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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.

Too much?

too much“You did the best you could” words that we say or think often. Sometimes we struggle to keep going. Sometimes we don’t know what to do. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed and completely lost. So we fall back on doing the best we can. Later we question ourselves. Was it enough? Did we really do our best?

Maybe things didn’t turn out the way we thought they should. Maybe we end up feeling guilty. Maybe we question ourselves. We think we didn’t try hard enough, have enough expertise, plan well enough. We just wanted to take care of everything.

The truth is that most of the time we do the best that we can with the information we have at the moment. Later more information is forthcoming and it seems we could have done something else and we begin the decent into questioning, ruminating and obsessing.

the best you couldThis is the trap we fall into. Life is not perfect. Decisions that we make can not always be perfect but we expect it of ourselves. We have to adjust our expectations of ourselves. Expectations can kills us. We see failure where there is none. We push ourselves too hard. Again, life is not perfect. Things may not be okay at the moment but we can go on. We can tale each day as it comes. We can trust that we tried our best and that is all we can do.

I will not go gently

My good friend’s husband is still ill. He has been in the hospital for four weeks. He has not been able to be out of bed the whole time. There are many things that have gone on with the hospital stay that I won’t bring up here but the bottom line is that the initial problem has not been able to be fixed and he is not as well as he was going in.

Chronicles-15-7Last night my husband asked the question: “Do you think that because of his age they are not really trying hard to fix this?” I didn’t really have an answer but I do wonder if that plays a part in this scenario.

As we grow older I know that society can be dismissive….ignoring older people and treating them as “less than.” In an earlier blog I touched on this subject and included a poem about old men that highlighted this problem. The poem was written a long time ago and I am not sure that the problem has gotten any better. Why should we be cast aside….thrown away like an old cell phone that’s software is out of date? We have much to offer and I will continue until death comes to lift me away.

Shakespeare-Quotes-1200x776-750x485I refused to be dismissed. I refuse to go gently. Below are the words of Dylan Thomas in this poem for his father.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That
Good Night

 

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

Am I hiding?

Today for some reason my mind is blank….or struggling for clarity. I thought about this poem written a while ago and offer it here.

IN-SHADOWS-facebook

Hiding

Deep in the closets of my mind                                                                                                            dark secrets are hiding                                                                                                                          I have not seem them for many years

I stand and look at the doors                                                                                                                and fear to look inside                                                                                                                          to let the light shine in

The fear is not of pain                                                                                                                            but something far more frightening                                                                                                  the fear of myself

the real me hiding all these years                                                                                                      the me no one can love                                                                                                                        the me I cannot accept

God, help me to fling open the doors                                                                                                  and with broom in hand                                                                                                                      throw out the secrets

and dust off the person                                                                                                                         who has been hiding                                                                                                                             in the dark

Will you stand up for your faith?

Having studied a good bit of history and over the years a lot about the history of my faith I have noticed some interesting parallels in today’s world.

women in the churchIf you learn about the early church and the followers of Jesus it is apparent (although seldom mentioned) that women played an important role. After all, they were the first to see Jesus after his crucifixion. Mary Magdalene was a follower of his and important in his ministry and NOT a prostitute. She was relegated to that role later in church history when the Roman church did its best to disavow the roles of women. Women were the personification of sin and not allowed to be a meaningful part of the church. The church did a good job and it wasn’t until centuries later that the protestant traditions began to reverse the trend. It has always been interesting to me that priests were not allowed to marry in spite of the fact that our beliefs sprang from Judaism which believed that men should marry.

So much for the past. Now, in a parallel to removing women,  the culture seems to be set on destroying belief in any religion. They are intent on removing the one system that wants to employ a moral code. Religion is being mocked and followers are thought of as not intelligent enough to see reality. This may also follow the “I” principle. “I am more important than anyone else. Others don’t matter nor can I be held to someone’s outdated moral code.”

stand upI am offended by this trend and concerned for the life of believers. Who knows…maybe we will end up being persecuted and it will revive the faith. Hardship and persecution does seem to bring out the best in belief.

At my age I have learned to speak my mind and not be afraid of the outcome. I will continue to follow my faith and be willing to stand up for it.

 

hear the music

The path to wellness begins with acceptance

I have recently run into someone who has some significant mental health issues. It is evident when you are around her that there is something going on. She descends into depression and copes poorly with it. The last time I saw her she was ecstatically happy. She was over the top. She has been diagnosed as bipolar but she is unwilling to take care of herself. She talked about how the psychologist she sees knows nothing and how she quit taking her meds because she doesn’t need them.

Acceptance-2

This is not new. She has struggled for a long time. It is sad to see her and hear that she is still in denial.

It is so difficult when someone is unable to cope at all with their illness. This is not only true of mental health issues but also with physical problems. As a nurse I have known diabetics who totally ignored the problem. One is a physician.

It seems to me that the path to wellness begins with acceptance and a willingness to help yourself. It is hard to discover something that you have to live with forever. I wrote recently about how my mother coped with a chronic illness that completely changed her life. She struggled at first learning how to live with the changes to herself but learned to manage and lived a long and fruitful life.

Each of us has something that we have to accept. I have had ups and downs with my IBS and anxiety but I feel that my life has given me much and I keep on keeping on. I read the blogs of people who not only cope with their problems but are also willing to share their failures and successes with the community. Their strength and openness inspires others and gives hope to many.

sharing hope

We can learn to live a full life in spite of our particular issues and reach out to others who have problem.

Raising children

raising-a-child

I was 23 years old when I had my first child. Certainly old enough but young enough to be naive too. To be honest I was never around children. As an only child I spent most of my time with adults. I thought that having children would be a breeze. WOW was I wrong. I suppose the only thing that saved me was the fact that I have wonderful examples in my parents and am still married to a man who is a wonderful father.

None of us is perfect and we all make mistakes raising out children. We just have to pray that the mistakes aren’t life altering. My children’s early years were spent while we were in the Army. Lots of moves and new people to get to know. They seemed to survive that.

By the time they were in their teens we were settled and they got to stay in the same schools. All children are different and mine certainly are. Thank God they are all gainfully employed, have children of their own, and survived us as parents. I don’t know if we managed as well. There was lots of anxiety and nail biting but here we are.

We won’t talk about finding out a few years ago about my son and his friends riding bikes off the roof of the house into the swimming pool. Glad I didn’t know about that.  We lived through the time my oldest daughter dove into the pool and hit her head and survived. There was also the time my youngest daughter was on the way to Japan as an exchange student and left her ticket at home. (before all these electronics) She did get to Japan.

parent

Many things that happen in the lives of children are fun to remember later. Some are not so fun. Parenting is a full time job. Most parents love their children and have their best interests at heart. Never doubt that it is a hard but rewarding job.

My mother

Tomorrow is mother’s day in the US. Mother’s day has been difficult for me since I lost my mother. I know my own children will call and I love that but for me it has always been about my mother.

mother graduation

(photo from her high school graduation—-she was born in 1909)

My mother was amazing. She was beautiful and had a real sense of style. She never left the house that she didn’t look “dressed to the nines.” She was diagnosed in my teens with Addison’s Disease which was caused by a TB infection she had when I was a baby. Her lungs were not affected by the TB but it caused her adrenal gland to fail. She almost died before it was diagnosed. She never let the problems from this change her life or her positive outlook. She was always a pillar of strength and was the person I could count on when I fell apart. She didn’t understand my anxiety but she supported me nonetheless.

I was blessed with an incredible mother. Her faith was strong and unlike me she was not prone to worry. I miss her all the time but had her with me until she was 95 years old. She left this world as gracefully as she lived. Thank you mother.