The more things change...

...the more they stay the same. (See original quote below.)

I've always found this a fascinating aspect of human nature, and it was reinforced for me yesterday as I sat drinking coffee with five friends I had first met in second grade and, for the most part, had not seen in nearly 30 years. By the time I changed high schools in 1981, I was not seeing these girls regularly any more. My memories of them were mostly fixed in elementary school and junior high. And I lost touch, and that was that.

Then Facebook came along! And suddenly, people I had wondered about from time to time were in my life again, flesh and blood. And then, the coffee date.

First of all, everyone looked the same to me. No surprise. I think our brains imprint a face in our memories and it doesn't matter how old someone gets, the original face is always overlaid on the new face.

But what is fascinating is how much everyone's basic personality, speech patterns and physical characteristics have stayed the same. We may spend billions of dollars a year in this country on self-help books, therapy and fitness training; we may get married, have kids (or not), experience traumas and dramas and life-changing events; we may improve our bad habits, become more confident and embrace healthy or unhealthy behaviors of all kinds, but we do not ever really change.

I like to think that I'm very different from the girl I was when I met these women back in 1972, and even different from the 16-year-old I was when I left for another school. But as our conversation went on, in each woman I saw the same girl I knew back then. Same personality, same sense of humor, same facial expressions, same mannerisms, same everything.

I had this experience with another elementary school friend I met up with a couple of years ago. I hadn't seen her since fourth grade. Guess what: Same exact person I knew in fourth grade.

I'm not saying this is a good or bad thing. It just is. We can change our outward behaviors, but can we change who we are at our core, the traits ingrained in us by biology and genetics?

I guess I'm resigned to the fact that the shy, nerdy, loudmouthed 7-year-old is still with me. I'm no different than I ever was, except that, at this age, I have the self-awareness to know who I am.

Here's a cool article on the "nature vs. nurture" argument as seen through the Human Genome Project.

The original expression, in French, "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" was said by Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr.


I wish I could tell you... (An open letter to negative people)

Dear friend (although I'm not sure that is the appropriate term for our relationship),

I wish I could tell you how much I dread talking to you, because we can't have a conversation where everything in your life isn't falling apart, one way or another. And you only ask me about my life in order to one-up me with your troubles.

I wish I could tell you how much you are sabotaging your personal and professional progress and success because people don't want to work with you or spend time with you.

I wish I could tell you how bad you make people feel with your backhanded "compliments" which are only meant to make yourself look better or smarter than others.

I wish I could tell you to smile now and then. You have a nice smile, but mostly walk around with an expression of disdain.

I wish I could tell you to ease up on the world. Life is what you make of it. We all have struggles and challenges, but we don't all go around constantly complaining and blaming as though we're the only ones who ever experienced pain. Read Sean Holton's blog to see how it's done.

I wish I could tell you that dwelling on the past only works if you are using it to learn from your mistakes. Otherwise, it's a waste of time. And no one wants to hear it.

I wish I could tell you these things, but I don't feel that you are enough of a friend to have an honest conversation with you. Our relationship is based entirely on you complaining and me trying to be supportive and helpful. It's exhausting, and I don't think friendships should feel like that.

I wish that, by reading this, you would recognize yourself. But you won't, because you have a distorted perception of how you are perceived by others, and you will feel sorry for "someone else" when you read this.

What I do get from being around you is an incredible sense of gratitude about my own life. With all my problems and challenges, I can appreciate the good things (hence, this blog) and actively seek to make my life the way I want it. So thank you for that.

This is really more for me than for you.


It's only hair...

There's a cashier at a store in my neighborhood who has the most adorable hairdo. Whenever I shop there, I can't stop looking at her... partly because I'm pretty sure it's a wig. But it's the kind of hair I wish I had: full, bouncy with just the right amount of curl, the perfect shade of brown with blond highlights, and darling bangs. A little retro; I can picture that hair looking sassy with a pair of go-go boots.

Today I go through her checkout line. She's always perky, friendly and conversational, so I decide to mention her hair. I tell her how much I love it; how it's exactly the kind of hair I wish I had, and how I love its bounce and curl.

She is flattered and surprised, and thanks me for the compliment. After a little more small talk about hair, she leans in and tells me quietly she's going through chemo and it's a wig. She doesn't normally tell people, but she's touched by the compliment. This is not her typical hairstyle, but she's enjoying it for her temporary look.

I was afraid she was going to tell me something like this and I wish for a moment that I weren't so nosy. I get all teary-eyed and try to avoid making eye contact by concentrating on my debit transaction. I say that, if I had the choice of wigs, I might go for purple or green, and she tells me that they do offer those colors and people do choose them!

So now that I know what I know, I tell her she has great taste in hair and we say goodbye.

What a cheerful, good-humored woman with a big smile and great attitude. And sadly, quite young to be going through this illness. I hope the chemo works and she recovers soon (I also not-so-secretly hope she keeps wearing the wig anyway). Her positive energy made my day.

Update, December 2011: I finally saw the cashier again this week, and she was wearing her natural hair. So, first of all, she's still with us. And second, she has apparently chosen not to keep wearing her wig. :-) I was very happy to see her.


An emergency thank you...

I have had two ambulance rides in my life: one where I was more fascinated by the quantity of saline being poured over my legs than I was scared or in shock, and one where I cried the whole time with blood pouring down my face.

I have been a patient in the emergency room for both minor mishaps (they laughed when they saw how little I had cut off my finger) and for major physical and psychological trauma (car accident, massive panic attack).

After the trauma and drama are over, I sometimes wish I could track down the first responders, the doctors and nurses who have been there for me through these distressing events, and thank them. But I think for many of us who have experienced these kinds of emergencies, we don't really want to relive them or remember them any more than necessary. And I'm pretty sure that the EMTs and ER staff who helped me have forgotten me by the next day.

Still, I'd like to give thanks this year for the police, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, doctors, nurses, technicians, and everyone else who has scooped me up off the street, stitched me up like Frankenstein, shot me full of sedatives and did what they had to do to put me back together, physically and mentally.

I've always appreciated the dry humor, the calm demeanor, the matter-of-fact attitude that faces me in the ER. I might be freaking out (or just out of it), but the person who meets me never is. When my head was busted open in five places, I don't recall a single ER staff person looking at me in horror. I understand the training and conditioning these people go through. And I appreciate it.

I still remember cracking jokes with the doc who sewed up my lacerations; I distinctly recall telling him I'd "always wanted a needle in my eye."

I've been a visitor with with hubby as he's experienced extremely painful kidney stones, strange dizzy spells and heart palpitations, and also a co-patient (between the two of us, we used up most of the saline supply in the ambulance -- in a ride that took two and a half blocks). They always take us seriously, but they don't make us more scared. How do they DO that?

I take comfort in living near a major hospital, and having spent so much time in its ER, I feel safe and secure as I pass by on my regular walks in the neighborhood. I know what goes on inside. I know people are there for me if I need them.

So on this Thanksgiving, six days short of the 20th anniversary of a car accident that would change my life in so many ways, let me give a resounding


to all the first responders, the ER personnel, and everyone else who helped put the pieces back together again. You rock.


Yay Life IRL

Here's the license plate that inspired this very blog! I think I must live near these people, because I frequently find myself driving behind their car or, in this case, parking next to them at Trader Joe's.

I'd love to meet the person behind this license plate!


A dino a day keeps monotony away

On my neighborhood walk, I'm constantly entertained and engaged. There's so much to see, smell and experience on a beautiful fall day in Santa Barbara. Today, for example, I encountered:

Butterflies and bees
Giant orb spiders
A single yellow leaf dropping from a branch
A sleeping Labrador
A barking Pit Bull
Shimmery snail trails
A car trunk full of groceries
A woman with a camera on a tripod
Gardeners and construction workers
A double-sized, long-haired, chatty, purry gray kitty
A large story board or planning grid in a garage

Dinosaurs! Yep, this house never fails to grab my attention. In its desert-style garden, there are hidden treasures, if you take a moment to look.

There's a brawl about to happen between a stegosaurus and a little guy someone will have to identify for me; there's a brontosaurus guarding a boulder in front. And then, just when you think you're back in prehistoric times, you spot a tiny red car driving through the tableau (see it?). I might find more critters if I look more closely, which I will next time.

I can't help but think I would like the people who live in this house. Their humor and playfulness are two qualities I require in people I choose to hang out with. After all, who wants friends with no imagination or sense of fun?


Shave and a haircut -- free!

Well, I didn't get a shave OR a haircut, but I did get some haircutting advice from a lovely barber whose shop I walk by now and then in between picking up drycleaning and mail.

He was standing outside when I walked by and stopped me to tell me how much he likes my haircut. I told him my husband cuts my hair, and no, he's not trained, but he's been doing it for ten years now for fun.

He asked what tools Bub uses and I said he cuts with scissors and trims the back with clippers. And that we just bought a pair of thinning shears and we're having some fun with those. I told him the only problem is that I have a big cowlick that sticks up in back that's hard for Bub to manage.

So Frank, the barber, says, "Come in," and leads me to his chair. "Sit down," he says.

And for the next five or ten minutes, he proceeds to show me how to deal with the cowlick, how to cut the top and sides so they blend better, and how to trim the back with scissors so the hair hugs the shape of my head.

He combs it straight up and says, "See how this isn't straight? It should be straight," and proceeds to mock-trim with his scissors, demonstrating how Bub should cut straight across and then notch in "like so" to make it lie properly. Of course, he's totally destroying my 'do, but I don't stop him, because I'm so amazed and grateful that Frank would give away this information for free to some woman who happens to walk by his shop on occasion.

When the lesson ended, I thanked Frank for his advice and promised to come by after my next haircut to show him the improvements. I should probably bring him cookies or something for offering up this great advice completely unsolicited.

And if you're in Santa Barbara and need a haircut, stop by Danny's Custom Styling at 3337 State Street, in Loreto Plaza, (around the corner by the travel agency), and ask for Frank!


I, plagiarizer

I was in fourth grade when my school district put out a call for entries for an anthology of students' poetry. I was excited to submit something I had found in a box, written in my handwriting and illustrated with my drawings. It was a sweet little poem that I assumed I had written a couple of years earlier. (Had I run this by my parents before submitting it, I'm sure they would have set me straight).

Fast forward to a man arriving at our house, either from the school district or from the FBI; I don't recall.

I just remember being terrified that I was in serious trouble. The man explained that this poem was not my work and that I should not have submitted it. What exactly do they do to plagiarizers? I thought I was going to jail.

Now, I can see being fooled by a sweet little poem like this:

Mix a pancake,
Stir a pancake,
Pop it in the pan.

Fry a pancake,
Toss a pancake,
Catch it if you can.

As a 9-year-old, I can imagine thinking I might have devised that one.

But this?

The Caterpillar

Brown and furry
Caterpillar in a hurry;
Take your walk
To the shady leaf, or stalk.
May no toad spy you,
May the little birds pass by you;
Spin and die,
To live again a butterfly.

This is an abridged version of a Christina Georgina Rossetti poem that I had plagiarized at the tender age of six or so (the pancake poem above is also by Rossetti).

Or not plagiarized, but rather written out and illustrated in my own handwriting, not because I was trying to take credit, but because I liked it and I didn't know that I should put her name on the page.

I think that experience made me into the law-abiding citizen that I am today. I am pretty sure I will always get caught if I do something naughty.

Here's the full version:

Brown and furry
Caterpillar in a hurry,
Take your walk
To the shady leaf, or stalk,
Or what not,
Which may be the chosen spot.
No toad spy you,
Hovering bird of prey pass by you;
Spin and die,
To live again a butterfly.


Up all night...

Much like my last post, this situation doesn't really lend itself to yelling out, "Yay life!" But, also like my last post, I know there is something positive to be found and something to be learned in this situation, so I'm posting it here and looking for your input.

I have suddenly been hit with a nasty case of insomnia. For the past three weeks or so, I've not only had trouble falling asleep, but have actually been lying awake in bed until 4:00 in the morning or so -- not every night, but two or three times a week. I had a night like this in June as well.

Some events exacerbate the situation, like a kitty who wakes us up at 5:15 for her 6:00 breakfast, a sometimes too-cool and sometimes too-hot room, and the occasional snore-fest from hubby, but the fact remains: I can't fall asleep.

I've tried melatonin which, when I took it in the middle of the night after lying awake for two hours, did nothing.

I've tried melatonin with valerian and kava kava which, when taken before bedtime seems to work, but when taken after lying awake for two hours, does nothing.

I do progressive relaxation, I think positive grateful thoughts, I play "Clair de Lune" in my head, I try to empty my mind. None of it works.

I haven't tried getting up and just doing something else, like reading or watching the Home Shopping Network (which has been known to make me pleasantly drowsy). That might be my next step.

I am a regular exerciser, although during this several weeks, my habits have fallen by the wayside a bit. But I've been known to go three months without exercising, and never had insomnia like this before.

I believe it might be triggered by our long list of home improvement projects, and I think I might be a little overstimulated by everything we're doing and still have to do. It's not worry -- it's excitement!

Is it possible I'm being kept awake by the prospect of moving a bigger desk into my office, painting for the first time in 18 years, and assembling a bed with (finally!) drawers underneath? Is it the satisfaction of finally having an organized closet and a coffee table with storage? Is it the prospect of finally getting our home to feel like a place we really want to be?

I don't know, but I'm open to suggestions. Maybe I have something to learn about my health, my thinking, my lifestyle. Please share your remedies for insomnia in the comments. Do you have a no-fail supplement? Do you get out of bed? Take multivitamins? What works when you can't get to sleep?

And for a little fun with insomnia... Check out the poet and storyteller Rives' take on the mystery of 4 a.m. in this 2007 TED talk.

If you can't see the embedded video, go here to view it.


Lemons, lemonade, and Mexican food

Of all the people to meet when stranded on the side of the highway with a flat tire... two guys stranded on the side of the highway with a flat tire!

Yesterday, as we made our way home from Sacramento to Santa Barbara via the interstate 5 freeway, we got a flat tire. In an area with no landmarks, no call boxes, no exit signs, nothing. In 95 degree heat.

Once we discovered that our spare was also flat, we drove slowly along the shoulder until we reached a spot where I could get enough of a signal to call the Auto Club. And we found an overpass about 1/4 mile ahead, so we could stay in the shade, passing another car in the shoulder on the way.

We called the Auto Club and then proceeded to wait. And wait. We pulled out magazines, we ate snacks. We kept the car running so we could have air conditioning. And we tried to watch the other car, somewhat distant in our rear view mirror, to see if they were making progress changing their tire.

Apparently they weren't, because they started driving toward us in the shoulder with their hazard lights on. Just before they reached us, their tire completely blew out and they had to stop. So two young men got out of the car and started walking toward the overpass for shade.

We all introduced ourselves and started chatting. We had been given an ETA from the Auto Club of just about a half hour, due to our call being considered a priority. And the two men were given a similar estimate. An hour passed. We called AAA again and were told that the driver "couldn't locate us." At one point we noticed a third car pulled over on the side of the road. They were overheating, but they eventually got back on the road. By this time, a CHP officer had stopped and was waiting with us. He gave us a location to pass along to AAA and we continued to wait.

Another hour went by as the five of us stood on the side of the road in the heat, wind and dirt. Finally, a tow truck! But it was not our tow truck, it was the truck for the two men, Victor and Brandon. Again we called the Auto Club, while they walked back to their car and got themselves hooked up. The towing company still did not understand where we were and had been unable to locate us. And at this time their driver was still several miles away.

Victor and Brandon's tow truck finally started to drive toward us and we prepared to wave goodbye to our fellow travelers. But they had asked the driver, Martin, if he could take us as well. Luckily, he was driving a flatbed that also had a tow bar.

So Martin proceeded to change the tire on our car from the back to the front, then hook up our car to be towed. We all piled into the cab and headed for the nearest garage, 27 miles down the road in Coalinga. It was now exactly two hours past the time we had called AAA.

Unfortunately, we are only "basic" members with AAA, a fact that we had neglected to notice only allowed for seven miles of towing. At the garage, we paid more for the one tire and labor than I paid the last time I had two tires installed. And we paid a hefty fee for the towing.

We said goodbye to our driver, and to Victor and Brandon, who very generously shared their tow truck with us, and who both had premium memberships allowing them to be towed all the way to Los Angeles. They also had a laptop so they could watch the NBA finals all the way home!

By the time we got back on the road, we had been delayed for four hours. It felt like heaven to get back into our car and continue our journey home. At one point, I sighed and said, jokingly, "It's almost like it never happened." Rudy looked at me, with my red shiny face and sweaty disheveled hair, and laughed.

We could have been really, really upset. Auto Club basically left us hanging, out in the middle of nowhere. When we spoke to the representative, she told us that, because we're members of AAA in Southern California, and because they are "not affiliated" with AAA in Northern California, SoCal therefore has no jurisdiction over what happened. The experience could have been a real nightmare.

We could have been on the side of the road even longer.
We could have been left behind by Victor and Brandon.
We could have been standing in the sun instead of under an overpass.
We could have been without water.
We could have been without cell phones or coverage.
We could have been stranded at night.

But we weren't. Instead...

We met two nice guys and kept ourselves entertained talking with them.

It was only a flat and not a bigger problem like transmission.

The tow truck was able to take both of our cars.

The garage was open after 5:00 on a Sunday and they had my size tire.

We made it home at a reasonable hour, not in the middle of the night.

And the most unbelievable good fortune of all. While we waited for our tire to be replaced, we came upon a Mexican restaurant -- at a truck stop in the middle of nowhere -- that actually had a couple of vegetarian items on the menu! It wasn't the best meal I've ever had, but the veggie burrito, quesadilla and horchata were welcome respite from the heat and from the fast food places across the street.

So here's a shout out to Victor, Brandon, Martin, and Cazuela's Restaurant. They kept it light and helped us get through what could have been a truly horrible experience, but instead turned out to be more of an adventure. And now we have a great story to tell.


How to be positive when facing the scary unknown

We all have our struggles, including me. If you haven't read about my personal war against panic attacks, here's the series on my other blog, Speak Schmeak.

I know you've been through something difficult and you survived. But did you manage to keep a good attitude through it all? Did you know that having a positive attitude helps not only with mental health, but also with physical healing? Here's just one article that addresses the issue.

Read this blog post by Sean Holton, who is having his second brain surgery today on a recurring cancerous tumor. If Sean can get through this with humor, can't we all improve our attitudes a little? Not just when we're going through something scary and difficult, but maybe all the time?


Free compliments!

What if everyone were this positive? What if everyone could find one thing to compliment about another person every day? Will you give it a try? I'm going to!


Sometimes the right underwear makes all the difference

I've put on some weight in the last year. Okay, a lot of weight. There are many good reasons and excuses for the gain, but the bottom line (har har) is that none of my pants fit. Even pants I bought recently are already too tight.

It's hard enough to be out of my weight comfort zone and dealing with all that insecurity and disappointment, but it adds insult to injury when my clothes are so tight as to be 1) painful and 2) unflattering.

Shopping for bigger clothes is a temporary solution, and I have been shopping and have picked up some nice clothes that fit and that I look good in, and that helps a lot.

But what about those days (like yesterday) when I go shopping and, not only does nothing fit, but everything looks terrible on me?

Undies! Yep, instead of getting all "woe is me" about the lack of flattering pants around town, I decided to treat myself to some undergarments to replace the ones that are way too snug and make me look like I've wrapped rubber bands around my bum.

It's amazing how nice-fitting, smooth underwear can instantly make a lumpy-looking pair of pants so much better.

So for now, I've still got the tight-pants problem. But the right skivvies can go a long way toward improving my self-image and helping me be a little easier on myself while I work myself back into shape.

(Love the image from The Art of Manliness blog!)


Standing up for television

There are a lot of people out in the world who not only knock TV, but knock those of us who watch it like we're some kind of illiterate fools.

Because apparently it's not possible to enjoy TV and still be a productive member of society. If I watch TV, I must be eating bucketloads of junk food and letting my brain turn to mush. Not to mention the lack of exercise I get because apparently I sit on my fat butt in front of the boob tube instead of moving my body.

I'm tired of it and I'm going to defend watching TV, here and now. I can only speak for myself; I don't know what the rest of you watch, how much time you spend or how it impacts your life.

I work out five days a week; it's on my calendar and I'm deeply committed.

I read.

I write.

I cook.

I make jewelry.

I spend time with my husband, my friends and my cats, and my family when I have the time to travel.

I have work time and personal time, and TV falls into my personal time. I don't work during personal time, because I value the boundaries I've set between work and play. TV watching falls into play time. I don't work 16 hours a day, so TV is hardly affecting my productivity. I need and want downtime and I don't apologize for making time for it.

In fact, TV is some of the best inspiration I've found for my public speaking blog, Speak Schmeak. TV shows, sporting events and commercials regularly provide fodder for my blog posts. I find that it keeps my ideas fresh and in tune with pop culture. It stimulates my thinking and helps me apply effective public speaking principles to a lot of different situations. Why not use Top Gear, Top Chef or American Idol as inspiration? People watch those shows and can relate to the people and issues I write about.

Here are 85 public speaking blog posts that have been inspired by TV.

I'm tired of being judged because I enjoy TV. I have hobbies. I get plenty of sleep. I eat well. I think for myself. I'm pretty sharp, actually. And I watch TV. I find TV entertaining. I even learn things from TV.

You don't like TV. That's fine for you. But what's the big deal if I like it?


Love the process

I love the positive message of this video. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Happy Friday!


Let loose with car dancing!

It's only fitting that a blog called "Yay Life!" would reference a blog called "The Jungle of Life," right? Lance Ekum is a fellow optimist and lover of life, and he's started a micro-movement for car dancing in conjunction with The Levity Project.

Do you enjoy dancing and singing in your car, but stop when other cars pull up near you? How about taking the opportunity to forget all that insecurity and embarrassment and just enjoy yourself! I sing at the top of my lungs all the time when I'm driving, whether anyone's looking or not. But I can't say that I've yet graduated to dancing, unless I'm in the car with someone else, and then, for some reason, it's less embarrassing. Watch some car dancing below.

Over at the Speak Schmeak blog, this is a recurring theme: Lighten up, have fun, stop worrying about what others think. There's nothing wrong with having a good time during a presentation, for you or for the audience.

Fun isn't something I've talked about much over here, though. I'm going to have to remedy that!

Don't forget to check out Lance's blog and The Levity Project. Who can't use a little more levity in their life?


Spring in Santa Barbara!

The smell of spring in Santa Barbara is like no other city I've ever visited. You can't see it, but you know it's there.

Everywhere you go, you smell it. The scent of white flowers like jasmine and alyssum fills the air. On a warm spring day, all I want to do is take a nap in the grass in the fragrant air.

It hangs like a soft cloud, strongest in the early evening, sometimes carried on a warm breeze.

It's unmistakable, the smell of spring in Santa Barbara.


A tribute to Kitty

We lost one of our kitties on Friday, our oldest gray girl we called Dawg. I wrote a tribute to her fabulousness here.

On Saturday, leaving UCSB campus, we found ourselves heading directly into this rainbow. I couldn't help thinking it was a message from Dawg that she's reached the Rainbow Bridge.


Creek after a storm

Ten or twelve years ago, there was extensive flooding in Santa Barbara after heavy winter rains. We live across the street from a creek that overflowed its banks. We couldn't leave the house, as we were surrounded by two feet of water. Our neighbor, at the bottom of a slope, had a river running right through his house and out the back door. He pried off some fence boards so the water could continue through and not pool up in our property.

A few years later, Santa Barbara implemented a street sweeping program to capture all the debris that would normally flow into the storm drains and eventually cause flooding.

We all complained about being unable to park our cars on the street on certain days (hubby and I don't have any off-street parking or a garage), especially when we got one of those nasty green envelopes on our window -- a $40 parking ticket.

But we got used to it.

The creek across the street used to be filled with massive boulders that you could hear crashing and tumbling when the creek was running and full. The full creek used to be a dramatic scene; people from all over our neighborhood would walk over to watch it churn after a heavy rain.

Now the boulders sit in a pile on the other side of the park, and the creek flows freely. More like a babbling brook, even after a heavy rain. I miss the drama, but not the flooding. And the creek is still lovely to visit.


Old songs

Driving in my car recently, I heard both The Bee Gees' "Heartbreaker" and Tony DeFranco's "Heartbeat (It's a Love Beat)." These songs instantly took me back to my childhood, to happy, carefree times. Or at least that's how I remember them. Who knows what was really going on at the time? The way I remember it now, all was good when I played my favorite records (yeah, records!).

I had such a crush on Tony DeFranco!

What songs take you back to old happy times?



If you haven't yet seen the movie "Invictus," I highly recommend it as a spirit-raising, hope-enhancing, darkness-squashing entertainment.

However, even if you don't see the movie, please read the poem from which the movie takes its title. This piece, in itself, shares a powerful message.

by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of fate
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years finds
And shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

On my other blog, Speak Schmeak, I recently completed a series on panic attacks: my own story of how I got my life back on track after a debilitating series of attacks. This poem feels like a satisfying way to end the series and move forward!