A terrible tragedy

savannah-plane-crashToday there was a terrible tragedy in our area. A C 130 military aircraft crashed just after takeoff. They have not said yet about survivors but a video of the crash (taken by someone who heard the aircraft and thought it sounded funny) shows the plane going in a nose dive. It seems unlikely that anyone survived. We have not heard how many were aboard but somewhere between five and nine crew.

It is amazing that it crashed on a major highway and didn’t hit any cars. I guess in every tragedy there is some light. My heart goes out to the families of those soldiers. Their lives will never be the same. “What a difference a day makes” (from the song). It is so true. We can never be sure of a next moment, next day, next year. We make extensive plans and don’t know if they will happen.

If we spent our days worrying about what will happen next we would never leave home. When my youngest daughter was 15 years old she flew to Japan as an exchange student. We let her go far away. At that time a passenger plane was (I think) accidentally shot down and I didn’t want her to go. My husband pointed out that we can’t stop living for fear of what will happen.

pray and let god worry

Many people have talked about how fruitless worry is. We are not living if we spend our life in fear. We must live and make life worthwhile.

 

Sleep: the balm of hurt minds

no sleepI couldn’t get to sleep last night. There was nothing wrong I just couldn’t sleep. It goes without saying that today I am tired and not functioning at 100%. I have two granddaughters who have sleep problems. One of them has struggle her whole life with it. As a child she would be awake in her room all night.

Shakespeare spoke about it in Macbeth – “the innocent sleep; Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care, The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath, Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, Chief nourisher in life’s feast.”

Sleep deprivation is a serious problem. It causes so many parts of our body to be in crisis. The following list is from WebMD.

 

In addition to this list is the problem of brain drain. Our brains don’t work well without sleep. Our memory doesn’t work well and we have mood changes. We are also prone to accidents, weakened immune system, and lowered sex drive. We need sleep. Anxiety can easily cause us to not be able to sleep. We have too much adrenaline running and can’t slow down.

The opposite problem is too much sleep. Depression is one thing that can set us up for this. We just want to pull the covers over our heads and drift away from the feelings. The odd thing is that this can cause almost the same problems and health issues as too little sleep.

When we suffer from mental health issues we can swing from too little sleep to too much sleep in a heartbeat. There are many ideas about how to get to sleep. Sometimes routine can help. Staying away from TV or cell phones helps some people. Strangely enough I get to sleep faster with a dumb TV program on low. I guess it keeps my mind from wandering.

counting sheep

The trick is to find what works for you. Sleep is an important part to maintaining our health. Sleep truly is the “balm of hurt minds.”

 

 

Family?

weird familyFamilies are interesting. I am an only child and so I never had siblings to deal with. When my husband and I married I never thought about how families interact. We have three wonderful children who are married to great people. That expanded out family from three plus us to six +. Now each of them has 2 children which has expanded the family to 12 +. We also have had to work with the in-laws. None of them are bad people but again it added another element to the group.

Initially I only had to worry about my small family but that has changed exponentially. As you get older you just end up with more people to worry about and an increased risk of something going wrong.

We have had our share of family dramas and (thank God) no deaths or severe illness. However as the branches of the tree spread out we have encountered typical family issues. Sometimes people are mad at each other. Often for no reason. Kids have accidents or emotional issues. Parents don’t always get along. Life just intervenes.

ruins photo

The trouble is that everyone calls me. I am the sounding board for everyone. Maybe that is why I have chosen to be a volunteer mediator. I have had lots of practice. All the phone calls can set me off into anxiety. It would be nice at times to not know any problems. However, it is wonderful to be the person who can share wisdom to my family. I really hope that they never stop calling.

Families can be tricky. Some are totally dysfunctional and in order to survive you have to back away. Some can be loving an supportive. But I have never seen a family that can get through a wedding or a funeral without someone’s feeling getting hurt. We have to remember that when situations are stressful on their own no one is at their best.

Love your family if it is possible even if it is hard to be with them. Enjoy them if you can and remember they are connected to you.

Can we change our feelings?

Each moment that we live we deal with feelings. They are part of our everyday life. We are never without them. Our emotions set the tone for our function and how we experience each day. Our emotions influence our lives. There is never a moment when we are emotionless. There are people who have little emotion but they are deemed abnormal.

bad day

When I get up in the morning my feelings about the day will influence how the day goes. Even though I may start out feeling down about the day I can help the day get better by consciously deciding to change how I feel.

Usually when I feel down I just want to slop around in my PJ’s and do as little as possible. I have discovered that if I make the effort to take a shower, put on decent clothes and make an effort to look nice that I feel better. It may take work but it is worth it. At least for me how I look with influence how I feel.

When anxiety or depression crop up it is hard to make the effort to do anything. I just want to turn on a TV show and lose myself in it. If I really push myself and get dressed and go out to be with people I can lift myself up out of that mood—-at least for awhile. I can sometimes even forget what had me so down.

Good feelingsOur lives are not only impacted by what we feel but also by what we do. Sometimes it is agony to pull yourself up and get moving but it can help. How we look also influences how others react to us. If I am in sweat pants and have a hangdog expression then that is how I will be perceived. The times when I can make that change have a tremendous impact on my feelings. There are times when we can’t get the oomph needed but we need to keep on trying. Each time we win is a plus and increases the chance that we can do it the next time.

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.

Emotions: the good, the bad and the ungly

be awareLately I have been thinking about good and bad emotions. Good emotions run the gamut from a simple flash of a decent day to full blown joy.  It is easy to see the negative ones. Fear, anger, sadness, anxiety, depression, sorrow….I could go on. To counter these we can use the positive things we don’t often see as emotions: safety, relaxation, strength, gratitude, pleasure, satisfaction, friendship, kindness, and assertiveness. (From the article How to Tap into Your Light by Kalia Kelmenson in Spirituality and Health)

Most of these we don’t equate with emotion and so we don’t key into them. We don’t see them as positive emotions. We don’t focus on them. That is a major part of the problem.

I don’t know about you, but I am more likely to come home and relate a story about how uncomfortable I felt doing a mediation than that I did a good job. I let the good feeling be lost in the negative emotion. We tend to hang onto the bad feelings and nurse them. We are unwilling to let them go. Think of how often you have been angry about something and just kept bringing it up in conversation or dwelling on it. For some reason we must enjoy holding on to them.

When we don’t let go we experience physical changes. Negative emotions can cause an increase in heart rate and rise in blood pressure. They can decrease our resistance to disease and lower the ability of our immune system to function. They allow our bodies to attack us with autoimmune diseases such as lupus, asthma, ulceration colitis, migraines and irritable bowel. Oh, what we do to ourselves.

positiveWe have to learn to focus on the positive emotions and use them to overcome the negative ones. To do that we need to remember what they are and see them when they come. The list above can be added to I’m sure. It’s easy to see how we think when I realized that I had to find that list and couldn’t just come up with one from my head but the negative emotions were right on the tip of my tongue.

I think the most important piece is to be aware of what you are feeling. We can’t change it if we can’t recognize it.

As the song writer Johnny Mercer said “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative!”

 

Can we find peace?

change 3Today I realized that some things in my life are changing. Tomorrow I finish my last co-mediation and will be flying on my own. It took a long time since life intervened but it is here. Some of the waiting is over. Also some things seem to be changing in other spots in my life. My anxiety is at minimum…at least for now. I seem to be at peace.

I am anxious for a dear friend who is struggling with a sick husband. It makes me realize how elusive peace is. I think too often we don’t even realize when peace comes. We can’t turn away from our focus on ourselves and the problems that life brings. Peace can be elusive. We reach the point where we don’t even recognize it..we don’t recognize it.

My life is comfortable. I am not starving, or homeless. I do not have a fatal illness. I have friends, family. My life is stable. Yes, I can spend time fighting my own demons but I need to concentrate more on the good things. I do life in a measure of peace. I need to get it.

speak peace

Pay attention to the things you have and not to what you don’t have. We all have struggles….some more than others…but most of us do have something good in our lives. Find it! Find that good and concentrate on it. See it when there is peace.

Romans 8:28

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
Thank him every day for the good things.