It has been difficult to find time to write in the last few days. We have some family here from out of town and finding time alone is not easy. I miss it but I am also enjoying my family. This has been a good holiday but I will be glad to get back to normal.
One of the things that can be hard is to not be in a normal routine. It throws us off and makes it harder to relax. I will work through it in order to enjoy the time that we have together.
The holiday season can be stressful for most of us. It is easy to obsess over shopping and wrapping and cooking until we are worn to a frazzle. In the new year it is time to check how you are feeling and take some extra time to de-stress. The time after holidays can also be a let down. When we were living at West Point the cadets called it “gloom period.” If you live where the trees have all lost their leaves everything looks gray. It can make your life feel gray.
Find something to brighten your life. Go out to lunch or dinner. Treat yourself to a bubble bath or eat your favorite food. It will help you slide into the new year ready to embrace it.
If there is one thing I have learned in the last week it is that a 79 year old does not bounce back. My husband has had several surgeries in the last few years…mostly from jumping out of airplanes in the army. I have had none. I have always been supportive of him during his recoveries but I am not sure I have appreciated just how hard it is to get back to your best you can be.
He has been so supportive and kind to me with this surgery which was not a bad one (as surgeries go), I guess experience is the best teacher.
I have no complaints today other than being tired. I am usually the energizer bunny but have had to listen to my body and rest. I am grateful that everything went so well.
I have always spent a lot of time crossing bridges before getting to them. This time I was better than usual. I think the time I have spent learning new habits and applying the needed skills did make a difference. My journey to be “worryless” is advancing. I’m not at the end but making progress. We can get better but it does take work. Seeing this improvement encourages me to continue my efforts and keep going.
I think that it is easy to get discouraged when we can’t see progress but it will come with time. Just work your way through one day before considering the next. Things can change.
Today I was knitting a top for my adult granddaughter. The yarn I’m using is very tricky to work with and gets tangled up easily. It did! I realized that I had done something wrong and had to back up several rows. No way did that work. The yarn became so tangled that I ended up cutting it and pulling it all out. Now I will start over. To say that I was frustrated is an understatement.
I thought about the saying “oh what a tangled web we weave.” I didn’t practise to deceive anyone but I sure wove a tangled web and had to fight my way out.
We can get ourselves into messes from time to time and some of them are more complicated to get out of than others. Sometimes we volunteer to do something and discover that it not only it too much but also that we don’t like it. The getting out gracefully may not be possible.
When I got married 57 years ago the only advice that my mother gave me was “start out the way you intend to go on.” I asked her exactly what she meant and she said: “if you plan on getting up at 4 am every morning to fix breakfast just be aware that it will set the pattern for the rest of your marriage.” I have found this advice to fit so many situations. Take a good look at anything you are getting into and see if you want it in your life before you are stuck with it.
Today I went back and read some of my original posts. I had a plan for this journey. I wanted to find a way to accept what comes each day and to learn new ways of coping. In some things I have done well in others not so much.
I have managed to spend more time in the “now.” I am more aware of each day than I have ever been. I have made daily prayer a habit. I have always prayed in erratic moments but now I also pray intentionally at the end of each day. This has worked for me and allows me to explore the events of the day in a different way. It is a time for contemplation.
I have not done as well with meditation. I can’t seem to get into a pattern or keep to any kind of a schedule. My past experiences taught me that meditation works best when it is practised consistently. This is something I want to improve.
Life is all about changing ourselves to better manage our place in the world. The world is not going to change for us. We are the only ones in our control. We have to continually work to understand how we react to what happens in our lives.
It is so easy to say that I know what to do and so hard to actually do it. I will continue to fight the struggle that some things are for me and work to truly immerse myself in changing. The struggle will remain until I am no longer on this earth but that is being alive. There are always challenges but we can move forward each day.
Warning…today I have wandered…like a train of thought novel. Sorry
Today, in church, I started to think about the trappings of religion. No matter what faith each has customs and symbols that are used. In Christianity there are many. Everything we say in church, everything in the church has meaning. Even the absence of things can have meaning. For example, the Roman Catholic community has many statues. They frequently have a Crucifix ( a cross with Christ on it). Some churches don’t have a cross at all. Some churches are plain and some are fancy. These kinds of symbols have grown up around the practise of each persons faith.
This is also true of other religions. A Jewish Synagogue has the Torah. Hindu temples have images of God. Buddhism has the absence of objects or statues of Buddha. There are many other examples.
Where did these things come from? What was their origin and idea behind them? For me it seems that over the centuries we have found things or ideas that we feel will draw us closer to the God we worship. We create an environment that we hope will enhance our experience of God.
Today I thought about how, in some ways, we have watered down symbols for convenience. We have let them become less than they were. In my faith communion is frequently given at a railing in the front. Ceremony has blessed the elements used and each of us takes them…essentially bread and wine. But can we see in this ceremony the event that precipitated it? I imagine most people do but I was distracted today by the communion wafers. Flat, tasteless representations of bread instead of the real thing. Most times this doesn’t concern me but today I wanted it to be nourishing and tasty as I am sure the original was. For convenience we have replaced real bread with something easy to use. We do use real wine. Some churches use grape juice. Maybe they do use bread.
How many other elements of worship have been changed over the centuries? I bet there are many.
I know that somehow I have gone off the track today but I can’t help wondering what would happen if this were really like a meal. I know that is illogical and that sometimes churches do an agape meal (communion at a meal). I suppose today I would have liked that.
Life is uncertain; in the end we control only a single thing: our own thoughts. From the book “Pandemic”
While reading the book this jumped out at me. It is so true. There is very little that we can control and sometimes we have trouble controlling our thoughts. And yet, it is one of the things we most need to learn. Our thoughts can take us on a wonderful journey or send us into the deepest depths.
For those who struggle with issues such as anxiety, depression, bipolar etc. it transpires daily. Our thoughts control how we feel. Sometimes the problem can begin with a trigger such as stress caused by the life we deal with or by physical issues such as IBS. Whatever sets off the thoughts can bring us down in a minute.
Most of the coping mechanisms we learn have to do with changing those thoughts. If only it were easy. We can learn the coping skills but we have to use them for them to work. This means making them become habits and that is the hard part.
Whatever helps you to override the thoughts that bring you down work hard to have it become natural as breathing. It is a struggle but one that is worth the effort.
Never give up on finding and using what helps you calm those errant thoughts!
My grandmother used to say that sometimes God will knock you down to make you think. Sometimes we have to be hit over the head to see the obvious. With alcoholics or those addicted to drugs it is often reaching what is considered the bottom that wakes them to reality.
Just rolling along each day we can get into a routine that pushes aside any idea that something may be wrong. We are like ostriches hiding our heads in the sand. It takes a major event to change things.
In the 1980’s I was working hard and paying little attention to my health. My IBSD was so out of control that I ended up with ulcerative colitis. I spent the next three weeks in the hospital getting my health and my life back under control. I had plenty of time to think about how I ended up in that condition. I learned a valuable lesson.
Pay attention to what is going on both in your life and with you health. Putting off see a physician or mental health professional is not an option. Pull your head out of the sand and take stock of reality. I can save you being hit over the head by God.
Yesterday I wrote about”status quo.” Today I have been thinking about it from a different perspective. The culture that most of us live in likes to maintain itself just as it is. In the US the congress and senate do not want to make changes. I know they realize that they are in a wonderful place and certainly don’t want to change. How I would love to make laws that I don’t have to follow, raise my own pay, decide on my own retirement and have health insurance that is better than anyone else in the country. This is a very negative sort of “status quo.” It is unfortunate that there is probably no way to change any of this short of revolution and that is not an acceptable option.
Lawmakers are not the only ones who like the “status quo.” There are many churches, synagogues, mosques etc. who also have a vested interest in no change. A religious facility is one place where your focus must be on what your faith requires of you and not on spending lots of money on buildings and taking care of yourself. For most faiths the emphasis is on others. It is important to put focus on the poor, the disenfranchised, the homeless and all those in any need. Just perpetuating yourself is not an option.
I understand where religion is concerned I am guilty of being a part of maintaining the “status quo.” It is so easy to slip into that mode. We convince ourselves that drawing people in requires beautiful buildings and that may be a factor. It is where the percentage of money goes that we miss.
There are, of course, many other institutions who maintain the “status quo” to the detriment of our culture but that may be another blog.
All in all, just staying the way we “have always been” is not always the right path. Change can be positive even though hard. Change is inevitable. Helping to make it good starts with us. Every change has a chain reaction. Do something and let’s make it good.
At last! Christmas is over for another year. I love it but it is also good to be done with the busyness. It is also good to have the days spent at the Mayo Clinic done and hopefully only one more visit before he is finished. As a nurse I have been so impressed with the patient centered care and the organization of everything there. Appointments of any kind are on time. When in the hospital you can order your own meals at any time, within certain hours, and the food is delicious. It is medicine as ideal as possible.
Now I feel that I can move into my “new normal” doing court mediations and supporting my friends who are struggling. Unlike many people with anxiety and depression I don’t do well staying home all the time. I have to get out and be with people. I still need my down time but somewhere there is a happy medium.
I slipped on my routine during this time and I know I have to maintain it or else. Tomorrow will be day one of routine maintenance. Back to morning quiet, meditation and writing. It is so easy to slip from routine and so easy to not go back to it. I thrive on routine and hate missing it. That may be part of the getting old (I really don’t consider myself old) thing… getting stuck in my own ways but it sure feels good.
I hope that everyone survived the holiday and will continue to do so through New Year’s. This season is so hard for many people and I wish everyone peace and joy. Remember…the light is coming.