Ritual

I have been thinking about ritual.We often equate it with religion but that is not the only place that we see it. When I get ready for bed at night I wash my face, clean my teeth, ready my bed, lower the temperature in the room by opening the window or turning on the air conditioning, turn on the overhead fan and turn out the light. I do these things in order. That is a ritual. The doing of those tasks in order brings me continuity and peace.

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This is part of what ritual does for us. participating in religious ritual at its best brings us to a place where we can experience the infinite. For most of us this does not happen often. In the Screwtape Letters C.S. Lewis has a demon distracting us in church by having us focus on anything except on the ritual. Is the lady ahead of us wearing a big hat? Is that a different woman with John? Anything will do.

Ritual of any kind usually feels comfortable and calming. (if it is familiar) We have many rituals whether we realize it or not. See if you can identify the rituals in your life.

Saving from pain

When my mother died and then my aunt a year later I was tasked with cleaning out their homes. This was not an easy task. Not only were there things that hadn’t been seen in many years but also things that brought back memories and tears. This was back around 2003-2004. I still remember the agony of that job.

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For this reason I am trying, little by little, to make cleaning out my things easier on my family. I have written about getting rid of things but this is the underlying reason. I am moving slowly but making progress. This is another thing that strangely enough is on my bucket list. I know, this is not a fun thing but it matters to me.

Little by little, bit by bit I am going through papers and personal items. Many things can be discarded but others need to have a place, with explanations, where they are kept. I hope I don’t die soon as this may take me until my death to do. For my children’s sake I hope not. For me this is not a macabre task but a loving one.

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It seems that we spend the first half of live accumulating things, the next quarter enjoying them and the last quarter letting them go.

Each part of life has its demands. Too many people leave a huge disaster for others to clean up. I hope I can do better than that.

A Serious Problem

Caveat: This blog talks about the partners addiction and suicide.

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Recently our family has watched a (for me) distant member continue to self destruct. From early on in his life he has been addicted. I suspect alcohol at first but quickly drugs. He has been to rehab many times and now in his twenties he was in a serious accident with his transportation. A short while before this he was hospitalized for an overdose. In the hospital following this latest incident it seems he has expressed that he couldn’t cope any longer.

I can imagine that to have spent most of your life battling addiction, always needing drugs, in and out of rehab unsuccessfully, it would be difficult to see anything in your future except continued pain. I can understand the desire to end it all.

Several blogs have talked about that kind of hopelessness. It is devastating to feel that there is nothing that you can do to stop the circle of pain. Most of the blogs that talk about this have suffered from mental health issues and many have found help with medications, therapy and coping skills. Unfortunately, I know several families who have suffered with the problem as it relates to addiction and wish there were more successful help for sufferers. Some people are helped by rehab but there are those for whom rehab is not enough. It has made me suspect that for these people there are underlying problems, possibly mental health issues, that have never been identified and addressed.

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It makes me suspect these victims have spent their lives self-medicating their unaddressed mental health problem with drugs and/or alcohol. I hope that as we look more carefully into the people who are suffering with this that more help can be found.

Too much!

Today my husband and I traveled to Mayo Clinic for a follow-up. As we traveled I notice the number of storage facilities we passed. What is wrong with us? We have so much stuff that it is big business to store it away. Surely this is the height of the ridiculous.

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As a society we hoard. There are many stories about hoarders lately and most of us don’t have a house so full that we can’t walk through it. However, maybe we would if we didn’t have it stored away in a facility.

If the “stuff” is not wanted then we need to take it to the Salvation Army. They have the highest rating for actually helping instead of paying CEO’s. There may be people who need it.

I have recently been trying to clean out and pare down. I have way too much in my house. Quite a bit can be classified as trash and should be thrown or recycled. Some of it is going in boxes to take to help others. It is amazing what we can accumulate.

Seeing all of this reminds me that not only is my home in overload but that I can be too. What am I holding on to that I need to let go? So while I am searching through stuff I will also be opening doors in my mind to sweep out what is cluttering my mind.

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You can’t always fix it

Have you known people whose whole life is a drama? Their life is really no different from any of ours but they tend to enjoy the hullabaloo. This morning the minister at my church talked about that. He pointed out that for them it is a way to make life more interesting. However, continuous drama gets old fast. The constant anxiety and stress related to it is not good for the drama queen/king. It keeps life in a continual adrenaline rush. Not good for us physically or mentally.

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This lifestyle keeps the focus on the drama-maker. It is part of their way to remain the center of attention. It also wears out the people around them and can result in people not responding as in “the boy who cried wolf.” Their need for acknowledgement is sapping their life force.

I don’t know if this lifestyle comes from a childhood of being ignored. I am not an expert. But it does seem that they desperately need reinforcement of their goodness and value. When relating to people like this we can mirror their goodness back to them but we can’t be pulled into the drama. This can be a negative stressor for us.

Some of the people I love are like this and I have struggled with learning how to deal with it. I have found that giving them as much love and support as possible without diving totally into the drama works for me. I have to make a conscious decision to maintain some distance and calm or else I will be anxious and stressed too.

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There are some things in this world that no matter how much we want to fix them we can’t do it. It is important absorb this and live accordingly.

Too busy?

busy lifeThis quote set me to thinking. We can easily be too busy about nothing. Does the busy-ness cover our inability to stop? Are we busy about things that have no meaning?

It is so easy to get caught up especially in this season. Shopping, baking, decorating seem to take up all of our time. Our minds are on overloaded trying to juggle everything. We don’t take time to stop and think. Unfortunately we have turned this holiday season into a nightmare. Many of us spend more than we should on things that may not even be appreciated. We need to rethink this season and find a middle ground that works.

In the last few years I have backed off from some of the stress I created during the holidays. I have a much more relaxed attitude. Things don’t get done as fast and if they are not done at all that’s ok. I used to be  whirling dervish…running everywhere….making sure everything was perfect…driving myself crazy. When the holidays actually arrived I was too tired to enjoy them.

We can set ourselves an impossible task. We can end up exhausted and burned out. Try to decide the things that really matter and let the rest go. You will reap the benefit of enjoying a joyful season.

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!