Bead Throwing & Celebration

From Google search ‘Fat Tuesday’ –

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Mardi Gras (/ˈmɑːrdiɡrɑː/), also called Shrove Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday, in English, refers to events of the Carnival celebrations, beginning on or after the Christian feasts of the Epiphany (Three Kings Day) and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday.

Up until August of last year, I lived in Dallas, Texas for 27 years.  I do not recall having Mardi Gras parades or related events.  I currently am living in Pensacola, Florida located in the pan handle of Florida and about an hour drive from Mobile, Alabama.

From Google search ‘Where did Mardi Gras originate’ –

Despite the holiday’s rich history in New Orleans, Louisiana, Mayor Sam Jones of Mobile, Alabama, says the first Mardi Gras celebration in this country actually took place in his city, and most Mobile natives agree.

I had no idea the significance of Mardi Gras in this region.  It seems for the whole month of February, every Thursday, Friday & Saturday and other days; there has been a Mardi Gras parade in Mobile.  Then there are parades in the surrounding smaller towns as well as Pensacola.

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From Google search ‘How long is the Mardi Gras celebration?’ –

The holiday of Mardi Gras is celebrated in Southern Louisiana, although celebrations are concentrated for about two weeks before and through Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. Usually there is one major parade each day (weather permitting); many days have several large parades.

I found a schedule for the parades for Mobil and the surrounding area and counted 48 of them total.  I never knew the importance of Mardi Gras in the south until now.

From Google search ‘What is the meaning of the beads at Mardi Gras?’ –

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Bead throwing and Mardi Gras go hand-in-hand. The Throwing Of Beads. The tradition of bead throwing starts with their original colors. The color of the beads was determined by the king of the first daytime Carnival in 1872. He wanted the colors to be royal colors – purple for justice, gold for power and green for faith.

I missed all the parades and the beads this year because of my recovery from surgery.  I just do not have the stamina to stand for long periods of time in crowds of people.

From Google search ‘Why do we celebrate Mardi Gras?’ –

Related popular practices are associated with Shrovetide celebrations before the fasting and religious obligations associated with the penitential season of Lent. In countries such as England, Mardi Gras is also known as Shrove Tuesday, which is derived from the word shrive, meaning “confess”.

I never celebrated Mardi Gras in the past and again this year did not celebrate.

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But I have certainly learned the significance and importance of it in this area where I am temporally residing.

I do not know where I will be next year at this time.

I do not know if I will celebrate Mardi Gras next year.

What about you?

Do you celebrate Mardi Gras?

My Purpose in Life?

20160810_182204-2At times I will write a post and not finish it and leave it alone until a later date.  This post I wrote almost a year ago, but because of changes in my life it seemed no longer relevant.  Lives can change dramatically in a short period of time and along with the changes so too can our thinking, our believes and attitudes.

A year ago, I had a minor surgery to remove a tumor from my bladder.  At that time, it seemed harmless and nothing significant would come from it.  I was wrong and this past year’s events I never imagined would take place.

The following words I wrote almost a year ago, when my life was healthier and I was looking forward to a future filled with adventure and fun –

Many times I have asked myself ‘What is my purpose in life?’

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If you have been reading about me for quite a while, you know about my early struggles in life with major depression to the point of attempted suicide.  It took over a decade to overcome this depression that wanted to kill me.  My purpose at that time was to overcome it and that I did.

I continue with struggles today, but certainly not to the extent when I was a much younger man – but I am far from perfect and not the man I want to be – I still struggle – I am a work in progress.

Again today I ask the question ‘What is my purpose in life?’

A little more than a year ago, Gary and I were in Mexico exploring a possible location to live.  While there an event took place that upon our return home, I documented.

These are the words I documented –

How can I be responsible for supporting and helping someone when I have my own struggles?  Several weeks ago in Mexico, Gary and I were with expats.  I watched Gary as he told a story – and I see his mannerisms, his facial expressions and the words he used to tell the story – I saw his mom.  It reminded me that maybe he will be like his mom, telling the same old stories, having the same struggles every day.  He may exhibit the same emotions his mom goes through – anger, frustration, nice, rude, impatient, not understanding.  It has been difficult for me spending time with his mom due to my lack of patience.  I have learned some patience as a result of being around her and that is a good thing.  I have more to learn, I want to be there for Gary, I want to be caring, compassionate and understanding.  These are areas I fall short in, but feel I can I gain more of these traits.  Maybe this is my purpose in life to learn these traits: understanding, listening and being there for Gary.  I believe my life is about struggling and learning and being the best person I can be. 

image2Gary’s mom has dementia and she struggles daily and sometimes I see her personality in Gary.

Back to today, both Gary and my life has changed a great deal this past year.  I no longer think about what my purpose is in life.  I do believe part of Gary’s purpose may be to help me during my difficult time.  And who knows, maybe someday when I am better it will be my turn to help Gary during his difficult time.

October 1972 – Ben by Michael Jackson

October 1972 – a song popular in this month – Ben by Michael Jackson

This song is one of Michael Jackson’s favorites, and it was his first #1 hit as a solo artist. Motown recorded him as a solo artist when The Jackson 5 stopped selling well.

Interesting facts about Ben & Michael Jackson

Jackson was 14 when he recorded this. He became the youngest artist to top the US charts both as a solo artist and as a member of a group (The Jackson 5).

Despite being about a rat, the lyrics are touching and sentimental, and make no reference to rodents. This made it a sturdy song about friendship:

They don’t see you as I do I wish they would try to

I’m sure they’d think again if they had a friend like Ben

This was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song. Jackson sang it at the ceremony in 1973.

Michael was the seventh of nine children (Janet and Randy are younger). They grew up in a two-bedroom house in Gary, Indiana. The six boys slept in one room, while the three girls shared the other with the parents, Joe and Katherine.

This information was provided by Songfacts.com

Sleepy Head

My category ‘Pictures & Stories’ are posts with me writing a fictional, creative short story about a picture.

sleepy-head

Sleepy Head –

I thought the conversation was good and full of interesting topics of discussion.  As we continued, the drinks were poured and consumed and laughter was filling the area as we were having a great time.  And then it happened, once again it happened.

It does not matter where or when or how or why; it just happens.  No matter sun or rain, cold or hot, the results are always the same.  I predicted it and then it became so.

So, what is the reason for the slumber, the sleepy head?

The new confidence

A week ago in my post ‘what comes next…‘, I wrote the following –

The appointment with Dr. W. was to discuss some issues with pain I am experiencing in my lower back.  I had this pain back prior to surgery and thought it was associated with all the other pain I was experiencing immediately prior to surgery.  The pain is constant and is at its worse in the middle of the night to the point, I am unable to move or get out of bed.  We do not believe the pain is associated to the surgery and could be caused from arthritis, or some other issue.  I hope to resolve this pain soon.

In today’s post, I write the following –

Another week completed and another weekend is upon us.

This past week I had no doctor appointments or other medical related activities.  The weather here in Pensacola was perfect this week and looks to be the same this coming weekend.

The recovery after surgery continues with my daily walks and other activities.

Not only am I recovering physically but also psychologically with regards to the new me.  Remember in recent posts ‘I struggle with the new me‘ and ‘Freakshows’, I wrote about my struggles with having a urostomy bag on the outside of my body.  As the weeks pass I am learning to cope and accept this new reality.  The initial uncertainty and apprehension are replaced with confidence and comfortableness.

The new confidence with the new me is allowing me to get out a little more.  Past weeks had me hesitant in going anywhere I did not have to go because of my fear of ‘leakage’ from what is now an extension of my body – my urostomy bag.  With different manufacture products tested by me; there were some trials and errors that took place and incidents that were frustrating and embarrassing.  Since surgery, a learning process has taken place for both Gary and myself with regards to the supplies needed and process of maintaining and replacing this new extension – my urostomy bag.

Beside my daily walks this past week, I did attempt to go to the gym for an extremely easy light workout; nothing strenuous at all.  Going to the gym gets me out into a different environment, which I need after weeks of being cooped up in the RV.  This also provides me with an opportunity to build my confidence level with regards to the new me.

The lower back pain I experience in the middle of the night has subsided some, but still persists in waking me in the middle of the night.  This nightly waking is then followed with me needing a change of position; therefore I sleep the rest of the night on a recliner.

In a couple of weeks I have follow-up appointments with my Urologist and Oncologist.  I mentioned in my post ‘what comes next…‘ the possibility of a clinical trial medication for Stage 4 Bladder Cancer and also the possibility of a second Oncologist opinion concerning my further treatment.

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blessed our roads have crossed

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When I started this blog almost 2 years ago, I never imagined I would be writing about my journey with cancer and events that would lead me here today.  But, here I am today with those events and experiences and sharing them with you.  I just write and share and put it out there for those that want to read it.  This blog is about my life; nothing really special, many others are leading more interesting lives.  When I write a post, sometimes it affects others and sometimes I receive a comment that affects me.

From my post ‘I remain grateful (Reader Discretion Is Advised)‘, I received the following comment.

Comment from Hungry Breton (Franck)

Hey man… I know that I have read your post a few days ago. It touched me; to a point that the other night, I dreamt about you and Garry, you had a hat on, kinda cowboy like, but not as extreme as Texas Rangers. You were in good humor, as you walked inside the hospital, we met as we were leaving. 5 years ago, my wife got a big “Mother” of a cancer; a stage 3, grade 4, a 10x10cm tumor on her kidney… Nephrectomy…. She survived, but our couple was never the same after, even if I think I was a good carer. She was never the same after, kissing Death on the lips would leave you like that. I admire her, I admire you, even if I have made my peace if – God forbid- it would happen to me.

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My Mother died of Cancer when I was 25, she was 49, cervical cancer, and a love for bad wine to drown bad memories. Destructive… I am not really sure where I want to go with this, apart from the fact that I feel blessed that our roads have crossed. You are a very brave man in so many ways, I respect people like you. If you guys fancy visiting our crazy Island one day, give me a shout. You rock like hell, Garry the helicopter guy rocks like hell, when I cannot even jump on a plane. Spread your arms, look at the sunset and scream: ” Freedom ya Mothers!!!” ‘cos you know what it feels like to be free… Fair play to you my friend… Fair play!!!

My response –

Franck, I read your comment yesterday early morning and several times yesterday and again this morning. It has taken me a day to respond because your comment had me feeling many emotions. I had to take my emotions and think about where they were coming from and why. First of all, I am sorry to hear about the loss of your mother and the experience both you and your wife went though. Life throws situations at us we are not always prepared for and we just do the best we can each day.

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For you to write you feel blessed our roads have crossed is the best compliment anyone could give. This blog is me writing down my experiences and feelings and emotions and for others to feel something and get something out of it – I am humbled and honored. Thank you for being a friend and being honest and sincere. I hope to one day take a trip to your island and meet you – what a privilege that would be. Have a happy day my friend, I truly appreciate you.

To Franck and each one of you – I am blessed our roads have crossed.

Festivals & Saturdays in the Park

The end of summer and start of fall last year had Gary and I attending festivals in the surrounding area.

This was back before my body began to experience the pain that started in December.

This was back before my body went through surgery.

This was back when I felt better.

My hope is soon Gary and I will again attend some festivals & Saturdays in the park.

tick away

A year ago in my post ‘Predict our day of death‘, I wrote the following –

On deathclock.com there is ‘The Death Clock’ and the website states –

Welcome to the Death Clock(TM), the Internet’s friendly reminder that life is slipping away… second by second. Like the hourglass of the Net, the Death Clock will remind you just how short life is.

So I proceeded to enter the information, clicked the ‘Check Your Death Clock’ button and received the following –

Your Personal Day of Death is….Saturday, June 10, 2028

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Image Provided by: http://www.deathclock.com

Okay, by this ‘Death Clock’ I will die in 13 years.

September of last year in my post ‘I have been there, done that‘, I wrote the following –

From cancer.net –

This year, an estimated 76,960 adults (58,950 men and 18,010 women) will be diagnosed with bladder cancer in the United States. Among men, bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer. It is estimated that 16,390 deaths (11,820 men and 4,570 women) from this disease will occur this year.

From cancer.org –

About half of all bladder cancers are first found while the cancer is still confined to the inner layer of the bladder wall. (These are called non-invasive or in situ cancers.) About 1 in 3 bladder cancers have invaded into deeper layers but are still only in the bladder. In most of the remaining cases, the cancer has spread to nearby tissues or lymph nodes outside the bladder. Rarely (in about 4% of cases), it has spread to distant parts of the body.

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My cancer is Stage 4 bladder cancer and I know the statistics.

In today’s post, I write the following –

Will I Die Soon?

The statistics for Stage 4 bladder cancer is I have a 14% to 24% 5-year survival prognosis.  I keep myself informed because this is my body, my cancer and my life and I want to know all the good and bad about what is taking place with me.  Do I sit here and wait for death and not live in the meantime?  No, I want to live as much as I can before that date on the calendar is here.  But I am restricted now on living life to the fullest as I continue my recovery.  The upcoming weeks will reveal what may come next in the subsequent months to follow.

Will I Die Soon?

‘The Death Clock’ indicates I will die in 11 years and my bladder cancer stage and prognosis indicates my chances are slim to live after the next 5 years.

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Whether it be 5 years or 11 years, I need to live in the here and now.  I still have things to learn and more growing needs to take place.  That person I want to be should be now – I do not need to wait until it is too late.  Some of you may not understand this; but it makes perfect sense to me.

I have no idea when my time on this earth is going to end – but it continues to tick away.

oh, why not?

From theguardian.com article ‘How selfies became a global phenomenon’ –

It starts with a certain angle: a smartphone tilted at 45 degrees just above your eyeline is generally deemed the most forgiving. Then a light source: the flattering beam of a backlit window or a bursting supernova of flash reflected in a bathroom mirror, as preparations are under way for a night out.

The pose is important. Knowing self-awareness is conveyed by the slight raise of an eyebrow, the sideways smile that says you’re not taking it too seriously. A doe-eyed stare and mussed-up hair denotes natural beauty, as if you’ve just woken up and can’t help looking like this. Sexiness is suggested by sucked-in cheeks, pouting lips, a nonchalant cock of the head and a hint of bare flesh just below the clavicle. Snap!

There was a time, I never took selfies, why would I?  I do not participate much in Social Media except my blog here on WordPress.  My posts are then sent out via a tweet on Twitter.  I find I have no time for other Social Media platforms and honestly soon will most likely shutdown my Twitter account.  However, I will keep my WordPress blog going as long as I enjoy it and feel up to it.  What does this have to do with selfies?

There was a time, I never took selfies, why would I?  My blog began with me anonymous.  As the months came and went I became less intimated with expressing myself in words and as fellow bloggers began to read and comment, I felt a sense of comfort.  So, I exposed myself; some of you may remember my posts that slowly exposed me; and now I am totally exposed for all to see.

Now because I am exposed, I take selfies, lot of selfies.  How many is too many?  Most of the time my selfies do not come out the way I would hope for, so another is usually taken.  I now take lots of selfies; most of them of me alone, still many more includes Gary and sometimes Roxy.

Google “selfies meaning” and you receive the following –

sel·fie

ˈselfē/

nouninformal

plural noun: selfies

a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media.

“occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself everyday isn’t necessary”

I do not usually post a picture of myself every day, it depends on the topic of the post I am publishing.

This past Saturday in my post ‘what comes next…‘, included a picture of me.  When my post is about me and my health, I usually end it with a picture of me.  That post last Saturday, I used an older picture with no intentions.  That post indicated I had lost 22 lbs. of weight since my surgery; this is true, but the picture included is an older picture, therefore I may have misled some readers thinking the photo is the current me.

There was a time, I never took selfies, why would I?  But now, oh, why not?

This post is filled with a collection of selfies.  This last photo is the current me – me with 22 lbs. less weight.

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October 1972 – Do It Again by Steely Dan

October 1972 – a song popular in this month – Do It Again by Steely Dan

This was the breakout hit from Steely Dan’s first album.

Interesting facts about Do It Again & Steely Dan

Like many of their songs, it’s hard to make sense of the lyrics, which seem to be about some combination of addiction, second chances and the inevitability of fate. It’s an example of a Steely Dan song that doesn’t make literal sense, but creates a mood.

This was Steely Dan’s first single. It became a hit in both the US and UK, earning the group a lot of press coverage. The group’s sound was very unusual, and when asked to explain it, they sometimes described it as “smart rock.”

They’re named after a dildo from the William Burroughs novel Naked Lunch. Donald Fagen recalled to Mojo magazine: “We had to come up with a name in a hurry and Walter and I were both Burroughs fans, though he was not known at the time. It was an in-joke- who’s going to know what Steely Dan was? And we figured that, like most of our bands in the past, it would fall apart after three months, so we didn’t think much about it.”

In 1981, they stopped recording. They got back together in 2000 and released Two Against Nature, which won the Grammy for Album Of The Year.

Waylon Jennings, Falco, Tori Amos and Smash Mouth have all covered this song.

This information was provided by Songfacts.com