Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Seek Up

Alexis Choppi

It has been eight months to the very day since I last sat down and let the chaos that had taken residence within me flow out and empty itself in the form of my writing. Every so often friends or family will mention, “You haven’t written in a while.”  “Yeah…” I reply, “I’ve just been really happy…”

You see, my brother, Mike, killed himself two and a half years ago.  It was and remains easily the most heartbreakingly horrifying experience of my life.  Images of his body convulsing and lips turning purple were tattooed to the backs of my eyelids.  Every time my eyes closed I was back in his hospital room helplessly watching his life slip away, replaying the events in our lives that had lead us to that moment.  To say the feelings and the images were overwhelming would be an incredible understatement.  In the second he took his last breath I thought it all made sense, for that split second I understood a pain so crushing and unbearable that the only thought even more unbearable was the notion of living with it.

It was months before I was able to sleep through the night or keep down and meal beyond mashed potatoes and raisin bread.  Even longer before I was able to simply lay back and listen to music.  Every song and musician had a memory of ours tied to it.  I was weak and afraid of everything.
At that time in my life the only thing that brought any kind of peace and silence within was swimming.  I was up at 4:30am every morning and out the door to the pool.  It wasn’t just laps, I swam miles.  The repetitive motion of the stroke became second nature; my body knew what to do.  The only thing I had to remember to do was breath.  Funny how that always seems to be the most difficult…

It wasn’t too long after my entire world had shaken up and flipped over a friend sent me a message.  Long story short, she wanted to set me up with a friend of hers.  She went on and on about what a smart, sweet, wonderful person he was (and is).  I read the message about four more times before yelling at it.  “Seriously?! Are you out of your fucking mind?  I’m a fucking basket case!” I felt better after my little outburst, not wanting to become a total hermit I agreed to meet.

I felt immediately comfortable in his presence, but beyond that I was inspired.  He knew pieces of my story and he didn’t run away.  I think I used to do that…I used to run away from issues, problems, and people and I used to run pretty fast.  I didn’t want to run away anymore, I didn’t think I could run away from this, I needed to face it all.  I began to write.  When the images became too much and all I could hear was the beeping of machines from his hospital room I wrote it down, trying to articulate as vividly with my words as the images and sensations were.  What was incredible was that as soon as I wrote it all down, the sights, sounds, and smells ceased to haunt me.  It’s not something that I ever forget, but at least it does not play on constant loop.

It wasn’t long after we met that Mr. Smart Sweet and Wonderful introduced me to a friend of his that had experienced a suicide loss as well.  He told me about the non-profit organization he was trying to help them set up and the bike ride across the United States that was in store for them. 
 It was these boys (Thomas and Zak) we have all come to know and love that took me to my first SOS meeting.  That day just so happened to be the first time I met them.  I didn’t know what to expect, I was nervous and scared and having a mild anxiety attack in the parking lot.  I hadn’t opened up and talked to anyone beyond my therapist.  Even then, I think I just sat in her office and cried for an hour every other week.  That night I was met with such genuine love, kindness, and an unspoken understanding not only from the boys, but from every single person sitting in the circle.  It was as if I left that night and picked up a piece of myself that had been shattered.  I continued to go to this group, picking up a piece of myself every time, feeling my fiery spirit making its way back to me…making me stronger.

I started to volunteer my time with the LOSS (Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors) program.  It is difficult and emotional and drags to the surface many thoughts and memories of my own experience, but for the first time in my life I felt like I was on the path and doing what I was put here to in fact…do.  Getting your life together, that carries with it a certain sense of peace and happiness.
My brother’s suicide is not something I will ever “get over”; it is however something I work daily to get through.  There are moments I feel guilty of the happiness that I feel, like I proved him right when he said we would be better off without him.  I don’t let that sit with me too long, when my senses decide to make their way back to me I acknowledge that I’ve worked harder for this happiness than I have worked for anything else in my life.

To read more about my story, go to

Sunday, June 23, 2013

RISE Philosophy pt. 2 Healing Through Art & Creativity

Photo by Thomas Brown

“Art’s task is to save the soul of mankind; and anything less is a dithering while Rome burns.  Because of the artists, who are self-selected, for being able to journey into the Other, if the artists cannot find the way, then the way cannot be found.”

—Terence McKenna,

Message to Artists

           At the very heart of the RISE philosophy, the primary variable is the self.  It is crucial for all of us to allow the time to examine who we are, and what turns us on.  Through meditation or other discipline, one can determine their bliss.  Next they need to determine if they have the will and constitution to go after it.  Essentially,  it is one who is consciously aware and intentionally examines the self in a disciplined manner.  It seems pretty clear cut and simple, so at this point…where does art fit in?

            Artistic creativity is the method in which we all may navigate through this world.  For some of us this is an intentional cognitive action, and for the rest, it is merely a simple unaware byproduct of the phenomenon of being.  Most people I have spoken with about the philosophy of RISE get stuck when I introduce the idea of the healing potentiality in art and creativity.  People usually maintain in the extreme, that they are in no way artistic.

            This sentiment that people express when incorporating art into RISE is understandable.  In order to go further, I feel we must first rediscover what art is.  Below are two definitions to start with:

Art:  1.  The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination.

         2.  Works produced by such skill and imagination.

In an attempt to simplify it even further, I maintain that art is imaginative expression.  Imagination or non-imagination is subjective and will always ebb and flow within the eyes of the beholder.  To delve deeper in my attempt to simplify, one could argue that art is expression.  This is the vantage point where the RISE philosophy stands.

            As long as a person has blood pumping through their heart, they are expressing themselves consciously and subconsciously.  This makes every living person an artist.  Like the first element of the philosophy, one must have a focused intention to their expression.  Like everything, the strength and ability needs to be cultivated through a disciplined action.
             Like everything else in this world, lines have been drawn and things cut up and divided.  Art is no different.  It has been marginalized, packaged, and redefined.  One must be a painter, photographer, poet, musician, etc to be considered an artist.  Nonsense!  To some dispute, I vehemently disagree with this.  Every trade requires a good amount of creativity and imagination in order to bring something into being.  Beyond trade, the greatest medium for one to express themselves is their life.

            If life was a canvas, then the palette and tools represent the decisions and choice made for every situation we face.  Through the power of creativity and imagination, each one of us holds the power to create the life we wish to live in. Thus, art does have the power to change and save the world.  Expression can be a self-sufficient social fuel that can act as a catalyst for change.

            Inspiration is that energy the can spark imagination.  We have the ability to ignite each other’s imagination; if utilized, this could lead to further creativity.  Imagine, a perpetual flow of creative expression to inspiration and back to creative expression.  Of course, this is only possible when the beholder of the inspiration acts like that combustible machine and use the fuel blessed to them. 

Unused inspiration is a missed opportunity to explore and evolve.  It is an innate right, and duty to share what you have to this world.  Despite what your ego is telling you at this very moment, you have the ability to be a great blessing by simply being who you are.  Why hold back?  Why not push the envelope?  Why remain in the bubble of comfort?  You may not make a Hollywood film, or be in contention for a Grammy.  Somewhere, someone needs to hear what you have to say or see what it is that you do. 

       You’re a key figure in an infinite pool of story arcs; a character that represents a catalyst for those you have known your entire life, or a stranger that passes you by on the street.  There is no better time than now to reveal your ever expanding potential.  Through the power of your artistic and creative expression, you have the ability to not only heal yourself, but also heal through inspiration, an entire community.    

Friday, June 21, 2013

Growing Pains

Ashley Morris

I have known pain and loss since earlier than any child should have to…
When I was 5-years-old, I lost my father to a drug overdose. That was my first big loss and experience with death. Shortly after, my just barely 30-year-old mother turned widower with six children under the age of 5, gave each of us away with the hopes that we’d have a better life without her in it. That was my second big loss.
My parents were both drug addicts, their parent’s alcoholics and so the story goes for generation and generation before them. My mother thought she was doing us a favor. Little did she know the life-long pain this would cause my siblings and I as well as the trust issues that would transcend our own relationships as we grew into adulthood.
The event that separated my brothers from me, my third big loss, will forever be engraved in my heart and still haunts my dreams today. After learning of my father’s death, my mother lost it. She left me, the responsible 5-year-old that I was, in charge of my five siblings so she could disappear to drown her pain in the puncture of a needle. I did my best to feed my siblings, keep them entertained and distracted, change their diapers and put them to sleep each night, easing their worries. Everything was going to be okay. Mommy would be home soon.
Each night after they were fast asleep, I would sneak out to the fence that separated our apartment building from the freeway, hands clenched to the metal fence as tears blurred my vision peering through the triangular holes, I hoped and prayed that one of those headlights on the dark freeway belonged to my mother’s car. They never did.  
It was late in the evening on the 5th day of my mother’s absence, when there was a knock on the door. For a split second my heart fluttered, mommy was home. Just as fast as hope poured in my mind, it vanished when an unfamiliar voice yelled, “Open the door, it’s the police.” I ordered my siblings to be quiet and hide. I didn’t want my mom to be disappointed and I didn’t understand why the police were at our house, I was doing a good job! I got the baby and hid myself. After what felt like an eternity hiding in the closet, I heard the door break down.
It was a whirlwind after that, as I watched the police offers pluck my siblings from their hiding places against my pleading screams. They were put in the back of a patrol car and taken away. As I watched the flashing red and blue lights disappear into the distance, I didn’t understand what was happening. I was doing a good job and mommy would be home soon. I was put in a different patrol car and taken away with my 6-month-old brother still in my arms. Thoughts raced through my mind, where are they taking them? Where are they taking me? What was mommy going to think?
It was a quick ride. The officer opened the back door to the patrol car and instructed me to go inside. We were at the police station. As the doors opened to the station, I saw my siblings anxiously sitting in the chairs that lined the hallway and they cried and ran to me as I walked in. I embraced all 4 of them with the baby, Christopher, still in my arms from hiding earlier. For the first time, I was afraid. What was going to happen to us? The police wouldn’t tell me anything, I was just a child they said, I wouldn’t understand. Little did they know.
My life as I knew it spiraled out of control after that. All three of my brothers were adopted by different families. These families changed their names, moved out of state and erased all memories of their biological family from their lives and their future. I have not seen or heard from my two youngest brothers since that day. That was 24 years ago.
My sisters and I spent the next 13 years in foster care. It was especially difficult as we were raised by a black woman in an all black, low-income community that was anything but welcoming to three little white girls with Boston accents. I remember thinking to myself often throughout middle school and high school, you call this a better life? I wanted to scream at my mother; if only I knew where she was.
My mother would come in and out of our lives during this time. This only caused more pain as she made empty promises of taking us back one day and finding our brothers. With the taste of hope in our mouths and our hearts, she would then disappear without word for years.
Growing up our relatives who lived back East would occasionally call us, apologizing for not being able to take care of us and send gifts and money to make up for their guilt. Despite this, there was a curiosity to know these people. They were the keepers of information about our parents, our biological family and the life we could have had if our parents didn’t make that tragic decision to move 3,000 miles across the country to hide their own addiction.
Both my mother and father’s side of the family had addiction problems. My mother’s mother was an alcoholic and my mother’s brother, a drug addict. My father’s parents were alcoholics along with his two sisters and older brother. My father’s youngest brother died in a fatal car accident a few months after I was born. It seemed my family was doomed from the beginning to a life of tragedy, death and pain.
In high school, we re-connected with both of our grandmothers. On two separate occasions they came to visit us and for the first time gave my sisters and I hope that we weren’t orphans and we had family who loved us. This was short lived. A few years after re-building those relationships, it all crumbled and life returned to the same tragic story we knew too well. My maternal grandmother passed away from liver problems and two days later my paternal grandmother died of Cirrhosis.
Over and over again, I promised myself that I would have a family one day that I would love and cherish and never put through the same pain and loss I experienced. This was my mantra, create your own life, create your own happiness. When I turned 18, I moved away to college and to begin my new life, free of pain and loss or as much of it as I could control.
While in college, my father’s oldest brother, my uncle Jon, reached out to me and we became pen pals. At first I was hesitant. I was adamant on controlling my life and keeping it free of any more pain; I didn’t have the capacity to experience any more loss. But Uncle Jon was different. I loved talking to him. His voice reminded me of my father, it transported me back to my childhood growing up in Boston when things were happy and we were all together; now a fleeting memory. He would tell me stories of my dad that would replay in my mind hours after we hung up the phone. A few months after reconnecting with my uncle Jon, he died of a brain tumor. At this point, I lost count of the losses. It seemed relentless.  
More recently, I began wondering about father’s father and a month ago I decided to write him a letter. I introduced myself to him and shared stories of my life. I poured my heart out, telling him of my sisters and my successes, despite all the tragedy and obstacles, hoping he’d be proud, this man I didn’t even know. Not certain I had the correct address I dropped the letter in the mail and asked him to call me if ever wanted to know his eldest granddaughter. To my surprise he called me a few days ago and left a message saying he loved me, thought of me often and wanted to talk. I didn’t call him back in time. My aunt called me yesterday to tell me he passed away.
Now in my late 20s, I have managed to build my own relationships and create a family of close friends. I am comfortable with this because I can control it. But there is always a lingering fear of losing those close to me, which prevents me from getting too close to anyone. I have learned to keep people at arm’s length. I’m going to lose them too, so what’s the point of getting too close? As I grow older, I don’t want to experience any more loss or pain.      

Note to Adam

Becky Kruse

"To be sure, I appear at times merry and in good heart; talk, too, before others quite reasonably, and it looks as if I felt, too, God knows how well within my skin. Yet the soul maintains its deathly sleep and the heart bleeds from a thousand wounds." 

                 - Hugo Wolf

          I could not improve upon these sentiments from Mr. Wolf. Please help us spread the word about suicide awareness, intervention and prevention. Please, if you know someone who is thinking of suicide, talk with them, seek help with them. If you know someone who has been affected by suicide, perhaps Adam's story will gently guide them from despair to hope, from grief to grace. Take the time to learn the warning signals. Every 15 minutes in the U.S. someone dies by suicide. Over 38,000 Americans take their own lives each year. The number is growing; let's reverse these statistics. Help us break the silence about suicide, and stop the stigma associated with it; we must stop the bleeding, and mend some broken hearts.

          When we lost our son Adam at the age of 22, I began writing to him as a way to cope with his absence and my grief. These "Note to Adam" have been compiled in a book that is available at amazon and at barnes and noble. All proceeds go to suicide awareness. Please consider purchasing and sharing this book as a way to honor your own loved ones who no longer have a voice. We are all one; in that is the miracle. Thank you and Godspeed from Adam's mom, Becky Kruse.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Thoughts on D.W. Winnicott

Christopher Lukas   

          I have been reading about D.W. Winnicott recently. He was the ground-breaking pediatrician and psychoanalyst who came up with the term “holding environment” for both what a child experiences with his/her mother and the psychotherapeutic experience at its best. He also coined the term “good-enough mother,” which was meant to describe a mother who was sufficiently healthy emotionally and present enough of the time to give a baby the sense of love and continuity that we all need.

           What impressed me even more about Winnicott’s writing was something that applied specifically to my experience and, I suspect, to that of many whose mothers were depressed in their childhoods and killed themselves, as mine did.

           My mother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she attempted suicide just after my older brother’s birth in 1933. She also had postpartum depression. Hospitalized for several months – during which time she made another suicide attempt – she was well enough to come home, to raise her young son and to give birth, in 1935, to another son – myself.

          Six years passed before our mother became so depressed again that she killed herself.
What Winnicott suggests is that any child who is subjected to a depressed (“absent”) mother during the early years is likely to be “knocked down” and to spend the rest of his/her life “in the business of trying to keep Mother alive.”

          In looking back (at the age of 78) I can see how both my brother and I were never satisfied with achievements, no matter how great, because they did not result in bringing mother back to life. The applause was never enough!
In 1997, my brother killed himself.

           I have struggled with depression my whole life, but never felt suicidal. I’m lucky, because certainly I had to battle the depression of my mother during my early years – and certainly I felt that I couldn’t “keep her alive” and happy during those years.
I hope this insight may help others who have had the same or similar experiences.

Christopher Lukas

         PS> I have written about this experience in two books: SILENT GRIEF, and BLUE GENES, both of which can be found in the usual places.

Another writer (Vanessa McGann Ph. D.) and I are now embarking on a book project that involves children who experienced a suicide when they were young, and caregivers in a family where young children had that experience. We’d love to hear from people who want to participate. See our memo about it at http://members.authorsguild.net/kitl/newsletter.htm?newsletter=

Blunders of Bipolar/ Episode 2: The Arrest

Barry Allen

...4 hours passed before my father called me, “What the fuck did you do?”

I told him I knew nothing. Had no idea what he was talking about.

My father and his best friend drove over to my house to talk to me. They suggested I meet with the detectives who had notified them about me setting two cars on fire. I decided to drive myself down to the Tempe police station.

My plan was to deny everything. Blame it on people I had met in the mental hospital. Because we all know people in mental hospitals are capable of committing arson... My alibi consisted of claiming I met some dangerous people in the hospital and they would do things for me, take care of my business.

As I made a right hand turn to head north on Mill Ave, an SUV police car pulled out of a neighborhood street and behind me. She was a blonde woman and I watched her in my rearview mirror as she spoke into her radio.

200 ft before Mill and 13 St the lights went on.

I made a right hand turn and pulled over into a neighborhood cul de sac. When I looked up after putting the car in park, 9 other cars appeared in my rearview mirror. Marked and unmarked vehicles had me blockaded as my father and his best friend observed the procedure.

Officers positioned themselves against their driver doors with guns drawn. A man’s voice came from blockade, “Put your hands out the window, let me see your hands!”

As I turned around, I saw 13 guns pointed at my car and extreme panic on my father’s face.

I followed the officer’s directives and slowly opened my door while pleading for them not to shoot me. A male officer approached me with his weapon drawn on my chest and his 12 partners doing the same.

“Get on the ground, get the fuck on the ground!”

I did as told.

I felt hands patting my body in search of weapons and cold steel wrapped around my wrists. I was in custody and being hauled off to the police station for questioning.

It was only the beginning.

Survivors writing a book on Raising a child in the wake of Suicide

Raising a Child in the Wake of Suicide
A book By
Christopher Lukas
Vanessa McGann, Ph.D.

Two survivors of family suicides are embarking on a new book. They are going to tell stories of children, now grown up, who were below the age of 18 when a suicide occurred in their families. They also want to hear from the caretakers (parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.) who were responsible for children when a suicide occurred.

The purpose is to help families and clinicians understand some of the helpful and less than helpful interventions or activities in those families at the time of the suicides, and since.

For a fuller detailed description of their project, and a call for participants from around the world, can be found by clicking here.

Vanessa McGann, Ph.D.

Christopher Lukas

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The RISE Philosophy Pt. 1: A Purpose

Photo by Thomas Brown

            I feel that I am long overdue in explanation, or perhaps, I have just evolved my understanding and articulation of the situation.  I’m talking about R.I.S.E., its meaning and fundamental purpose.  In 2011,  I made close to one hundred phone calls to cities around the country talking about the RISE bicycle tour.  After long conversations, a good portion of those phone calls did bare the fruit of those individuals and groups willing to participate on the journey.  While on the road, we talked to hundreds, if not thousands of people.  Somewhere along the way, the meaning of the name was passed over.

            I guess it didn’t matter. After all those pre-tour conversations, those who accepted us did so because we had lost loved ones to suicide.  I doubt the name needed a meaning or purpose at that point.  It seems, with out much thought, people have lost touch with the true power that words hold.  Presenting an idea with intentional language has the power to breath life into a seeming lifeless abstract.  It can inspire in the ways that most actions do.  A word or ideal can radically shift perception, evolving awareness of the world in which we all walk through.

            With the three year anniversary of the conceptual conversation which took root just around the corner, I feel now is the most opportune time to bring forth some clarity.  What the hell is R.IS.E. (Revolution Inspired by Self Evolution)?  What is it, and what does it have to do with depression and mental illness?  Further more, how does art and creative expression fit into the greater philosophy?

            In regards to humanity and its multitude of cultures, everything in life on this little blue planet begins with the self.  How we view ourselves in terms of our environment will dictate how we walk through this world.  Essentially, the RISE philosophy promotes knowledge of self.  The acronym expresses this sentiment intentionally.  Revolution Inspired by Self Evolution:  Revolution (change) and Self Evolution (Intentional Reflection); now what this means- personal changes is catalyzed through intentional self reflection.

            To peel even more of that onion (in case you need the assistance), allow me to break it down even further.  It is absolutely paramount that each and every one of us knows, on some base cognitive level, know what we want in life.  The greatest tragedy in life is, not knowing your passion-that which turn you on.  Without passion, one is left with out purpose.  Not knowing your purpose leaves one filled with debilitating fear. 

            The great, yet paradoxical, element of purpose is that we get to create our own.  In order to create a purpose, you need to know your bliss.  If you don’t know what your bliss is, then you need to take the time to figure that out.  You need to reflect and start asking yourself some important questions.  What is my passion?  What do I love?  What do I want to excel at?  What do I want from this life?  Until you know the answers to those questions, you will remain in a limbo floating through the powerful currents of existence.

            Knowing what you want in the life you are given is just the first step in an every evolving journey from cradle to grave.  Once you know what you want, you have to make the decision to go after it.  Again, some personal questions need to be asked.  Am I willing to put in the effort?  Am I willing to sacrifice time and energy?  Am I willing to endure the struggle to accomplish?  Am I willing to be uncomfortable?  When you are able to say yes to your passion and bliss...when you are ready to sacrifice and let go of some comfort...when you are ready to walk the path and take the quest to live your dream, a fantastic magic is unleashed.

            The more you walk the path with an open heart while letting go of the need to control (which is an art in and of itself), you will begin to uncover the existence to a reality of the world never seen before.  A language of actions and events will unfold as you proceed on your quest.  What you always considered coincidence; a pointless and lifeless strange encounter, you know realize to be a living synchronistic web of connection filled with the abundance of purpose.

            Do not be mistaken…this is no easy task.  Just because you know what you want, and make the decision to go after it, does not mean it will fall into your lap.  Like everything else in life, there will be trials and tribulations.  Nothing is free.  I can promise you this; the reward is much greater when you work to attain your bliss, rather than floating through endless randomness with no intentional direction.  Whether you follow your heart and passion or float without intention or focus, those trial and tribulations will be there.  So why not just put up the trials while going after what you want.  No matter what excuse you give yourself, there will always be that void.  The void that only you can fill by knowing and going after that which brings you joy.

            Last, may I give one final suggestion?  Be adaptable and have faith.  Once you know what you want, and have made the decision to set out on your journey for it, expect the unexpected.  There are infinite ways to accomplish the goal of attaining your bliss.  Just as there are many roads from one city to another.  Don’t fall into the trap that convinces your mind that there is one perfect way to follow your bliss.  Pay attention to the clues and signals that the world is laying at your feet.  Above all, enjoy the scenery on the road as well as the people you meet along the way.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Blunders of Bipolar/ Episode 1: A Prologue

Barry Allen


On May 12, 2006 my life changed.

I was already diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had been hospitalized because of a manic episode. Three months prior, the depressive side of bipolar disorder had me sleeping on my parents couch for 20 hours a day.

The depression was debilitating. I stopped hanging out with my friends... stopped bathing... stopped going to school... stopped going out of the house... stopped everything but sleeping.

I found myself in a tailspin of looping negative thoughts that strengthened over time. I obsessed over the same repeating thought for hours.

My brain slowed down to where it was difficult recalling words or names. Listening to people talk was drowned out by my apathetic inner dialogue. I didn’t care about anything. It was all numb and colorless.

Then my brain changed. I started to hear people again, and see colors. My mood lifted and stabilized... and kept lifting, and kept lifting, and kept lifting.

Until I was back in manic state. The mania was more intense than the original episode that led to hospitalization. I was clinically delusional. Having thoughts that I was a Messiah and couldn’t be killed. Preparing retribution for anyone who had received harm in their lives. Fantasizing about homicidal ideas for people who traumatized others.

The 12th day of May 2006, I decided to take action on a plan I devised several weeks earlier. My delusional brain thought it was better than physically hurting someone. A perfect way to send an intimidating message.

I mixed several bags of popcorn styrofoam with two gallons of gasoline and created a few pounds of napalm. Wrapped the napalm in with tin foil and put the balls of destruction inside a paper Nordstrom’s bag for the 3 mile trip in my car.

I drove over to my friend’s apartment complex on 5th Ave and Ash to find his car. I happened to spot his girlfriend’s car before his and decided her car would be apart of the intimidation.

I parked my car next to hers, and took out the Nordstrom’s bag from the back seat.

I looked at her car and began smooshing the tinfoil balls around the body of her car. About 10 in all.

Then walked over to her boyfriend’s car and proceeded to do the same with his.

I pulled a lighter from my pocket, took a deep breath, and lit the tinfoil ball on his windshield. His car was on fire and I quickly walked over to the other car and lit another tinfoil ball.

Got in my car and drove off...


Monday, June 10, 2013

33 ways to feel better, for Jeff

Laura Baran

posted on May 14th, 2013 
Laura I miss my brother Jeff. He killed himself in 2000. He was born in 1980. He would have been 33 today.

Jeff was 20 when he died. I was 23. I pray to release the guilt and regret. I pray that I will allow myself to honor him still even though I fully release guilt, and regret about his death, and what I could have done better. He's still alive in memory without those things. What do they add, nearly 13 years later? What do they do? Do they help me grieve? Suicide is so complex. Why don't we just escape instead? I suppose that's what I finally did.

Jeff's legacy is a mile of kindness. It's an acre of creativity. It's a treasure chest gleaming with jokes and laughter. It's music. It's film. It's moments of bliss being with him. It's love. Love of children. Animals. Sick people. Old people. It's a voice. Strength. Saying what he felt was right. Justice. A strong sense of ethics. Saving my life.

I'm trying to help myself escape into a fantasy and make it my every day life. I can definitely do more. I'm trying to help others escape into loving themselves so they feel less alone and more connected.
I'm trying to show people that creativity can help them become their own best friend.

I will not be quiet. I will not bury my memories and feelings. I will talk. I will cry if I'm sad.
I will play music and paint. I will write like I'm doing now. I will share my feelings. I will ask for help. I will receive help. I will consider myself worthy of being helped. I will help others feel worthy of being helped. I will help others to learn to ask for help.

I am putting beauty into the world with my paintings.

I am nobody's punching bag anymore. And I don't even need to punch anyone to feel better. I don't stoop to that level. I show them how it's done. I always want to be about showing them how it's done. That's what Jeff did.

For Jeff, here are 33 things I do, and maybe you can do too, to feel better.
1    Paint nails
2    Makeup
3    Put on an awesome outfit
4    Buy flowers
5    Smell flowers
6    Play with a dog
7    Play with a child
8    Take a long walk
9    Lay on the grass
10  Hug a tree
11  Dance
12  Watch comedy
13  Take a bath
14  Essential oils
15  Massage
16  Sex
17  Body grooming
18  Clean a room
19   Shower
20  Breathe with attention
21  Meditate
22  Call someone you trust
23  Scream
24  Write
25  Pick things up off the floor
26  Feel it
27  Cry
28  Sunbathe
29  Affirmation painting
30  Favorite music, listen
31  Sing
32  Smile in the mirror, say something super loving and sweet
33  Do whatever relaxes you
Originally posted on May 14th, 2013

TThe original article blog can be found here

To learn more about Laura Baran go to:

Sunday, June 9, 2013

RISE Update: Thomas Brown Video Journal 45

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