Ode to Blue: Stirred, Not Shaken.

The blues have been creeping up on me for a couple of weeks. Can’t really share all of the reasons, as some of them are not mine to share… but they’ve been shared upon me. Funny how that works. That said, the blues have come a knocking.

This is Me 2.0, so I’m not letting them in… all together. I’m not falling down, I’ve just stumbled a little. I find myself a little more paralyzed the past couple of weeks, than when my mojo was in full recovery, full gear. In all fairness, the mojo is still there. Not like three years ago December, when I fell hard and far. Not like two years ago December, when Mom died and I was shaken to the core. Not like a year ago, when I realized I was down for the count, and threw up my hands in surrender. I’ve said it before, I’ve been in recovery, crawling out of the blue room, since about early spring of this year– and I plan to continue that climb up. But I can’t deny the room is still blue.

One left, just hanging there, waiting to fall...

One left, just hanging there, waiting to fall…

However, even when things are on the upswing, there are bound to be some moments, situations– and frankly, there have been more than a couple recently. When some friends who I write with asked me how I was coping with said situations, their eyes a bit worried, I knew they were thinking back to the big black, and how it all got too much for me. “No, it’s not like that… at all.” I reassured them. It’s not. I’m not that fragile any more. I’m not that shaky. I’m stirred up, not shaken. Learning to let go is a bitch. A wicked bitch. Just because I get and accept that I can’t fix some things, doesn’t mean it’s easy to look away and be ok with it. Just because I have a handle on issues, doesn’t mean I always have a firm grip. There are days, and sometimes those days drag into weeks, where I just feel tired of holding my head up, tired of pretending that love doesn’t come with some serious baggage sometimes.

Fuck you Huntington’s Disease! Fuck you Genetics! Fuck you alcoholism! Fuck you denial and walls! Fuck you issue upon issue that just keeps coming up, and will keep coming up for a long time. Just because I’m not taking you on (as if I have any real leverage), doesn’t mean you don’t suck the big one, and that your kick doesn’t set my teeth to rattling… still. Just because I know all the statistics and I’ve read all the material, doesn’t mean I’m prepared to deal with all of this, on the day-to-day… Again. It hurts. It knocks me to my knees… depending on the moment. I’m tough enough to figure out the boundaries, but for the record, tough love is tough on everyone. There are still times when I can’t help but rage and cry and hit my pillow: Why? Give us a fucking break!  Sometimes, all of that is just in my head…  You see only my smile, and my standard, “Yeah, things are fine.” What can I do? I’m not going down again, so I can only get up and accept those sucky moments. Then move on. Ok, it’s not fully letting go, but I choose to keep moving.

image: eveshouse.blogspot.com

image: eveshouse.blogspot.com

Maybe it has to do with the season? I’ve always loved Fall, but there’s no doubt that in the past few weeks I’ve had more than a few occasions when the perfect smell of wet leaves and late Fall decay, which I’ve always loved so much, has shoved me face first into memories of Mom’s fall. Note the capital “F”; but the lower case fall which held all the cards. That Fall two years ago, brought the fall– a broken elbow, that lead to Hospice. It was a blessing; she was ready. I thought I was too. By New Year’s day, she was dead and I realized that I’d spent so much time thinking about what might come, that when it came for real, I wasn’t sure how to react. In fairness, there were a few other things going on at the time: 2 foreign exchange students, my husband out of the country for the 3 weeks leading up to her death, my husband then needing emergency surgery the very night she was dying, some serious health issues of my own that were flaring up, and Christmas and New Years sandwiching it all. 2012 opened with me feeling exhausted, shocked and ready to just push it all down move on.  It took another year, of slowly processing it, to see that still waters do indeed run deep. There was a lot below the surface.

For the past several weeks I’ve been training to work with Hospice. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. Death and I go way back, and I feel like it’s time I make real peace with it, and put my training and compassion to good use. I have my MSW, and I went through extensive training four years ago, to work with children in death/grief counseling. That’s a hard, hard road though. For several varied reasons, it didn’t work out at the time. This direction I’m headed in now feels like something I’m really ready for. That said, it’s not easy. Eight hours a week discussing death, working on emotions, learning strategies to comfort and support those who are dying, and their families: death, death and more death. I’m working on the very grounds where my mother died.  More than once, as I’ve pulled into the driveway, those days (81 to be exact) when I came to visit Mom in this same place, have come flooding back. Doing this work, however, is coming full circle in a way. It’s so rewarding, so powerful, and yes, difficult as well.

Final days. Warm, quiet moments.

Final days. Warm, quiet moments.

This week was the first time that I went back into the Hospice House. The weather is the same; the decorations for this time of year are the same; and ironically, two of my favorite staff members gave us our tours. They each greeted me warmly, and I can’t deny that there were a few minutes when it was a little hard to breathe. The smell of the room, the quilt on the bed, and the view… I could almost see my mother in the bed down the hall, again. When I was asked to lie down to demonstrate something, all those hours of lying in another bed, exactly like that one, holding my mother and resting with her, came flooding back. The lighting, the smells, sounds and feel of being there– was a visceral memory. Breathe. Breathe. My wonderful class mates kindly patted me on the back and quietly let me know they were there with me, emotionally. And in the end, I did the tour; I walked around for a little while, and when I left the building, I felt much better. I feel so ready to do this… to give back to a program which did so much for me, at a very challenging and deeply personal time.

So it’s raining. It’s gray.  It’s that time of year… Or, maybe it’s just me…  I’m blue. I’m gonna sit with that and not let it carry me away. I’m gonna keep moving forward, but a little slower for a blip of time. It may not be easy, but I’m not going to let this undo what I’ve done.  I’m gonna write it out, and stay the course. I’m stirred, I’m not shaken. There is always light, after the rain.

Know about the blues? Struggle with the challenges some days? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.


About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
This entry was posted in Aging, Awareness, Blog, Can't sleep, Daily Observations, Death of parent, Honest observations on many things, Huntington's Disease, Life, Mothers, Musings, My world, Parenting, Personal change, Tales From the Motherland, Women, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

53 Responses to Ode to Blue: Stirred, Not Shaken.

  1. jillcoburnmay says:

    I think you will do great as a hospice volunteer, bless you, Dawn.


  2. Kelly says:

    Thank you for sharing this today. I have struggles with my weakness and my will, and I am determined that my “will’ will win. I find it very important to learn how to turn my gray into color, if not for me, for my children. Not only do I want them to see me struggle and then succeed, I want them to know that when they are down, that they to will rise. The one constant in my life has been the strong support and love from my family, and I am fortunate that my children also have that!

    Thanks and love to you!


    • Thank YOU, Kelly. I really appreciate your feedback… it is always reassuring to know that others experience and/or struggle with similar things. Not that I’m happy you struggle, but it helps when I know I’m not alone, and that what I have to say resonates with others. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment; your time is much appreciated.


  3. The Waiting says:

    There IS always light after the rain. I was actually at a seminar earlier this week where a woman who works as a facilitator at a local hospice center was the featured speaker, and she said over and over that it is the volunteers like you who have been through the system on the other side who bring the most value and care to the current patients and their families. You are doing good, Dawn. You really are. You know just as well as I do that the blues are a temporary thing, but I’m glad you’re not hurrying them. They’ll make their way out in due time and leave you a more amazing person.


    • Thanks so much Emily! I guess I have to just keep reminding myself that blue goes well with my eyes. 😉 I am really excited to work at Hospice, and I know this will pass… it’s seasonal, and situational. Both will pass. I appreciate your support, so much.


  4. Carrie Rubin says:

    I think you would be wonderful at hospice care, at least from what I’ve learned about you through your writing. Your compassion is obvious, and your heart all-encompassing. Who suffers from Huntington’s Disease, if I may ask? Is it you? Was it your mother? I’m sorry if I’ve missed something in past posts. So sorry to learn about that. It’s such a cruel disease.


    • It is indeed a cruel disease Carrie. I wrote quite a lot of posts about it Sept-Dec of 2011 (2 links in this post), or you can also find more on my other blog: The Huntington’s Chronicles. My grandmother died of it, my 49 year old aunt, my mother in 2011 and my sister and brother have it. I do not.

      Thanks for your enthusiastic support. I’m really excited to start at Hospice. I know it will have some challenges, but I’m really looking forward to it.


  5. Rita Russell says:

    I spent a number of years working on the board of an organization that provided many social services, including recruiting and training volunteers for hospice patients. I was lucky enough to meet and be humbled by some of those amazing folks. By joining those kind of volunteers, especially after the history after you have shared the past two years – all I can say is WOW! I salute you!


    • Thanks so much! I am really excited. The training has been SO hard, SO many hours…but I feel really qualified and prepared. Poor timing (the course is only offered certain times) means that I’m also starting on the Board for a wonderful organization that assists abused children… heavy few weeks! Thanks for taking the time.


  6. I have tough times too. Being in chronic pain since late June gets to me from time to time. Not sleeping well really gets to me (I need to do a sleep test). And now that it’s dark so early, that’s tough as well. I’m still processing my mother’s death and dealing with a lot of my growing up with her. I had years of very few memories, and more painful pieces of my childhood are popping up here and there. I process them, get very angry and sad, and move on. Then more stuff comes up, rinse, repeat.

    All I want to do is to become inspired to write. But when that’s gone, I want to sleep. What I need to do is, once my regular physical therapy ends, segue into working out regularly at a gym- where I get out of the house.

    My heart is with you, and I wonder if it’s too soon to be doing hospice work? Or will it be healing to do it. In any case, I am wishing you blue skies and bright sun.


    • Thanks Sue. I think I’m very ready for this work, and I honestly feel that this is a normal response to the stuff that’s happened. I may find myself wrong, but I doubt it. That said, I do think that grieving takes a long time… or can. It’s a processing of so many things. I’m so sorry that you’ve had so much on your plate; it’s a lot to sort through! I have definitely found that working out is helping a lot. Hopefully you can get through the PT, get past the pain, and enjoy things again.

      As for writing, sometimes you have to just do it. You start doing it and then it’s something you need to do. Writing keeps me sane, for sure. 😉


  7. Just new to your site. Am reeling from all of your pain. Good luck with your new course in life.


    • Well, honeydidyouseethat… sorry that’s your first intro to TFTM. It’s not the usual fare, though I don’t use many filters and I say it like it is. There’s lots of silliness, and other crazy topics to explore. Hope you’ll take a minute to explore. Welcome; I appreciate you coming!


  8. etomczyk says:

    I believe we all have a calling of service to make the world a better place. Usually, most often, it is out of our own suffering that the comfort rings most true. You’re going to be a wonderful hospice volunteer because of the grace that you have to share from the experiences you’ve had. All the best.


  9. susanissima says:

    Oh, love, I wish I were there to hug you and have a conversation. So much of my own mom’s passing came back as I was reading your impassioned words, you heart pouring out…so proud of you for going back to that place of pain and resolving to contribute what you can now. Hang in there; you’re on to something wonderful. XOXOXO


  10. I know the blues well Dawn, as you’re probably aware from reading my blog – reading yours, as you mentioned above, it’s not obvious at all! I think you’ll be a wonderful hospice worker – I could only wish we were geographically closer to share friendship in person 🙂

    Recently my old foe anxiety has been biting hard. I didn’t believe I’d ever go down that route again but it’s here and it’s difficult…but there is much to be grateful for and positive about and I’ll remember that every time I wake up xx


  11. Yara Damaj says:

    Dear Dawn,

    This post gave me goosebumps. You managed to put my thoughts into words, and words into a perfectly harmonious account of things. I am blue too, and I really don’t want to be, but I am. To be honest, at this point, I’m so blue that I can’t manage being on my own without having my thoughts invade me, I really hate it. So I keep running away.. I am sorry to hear about your mama, it truly is a horrific thing to go through.. What you went through. I’m really disliking growing up. It hurts. It really really does. And nothing hurts more than love. Sometimes I wonder if it synonymous with pain, love. Anyway, congratulations on getting to the point where you are no longer set back by your blue. I hope to get there one day, it seems that having support is good, I however do not have that at the moment and that is why I am at my weakest, I am most vulnerable.

    Kudos on being inspirational,
    Kudos on being so strong.



    • Yara, I’m so sorry that you don’t have support right now; I know you need it. I totally understand the “invading thoughts;” they rob me of sleep and keep my head spinning some days. Try meditation, it really does help. Deep breathing, walking, reading something that truly takes you away… these things can help as well. I’m sad that you see love as pain. I know that you’ve been hurt recently, but trust me when I tell you that not all love hurts and the right love will not. You are an incredible young woman; you inspire me all the time with your writing. Hang in there, dear one… you will be stronger on the other side. I promise you that. xo


      • Yara Damaj says:

        I hate those invading thoughts! I start ruminating and then everything looks so dark.. I’ve been betrayed and let down by countless people this year.. It is amazing really, how cruel people can be. I’m finding it very hard to write lately and to look at the bright side of things.. It just seems as though everything has been falling apart and my pieces are so tiny that they would be impossible to build again. I don’t know what’s gotten to me. Its just that I don’t want to miss out on life.. And that’s what’s happening right now, because I’m stuck and I’m bored.. But mostly, its lonely where I am, and there’s a knife in my heart, and another one in my back. I hope that you’re right. I really do. ox


        • I am rarely wrong; ask my kids. 😉 That said, on this, I am right. Hold on, search for beauty and try to let go of that which is not. Your writing is a gift, Yara. I don’t say that lightly, I mean it. I think you are truly gifted. Where are you from, originally? Are you in Beirut just for school? It’s so hard to be away from those you love, when you are grieving and suffering… as I’ve shared with you, my own girl is in the exact same boat, in Jerusalem, right now. Hard for me to be so far from her, and hard for her to be so far from us.. with that knife still stuck.

          Remember that those who have hurt and betrayed you are all connected, and they are NOT connected to what is in front of you, but what is behind you. It’s still fresh; it still hurts, but it will fade. Truly. You will in fact be stronger. I have never, NEVER, met anyone who did not have their heart shredded once… and the people who are most interesting, and have the most character, have often lost much, but grown more. You are so young, and that is in no way to say that this does not matter… it is to say that you must trust an older woman who’s been there, and lean on me/us when you can, and know that we love you, and that you will be the wise woman one day. You will share this same advice, with someone who is hurting. Try to write, just put it out there… don’t try too hard, let it be organic and real. Exercise… my daughter has found running to be a huge outlet for grief and loneliness. It’s good to work your body– it forces your mind to a quiet corner. Yes, those thoughts can make the world seem so dark… but that’s why you have to do things to push them aside, until you are stronger and ready to let go. Hang in there. I think of you daily, so in thought, you are not alone. xo


  12. Sue says:

    Hi Dawn-
    As someone who has lived with depression and anxiety issues, I can certainly relate to your pain. I, too, have spent time in the abyss. Not anywhere I would want to go back to either! Exercise and writing have made the most difference for me these last 9 years, and have pretty much kept me on the topside. I am glad you are reaching out beyond your pain, and I think getting involved with hospice is a great way to do that. My 81 year old mom volunteers – and has since her retirement- and also feels like it’s her calling. Looking forward to continue to follow your journey!


    • Sue, thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. I appreciate you sharing your own experience, and agree that exercise and writing make a huge difference! I’m just getting into the exercise part, but have to admit I am starting to “need” it; something I never thought would happen! :-p The writing, that is absolutely my drug of choice! Again thanks for your kind, supportive words, the encouragement is wonderful! Welcome to TFTM and I hope you enjoy the ride! dawn


  13. Cathy Ulrich says:

    From my heart to yours, may your time as a hospice volunteer fill you with the sweet acceptance of life in all of its richness and contrasts. I know you’ll be a wonderful presence there. I salute your bravery and commitment, Dawn. And perhaps it will help you as you continue to live with the Huntington’s disease that haunts your extended family (and thank God, not you and your own children.) Blessings,


  14. Your pain, the diseases which cause you suffering and hurt over this season, continuing grief over a lost parent are ALL things that we share. As you know -smile-.
    Just want to tell you everything will be alright. Life works itself out doesn’t it?
    I know, just pull yourself up by your bootstraps! -waits for bitch-slap-

    Didn’t see your words and hurt coming. This post hit me like a punch to a failing boxer; missed the signs and dear god it connected!

    Our journeys into the abyss are dark and personal. I’ll always be there to help pull you up. Call me anytime. Email me. Hell, I never sleep so odds are good you’ll find me pondering the meaning of life, sobriety, TM, my daughter, the death of my father and what’s in the damned fridge.

    Fall used to be my favorite season. Life seems to have handed us both enough lightening strikes to change that shit. Screw it. Let’s eat chocolate for breakfast, drink our coffee and have a meeting of two. You read the Promises heh.
    All my love and support for your trek.


    • Thanks so much Rachael.
      First, let me say that there was nothing to “miss.” We all live in our own private Idaho, and you see what I put out there, just as I see what you put out. While I don’t sugar coat much, it is what it is… I’m not in a deep blue pool, just a phase of getting through some hard times. It waxes and wanes, like so many things. I am well aware, that there are so many others (you included) who have much bigger blue palettes to sort out.

      So, thank you so much for the kind and witty words of strength and encouragement. Thank you, for being a class act blogging buddy, and thanks for being willing to eat chocolate… for me. 😉 You are one kick ass chick! xo


  15. Mike Lince says:

    I know the abyss. I have been there and flirted with it during those dark days when I felt my life had little worth. It was when my first marriage was over and I did not know how to end it. Fortunately, someone came along and made me feel worthy again. Your story brought those memories to light, and it is a good reminder that the strongest among us are not immune to the blues. I have since found great joy in my life. You and I shared a few such moments together not that long ago. It’s those precious moments with people like you who truly care that make the challenges we face seem less formidable. Thank you for the strength and resolve that you not only have, but that you also inspire in others. – Mike


  16. Katalina4 says:

    Beauty and sadness so richly intertwined here, Dawn. How many tough things we must all live through and sometimes just feel how hard and crushing and heartbreaking it all is.
    These short, dark days are sure getting to me, but I love how you are fighting, identifying the bigger dips, the bigger falls into the dark, and have determined this one is not as deep as those.
    So glad to cyber-know you… xxx


    • This is a stumble, not a fall. Thanks for recognizing that in my writing, Kat. I’ve gotten more than a few concerned comments. It always makes me think I missed the mark, and whined too much. Life is full of this… up and down up and down and down and up…. So glad to cyber know you as well. xo


  17. Thinking of you, Dawn. I have had the blues and they are like swimming against the waves… just keep swimming is my motto. I think being a Hospice volunteer is wonderful and helps with healing. You will be amazing for those patients and their families. I do agree with you – sometimes the weather and the dark, cloudy skies, make the blues even more pronounced. As I look out my window today, I see that kind of a sky, but then there is this shining orange and gold leafed tree in my view. I think I may just focus on that tree. Hugs to you!


    • I couldn’t agree more. The gray weather definitely makes things seem harder sometimes, the holidays rushing up on me, and this time of year there are lots of memories around losing both my mother and my father. That said, I agree that the beautiful colors on the trees, and And spending time with friends, really help. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment; much appreciated!

      Sent from Dawn’s iPhone


  18. Valery says:

    Oh, those blues… It seems so much harder for women. When we talk about things going wrong, we get labeled as “complainers”, “weak”, or “Debbie Downer”. Get caught complaining about work? “Incapable”. And that’s just our own self-view, never mind others.

    We are living in a technicolor world of highs and lows. Rose-colored glasses are for wimps and Stepford wives. I love that you write about all of it with such honesty. I am once again in awe of your fighting spirit and your determination. Hospice is mighty lucky to gain your services!



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