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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.

The struggle of role changes

Feminist-1I have never considered myself a feminist. At least not in the sense of Gloria Steinham (sp?) and others of that era. My father always told me that I could do anything if I worked at it. When I was younger it never occurred to me that there were people who felt that women should not leave the roles of the past. I spent 20 years as an Army Wife and never encountered that kind of prejudice there. I suppose I was out of the ordinary world.  It was a shock to me when we left that world to discover (sorry, but especially men) who saw me out of my place… people who tried to fit me into the box they envisioned. Someone once asked my husband if he couldn’t keep his wife in her place. He replied he had spent all his time encouraging me. This was in the 1970’s.

The women’s movement in the 60’s denigrated the role that I was living. I resented that. I never felt my role as wife and mother was lacking. I read widely, volunteered  in social work and other areas and had a full and rewarding life.  It made sense to me that women who were in the work world should receive proper compensation on an equal footing with men. I knew the inequalities should be removed but I expected there to be room for each of us to find our own path and fulfill ourselves as we saw fit. That was not the plan of most of the early feminists.

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Later my own role changed as my children grew and I chose to become a nurse. (still a feminine role but also changing.) I had a full and enriching career of more than 30 years.

It is gratifying to see things are better in some ways. I think that women who raise children have more respect than in the 60’s. The downside of this change is that it has played a role in changing families drastically. Most children now grow up with both parents working. This is hard for the whole family. Everyone is juggling time spent in different roles. Changes in the economic climate have made this the norm.

The other side of this is the role of men. It has been a difficult adjustment for men whose roles have also changed. With children growing up in the 60’s and 70’s it seemed as if boys were showing signs of pressure in school. They were not automatically assumed to be the best at math and science. The competition with girls redefined their roles. More girls were now heading for careers in what was male dominated areas. Boys in high school and college seemed to be struggling more than in the past.

culture changeThe whole era was a shake up of culture and a difficult time for both sexes. I can see some of that leveling out. There are still problems but being able to look at things from my viewpoint I can see positive changes. We will continue to struggle with changing mindsets and coming to terms with injustices but things are better. Some of that will disappear as generations change. Let’s hope we keep moving toward the good things and people are free to choose their roles without bias.

 

The pain of memory loss

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One of my word press reads talked about having a 26 hour day. It reminded me of the book about Alzheimer’s with that name. Living with someone whose mind is slipping away moment by moment is excruciating. It is hard on those who are losing themselves day after day but it is harder still on those who are watching it happen. Losing the person you love until they no longer know you is beyond terrible.

I have worked with families dealing with this crisis and it is so difficult and painful. It is so hard to cope when the muddled mind changes reality. Caregivers want so badly to correct the thinking and this exacerbates the situation. We want so much to bring them back to who they were and caregivers have to learn to live into the persons reality. I used to visit someone who thought he was living his 20 year ago life. When we talked I had to accept his viewpoint and talk with him about life as he was living it. This is much more difficult for the caregivers.

AliveInside-WEBAs the disease progresses management at home can become impossible. Frequently the patient has something called “sundowners.” This means that they are alert when everyone else needs to sleep. A friend of mine’s mother climbed out a window in the middle of the night to “go home.”  How can the average family cope with someone who could leave the stove on starting a fire or turns on the bathtub faucet flooding the house? Caregivers are stressed and exhausted.

In the USA the other problem is the cost of care. Many people have to manage care at home with little help. Their day becomes the 26 hour day. Be kind and compassionate for those who are care-giving someone with this illness. Help where you can. Their life is disintegrating one moment at a time.

Don’t hold on

I have spent the day cleaning my office. It goes downhill quickly. I just can’t seem to keep things neat. It has something to do with creating a place for everything. Just when I think everything is going well something appears that I don’t have a place for. I need a “No place for” file. I have tried putting those things in one file where they just sit until I either realize that it was a bill I should have paid or I don’t need it at all and it is just cluttering things up.

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The same is true for my life. I hold on to things that I should let go. Eventually I realize that it is time to move on. It is so easy to clutter up our lives with people who are not good for us. We usually can’t see it until they have made us unhappy. There are some people who are just plain negative. Their bad energy can push us down into depression and despair. We think that we need them to make our life livable but the truth is we need to let them go.

let it go2Then there are the memories of the things people have done that we resent. We can hang onto those too and when they crop up the anger and resentment comes with them. You can feel yourself living in that moment.

It is just as important that we let go of the clutter in our minds as the clutter in our physical space. I don’t do it enough. After cleaning my office I feel refreshed. After letting go of anger and resentment I don’t have to feel such bad energy again. It lightens the load.

Remember that both our minds and our spaces have to be cleaned out periodically. Whew! What at relief!

Love must help us to be ourselves

True union . . . doesn’t turn its respective participants into a blob, a drop dissolving into the ocean. Rather, it presses them mightily to become more and more themselves: to discover, trust, and fully inhabit their own depths. As these depths open, so does their capacity to love, to give-and-receive of themselves.—-Cynthia Bourgeault   from the thoughts of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

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Real love, wants more than anything, for us to be truly ourselves. If the person we are with only want to mold us into someone else then we had best back away.

In my life I have known people who have created themselves to mesh perfectly with another person. They have submerged themselves and little of the true person is visible. Their ache for love is so great that they will do anything to get it. They will even betray themselves. The sad part is that they are not being loved for themselves but for the person they created.

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears. Kahlil Gibran from The Prophet

Sometimes we want so much to be loved that we are willing to give up ourselves. This may seem ok for a while but eventually we will feel the strain of it. and end up know that is it not the right thing.

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself. Love possesses not nor would it be possessed, for love is sufficient unto love. Kahlil Gibran

love-yourself-as-much-as-you-wanted-to-be

In any relationship we must love ourselves. We have to be able to accept who we are with all our warts and scars. Then with that love we can reach out to another person.

 

There is love

graffiti_text_loveOne of the most important things to accept and understand is that each of us is loved. I am not talking about the love of another person but the love that surrounds us. For me, there is a love that pervades the universe. We learn to accept that each of us is unique and as such never to be again. Our time on earth is a gift. We have to make choices about how we use that gift. We didn’t seek that gift. It was given freely and without expectation of some sort of return.

If we can accept that we are loved then we have love to give away to others. Not just people but also to the earth that we inhabit. There are times when we don’t feel any love directed toward us. We feel alone, alienated, and abandoned. We must learn to pull away from this idea. Regardless of how unimportant or unnoticed we feel we must accept the fact that we matter.

where there is loveTo me this feeling of being left out, ostracized and without meaning is insidious and can trap us in depression. Sometimes it is hard to believe that love surrounds us. You can see it as God, or whatever form you accept but it is there.

When you are in a bad place and can’t see your way remember the love and know that you can reach out and find a way out of the darkness. There is always a way.

So many questions..so few answers

quote-if-we-know-how-much-passive-violence-we-perpetrate-against-one-another-we-will-understand-mahatma-gandhi-86-66-56Once again the things that happen here in the US fascinate and appall me. Years ago when teaching about suicide one fact that usually made people think was that the suicide rate among survivors is higher than others. It seems that the message of suicide is that if you can’t cope this is a way out.

I am wondering if the same mindset is encouraging all these random shootings. Have they seen others do this and see it as a solution? Are these people really our to kill strangers to appease some mental aberration, or is it a wish for suicide by cop to end their pain? Quite a few have been soldiers with possible PTSD but why did their anguish lead to random shooting? Were they suffering a flash back and saw those people as the enemy? The sad part it that we will never know

so many questionsThere are so many question and so few answers. Since so many of the killers end up dead there is no one to ask. Some want to blame weapons and there may be a link but if you really want a gun you can get one. I don’t think there is any way to remove all the weapons entirely.

I wish that we knew what to do to end this violence with pain for the families killed and the shooters family. No one wins.

So many questions…so few answers.