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.

 

Each moment matters

life happensI have been out of the loop for several days and have just caught up reading blogs. I’m sure I didn’t get to them all but at least managed to dig into some.

The past week was hectic and somewhat nerve wracking. With doctor’s appointments and other things I missed time with my support friends. None of us got to see each other and we all feel the loss. We make an attempt to keep ourselves sane and when we don’t all bets are off.

On Friday I had to drive three hours to my daughter’s home for a co-ed shower for my grandson and his bride-to-be. The trip is not long but back roads and boring. The kicker is that on Saturday immediately following the shower I had to leave to drive back home for a dinner put on by the West Point Society for the founding of the academy…my husband is a graduate. When I arrived home after the dinner in a zombie like state I went straight to bed. THANK GOD!

I keep forgetting that as active as I am age still plays a part in my physical resources.

Looking back over my life brings memories good and bad. If I really try I can almost look as if from above and see the patterns. I can see the places where things took a turn that altered my ability to find the skills to cope. I can also see where something that I had learned in the past allowed me to keep moving forward. Yes, sometimes I have struggled and fought the demons of anxiety and depression. Sometimes I have felt joy and happiness. Both mattered.

wisdomSocieties view of those of us aging is so judgmental. We have learned so much on our journeys through life that could be shared. It is such a shame to lose all of that wisdom. An informed life is wasted on obsessing about looks and being young. Life is so much more than that…..so much richer. To continue to seek wisdom and strive for wholeness makes each day a miracle. The beauty around me is breathtaking. I can see the blue and gold of the sunset against the dark outline of the trees. I can see the movement of the water in the river in front of the house. Each day and each moment matters. Don’t waste it trying to hang on to youth. Embrace the years and be grateful. Life is worth living.

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.

Memories

memoriesMemories. Today I have been thinking about memories. God willing we do not lose our memories. There are so many that we have to share and we need to do them before it is too late.

I wrote this poem about memories in 1996

 

 

The Button Box

As I look for a shirt button
In my button box
The memories come flooding back

For in that box are buttons
In many colors and shapes
Sizes and textures
Buttons that tell the story of my life

A button from
the dress I wore
To the christening
Of my first born

A mandarin button
From the elegant bathrobe
My husband gave me
When our son was born

An extra button from the dress
I made myself to wear
To my youngest daughter’s
college graduation

I hold each button in my hand
And relive the day
When the button
Was worn

I didn’t expect
When I opened the box
To find memories
Memories in a button box

Memories are important. They take us back in time. They sometimes come unbidden with songs or smells or buttons. They can be good or bad, sad or happy but they belong to us. And let’s pray they will never be taken away.

 

 

 

 

Are we listening?

2 minutes of silenceSilence is a useful tool but it can be difficult. Silence is useful if you want someone else to speak. Most people can’t sit in silence and if you are just quiet and wait they will speak. It is hard for us also. Too often we want to fill silence and will resort to anything to fill the space.

In church if you ask people to sit in silence the air will become tense in about 30 seconds. People will begin to shift in their seats. They want the silence to end.

I have occasionally sat in silence in a place that has a sense of holiness. After I have sat for a short while feeling fretful a sort of peace descends and I feel as if I could sit forever. I need to do more of that. Silence stills your soul.

Spending quiet time with yourself is not easy. It can be so revealing of things about ourselves we don’t want to know. And yet, it is just that silence and quieting of the mind that can make the most impact. In discovering ourselves the important thing to remember is that the past is past. What we do today…in this moment….is what really matters. Silence can bring us to the present moment.

sacred space 2

I like to create “sacred space.” A place where I feel in the presence of God. It can be created with simple objects….things that are precious or meaningful. I like candles with scent. If I can manage to concentrate on those things I can feel calm. The trouble is I don’t do it enough.

We also spend most of our time in prayer talking TO God. We don’t spend much time listening for an answer. Maybe we think there won’t be one. Sometimes if I wait long enough thoughts come to my mind that come without bidding and with much wisdom. I prefer to think of this as God speaking.

You-Can-Feel-The-Soul-In-SilenceGod is always with us in the silence. We spend so much time talking to God that we forget to listen for him in the silence. Maybe the reason we don’t hear him speak more is that we don’t listen.

 

Make us whole!

Finally finished 3 days of training to be a mediator for the state court system. My state has a non-profit center that does mediation. Mediation helps people resolve issues so they don’t have to go to court and spend court fees and have a judge decide. Mediation works to get the parties to a reasonable settlement. The training was good and I will now observe some sessions and them begin to do them.

It is so strange. The three days that I was in class I had no stomach issues but today it’s back. It just lets me know that when my mind is totally occupied there are no problems. It clearly shows that I am the problem.

dividedI have been thinking a great deal about how connected are mind, body and spirit. When science became at the forefront only the body was considered. In recent years we have begun to see that you can’t treat one part. In some ways we have moved forward and in other ways not. I think we see the connection but medicine has become so specialized that each part of our body has a different doctor. They don’t always communicate well so not only have we forgotten about the other two but the body is divided up.

It seems that the best of all worlds would be to have a clinic where every part was addressed. There would be physicians for everything, mental health people, alternative health providers and the option for spiritual guidance. How wonderful that would be. The whole team would sit down and consider the care of each person. Holistic medicine at its best! It’s not going to happen but what a healing thing it would be.

holisticI guess we have to try and pull all the parts together ourselves and seek out the best helpers that we can.

Infinite intimate God

moses chI have been pondering images of God. How do we see God? If asked I am sure many people would see Charlton Heston (too old for most of you) coming down the mountain with the ten commandments. Some might say the softer image of Jesus in the garden. Our image as children usually changes as we become adults.

There have been interesting books written about this in recent times. In the past I read Models of God by Sallie McFague a theologian who was at Vanderbilt University. She offers some different images than what we normally think about: God as friend; God as lover; God as mother. She says that if we can’t move away from the masculine patriarchal God as our ONLY image that we will never have peace in the world.

Today I read some thoughts from Richard Rohr, A Franciscan  who writes many thought provoking meditations. He wanted us also to think of God as mother. He quoted Marcus Borg, a controversial theologian who died just recently.

“Marcus Borg points out many other good reasons to identify and honor the female (as well as non-gendered) images of God throughout the Bible:

  • Male images for God are often associated with power, authority, and judgment. When used exclusively, they most often create an image of a punitive God. God must be appeased or else.
  • Male images for God most often go with patriarchy—with male primacy and domination in society and the family.
  • Male images of God most often go with domination over nature. Nature is often imaged as female (“mother earth”) and domination over women extends to a rapacious use of nature.

Female images of God suggest something different. God is the one who gave birth to us and all that is. God wills our well-being, as a mother wills the well-being of the children of her womb. God is attached to us with a love that is tender and that will not let us go. And like a mother who sees the children of her womb threatened and oppressed, God can become fierce.”

infinite-GodI think Borg has some thought provoking ideas about embracing more than one image of God. We have to expand our thinking and stop putting God in the “masculine” box. God is so much more than that. God is much more than we can ever understand