Next To Normal; Seeing Others In Their Own Shoes

January 3, 2011 by  
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Angie Rubin

Last night I went with a friend to see LA’s last performance of Next to Normal, winner of 3 Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize.  The musical is about mental illness. A subject one wouldn’t usually associate with singing – there is no dancing in this musical.

My friend, who is also a therapist and I really enjoyed the musical.  As I was driving home we talked about mental illness and finding acceptance and peace in our own lives.

One of the great values of films and plays is the opportunity they offer us to see situations and relationships through others points of view.  They create a safe environment – because we are not personally involved – and then present us with a situation played out by the different characters.

In my life I have been close to a few people suffering from mental illness.

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Life = Love

September 11, 2010 by  
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Angie Rubin

I am on my way to Miami, Florida to work on a film.  I brought with me for the four and a half hours of flying, a memoir a woman who reads my posts sent me.  I’ve had the manuscript for a few weeks but knowing it was a story of loss, I was giving myself time to prepare to make the descent back into my own history which undoubtedly her account would take me to.

The woman’s husband was diagnosed with brain cancer after months of irrational behavior which had everyone thinking he was either on drugs, having an affair or a nervous breakdown.   As I read her painful and touching words, my hands slide down the ropes of my past.  I’m going down.

I put the pages on the empty seat next to me and think; all of us go through life loosing pieces of ourselves. It is as if we are all born with leprosy. Each new loss another part of us is left behind.

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When A House Is A Home

June 13, 2010 by  
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Yard pictures 012I’m sitting outside in my yard drinking a cup of coffee.  I look at the trees and see them dancing to the tune of a Sunday breeze. The sun, not wanting to impose, caresses the pink flowers standing guard behind my Buddha water fountain which offers the humming birds a place to quench their thirst.

I always refer to my house as my “Tara”.  In the classic film “Gone With The Wind” Scarlett O’Hara drew her strength from her plantation, Tara.  I’m sure, as it is with me, it wasn’t the structure of the house or its riches that made Scarlett endure anything and everything to save her house.  It was, as it is with me, because her house was her home.

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Puppies Behind Bars

July 22, 2009 by  
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On July 7th I posted the below blog about the love of dogs.  Going through Time Magazine online http://bit.ly/vWqnf , I came across a story about an incredible prison program that has inmates training dogs for the blind and the disable. The program actually trains a lot of animals for disabled veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What is also remarkable is how much these dogs can change how these once hardened criminals think about themselves and the world.

“The program has taught me to be patient, honest with myself, and how to work without ego. My last dog, Yankee, went to a war veteran somewhere in Colorado. Just knowing that I helped to change someone’s life makes me feel as if I have a purpose and a destiny. These dogs have a way of touching a person’s spirit” says Tyrone, a man who has already served 8 1/2 years in prison.

This program also reminds me of a night I went to the Sony lot to see a screening of shorts directed by young men who were incarcerated.   This was a program run by a number of filmmakers in California who wanted to reach out to these youngsters and hopefully repurpose their lives. What was really interesting, was that every short was about love; either love or lack of for a girlfriend or a mother.

As the Beatles used to sing “All you need is love” it seems that the service dog program and the youth filmmaker’s program are a testament to that.

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Previously posted on July 7th 2009

I got a dog six months after my husband had his liver transplant.  Both Chris and I were extremely allergic and so we could only have a purebred Poodle or a Portuguese Waterdog.

When I was visiting my parents in Brazil in December of 2006, I passed by a pet store with one of my nieces.  When we walked in a caramel toy Poodle was sitting in a box.

He was just so friendly and loving that I had to bring him back to the US.  Chris was waiting for me at the airport with all kinds of toys for the dog.  I had two dogs before but Chris had never had a pet.

Chris fell in love with the dog.  He couldn’t believe that this little animal was always ready to play and to love. He became so much part of our lives that we no longer travelled if we couldn’t bring the little dog with us.

When Chris’ cancer came back and we were making the first trip to Mayo Rochester, we took the little dog with us.  We told others that the reason we were taking him was because we didn’t know where and with whom to leave the dog with, but the truth was we needed him.  We needed to have this being, full of love and always playful, to help us through the first set of diagnosis and tears.

As the time went on and Chris got sicker, the little dog was his constant companion, always by him and loving him.  Having this little dog giving us so much love helped us to keep going.

It came a time when Chris was too sick and fragile to have him around and I had to make sure the little dog didn’t jump on Chris’ very swollen body. 

When Chris passed, my little dog became very attached to me.  When I laid in bed sometimes not wanting to get up, he laid next to me pulling my hands with his paw and demanding that I pet him.

These days whenever I feel blue I just need to spend sometime with my little dog, his antics bring a smile to my face almost immediately.  And what does he do for me?  He just loves me and I just love him.

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