This week the news (as usual) is alarming. I have been thinking about those Islamic radicals who are living in so many western style countries and I have been concerned about what I am beginning to see as a pattern. I am someone who tends to believe the best of people and I don’t like having to think otherwise. When I consider how the Nazi regime managed to change the moral compass of a nation it is easy to see that it could be done again. For me, it brings to mind a poem by a poet know for his limericks. That poet is Ogden Nash. Many of his poems are lighthearted and just fun but there are quite a few that force us to confront uncomfortable issues. This poem was written in 1938 just before the war. The insight it provides about how to change ideas and ethics is frightening. When I see radical Muslims demanding Sharia Law and eroding the legal systems of my world I can’t not be scared. Eroding away inch by inch is easier than going to war. Here is the poem for your contemplation.
The Japanese (1938)
How courteous is the Japanese;
He always says, “Excuse it, please.”
He climbs into his neighbor’s garden,
And smiles, and says, “I beg your pardon”;
He bows and grins a friendly grin,
And calls his hungry family in;
He grins, and bows a friendly bow;
“So sorry, this my garden now.”
Except for the above anxiety is momentarily at rest. The trigger has (for now) sent it away. That doesn’t mean that it won’t arise another time. I am struggling to continue my plans for change. When the fear is past it is so easy to slip back into complacency. For those of us who have God in our lives it is typical to let our connection fade when it is not needed. Discipline is so difficult. I will continue to persevere no matter how difficult. I am determined not to let myself back up now.
What started this journey? It wasn’t just the issue that headed me into worry and anxiety. In January of this year the job that I held for 20 years was pulled out from under me. The circumstances don’t really matter. It is the fact that my life as a Parish Nurse for a church was done. When I started I only planned to work for a short while but the pull of putting together my vocation and my faith was almost the culmination of everything I had ever done in my life.
Not everyone is into church and I can understand why. Church can be a family. Just as dysfunctional, mean spirited, kind, loving, and any other adjective you can put on it. It can be the best and the worst of things. Sometimes working within that framework can make you doubt everything you ever believed. It is challenging. However, my role as caregiver was unique and its rewards were abundant. I received much love and thanks. All of this made me question who I am and where I am going now. AT 76 years old I am not done. Out society tends to focus on youth and forget the wisdom accumulated over a lifetime of living. What a shame. So much is lost.
This blog is my chance to share. Perhaps what I have learned will touch some and help others. If so, then it is worth it. All we can do is cast that bread upon the waters and see what happens.
I am continuing to journey. Life as we grow older is not easier but more difficult. Health issues arise, possibly financial problems, decisions about what to do if we are not capable of caring for ourselves have to be dealt with. But we are definitely not finished.
I will keep on learning to change the things that I can about myself. A big task but a worthy one. One step at a time. One day at a time. I am alive today!
Today has been a good day. Since I have situational anxiety and the situation has resolved I am beginning to come down. Since my husband is retired military I care deeply about those soldiers who have PTSD and have some understanding of what they experience. I am fortunate that my episodes are usually short and only take a short while to get over but I can understand how unbelievable it must be to have that much adrenaline running all the time. In the current war zones there is no time away. There is no front. There is no getting away from the stress. They are hyped up 24 hours a day for as long as they are there. Our bodies do not respond well to this sort of stress. Excess adrenaline increases heart rate, blood pressure and so many other things. These soldiers frequently come home for only a few months and are on their way back to the front. How can anyone be immune to mental and physical ailments. I hope that some of the studies on the brain and anxiety can be used to come up with some help for these men and women.
It makes me and my issues seem small by comparison. Unfortunately, that knowledge doesn’t help when my buttons are pushed. I want to remember how much worse it could be but there are times it doesn’t help. I am continuing to develop more coping skills for my day to day life and hope that I may at least reduce my response to bad situations. Sometimes you just want to ask “Why me?”
Comparisons are odious is a quote from Madeleine L’Engle
This is a difficult post. How do you go about posting that the last week was a big backslide. Unfortunately, as I said earlier, interventions to prevent or at least decrease anxiety have to be in place before we are hit with the thing that pushes us over. Anxiety rampant is falling into a deep black hole. All things around you fade our of existence and the thing running life is anxiety. This is no way to live. Drugs given by physicians can help and may be the only thing when we are close to the edge and teetering over. But in the main there has to be some way to learn a new way of living. Even though backsliding was the result this week I will not falter and and am going to keep on moving forward.
There is one thing for sure….keeping on can’t hurt.
I think the hardest part about change is to keep on trying. When anxiety is triggered it is so easy to give in to it and just let it wash over us and take over. Then we can’t see anything around us. Life shrinks to our own suffering and we cannot experience outside of that. This is such a waste. Hours, days, too much time taken away from us. Time that could have been spent immersed in each moment, each hour. Lost forever to the storm raging inside of us. I know someone who has been suffering with cancer for a very long time. Her life has been challenged many time. The amazing thing is that she is still going on. She moves forward with joy each day and truly lives every single moment. Her faith in God and God’s blessings allows her to savor each day.
The question is how do we learn to live this way? I am sure if she were asked she couldn’t tell you. We each have to find our way alone. Our hope is that we will not be entirely alone if we are blessed enough to have friends who understand, physicians who listen and a faith that holds us close. Still, we must do the work ourselves. Each day, each moment we must repeat I am here now. I am alive now. The past is past and the future is not here. Only this moment matters.
This is the place where we feel as if nothing is working. That step backward puts FAILURE in our minds and we can just stop moving forward. Once again anxiety raises its ugly head and although
it is only a small crack we can peer through and see the chasm yawning below us.
This is where we must dig in our heels or the temptation to slide will take over. After several days of meditation, writing and focusing on change anxiety tried to take over. Sending it back into its cage seemed fruitless and yet why not try? So what has been learned to help push away slip? Deep breathing, distraction do help some but the truth is they are not entrenched enough to banish the feelings.Visualization does help to form the monster into a cloud and send it packing. Continuing forward is the only thing to do. No stopping now.
Not perfect at this point but a start. I can tell this will continue to be a struggle. This is when the whole idea of change can just fade away but determination to continue is still here.
Today change feels like a snail. It seems that change requires adding on more things than the things I let go of. Continuing meditation using echo with command open stop breathe and think has been a big help. Just having someone else direct the meditation is such a bonus and seems to make actually meditating more accessible. This is an excellent guide and one I would easily recommend to anyone.
Some of the data on anxiety says that some people have situational anxiety. This has been an eye opener for me and I am sure that this is what afflicts many people. For those of us with this it is amazing how many problems we can easily manage with very little stress but just add the situation that triggers us and we can quickly go off the rails. It seems that understanding and identifying the trigger would make discussion with a counselor be of greater benefit with more results.
“Toward all this is unsolved in you heart be patient. Try to love the questions. Do not seek answers which cannot be given; you would not be able to live them. Live everything. Live the questions now; you will then gradually without noticing it live into the answers some distant day.” Ranier Maria Rilke
There are always so many questions. Growing up I wondered why I was stressed about things and those around me were not. I thought it was just me and that I was different from other people who seemed to cope so much better with what life threw at them. I felt somehow weak and less than others. Why couldn’t I just shake things off and move on?
I am glad that today discoveries are being made about those of us who suffer from anxiety. I am glad that I don’t have to consider myself alone or unusual. Much is being written on this subject and research is being done on what parts of the brain are involved and is there some way to help.
It is clear that we have a more active flight or fight response than others. This may have been helpful when we really did need to run or fight but now it is an aggravation and sometimes a real trial. Many of us with even mild anxiety have suffered with a panic attack and sought help. I have been lucky and have only experienced this twice in my life. I hope that this journey will help me to avoid it in future.
The thing is, those of use who do not have clinical anxiety have suffered quietly and alone. We have coped one way or another and kept on going. For those of us blessed enough to have family and friends who support us the journey has been easier.
I still sometimes ask why me? Maybe as Rilke says someday I will live into the answer.
It’s funny how life puts changes in front of you. Today I discovered that by asking Alexa on my Amazon Echo I could access several different meditation sites. Even though I taught meditation, when beginning, it is so difficult to do it on your own. It helps to have someone gently leading you. Later on it is more manageable to shed the guidance and move into deep meditation on your own.
I accessed this today and low and behold the topic for the meditation was anxiety! I had a friend who says these sort of occurrences were the arragels were at work. They certainly were today!
I was able to write poetry today and just the fact that I can access those feeling and put them on paper is a blessing. I was blocked and couldn’t write. It is so good to be myself
opening up again. I hope this trend continues but expect backslides from time to time.
Sadness is here
It has slid in
While I wasn’t looking
And tears spill easily
What different life
Blindsides my peace
And leaves me
And I struggle
Sinking in confusion
Yet new paths are forming
New thoughts rise
Keeping chaos at bay
And anxiety chained
There are those
And my path
Will cross with theirs
And my love
Will envelop them
And bring peace
Doesn’t it seem that everything happens at once? We go along with what we call normal and then everything changes. I have often been struck by the song “What a difference a day makes” and how true it is. Life is ever changing but some changes are more drastic than others. For someone to suddenly die is huge.There is no normal. For two years I worked with a grief support group and saw each of them grow into an “new normal.” For those of us who make plans and projections way down the road seeing lives turned upside down in one moment is frightening. The road ahead is no longer clear.
The thing is if we just live in the moment then the next doesn’t really matter. To say I am here right now alive and fully present is enough. This journey is about absorbing that truth and living it out.
Since January of this year my life has been drastically changed. Why is for another day. That change is what has me on this journey. It was not of my choosing. Grief, anxiety and much change have brought me to this place. Recently I wrote a poem about this grief and the grief of those in the support group.
Someone once said
Grief is a gift
But who would
Who would want
To lose love
And find yourself
The tears fall
Cleansing, freeing but
For the narrow crack
And slides easily in
How can this be
A gift received
Why should it
If love is absent
Grief is stayed
Only love’s absence
And without love
There is no gift