Redwood Baths & Bulletproof Coffee Keep Me Sane…Sort Of

fphoto-sixteenHenry Cowell Redwoods State Park, Fall Creek Unit, California

photo courtesy of David Baselt

 

This post was originally four times as long, and it covered too many topics. Thankfully, I saw the literary light and I deleted most of it.

Some folks might think that writing profusely about all sorts of things sounds rather manic; if anything, I’m headed for the opposite direction. That’s due to my friend’s death. I miss her. I wish she was still around to read my post and write one of her trademark witty comments. She sure knew how to make me chuckle.

Apart from my not quite believing she’s gone, the fall is a rough time of year for many of us. I love the fall. Those who are close to me know that I consider Halloween to be the most important day of the year, but in the past I’ve become manic or depressed in October.

Although I’ve been stable for three years, I get nervous. That’s not that long a time. I use my Sunbox, which I’ll write about next week, and I’m doing something new that’s helping me ground myself, literally.

Redwood Baths

Yes, redwood baths. I’m not the only one to love these tall trees. One writer did a fair job of expressing his reverence for the “giants of the forest”. You might’ve heard of him. 

The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.

John Steinbeck

Recently I learned that the trees emanate far more than silence and awe. In Japan there’s the practice of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing.  The term “forest bath” is misleading, but I love it. Forest baths are simply mellow walks among the trees in which one aims to be present and notice the beautiful environment.

When I first went on redwood strolls, they resembled hasty showers rather than relaxing baths. I wasn’t taking in my magnificent surroundings. Instead of gazing up at the tall redwoods to see ethereal shafts of daylight peeping through their branches, I stared at my feet plodding along the dirt trail. 

I ignored the refreshing, cool scent that was a unique combination of Fall Creek’s redwoods and the other trees. It took time for me to change my old habits, but after reading an article about the physical, spiritual and emotional significance of forest baths, I began regarding the forest in a totally different way.

Now, brace yourself for some dry statistics – they’re very convincing and cool, so that’s why I’m including them.

Studies have shown that 20-30 minute-long forest baths are enough to reap health benefits. A 2010 study published in Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine found that forest bathing lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Some benefits are derived from inhaling the forest air. The trees emit organic compounds called phytoncides such as alpha-pinene and d-limonene; these are substances that are also found in some essential oils such as grapefruit. (I worked at an essential oil practitoner college in the 1990’s, so I got a big kick out of that fact!)

Check this out: these amazing phytoncide compounds not only protect the trees and plants from insects and disease  – they can benefit people. A 2009 study published in the International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology cited a direct link between inhaling phytoncides and an increase in the body’s natural killer, or NK cells.

NK cells, a major force in our immune systems, help identify and destroy infected, damaged, harmful Satan cells. They’re considered important in the study of cancer. Another study published in the International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology found that forest bathing significantly increased the activity of NK cells by an average of about 50 percent. Whoa! I like that.

If that stat wasn’t cool enough, there’s another convincing reason why forest baths can help anyone suffering from depression and anxiety:

the power of the color green

Color theory studies have shown that green triggers emotional responses including relaxation, calmness, happiness, comfort, peace, hope, and even excitement. One reason the color green is thought to generate positive responses is due to our genetics. Green environments signaled to our ancestors that there was the presence of three essential aspects of survival: food, shelter, and water. 

I found the Japanese tradition and studies fascinating. It was validating to learn my humble walks had health benefits galore. Next time I want to pass on a forest walk, I’ll remember that it’s free and it’ll make me feel better…plus I won’t be billed for it by any greedy insurance company!

Bulletproof Coffee 

wp-1474308555434.jpg

A Fun Public Scene: Avonlea wanted to try one sip of the pricey java; naturally she spit it out and entertained the Silicon Valley commuters!

After reading ketogenic articles and the bestselling book Keto Clarity, I finally bit the bullet and tried bulletproof coffee. (If you caught that pun, you’re a quick one!)

A couple weeks ago Avonlea and I went to the high-end cafe Coffee Cat in Scotts Valley. Scotts Valley is home to many Silicon Valley commuters and their multi-million dollar abodes. 

Coffee Cat has a super-cute logo that someone painted on this Fairy Door

wp-1474307793244.jpg

I was excited to learn that Coffee Cat sold their own version of bulletproof coffee they called “Ironman Coffee” to avoid being sued by Silicon Valley bulletproof founder Dave Asprey. Silicon Valley is only 30 minutes away, so it’s entirely possible he could find out about the breach and sue away.

When I tried my Ironman coffee I was disappointed.

unknown

My cup cost $5.50 for about 10 ounces, and consisted of coffee, Kerrygold butter and MTC, which are medium chain triglyceride fatty acid – yummers  The coffee had all the right elements, but it tasted pretty gross. There went $5.50 + tip down the drain.

Last week I had the opportunity to try a homemade version of bulletproof coffee at my friend’s house. She combined about 8 oz. of Peet’s Major Dickinson’s coffee, a heaping teaspoon of organic butter, and a tablespoon of organic coconut oil. She simply mixed it together with a spoon instead of using a gold-plated $500 blender that also doubles as a kareoke machine.

I didn’t have my hopes up high that her concoction would be palatable, let alone delectable. I was pleasantly surprised to find it very yummy and had two more cups!

Inspired, I bought the same ingredients and made my own version. It was far better than Coffee Cat’s Ironman fiasco, but not quite as good as my friend’s cup, and I can’t figure out why that’s the case…it’s a mystery! If I figure it out, I’ll write about it here.

Anyway, articles such as this one and a blog post (and comments) by Dr.  Georgia Ede imply that the ketogenic diet can make a major difference in bipolar disorder symptoms. If you haven’t read any of this material before, it’s worth checking out.

I’d like to end this post on a positive note, but unfortunately that’s not happening today….

The Lose It! Update – It’s Not Going So Well For Us

images-1

Awesome blogger Bradley (Insights of A Bipolar Bear) and I are struggling with our healthy eating & exercise routine, but we aren’t going to give up. We’re still using Lose It!’s website. Nothing’s gonna stop us now.

Cheesy 80’s Rock Will Never Die…

If you’d like to join us, sign up for free at www.loseit.com. and search for the “Wondrous Writers group”.

Thanks for reading, and above all else, have a great Thursday night, Friday & weekend! See you next Friday.

love,

Dyane

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press in October, 2017.

Unknown-1

Sadness Behind the Smile

wp-1474027596625.jpg

I’m at my daughter’s beautiful middle school library. This corner overlooks the Santa Cruz Mountain redwoods where I go “forest bathing”, a.k.a. shinrin-yoku, with Lucy. (Check out this cool article about the Japanese health tradition.) 

 

Like many of you, I’m grieving over the suicide of Ulla, which I wrote about last week. I think about her often. I even talk to her in the car when I’m alone – it’s a bit crazy, I know, but hell, maybe she’s listening…whilst rolling her eyes. 

I found out that her beloved dog Solo has been in a friend’s temporary care. A permanent home is being sought. You can visit Ulla’s final blog post for more information in the comments section: https://theblahpolar.wordpress.com/2016/08/18/dont-what-shut-up/

20150518_065519

Solo

 

My Memoir Manuscript Update

My Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder ms is due to the publisher in 15 days. I know it’s only the beginning of a long editorial process, but I feel like I’m running mile 25 of a 26.2 marathon and I’m so close, yet so far away from the finish line.

I’ve been writing this memoir, on and off, since 2007, so it has felt like forever, and that’s a mighty long time. 

Speaking of Prince, you know I’ll be buying this memoir when it’s published even if it may seem a bit opportunistic in terms of its timing since Prince’s death is still recent.

I keep track of upcoming memoirs by searching on Amazon and through subscribing to the excellent blog Memoir Notes by author Lynette Davis. Like Lynette, I love reading good memoirs – I always have.

Anyway, I’m getting excited to move forward in publishing process, but I remain nervous as hell. I was instructed by Post Hill Press a few weeks ago to complete a metadata form. Have you heard of those? I was clueless, so I’ve been taking a crash course in what I call metadata madness.

My particular metadata form requires all kinds of info. such as:

a short book description, back cover text, a one sentence description of my book, search phrase lists, BISAC categories, marketing plan ideas, cover ideas, social media platform details, endorsements and blurbs, comparative titles, and my nemesis: the plot synopsis… I’m dizzy just from reading that!!!

Some of these items are parts of a standard book proposal, but my proposal didn’t include all of them. I wasn’t asked to submit this info. until now. There’s more to the form, but you get the idea…meanwhile, I might dress up as a metadata form for Halloween. Here it is in all its glory:

wp-1474029766514.jpg

Happy Halloween – let me give you a headache instead of candy!

I’m still not caught up with some of your blogs, but I promise to catch up soon because I’m missing out, you know?😉

I’ll be back next Friday with the latest excitement in this neck of the banana slug-filled redwoods. (My alma mater’s mascot is the banana slug. No offense to banana slug aficionados, but I’d prefer the mountain lion, another local legend, or a dolphin!)

imagesAt least this slug reads…

I wish you a good weekend!

love to you all,

Dyane

————–

p.s. Lose It! – We’re Losers and We Like It! Update

Bradley, blogger extraordinaire (Insights of A Bipolar Bear) and I continue to encourage one another regarding our weight loss quest/exercising/healthy eating on Lose It!’s website. We’re struggling these days, but we’re not giving up, ya hear that Bradley? If you’d like to join us you can sign up for free at www.loseit.com. Search for the “Wondrous Writers group” & say hello.

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press in October, 2017.

Unknown-1

Losing Ulla

20150518_065519

Ulla’s dog Solo

 

Ulla. Where do I begin?

When I told someone yesterday my friend died by suicide, adding that we never met face-to-face, I sensed that she didn’t understand the power of a virtual friendship.

Of course that’s not her fault – if you haven’t experienced being friends with an online “kindred spirit”, it’s hard to relate to the idea. But I was frustrated all the same because it was a genuine friendship.

How I hate writing that word “was”.

Ulla was a better friend to me than most of the friends I’ve ever had; hell, she was there for me during some of my toughest times far more than some of my relatives.

Oh Ulla.

She supported my writing, and — this was big– she helped me grieve my father’s death. She truly understood what it was like to lose a parent since she had been through it too.

She sent me e-books. She made me laugh through her original, feisty, always-brilliant blog posts. I looked forward to her provocative, witty, informative linkdumps – check out one example here

Even when she was way down, Ulla would check in with me out of the blue to see how I was doing.

We loved going off about crazy Scientology – Jeez, they gave us SO MUCH to make fun of – we couldn’t help it!!!!

Unknown

Thetan looks like a lady

 

Best of all, Ulla sent me pictures of Solo, her sweet hound.

dsc_023120150407_11000920150402_141844

We tossed around the idea of her making a meme of my Lucy, and she gave me this fabulous image:

lucymd-1

I feel guilty that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) didn’t help her out of the evil treatment-resistant bipolar depression. When Ulla began asking me about my ECT experiences, I shared how the treatments helped me.

I was suicidal after my father died, and once again after I relapsed after  tapering off meds. (Word to the wise: just don’t do it!) Anyway, I had ECT each of those times, and it brought me out of those horrendous states.

While I didn’t feel happy after the rounds of ECT, I stopped thinking that I had to kill myself all the time.

She tried ECT. It didn’t work. Should I have encouraged her the way I did? Maybe I shouldn’t have been so gung-ho about it. If I go down that route, I feel worse. Ulla would probably tell me to shut the f*ck up and remind me that she wasn’t a puppet – ever the meticulous researcher, she made an informed choice.

When I found out the news about Ulla, even the lithium coursing through my bloodstream couldn’t prevent tears from falling down my face. (The salt usually does keep my tears at bay; it’s a very odd feeling. But that’s one shitty, unhealthy side effect this drama queen could do without. We need to be able to cry sometimes.)

Upon seeing their mom’s twisted-up face shiny with rare tears, my daughters wrapped their arms around me. A concerned Lucy circled around us and barked as if ten ambulances were speeding past our front door. 

Ulla.

Platitudes come to my mind:

“She’s in a better place.” “She’s at peace.” “She’s with her mom now.”

I’ll be honest with you – I want to believe those cliches are true. I want to believe Ulla’s okay, and that she’s no longer suffering. And here’s the final kicker:

I want to meet her…and thank her…. in person in “Some Fantastic Place” (a beautiful Squeeze song written about their friend who died) because I’ll never get the chance to do that here.

On Saturday, September 10th (World Suicide Prevention Day) Jill of My Spanglish Familia and Yvette of Yve’s Corner have organized an online vigil at this link at Ulla’s blog Blahpolar, the blog I’ve mentioned numerous times as being my #1 favorite.

Yve and Jill invite us to: Bring…your fondest memories, your favourite posts, some ‘food’, ‘flowers’, ‘candles’, and let’s honour her struggle and mourn her loss together.”

I’ll be there.

 

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press in October, 2017. 

Post Hill

It’s World Insecure Writers Day!

Since there aren’t enough official “Days” and “Months” in the year, i.e.

World Bipolar Day and World Gourmet Donut Month,

I’ve decided to petition Congress for yet another day:

World Insecure Writers Day

Why not?

(Okay, okay, I’m kidding!)

Today’s post will be rather silly, superficial, and my personal favorite: whiny. (I hope you’ll enjoy reading it regardless of the content.)

A wise blogger once wrote, “Our blogs are the equivalent of our living rooms.” 

That quote resonates within me. 

Welcome to my living room – I vacuumed it just for you!

This is a time of year that breeds insecurity for me. While I love the fall, it’s also an unsettling reminder that I was diagnosed with postpartum bipolar (bipolar, peripartum onset) in October, 2007. Even without my insecurity woes, I’d be waffling around in my soul.

In last week’s vlog I referred to a few incidents that were utterly ridiculous, but threw me for a loop. I promised to write about them this week, and true to my word, here goes:

First I was freaked out by an unpleasant, blog-related incident. Then I was unnerved by two writing-related schmuppywuppies. 

Schmuppywuppy means a weird coincidence that reminds one of yearned-for dreams that were never realized, touched with a soupcon of envy. It’s the dark, dreary side of wistful. It’s also a good name for a pet fish.

My Yucky Bloggy Bummer

After writing over 350 posts, I never had a single request from anyone to delete his/her name from a post. That changed last month. And the irony of the whole enchilada was that I only wrote glowing remarks about the person – damn, I’d love someone to write what I wrote about me. The way I saw it, I was giving the person’s services great P.R.

The reason for his request made no sense to me, or to Craig, or to the girls, or to Lucy or even to our new, erudite Asyrian hamster Copper. I’d write more, but since this person is local, I’ll leave it at that for now.

I realized the reason for this person’s request had to be STIGMA.

Yes, gruesome, bipolar-related stigma! (Don’t you think that could be a Halloween costume? STIGMA!)

My gut feeling was that this individual didn’t want anyone on the planet to think he had anything to do with a bipolar-related blog because — gasp — someone might think HE had bipolar too. (Perish the thought!)

As I mentioned, this doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but it threw me all the same. Apart from the stigma theory, I couldn’t imagine what else could cause him to feel that way unless this person thought I was a sh*tty writer and wanted no assocation with my blog. Was I being paranoid? Yes.

I’d love your thoughts on this one…don’t hold back. (Well, maybe hold back a little bit. I’m so sensitive…)

What Was In My High School Water Fountain Drinking Water?

At least two people in my high school class of ’87 became best-selling authors. One author is a junior high friend I lost touch with when we attended separate colleges. Her name is Aimee Bender. (I’ve briefly mentioned her here.)  

41sApFenXrL._AC_US348_QL65_

Made into a feature film!

The other writer is Norman Ollestad; I only knew him in passing.

And this writer also attended my high school – you might have heard of her – but she was, and remains in a class all her own!

41aYAiLhihL._AC_US348_QL65_

 

So, a few days ago I received the latest e-letter from a publisher I admire named Counterpoint. I met the head of this publishing company last year at a writer’s conference. He was super-cool and even gave me useful advice. 

As usual, I scanned Counterpoint’s e-letter and I saw that they’re representing Norman’s second book. The newsletter editor went on and on about how fabulous a writer Norman is. (I’m sure he is brilliant, but I didn’t read his first book because I was too depresssed at the time.)

I’m happy for him because he has gone through hell, and he turned his agony into a bestseller.

51epFITiqaL._AC_US348_QL65_

Suffice to say that when I saw Norman’s name in Counterpoint’s e-letter, and read accolade after accolade, I thought, Look at him, he’s the type of author you’ll never be: super-successful!!!

That thought came and went because even though I’m not going to get on the NYT list, I can make peace with that. It’s just all the other writing-related insecurities I have a problem with handling well.

The last thing that happened was kind of funny.  

There are a lot of writers in this area, but most of them aren’t professional and they do it as a hobby. There are many independently published local books with titles such as The Magic of CannabisJerry Garcia Is God, and How I Found Myself Dancing in the Pagan Rain

After my girls’ school started last week, I read all the introductory material from their teachers. One teacher’s welcome letter particularly interested me because she wrote her husband is an author whose newest book is coming out soon. I snarkily thought, I bet his book is called Banana Slugs and Me – A Love Story or something like that!

Of course I Googled the author’s name to discover that he had a big-time agent, a glitzy website, an exciting book tour, and, to top it off, his book is being published by one of my dream publishers.

This publisher is the one that famously took a big, controversial chance on publishing Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time, who is one of my favorite authors. (The publisher is Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, now a division of MacMillan.)

After reading the author’s lengthy bio, I found out that some of his previous books were compared to my junior high classmate Aimee Bender. Small world, eh?

What can I learn from all this?

What might you learn from any of this?

It’s okay to be jealous, and it’s okay to be petty, but keep on moving. 

Keep on writing, or keep on doing whatever you enjoy, even when you get insecure about your ability. Move through those negative thoughts, distract yourself, do anything but linger in the great sinkhole of envy and insecurity because these thoughts can drain the spark out of us faster than when Lucy chases after a squirrel.

Take a lesson from Arrow’s song Groove Master from The Mighty Quinn soundtrack. Arrow reminds us to keep on moving! (If you haven’t seen The Mighty Quinn, you need to put it on your bucket list.) 

I know there has to be another lesson to learn from the recent events, but I have to pick up the kids at school. I’ll let you know if anything comes to mind next Friday. In the meantime, happy September!

XoXo

Keep on groovin’,

Dyane

Lose It! – We’re Losers and We Like It!!

My friend Bradley, author of the excellent Insights of A Bipolar Bear and I are continuing to use Lose It!’s website. We encourage one another to reach our goals, especially now that it’s harder to eat well for a myriad of reasons. If you’d like to join us, leave a message in the comment section or sign up for free at www.loseit.com. Search for the “Wondrous Writers group”.

 

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

 

Unknown-1

Cool Depression/Bipolar Books, Writing Insecurity & Dog Tongues

Cool Depression/Bipolar Books, Writing Insecurity & Dog Tongues

Dear Awesome Blogging Friends,

Even if you don’t have the time, interest, or patience to watch my entire vlog, please check out Lucy’s yawn at approximately the 4:20 mark – does she have a long tongue or what?

LucyYawn

“Didn’t you know that long tongues are a sign of high intelligence?”

Not my best shot; yes, I’m tired today! Sigh

The two books I mention here are:

The Other Side of Silence: A Psychiatrist’s Memoir of Depression  by Dr. Linda Gask $9.99 on Kindle

This is a great read so far; I’m about halfway through it. Dr. Gask has a spare, eloquent and revealing way of writing about her innermost feelings. (I give her extra credit because we know how rare it is for any psychiatrist to be forthcoming and vulnerable, either in writing or in person!) Born to a Scottish mother & English father, Dr. Gask was brought up on the east coast of England. Dr. Gask is now Emerita Professor of Primary Care Psychiatry at the University of Manchester and is semi-retired. I don’t know if she likes dogs, but if she does, I bet she’d love Lucy since she’s a Scottish collie!

Finding Sanity: John Cade, lithium and the taming of bipolar disorder by Greg De Moore and Ann Westmore, $20.99 (ouch!) on Kindle

From the description: “In 1948…an Australian doctor and recently returned prisoner of war, working alone in a disused kitchen, set about an experimential treatment for one of the scourges of mankind – manic depression, or bipolar disorder. That doctor was John Cade and in that small kitchen he stirred up a miracle.”

Damn! All I’ve stirred up in my small kitchen has been store-bought soups and containers of yogurt. Too bad I can’t channel some of Cade’s genius, since my writing office is actually part of my small kitchen too!

I downloaded the Finding Sanity sample on my Kindle, but I haven’t read it yet. However, I’ve never heard of a book like this being written before – have any of you? I’m really looking forward to reading it, and I’ll let you know what I think of it down the line.

By the way, Dyane’s Informercial in the vlog features:

I ❤️ Pet Head Oatmeal Paw Butter – it soothes and relieves dry, cracked paws – they have a whole lines of dog shampoos, conditioners and um, strawberry lemonade dog perfume. Yep. More on that next week.

Finally, the Lose It! saga continues…

In tandem with my blogging amigo Bradley, author of the excellent Insights of A Bipolar Bear, we’re still encouraging one other through Lose It!’s website, especially now that it’s harder for each of us to stick to our goals. (Bradley, maybe it’s the Mercury retrograde that’s going on!!??) If you’d like to join us, leave a message in the comment section or sign up for free at www.loseit.com. Search for the “Wondrous Writers group”.

Looking forward to seeing you next Friday-ish…

love, 

Dyane

p.s. Thanks for visiting this blog and for your support – honestly, the biggest gift that bipolar has given me isn’t how it affects my personality, or my creativity, or whatever…it’s that it has connected me with YOU GUYS.

I’m serious! Xo

Unknown-1

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

Recollections of the Macabre, the Furry and the Fat

wp-1471615611943.jpg

 

Alpine Meadows, home to the Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, is incredibly beautiful. We’ve been coming here for years to stay at the funky “Munchkin” cabin. Miraculously, the owner only charges us a third of what she could get, and Craig makes it a working vacation so we can afford it.

We trek up here in the winter and during other years we visit during the late summer. It has been amazing for this L.A. girl to observe terrain after it has transformed into the winter and summer.

Last time we went to the Munchkin it was wintertime. The owner and her friend were there to briefly greet us. I chatted with him and learned that he was veteran of the ski industry. He recounted several colorful stories about working at the various Tahoe ski resorts.

“I was here in 1982 when the Alpine Meadows avalanche happened,” he said somberly.

Uh, what avalanche?” I replied sheepishly. He suggested I read a book called A Wall of White by Jennifer Woodlief. I wrote the title down on a piece of paper, intending to download a sample on my Kindle when we returned to the world of WiFi, but I lost the paper and forgot all about it.

When we got to the Munchkin last weekend, I was excited to find a copy of A Wall of White: A True Story of Heroism and Survival in the Face of a Deadly Avalanche in the basement, of all places. I began reading it and so did Craig. (We took turns stealing it from one another.) Each of us finished it within two days! A Wall of White was a national bestseller, and I could see why it was a hit– the writing was top-notch, and it was a definite pageturner.

Wall

Although I found the story fascinating (especially the explanations of different forms of snow, and how avalanches are created) I wish I never, ever read A Wall of White. It was such a morbid, vivid, disturbing account that literally happened just a few minutes from our cabin.

One of the avalanche victims was an eleven-year-old girl – my Avonlea’s age. She died because her self-centered, #$%^& father ignored not one, but two warnings not to hike up to Alpine Meadows during a ginormous snowstorm.

Last year before I read A Wall of White, I blithely drove up to the Alpine Meadow’s ski resort’s remodeled entrance area. I wanted to publish a blog post, and since the Munchkin doesn’t have internet, I could tap into Alpine’s free Wifi. While I sat there shivering in my car, skiers stomped and swarmed all around me. I bet most of them were completely oblivious about what had taken place there 33 years ago. 

Last Monday I needed to make an online bill payment, so I drove up to Alpine Meadows with a different mindset than I had last year. I couldn’t help but ponder about how people had hiked up the same road that I drove upon. They could never have imagined that they’d soon be smothered by tons of snow. Ugh. The thought creeped me out, but it also made me feel deeply grateful for being alive.

wp-1471306240991.jpgGrateful I have my furry muse Lucy

and grateful for my precious girls!

wp-1471616332006.jpg

Yesterday we took the gondola headed to the top of Squaw Valley; I was proudly Xanax-free! We didn’t know a thunderstorm was coming our way! This is a shot I took on the way back down, just before the staff closed the gondola for the day:

wp-1471618786886.jpg

I promised last week to write about some adventures. The truth is that this has been atame week. I guess I could make something up, since I can be devious, but to quote the great Annie Lennox, “Would I lie to you, honey?”

Since I don’t have a current adventure to share, I’d like to tell you about the bear sighting I had at the Munchkin four years ago.

51DetmtO3ZL._AC_US320_QL65_

I had just gotten out of the shower and walked into the dining nook. I glanced at the picture window that had a beautiful view of a steep, woodsy hill behind the cabin. Craig was upstairs, and the girls were watching television in the living room next to the nook.

As usual, I was out of it I was extremely depressed, lethargic, and medicated with meds that weren’t working except to give me zombifying side effects. Despite the fact I was in such a gorgeous setting with my family, I couldn’t appreciate anything.

When I looked out that window, I realized it was a different view than what I was accustomed to.

There was a small bear looking at me.

Oh. My. God.

“BEEEEEAAAAAAAR!!!!” I screamed without thinking. (The little book titled Bear Aware has a bunch of information on what to do and not to do when you see a bear. Unfortunately I hadn’t read Bear Aware before I had that ursine moment, so I was clueless.)

The bear looked at me. He/she probably thought something along the lines of’

”You are such a silly human! I could take you out with one of my farts!”

The girls and Craig came running into the room just in the nick of time to catch the incredible sight. With the four of us watching, the bear scampered up the hill to its mom, who was our of sight. (Craig figured out it was definitely a cub due to its size.)

images-3

I know that some of you might think, “So you saw a bear, no big deal!” But please take my word for it when I tell you those ten minutes were a big deal. The rest of that afternoon I felt less zombie-like. Looking into that cub’s eyes permeated the stupefying effects of my meds. I can understand why bears are sacred totem animals.

The most unbelievable part of this adventure was that the cub had not only been outside of the Munchkin cabin. The bold bear had climbed up three steep flights of outdoor wooden stairs, walked through our front door (which was accidentally cracked open…all I can say about that was it wasn’t me) and went into the basement to grab a bag of garbage. The bear headed back down the stairs with its spoils in tow. This happened while we were all in the house, oblivious to our guest! The cunning cub had been silent as the dead, and was only fifteen feet away from the girls while I showered and Craig was upstairs. The bear could have easily explored the rest of the house…

Lesson learned: lock your door in bear country!😉

 Lose It! Update 

The Lose It! quest continues with my blogging buddy Bradley, author of the excellent Insights of A Bipolar Bear. We encourage one other through Lose It!’s website. If you’d like to join us, leave a message in the comment section or sign up for free at www.loseit.com. Search for the “Wondrous Writers group”.

The two of us have struggled lately with overeating, but we remain committed to our goals! We know it’s normal to have setbacks – it’s recovering from them that matters. Speakng of Lose It!, I’d like to share my “before and after “shots taken at The Munchkin.

This is my favorite writing spot – the balcony overlooking the back of Squaw Valley:

175 Mama Bear

2013: 170#  

wp-1471558826134.jpg

Yesterday: 125# 

It has felt so goog to be able to walk up the Munchkin’s three flights of stairs without the extra adipose tissue. Hauling the extra weight used to make me huff and puff and almost hyperventilate. Plus my knees were not happy about it either, especially my knee which had ACL reconstruction after I had a basketball injury.   

Birth of a New Brain memoir update

wp-1471305946027.jpg

Almost every morning during this trip, Lucy has woken me up at 5:00 a.m. I’ve fed her & taken her outside to do her thing. (That hasn’t been so bad since I’ve gotten a great view of the stars, something I don’t get at home since the redwoods block the sky.)

Next I made fresh blood, I mean coffee. I headed out to the deck to work on editing the final chapters and appendices/resource section. The manuscript is due October 1st, and I’m nervous as hell, but excited. I feel like I’m at the end of a ten-year-long pregnancy, and a looooong labor looms ahead. (Yes, I’ve worked on this draft since 2007 after Rilla was born.) There are no epidurals for the publishing process – what a bummer! 

I’ll keep you posted on what happens this fall – the good and the bad! (Hopefully more of the former than the later.) I’ll be back next Friday, and I wish you a great week and perhaps a (positive, fun) adventure of your own!

love,

Dyane

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

Unknown-1

 

 

 

 

 

Wherever You Go, There You Are…

 

wp-1470920480073.jpg

Lucy & I chillin’ at Where We Met gelateria in Tahoma, California

wp-1470923888982.jpg

The girls got pomegranate, sweet cream and pink grapefruit gelati. Yum! Where We Met makes gelato daily using a base imported from Italy. It’s hard to believe this chocoholic mom gave birth to these two creatures, for they could’ve ordered milk chocolate! It pains me to write this, but they don’t like chocolate! (I try not to hold that against them.)

 

Tahoma, a town on the shores of Lake Tahoe, California, is beautiful.

While being surrounded by such beauty won’t erase my bipolar disorder and anxiety, it’s exhilarating to spend time in a place where I’m anonymous. I live in a small mountain community where I’ve burned many a friendship due to my bipolar disorder over the past decade.

Back home I’ve been profiled in the local paper a couple times about creating a DBSA chapter and leading free women’s bipolar support groups. My picture accompanied those articles, so I was “out”with bipolar. Don’t get me wrong – I wanted to be out; I thought it was important to personalize the mood disorder. However, I knew some people, mainly other moms, would steer clear of me as a result. I don’t regret what I did, but it was a bittersweet choice. 

Anyway, during our Tahoma walks with Lucy, the girls and I noticed that most of the people we’ve encountered are very friendly compared to where we live. It’s refreshing to observe my daughters experiencing this rather archaic behavior. 

I apologize for sounding like Debbie Downer, but don’t you think that waving or saying hello to strangers has become a lost art in many places? (Since my Mom reads this, I’d like to add that the girls are well aware about being careful around strangers thanks, in part, to this neurotic, Jewish-born mother!)

wp-1470920648493.jpg

When I stood up to move my purse, Lucy climbed up on my chair, plonking herself down as if she was a regular planning to order an americano. 

wp-1470921099607.jpg

I’ve been taking Lucy out for long walks every day by myself. I never know what to expect when we head out the door. After having my very own bear encounter a few years ago in Tahoe, I’m fairly bear savvy. (Mom, please…don’t worry – I’m forty-six.)

I love how walks can foster brainstorming. During yesterday’s walk I was inspired when we passed by the Golden Retriever house, my moniker for it. The homeowners had a large flag of two goldens waving above their front door, and no less than three large Golden Retriever posters displayed in their windows. What an awesome example of canine love.

When I walked past two handmade “Thanks for Driving 25” signs across the street from their home, it was obvious the Golden Retriever homeowners made them. 

I began thinking about doing exactly what they did. Why not? I’m sooooo tired of drivers racing past our home at 40-60 M.P.H. I’m already anxious, as some of you know, and these wanna-be Evel Knievels do nothing to help ease my anxety. 

We live on a steep, narrow mountain road situated ten feet past a blind curve. Whenever I leave our driveway, I pray I won’t get hit.

I know what you’re thinking: 

Why did you buy such a place, Dyane? 

Well, the short story is that it was cheap and I was dumb about realty…I mean ignorant!

We have a long wooden fence in front of our house that Craig built on our property. So, I’m going to make and post my own neon signs – maybe throw some eye-catching nude pictures on them. Any suggestions of models? (I’m kidding, Mom. Maybe.) If those signs help some folks slow down even a little bit, it’s completely worth the effort.

wp-1470920387933.jpg

I snapped this pic while exploring a mountain trail with Lucy – there have been no bear sightings yet!😉

wp-1470922412269.jpg

Cabin Fever = when your girls turn into dogs and bark all afternoon!

Meanwhile my book deal with Post Hill Press looms ahead,causing many white nights. Luckily I’ve spent some afternoons in the cabin editing the MS. My husband, the published and acclaimed author Craig, has been helping me out by taking the girls to groovy state parks like Vikingsholm because I can’t write unless I’m alone with Lucy.

How I wish I could write anywhere just like Madeleine L’Engle, one of my favorite authors, was able to do. She wrote on trains, hotel lobbies, backstage when she acted on Broadway, you-name-it, but I simply can’t do it.

If you can write virtually anywhere without ear buds, consider yourself highly gifted!

images

I’ll be up here a few more days, and I’ll share any adventure that comes my way in next week’s post.

In the meantime, I wish you a great week, as always!

Love,

Dyane

p.s. The Lose It! quest continues with my blog buddy Bradley, author of the excellent Insights of A Bipolar Bear. We encourage one other through Lose It!’s website. Pairing up with him helped me not just attain my weight loss goal but with maintenance. I’ve lost almost 40 pounds, almost the equivalent of a Lucy, and my knee pain has improved. Thank you Bradley!

If you’d like to join us, leave a message in the comment section or sign up for free at www.loseit.com. Search for the Wondrous Writers group. We’d love to have you join us.

Unknown-1

Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.