For World Suicide Prevention Day – “Sweet Melissa”

Many years ago in my skirt magazine column I wrote about losing my friend Melissa, who committed suicide. skirt was then a tiny magazine in Charleston, SC, and I had fled the south, a burned out activist, for a liberal reprieve in Boulder, Colorado. After the piece was published in Charleston, people wrote and called to comfort me. Strangers picked up the phone and dialed 411 and asked for me by name. (Yes, it was that long ago. I did not even have an email address.) People left messages and sent cards and letters to me telling me of their losses, their struggles, and of finding some comfort in simply connecting and acknowledging the pain. I’ve lost other friends since then to suicide and wrangled my own depression and anxiety.  It’s easy to forget, when you’re in pain, that help is just a phone call or even a click away by reaching out to friends or family. Also, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers help by 1-800-273-TALK (8255)or online at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

Sweet Melissa

T. Dean Adams (Dean Lofton)
skirt 1994

My friend Melissa ended her life on New Year’s Eve. I cannot believe it, don’t want to believe it. I don’t have words for this feeling of loss. We met in 1988 while we were in school at the University of South Carolina. I remember the exact day she walked into my living room and into my life. The kind of friendship that immediately feels like, “Hey where have you been? Now I feel a little more complete.”

We haven’t lived in the same city in years, but our friendship never faded. We never went more than a month or so without speaking, and I never felt distant from her even though we were often thousands of miles apart. When I moved to Los Angeles in 1992, my mother rode cross-country with me and took the train back to South Carolina. The train stopped overnight in New Orleans on New Year’s Eve, and every hotel room in the city was booked. Melissa was at Tulane getting her MBA. She picked up my mom, who she’d never met before, at the train station by holding up a sign reading “Dean’s mom” and took her in for the night.

I could call Melissa anytime about anything. Phone calls always started with simply, “hey.” No need to say who was calling, no need for formalities. When I lived alone for the first time, she bought me a set of pots and pans and said, “You’re 25-years-old, learn to cook.” She would tell me bluntly when I was overreacting, when I was being slack. She was a great cook and had a great sense of style. She was brilliant and beautiful. We could sit on my couch for hours and talk about everything and nothing. To me, she was a given in life.

Now I cry and scream, “How?’ And “Why?” And nobody answers because nobody knows the answers. And I want to gather everyone I know into one room and keep them safe and close by. But I can’t. So I call or write everyone I know and tell them I love them and why, and that I’m sorry for any/everything and I forgive them for any/everything. Marcy quotes Marianne Williamson, “We’re just here to tend to human hearts.” “Including our own,” Michael reminds me. Nikki says, “Be careful and take good care of yourself.” Mom says, “Find one joy in every day.” Robbie says, “Write, just write.” Lisa, Angie and Phillis cry with me on the phone. Here in Colorado, Christi says, “Tell me everything about your friend.” Stephen says, “Get in the car, you can’t just sit home and cry.” Maura hugs me. My boss Ed says, “Call me at home if you need to talk.” And I want to write down everything I know to be true, to be fact. I want words. I want life to be neatly typed and double-spaced, and I want it to make sense. But this doesn’t.

I know most of what made Melissa sad. I cannot tell you the details because I respect her privacy. There are so many sad things in life and we do not honor our sadness. We try to cheer up, pop anti-depressants, buy stuff – hell, even move to other cities – to be happier. And maybe we should learn to face the sadness. We should know that it passes, and we will not shatter and break. And we have to be better – to our friends and families and to ourselves.

Here in Boulder it is sunny and 70 degrees in mid-January. Snow sits in piles, but we are blessed with a surprise touch of spring. Still I want the comfort of facts. Spring always follows winter, and dawn always follows night. I will always miss Melissa, and I have no words – but paper could not hold the pain of losing her anyway.

Out and About – The Austin American-Statesman

(I was reminded of this article today by the Facebook memories editors, and since the original link is no longer active I’m sharing it here. At the time of the interview we’d only been in Austin two years. Fun timing as I’ve just started working with the Austin Independent Business Alliance again to help with membership and partnership development. Now seven years older and 107 pounds lighter! Wow, do I look different! Love my new home town! ) 

Dean Lofton at Matt’s El Rancho

By Michael Barnes | Thursday, May 28, 2009, 04:53 PM

If you are at all connected digitally — e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, etc. — you know Dean Lofton.

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During her short tenure in Austin, Lofton has extended her web of friends and contacts far and wide. Some of her social connecting promotes her husband, busy jazz trumpeter Jeff Lofton, or other musicians lucky enough to gain her ear.

She linked up with me at Matt’s El Rancho, however, to discuss IBuyAustin.com, the nonprofit that spreads the word about local businesses and business districts. She knew in advance I didn’t need conversion.

After all, I live two blocks from South Congress Avenue. There’s only one national chain there: American Apparel, and I can’t fit into their skinny clothes.

Lofton’s from South Carolina. She’s spent time in California and Colorado, too, but she seems more closely suited to Austin, which she calls “peachy.” (Her only linguistic concession to the Deep South.)

She had met — or rather re-met — Jeff after many years and other other relationships because they had played in the same school horn section at one time. Now, Dean is helping to raise Jeff’s child; all three are thriving in Austin.

It’s largely thanks to Jeff’s professionalism and Dean’s grassroots marketing skills that jazz has bumped up its Austin profile in the last year. Catch him at the Driskill Hotel, Elephant Room and elsewhere soon.

Missing Raoul

(**I’m sharing some older posts, essays and articles while I’m sorting and editing some of my work to be included in a book I’m working on about my writing workshops. This blog post is from January 2010, when I was remembering New Year’s Eve 1999.)

Missing Raoul

On a damn near perfect New Year’s Eve – with my handsome, talented husband playing music I love, surrounded by good friends and new acquaintances, great food and drink in a swank bar/lounge with perfect lighting, in a creative, progressive city – I still couldn’t shake the low grade funk that tends to invade this night for me. Champagne and New Year’s Eve always conjure thoughts of two friends, Melissa and Raoul, who’ve left this life. I still miss them, and I haven’t quite forgiven them for leaving.

I especially missed Raoul this year because it was a rowdy night he would have loved – the whole city partying and fun people joining and leaving our party. It’s been years since he died in a car wreck. And, even though I knew him in another city, I miss him in the odd way that leads me to forget for a buzzed moment he’s gone, and I expect him to burst in to join the party.

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Crocheting and Crying

Crocheting and Crying
by T. Dean Adams (Lofton)
This article originally appeared in skirt! magazine in 1998.

For the past year I have had the urge to crochet. Though I rarely have maternal urges, the desire to crochet feels similar. My great-aunt Myrt learned to crochet when she retired from fifty years of working at a textile mill. She taught my mother, who has crocheted for as long as I can remember.

In most memories of my mother, she is crocheting; her fingers move a needle in and around yarn in a steady comforting rhythm while she talks. Her fingertips count stitches and she seldom even looks down at what she’s doing. Yarn and a needle are always with her like a pocket book. She can make pretty much anything you can think of: scarves, hats, afghans, little Christmas wreaths and Easter bunnies to wear as pins, frilly collars, shawls and bedroom shoes.

My mother crocheted while she waited for me after dance classes, while she sat through football games to watch me perform with the band at half-time. When I moved to Los Angeles she rode with me and crocheted her way across all the oddly-shaped states slammed up against each other, making delicate cross-shaped Bible markers.

She was crocheting during our last big fight. The one we still gingerly step around. The one that made me feel I’d left the tribe for good and the person I’ve become would never be let back in.

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Save-the-Day Soup

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I found this brand at Costco. 

Hoping everyone had great holidays and safe travels!

This soup Jeff made for me last week was so good it was gone before I got a photo! After a cold, rainy day navigating traffic, it really saved the day so I felt led to share his recipe! I’m hoping to cook more this week and double the recipe to stock in the freezer to Save-the-Day in the future! Join the conversation in the Dean’s List – Smart Ideas for a Healthy Life Facebook Group.

Save-the-Day Soup

*Gluten Free, Vegan, Nightshade Free
⅓ cup sprouted lentils

1 medium sweet potato

½ a large or 2 small butternut squash

1 cup of asparagus

2 cloves (or To Taste) garlic

2 small carrots
2 Tbsp avocado oil

¼  stalk of celery

3 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tsp curry powder

2-3 pinches of oregano

1 pinch basil

dash cumin

pinch nutmeg

tiny piece of ginger

salt and pepper to taste
Cut the vegetables into small pieces and combine everything into one soup pot.

Add filtered water to taste for soupy or thick preference.

Bring to a boil, then simmer on low / medium on the stove top for 2 ½ – 3 hours or try the slow cooker. Or after cooking, blend to a thinner consistency in a food processor and reheat.

Join the conversation in the Dean’s List – Smart Ideas for a Healthy Life Facebook Group.

Dean’s List of Random Sharing

Thanks to everyone who’s joined the new Facebook Group Dean’s List – Smart Ideas for a Healthy Life. Please join the conversation and share your health and healthy eating tips and tricks there, too!

A few things to share: 

  1. I’ve just finished the Purium 10 Day Transformation Cleanse which includes 2-3 green super food shakes a day, supplements and amino acids, a cherry drink and healthy snacks. It was the third time I’ve done the cleanse, and my goal  was to shift my diet away from grains, carbs and sugar. When the only non-liquid foods on my personal menu are healthy stuff for 10 days I notice my cravings shift, almost like being retrained to want the healthy stuff. Since my focus was to change some habits, I didn’t weigh or measure myself before the cleanse, but I’ve noticed clothes feel looser so I’d guess I also lost 4 or 5 pounds. The really big leap I took this time was to stop drinking coffee. Everyone seems to have survived! More than one friend offered condolences to my husband. But it wasn’t as bad as I expected, though I am easing off the caffeine by having Earl Grey or Green Tea in the mornings. But only one cup!
  2. My favorite things this week at the Sunset Valley Farmer’s Market:
    1. Happy Vegan Baker – I resisted all the desserts which I love, but treated myself to one of their loaves of gluten-free, vegan bread. Check out their Thanksgiving menus and delicious desserts you can order from www.HappyVeganBaker.com!
    2. Lamba’s Royal Indian Food – My favorite is the 7 Lentil Tarka Dal.
    3. A few months ago I bought a jar of Hemp360 Skin Repair and am still amazed at how long it’s lasting and how great it works.
    4. On a morning full of horrible news from Paris, it was comforting to go to the farmer’s market and see my favorite folks and buy some locally grown veggies and other goodies. But the sweet spot was live music from Bob Appel covering some classic traditional country music. I bet we’ll all be hearing more of him and his music.

 

3. The Mood Cure by Julia Ross

mood cure book cover

I have a ton of thank you notes for recommending this book over the years.

I could go on and on about it, but here’s a great summary from www.MoodCure.com.

“We’re in a bad mood epidemic. Depression and anxiety have tripled in the last ten years. The Mood Cure explains why and provides the good news that we can feel better emotionally, without the use of caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, or anti-depressants-and the even better news that we can begin to see the results in just one day. The Mood Cure is a comprehensive natural approach that jump-starts your program with brain-fueling amino acids combined with a high-protein, healthy-fat, veggie-rich diet and other nutritional strategies.”

Thanks for connecting here and on social media! Cheers to our health!

*As always, check with your doctor before altering any medication or prescribed diets, or adding a supplement or amino acid if you’re on medication.

The Happiness Fairy and a new Facebook Group

I like to joke that I’m fortunate my work in writing coaching and public relations gives me the opportunity to be the “Happiness Fairy.” Often I get to deliver great news like major media coverage for a previously unknown artist, or witness a small business increase their profits, or a writer or artist break through resistance to share their creativity.

2010 and 2015 before and afterA few months ago I shared my personal health recovery story again along with my recommendation of the Purium 10 Day Transformation Cleanse. After trying lots of different protein powders, I felt I’d finally found one I could enthusiastically recommended when asked (which is often!). This cleanse has the option of 2 shakes a day with one meal, or 3 shakes a day as meal replacements. It also includes amino acid supplements, a cleanser supplement, and electrolytes supplement. And there’s a cherry drink for bedtime that everyone loves! With either version of the cleanse, you can eat healthy snacks. So it is a great way to transition to healthy eating.

I know, I know … the terms “cleanse” and “detox” get a bad rap. I know my body is already designed to naturally detox and cleanse. AND I know that whatever you call it, when you only eat super clean, organic super foods for ten days the results are amazing. It’s especially amazing to feel the difference in energy, focus and sleep if you’ve been eating lots of processed foods!

Of the many friends, and friends of friends who’ve tried this cleanse, here are two testimonials:

“Thanks for turning me on to the cleanse and helping me to ‘reset’ my body. I slept so well while I was doing the cleanse. I followed the protocol to the letter and lost six pounds. I saw some good health benefits from the cleanse, not the least of which was breaking the sugar and carb cravings.” – Shelli Cornelison, Author, Texas

“I’m excited to get back on track, drop the extra pounds and get in a new routine. I’ve lost 5lbs and have 2 days left on cleanse…. I’m finding the program easy to follow and today went ahead and ordered one of the total meal products so when the cleanse is over, I’ll continue with a protein shake for a meal. … I’m sticking with the cherry juice – I love it! I look forward in the evening to my cherry juice as both a substitute for anything sweet and a nightcap!!” – Sharon Mays, Realtor, California

My inner “Happiness Fairy” loves having this kind of positive impact on people’s health. So, while I’m no doctor or nutritionist (yet), I feel led to share more of my on-going health journey. 

Please join my new Facebook Group: Dean’s List – Smart Ideas for a Healthy Life where I’ll start by sharing about this cleanse (I’m actually on Day 2 right now), and then also share other health info.

Feel free to contact me with any questions via Dean@DeansListAustin.com. For more information on the Purium 10-Day Transformation Cleanse visit www.MyPuruim.com/DeanLofton. Use the code “DeanLofton” to save $50 on the cleanse!