Juggling On A New Level

I am functioning on less and less sleep these days, which screws with my day-to-day life, but seems to do wonders for my productivity. Yeah, I don’t understand it either.

My current WIP (work-in-progress) is at eight-four thousand words. I achieved those numbers in slightly over a full month. I put in a lot of hard work, and long hours, which I am proud of. Every day, it gets better.

Obviously, I’ve taken time to sleep so I come back refreshed, but I am looking at this material every single day. Even on days when I say I’ll take a break, I still put a few hours into it, or I do a quick read-through before bed to make sure I like how it flows. I allow myself to cut what doesn’t work.

I’ve written an insane amount of words this year for various manuscripts. People keep telling me how impressive this is, but honestly, it’s a job, like any other job. It’s important to me for anything with my name on it to feel like it’s work readers are familiar with, regardless of the topic at hand. This one in particular is not something I’d considered doing before, so as I write and catch myself enjoying it, I feel that translates to how a reader will catch my sense of humor or my snark within. Both of which would be incredibly hard to miss.

The majority of writers, if they are truly lucky, have a distinctive voice. I am constantly told it’s crystal clear when I’ve written or contributed to something. That is positive reinforcement to keep writing and making contributions. To keep creating. I’m not sure I know how to stop. I don’t like ignoring solid ideas. I don’t like putting things aside to work on what is selling and/or more relevant, but I’m only one person. There are only so many hours in a day, and I’ve been putting in an extraordinary amount of time on every detail. I’ve researched, studied my ass off, and I still do that several hours a day to make sure I’m in the right mind-set. We all need to source inspiration from something, someone, or somewhere. On occasion, all of the above.

What I’m writing is something I have actually lived. That is why I had not written it, until now. I have changed names and switched things around for obvious reasons (To protect the innocent, not the guilty.), but there’s extensive truth on every page.

There are genres I love to pieces, and there are genres which will always sell. That’s something all writers have to factor in. I’ve paid my dues. I’ve been at square one. I’m not starting over. I’m too experienced and too smart to try and diminish myself, and box myself into one aspect of what it means to be a writer. I refuse to go in the opposite direction.

I re-set everything this time around. Brand new playlist. New pre-writing routine. A whole different set of rituals. I want what’s on the page to feel fresh, because it is a story being told in real time. I dated it back a year, but everything else is current, and I like the way it flows from one chapter to the next. When I don’t like something, I go back into earlier portions and write a new chapter, or I build upon something I started, but needed to take a break from. We all have days when the material is never-ending, and days when it lags. I am trying to stay on schedule with the current portions, because some of that material is easier to write. The schedule is my own. I am looking at what I have for October and November, and this should be ready for submission in early to mid-2023, providing I remain on pace. The timetable includes several rounds of editing and rewrites. Right now, the manuscript is pretty clean. Most of mine are.

A genuine benefit of having an editing background is that I see errors in everything. Not only in my own work, but in a brand new novel that just came out, a restaurant menu, a street sign, or a glaring continuity issue in something written for television, etc. I am constantly correcting something, or someone. I am also highly aware I have a terrible habit of correcting people as they’re speaking. Sometimes I do it mentally, but other times, it slips out. It’s an occupational hazard, not an intentional dissection of others. That’s a whole other ball game.

It’s a damn good idea to write what you know, but it’s also important to be realistic about what you don’t, in case you do decide to break out of your comfort zone. The work I have done for the past few years has been, one hundred percent, me coming out of my comfort zone and making myself uncomfortable as hell. I needed a challenge, so I gave myself several. I found a weak spot and I lunged for it like a tiger. There’s nothing wrong with feeling strong enough in your body of work to say, “I can do this.”, and then follow through.

Coming off of a holiday weekend here in the United States, I have been diligent at keeping myself writing. I thought this week, I might miss a few days, so I was tripling my word count for days. For now, I’m okay-ish.

My migraines have reached a critical point where the nausea, dizziness, and vertigo are out of control. A few weeks ago, I called to make an appointment with a specialist who is focused on migraine-related vertigo. I didn’t have to wait very long to get in, which was quite shocking. The first appointment was hearing and vision tests. No hearing issues; I can pretty much hear every pitch imaginable. The vision tests were nauseating, and I have not been the same since hot air was forced into my ears. Initially, there was some dizziness, but I’m less than forty-eight hours out of the tests and have fallen multiple times, injuring myself. The doctor was amazing and very kind and empathetic. We talked about how, if it’s not my ears, then it could be my nose, throat, or a deeper inner ear issue closer to the brain. Clearly, it’s something and not a simple connection. I’ve already been told I will likely be sent an order for a brain MRI. I’ve been begging my headache specialist to order one for far too long, so to have someone run tests and not waste my time is so crucial. I meet the actual specialist at the end of the month, and as long as he has all the tests in front of him, I will potentially start a treatment plan at the end of September, and that’s more than reasonable. I do expect to be sent to a regular ENT specialist, as well, but I am grateful that when I called, there was no real wait time to get started. That’s extremely rare, and coming across someone who specializes in this is equally as rare. I just have to see how it plays out these next few weeks/months, and hope there’s help around the corner. Basically, getting an accurate diagnosis so I don’t end up with broken bones would help tremendously.

What else is going on that I can share? Oh, that’s right; it’s private AF and I might never talk about it. I know some of my friends have caught on, but for the most part; I’m writing. I juggle it differently these days, but I get it done EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. In case no one has mentioned it before, that’s the job.

Let’s roll into Fall, everyone. September 23rd will be here before you know it! Special thanks to all the new readers; I see you. 😉

copyright © 2022 by Lisa Marino-Molchanova & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Poison In Lethal Doses®™ is a registered trademark.

The Art of Storytelling

Nonfiction is where I shine. When you’re obscenely direct as an human-being, to the point where your honesty has been called, “intimidating” by others, you should stick with what you know and what you are solid at. Over a decade ago, I decided to test myself and began writing fiction. I think my migraines got worse as a result.

Fiction is a whole other beast for a person whose primary focus is honesty. It’s the curveball you’re not expecting when you step up to the plate. It is challenging. Perhaps that’s part of the allure. I’m the type o personality which will tell you to throw the fucking ball right at me. I’ll catch it or I won’t, but more often than not, I’m catching.

I had written a solid starter novel which I ended up shelving because I felt like it had already been done so many times before. No one wants to write a cliche, even though they sell. I now know the timing of my work coincides with some current life events. Despite my ability to tell a story differently and my OCD attention to detail, I realize now it did nothing to boost my confidence as a writer, because fiction is not my safe space. I live in my head enough that fiction should be incredibly easy, but it isn’t. I have no shame in admitting that.

Slowly, over the past six months or so, I started parceling out parts of that starter novel to other projects. I had written so many fantastic scenes, and another writer had told me to save everything. “Write more than you know you will need, because those scenes can always be used up the road.” She was right, and it was something I’d been doing my entire career. I always save partially written scenes and see them come alive months, or years, later. I draft so many ideas which are brilliant in the moment, as many writers do, but when something nudges me and tells me the story needs to be written, and I have to tell it, that’s when I make a concerted effort to listen to that message. When I need a break, I take a break. I come back to the material in a fresh way, and it always feels better when I do. I like coming back to several hundred pages and being so involved in the story, I completely forget I wrote it. For me, that is what a gifted storyteller does.

I’m working on something new right now. It’s one of those things I began writing out of nowhere about a week and a half ago. I found myself inspired by very specific honesty, integrity, and energy, and decided to put ink to paper. Essentially, I wanted it to be larger than life.

The art of storytelling is to tell the story your way; leaving the opinions of others where they belong. It’s a different way for me to use my voice, and still share and discuss issues I deem important. I pulled myself out of a box and opened up on a level I am proud to put on a page.

I’ve written twenty-three thousand words, thus far. None of which I’d cut (I’ve already done some of that.). These characters are so unlike those I’ve written before. I wanted to be more inclusive, and so far, so good. It requires going into a different head space, but that’s part of what I like about it. I want the cultures and flavors to be present from cover to cover.

I’ve learned so much about myself while exploring fiction as an alternative avenue. One of the most important things is to make sure you’re telling a story for the right reasons. I looked at my typical lead characters and decided to switch shit up in a big way; which is deeply important to me. It adds depth to the storytelling. I want those first few pages to grab you, and this is something I’ve always been able to do. Grab someone’s attention for the full ride.

I find all of this works best when you have someone to refer back to as inspiration. I lucked out there, and had been a bit blind without realizing it, which is mentally and emotionally embarrassing. I’m grateful for the enlightenment, though. I can only describe it as a soulmate moment. I have nothing else to compare it to, other than the automatic knowledge that you’ve met someone who is part of your journey, whether it’s permanent, from a past life, or a soul acknowledgement. You feel it from head to toe. You automatically know things you shouldn’t know. You can read them as though you’re looking in a mirror. This has happened to me a handful of times, but this feels so much deeper, and it’s impossible to ignore.

Being able to see something so serious through someone else’s eyes is an important aspect of both personal and professional development. I want to say the absolute lack of aggression and hostility is what hit me the most. The approach had zero malice. The kindness, compassion, emotional intelligence, and deep empathy reached my soul, and I know I am a better person for paying attention and listening. I am still listening, and will continue to do so, because the lens is clear for me now, where before, I couldn’t connect. The inability to connect was completely on me, but again, the approach had a lot to do with my receptiveness. I rarely connect with a person on such a level, but when I do, it is deeply meaningful. I always ask for guidance, and the Universe heard me loud and clear.

Writing multicultural characters helps me connect with my own cultures, as well as those which are currently foreign to me. It broadens the horizons. I have always connected through my love of languages, art, architecture, and individuals who are great guideposts. I feel good, and proud, of the work on the page. I put a lot of truth into fiction, and I’ve addressed issues which I’ve remained quiet about because I never felt it was my place to speak on behalf of things which were not in my wheelhouse. I was not indifferent, I simply felt the need to take a small step back and observe. I don’t jump on bandwagons. I educate myself fully before I mention anything, and if I have questions, I would much prefer to do the research or talk to someone who is more knowledgeable on a matter than I am. I don’t ever want to come from a place of ignorance or say something hurtful to someone. It’s not who I am as a person, and it isn’t the kind of writer I am, either.

In a lot of ways, this year did not go as planned, and there’s still five months to go. I have been stalled, like many other people, regarding major business decisions and steps I intended to take long before Covid hit. However, other things have shown me how far I’ve come from 2021 to 2022. My priorities, relationships, and business acumen have all shifted greatly. I allow myself to set larger goals, even when they make me a little nervous.

I received an e-mail last week to let me know I’d been nominated for an award, and I am humbled by this. My presence on Instagram has exploded. I dialed it back on Twitter. I update less often, so I know the award is based on different aspects of my content. I try to create things that matter, inspire, and bring people together. I try to inspire the way I’d like to be inspired. Inevitably, I’ll make mistakes. No one is perfect, but I am highly aware of my faults.

During a conversation last week, I was informed how good I am at being hard on myself. This was during a video chat and I responded by saying, “I can’t believe you just said that to me!”, because it came out of left field. The response I got was, “Oh shit, did I say that out loud?” The person I was talking to actually ducked in the middle of that exchange, as if he thought I was going to throw something at him. That moment of humanizing me and letting me know that yes, I’m a perfectionist and it’s both a blessing and a curse, but it does make me more self-aware, was actually helpful, even though we were both laughing, which sort of defeated the purpose of the point he was trying to make. It was deeply acknowledging, though, and I do appreciate a person who has truly taken the time to get to know me, being able to have lighthearted moments with me, and no, I wouldn’t have thrown anything at him. The playfulness of the exchange really makes me laugh even now. It’s so similar to a sibling dynamic, but this is someone I have great respect for, and I have seen from day one, how much he respects me and my insight. Knowing what a positive, healthy relationship it is gives me that push to be fiercer each day.

When a person acknowledges how prolific I am in my writing, and how I will always have great ideas and opportunities… It’s so complimentary and supportive. It’s even more supportive when the same person says, “You have grown so much since the day I met you. You are worlds away from who I was first introduced to, and you have every right to be proud of that because you show up and you do the work.” That’s special. I don’t see myself the way others do, so I’ve received a lot of feedback of late that was so loving and supportive, and maybe it was a small confidence boost professionally, but more so on a personal level.

Like anyone else who is going through a lot, but who is also taking time out of a day to write for 12+ hours, I feel closer to a few of my larger goals.

Here’s to better days, brighter tomorrows, and all the inspiration a person can hold in their head and heart. Have a good weekend, my people. 😊

copyright © 2022 by Lisa Marino-Molchanova & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Poison In Lethal Doses®™ is a registered trademark.

The Traumatic Journey: Part I

I’ve been quiet for what seems like forever, and anyone who knows me knows I use my platform to communicate and inform; even if my subject matter isn’t popular.

It’s likely obvious to my regular readers that I am going through some heavy shit. I am. Unfortunately, I am also numb to a lot of the things other people are talking about right now. Not because I lack empathy or compassion; neither is true. I am trying to work through a 747 full of trauma, and through that journey came more trauma, and more, until I reached a breaking point.

Let me be clear: I’m okay. I am on the other side. Mostly, I am angry, in a lot of pain, and trying to be strong. A lot has been going on for me, and it will come out in the pieces I am writing, just not all at once.

I am coming off of a fresh set of nerve blocks and once again, I am sorry I did it. Once I feel better, I get to begin to fight for occipital nerve blocks. My doctor has already heavily documented occipital neuralgia in my chart, but my insurance has refused to pay for these injection sites, claiming they are experimental. They aren’t. She actually told me not to fight for it. Any doctor who would say that to me clearly doesn’t know me very well. I know it’s a covered procedure. The nerve blocks they immediately agreed to pay for are actually far more expensive than the one’s they don’t want to pay for. It makes NO sense, and I’m nothing if not a fighter.

This was my third time getting supraorbital nerve blocks. These hurt like I cannot explain. There are multiple injections, and they go under and into the brow bone on both sides. Because of the dose, it’s not quick. You’ve got a needle jammed into your bone for a good 45 seconds or so. The majority of my facial structure is bone, as so observed by my doctor. For me, I then have to apply pressure because these locations bleed heavily. There are a few which go into the supratrochlear nerve, a series goes into muscles in my shoulders, and she chose to add extra starting at the top of my spine, under my hair, going 3/4’s down the spinal column where I already have arthritis and Lord only knows what else, because my doctors won’t order additional tests if an x-ray will do. If she didn’t give me the medication, she’d have to throw it out. They are paying for an entire vial of medicine, but telling her not to give me a particular set of injections. One day she mentioned, in her frustration, how she is forced to account for every drop of medication she tosses, and how it’s incredibly wasteful for them to only pay for small amounts of these medications, and then ask her to throw it out. My nerve blocks are steroid free and are supposed to last 6-12 weeks. I was asked to give it a year before I say yes and continue, or decide to stop them. I don’t know where I stand on this moving forward. It’s a lot of work suffering from chronic migraines and worse with a spine that’s badly damaged. I’m definitely not having any fun on that level. 🙄

As she was injecting my shoulders and spine, my doctor told me she could feel how tight the muscles are. Mind you, I am also on long-term muscle relaxers for a full body experience. I’m careful with them because too many, “relaxing” medications can cancel each other out. If I don’t take them, I can’t always move, and if I do take them, I don’t always feel them working. 😔 I worry they will be taken away because so many doctors are making pain patients choose between treating our pain and treating our mental health. It is wrong, and I am vehemently against any doctor who tries to pull this on anyone. Mental health IS healthcare, and if doctors ask you to choose, find another doctor. The fear-mongering in medicine has got to stop. I’m sick of it, and I know I am not alone.

Much of the time, I factor in how long I’ve suffered from migraines. It will be twenty-five years in December. That’s a long time to suffer from anything, but imagine daily migraines. I was given my diagnosis at my very first appointment, a diagnosis most people wait 1-5 years to get. I tried all the usual suspects medication-wise, and they failed me. Each time a new symptom surfaces, I hesitate to bring it up with my doctor. I asked about a medication I had never heard of and she shifted her tone and behavior immediately, because the medication in question is a narcotic abortive nasal spray. I’m glad she decided she, “Won’t be prescribing THAT,”, but I wanted to say, “What if it REALLY helps me? What if that drug is the only medication to stop my suffering?” She was so dismissive, she wouldn’t even look at me. I immediately felt less trusting, overall.

Most doctors require a reminder of the Hippocratic Oath when they make such bold refusals. “Do no harm.” They absolutely, be it intentionally or unintentionally, ARE harming their patients. I have seen things in my medical record that make me want to scream. So, many doctors are harming their patients, en masse. As is the government, which needs to get the fuck out of my health care, as well as the insurance companies. Our pain is a political business to them, nothing more. All they care about is money, and if you don’t believe me, look into how much the government paid for your Covid vaccinations. They don’t come cheap. Doctors at hospitals are on salary and insurance, along with the government, dictates what they can and cannot prescribe. That is NOT okay. Pretty soon, they will be regulating alcohol and killing off millions of dependent alcoholics. Just like with pain patients, the only people who care will be those who get left behind. And the brands who depend on the business. It could all come crashing down.

I am frustrated as hell living with multiple diagnoses of pain disorders and only having a tiny percentage being looked after. Something I take, as needed, might be causing serotonin syndrome. I have to stop taking it, and this is something that costs a fortune out-of-pocket, until I speak with my doctor, who will almost certainly run lab work to make sure I’m not in the rare danger-zone. My symptoms indicate I might be, and that’s scary as hell.

The more I deal with medical professionals, the more I am marginalized and traumatized. It’s a system that is irreparably broken. It is rife with systemic racism and people who never should have gone to medical school in the first place because they have mind-blowingly limited knowledge in their chosen field. If you can’t do a little bit of everything and truly care about your work and how you are perceived by your patients, then please go the world an epic favor by going into a different line of work. We don’t need anymore crappy doctors. You’re embarrassing the few good doctors we’ve got!

With all of this going on, I am also working on two manuscripts. I wanted to make them a Spring/Summer project to see which one would be near completion by the end of October. They both have enormous potential, but I’ve written double the word count on one, whereas the other is about seventy thousand words. If either starts to get on my nerves, I’ll work on the dark urban fantasy material, instead. Because I’ve been in such crippling pain, I have written and read a lot less this year, but I am trying to get my shit together on that. Even if it’s just to challenge myself to get two thousand words written a day, that’s reasonable. Others would say to start at a page, but I am experienced enough to know I can accomplish the higher word/page count. There will be days when I double, triple, or quadruple on this, and days when a page will be enough. Know yourself, know your limits. It’s not dissimilar to the days when I’ve walked eight miles and it takes me a week to recover. There was a time when I wouldn’t stop until after dark, but those days are long-gone. Coming to terms with that, with the loss of complete health… It’s not easy. For people to insinuate that anyone enjoys suffering is just plain sad. For them. For the warped mind who dares to go against every doctor you’ve had to struggle through, for every diagnosis you’ve fought for. There’s a special place in hell for people of that nature.

And on that cheerful note, I’m on my way for now. I’ll be back as soon as possible.

Have a good week, everyone.

copyright © 2022 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Poison In Lethal Doses®™ is a registered trademark.

Sinking

The precise word I’ve used to describe the hell I’ve been going through is, “Sinking.” I say this to my doctor at least twice a month; “I’m sinking.” He gets a confused/torn look on his face and tries to distract me with questions. I’m thisclose to losing my patience. 🙄 I worry that one day, I will not employ a filter and will say, “You went to medical school to give me that face? I hate to inform you how ripped off you were.” Alas, I try not to be rude to the one person who, medically, has my back. I respect the fact that he doesn’t humor me, roll his eyes, or try to dismiss what I’m saying, but sometimes, I think we’ve collectively met a frustration moment because nothing is helping me.

Am I sinking right this second? Yes. I had a mental plan in my head for how today would go. I woke up early. Much earlier than I planned, so I shut off my alarm and started my day. I cooked a real breakfast, which seems like nothing special, but I am not always afforded the time and space to do this. Today, I was, and I feel healthier for starting the day without having my eating disorder screaming at me. I took care of Cat and Kitten (mostly because Kitten came looking for me a little before 5:00 a.m., but also because she was staring at me. Hard,). I responded to some business e-mails and found out a package will arrive today, one which was not expected to arrive until the 16th. Not bad. Then I started hearing potential construction. I figured maybe a neighbor was having gas or oil delivered, but when I checked and found all these trucks and equipment, I nearly lost my temper. My next door neighbor is having her driveway ripped up and expanded. Okay, great, but did they have to start working before 7:00 a.m.? 😡 They are also incredibly close to the property line, so I keep waiting for them to do something stupid, knock something out, or damage something. At this point, nothing would shock me. There are chunks of concrete just piled up on the street. I don’t want to assume they will remove it properly. I can’t be the only person agitated by this. They are taking up half the damn neighborhood.

Ultimately, this incident messed with my mindset. I had a panic attack from the noise, and now my adrenaline is dropping. Turns out, adrenaline crash is serious business. It made me realize I didn’t get enough sleep to do what I’d planned for today, and whenever I can’t do something, I feel worse than anyone could possibly imagine. I am going to give myself some time, and if I can do it, great. If not, I will add an additional hour to my prep time and do it tomorrow morning. Not ideal, but at least it will get done, and I can see how I feel when I leave the hospital.

I have to stop beating myself up when unplanned things trip up my anxiety or add to my stress levels. I’m not good with external noise. It’s reached trauma-level for me. I used to think I was being unfair with that, until a friend admitted she feels the exact same way and talked about how it affects her. I suddenly realized I’d been gaslit into thinking I was the problem. Mind you, I’m not outside attacking anyone or screaming. I’m just suffering in silence, and that’s unhealthy.

Over the past few days, I’ve received some texts and lengthy messages thanking me for various small gestures. That was nice (Wait, I’ll get there.), but having to turn down a standing invitation nearly made me tell one of these people that I will never, ever spend a holiday with them.

Let me preface this by saying that this person is a repeat offender and I’ve got no patience left to deal with the rudeness. A deeply disrespectful comment was made to me about a year or so ago by this person’s partner. Instead of putting this person in their place for how disrespectful they were to me, I moved into a place of, “This isn’t going to work out if I can’t be honest.” I’m tired of having to protect the other person from their spouse. I chose to say nothing, because sometimes silence is the only answer someone deserves. It’s not about being mean or manipulative, or even hurtful. Those thoughts don’t cross my mind because I know who I am and where I am coming from when I stop speaking to someone. The silence is more about someone crossing your boundaries and you deciding what’s best for your well-being. I decided it was best for me to back away even further, because I don’t need anyone’s toxic opinions or bullshit directed towards me. That’s not welcoming, that is behavior which instantly pisses me off and let’s me know that I will not be able to remain civil moving forward. Like I said, I know where I’m coming from. This person has no clue how I think/feel, and they don’t care. It’s not worth me turning it into an argument because there’s no peace to be had. I know this.

If I am, for example, having a horrible day (Usually pain related, but it can be other things affecting me, as well. I’m human,), it doesn’t give me the right to go out and be toxic towards others. It doesn’t give me the right to be a disrespectful bitch, either. It’s actually when I most need to withdraw from society, write, listen to music, cry, whatever I need in that particular moment, on that particular day. I give myself the space to honor me. I say nothing. I speak to very few people. Believe it or not, about ninety-eight percent of people don’t care about your feelings or what you’re going through. They care that they aren’t the one going through it if it’s bad, though, so it’s important to surround yourself with the two percent who actually give a damn about you, good or bad, no matter what. For me, that’s under ten people. I am okay with those numbers, because it’s honest. I see these people clearly, and their support and love comes from a genuine place.

One message I received sent me right back into a state of pure silence with a specific individual, after I rolled my eyes in disgust. It was a lengthy, “all about me and my life” kind of message, with a few lines asking about how I am doing. Three in total. If my phone wasn’t expensive (I feel like they ALL are, especially these days.), I would have thrown it across the damn room. I came away angered, irritated, and physically ill. This person is so fucking toxic, and my body responds negatively to interactions with them. I tend to keep them to the bare minimum, and I’ve actually ceased most communication. I’d sent a polite holiday card and received verbal diarrhea as my, “reward”. I have to make the decision to cease communications permanently. I have to put my health above their stupidity.

Sometimes, there are clear signs you need to cut a relationship off. You might try to hold off on this for days, weeks, months, or in this case, YEARS, but inevitably, you cannot continue on. Ten plus years and I am still trying to give this person chances. It is okay to acknowledge this and the fact that I can no longer do it.

It doesn’t necessarily matter who the person is, because if you feel sick after dealing with them in person, or you get physically ill after reading a message from them, then your body is keeping the score. Your vibration is rejecting their stupidity, selfishness, ego, attitude, or something else that you inherently CANNOT work with. It is completely fair to honor this about yourself.

I am moving in a different direction. I wish people well, but I can’t stay on their level. I have grown and I have leveled up. I can’t take myself down to their level whenever it suits them to deign to say something to me, and then be sick from giving them the benefit of the doubt or another chance. I’m not going to shrink myself to make anyone else feel better ever again. I deserve better, and they deserve to have people in their lives who vibrate on their lower level. It isn’t my responsibility to take care of everyone. I tried. I even asked someone if I was being fair and they said, “Lisa, you’ve been fair for twelve years. This is out of fucking control.”

I am many things, but I’m not a people-pleaser. I’m not going to gossip about anyone. I am not going to engage after you disrespect me or mine; that’s a line you don’t want to cross with me. I am not going to play into anyone’s victimization of self. I’m not going to constantly give someone chances to hurt, minimize, or disrespect me. I feel like that’s been a running theme lately, and I refuse to engage with it. I’m not going to permit ANYONE to re-traumatize me. I’m going to be stronger, smarter, and meaner. I’m going to be exceedingly discerning as to who I let get close to me on ALL levels. The door to my life is not open for newcomers. A spot at my table is a spot which must be earned. My time is valuable, and I won’t waste it on anyone who doesn’t understand that relationships are two people giving one hundred percent. Yes, there are times when you cannot do that, but you admit it instead of pretending.

I won’t be responding to anything or anyone while I focus on myself. I’m truly done giving out extra chances and opportunities. If people fall to the wayside as a result, that’s fine. I know who I am and what I bring to the table. This isn’t about being cruel or hurtful to anyone, as they have consistently chosen to be unacceptably rude to me, but it is about taking my power back. It’s redefining the term, “No.”, and sticking to it because these interactions affect my sanity. I deserve to let, “No.” be what it is. A complete sentence.

We’re currently in Aries Season♈, which is the first sign of the zodiac. For me, one means ‘New Beginnings’. I also look at the Hebrew aleph bet in a similar way. Aleph is the first letter and represents the number one in Kabbalah. One means starting from scratch, if you must, and rebuilding things in YOUR true vision. It’s the beginning of the zodiac wheel, and I take it seriously.

As the eighth sign of the zodiac, I am the embodiment of life, death, and rebirth. I might fall, but I’ll come back stronger. The actual symbol for this is tattooed on the top of my spine. You’ll sometimes hear people say we have four phases as Scorpion, Serpent, Eagle, and Phoenix, where others will omit the Serpent completely. I’m moving towards my phoenix phase. I can feel it. Others can see it in me. People have commented about my new energy or my good energy, usually people I don’t expect it from. That, in and of itself, is a positive thing.

Some people can see/read auras and some people simply pick up on a vibe from others. I saw auras more as a child, and I still see them around babies/infants and animals. Most animals are gold or silver, which to me, represents their pure natures. Babies might come up in lighter shades of purity, too. If I close my eyes, I can feel my aura is indigo and blue. Sometimes I can see the colors out of the corner of my eye. I don’t come across a lot of people who have these colors intensely attached to them. Sometimes I know there’s purple or yellow around me, or even grey or red. Not all colors are permanent aspects of one’s aura. Sometimes we will temporarily have an inauthentic color attached to our aura due to life circumstances, stress, illness, etc. The issues will pass and the color will leave. Anyone who talks about auras and their colors will see things differently and read color differently. I know someone who constantly talks about how rare pink auras are, but then declares every other woman pink. They will also say not all people are empaths, but will then declare every other person they read as an empath. That’s inaccurate, so I give myself space from people who don’t practice what they preach.

I’m moving towards physical, mental, and emotional betterment. I don’t have time for anyone who isn’t on the same frequency. I have to release all the negative energy which others have placed upon me in their journey towards whatever… A true empath knows it’s not his or her energy to own, but the ugly energy others have given out. It can cling to us like soap scum. Not only am I wearing sage perfume from here on in, but I’m done being the emotional dumping ground for people who cannot return my energy. I know my worth.

In life, sometimes silence and walking away is the healthiest choice you can make before officially cutting people off. Today, I’ve made my choice. I say goodbye to the energy and happiness vultures, for which there are many. I wish them growth and healing, just NOT with me in their lives. My journey no longer involves their presence.

I thought I had finally gotten a handle on my sleep, until Saturday night. I tossed and turned for three hours. I was then furious at the wasted time, so I got up and occupied my mind until I finally knew I would fall asleep. It was freezing, so Kitten was with me, trying to stay warm and still be close by. She was pacing in agitation, because she knows I’m not okay, and she tries to make sure she’s with me as much as possible, but to own a cat is to know that they will choose where they’re going to lie down and they will also choose who they will be with. Unfortunately, I don’t have the option of my current sleep cycle this week. I have four doctor’s appointments beginning tomorrow, one of which is an emergency appointment to rule out surgery. Only one is a video this week, which means I can stay home that day, so I am trying not to have a complete and total meltdown knowing I am dealing with so much. It brings a lot of anxiety to the surface, unfortunately. If you are lucky enough not to experience such feelings, that’s all well and good, but for those who do suffer from anxiety, we aren’t harming anyone. We’re struggling.

Two appointments this week are for in-office procedures. One hurts like hell, but isn’t a huge issue. I have experienced far worse pain, but it’s something done without anesthesia, and my doctor is exceptionally blasé about telling you how it will feel and how it will or won’t heal. She has repeatedly failed to provide information to me which she puts in my medical chart, which genuinely angers me. I only found out when her partner informed me during a Telehealth appointment, and he was very helpful and descriptive. I followed his instructions and was pleased that he got me in three months earlier than originally planned. I will likely say something about her lack of information this time because I’ve had enough. The other procedure requires at least two solid weeks of physical rest. It means adhering to little to no activity, except for walking (You live, you learn. When I rest, I don’t suffer constantly. If I don’t rest, I suffer terribly.). That’s if I get the okay from the orthopedic surgeon to walk on my injuries. I have no idea what he will or won’t say.

A little over two years ago, I fell and injured my right knee, foot, and ankle. I had fractured bones in my foot and there were some tears in various tendons in all areas. The doctor saw me about two weeks after I fell. He wanted me to make big changes to my footwear (I have.). He also wanted me to stay off of my right leg whenever possible, while still being realistic that even in pain, I have to move around. He was hopeful that it would heal on its own and I wouldn’t require surgery, but he was honest and made no promises. At the follow-up appointment, I was lectured that if I didn’t stay off of it more, I’d almost certainly require surgery. Inevitably, I left the office incredibly frustrated because I had truly stayed off of it to the best of my ability. Then Covid put us all into lockdown and my June follow-up was canceled. Without calling me, his office proceeded to cancel appointments for July, September, and then they didn’t bother to get back to me at all when they reopened. He was backed up with surgical patients, post-op appointments, etc. I let it go because I wasn’t in constant pain, but a few months ago, I felt things get bad again. I thought I’d sprained my ankle, but no, it was the whole knee, ankle, foot combination all over again. I have since done something to my left knee, as well. I was granted an appointment via their cancellation list, mostly because they saw that they’d canceled on me multiple times without an official notification of any kind. Mind you, I hurt myself in January of 2020. I don’t know what he’s going to say this time. He had initially prescribed high strength Aleve, and I still have most of the bottle. It simply isn’t strong enough. I’m not going to argue with him about it, but if surgery is involved, I am getting it in writing that my pain will be fully managed before, during, and after the fact. I am not playing the, “You need six months of physical therapy.” bullshit with him, or anyone else. I can’t even say how often I am using Magnesium Spray or topical lidocaine patches for temporary pain relief. I’ve barely made a dent in the bottle, but it feels like I use it way too often. On the plus side, it is fast-acting, as opposed to taking a daily supplement. It’s drying on the skin, but nothing a little extra moisturizer won’t fix. There are days when it is my saving grace. I try to use homeopathic remedies so long as they work, even though they aren’t covered by my insurance.

Having a week with a bunch of appointments squeezed together over the course of three days isn’t common for me. This happened and I had to give myself time to agree to it. I’ll feel a lot better when it’s over and I know more. At least I hope I will. A girl can still pray for good news and quality medical care.

So, that’s where I’m at this week. One hour at a time. I’ll be back, as I pray for a complete reduction of pain from head to toe.

Have a good week, everyone! 😊

copyright © 2022 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Grieving… It’s A Process

“Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow, I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain, I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush, I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight, I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom, I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing, I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave bereft
I am not there. I have not left.”
―Mary Elizabeth Frye

Three times a year, I pause to honor my mother. Had she lived, she would be seventy-five this year. It’s hard to believe she isn’t here, because of late, her presence has been evident.

Explaining that you’re an orphan to people, especially as an adult, is tough. Not everyone can relate. Far too many people expect you to, “get over it”, and move on as soon as the funeral is behind you, as though someone like a mother is easily forgotten or replaced. This is not the case. Not for me. The grief is real, and it is present in everything I do. Not in a negative way, but in a questioning way.

Unlike a lot of mother/daughter relationships, I do not sit and question if my mother was proud of me. I know she was. She trusted me to handle tough situations, to take care of others, to do the right thing, even when I wanted to scream, and to forge a path no one could ever doubt, not even me. Whenever I had doubts about what I could or couldn’t achieve, she would marvel at my brilliance, not at any potential lack of confidence. Ultimately, I don’t lack confidence, but I do plan things out in a very clear fashion. It’s borderline obsessive, but it’s part of who I am. I would not be able to do these things, or be the person I am, if I hadn’t been gifted with an honest parent from day one.

Parenting today is quite different from my own upbringing. When people tell me how they grew up, I am generally appalled at the lack of diversity, culture, joyful moments, simple moments, the lack of music, theater, and film. Often, the lack of books or regular use of a library also galls me. The lack of any kind of bond between parents and children. Even more so when Grandparents are involved, but cannot or do not choose to be present in their lives. My maternal Grandparents lived across the street from us. I saw them every single day, practically. I never had babysitters; only relatives. My brother grew up differently in many ways, and does not have the same memories. I can mention something from when he was two or three and he has zero recollection of it, whereas I have vivid recollection.

Maybe it’s a cultural thing? Perhaps it is also a location issue. City kids grow up differently than those who grew up in the suburbs, in rural areas, or in tiny places where everyone knows everyone. I definitely wasn’t cut out for anything else, except city life. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, lately. My mother trusted me to let the city be my playground in many respects, but she also said no to many things, and I’m glad she did. I’m almost embarrassed over the things I pushed her on at a young age. To the point where a friend’s mother called her to complain that I was, “too sophisticated” for my age. 🙄 I laugh when I think about it now. I was deemed, “too sophisticated” at thirteen. This other woman said I should, “Still be playing with Barbie dolls and stuffed animals” at that age. 🤣 I remember my mother hanging up from that call and saying, “Thank GOD you’re a teenager and not an infant! What healthy, normal thirteen year old is still playing with dolls?!” She rolled her eyes and assured me I was okay.

I can’t say anything really stood out for me at thirteen, aside from being different and not fitting in. Though, I didn’t care about fitting in, and I still don’t think about it on such terms. Why should I? It was the year I added additional piercings, which officially stopped at twenty-one. It was also a hard time in my life because writing and singing were my only escapes from an abusive home life. Not many people understand that now, either, but I did and I do. We didn’t discuss it outside the family. Family friends knew and certainly saw things weren’t right, but no one ever stood up to my father. No one ever corrected his behavior or told him off. I do not recall anyone EVER standing up for my mother and brother, except me. People, especially family, simply chose to avoid us, as though we all suffered from the plague. Out of sight, out of mind. A few pretended to care once my mother had enough and left, but their support was temporary and disingenuous. To this day, I do not speak to anyone who ever disrespected my parents or Grandparents.

When I think about my mother’s childhood and how she spoke of it with a lot of fondness, I realize I was robbed of mine. Maybe this explains my “sophistication”. 🙄 I was functioning in chaos with an adult mindset, and I remember having these thoughts at about age four. Don’t misunderstand me though; I do not feel sorry for myself about this in any way, shape, or form. I am not angry with my mother for believing she had no other choice, but to stay. I am not angry for being the person who protected her and my brother. To this day, I still protect my brother in many ways.

Yesterday, a family member made the gross misjudgment of trying to tell me how to live my life, how to think and behave, and she took a shot at my parents. Let me be clear; this is one hundred percent NOT ALLOWED. I read this message multiple times and did not respond. Why? Because I was a step away from going from zero to epic bitch. I will not respond at all moving forward. I don’t need anyone to dictate to me, or attempt to use me as a replacement relationship for something lacking in their own life.

If it was her intention to be permanently iced out, she came to the right person. I am my mother’s daughter; you’ll die of frostbite before I give you the time of day ever again. No one gets to criticize my parents, except for my brother and I. We lived it. We get to say how we feel, but outsiders DO NOT. Unless you are living in the world’s most perfect relationship, glass houses shouldn’t throw stones and think it’s acceptable behavior. I will throw back bricks and concrete slabs, and I don’t throw like a girl.

What’s worse is, this person likely has no idea how disrespectful they were being to me, but I won’t sit here and take it. That’s the difference between mother and daughter: I don’t feel obligated to anyone regarding politeness and there’s no one overseeing my behavior. The niceness gene clearly skipped a generation or two. Even my brother would have responded with, “Oh, fuck you.” My response would be far worse, which is why I said nothing. I am kind and fair, but I’ve got boundaries and rules.

I have a short list of untouchable people in my life. My brother, parents, and Grandparents are extremely high on said list. If you were not a constant presence in my life, and did not deal with any of them regularly, then I strongly suggest you keep your mouth shut. If you’re going to persist in disrespecting any of them, I want you to do it to my face so that other people hear you do it and understand why I broke your face. No, I’m not kidding. Don’t let your mouth write a check your ass can’t cash. It’s simple and easy enough for most people with a brain to grasp.

My father used to affectionately refer to me as, “the family pitbull”. No, he wasn’t saying I reminded him of a dog. What he was saying is that once my temper comes loose, he almost felt sorry for the poor bastard on the other side of my wrath. Almost, but not really. It’s a good analogy for being a protector archetype, which matches me to a T.

Mom, thank you for seeing me. Thank you for letting me be my true self. Thank you for showing me that honesty and authenticity would get me further in life than anything else. Thank you for reminding me to be persistent in my goals. But most of all, thank you for having my back and teaching me to have my own back. Those are important tools to have in life. I am grateful to you for preparing me for things I never thought I’d survive.

Today, we plant a tree in your memory, because the memory of you will stay strong and live forever.

Fully credited to Zach Vaughan Photography

copyright © 2022 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Poison In Lethal Doses®™ is a registered trademark. Photo and poem are fully credited, and no profit is being made from either.

Cleansing The Silent Anger

Over the past year, a lot has changed for me. Wonderful things, many wonderful opportunities. Amazing things which I’ve kept quiet about because I firmly believe in not feeding my own ego. I take a victorious moment and then I might share it with my nearest and dearest (Not always.), but I don’t make a big deal out of anything I have worked hard for. Probably because I am a realist; I know how quickly something can go awry, and how easily one can be left with nothing. Also, bragging genuinely isn’t my style. It repulses me.

As I’ve suffered and struggled these past few weeks health-wise, I’ve made some important decisions. I have chosen to do a social media cleanse, to the best of my ability. I refuse to be the person with her phone in her hand constantly throughout each day. Unless it’s work e-mail, it can wait. Hell, most work e-mails were on hold this week until early Friday morning, and if I haven’t answered something, that means I have not seen it. I’ve changed e-mail addresses and would prefer to keep my work and personal life separate.

Social media is mind-numbing and has become an unhealthy habit (for me). During last weekend’s blizzard, I spoke only to two people, and a third briefly checked in after the storm was over and clean-up was stressful. Eventually, I turned my phone off and went to sleep. I took care of ME, and only me. For someone who isn’t selfish, shutting everything down was difficult, but necessary. By Monday, I almost felt cleansed and free, but things quickly escalated and once again, I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone who did not fully understand where I am coming from. Sometimes people say, “I’m sorry you’re going through this.”, but ultimately the rest of their behavior is clear; they don’t actually care about what you’re dealing with at all. They’re just being polite-ish for the sake of civilized politeness. Most people would not pick up on that shift, but I do. You’ve got to be careful talking to me because I pick up on everything.

Due to my fiercely transparent honesty, I have faced antisemitism and hateful harassment, which extended to death threats. This has been going on since May of last year, when Hamas chose to attack Israel from Gaza. People accused me of being part of a terrorist and apartheid regime. None of these things take place in Israel. It is the most diverse country in the entirety of the Middle East. Alas, new levels, new devils. 😒 It appears many people don’t realize they can be arrested and prosecuted for online hate speech and harassment, and can absolutely have charges pressed against them for death threats. Each threat can mean jail-time, so don’t feel comfortable hating on people publicly. Maybe take it down a hundred notches and read a book or something to distract yourself. Yes, I’m being hella sarcastic.

The threats were such that I took my About page down temporarily then, and again when things started up for a second time weeks ago. I have not seen a single person on WordPress state that any of this is wrong, or let me know where they stand on this subject. I have received zero solidarity from my fellow writers, except for those who are also Jewish. The silence is deafening. The excuses are absurd. Last time I checked, it was 2022. Stand for something or fuck off with your anti-racism bullshit, which is precisely what I said it is, BULLSHIT. It’s selective racism. It is a choice. Google it; I’ve written about it before.

For the past week, Whoopi Goldberg made headlines with some incredibly ignorant remarks regarding race and the Holocaust, resulting in a two-week suspension from The View. She’s worth sixty million dollars, has a distinctly Jewish surname which she chose to take on when her career began (“To get ahead, because Jews have more success in Hollywood.” Seriously?! That statement is untrue.), but she’s going to tell Jews the Holocaust was about white people versus white people, which basically states that racism only occurs between black and white people. She could not be further from the truth if she tried, and other comments she’s made are resurfacing, as well.

I’m kind of numb to the stupidity of this ignorance, especially as a lifelong fan who is genuinely ashamed of her. Let me be honest here; my black, Jewish, and Christian friends are calling for her to be fired. Others want her to be educated. Yad Vashem has reached out to her. The View itself is carrying on like nothing was said; which I find even more despicable. Is this the 2022 Jews have to face? I don’t fucking think so. I adamantly refuse. If you are going to speak about any subject that is sensitive and affects millions of people, at least do your homework before opening your mouth. Most especially when you are well aware of how much Jews have been singled out as targets with the past two years being the worst amounts of hate crimes against Jews since before the Holocaust. Let that sink in.

Cancel culture being what it is, I don’t want fake apologies. I want educated, intelligent, well thought-out apologies if you’re going to be that stupid. I’m baffled by the special treatment aspect of a two week suspension. Really? Two weeks where she is paid and can basically take a vacation? That’s her “punishment”? Not dissimilar to the way Nick Cannon was treated when he also made far more despicable remarks. He was fired, made amends, and was handed his job back. Let me be clear; there’s racism involved in both moves because if a blonde, blue-eyed Republican tore the Holocaust apart on national television, they would be fired immediately. There would be zero hesitation involved, so to hear ABC staffers questioning why she wasn’t fired; yes, there’s a double-standard. If I went on any kind of anti-tangent in an attempt to dictate my way of seeing things in such a manner, not only would I lose my reputation, but I’d be attacked far worse than that. So yes, it’s absolutely about racism at the end of the day, and it makes me ill.

Yeah, it was a heavy month. I am justifiably angry. As such, the social media break is necessary and I’m putting other things into priority status during said break. I’ll be around. I will write again, but I need some time. I feel like this is relatively self-explanatory. It isn’t black and white; this is the grey area.

copyright © 2022 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Poison In Lethal Doses®™ is a registered trademark. Written work by author may not be shared or posted anywhere without express written consent from the author. Excerpts and quotes from author material also requires consent.

Writing Challenges, Ideas, and Being Realistic

As a writer, have you ever gotten in your own damn way? Maybe even not as a writer, but as a creative person? Over the past few years I have written four novels. Three are fully-fleshed out, while one was a side project I wanted to keep in development since I wrote it in pieces. I decided from the get-go that I would piece it together as the bulk of the story came to me; I wasn’t going to go from A to Z, I was just going to write the best scenes as they came to me.

I approach each project with different ideas and methods, so there is no magical potion involved for writing perfection. Perfection is mythology; of this I assure you. I wait to write something because a story has to haunt me for a while and live inside my head first. If it’s the kind that whispers, “Write this.”, then I will. If it goes out like a candle flame, I file it away somewhere inside my creative mind. Sometimes it will resurface, and it’ll be ten times better. That’s always the goal, but not all ideas work like that.

Have you ever become obsessed with a character you’ve created? They become a part of you; you are now living, breathing, and sleeping this character. Your thoughts are their thoughts. Maybe you subconsciously ARE this character. Who knows? It comes to the point where, when you begin writing another female character, you find yourself annoyed by her voice. You’ll catch yourself becoming frustrated. This new female is not as intense, not as strong, maybe not as fierce, or as passionate, but you feel like she could be, if you just pushed her hard enough. If you unleashed her. Except, when you go back to your completed work, you find you’ve named the character the same damn thing you named your previous female lead. Three. Separate. Times. How is that even possible? You’re dumbfounded, because you’ve got a long list of names you could be using, and somehow, you are using the one with all the power.

I’ve found that I love two very specific names for women. I don’t feel like sharing what those names are (I’m many things, but I try not to be an idiot!), outside of saying they’re short, sweet, elegant, classical, and direct, and so are these characters. These names are truly beautiful. Every time I so much as variate from the top two, it’s as if I’m possessed by some kind of naming demon. Each time, I am truly clueless as to how or when the name changed. It’s rough.

These women I’ve created are interesting characters. The kind of women you’d want to be friends with, and the kind of women you’d go to bat for. You automatically like them. Until I was 56,000 words in to a new book and realized I was writing the lead female character differently. She started off fierce and ferocious, and some idiot softened her up. I can’t decide if it was ME or if the lead male character was trying to dominate the damn story, but it stressed me out so badly. I decided I needed to get some reading and research done before revisiting the story. Ultimately, I took time to gain some perspective.

After a few days, I came at this new book with fresh eyes, and wondered how I could change things up to maybe ONE story, as opposed to two. I had considered this particular story a one and done, but when pieced together with the story that felt stalled, it’s a superior body of work. It requires a ton of time and work to achieve this.

So here I am, faced with rewrites because I have to change locations, jobs, names, and re-work things until it’s a smooth transition of combining these two stories into one; albeit one that is better, and eliminates potential cliches and comparisons which have bothered me from day one, but that I’d also worked on heavily to eliminate, which I have managed to do. All of this is to keep the main female character’s strong, intense, fierce voice. I feel pulled towards her voice because it is reasonable, emotionally intelligent, strong, smart, snarky, knowledgeable, without coming off snobby, or sounding like a know-it-all, and because she’s fiercely honest and direct; she does not play games to fill a page with wasted words. She’s got a very serious set of rules and boundaries, and she commands respect. The other female character was coming off weaker, despite similar attributes. I had to come to the realization, on my own, that I cannot write a weak female character.

I have come across this issue before. I could write a weak female, but it nauseates me, and goes against the core of who I am, so nope, not gonna do it. I can’t even tolerate weakness in myself or in others, so it would come off fake on the page. Don’t force yourself to write someone you don’t believe in. I feel that’s a great rule for all writers; if you don’t believe it, neither will anyone else.

I can, and will, do the hard work of putting together a better story. It likely means cutting things out that no longer work, which could be thirty chapters worth of work, or more. It requires me to remain focused on how much better this will be when it is truly completed. It also means, thanks to other opportunities, that it might take another year or two before it is officially done. I have to be realistic about my time, health, and also remember to factor sleep into the equation. This is a real problem for me. Every time I’m on a better path, something interrupts my sleep again! It’s awful, but I am aware of this issue beginning every three months. I am trying to stay on top of it.

The upside of insomnia is that I write between two to seven thousand words almost every night I can’t sleep, and none of it is crap (I instinctively know when I am writing filler, and will immediately delete it.). The downside is being sick and in a lot of pain, and not being able to write for sixteen hours straight. There are days I do, but they are few and far between at the moment, as I recover from a bad allergic reaction to flowers, which ultimately turned into flu-like symptoms with NO Covid symptoms. My allergies stopped responding to allergy medicine, so it was scary to suddenly become so sick from a flower arrangement. It’s never been so bad, but once the larger flowers bloomed, my skin burned, my eyes itched and burned, and my breathing was affected. I misplaced my Epi-Pen, so I was paranoid as hell while it was happening.

This whole situation where medication was useless recently turned into me making homemade cough syrup. Laugh, if you will, but it is probably the best thing for me. Every ingredient is healthy and helpful. My very first dose stopped me from coughing longer than any over-the-counter crap I’ve ever taken, and it also worked better than the codeine syrup I was prescribed, probably since the prescription no longer contains alcohol. Mine does contain a dash of two different types of alcohol I had on hand, as well as two different types of honey, but when you taste it, you are mostly getting a blast of ginger, cayenne, honey, and lemon. I didn’t follow any particular recipe for this, I just grabbed the honey and started mixing it up like a potion before pouring it into a larger container and sticking it in the fridge to give it a longer shelf life. 😉 I didn’t make a lot, so it’ll likely be gone in a day or two, but yes, it’s helped greatly. I no longer have a sore throat, and it’s breaking down congestion I didn’t even know I had. I take it, I rest, and I feel better slowly, but surely. When synthetic shit doesn’t work, go back to basics. I’ve become more dependent on homeopathic medicine than ever before. Hyland’s is helping me considerably to manage my pain levels, though I know it is a temporary fix. If it works, I’ll stick with it, because so much has not. I’d love to get back every cent I wasted trying to get CBD oil to help me. I am embarrassed I kept upping the dose to try and find some relief. 😦 I consider how much work I will have to do to recoup those funds and put them to better use.

A lot of pain patients stop speaking to me whenever I suggest they seek out alternatives which might help them. Ultimately, I believe there is an answer for every single illness humans and animals experience. I believe it is found on Earth, not necessarily inside a lab working with synthetic ingredients. Your answer might not be what works for my body, and vice versa, but I don’t roll my eyes at you and give you attitude, so I have no idea why anyone thinks that’s a workable method with me.

At this point, I feel insurance should fully cover medical marijuana and CBD products as medicine. It helps a large number of people and it has medical oversight. If the cure for something is low or high dose Scorpion venom, as an example, then I feel it should be fully covered by everyone’s health insurance provider no matter what. I already know for a fact that it is being tested on various forms of cancer and for many other things, as well. It has been successful in it’s progress of treatment with zero side effects. It is the most expensive substance on this planet. That ink well you’re looking at on my logo? It’s Scorpion venom.

It may be Thursday, but I am ready to close out this first week of 2022. I have already referred to this month twice as October. Yeah, I know. I need a vacation. Yet, here we are, with Covid stopping everything for the umpteenth time. Indoor mask mandates have come down and in many areas, they begin today. I had not stopped wearing a mask in stores (I’ve also limited my time indoors to the pharmacy, grocery shopping, and only a few others places. I do NOT look forward to returning to a medical building in twelve days. I am, however, grateful that the hospital has reduced the amount of people that can be in the building at one time, and that nine people can NOT accompany one person!), and after hearing how many people got sick before, during, or after Christmas/NYE, and seeing the 6+ hour lines at testing sites, I am glad I didn’t drop my guard. Unfortunately, a lot of people are very sick and in the hospital, or they are sick and have to quarantine, so I keep a few extra masks with me and I remember that this is temporary. But damn does cold air feel good on your skin when a mask makes you feel like you can’t breathe, or like your skin is being smothered to death! I’m sure we’ve all had those moments.

Cough syrup, a simple breakfast, and I’ll see where the day takes me. I am actually considering hitting the kitchen and whipping up some tabouleh, especially since I have the time, believe I have all the necessary ingredients, and it’s so easy to throw together. 🙂 Last night I made homemade ramen, and while very good and a great way to get vegetables and protein into my system, I was slightly frustrated by the fact that a thirty minute meal felt like it had taken hours. Chronic fatigue is a constant reminder that I am not one hundred percent. That’s okay. I’ll settle for fifty percent, if that’s the way I can get multiple things done in a day.

Ever forward, peeps. Ever forward.

copyright © 2022 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Poison In Lethal Doses®™ is a registered trademark.

Final Caturday of 2021

Next Saturday will be a whole new year. It’ll probably take me ’til March to stop writing 2021. 😉 I don’t celebrate New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. They don’t feel like, “holidays” to me, not in the traditional sense of the word, and I realized yesterday that they never have. Do you feel especially celebratory at the end of a year?

Cat used to be like this for the first ten months I had her. I swear, she’d wait until I wasn’t expecting it and just tear me to shreds. She is feeling more playful these days (and she’s eight years old, so that helps.), so she’ll smack my feet or swat at my socks, or she’ll snap her teeth at me. She’s feisty. She will bite me, on occasion, but she’s mostly obsessed with how many hair ties she can thieve. Also, sometimes my socks go missing in the middle of the night. 😉 I guess they offend her or she thinks they’re for her. I’m pretty sure she has dibs on anything soft and fluffy the second I keel over.

As I reflect, very lightly, on this year, I have to factor in that I’ve written over close to one million words on three different manuscripts. That, in and of itself, is quite the achievement. Yet, it barely registers. I’ve been told I’m too humble. Perhaps that’s true. As someone told me nearly two weeks ago, “Anyone can write, but you’re a talented writer.” I’m also not good with compliments.

If the software I used didn’t have a word counter at the bottom of the screen, I’d keep writing until something felt done. It’s a good process. However, I’ve spent the past fifteen years, perhaps longer, obsessing over word count when I am writing something, however large or small. Here, I don’t count words, but WordPress is happy to tell me at the end of each year how many words I’ve written. There have been years I’ve done a quarter of a million words here alone, sometimes more. That’s pretty good considering this material is free. 😉

Today was a grey, rainy, foggy, icy, frigidly cold day. There was so much black ice that many people fell and injured themselves. 😦 My hands and feet are like mini ice sculptures; frozen solid. But it was a good day in the sense that it was predominantly quiet. I was able to get closer to my Goodreads challenge number, as well. I’m currently at one hundred and fifty-sex books read for the year. My goal was one hundred and fifty-three. I just started reading book one hundred and fifty-seven. I might read one hundred and sixty if I stay on point between now and the 31st. Wish me luck with this one. I have to say, the material is compelling or I’d have to force myself to read it, and forcing myself to read shitty material is never a positive experience. To think I did eighty books last year when we were basically under hardcore quarantine for so long. I actually picked up a book Friday afternoon, but I will put it towards for 2022 challenge. If you aren’t a Goodreads member, it is free to join, you can link your Amazon Kindle account, they have tons of giveaways for free books throughout the year, and it’s a nice community. I’ve been a member since 2008, when a friend highly recommended I join. I ended up loving it far more than she did. I have Librarian status, so if you want or need your work added to the database, please get in touch. It’s an excellent networking took for writers.

A big part of me is glad that today is over. I haven’t slept in over forty-eight hours, so I need a good night’s sleep and to go back to being caffeine free (Damn you, Earl Grey tea!!). Tomorrow I’m planning to cook a nice Sunday dinner (Tradition.), and possibly bake either a chocolate mint cake or two dozen peppermint chocolate chip cookies, I can’t decide which to do first, but plan on doing both between this weekend and next weekend. After mid-January, it’s time to go back to eating super healthy again 90% of the time. I ate a ridiculous amount of chocolate before, during, and after Chanukah. I regret about 35% of it. 😉

On this final Caturday of the year, I hope you will make friends with strange cats next year, adopt and not shop for any animal you are looking to bring into your family, and most importantly, I hope you’re granted good health. Many of you don’t know what it’s like to be flaring when you have medication in your system which is supposed to be eliminating all of your pain, whereas a great amount of you do know what this is like. Hell. I’ve been functioning at a very low setting this year, and I’m fighting for a new diagnosis next year. New symptoms have to be addressed, and the sad thing is, bad things could be happening within my system while I wait to be seen by a myriad of doctors. I don’t look forward to additional suffering. Healthcare in this country is shameful. I’ll probably say it more than I care to, but it’s true, and it’s WRONG.

Bright Blessings, lovelies.

copyright © 2021 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Poison In Lethal Doses®™ is a registered trademark.

Happy WordPress Anniversary, Poison In Lethal Doses!

Happy to have been here for nine years. Happier to be with PILD since, well, it’s much, MUCH longer than this website will ever tell you. 😉 Someone told me last week that the difference between being a writer and being a talented writer is knowing your audience. For him, I fall into the latter category. He actually said, “Anyone can type words. It takes talent to write with purpose, and you really have a purpose.”

I would not be here without my readers. Readers, NOT followers. You are all amazing to me. Kind, funny, warm, supportive. It’s a family, in a bowl of linguine kind of way, but family nonetheless. Thank you for everything you read, with or without clicking like. I don’t need to rack up likes to feel a sense of accomplishment. Thank you for reading even if you’re not officially following this site; that’s almost more important because it means something else entirely. And an enormous thank you to whomever voted me an “Inspiring Writer of 2021”. That’s five years in a row, peeps, and I will not forget it. To the person who said I was their favorite writer, I feel like I need to send you flowers or take you to dinner.

I am my most authentic self here (In a “Free of nosy people.”, kind of way.), and I appreciate everyone who drops in and leaves a comment, or tells me on social media how much they liked something I’ve written or said. It means a lot. It keeps me fueled. It also keeps me looking forward to connecting with you on different levels.

2022 is all about new levels, new chapters, and MORE. I can’t wait!

Love & good cheer,

In The Face of Trauma: Fatherless Daughter

Last month, my doctor asked if anything specific was triggering me. At the time, I couldn’t think of anything. Until a specific day came, and I broke down in tears for hours. It had been a long time since I’d allowed myself to do that. 😦

The majority of my breakdowns are quiet. Real quiet. As in, no one else ever knows they’re happening or suspects anything. They have no idea what to look for, either. They have no idea you’re struggling, and they say nothing to help you.

These breakdowns started in late 2002 when my father was in the hospital doing an experimental kidney cancer treatment. At the time, it was still a very rare type of cancer that few people had. He had already lost a kidney to cancer ten years prior. The treatment was via IV and he had to spend weeks on end in the hospital. The key side effects were that it could cause heart problems and/or worsen the cancer you already had. It did both. It took a pea sized tumor and turned it into a constant spread, which eventually became bone and brain cancer. One day, as he was leaving a doctor’s appointment, he turned to my brother and said, “Can you go upstairs and let the office know I’m going next door to the emergency room. I think I’m having a heart attack.”

I remember that phone call like it was yesterday. My whole body tenses up because I truly remember every word. My brother was so panicked and freaked out, and he needed me to do everything. He was frozen and upset, and those are normal reactions, but mine were the polar opposite. They still are. I remember speaking to doctors and surgeons, and making last-minute decisions because my father would have died if I hadn’t known what to do.

The reason my father put me in charge of everything is because he knew my reactions would be in correlation with his wishes. He knew I wouldn’t fall apart or be utterly incapable of speech, leave alone making important decisions in the moment. On occasion, I wish he’d thought I was a moron and laid the responsibility elsewhere. I remember someone implying that he’d made these decisions from a selfish place. I don’t feel that was it at all, but do I resent it at times? A little.

No matter how put together you could ever be, and I have always been wise beyond my years, making medical decisions on behalf of someone who is incapacitated is difficult. Even if they’d laid it all out for you, making the verbal calls is not easy. It’s emotionally taxing. Today is fourteen years since he passed away, and I can say this much; I’ve grown, I’ve changed, and I’m a different person. But am I healed? No. I’m scarred.

Interpersonal relationships are extremely difficult to navigate. To this day, I still don’t understand people the way I feel I should. I constantly find myself frustrated and disappointed in people. The more I feel this way, the less I want to interact with anyone, and it probably shows. I just don’t have a lot to offer certain types of people anymore, and I am learning to be okay with that.

After my father’s funeral, I couldn’t get out of bed for almost three months. I had always known he’d die young. I had always known he would not be present to see the celebratory moments in my life, or my brother’s. I knew he was leaving, and I even told him not to do the IV treatment because it would kill him. He told me he had to try, or he’d be sending his children the wrong message regarding how you fight to live. I still disagree with him, and always will. Intuition doesn’t lie, and when he first told me about it, I knew it was the beginning of the end. I just made sure I didn’t say it to my brother, because that would have been wrong, at the time.

All of this knowledge allowed me to write a eulogy which really paid tribute in an honest way. This sense of knowing failed me, though, because it distracted me from the fact that my mother was dying, and didn’t care. That’s a story for another day, but when I compound the mental and emotional trauma on top of the next set of trauma, which was more sudden, I wonder how I get out bed at all. I question myself daily, and far more than anyone else ever could. I legitimately have NO idea why I’m alive. I just don’t see a real purpose to it.

My mother raised two extraordinarily different children (I was easier; my brother tried to break her.). As adults, you can tell we’re siblings by the way we laugh at the same things, in the same way. My brother says I laugh like a villain, and I’ve also been told I have my father’s laugh. You can see us automatically know what the other is thinking by a mere a glance. On bad days, I will say I look exactly like my brother, except that I have hair (He’s going to be SO pissed when he sees this. He only laughed once when I sent him a hilarious photo which made us both laugh for days.), but in reality, that isn’t true. We’re as alike as we are different. He genuinely passes as ethnic, and it takes people a while to see that in me.

I promised myself a long time ago that I would break the sibling curse which I’ve watched plague my family. Some days, I think I’ve done a pretty good job, and other days I feel taken advantage of. On my end, the effort is present. I try. I know my parents and Grandparents can see that. I know I’m not bringing shame down upon them. Or at the very least, I try damn hard not to.

There will always be days when I question how you move past all of this. Not everyone is built the way I am. There are personality types which I will never understand as long as I live. They aren’t passionate about much, so death means very little to them. They don’t place a lot of value on life or the people in their lives, and it’s obvious by the revolving door I see in their relationships. I’m not like that. I have bras older than some people’s friendships, and many still have the tags on them. 😉 I’ve had some of the same friends for over twenty-five years and I don’t usually ditch people out of the blue. I’m loyal and honest to a fault, if nothing else.

The whole point of what I’m trying to say, and failing miserably, is that healing is different for everyone. I stopped talking about this day with my brother because then he’d stop speaking to me for a few months and that’s not conducive to any relationship. My closest friends really don’t care to listen (I get it; you’re busy. I, too, will be busy the next time you want to talk for five hours about anything. Blowing a friend off is NEVER cool, especially when you would flip out if I treated you that way.), and if someone does, they certainly haven’t communicated that to me. That’s fine. Truly. One of the good things about me is that I work a lot of shit out on my own. I’ve had to. So when my doctor tells me, “You show up for 99% of your appointments. You do the work. You’re growing and improving, and working on yourself for yourself. What’s great about you is that I don’t have to explain a lot to you, because you’re already ahead of it. You see it and you self-correct.”, I have to take that as a compliment. Usually I think he’s trying to boost my self-esteem, but then I look at the actual work and realize that yes, I did it by myself. He’s basically complimenting me for being a self-starter, but I would say some of that is my personality and the rest is nature versus nurture. It goes back to being the responsible party for things, to some extent.

If you know someone is strong and smart, most people will automatically worry less about them. I will never forget my mother saying, “I don’t worry about you because you’re strong, you’re smart, you’re intuitive, you work hard, and you’ll always land on your feet. I worry about your brother. He’s smart, he has great work ethic, but he doesn’t have your common sense or street smarts. I really worry about him.” All these years later I can assure her he finally has a modicum of common sense and a different set of street smarts. He’ll figure shit out on his own. Despite feeling like I’ve been an excellent role model, my brother has the personality type that wants to learn the hard way. It drives me insane, but you cannot change the core of most people.

I’ve done my level best to look out for my brother, and my family in general. Not everyone listens to me, so I’ve decided to stop giving advice and focus on myself. I’ve invested in myself a lot over the past year and that will continue into 2022 and beyond. I am taking my business sense and everything I was taught, and aiming for more.

Ladies, it is perfectly okay to want more out of life. It is okay to do things differently. It is okay to do things in your own time and space. It is okay to say no to things you don’t want because you see what you do want, and it’s all well within your reach. Stop letting small people tell you your worth, or that you can only achieve great things by doing it the way they think it should be done. Fuck that attitude! Not everything in life in forever, but your achievements will always be your own. No one can can touch that, so please, don’t let them.

Please speak for yourselves. Speak loudly for those who are afraid, right now, to use their voice. Don’t let situations or people diminish you. Remember who you are at the beginning and end of each day. There will always be days when you don’t want to be strong, because you’re exhausted. Allow yourself to rest, to rejuvenate, and give yourself permission to heal from anything and everything.

Go forth, trauma and all, and make someone proud. Even if it’s your deceased father who probably wouldn’t care that much. But in truth, know that you’re really doing it for yourself. The future truly IS female.

copyright © 2021 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Poison In Lethal Doses®™ is a registered trademark.