The Lonely Siren

The shrill breaks the quiet silence of night – an ambulance racing by, headed towards someone – somewhere – who is hurt/injured, maybe even dying.

That sound, that piercing sound that echoes, always jars me at night – when the neighborhood is still fast asleep.

Vehicle accident? Serious fall? Stroke? Heart attack? There is no way of knowing what need is being answered – but the siren signals someone needing help.

It’s a sad moment – and a moment to offer a quick, silent prayer for the unknown person or persons whose life is, perhaps, on the line.

If I listen to it with my eyes closed, I can still see the flashing red light in my mind. I can feel a rumbling – perhaps the tires racing by – in my chest. The sound seems to me to taste like metal – more specifically, the metallic taste of your own blood when you cut your finger and stick it in your mouth to stench the blood flow until you can bandage it up. I can’t associate a smell to it, however.

The five senses we humans have are intricate and complex. One simple sense is activated, and if we focus inward, other senses also have a reaction to it. That one lonely siren makes me hear, visualize (see), feel and (imagine the) taste. I’m sure, if I really thought about it, I could associate a smell, but that sense isn’t activated by the happening.

The next time one of your senses is activated – hear, see, feel, taste, smell – take the time to notice how many of your different senses also work alongside the primary one. Recognize that uniqueness in you as a human! And enjoy the exploration!

Angels Among Us

I received a couple of comments on my last post about the joys of being an empath that my post felt like a cliffhanger. That certainly wasn’t my intent. My intent was a unique post to talk about and share the story of this person.

Her name is Shellie….this person who allowed me to slip into her heart and find her love there being directed at me. She is why I needed to write a blog about the joys of being an empath.

Let me start this story a little further back. Shellie is known by the name Tinkerbell (from me, it’s StinkyTink LOL). I met Shellie in a somewhat new stream on Mixer that I decided to visit. We connected pretty quickly, having very similar personalities and senses of humor. We were having our own little girl chat while our stream host was playing games and trying to keep up (girl talk usually means we’re talking in a language that goes over a man’s head anyhow!). I had a blast with her, and looked forward to seeing her again.

We connected several times over the next two weeks or so, and we always had fun. Once, when she wasn’t there, the host explained why and sent me a link to follow. I did, and that link led me to Shellie’s continuous medical condition and struggles.

Shellie is currently in the 4th month of this most recent hospitalization. She has currently had 31 unique diagnoses about her health and she fights to overcome those she can and accept the rest. I’m going to (attempt to) add a link at the end of this post so you can all read her story.

Learning that about her, and seeing how positive and loving she is was overwhelming. I certainly know I struggle with a few mild medical issues, and I can’t begin to imagine dealing with so many. And the pain she lives with is often excruciating. Her body has grown tolerant of the three major drugs used to treat pain. In fact, they recently sedated her for 24 hours just to give her mind and body a chance to rest without feeling that pain. This was not the first time. And yet, there is a strong will inside her that fights to keep living.

The next time I went back to the stream, Tinkerbell was there, and the music being played in the background was, I learned, covers that she had sung before she got so sick. It was like listening to an angel…. a voice clear and strong but not overpowering (to those that know a little bit about music, her range is 2 octaves plus 3 notes). A few of the songs I knew, those I didn’t know I listened to very carefully for the lyrics. It was, to say the least, very soothing and yet very profound. And then, a song I didn’t know was playing and while I can’t remember the title just now, it was about two children saying goodbye to their mom, saying that they understood that she was only an angel on loan to them.

Shellie has two young sons. That song touched me so deeply that I started to cry. I mentioned in the chat that it had made me cry, which made her sad. I managed to pull myself together and then she told everyone that the next song to be played was to be dedicated to me. Well, that song started and that was pretty much the moment I went into her heart and, as I mentioned, saw and felt the love from her flowing towards me on the outside. That was the point when I broke. I sobbed for at least 5 solid minutes – nose running and all. And you all know the rest from my previous blog…

While I’ve always believed that we have angels watching over us, I’ve never really given thought to angels among us. I mean, we have heroes and we have people who go out of the way to show kindness to strangers, but I don’t truly think of them as angels.

But Shellie? To see her capacity to love so deeply despite what is going on in her life – yea, I believe that she is an angel on earth. And I believe I have been blessed and changed by that belief.

I believe, I believe.
Sometimes, teach us who we can be.

The link above is where Shellie’s story can be found. I don’t expect anyone to donate to her, since you don’t know her. However, if you have a few pennies to spare, it would mean the world not only to her, but to her two precious boys. They get so excited to call their mum and tell her that another donation has been made. I’ve donated, and will continue to do so, just to know I’m bringing them such joy.

And that’s my story….

Joys of an Empath

After writing my previous post about the struggles of being an empath, I wanted to give voice to the opposite side, where one receives joy from being an empath. I have also experienced this, and as I wrote about the differences between joy and happiness and how joy overrides happiness, these experiences not only change my mood, but they permanently land in my heart.

While I was dealing with some very negative energy, there was apparently some room still inside me and seeing into a person and feeling the love they are feeling is pretty amazing! Well, here is what is so amazing that it still feels surreal…. I got into that person’s heart through empathy and found that the love the person was feeling was being directed towards me, the person outside! It stunned me, overwhelmed me, silenced me – and then I broke down into the most blubbering sobbing I can ever remember experiencing! I was a total mess, yet had a smile on my face the whole time I was giving over to that ugly cry face!

Let’s face it, we all know people love us, we have people who tell us they love us, but to experience that love as EXACTLY as that person is feeling it towards you… I don’t even have words to express how that felt! I can only say that I felt lighter, an almost floating on air sense, and the tears, I believe, were the release of some weight I’d been carrying on a subconscious level. I felt cleansed and refreshed, renewed and able to truly step away from whatever had been holding me back!

And that feeling stays with me – easy to recall the moment and feel my heart swell with it. It reminds me of an old saying I remember, “If it weren’t for the valleys, we wouldn’t appreciate the mountains.”

So, while having strong empathy will sometimes be painful, it will also at times be joyful. And I’m okay with that!

Struggles of an Empath

According to Eric Perry, Ph.D., a doctoral level licensed psychologist and fellow blogger, all humans (except for psychopaths) have some ability to be empathic within them. In a recent blog, he aptly and succinctly described the difference between sympathy and empathy. Sympathy is when you are able to understand a person’s emotions from your own perspective. Empathy is when you are able to understand a person’s emotions from their perspective. When you feel sympathy, you are relating to that person based on your emotions, how you would feel and react in that place. You may have experienced a similar situation and can call up the memory of the emotions you went through at the time. Empathy is more like literally stepping inside a person’s heart and mind and seeing the situation from their perspective. It’s when you feel, see and think exactly as that person is seeing, thinking and feeling.

I’ve always known that I have some strong empathy. I can remember, as a child, crying and holding my head while my cousin was having the knots brushed out of her hair. I felt it, felt the hurt and reacted as though it was happening to me. I didn’t understand then what empathy was, but I’m certain now that that is exactly what I experienced.

Lately, I’ve been trying to help someone who is going through a really tough patch of life right now. He recently found out that his girlfriend (now ex-girlfriend) was cheating on him with one of his friends while he was supporting her and her child. It was apparently a big upset in his life, making him unable to function enough that he was let go from his job. He is still in a lot of pain and he seems to not be able to rebound in any way. I’ve been trying to give him some gentle but sage advice, and offering him a place to talk about it. My sympathy was in full gear, sad that he was in so much pain.

A few days ago, as more conversations have opened up and he’s disclosed even more, I had a moment where, as best I can describe it, my heart literally felt like it was sinking into my chest. I became suddenly aware that I had a clear vision of exactly how he was feeling – and the pain was intense! It struck like an arrow and I wanted to just curl up into the fetal position and cry my eyes out. It took some very deep breathing to creep out of that shell-shocking intensity – but it is still very much there. I have found myself behaving in his behavior, which is needing desperately to reach out for a life-line and yet, unable to trust anyone who would toss me one that it would be safe for me to grab onto. I’m trying to be myself enough to be sociable in ways I normally am, but know that some of doing that is pretend.

Feeling the intensity of his pain made me very emotional. Even when I could separate myself from it a bit, I was constantly thinking of him, wondering how he was doing. I haven’t heard from him in over 48 hours, despite reaching out a few times to contact him. Honestly, that makes me worry if he’s okay, but it also puts some separation between the shared connection to his life, and I’m able to function a bit better emotionally because of that. The part of it that won’t, leave me is the feeling of vulnerability. I tend to be a trusting person by nature (innocence until proven guilty, as I said in my previous post). I’ve allowed myself to become more vulnerable already by being more genuine about who I am. My own vulnerability, plus the vulnerability I feel within him, tends to make me feel wide open and without defenses.

I asked Dr. Perry, in my reply to his post, if he had some practical advice for finding balance to the empathetic part with life in my own shoes. I don’t think I’ve ever been so consumed by another person’s feelings that they took my own emotions away.

I’ve had some time to regroup since I started writing this post, and the separation from that empathy is what I’ve decided needs done. I am always about opening myself up for others, but this situation has helped me to discover that I can’t survive if I put someone else’s feelings over mine. Do I feel guilty? Of course. I feel bad that I’ve chosen to pull myself away from another human being. But I’ve also realized that ‘toxic relationships’ can be just that – toxic – even if it isn’t really about the way others are behaving towards me. As much as I care, I can’t fix his problem, and I’ve also been feeling a little like I’m putting more energy into looking for a solution than he is. I’m owning all of that, processing it, and hopefully learning from it.

I suppose I’ve written this blog article not so much for myself, but for any of my readers who have found themselves in a similar situation. I want anyone who has to know my process so that he/she too can see the toxicity that can happen and hopefully learn from it as well. I will still choose to give myself to others as they struggle, but I’ve learned – the hard way – that I need to make sure I’m taking care of myself as well. It reminds me of a phrase I heard a while ago and often pass on to others. I need to take my own advice!

Fill your own cup first, and nourish others with the overflow.

Can We Be Too Trusting?

My Mixer family seems to want to continue to provide my muse with things I need to say and share. Thank you again, Will, for the tidbit of conversation that started this train.

I’ve always been a trusting soul. I trusted my parents, people in my church, teachers and authority leaders at school, etc. Some of that was, I suppose, ingrained trust, and some was more or less expected. Because I choose to present my authenticity, I suppose I expect that each person I encounter is doing the same. I have some Anne Frank naivete in me that, “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death.”

So, in every relationship I enter, I go in with that trust. It goes along with the judicial system’s idea that “everyone is innocent until proven guilty.” I have been fortunate in that the amount of “good people” I’ve encountered have far outweighed the amount of bad. But I’ve encountered them as well.

I have been, because of a dating website, a person who has had two attempts by two different cat fishers. Fortunately, I recognized immediately that a request for help in any financial way was a RED flag. In each situation, it was money to help pay specific living expenses and in each, I was smart enough to say I would help but wanted to pay it to the debtor directly. That allowed me to confirm the scam when excuses were offered why that wouldn’t work and the money should go directly to the person asking.

So, did I trust too much? I feel like I did. I let sweet compliments and a lot of attention to me blind me because it “felt good”. Being a wallflower (see previous post about being a wallflower) made me a perfect victim for all of that attention.

My friend, Will, on the other hand, thinks that we should always go in with trust, blind as it may be and no matter what. I still do that, I suppose, still give the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. But I’m also aware of the voice in my head telling me to pay special attention for those red flags. And when that happens again – and it has – I begin to wonder if I’ve got a neon sign on my forehead that says, “Born Sucker Here”.

When I’m interested in someone, I am willing to devote 99% of my focus and attention on that person… in fact, I go out of my way to let my focus and attention show. I want to show, not just say, “I’m in this.” I will choose to continue doing that because I want that relationship to grow and develop. But again, there is always that little voice in my head warning me, and means I don’t really relax in that growth until it has shown growth on both parts. And I’m certain, because of my empath strengths and compassionate heart, that my trust is going to be broken many more times.

So, while I think that I DO trust too much, I am not willing to give up on my path of weeding my way towards people with whom that path is agreeable to both. To do less would be unauthentic to me. It’s tiring work sometimes, all that weeding, but it only serves to make me want to do it more.

I’d really like to know my readers’ thoughts on this? Do you trust too much? Do you think it IS possible to trust too much?

I’m going to adopt this attitude!

Hacks from my Happy Place – XII

It’s been a while since I posted anything about my fun times in the kitchen. I haven’t really been doing a lot of creating and experimenting there recently, mostly because I’ve run out of freezer space! Much of what is stored there is to share with my brother to take home when he visits for Christmas, and then I can start cooking again! YAY!

I’ve also been adding posts of a ‘heavier’ emotional weight recently, and I’m sure my fellow readers and I could use a break from that. So… it’s time to put my apron on for a bit….

I no longer get into baking for Christmas. Having been diagnosed with diabetes and having no real space to speak of in my kitchen are the two major reasons. I can’t help but try a sample of each of the variety I make when it’s still warm from the oven, after all – and someone needs to dispose of the imperfect ones without letting them go to waste as well! But, in the days when I baked like the devil in a tailspin, my record was 146 dozen. Yes, that’s right, dozen – the equivalent of 1, 752 cookies! I gave tray upon tray upon tray of cookies away, and the trays also included 3 mini-loaves of assorted breads. Yea, that’s not going to happen again in this lifetime!

I do, however, follow a Christmas cookie baking site on a social media site, probably because I enjoy seeing the artistry with which some people decorate cookies. Visual creativity and the ability to draw are two of my weaknesses.

One that site, however, I found a couple of ‘hacks’ I thought I’d share for those of you who do bake! HACK #1: The cap on a bottle of vanilla equals one teaspoon. To those of you using measuring spoons for several ingredients, this means one less wash and dry between use for each one! HACK #2: If you need to soften butter quickly, but don’t want to melt it, boil water in a microwave safe glass to heat the glass, then dump the water out and flip it over your stick of butter. In a few minutes, it will be soft enough to use for your recipe.

Okay, that’s it for my hacks. Although I don’t make cookies, I still do some baking. I recently made one of my favorite desserts to make as a gift to someone who is a proclaimed chocoholic. I shared the recipe and photos on another social media site, and my friends from the Netherlands, who saw it and both follow my blog, suggested I post the recipe and photos here. So, Nurse and Belly (yes, more Mixer family folks!), this is for you!

Death by Chocolate – ingredients: One box of cake mix in dark chocolate/chocolate fudge flavor (any brand will do). One box of instant chocolate pudding (dark chocolate if you can find it). Two boxes of instant mousse mix (again, in dark chocolate if you can find it). One large tub of whipped topping (any brand will do). Your choice of add-ins, such as chocolate chips, broken candy bar pieces, etc. (You can use other items, such as peanut butter chips, nuts or espresso beans, but I think it’s better to stick with something chocolate.) Chocolate syrup is an optional additional ingredient.

Bake the cake according to directions, adding the dried instant pudding to the mix. (I use a Bundt pan because I want as much of the cake to be the moist inside as possible, but any pan will do.) Let cake cool according to directions.

After cake has cooled sufficiently, break it into small chunks and set aside in a large bowl. Mix the two boxes of instant mousse mix according to directions on the box. Now it’s time to assemble all of the ingredients together to begin building layers.

Cake chunks, mousse, whipped topping, dark chocolate chips and chocolate syrup.

This dessert is built in layers, so it’s best to use a large clear bowl if possible, so you can see the layers. In this demonstration, I used a smaller bowl because I was gifting some, but it does make a large bowlful!

The first layer in the bottom of the bowl is cake chunks. On top of the cake, spread a layer of chocolate mousse. On top of the mousse, spread a layer of whipped topping. Sprinkle on some of your add-ons (this layer doesn’t show so you can be sloppy) and swirl with chocolate syrup (optional).

Chunks of cake
Mousse over cake
Whipped topping, add-ons and chocolate syrup

From there, you just keep repeating the layers, always ending with the whipped topping on top. My BIGGEST suggestion is that you don’t fill the bowl to the brim so that you can cover it with plastic wrap. It does need to be stored in the fridge. In the end, it looks something like this:

View from the top
View from the side

Even though my sample is only two layers, you can see how spectacular it looks from the side, and that’s why a clear bowl is the way to go!

This is a dessert that any hostess would enjoy putting on her table if you bring it with you for a dinner invitation. This is a dessert that can be delved into a spoonful at a time whenever you crave just a bite of something sweet. And this is a dessert that takes a little bit of time to assemble but is easy to make! So try it! And enjoy!

The Gift of Tears

I like the idea of “the gift of tears”. Do you relate to this blog, or does someone showing such emotion so openly make you want to turn and move away?

Just Being Me

I had a conversation yesterday that kind of impacted me so I wanted to tell you about it. I was driving to our friend’s funeral along with another friend B whom I’ve only started getting to know better recently. B also used to be a teacher and she has a very similar personality to me (at least we both have the same MBTI and Enneagram types).

We started off talking about funerals and how we feel about them. Neither of us are scared of sad emotions and we both cry quite a lot and have a lot of empathy for others. Sometimes that means that we get emotional at funerals even if we don’t know the deceased that well because we empathise with family members who are upset.

I mentioned that I sometimes feel like I cry too much and she told me a story. She said that her mum…

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