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Guilt, Grief, and a Good Day

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen  Some people may picture those of us who mourn as constantly sad, breaking out in unexpected crying jags, but will "get over it" in a few days. Not hardly! People who have joined this exclusive terrible club know that we are forever changed, but sadness and tears become less frequent and are not so easily triggered. Each experience is unique. We may grieve one way for someone, but a completely different way for another. When the grief fog hit me, it had characteristics similar to shock. I was just existing. The idea of having a good day was unthinkable — but it happened. Charlene near shadow of Little Sauble Lighthouse on Lake Michigan, 2005 I am writing this on the nine-month anniversary of her journey to Jesus. While I think of her many times each day and even have some special memories, I am not always saddened by them. On the other hand, there are things I have done where I felt good (such as walking a trail in the woods), they were tempered by my

Tears Triggered by a Barge

That is a title I never thought I would use, and I came up with it during a discussion with a therapist. While the grief fog and confusion are not as oppressive seven months after I lost my beloved Charlene, there are still things that bring on the tears. Triggered  often means people who have little self-control and try to manipulate others to change their words and ways. The word is still useful, though. In fact, that therapist has used it about the process in coming to terms with, and integrating, grief in our lives. I was triggered by a barge on the Hudson River. Barge on the Hudson River near Malden, NY, Unsplash / Cowboy Bob Sorensen My mother passed away several years ago, and a friend gave me words of wisdom. He told me sorrow can come out of the blue; things will remind me of my mother unexpectedly. That was true. Years have passed, and I can be reminded of my mother, father, oldest brother, and others without crying. Something inaccurately cited by many is the "stages of

We Grieve, but we Must Eat

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen  The human mind is sensitive to dates, anniversaries, and so on. I believe that is one of the reasons that events in the Year of Firsts (first Christmas, her birthday, my birthday, our wedding anniversary, etc.) hits us so hard. I have been having "good" days with less tears, but today is the six month anniversary of Charlene's passing. I stop to sob a bit while writing these sentences the day before. When I think back to meeting with the funeral director, he echoed something that others have told me: Don't forget to eat. A hamburger-macaroni casserole thing I made; kitchen is small and it's hard to get shadow-free pictures The church I had just started attending plugged me into a food ministry where people brought meals to my apartment; they know the bereaved may not eat. Also, a couple of Charlene's relatives bring me food on occasion. Indeed, one reader told me that when his wife died, he did forget to eat and drink. He ended up bein

My Grief Observed, but I Still Believe

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen After the loss of my beloved Charlene, several people suggested that I read A Grief Observed  by C.S. Lewis. It is a short book, but being mostly alone and dealing with my recovery from open-heart surgery, legal matters involving her estate, the tyranny of the physiological and mental problems of grief fog — reading was a challenge. However, after I purchased it, I converted it into an audio book with a text-to-speech service. Voices in TtS can be quite good. Lewis was British, so I chose a voice with an appropriate accent. It took an hour to hear, and I listened to it again this morning. A 1998 Polaroid photo of Charlene A quick side trail here. Remember when I said she had lousy self-esteem ? I found the Polaroid picture that was scanned and sent to me. It was the first image I saw of her, and still burned in my memory is that she said, "I hope it doesn't make you sick." A Grief Observed  was written after Lewis' wife died of cancer. They had

Her Birthday, Self-Esteem, and the Other Poem

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen  Today is the 67th birthday of my beloved Charlene, which she is celebrating in Heaven. Right now, I am writing this while listening to one of those music compilation CDs that I made her long ago. The concept of self-esteem has exaggerated importance, often used as an excuse for inflated egos and pride. However, the healthy kind is important. As I mentioned before, we met online and got to know each other texting through AOL. It did not take long to learn that her self-esteem had taken a beating her entire life. Baby Charlene ca. 1957, via PhotoFunia and other enhancement processes Charlene almost never received "props" or complements from her parents. Her daughter (who died in 2010) and ex-husband verbally and mentally abused her. Lots of manipulation. Like I have done, she had wished to go to sleep and never wake up. I think her belief that self-elimination is a one-way ticket to Hell kept her alive. If I rightly recollect, she said she didn't de

Subordinate or Subservient?

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen  Some time ago, I wrote about being professional in the workplace , and that I got to know a worker at a big box store. He will be called Aaron from now on. Aaron sent me a telegram the other day, so I saddled up and rode into his town so we could talk about the item of concern. He had the day off so we met at an eatery for a leisurely lunch. While having coffee, he described the situation. Aaron's place of employment has a prairie schooner-full of folks in supervisory roles. While not all are necessarily his supervisors, they have superior roles and can give orders. Businessman, Pixabay / Goumbik There is a chain of command, as expected. One person is second in authority to the store manager, and was giving instructions at a store meeting. (You've probably seen meetings like this in various stores where employees are gathered for a few minutes in a large opening.) At the very end, "Chop! Chop!" was uttered. Aaron seems to be level-headed and no

Cannabis and Mental Illness

It has been common knowledge for decades that drugs affect the mind, and the 1960s drug use explosion helped establish cannabis as a household word. Stoners would proudly display the sweet leaf emblem of their false god. Even though marijuana use has been legalized in many states for medicinal purposes, results are dubious at best. Smoking a joint can actually worsen medical conditions. It has been known for years that cannabis users get paranoid and lethargic, but things are actually much worse. Original image from Pexels / Kindel Media , modified, plus a modified Wicca symbol from Open Clipart It is interesting that φαρμακεία ( pharmakeia ), the Greek word that is the root of pharmacy , is about witchcraft and sorceries in the New Testament. Drugs were prominent in occult arts, and witches managed to get hallucinogenic materials from certain plants. This is part of the idea that witches flew on brooms, as many hallucinated the experience. I reckon there's a similar attitude of r

My Slip is Showing

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen  The title is a bit outdated, referring to a piece of women's clothing worn under a dress. They are less common now because of new styles. A woman would be embarrassed to be told, "Your slip is showing". Since I like word play, this is going to add another meaning: Freudian slip. Someone has a slip of the tongue, a so-called Freudian slip (parapraxis), and some people act like psychology experts. The misstatement becomes a "Gotcha!" moment because inner truth was revealed. Original image: Pixabay /  ArtTower Although many people think that Ziggy Freud, the putative father of psychoanalysis, is still revered among psychologists, quite the opposite is true. Freud was a fraud and most experts in psychology do not take him seriously anymore. Some of his lingo is still with us, and a few things may have an iota of validity. We all have verbal slip-ups. They may be caused by fatigue, being preoccupied, distracted, or whatever. Sometimes they

Learning a New Word: Apophenia

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen No need to be bothered by this five-syllable word because what it describes is interesting, and even useful. I wondered if there was a term for hearing sounds that do not exist where psychosis is not involved. Yes there is. Credit: Freeimages Before I get to the audio part,  pareidolia seems to be more widely known. This is where people think they see things that are not actually there, such as gazing at passing clouds and seeing a dinosaur chasing a car. Pareidolia happens a great deal in the "true ghost" videos where an evil face is seen in a mirror or against a dark background. I was able to see Charles Darwin's profile in a tree , people saw a woman on Mars , and so on. It is probably worth noting that when watching the scary video collections, the viewer is prepped by the verbal cues of the narrator, and by expecting to see something creepy. The audio version is apophenia ( brief definition and pronunciation here ), which is also called musica

Seeing What We Expect

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen A few days ago, I was reminded of something I learned about proofreading. Serious publications do not have authors proofread their own work because they see what they expect. People have a tendency to "fill in the blanks" when information is missing so they can make sense of a situation, and this applies to proofreading. If you must do your own, try not to do it on the same day. Fast readers are more prone to making mistakes. Credit: RGBStock / gabriel The human mind can fool itself, but not computers. Those things are extremely literal, and just one piece of misplaced code can have unpleasant results, as I have seen when tampering with the HTML on these here sites of mine.  Since my paying job is data entry, I can listen to the audio of videos and use text-to-speech so I can listen to articles, books, and so on. Someone fouled up in an article, and one letter made the difference. I have little doubt that I would have caught the error that esc

Inner Survival Alarms

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen We all have various reactions to different kinds of alarms, whether conditioned, learned, or provided by the Master Engineer. Some reactions may be a combination of inner and learned, such as reaching for a gun or freezing in place at hearing a growl in the dark. When the smoke alarm goes off, we take some kind of action. Sirens from emergency vehicles prompt us to locate the sources and get out of the way. We several built-in alarms. Credit: Morguefile / Stuart Whitmore Something goes bang, you look in the direction of the sound. Hearing a strange noise at night can wake many people up so they can check it out or call the police. One time, I sat upright in bed because I had stopped breathing and disremembered to continue, but that passed. Smelling smoke, with or without an audible alarm, can get you moving. Taking hold of a hot pan sends a very fast message in your system to let go in a hurry.  Animals have inner alarms too, of course. Sometimes I wor

Breaking News: C.H. Spurgeon did not Compose Sacred Writ

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen Research indicates, science shows (when someone uses one or both of those phrases, you know something is guaranteed to be a fact) that the English Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon did not write any portion of the Bible. In addition, books of his sermons cannot legitimately be considered as sacred writ. Someone may object, "I don't cotton to your insinuation that Spurgeon fans think that his writings are infallible!" Well, I did get your attention, didn't I? Now let this child 'spain hisself. I'm choosing Rev. Spurgeon as my first example because so many people admire him. Yes, the "Prince of Preachers" had some good things to say. Yes, professing Christians know that he didn't get a revelation brought by an angel on golden plates that is to be a third testament to the Bible. No, I do not dislike him. In fact, many people that I admire use his material. Right, Phil, Todd, Dr. Mac, Dr. James, and others? I

Humor Fail

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen Way back yonder, before Roku and other streaming devices, before we had the evil known as cable television, I saw an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show called "Father of the Week". It aired in 1962, so I appreciated it in syndicated reruns. Maybe I did see it on cable after all. Rob (his character) was giving a talk to the kids about being a comedy writer. When he stumbled , the kids laughed. He pointed out that people laugh because they are surprised; something is unexpected. The old slapstick pie-in-the-face routine lost its charm long ago because it was used so much, but can be funny when it has an unexpected twist. Surprise is lost when jokes have to be explained, and they're usually not as funny. My humor has been called "dry", and I see that this definition says that it is based on word play with a straight or "deadpan" expression. Well, some of my humor influences use plays on words. I like ambiguity in hu