of nature out in the Appalachian Mountains transformed me – and my little chihuahua – in the next few weeks.

When it was time to leave my friend’s home, Pancho and I pushed farther north – in search of a new home. We first went to Marshall, NC, a very sweet town nestled on the beautiful French Broad River – full of artists displaced by the steeply-rising studio rents in boom-town Asheville.

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Pancho the wonder-Chihuahua

From there, we pushed further north to Burnsville and Bakersville – then over the sacred Roan Mountain to the sleepy little town of Roan Mountain, Tennessee.

Several people now have told me that when I finally settle somewhere out in the north country, I should consider the Toe River area and the Celo community. I’ve got a hunch that’s going to turn out to be accurate.

Four months before the Covid hit America, I had left my “retirement job” as a grocery store cashier to pursue my creative vision of an innovative consulting and coaching practice – that would be driven equally by my lifelong passions of storytelling and dance.

The pandemic made sure that there was no chance of getting this new business off the ground. My Social Security check never covers our expenses for the whole month – and often we have spent the second half of the month being quite poor.

I worked for years in a black VA hospital, raised a black son – and have been generally sculpted to have a special relationship with people of color. The “summer of racial reckoning” has figured heavily in my experience of the last eight months.

Driving a big, very old van which we park in random places has naturally drawn the attention of local police, in every town where we have spent much time. I have had almost entirely great experiences with police.

I never can know how much of that very positive experience with police has to do with me being white, but I have yet to encounter a country cop who I could spot as being more racist than the rest of us white people. I have had extraordinary conversations with several police officers about the dialectic between laws or rules and personal freedom.

And then there has been the constant specter of our 45th president, that has cast such a giant shadow on our country.

One of my central experiences has been to fall in love with the people of Appalachia – who are mostly not unusually racist, but suffer from lack of experience with diversity. Although they mostly support our current president, they are not stupid at all – but suffer from a radical lack of good information.

The serious lack of good broadband coverage in rural America is a very significant civil rights issue of our time. (I have spent extraordinary amounts of time hunting for a good Wi-Fi signal.)

Along the way, a generous $5000 grant from a good friend allowed me to move up from the little Suzuki mini SUV – which had been a torture chamber to attempt to sleep in, and after two months of very little sleep had left me toxically exhausted – to a very old Ford Econoline camper van.

I dubbed my cargo truck Narwal the Whale in honor of her 6000 pound weight – and “A turning radius like an ocean liner”.

Narwal has been a central figure in our journey. She has had a world of electrical problems and tends to run out of gas because of a broken gas gauge.

But she has a bed, she is virtually indestructible, she has gotten us down roads that she never should have – and even though she has sometimes gotten stuck, we have always gotten out before the end of the day.

Narwal the Whale – ’88 Ford Econoline camper van

At this point, we are taking shelter for the winter – out of our camper van – in a little apartment way up in the mountains north of Spruce Pine, North Carolina. But we are committed to our mobile lifestyle and will go back out on the open road in Narwal the Whale come spring. I love asking my little dog Pancho, at the beginning of each day, “Where shall we live tomorrow?”

I started our adventure as a writer. I guess I am still a writer, but I have also morphed into a videographer. Most of my writing these days consists of my spontaneous observations while I am videotaping the towns and countryside of the Appalachian mountains.

At this point, I have well upwards of 200 videos – which I cherish as documentation of our journey of personal transformation – and many of which I think may be helpful to other people.

I have learned a lot out in these mountains, especially about myself and my dog – but my background as a psychologist and a management consultant has caused me to muse about topics including “the demise of humanistic capitalism in America”, “the ongoing rape of Appalachia”, “the systematic oppression of homeless people”, “why alpha dogs make bad cops and women make good ones” and other topics.

My personal background includes a lifelong passion for and commitment to personal growth and healing – and 30 years of being misdiagnosed as having bipolar disorder, and being heavily drugged with psychotropic medications during that whole period.

You will hear in many of these videos how totally thrilled I am to be drug-free and fully alive. And I do have many things to say about “the problem of pain”.

I now believe that most of psychology and psychiatry can be boiled down to “What do we do with our human pain?” Philosophers have mused about this question through the ages – and the Buddha’s first principle is that “life is suffering”.

I have many pointed things to say about what I consider to be an out-of-control psychiatry industry.

Several of my posts deal with an event that occurred last June back in Asheville. I had been punched in the face and reported to the big, newly-“for-profit” hospital – asking to be treated for a possible concussion and/or broken nose. I also reported that “I think I’m kind of delirious.”

The ER intake team saw in my records my background of psych hospitalizations and locked me up on a psych unit. They never treated me for a concussion or a broken nose – both of which their own ER later confirmed that I had. My discharge summary from the hospital, after 48 hours, made no mention of any medical complaints.

In this post I offer two videos;

The first video suggests ideas about how to make fruitful use of my videos.

I shot the second video about 15 minutes after the first one. It deals with the topic of “good things and bad things”. It flows naturally out of that first video, because the first video ends with me discovering that I have left my car lights on and that my battery is dead.

One might think that having a broken-down car would be a bad thing, but maybe not….

How to watch these videos (13″):

https://share.icloud.com/photos/01jErY3ZCU6BPHGYlqD-4vkBg

Good things and bad things (10″):

https://share.icloud.com/photos/0FDVD9DRJDTMkb_ELKJ1ZLyQQ