Something That Precious

I dreamt of you last night. It was so nice to see your beautiful face. You were laughing, tan, skin luminescent, summer blond silky hair straightened blowing in the breeze. You wore a hideous, teal colored poof dress and you were ridiculously happy.

Seven, almost eight years have passed. I wrote this when you left trying to make sense of the shock, grief, numbness and non-sensical. I held onto it until today. It’s time to share your story. You’d want me to help in anyway. Anyone out there suffering, struggling with Mental Illness, you’d help them no matter the cost. So, I use my voice and do my best for the both of us. It’s not nearly enough missing you, but it’ll have to do.

I write with my heart full of you, L.B.H.

#WorldBipolarDay, ironic.

The label neither one of us asked for. It’s what we got.

Red Velveteen Curtain Call

By Jacqueline Cioffa

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Act One

Life doesn’t need movie star quality, reality TV, dramatic, sweeping cinematography.

It can be lived full, on an empty stage, in between the crooked walls, cracks and crevices.  On the stage, the story is alive, tingling with possibility. It builds, moves, unfolds organically, the tale takes precedent and the words take hold.  The spectator breathes it in, feels the emotion, the characters, mesmerized by the modern day theatrics.

Listen closely, and get swept away by this modern day drama. Come with me as I paint a picture of a boisterous three year old, wearing a pixie cut and overalls on the kitchen floor, my legs crossed atop my baby cousin’s. We’re laughing and eating brownie mix directly out of a big glass bowl.  I’m smirking at her with the most devilish grin that is all my own. She has curly, blond ringlets, a pink bow, a spatula in her mouth and brownie mix smeared down her chin.  I love this baby girl deeply, for she would grow into the most glorious, courageous of women.  She is the gypsy, a curious, starlit firefly, direct from the Gods and the underbelly. She is perfect in all her impossible glory.

She would travel the far ends of the earth and help people around the globe.

She would live in Africa and take care of the sick. She would call a submarine home, and the scientist in her would search for depth and meaning. She would honor truth, and walk to the beat of her own drum.  She would go to Princeton, and Yale, becoming a Dr. of Medicine. But, to me she was so much more.  She was a mystic, a guru, healer of the heart and mender of the soul.  She was always the mender of my sometimes-damaged heart and filled my disheartened soul with more light, laughter, happiness and song than one could ever hope for.

Her hair a la grown up was long, curly, and golden, much like the ancient temptresses of Mythology.  She never lost her luster, spark, or electric personality, even while drowning in psychosis, dark worlds and foreboding, mind oceans that were not her own. She was unable to find her way back home. We would watch Happy Feet, she would laugh and waddle-like a penguin for her own entertainment.  She never judged my many messy attempts at becoming an adult; instead she celebrated my quirks and eccentricities.  She was smart; actually she was brilliant, yet she never made me feel stupid.  She made me feel bold. We would sing Karaoke at Christmas, loud and off – key, howling with every missed beat of a tune.  She would visit, crawl into bed and tickle me, even though she knew I hated physical displays of emotion.  She made me feel safe, proud, precious and loved. For her I was more important than any film, way better than any big time production. For me, she was all the beauty that is the stage and its majestic quality. She was grand, spectacular, much like the house lights, the beautiful, antique wooden chairs and ornate ceilings, theaters from a forgotten time. She was regal like La Scala in Milan and brighter than any red carpet dream in Hollywood.

And then, she wasn’t. When I close my eyes, tears stream silently down my face and snot runs from my nose. I shudder to think of her in the cold damp earth. A box she would never want to call home. I close my eyes tight and fear the black and the dark and the depths of her pain. I want to mend her. I want to make it better, but as I sob like that little girl with brownie mix smeared on her face I know that I can’t. So I sob a little more and imagine her beautiful face, spectacular self and realize my humanistic dreams seem silly. They pale in comparison to her life and how she touched mine. I imagine the impulsivity and courage it took to climb the rail, how scared she must have been. How out of her mind hopeless she must have felt. Then, I wonder was she scared at all?  Maybe she felt release finally free to be the gypsy again to come and go without the hefty weight of living. The firefly eternal in flight, lighting up the sky with white and gold flames.

There had been too many hospital visits and failed drugs to mention. Hers was a life she would never have wanted. The bastard tricks of Bipolarity and my cursing at God bring little solace. I want to gather her, rock her in my arms keep her safe and warm. I want to kiss her cheek and tell her I love her and thank her for even one day in her company. I want to find the courage, fortitude and will to live my final act better. I want to make her proud. As brightly as her star shined in this world, so it shall in the next. For when I look up to the heavens and think of her I see the Aurora Borealis hues and colors bolder than ever imagined. There are far too many colors in her rainbow to fade out. Her spirit envelops me with goodness, truth, warmth, and endless golden curls and locks of love.

Life as I knew it was gone. I was left with a gorge in my heart. I was left with deep sorrow and sadness. Selfishly, I want her back. My brain tells me stop. I know better, I too have been cursed with the tortured, bipolar theatrics. I decide to halt my tears, and put on my most fabulous dress and high sparkly heels. I drown my sorrow in a rock song belting it out loud, way louder than I should. Fuck it, no one’s listening. I dance alone with thoughts of her dripping golden light all around me. I rejoice in freedom and abandon. Fireflies flicker for a brief, fleeting moment and then they are gone disappearing back into the night.

Something that precious must burn out, well before its time. Leaving us to bask in its wake, of wonder, beauty, love and twinkling light.

Curtain Falls.  Intermission

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#EndtheStigma

#StartTheConversation #OneInFour

https://twitter.com/worldbipolarday

https://www.facebook.com/worldbipolarday

http://bringchange2mind.org

http://stigmafighters.com/?s=jacqueline+cioffa

worldbipolarday

“Jacqueline Cioffa has answered your call with her new novel, “Georgia Pine”.”

“Georgia Pine” Book Signing with Jacqueline Cioffa  3 / 28 / 15

“For those of you who fell in love with Harry in “The Vast Landscape” and wanted the saga to continue, Jacqueline Cioffa has answered your call with her new novel, “Georgia Pine”. Amazon review

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“Thank you to everyone who came out today. I’m touched by the overwhelming support.

Without you the reader, the words become yellow parchment paper gathering dust in some attic.”

– Jacqueline Cioffa

Never Quit Your Dreams

“JC delivers again. Spectacular, I could picture myself @ The Cove – and I’m not sure New Orleans will ever be the same for me.. Thanks Jackie for sharing your brilliant mind with us again – and I’m holding out hope for another…” Amazon review

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World Bipolar Day

The Lithium Chronicles

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Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness that represents a significant challenge to patients, health care workers, family members and our communities. While growing acceptance of bipolar disorder as a medical condition, like diabetes and heart disease, has taken hold in some parts of the world, unfortunately the stigma associated with the illness is a barrier to care and continues to impede early diagnosis and effective treatment. In order to address the disparity in how bipolar disorder is viewed in different parts of the world, the Asian Network of Bipolar Disorder (ANBD),the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF), and the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) came together to work on the concept of a world bipolar day.The International Bipolar Foundation 

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March 30th was chosen to be the day that we celebrate #WorldBipolarDay because it is also Vincent Van Gough’s birthday, who was posthumously diagnosed as probably having Bipolar Disorder…

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Every Little Thing Matters

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For those of you that don’t know me and most don’t, I led a privileged life for many, many years. Traveled to exotic locales on somebody else’s dime lived in Paris, Milan, London, Barcelona, Madrid, Cape Town, Miami, Hollywood, NYC… I was a fashion model who earned a living with her looks.

The bizarre, crazy existence was the difficult lifestyle to explain. It was a job with bonanza benefits. I never took myself too seriously.

When my fashion career was over I had to reinvent myself. Makeup artist, why not? Started at ten bucks an hour and worked my way up counting Mariah Carey, Anne Hathaway, Sandra Bernhard, Connie Britton as clients. I had connections, and lots of help. Again, I didn’t take myself seriously. I knew how to coddle the celebs, after all I’d been on the their side for years.

My spirit was unsatisfied, intuition nagged this wasn’t it. This wasn’t what your supposed to be doing.

I can’t say the precise second, the exact hour my mind blew. It was a rapid, out of nowhere burn.

When something serious happens to your health something so surreal and uncertain you dig, claw, and dig deeper. You fight. There’s a cosmic shift. Something changes in your core on a molecular level.

Nothing is ever trivial again, coasting is not allowed and everything about you feels strange. You’re different.

I found my way back, returned to my old life. It was fine for a time. Mediocre, but fine. The next break would not let me be the drifter, laid back traveler, not this time. Nope, I had to work hard. This time, I was the paradigm shell.

I had to shed the old, and let her go.

Brutal leaving your identity, friends, city, what you know, the familiar, your favorite pizza joint behind. It can be brutal or it can be something different.

It didn’t matter, I learned. I understood other stuff mattered more; family, well-being, sanity, gardening, solitude, writing, walking the dog. Basics became survival tools.

The voices nagged. You better get your shit together. Don’t fuck up. You’ve got one chance to do something good, something beautiful, something true, something with purpose.

I have always been a writer. It’s my DNA, in my marrow, my blood, my heart and my brain.

The words have always been there.

I wasn’t listening. I just wasn’t listening to them.

A book signing at the Landmark Gala during Syracuse Fashion Week is my life come demi-circle.

The irony is not lost on me.

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The Vast Landscape follows the “brash, vulnerable, raw Harrison in pursuit of ‘movie star’ dreams navigating her way through the painful and the beautiful. It is more than just an incredible love-story.”

Most days life kicks you in the ass and you do your best to manage.

Sometimes, indigo sky sunshine and karma throws flecks of silver star-dust your way.

When you lead from the heart, those are the best days.

Every little thing matters.

You can’t know when the stardust might shine.

I’m prettier today, inside out.

Jackie Cioffa's Article

“When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.” Harley Davidson

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That’s the thing about boundaries

“I’m sorry.”

This may be the most overrated, overused phrase in my catch-all, go to, spit it out library. Most times I don’t really mean it, “I’m sorry” is the quickest way around, under, over and out of an uncomfortable situation.

Boundaries, now there’s a swash and spit mouthful. A word worthy of top shelf book space. I don’t pull it out often enough. Managing the days with a serious mental illness (it’s high-tide time I accept it) boundaries should have an entire section in Webster’s. Not really but damn it well should.

There are the managements, physical ick-awful pain, aches, nauseous, brain burning exhaustion. The clenched jaw, neck so tight you’re unaware until you grab a stick of gum to quash the anxiety and each chew hurts. It’s worse than the worst flu delirium and yet there I go again, apologizing. “I’m sorry for not taking the laundry down, I’m sorry for needing a minute, an hour, whatever to wait out the hot flashes, chills, blurry eyes that are clouding my fucking vision. I’m sorry I cannot think straight with the incessant ringing in my ears, head spinning from the constant whir. I’m sorry I can’t remember what I was thinking two seconds ago, or which of the million thoughts swirling around I’m going to shut out, or which I’m going try and  focus on.

I’m sorry this is my fucking, miserable reality. It’s not exactly what I’d hoped either.

I’m sorry you think I don’t care, or am not listening. I’m sorry you think I don’t care, or am not listening.

For that, I am truly sorry. I am listening behind the white noise and I do care about what you’re saying. I care about what you said two days ago, that I am just now processing.

See, how that goes. I’m sorry. I am the first to understand empathy is the wasted, throw away emotion. There are better, far healthier choices, words to choose.

So I’m going to try hard, as if I don’t try every single solitary second so you get my exhaustive, over-exaggerated, moot point.

Boundaries. I’m going to incorporate that word into my repertoire, get used to hearing the way it sounds.

No. I can’t.10246632_10202265395809057_1936156732_n

I’ll let you know when I am able.

Polite, and to the point.

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I am not hate.

I have to remind myself to walk away from the hate multiple times a day when frustration gets too heavy, life bears down too hard.

Living is torture even when one is ridiculously happy.

Living consumed by hate, the ugliest impossibility.

The sun is a billion years dead and gone, yet she shines so warm and glorious.

I’m going to bask in the light of the sun.

I bought three gemstone rings today for no particular reason, maybe Mania is swirling about.

White Opal, blue Opal and an Amethyst a reminder of the sparkle pretty, shimmering facets that live inside.

Rooting myself to the earth’s core brilliance, natural hues and color palettes.

No room for hate, nope.

No sir.

Not on me, not  this day.

“I am not hate; I am not jealousy. I am the bigger person owning nothing but the dream.” THE VAST LANDSCAPE

‪#‎thevastlandscape‬

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County Cork Kildare

My grandfather came to this country when he was twelve years old from County Cork, Kildare in Ireland with five brothers and two sisters in tow. He was twelve years old. Despite an eighth grade education he found a trade, worked hard, prospered and made a whole life for himself.

He married a strong, loyal, capable German girl, a baker’s daughter with five sisters and two brothers from solid stock.

They’d have three sons and their firstborn, a daughter. They named her Ellen.

Family came first, tradition followed and love was omnipresent.

I adored my Papa, being one of ‘his dollies.’ He stood 6’2″ I had to crook my neck to look up. He had silver white hair and a gold tooth that sparkled when he grinned.

Sunday outings were our special time. I felt goosebumps alive to be riding with him in his shiny Cadillac with power windows.

He placed a green carnation corsage in the fridge on St. Patrick’s Day. One for me and one for his Irish baby girl, Ellen.

Without tradition, legacy, family, there would be lackluster stories to tell.

There would be no Black Irish girl falling hard for the larger than life, mesmerizing Italian man.

Their stories would paint mine with enough adventure and adjectives to fill blank pages and pages.

Legacy is a lofty word and weight to carry.

Pride, respect, honor are terms I inherited with no borders.

Storyteller, moments retold, stored and catalogued through cracked pictures that hang on the walls.

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