Too much stuff!

Today we are back from the Mayo Clinic with a successful surgery done. Thanks be to God!

stuffOn the car trip for some reason I noticed the number of storage facilities we passed. It made me thing about what a wasteful society we are. We have so many things that we have to rent storage containers to store the excess. Think of what good that excess could do.

When I was young in the 50’s and 60’s people didn’t buy things they couldn’t pay for. In the 50’s the only credit card I remember was American Express that was used by people when they traveled. Now there are so many that I doubt we could name them all in several days.

While watching the news it was said that 11% of people would be willing to go into debt to get the new Iphone. I think they said it is $1600. Amazing!

We are so terribly terribly wasteful. We throw away perfectly good food. Buy new versions of electronic equipment frequently trashing the perfectly good ones we have. We can’t continue this way. The glut of things that we have flows over into storage areas that we pay money to rent.

garage-full-of-stuff

What is wrong with us?

Do children feel secure?

Today at lunch with friends we were told about a family who lost a 10 year old son to suicide. He shot himself in the head. Later the family lost another son to drugs. This is a loving family and their relatives say there was nothing wrong with their childhood. The younger child was bullied and I don’t think the other son ever got over his brother’s death.

media

It scares me that suicides are occurring in such young children. It’s hard to know why. I know that our exposure to so much data may be part of the answer. A child growing up when there was no media would probably never know anyone who committed suicide and certainly would not be bullied on line. There was some bullying in school when I was a child but it was nipped in the bud by the teachers. This was also the era when parents believed the teacher and usually there was some sort of punishment to follow for the child. Things have really changed.

Now we are so exposed to all the terrible events around the world that to take a gun and shoot oneself or someone else is not unusual. Exposure desensitizes us.

There is so much anxiety and depression in children. I have mentioned that I see it as being related to parenting in such a way that children do not have a safe base….a place where there are rules and secure love. Children need limits. No limits is a scary thing. It means that no one cares what you do. No one loves you enough to set limits for you.

safe child

I can see some changes in parenting recently and I hope that the changes are for the better. I so want to see children grow up loved and secure.

Our memories are selective

Today is my husband’s birthday. He turned 80 years old. He can hardly believe it and neither can I. Time flies. It is hard to believe that in June we will have been married 55 years. It is so funny to think back to the 1960’s and it seems like yesterday.

1962 pontiac

Things were so different then. We did have color TV but no cell phones. Some people who were rich had car phones but they were bulky and the signal was erratic. We drove a 1962 Pontiac convertible. The windows rolled up with handles. The top did go up and down automatically. It did not have air conditioning. We lived in Army housing and sat out on the stoop at night to have fun with our neighbors. We had little extra money and our favorite thing to do was to play games or cards with friends. We only had one car.

We went to parties at the officer’s club and the dress code was strict. Men were not admitted at night without a tie and women always wore dresses. We did wear shorts and trousers at home or with friends. Bikinis were not seen at local swimming pools. People would have been shocked. Men never used “bad” language in front of women and no one ever used the “F” word.

Long distance calls cost money per minuet so the calls were short. Our communication was primarily face to face. We knew our neighbors and had volley ball games in the courtyard in front of our quarters.

Birth control pills were a new thing and there were questions about their safety since they were much stronger than the new ones. We could talk to our next door neighbors through the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. and my husband and the guy nest door had fun conversations while shaving in the morning.

Life seemed simpler then. We talked a lot with friends. We shared meals that we made ourselves and played games rather than watch TV. We spent more time with friends than we do now. These memories are fun to recall.

selective memory

However, everything was not perfect. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Blacks were suffering major discrimination. LSD was one of the drugs of choice. Everything was not idyllic. It was time moving away from the simpler 1950’s into the chaotic 60’s. My husband was later to spend two years in Viet Nam.

When we deal with memories we can choose which ones we want and disregard the others.

Touch heals

My mind wanders. When I was in third grade I remember spending time in (what was called ) the coat closet. Not an actual closet but an area in  back of the classroom where we hung our coats. This was because I was never paying attention. We would be reading a story and I would finish it in a few minutes and then my mind would wander.

My mind still wanders. I have to catch myself during a sermon unless it is riveting. I was bored sitting in on a mediation the other day and I started to wander off. For most of my life I felt that was one of my flaws.

keyboardkeyNow there is a study that says that people whose minds wander score higher on intellectual ability. I really hope that is true. When aging you start to wonder if you are losing your mental acuity. My daughter who works for a big software company says that our RAM memory is full. That makes perfect sense to me. We receive so much input on a daily basis that it is no wonder we can’t keep up.

I keep worrying about the next generations and the input of electronic data. More and more children are being home schooled with computer classes. I understand why parents are taking this option but I do worry so much about socialization.

As a society, we are more lonely than we have ever been. We are lonely in spite of all the input because it can’t take the place of human interaction. I believe that we are hard wired to need others and not just on electronics. We need touch and face to face communication. We have long known that infants who receive little touch early in their lives are more likely to end up with anti social disorder. Touch is crucial to our well being.

I have always been a hugger. I plan to continue that. I don’t hug people if they seem uncomfortable but I will use touch as a means of communication. When I visited the sick for the church touch was a major part of what I did.

nothing-is-so-healing-as-the-human-touch-quote-1I know we do have to keep touch appropriate but to stop the healing touch would be a terrible loss. Touch heals.

Find your sacred space

overloadThe fast paced world that we inhabit is hard to navigate. There are so many things that we no longer do. Just sitting on a porch in the evening and rocking back and forth is so calming. Time to rest, greet neighbors and feel the breeze. No sounds except crickets and the wind in the trees. Heaven.

Instead we enclose ourselves in our homes avoiding silence and simple thoughts with electronic noise. Continuing to clutter our already overloaded minds so simple thought is overwritten. I wonder if this era in time will be known as the over-stressed era?

So many of us suffer from the results of this lifestyle. We have irritable bowel, high blood pressure, acid reflux, depression, anxiety and a host of auto-immune disorders. We were not created to live this way. The rise in emotional and mental disorders in frightening. Our inability to grasp why this is happening and acceptance of our mental stress is appalling. Mental disability still has its stigma. If we are going to survive without either killing each other, committing suicide or staying forever in the darkest of places something has to change. We are in the midst of an epidemic.

sacred spaceEach of us must start by finding that quiet space where peace can be found. A sacred space. Whether it is found in meditation, prayer, nature or wherever our safety lies we have to make a beginning. Things can be changed one person at a time, one day at a time, one life at a time.

For me the safe space is prayer and meditation. My peace comes from the Lord. But if I turn away from him there is no peace. It is up to each of us. Seek sacred space.

Isaiah 55:6
Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near;

Why are we lost?

stress-cartoonWhy is life today so stressful? I don’t remember it being like this when I was younger. I don’t know if the world has changed or I have. Probably both. Instead of hearing local news we hear news from everywhere and the focus is on the sad, tragic, violent and horrible things. Seldom do we hear about something nice. The one good thing to come out of the recent disasters from hurricanes to earthquakes has been the stories of people helping each other.

I have been listening to the book The Tribe by Sebastian Junger. I have ordered the book. It is interesting to find something that follows my own thinking so closely. If you have read any of my previous posts you know I am concerned about how disconnected we all are. There are many reasons why that is so. People move for jobs away from family. Very few people live in towns small enough to know most everyone. Both parents work changing the family dynamic. Communication has changed from primarily face to face to email, internet, social media, and texting. A lot of people do not know and may not have seen their next door neighbor. Our circle of people has grown exponentially smaller. Most of us do not have a wider community that we belong to. As I have said before this may one of the most critical aspects of a church if it is truly a community.

This loss of community has removed the glue that we need to hold ourselves together. There is no way of knowing (since there is no data) if the incidence of anxiety, depression and related problems was as high when we were more communal. My suspicion is that it was not.

Here in the USA we rush from task to task. People work longer hours and get less pats on the back. We are accessible 24/7. I wonder why everyone isn’t anxious. Maybe those of us who are are the ones who get it.

community-image

If you suffer from anxiety etc. try a find a community where you can be accepted and find belonging. I have the feeling it will help.

Loneliness

Since losing my ministry in January I have discovered that even with my husband at home with me I miss other people.  For me, being with others is important. The ministry also gave me a sense of purpose and allowed me to be a help to others. We do have friends that we meet with and a church that we attend but I miss the connection with the people that I saw in my work. This is one of the things that I have been fighting to overcome and something that has led to an increase in worry and sadness. It has made me realize how important connections with others can be.

loneliness

I just read an article from Spirituality and Health called

Is Loneliness the New Obesity? – 

It suggests that loneliness is rising as a major factor in early death. This makes sense to me on many levels. The article talks about high risk in the rising elderly population which makes a lot of sense. Most people who are aging do not want to move away from the place that they have called home. There are so many negative connotations. I visited so many nursing homes and saw elderly folks just sitting in the halls. Most homes are trying to offer activities for stimulation but in many cases people are past participating. The thing is to get those who are aging to look early for more palatable solutions. A nursing home has long been seen as somewhere you wait to die.

Cost is a major factor in the US. Without universal healthcare there seems to be no acceptable solution. Elderly people can be such a resource and we are wasting it. Homes that have linked up with day cares have worked extremely well in giving both groups joy in their day. We need to explore ideas for solving this crisis.

In addition to the elderly there is the growing isolation among young people. I have been on a soap box about this for quite a while. Our growing dependence on electronic communication can lead to isolation and loneliness. We have to make sure that growing children learn that meeting face to face (and not on face time) is critical to growth and learning. It is so easy to misunderstand the true meaning of a communication that is electronic. Faces tell us a lot.

Most of us live in populated areas which in many ways make it harder to find closeness with others. So many people in large cities have no idea who their neighbor is. We have to have places where we meet with others who have some things in common with us. We need to be connected. Connection helps us to avoid loneliness and the depression that being alone can bring.

alone

I know that I can discover new ways to fill my need to help and be with people. I know that it is up to me. This is part of my journey.