Me, Myself and I.....Finding My Sanity, Losing My Mind 

Love Song

I am drenched with your soul
Infused with your love
The wild beating of my heart
Matches its cadence with yours

I am in love.

Or is it love?

What is this dark
Almost rabid emotion
That pulls my life force from its being?

My every thought
My every breath
Belong to you

And my inner self
Quakes in need
The need of your touch
The need of your heated breath warming my body
The need of your mind touching mine.

The moon rises
Golden light spills from my cupped hands
Onto your warm flesh
And I trace our initials
As my heart is with yours
As our souls are together

Is this love?

I am yours
To the deepest edges of the blackening sky
To the furthest reaches of the star-studded night
To the end of the sun-gold tipped horizon.

I am yours.

What a couple of weeks...

These couple of weeks have been intense and emotional. I am left wondering why people are so cruel to each other- why people hurt each other so much? How can such love turn to such betrayal and darkness?

And through all of that, I had a wonderful rainbow shiny weekend with my dear darling husband which renewed my faith in love and the capacity of the human spirit to forgive, find renewal and to love forever.

I had a fantastic last weekend in Chicago.Being a person who believes in signs, the fact that he played our wedding song for us at the wedding- followed up by a street musician playing it as we walked by- gave me great hope for our future.

New Poem

In my dreams I wander along a misted path
Tears of rain dripping from ancient trees
As I climb higher and higher
To stand at last alone
With my face raised toward the blue of the evening sky.

My soul is called by something
Something for which I do not have a name
But which beckons me to follow.

I can see your face transparent in the twilight
As brilliant stars begin to appear
And the heart cry of my soul wails in the distance.

There is a longing in me...
A longing that nothing has filled
That nothing has quenched.

I call for you silently...
As the winds blow around me...

GAD is Bad

Well really, GAD is worse then bad- it is pure hell. Unless you have suffered from some form of a mental illness, it is difficult to understand what it is like. I mean, after all, we should all be able to control our own thoughts- our own moods- our own actions, right? It's tempting to want to shake someone with these types of issues and say "STOP already."

The problem is, we can't stop. We no longer are able to control our thought processes (and in some cases our behaviors.) The next problem? Lack of understanding from a good part of the population. Let's say that you were paralyzed from the waist down and could no longer make your legs move as they were supposed to move. Society understands this. Society doesn't expect you to leap to your feet and to run a marathon. And yet, society does NOT understand if someone with depression or anxiety is unable to control his/her mind- to make it do what it is supposed to do.

So not only are those with mental health problems forced to suffer from a horrific illness, but the shame associated with these issues means that many who could benefit from treatment are reluctant to seek it out.

Let me say this, I am a BIG believer in chemical help. I think therapy certainly has its place. However, the difference that the right medication makes in my life is simply amazing. When my medication is working (which it has been since early 2001 thank goodness) I am ME..I am able to function completely without anxiety. It is nothing short of miraculous. Without the correct medication, however, my mind becomes one of those wheels in a habitrail- you know where the gerbil runs around and around and goes nowhere? That's exactly how my thought process works. Something makes me worry- and then my worries compound and continue and I am COMPLETELY UNABLE to control that wheel in my brain from turning. It is horrible. It is frightening. And, until I decided that this was something that I should not be ashamed of, it was embarrassing.

I hope that in years to come as medical researchers continue to explore the human body that mental health issues become more fully understood both by doctors and the general public, and of course, become more treatable.

Here's something I wrote a few years ago when in the midst of an anxiety attack:


Over and over and over
I hear the voices whispering
Replaying my fears on an unending loop
As I spiral downward
Faster and faster
Into that deep black pit....

My tears do not make it stop...
I get no rest from my angst
As I flail aginst the darkness
And the chains that keep me captive
My stomach churns and
Tears pour down my face....

Surely there is more to life
Surely there is a better place
Surely I will get better..


Ring = Guilt

Well, I have spent a ridiculous amount of time this week ring shopping. I must have spent hours online and last night I dragged my poor husband to a bunch of different jewelry stores to compare prices.
I finally did order online last night, and should have my ring by next week. The thing is, I feel a little guilty spending our entire insurance check on rings for ME. I realize that the check is just to replace something I already had, but honestly do I REALLY need a large engagement ring? I am after all already married. And couldn't the orphans in China better use the cash I paid?

All of this of course leads to the internal battles I have over leaning toward the left- and leaning toward the right and how confusing I find my own political opinions and beliefs...Hmmm..something to ponder.

I Love Dr. Atkins

If I could, I would personally call the man and thank him. As he is, alas, dining on protein bars in some other dimension, I will have to make do with writing a letter to him here.

Dear Dr. Atkins,

You may not know it., but you have saved a life. In fact, you've probably saved many- but since the one I have particular knowledge of is my own, I thought I would share that with you. I'm a 33 year old woman, heading fast towards middle age. in the last seven years, I have birthed three children, had an issue with my thyroid and have been on anti-depressive medication. What this all equaled up to is - you guessed it- FAT. Far too much fat. Fat that I was uncomfortable with. Fat that made me shift my eyes downward whenever I walked past a reflective surface.

How sad. And how unhealthy.

Thanks to you (And my little sister who did me the favor of getting engaged and asking me to be her matron of honor) I resolved to lost some of the Fat this year. On January 12th of 2004 I resolved to give myself the gift of a year of health- a year of working towards mental and physical sanity. I figured this was a gift not only to myself but to my kids and husband as well.

It's July 29th, and you know what, Dr. Atkins? You have made the year of health a reality for me. I have (so far) lost 52 POUNDS!!!! I'm damned proud of it and am hoping to peel off another 25 before I head towards the maintenance portion of your website. My cholesterol numbers are beautiful, my blood pressure is fabulous- and (perhaps even more importantly) I am mentally in great spirits. Not only did I decide to catch up with myself physically this year- but also mentally. And to that end I have been sure to set aside time to read, scrapbook with friends, write and to do other things that I ENJOY- as a woman, as a friend - as my own person. I have regained my identity- and am not just a mother, employee or wife anymore. Thank you for helping me to not only peel off the pounds, but to also peel off the mentality of subservience to my family.

Don't get me wrong. I think it is very important to be committed to your children and husband- but I don't think that committment means that you have to sacrifice yourself- that part of you that has its own interest, needs and desires that have little to do with Barney or Thomas the Tank Engine.

In short, Dr. Atkins, I am not yet through my year- but I feel like I have SHED many years. And now I will say what I now FEEL and BELIEVE after living through the catharis of this past year....

I am woman....hear me ROAR!


Jennifer Junker


Have you ever been with someone when they died? Have you ever watched your loved one expell his last breath and feel their soul rising upwards to God?

I have, and it is an experience that I will never forget.

There are times in all of our lives that, when we look back on them from a safe distance in the future, we wonder how we ever survived. The Fall of 2002 was such a time for me. It started normally enough. Rebecca began kindergarten that September and Annie started preschool at the same preschool Rebecca had attended for two years. Both girls were enjoying their schools and life appeared to be moving along as it always does; too fast at times and slow as molasses at others. Neil had been having some stomach pains which I have to admit that I wasn't overly concerned about. He was in good health for his age and I think we all assumed that he just had a virus. The day that we received the news, I had spent the day at the Renaissance festival with several girlfriends and returned to find that Troy had called from his parent's cabin and wanted me to call immediately. Neil had cancer.

I think I was shocked, but it honestly never crossed my mind that Neil wouldn't survive. Hadn't my 80 plus year old grandmother survived three bouts of cancer and radical surgery and was now healthy enough to drive a golf ball further then I could manage? Neil was only in his 60's and had always enjoyed good health. We found out that he had liver cancer- a very rare form of liver cancer- and they recommended that he go to Mayo in Rochester for treatment. I felt relieved that we had such a reputable source of medical care so close by and convinced myself that he was going to be fine- to get better- and to be back playing dolls with his grandaughters and fishing with his grandsons before we knew it.

I was wrong.

We spent much of that fall driving back and forth to Rochester watching Neil get progressivly weaker and sicker. It was shocking to watch this vibrant healthy man wither away before our eyes. My children, as young as they were, knew that their beloved grandpa was very ill but didn't quite know what to make of it. Rebecca, as sensitive as she is, was torn about visiting him. Seeing him as he was made her cry, but she didn't want him to know how upset it made her. It upset all of us. It was simply tragic to watch a man so loved, so needed by so many disappear from our lives.

When the end was near we were able to arrange for Neil to be brought back to Stillwater so that we could all be with him. We spent four days as a family at the nursing care facility with our own apartment and hospice and a nursing staff that came in to provide pain medication for Neil but who otherwise didn't disturb us. Many of Neil's friends and family came to see him for the last time- to tell him that they loved him and to hold his hand. I am grateful for this time- that I was able to be with him, to tell him that I loved him and that we would always be with him.

On November 11, 2002, Neil Arthur Junker went to heaven. All of the immediate family was with him as he died, holding hands and letting him know that we were with him. It was one of the most profound moments of my life; there was a sense of peace that I didn't expect as well as the grief that gripped all of our hearts. He had left us in physical form, but I knew that somehow somewhere he would be with all of us forever.

The day of his funeral, Troy's uncle told me that he had dreamed of Neil - that Neil had come to him and told him that he was all right and that there was nothing to be afraid of. Troy's uncle is not given to fanciful ideas. I don't know if Neil really did come to him from some other place, or whether he was simply getting a message from his own heart. Either way, the story is deeply comforting to Troy and myself.

I wrote a poem for Neil as he lay dying that fall. I read it at his funeral although I could hardly see the page for the tears clouding my eyes.


The leaves are falling
Drifting down to the
Blackened ground

Bright red-gold sunlight glints
Through the few leaves
Clinging steadfastly
To the trees

I walk along
The scent of smoke from a nearby fire
Drifts past me

Leaves scatter, crackling
A breeze touches my face and
Lifts my hair in the autumn sunlight

I hunch forward
Drawing my wool coat
Protecting myself
From the chill in the air

The knowledge of
The coming winter.

When the ground will be frozen
The rush of water stilled
As the world waits
For a return of life and
A renewal of spirit

I contemplate
The beauty around me
Beauty in the face of certain death
The magnificence of nature
Refusing to give up
Or give in

Stooping down
I pluck a fallen leaf from the hard ground
Tuck it in my pocket
And walk on.

The very next week we discovered that my three year old, Annie, had a serious chronic illness which would forever our lives. But that's a story for another time.

Working Outside the Home

(or WOHM as it is affectionately called on many message boards) is a topic that appears to incense some women. I am amazed- astounded- each time I read a debate on who works harder- stay at home moms, or moms who work outside of the home. There are entire message boards devoted to this topic. Many women spend hours ardently debating and arguing their cause- that it is *better* to be a WOHM or SAHM (Stay At Home Mom.)

I don't get it. Why do women on either side of the fence feel that they have to justify their choices- to prove that their families accomodation with necessity is *better* then someone else's? If truth be told, my idea of luxury would be to have both my husband and myself at home (with my husband off doing his own thing a good part of the time so I didn't kill him) with a maid, a cook, and full time childcare help-
and a private jet while we're at it. You know what? That isn't possible for me- or my family. We don't (unfortunately) have much luck at the Powerball and we didn't choose our ancestors well. So, in my family, at least one of the parents working outside of the home is a necessity. In our particular case, it makes more sense from both an economic and a suitability perspective for my husband to be home with our kids. In many families, having either parent at home isn't possible- again either from an economic or suitability perspective. And each family has their OWN set of facts and circumstances that are considered when the parents decide how they are going to structure their lives.

Having two parents working outside the home isn't necessarily just an economic decision. In my opinion, a parent at home who would rather be in the workforce should not be home. I firmly believe that a happy healthy parent = a happy healthy child. I go ballistic at the suggestions of many that I have seen that think that if a parent would rather work out of the house that they should never have children at all. How does that equate? Just because a person may not wish to be with her child 24 hours a day 7 days a week they shouldn't have children? That argument has no logic to it and it disturbs me deeply whenever I see another woman espousing it. Can I just ask whether anyone has ever questioned a man's desire or fitness to be a parent when he returned to work or when it was decided that HE would not be home with the kids?

My point to all of this is that each family makes their own decisions based on many things that the rest of us know little about....and whether a woman works outside the home- or stays at home with her family shouldn't be the basis for any judgments about her qualifications to parent. What I also wish women would think about is how we hurt ourselves with the bitter arguments over such things as this topic, breast vs bottle feeding, attachment parenting etc. ad nauseam. Women have struggled throughout the centuries for the privilege of HAVING choices- of being able to have their own talents, opinions and preferences considered. We are not all the same. Why do we not embrace the fact that we ARE different-and that what works for one family may not work for another? Isn't the end result that we are all seeking a happy healthy family? And I think it is utter nonsense that any of the above parenting choices can GUARANTEE that a family stays healthy and whole. So much more goes into raising a happy well-adjusted child then a decision as to whether or not to co-sleep or to have a trusted daycare provider care for your child during the day.



My eldest daughter is 7. SEVEN. Sometimes it is hard for me to believe that my sweet, funny, loving little girl has grown so incredibly much. It is hard to reconcile the tall (4'3") lean girl with long golden brown hair with the chubby bundle that I held in my arms- who gave me open mouthed kisses and laughed with pure delight at our funny faces. She has grown well and I am proud of her on many levels as she exhibits kindness, curiosity and unbounded affection for her family and friends. I am especially proud of her for her unflinching courage during her cycles of CVS. If you don't know about this disease, you can read about it here: . We have been lucky. Rebecca only cycles 4 times a year, with each cycle from start to total recovery lasting 3-4 days. Amazingly enough, we also think we may have found a cure for her. She is taking claritin (of all things!) once a day and for the first time ever skipped her cycle at the end of May. It was a miracle, and we're hoping that it is one that will be repeated come the end of August.

This summer, however, has been hard. Rebecca is obviously testing the waters- and her parents- by pushing us with sulking, nagging and an occasional whine fest. I know deep in my heart that this is normal behavior. That a child who is too "good" all the time is obviously repressing something. But it is sometimes hard to fathom how my sweet baby could act the way she does. However, I know that "this too will pass" - and that I'm sure we will have many other storms to weather as she grows. Yesterday in particular the three children were on their worst behavior when I got home. Finally, Troy and I told them that they would not be playing with any of their friends today- no bike riding, no scooters, nothing.
Right after that I had to take Rebecca in to the doctors to get her ear looked at- unfortuntately it appears that the piercing on her right side had gotten infected. I have no idea why- we have been careful with cleansing it and rotaing the earring, but it was undeniably swollen. I fumed all the way to the doctors office (silently) and did tell her (out loud) that I expected an attitude change or that she was going to be sitting inside for the rest of the summer.

The doctor confirmed that the ear was infected and that the earring would have to be taken out. One small problem was that the ear was so swollen that the front of the earring had almost disappeared inside her ear. (Don't ask me how this happened within a 24 hour period.) To prepare her ear for the scalpel, the nurse gave her some numbing cream. Shortly thereafter the doctor (dancing and singing practically- no kidding he used antics to appeal to kids) came in and gave her a shot in her ear of a medicine to increase the numbness. Then the fun began...and Rebecca's eyes slowly filled with tears. They had difficulty with the earring and as they were pulling on it, the screaming began. She screamed and cried and screamed and cried, and it tore my heart. And as I watched her crying a vision of her baby face- also screwed up in sadness with eyes full of tears - juxtaposed itself and my heart ripped. While I knew that this was a minor procedure- that it was necessary- and that she would be FINE within minutes, I wanted to grab her from the examining table and rush out the door- so that I could make the pain stop, so that I could dry her tears and hold her close.

However old she grows, whatever she does in this world, I will always love her. She will always be my angel, my princess, my pumpkin, my sweetheart- in love. The depth of love I feel for my children continually amazes me. Nothing tears it- nothing breaks it. I will always love them. Always.


A movement in the grass...
"'s a BUNNY" she shrieks excitedly.
A white tail flashes as the brown rabbit disappears beneath the bush
Darkened to a dusky shape
As the summer evening turns to night.

"Mommy - someone turned on the moon light!"
I look out the window....and see
The pumpkin round-moon -
Hanging in the night sky
Shimmering with Light
As if an unseen hand had switched on a lamp
Which casts a golden radiance
Outward and downward lighting the two faces
Pressed to the window pane far far below.

I pull my daughter close
Stroke her silky golden-brown hair,
Kiss her warm pink cheek,
And remember.....
When all was fresh
And the world was open before me.

I remember chanting street names, store names,
Sayings from billboards as I rode
In the hot back seat
Through dusty streets
While the Miami sun blazed above.
Letters turned to words....
And I was enchanted by the meaning
In what had been before just
Meaningless shapes dancing on the page.

Through my daughter's eyes
The excitement of life is rekindled
The ordinary becomes extraordinary
As she teaches me and reminds me
To be grateful,
And to cherish
This amazing world and the miracle I have been granted

My life..And her love.

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