New progress, new companions

Life-journey-experienced-problem-solvedI began this blog to follow me through changes that I need to make in my life. I don’t know how much progress I have made but there has been some. My anxiety is more under control and I have begun some new habits that focus me.

I have enhanced my prayer life which had slipped considerably. I have added “praying in color” which is a book that my daughter gave me a few years ago and I never pursued it. This has been a wonderful thing for me. I am not in the least an artist but it if wonderful to take colored pencils and create prayers. I am doing them on black paper and enjoy creating light from darkness. I can also look back (they are in a spiral sketch book) and see who I have added to my prayers.

I do occasionally do Mandalas and love doing those. They help me when I am in crisis. For me, they consume time and I have to feel the need to do one. I have saved these also and can look back over trials and tribulations. It is helpful to see where I have been and how far I have come.

Prayer is a real way for me to “center down.” Meditation for me is also a prayer. I don’t do that enough.

encourage

Since writing this blog I have encountered so many wonderful people who have understood and encouraged my journey. I have been enriched by reading their blogs. The community is a comfortable and comforting place to be.

Thank you all.

In the hurts we absorb, forgive us

fallToday, a friend at church, was showing us the bruises and stitches gotten when she she fell in the grocery store. She fell while buying a bottle of wine. The bottle broke and she was cut by the glass. She talked about going to the immediate med place and smelling like a drunk. I can imagine her saying “but I wasn’t drinking!”

She will have a small scar in one place and that started me thinking about the scars that we all carry. I have one from the time I put my finger in an electrical socket as a child. I have one from falling on a sharp piece of bamboo in the back yard.

woundsWe all have scars. Some are physical and some are emotional. I think the emotional scars are harder to heal. The trouble is we keep pulling them out to look and remember the pain. It’s funny how we do that and hardly notice the physical scars.

It is so easy to remember the times that we were hurt and to dwell on them. We can feel the emotions all over again…whether it is anger or pain or sadness. We almost treasure them and tuck them away so that we can get upset all over again.

We have to open those closets inside where we shove those scars and pull them out and throw them away. The sooner we do that the sooner we will be able to move past them. Holding on to them hurts us. Probably the people who caused them remember nothing and there we are still hurting.

I am trying to expose those scars and push them away from me so that I don’t have to feel the pain. In the Lord’s Prayer it says (new version) “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” A version from the New Zealand Prayer book says “in the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.” It makes me think that one meaning we can get from that is forgive us for holding on to those hurts.

hang on1

Turn them loose and move on.

Touch Heals

Communal_BathA recent article was about the pain lessening effects of touch. A study was done with couples that showed just holding hands reduced the level of pain. I have been a nurse for a long time but I have always believed that touch heals. I have been with patients in the hospital who are in pain and can’t have more meds yet. I have gently held their hand or stroked an arm while speaking soothingly. They almost always calmed and were able to rest more comfortably until med time.

We humans have lived with others (i’m sure) since we lived in caves. We have been communal and depended on each other. I don’t think we are meant to live life alone. That doesn’t mean that we have to live with someone in our home but that we need community. Community is one place (hopefully) where touch can happen in safety.

touchIt has been my experience that human touch is critical to our health. Babies who are not cuddled and held in the beginning of their lives do not thrive. Many of them have significant social disorders later in life.

We need touch. In my role as Parish Nurse I used some form of touch with everyone I visited. I never had anyone not want that. (I know some people don’t like being touched)

With all the issues in our society today touch has become an iffy thing. We are often afraid to touch knowing that it can be misconstrued. It is a tragedy that this is the case. We all need touch to be whole.

Learning to cope

love yourselfLike most people I spent my early years worrying about what other people thought. I was always changing myself to fit in wherever I went. I also didn’t like conflict (I still don’t) and was always playing the peacemaker.

I don’t know when it started to dawn on me that everyone didn’t have to like me or agree with me. I didn’t have to work so hard to be everything to everyone. It is exhausting.

I am an only child and when I was young I was more comfortable with adults than people my own age. I think that is one of the things that made me try so hard to fit in. I had very little self confidence around my peers. It wasn’t until I went to college that I started to feel comfortable. I am sure that this did not help my anxiety.

In my teen years my mother was extremely ill and for years there was no diagnosis. Even though I was unaware at the time it fueled my worries about illness.

Now, at my age, I have gained some perspective on how I reflected my environment and didn’t cope well with anxiety and depression. Over the years, a little at a time, I have grown coping skills that make my life so much better. It is a good thing that I did as aging brings so pretty serious issues to cope with.

peace3Some serious episodes with IBSD triggered my panic. Fortunately those were mostly few and far between. I am so grateful that treatment for these issues has progressed so far. When I was young anyone who had  panic was said to have had a nervous breakdown. Thank God there is better understanding today. I am hoping that this progress continues until research into how our whole selves work finds answers that remove the stigma from those of us who suffer.

As each person writes about these issues and shares the things that help them our knowledge grows. The community is a blessing.

 

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.

You are worthy

As I promised myself I have been reading Henri Nouwen’s book The Wounded Healer during Lent. Nouwen is not at easy read as he is every profound in his thinking. The book was published in 1972 so there are some parts that speak of a time that is past but he says so much that we need to hear.

your story mattersNouwen talks so clearly about what happens in these blogs and those I read. He says:”only he who is able to articulate his own experience can offer himself to others as a source of clarification.”  That is the gift that we find is many blogs. People are willing to share of themselves. That sharing helps others to understand their own issues and find ways to help themselves. The openness allows for validation of others and allows them to begin to speak out also.

Nouwen goes on to say that this kind of sharing can be: “a deep human encounter in which a man is willing to put his own faith and doubt, his own hope and despair his own light and darkness at the disposal of others who want to find a way through their confusion and touch the solid core of life.

you-are-greatThat is what happens as we share our own ups and downs, our own “darkness and light”. We do help others. It also gives meaning to our own lives and the struggles we have encountered. No one’s life is meaningless. Every one of us in important in the “circle of life.”

Never feel that your life has no meaning and that you are not worthy. God’s grace has been given to each of us as a free gift. We must continue to share.

Listen and hear

God-CallingLife moves on day by day, moment by moment. Sometimes you fail…sometimes things work out. Sometimes you just don’t know. Today some things became clear to me. I have a calling. I have a ministry that God wants me to use. How to do that is not for me to be concerned about at the moment. I am to continue the healing ministry that God wants me to do. Today I am clear about that. Maybe I won’t be so clear tomorrow but then I can back up and read this and know that I have been clear.

Today I listened, I paid attention, I heard. Now it is up to me to figure out how to accomplish this. The thing is when God speaks it is scary. Sometimes the things we have to do to follow can be something we don’t really want to do. Sometimes it takes too much waiting. That is the scary part. Sometimes we may be dragged by the scruff of the neck but we must go.

I will just take one day at a time. One step, one move forward, maybe a few steps back but always moving. Always trying to pay attention.

listen for GodThe most important part is to listen and keep listening. So hard to do when there is so much noise around us.