Libby Baker Sweiger

Weaver of Everyday Tales

Christmas Alive

“Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values.”

Yesterday I went to the Honor Guard Service for my dear husband’s Uncle Rogenald Jean Keller’s (102) Memorial Service. He was the living values of this Christmas quote all the year through… something the rest of us strive for once a year!

Such an amazing example he was for his family, inspiring all three of his daughters to be extraordinary women. Loving two wives he survived… so well. Being such an example to grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nephews, nieces, cousins and friends with wise words and infinite humor that they will are forever changed for knowing him.

He cared and shared his vision of boat safety with the world. Inventing numerous patents and a prototype boat unsinkable. We all tried! The marketing will be left to those he left behind… the groundwork was forged by his hand.

Caring, giving, loving, living life to the fullest, he did it and taught us all. None of us will ever be the same for knowing him. We will all be a bit bigger, larger than our menial lives would have been without Rog. Duller, just less.

Celebrating a life was easy today. Such a full, loving life. Sorry and sad for all we will miss, but joyful for all he will add to our next home and how wonderful it will be to see him again!

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Christmas Came Early

I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year. CHARLES DICKENS

I try in everything I say and do to be kind. People who know me best may disagree. I don’t know. Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes the bad mood wins. A crabby spell I can’t pull out of in time and I am caught in it. I hope they are few and far between. But, I fight a powerful illness in bipolar. Yet, as I have said before…I try not to let it define me. I am not my mood. They are not in control. I am.

Kindness to me at #Christmas means letting in the love, creating a Blessed and joyous atmosphere with art and decorations putting the whole house, its guests, all who see it in a joyful, praise filled mood!

Kindness at Christmas means whole-hearted participation in the gatherings, celebrations, times of worship and ceremonies you’re a part of with your whole heart and all your love and friendship. It means giving, not just traditional types, but also from the heart and pocketbook.

Kindness means keeping in touch, in our case through cards and Christmas letters sent early if possible and worship and fellowship at the local church, as well as Open Houses at the ministries you support.

I guess it’s good I got an early start this year! All because my daughter Abby was coming down to play hockey with Teri and I wanted to surprise them with the decorations. I’m going to need time to spend with the Lord Jesus… the reason for the season!!!

However, you celebrate, whatever your faith… enjoy this lovely season! Take time to reflect and be kind!

The Elusive Conquest: Sleep

I have been an insomniac all my life, in varying degrees, but never so extreme as when I developed bipolar disorder. Or rather I should say, prone to insomnia. As a child I wouldn’t sleep at all it seemed the night before the first day of school. Not because of dread but for pure excitement’s sake. Or, before a big party or event. I still don’t. When there is a big occasion coming up: an out-of-town wedding I’m looking forward to…my excitement builds…my insomnia flares. I don’t get good sleep for weeks beforehand and crash (from pure exhaustion for many, many weeks afterward.) Does this keep me from attending? NO! I live. I must live! I must enjoy and life my life!

Here is my illusive dream:

“Happiness consists in getting enough sleep. Just that, nothing more.”
― Robert A. HeinleinStarship Troopers

Of course there is much more to my happiness or I wouldn’t have much. But, this quote speaks, sings to me. In my early days with bipolar I was more heavily medicated and slept very hard. I also worked 40 hours a week in marketing and sales! I did this for many years! And helped, along with my hard-working, sweet husband raise our family of one dear daughter: getting her to school and hockey and softball games. Ah youth!

But, now I am 64. And sleep is my elusive dream. I often go to bed very early ~ 9 at the latest ~ and I’m wide awake at 2. But five hours at my age is really not to bad, I’m told! So that is a very good night. The world is still asleep at 2 a.m. so it’s a great time to write a book! 🙂 The house is so quiet. No one stirs. Often I watch the news or Frasier reruns. Sometimes I meditate using an app on my phone, or read. The house is peaceful. I take my pills and eat breakfast at 4. Gluten free granola with berries and nuts, almond milk…perhaps some cinnamon decaf tea. Quiet pursuits. I don’t fight it. I get up and live. I’ve quit battling for sleep.

I try not to do my favorite thing: Sleep in the day…that perpetuates the saga. It’s very hard not to. I’m a better at napping than my father and he’s good. He takes short naps. I could sleep for hours. But, if I do…I flip my nights and days around in no time and that is a slippery slope! No caffeine allowed to right myself. My blood pressure will go too high! It’s easy to do and can take me months to slowly turn my days and nights back the way they were.

How much all this has to do with being bipolar? I’m not sure. They are all intertwined. Sleep is vital to stability in a person with bipolar disorder. Yet, I was an insomniac before bipolar manifested at age 23. Here is my diagnosis straight from my chart for your viewing information: Bipolar Disorder I in remission. Anxiety. Insomnia. The remission part means that I am not actively manic at this time. Or actively in a depression.

Although, I’m not actively depressed. I experience depression. Just a bit. Around the edges, but not enough to incapacitate me. Anxiety is giving me more trouble now ~ as is insomnia. That is my temperature…taken today.

It doesn’t sound so bad…so why write about it? Because, I am trying to keep it from limiting me. Even at this level, there are many days that I do the bare minimum: maybe a load of laundry, tidy the apartment, sit in my recliner for hours watching Hallmark Christmas movies and playing with social media on my phone, barely getting dressed. What could I be doing? Getting dressed to go out. Walking my dog. Working out in the gym in our apartment property. Calling friends on the phone, etc.  It’s all the things I’m not doing that haunt me. Things I think about and do not do because I don’t “feel like it”. I’m not lazy. I just really don’t feel too well. It makes me feel like crying. I can’t explain it. It’s hard to push myself and I want to be still and feel safe. I don’t know what’s unsafe about the rest. There’s nothing wrong with any of it. It just seems so hard. I’m happy relating to my friends online and watching my shows, talking to my dog and staying cozy inside.

I’m going out today. My sister and cousin and aunt are going out for my sister’s birthday. My sis is picking me up. I am very happy about it. She’s picking me up this afternoon. I can hardly wait! This isn’t hard for me. Being with people I love. Going to lunch. And when I get back…it’s almost time for Mike to be home and the weekend. The best time of the week!

Well, that’s a bit of my struggle with sleep…share yours with me. I look forward to hearing from you! It’s 3:34 a.m. ~ Almost time for breakfast!2014.Paintings2Acrylic Art copyright Libby Baker Sweiger 2017 Joyous Art Designs

The Real Story

Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Read more…

Anything Can Happen!

Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”

― Shel Silverstein

So many of us spend most of the time in our thought life thinking life should go a certain way. That life is this way or that. This puts constraints on the way our life should go, limits us and disappoints us at the same time. The truth is that life is much bigger that anything our mind can imagine! Created by God and guided by Him if we let Him, get to know Him, release our mind and thoughts into His we find that Life is just as big as we can possibly imagine and our capacity to live and change much bigger than we ever thought possible.

So what constrains us? Our fear. Our biology. Our thinking. All of the above! I have bi-polar disorder, anxiety, insomnia and a small host of other physical constraints. Yet I can rise above many of them by not letting “stinking thinking” negativity limit me.

A year ago, last May I joined Weight Watchers and began to challenge a lot of the negative thinking that was tying me in knots. Weight Watchers is not just a weight loss program. It’s a way of life.  Its meetings teach ways to challenge your limiting thought life. This is important because many people who eat too much are often emotional eaters. This is tied to a thought life that is all twisted up. I’m very excited about my weight loss, but more than that I want to celebrate the loss of limited thinking in my thought life!

I am 45 pounds lighter… lighter now than I was in High School. I have new eating habits, but the biggest difference in my life is the way that my mind works. I don’t blame myself for things I have no control over. I don’t worry as much about life’s little troubles. How do maintain this? Even though I’m below my goal weight and a Lifetime member of Weight Watchers who needs only to attend meetings once a month and stay within two pounds of goal weight to maintain my free membership. (You only pay if you go over your weight goal.) Great incentive! I go every week to stay inspired and keep my thought life on track! It’s the best, cheapest (free) group therapy on the planet!

I’m sure there are plenty of groups out there doing the same thing and boasting the same results: AA, Al-Anon, Over Eaters Anonymous. Groups that teach healthy thinking and change the lives of their members: teaching that life is just life and needs to be dealt with as it is, not as we think it “Should” be.

I wish this type of thinking and change for everyone I know because it changes you and you reap the rewards with better health, more joy and a more active participation in the world around you!

I hope your day is real and your life a happy journey!

An Ode to Larry

I found out today that my good friend Larry Carolla had died. Over one month ago. On March 15, 2017 at approximately 10:38 a.m. he called his ex-wife to say he didn’t feel right. She was alarmed, told him to call 911 and that she would be right there. She was at his duplex in two minutes, the paramedics within 10, but he was dead instantly of a massive heart attack and unresponsive.

Unresponsive. Larry was the most responsive person I knew. Always. About everything. With that word in her email and subsequent phone call, I knew he was gone. Just that morning he had posted on his Facebook page beginning at 6 something a.m. some indignities about the Republicans and Obama Care. He was furious. He texted Sheri a few hours later and then he was gone.

I had missed his presence. There hadn’t been the usual opinions on Facebook. No emails since Valentine’s Day. I knew something was wrong. I assumed it was the hip surgery he had planned, so I emailed his ex. They lived 12 blocks away in a small Oklahoma town. I knew she would know and she did. How kind it was of her to call. And in her state of shock, console and try to cheer me…Larry’s friend since 5th grade at Wooddale Elementary School in Edina.

Larry and I could have argued about that. He said he met me in his 4th grade class. He remembered it distinctly. But I didn’t move to the East side of Edina until the middle of 5th grade. I didn’t argue with him. Larry could argue the pants off a brass monkey as my Grandfather would say. I couldn’t. Our arguments would end with me in peals of laughter or tears before I would ever win. I didn’t often partake!

Larry called me his “Sky Pilot” because of my faith. He loved my Faith. He loved my Christianity. He’d become Jewish in his adult life after being raised Episcopalian and attending Jesuit colleges. He loved the Jewish faith and people. So did I. We had much in common. And we were both bipolar. This was a big connection between us. Larry floated mostly manic. I strove for the even keel. He took lithium and was never, ever depressed. He was Larry, or a bit manic, or more so.

I take all my meds, on time always. Right now I’m in remission they call it. But for some years, I fought hypo-mania (slightly manic). I can’t take lithium and they had me on anti-depressants which pushed me hypo-manic. I didn’t really know the cause of it. My doctors weren’t aware of what was causing it. I fought the condition all the way. always striving for balance. Yoyo-ing between being a bit manic and depressed. It was tough. During this time I was on disability, worked part-time and opened two businesses.

Larry always worked, flourished often. talked up a blue streak and did quite well. A successful journalist, radio talk personality and entrepreneur. He was a genius. I’m smart, but I’m not a genius. I’m a hard worker and good at sales. Larry always wanted us to work together.

When he died he had another successful business venture he was building. He wanted me to come on board. Never happened. It never will. He’d gotten into some trouble a while back in Wyoming. He paid off his debt to society and all the restitution that went with it. He was no longer bound by any of it. Life had come full circle for him. He was happy and prosperous again. He had not a care, but the doctors weren’t happy. They wanted him to go on Statin drugs. He didn’t want to. I wasn’t privy to this conversation. I would have argued with him about that, but he would have won. He didn’t like hospitals. He didn’t like drugs. He was going to win by losing weight. He was on Nutri Systems. He’d gained 5 pounds on the diet so far. He was a genius. But not about everything!

Larry always said he was the type to give heart attacks not get a heart attack. Years ago, on the phone we were joking about this. I said I thought I was the same way. We fancied ourselves trouble makers in this conversation! He said when we were old we would have outlived out spouses and we would get together in the same nursing home and raise holy terror. Just one of his dreams about us. I went along, he was so taken with the idea. I guess you had to be there! LOL!

Dear Lar. You’re not here anymore to plot capers with. I’m far too well to get crazy with you again. I think it sounds like you were too. You were optimistic and bright about the future. You had your new duplex with a beautiful home office. Your precious Mollie dog was there with you that day. Dear Sheri and you were closer than ever and seeing each other regularly, dearest of friends.

I guess you could say you were at a very high point in your life. Sixty-four years old and you of the big voice of our High School, were living large like you like to live! You were at the top of your game. I’m so very sorry, dear friend that your body would not cooperate. As your Sky Captain I’m here for your winging your way home, my Jewish friend. I know you have by now found many great and intelligent people to debate! And you have a fresh perspective that will keep you from getting too upset, and a new heart that won’t be stressed if you do.

Thank you for the countless hours of conversation we have shared and the laughs!

Larry Gary and I at last Summer’s HS Reunion

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
Dr. Seuss

My Untold Story

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I have a book almost written and it’s been in this condition for years. I have a screenplay almost completed as well. I have been reading Steve Harvey’s Book “JUMP” and I love it. He is so inspiring! He encourages the reader to live their dreams. I am going to begin to write again in earnest. I am going to blog. I am also going to finish my book, “A Mother’s Ring” and get it published! It is inspiring to think of. My whole attitude is more positive because I am writing again. The book was written on this blog. I’ll begin by copying each post, putting it in a word.doc and start editing. Wish me luck!

My plan is to finish the entire process including publishing it in 2017. It is an ambitions undertaking but I will have help. Nina Amir who wrote, “How to Write a Book on a Blog” is an email friend. One of my friends knows a woman busy publishing her own e-books on Amazon. I have begun my research on publishing. I am no longer going to bury my dreams. I am going to live them. I have wanted to write a book since I was a little girl and it’s time.

Next project, dusting off the screenplay!

I’ll keep you all posted!

Love, Libby

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It’s Been A Very Good Year! Merry Christmas!

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
― William W. Purkey

It’s been a year of challenges and triumphs! Abby was having back and knee trouble. She began eating right and exercising every day and getting some help from her doctor, losing 90+ pounds. I was having extreme High Blood Pressure, cut out salt, caffeine, went to Weight Watcher and lost 22 pounds. Counting the 10 I lost the year before, I am now 5 pounds from my goal weight. I’m also walking one mile a day, knees permitting. My new cardiologist changed every blood pressure medicine I was on and added one. It was a great combination. I now have normal blood pressure!

Mike is working out, taking good care of himself and as always: Us! He is such a sweetheart. He is still working full-time. He is an invaluable contributor to Falk Paper Company. He keeps up an ambitious reading schedule and walks our lively Lab mix, Riley the Pup ~ sometimes slowing down enough to bring me along! 😉

The Baker Clan is happy and healthy. Dad will be 87 the end of December and is doing very well! He plays as golf as much as he can and walks 1-2 miles per day!

We hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

Love, The Sweigers!

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Early In The Morning, memories surround me

I’m thinking ’bout my mom…and my friend Heather, my painting partner who painted a complimentary painting for this one I did for mom’s Service Of Life. I’m frantically trying to locate it in my computer. I’m too tired to go to into storage! She died August 17th 3 years ago. I look so young in this picture. I feel I’ve aged so since she died. Or maybe just inside. I feel much older. Grown-up without my mom. My friend has moved to Florida and is moving to Arizona. Much has changed. I hold on to youth and dreams and hope and faith. Some times I’m sad. I wish I could call my mom on the phone like I used to almost every day. My daughter Abby came down this past weekend just because I said I missed her. What a dear, darling girl!

We had a sweet time together, Abby and Mike and I. My lonesomeness was quenched.

I got a call from Heather last night which got me thinking about Mom. The three of us did a lot together towards the end of her life when Heather visited. Some special bonding.

So did mom and my brother Scott and I. And my sister Suzy and Mom and I. It was helpful to double team her. The alone times were the best however …how I enjoyed those.

I remember them now and smile to myself! Before she got too ill, she and I had some adventures. Suzy and she did too, down at Lake Harriet. She and I went down to the Lake too and stayed in the car and looked at the Lake. I wasn’t as strong as Suzy and often just took her for drives. We’d stop and take pictures. Have a picnic in the car and talk.

Heather made wonderful videos of our times together…She’s a gifted photographer and picks fabulous songs to go with them. She put one on Facebook tonight. Fond memories!

It is fun to reminisce in the wee hours!

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Scott, Heather and I

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Mom and I

 

Jesus Heals Then and Now

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Luke 8:40-48The Message (MSG)

His Touch

40-42 On his return, Jesus was welcomed by a crowd. They were all there expecting him. A man came up, Jairus by name. He was president of the meeting place. He fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him to come to his home because his twelve-year-old daughter, his only child, was dying. Jesus went with him, making his way through the pushing, jostling crowd.

43-45 In the crowd that day there was a woman who for twelve years had been afflicted with hemorrhages. She had spent every penny she had on doctors but not one had been able to help her. She slipped in from behind and touched the edge of Jesus’ robe. At that very moment her hemorrhaging stopped. Jesus said, “Who touched me?”

When no one stepped forward, Peter said, “But Master, we’ve got crowds of people on our hands. Dozens have touched you.”

46 Jesus insisted, “Someone touched me. I felt power discharging from me.”

47 When the woman realized that she couldn’t remain hidden, she knelt trembling before him. In front of all the people, she blurted out her story—why she touched him and how at that same moment she was healed.

48 Jesus said, “Daughter, you took a risk trusting me, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed!”

I begin with sharing this verse because it’s integral to telling the account of a healing I experienced in my youth. When I was 15, I was sitting in back row of our church, Colonial Church of Edina, and our minister Dr. Arthur Rouner was preaching on the above verse. He was sharing through the end of the passage, vs. 56 where Jesus raises a young girl from the dead. I was riveted to my seat. I later realize that the Holy Spirit was resting heavily on me that beautiful spring day and that the Lord Himself was speaking to my heart. I show the picture of me at age 62 at the top of this post because it shows at age 62, 47 years later, I have flawless skin. I say it that way, not to brag, but because my skin is the miracle.

Because of the disfiguring acne I had at age 15, my skin should be pockmarked and scarred. But that spring day, I was so moved by Dr. Rouner’s   words as he read from the word of God I wanted to touch his robe for healing, like the woman in the bible touched Jesus’.  By the end of the service, I would hardly stay in my seat. I got up out of my seat. Walked down to front aisle to the front of the Church and touched his robe!!! My intent was to ask Jesus for healing of my skin. I hated it. Nothing helped it. It was uncomfortable, painful, embarrassing and disfiguring.

Dr. Rouner… told me later, he might been stopped in his tracks. No one ever had walked to the front of this independent Congregational Church! But I came up at the perfect time in the flow of his sermon and the service. Lovingly he asked if I wanted prayer. All I could do was nod. Tears were streaming down my cheeks. He then turned to the congregation to ask if others wanted prayer for healing or a touch from Jesus. This was 1970! Other people came forward. We stood up front, held hands, while he prayed for us all. This was the first time in church history there was any type of alter call.

The Holy Spirit moved that day. Dr. Rouner has told me many times since, that it had a spiritual impact on the church. People still refer to that day. It is she Spirit of the Lord at work. When Dr. Rouner prayed for me, the still small voice within told me He would give me “new skin”. I didn’t understand immediately. And I had a few more humbling years ahead. But, by the time I was 20 I had very pretty new skin. Not only did the crusty, icky acne clear, but there was no trace of it ever being there! No pits, that others get from this type of hereditary affliction, no life long scars. Just pretty, pink skin. Without dermabrasion, or botox! Which they didn’t have then! 🙂 I have received many compliments on my skin through the years. I remember always and often say: It is my gift from Jesus!

If you need a miracle, or know someone who does ~ usually for something more serious than this ~ please do not be afraid to ask.

Hebrews 13:8, Jesus Christ is the same, Today, Yesterday and Forever!

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