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Why this journey?

Life is a series of choices. We don’t often think of that but just getting out of bed in the morning is a choice. We are so used to routine that it doesn’t seem like we made a choice. It’s just what we do every day with little thought. How different life could be it we could be fully present for each of those choices. It is interesting to reflect on one’s path in life. It is so easy to see the places where I stepped off the path and usually paid for it. Sometimes the slip brings an instant outcome. Sometimes life continues and only with a long look back can we see the result of the choice.

I have always wanted to learn to live each day in the present moment but I haven’t mastered it yet. If only every second of every day I could remember I am alive now!  How different my whole life would have been.

You see, I am a worrier. I cross bridges and explore every good and bad outcome for each crisis or major event that comes up. I can easily picture myself with a fatal illness or catastrophic problem. The real question is how I have managed to live for 76 years and not learned how to let this go. It is time to move on. This is my journey into change. My first step into a new way to really live each moment.

I know that I have a tough road ahead of me and will struggle with my resistance to changing habits and applying all the advice and wisdom I have been given. I worried as a child. My grandmother used to tell me to sit in a chair and worry as hard as I could and get up and see if anything had changed. Her wisdom (she died at 100 ) was there for me as long as she lived. I heard it over and over but never learned how to do it.

The practice of faith was not absent in my growing years. God was a part of my everyday life. I was baptized in the Presbyterian church that my parents attended and each Sunday was in church with my parents or my grandmother (she was Methodist) I saw my grandmother read her Bible each day and pray as she rested after lunch and again at night before bed. Her connection to God was strong. Was Her consistent time spent with God the thing that brought her such peace? Many of my adult years have been spent in God’s ministry. Interesting that all that energy and action didn’t have a deeper effect on my way of being. One would think that Bible study, leading church events, teaching yoga and meditation would have had more impact.

So many human quirks that have been around since Adam and Eve have been given titles and are seen as present in many of us. In today’s world, my worrying would be given the title mild anxiety. What I do is not unusual nor can it be considered a psychiatric diagnosis. It seems to me that the recognition of garden variety anxiety has given some relief for those of us who worry. I am not the only one and will certainly not be the last.

Added on to this propensity to worry are the major changes in our way of life. It seems to me that sometimes ignorance is bliss. (note: I say it seems that way). Today we are bombarded with information. The world seems to be more dangerous day by day. To quote Dr King “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” We can see the result of this on the streets of our cities. Have we been desensitized to violence so that nothing is too abhorrent to do?

All the electronic devices have added noise on a former unprecedented level. Is there silence anywhere? Do we understand the effect on body and mind of constant noise? Do we ever just sit back and think? I see this pattern as actually increasing worry or anxiety in the future. There is no time to just be.

All that having been said this writing will record my progress (or lack thereof) of a journey into change. I cannot change the world but I can change myself. I believe in the butterfly principle and maybe if one person finds a different way something will change.

Disappointment

Disappointment. Today I was disappointed. I have been handling a my best friend’s will and am just about finished with it. There was some stock that had to be cashed out. We thought it was around $900 but the final check was only for $54. I was hoping to give some more significant money to the family and I am disappointed. I know that the money has nothing to do with me but I am still sad about it.

disappointment

This has been a long time getting to the end. We now have to divide up some personal items and I am not looking forward to that. The two heirs have a difficult past and don’t really speak to each other. They will be fine during this last task out of deference to me but I still will be glad to get it done. They are both nice people who have gone through some stuff growing up.

I have been sad for them through this whole circumstance. It is so sad that with very few relatives they can’t even have each other. Families are complicated. Things happen and lives are damaged. Children are so vulnerable and parents are the ones who have the most influence whether they mean to hurt or not.

past

What happens to us as children travels with us until the day we die. Hopefully, if hurt, we will be able to get help and learn coping skills but it can be difficult. Parenting is the most crucial role that anyone can have. Whether the child is ours by birth, adoption or any other way our role can make all the difference in the entire life of someone.

I am disappointed about this situation and will help where I can but the past is present in their lives.

Turn your back on anger

Have you had somebody or something make you angry recently. There are some things that can really get me going. Rude people come to mind first. Some people are so angry themselves that they seem to want to rub it off on you. They appear to be angry at everything. The anger just seeps out of them.

That is a sad way to be. I used to get angry more than I do now. That may be because I was in situations where it was easy to get mad about something. Now that I am retired and can just stay away from things that bother me I am much better off.

Frequently anger masks some deeper emotion. If something hurts us we often respond in anger. It masks the hurt and allows us to hide it. Showing the hurt makes us vulnerable.  People who go around angry all the time usually have a lifetime of hurt behind them and their current behavior sets them up for more hurt.

There may be times when anger helps us to get past a bad situation but holding on to anger does nothing but hurt us. Our anger may not even affect the person or situation that caused it. The person it hurts is us.

Think about how you feel when you are angry. Your heart rate increases. Your blood pressure rises. You can feel your body gearing up to fight. This decreases your immunity, takes oxygen and moves it where it will be needed for quick response. All these responses can cause lasting problems. Just writing about it can cause me to feel some of those reactions.

It is not worth it to hold onto anger. Maybe the best response is to not show anger. My father used to say when someone pushes your buttons the thing that will cause them the most angst is to not respond in the same way. They will be frustrated by your lack of response. It is more aggravating to them than anything else can be. You not only save yourself from the results of anger and one of two things will happen… Your “turning the other cheek” will either calm the situation or escalate their anger. Either way you come out ahead.

Are we willing to wait?

I like to bake bread. This week I decided that I wanted some sourdough bread but had no starter. It takes time to make starter. You have to let it sit for at least several days to sort of ferment. The starter did beautifully and I used a recipe for the bread that said let it rise for 12 to 24 hours. I left it for one afternoon and it rose out of the bowl. Needless to say the starter works. (it is what makes sourdough bread rise)

impatient

The process to make this bread takes time and patience. Today most of us don’t want to wait. We don’t want to do anything that takes time. We have little patience. Yet patience pays. Look what happened when I was willing to take some time. The bread not only rose but rose way up. Time can yield results if we allow it.

We have to learn to be willing to wait. Good things can come of it.

We are connected to the earth

In coastal Georgia, where I live, we have 7-8 ft tides. There is nowhere else along the southern coast where there is such a fluctuation. It is because of the westward dip in the coast. Today we had extremely high tides. I have not heard how high but such tides cause some coastal flooding on roads that are extremely low. It is not unusual for this to happen on a full moon and at this time of the year.

high tide

When the tide is so high that we can only see a little marsh grass peeking out across Turner’s Creek we know it is well above normal.

Tide has an ebb and flow. It is related to motion of the earth. As human beings we also have an ebb and flow. The fluids within the cells in our bodies actually respond to the cycles of the moon and the motion of the tides.

Years ago my youngest daughter wrote a paper about the moon, tides and the increase/decrease of episodes of crisis in those with mental illness. She studied the admissions to psychiatric units and correlated it with moon and tide phases. it was a small study and not really enough to prove the relationship but there was an increase in admissions related to certain moon phases.

Nurses have forever said that hospital admissions, births and accidents have that same relationship although statistically it never shows up that way. As a neonatal nurse we usually saw more babies with problems at a full moon.

forewarned

I do wonder if we kept track of the times we ourselves have difficulty with mental health flare ups we would see some correlation. It would be interesting to know. It would help us to better understand the cycles of crisis and plan to be ahead of the curve.

 

 

A useful skill

puzzleTomorrow I go to do a Mediation. I volunteer as a mediator for court mandated (and sometimes chosen by people) help with settling problems. Doing this brings an interesting perspective to my own life.

Working with the cases I see opens a world where pettiness and anger are often primary. Money, of course, is at issue but sometimes the silliness is overwhelming. Compromise is not a word that most of the clients have any knowledge of. You would think that the aggravation of filing a suit, having to go to mediation, not settling and then going to court would make someone think logically.

In most cases that I have mediated logic has gone out the window and the opponents are functioning from feelings alone. (Of course this is not the case when the case is about money owed to credit card companies or others similar.) I am talking about two people who cannot settle their differences because of some underlying emotion.

Compassion, understanding and listening are important things to learn and use. Many times just listening allows us to hear what is underneath and find out where the real pain is. Listening to both sides is critical to the mediation process and in our lives. Real listening is truly absorbing not only what is being said, but what is not said.

listening2

I feel useful helping but I have also learned to value the opportunities that show up in my own life where kindness and understanding can defuse the problems. I can see the times where my own willingness to compromise has solved the issue. I am not patting myself on the back but being grateful for learning that, the majority of the time, there there are better ways to handle things than to file a law suit. Sometimes people just need to be heard. This requires someone actually listening.

 

Tossing and turning

Today I am so tired. I hardly slept at all last night. Saying that makes me want to go on the with the son ” tossing and turning, turning and tossing, tossing and turning all night.”  I guess that speaks about my age. In 1961 I was finishing my last year in college and looking forward to getting married in June of 1962.

 

The movie “American Graffiti” tole about this era andwas the precursor to Grease. I still love all the music from this time. It was magic to me. Everyone knows the following song. Bette Midler used it in the the film Beaches. Hope you enjoy this little memory from the past.