What I wish I had known at 22

November 7, 2014

I discovered a Facebook page called “Wait But Why?”  Some of their posts tickled my thinker, amused me, offended me, and befuddled me.  But I kept checking in to see what they were saying.  This week they are starting a conversation with their followers with the intention to keep going each Sunday with a new conversation.  They intend to ask a new discussion provoking question each week, calling the activity the “Dinner Table.”  I love the idea so here is my thoughts on this week’s question, What do you wish you knew at twenty-two.  http://waitbutwhy.com/table/wish-you-had-known-at-22

I wish I knew at twenty-two how resilient I am.  At twenty-two, working as a teacher, the brick wall of strength I thought I was, was beginning to crumble.  At the time I didn’t use the image of a brick wall for myself, but looking back it seems to fit how I saw myself, a strong, solid wall standing firm on my beliefs and world view.  A fairly recent college graduate I had weathered the college years while working, being in band, orchestra and chorus, taking classes, making a home, spending summers overseas, and having friends.  The first year on the job after college when I was twenty I saw myself as a bit of a super woman.  I brought instrumental music back to a school that had none for many years, I designed and built sets for the local community theatre, I founded a community orchestra, I worked part-time to stretch the tiny teacher budget I was living on, I had friends, I created a home for myself.  I had black-and-white values that shaped my life.  I was a brick wall, strong and solid.

But some of my bricks were beginning to crumble.  It was tough making ends meet.  I was beginning to juggle bills with my desire to find comfort in things that needed buying.  The small town I was in wasn’t proving to nurture my need for a lively, vital hometown.  My colleagues at work no longer saw me as a novel and entertaining stranger but rather as the outsider.  When I reported a fellow teacher for sexually harassing/assaulting me the Superintendent dismissed my concerns as inappropriate rather than his words and hands-on behavior as inappropriate.  I began to question myself.  A disastrous encounter with a brother of one of my students knocked me off balance leading me hide and cower.  My insecurities were mounting.  My sense of balance was teetering.  More of the bricks that formed me – the brick wall – were crumbling and my vision for myself became clouded and dim.  By the end of my time there it was as if all that remained of me was a brittle shell, I was no longer a strong, solid brick wall.  I could barely get from my bed to the kitchen, let alone get out the door and go to work so I resigned in defeat.  All that remained of the brick wall that was the dust.  I became dust.  Dry, broken brick dust.

My metaphor changed and I began seeing myself as billowy, diaphanous fabric, perhaps chiffon.  There wasn’t much substance left to me and I fluttered around depending on what was happening around me.  I worked thirty jobs in the next fifteen years and moved fifteen times.  I worked two or three jobs at once when the wind inside my head was blustery, and no jobs when the wind died down.  Many of the moves were because I’d burned too many bridges in my living situation.  I juggled too many bills.  I’d hurt too many relationships.  At first I saw my chiffon metaphor as being iridescent with rainbow reflections projecting off me, but as the years went by, the rainbows faded and the fabric wore thin.  I wrote an essay about the diaphanous rainbow projecting fabric that was once me no longer billowing but rather barely holding itself together where the threads had worn thin.  A strong breeze would cause the edges to just fall away.  Soon I would cease to exist.  I entrusted the essay to a therapist who put it in a folder in a locked file cabinet, we never spoke of it.  I was devastated.  I thought if I told her how fragile I was she could somehow knit me back together.  Where I once was convinced I was a brick wall, I came to believe I was nothing but disintegrating threads.

I am neither a brick wall nor disintegrating threads, but rather a strong and solid, billowy and diaphanous human, a beloved child of God, a smart, funny, caring, imperfect, resilient human.  If there is a metaphor that serves me now I guess it would be a tree.  My roots are deep and strong from the years I’ve spent working on my wellness, the hundreds of hours in self examination, and the depth of my relationship with and understanding of my creator.  My trunk is tall and strong, but doesn’t crumble or snap with pressure, it actually morphs itself around the pressure and incorporates it into itself. When pushed by the wind, it bends and flexes.  My branches and leaves may billow about in the wind, much like the diaphanous fabric I once saw myself as, but when wear and tear happens to the old leaves they become as rainbows, and as they fall away my tree bears new leaves!  I do not fray and disintegrate,  Just as the tall and strong, flexible and colorful tree, I too am resilient.  How I wish I knew that when I was twenty-two.


Mixed Mushroom Pie

July 16, 2012


1 ready-to-roll pie crust

1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

1 pound sliced mixed mushrooms

1 cup chopped onion

4 eggs

1-1/4 cups fat-free milk

1 tablespoon coarse-grain mustard

1 teaspoon powdered garlic

1 tsp onion powder

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese


Preheat oven to 375.
Roll out pie crust into 9″ pie pan,
Sprinkle the pepper onto the crust.
Saute the onions until translucent.
Add the mushrooms to the pan and continue to cook for about five minutes.
Sprinkle about 1/2 the cheese into the crust.
Add the mushroom mixture on top of the cheese.
Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top of the mushrooms.
Whisk together the eggs, milk and seasonings and pour over the mushrooms and cheese.
Bake for 50 minutes.

Peer shot by police in Harrisonburg

December 20, 2011

Word has come that there is a peer who attempted “suicide by cop” in Harrisonburg who ended getting shot 3-4 times in the leg or abdomen (according to who is reporting), and who is now facing two counts of Attempted Capitol Murder. Copies of the news reports are pasted below.


WHSV Fox story
The man shot by a Harrisonburg Police Officer has been arrested.

On Dec. 2, Jason Naulty, 36, of Harrisonburg, was shot by an officer after he came at him with a knife.

The incident happened in an apartment complex on Old Furnace Road.

Naulty was taken to the University of Virginia Medical Center to be treated for his injuries.

He was released on Friday and arrested by UVA’s Police Department with a warrant from the Harrisonburg Police Department.

He is charged with two counts of attempted capital murder.

He will soon be transferred to the Rockingham Harrisonburg Regional Jail.

A Harrisonburg police officer has been cleared of wrongdoing three days after he shot and seriously wounded a man.

Prosecutors on Monday called the officer’s actions a “justifiable use of lethal force.”

Harrisonburg-Rockingham Commonwealth’s Attorney Marsha Garst revealed Monday afternoon that the still-unnamed shooter was protecting himself and a fellow officer.

She says both officers were in danger as a distraught and emotionally disturbed man came at them with a large butcher knife.

The shooting took place about 6 o’clock Friday night after police were called to a disturbance at the Eastbrooke Manor Apartments off Old Furnace Road in Harrisonburg.

Garst said 36-year-old Jason Naulty moved toward officers with a knife. One of them fired four shots, hitting Naulty three times.

“Eyewitnesses in the neighborhood confirmed that the officer attempted to retreat from the attack while ordering Mr. Naulty to drop the knife,” Garst said. “The officer had to fire his weapon to stop Mr. Naulty’s assault.”

The prosecutor said no charges have been filed yet against Naulty. He was in stable condition Monday at the University of Virginia Medical Center.

VACSB Public Policy Meeting 12/20/2011

December 20, 2011

Notes from the VACSB Public Policy meeting following the release of Governor McDonnell’s 2012 proposed budget of December 19, 2011.

In response to the governor’s proposed 2012-2014 budget, the mental health, etc. budget has not been cut, though there is some shifting in funds – state facilities, providers, DBHDS’s office. The governors budget left 31 million dollars for the General Assembly to allocate. DRS’s budget was cut by $500,000. Should we advocate for DRS around mental health stuff? Maybe around the concept of Employment First. The Health Dept. was also cut significantly. The retirement system always significantly cut and will be most likely advocated around strongly across the state.

VOCAL has been assigned House Bills 51-101, 306-356, 567-617 and 849-910 to read.

    I need to assign those to volunteers to read

. Reminder, don’t just look at the summary. Read the whole bill. Looking at the highlighted copy of the bill will make it easier to find new language. But read beyond the highlighted language to understand the context.

There is a 2nd one-time, $30m allocated to the Trust Fund. Hopefully there will be a potential of ongoing funds in future budgets. This time the money is allocated into “grants to localities.” I’m not sure yet what that means.

Mira pointed out that central office jail diversion money is now directed to the CSB’s. What is the actual impact of that? It’s not new money. It is to continue existing jail diversion services (to be put, with Victoria’s permission, into the Performance Contract).

There is no new money in the budget. Any references to dollar amounts refers to last year’s budget.

Per Mary Ann: there is no way, based on the economics, a way to have a cross-systems formulary.

Scott Crawford from DMAS (sitting in for Cindy Jones) reports that there is withholding of inflation increases to some provider groups who have gotten inflation increases in the past in the proposed budget. This is seen as a cut. I don’t think these groups are MH, SA, ID, DD providers.

In DMAS’s section of the budget there shows an increase in funding for involuntary commitment is based on statistical forecasting.

Mira has listed out the sections of the full budget language into an Excel document with space for comments.

    I am going to try and do the same thing for VOCAL

, much like how I’ve done bills in past years. The Budget issues tend to overwhelm my brain. I bet a chart will help me wrap my mind around it all.

The Medicaid language in the Governor’s proposed budget is much shorter this year than last.

    I need to look at it

. I haven’t really looked over the Medicaid part of the budget yet.

SSI income eligibility reduction.

    Need to find this in the budget proposal

. (Approx 4000 people affected. “Reduces the income level to 2094 may qualify for …….., reducing the income level to 250% of ….”

The budget language around drug courts seems to be strengthening the viability of drug courts in Virginia. In the past the Supreme Court (or was it a particular Justice) opposed specialized courts. What does this mean for the future of mental health courts? Ned is going to float this past the state drug court association to get their take on this.

The Transfer from CSU language that has been worked on this year will not be going forward into legislation this year. It may (or may not) be submitted next year. The CSU’s that are facing this issue will be asked to submit data around this to help define the need for this.

The Dept has agreed to a study on forensics.

Most of those in this group have not heard of the work that Richard Bonnie is doing.

    I need to contact him or his student (name escapes me) and find out what’s going on with that.


Jim Stewart. There were very few departments spared in this year’s budget. DBHDS was one spared for the second year. The Secretary commented off the cuff to Jim Stewart that DBHDS is on borrowed time.

DBHDS has new IT person whose job it is to put electronic records in place for DBHDS-run facilities. Apparently the CSBs are ahead of the curve nationally. There are incentives available for timely implementation.

There is a settlement agreement discussion with DOJ and the content of the discussion can not be made public yet. Look for something in January, hopefully.

The SVP facility has begun double-bunking.

Per Mary Ann Bergeron — this is not the year to introduce new legislation.

Kid’s mental health was not funded, though there is a compleat plan that has been briefed to the Commission on Youth.

Regarding the Office of Consumers Affairs proposal from the Creating Opportunities Plan, the Department did not receive funding for this. Having taken a 30% cut at the Dept a few years back, the idea of adjusting current staffing to cover this is daunting. Jim Stewart says it is still in discussion — perhaps on a different scale than originally envisioned.

    I need to talk to Mira about NAMI’s legislative and budget priorities. Can VOCAL team up with them on some or all items? Is that strategically smart or naive?

This budget is not etched in stone.

May, 2011

June 15, 2011



Hello world!

October 14, 2009

Hi!  I’m Bonnie Neighbour.