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Halloween Art — Or Not.

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I’ve noticed that a lot of bloggers pay no attention to the cardinal rule of blogging, so I’m not going to either. It’s Monday; it’s the day I blog, cardinal rule or no. The cardinal rule is this: do not blog when you’ve got nothing to say. It’s disrespectful of your readers, and it may even be a good way to lose a few of them. But . . . 

I got nothin’. Nothin’.

Just because it’s Monday doesn’t mean I got somethin’.

Even worse than babbling when you have nothing to say is starting your blog with a lame teaser, like say, mentioning a cardinal rule of blogging that makes everyone curious about what that might be . . .  when actually, all you are going to say is nothin’.

Blackjack Poetry

I joined a poet’s group this month: Blackjack Poets. You do three stanzas of seven syllables. For twenty-one. That’s it. That’s somethin’, though, right?

So here are a couple of somethin’s of twenty-one syllables but not much else. Sorry.

‡ I’m not a rhymer, per se,

but sometimes — on a good day —

you may find I am OK.

‡ The neighbor’s cat crossed the line

when he ate my jasmine vine

and sought wrens on which to dine.

‡ Writing to write is not right.

I write to express myself.

I am blank, so I’ll shut up.

As a bonus for putting up with me, here’s a picture of me getting a pumpkin painted on my face. Hey, I told you I had nothin’. Happy Halloween!

harvest festival 2013 009.b

“Self-harm” Doesn’t Begin to Describe It

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I want to introduce you to a friend of mine and share an extraordinarily powerful and seriously helpful piece of writing from him. I’ve never had a guest blogger before, but this is truly a must-read.

If you think you don’t know anyone who has serious depression or who struggles with self-harming behavior, you are probably mistaken. At the least, this essay will equip you to deal with this in the future, because you will encounter it and may need to help someone you love.

The essay is long. Please read to the end because the first section explains what *not* to do, and the end gives you some positive suggestions. At least file it away so you can have it when you need it.

This was posted on Facebook on October 24 by Teaque Kaiden McLaren, age 25 and is reprinted with his permission:

Teaque

Teaque

“So I know I said I was going to bed, but I’ve got something that I feel really needs to be said. And I’m sorry it’s so long.

As a person who has dealt with depression, self-harm, and suicide attempts over the past 9 years of my life, something I’ve found that doesn’t really help a lot when people find out you’re struggling with thoughts of hurting yourself is them telling you things like, “oh no don’t do that,” “just think of the positive things in life,” or “get help, NOW.” I know they think they’re helping, but when a person is in a state where they’re seriously considering harming themselves, trying to tell them what to do isn’t going to do much of anything. Or, if anything, it’ll make them feel worse because they want to stop so badly, but they don’t know how. When they’re in that state there are no filters to emotions, there is no logic behind what they’re feeling. Asking them why they feel that way is just going to frustrate them because they DON’T know why. It’s a giant rush of all these different emotions that are coming at them so fast there’s no way to sift through it all and find the root and be like, “oh, this is why I was feeling down, let me just change that.” I know this is a hard thing for some of you to understand if you’ve never dealt with that kind of situation before, so I’m going to try my best to help you understand things from our side. Show you how we see the situation, and how we see the world in general.

"A giant rush of all these different emotions..."

“A giant rush of all these different emotions…”

Before I continue I just want to say that no one case of depression is exactly the same, because no one person is exactly the same. Everyone reacts differently in situations, so it’s hard to say exactly what will and what won’t work, but I’m going to try and at least help you understand the basics of what depression is like and how you can really help someone if they’re having a hard time. Even if that means you have to contact the proper authorities. Even if it means that they might disown you as a friend. It’s their LIFE on the line, not your pride, not your desire to be the person who talked them out of hurting themself. If you can’t handle the situation, then find someone who can. That is how you can be a true friend. You never know if one day they’ll track you down to thank you. I know there was a friend I was upset with at first for telling the school administrators when I would cut in high school, but more than anything now I have nothing but respect for her, and am so thankful that she did that. Sure it meant embarrassing moments of getting called to the counselor’s office or the nurse’s office and having to wait for my mom to come pick me up, but you know what? That got me the help I needed.

There are many reasons why people choose to start and/or continue to self-harm, just like there are many ways that it is done. There’s cutting, burning, punching, slapping, starving yourself, binge-eating, and so many more that I couldn’t possibly list them all off the top of my head; and I’m sure that there are even more ways that I haven’t heard of yet. Never doubt a persons’ creativity; even when it comes to self-harm. Like I said above there are many reasons why people harm themselves; some people are actually trying to kill themselves, others view it as a form of punishment because they feel they’ve messed up to a degree that deserves some kind of repercussion, or that they aren’t being punished enough. Other people view it as symbolic; letting the blood flow or forcing themselves to throw up is a cleansing of all the bad inside. All the hurt and pain that they feel inside that is so intangible and hard to comprehend is suddenly physical. Watching cuts heal is like watching a wound in the heart or in the soul heal, and they genuinely do feel better for a while after they’ve done it. That is because of the endorphins that are released by the body that go to the site of pain, numbing it and making it feel like it’s getting better, even if only for a short time. In the end though, it all comes down to control. They feel like they have no control over their life, over these emotions that over half the time they can’t even put a name to, so they reach out and grab for something that they can control. Unfortunately, that control usually ends up being through harming themselves.

Of course there are the people who do it to try and get attention or to seem ‘cool’ or ‘tough’, and while yeah they irritate me that they’re making light of a serious problem, no incident of self-harm should be overlooked just because you think they’re not genuinely struggling.

I want to address a certain issue regarding counseling. Parents of children and spouses of those dealing with depression and self-harm who are religious, I know that the first thing you want to do is drag them off to a counselor of your own religion (which is in your right to do so), but before you do please, PLEASE do some research into the places you are going. We honestly do not do well at all with people throwing bible verses at us or spouting other religious stuff into our faces and saying how we should immediately trust in your deity to take care of everything. A lot of times when we’re dealing with depression, if we were religious at all before, we’re also having a lot of trouble with our faith. You may say all you want that Jesus or Allah or whomever will lift you from this, and that’s nice that you believe so much in your God that he/she can do this, but we’re in a place where inside we just feel this giant black void. We feel alone, we feel isolated, we wonder how a God so loving and so powerful could let us suffer this way and if you sit there and try and shove it down our throats, more than likely we’re going to respond by pulling further away from where you want us to be. I know you have the best intentions, and I admire that, I really do, but please take into consideration that we are having a really hard time and the last thing we need is someone telling us what to do and that there is no other way but that way. We’re just trying to sort out our lives, our emotions…we can only handle so many things at once. After all, we’re only human. Now I’m not saying don’t take them to a religious counselor, as you’re welcome to do whatever you please. I’m saying to make sure that they’re open-minded, that they’re willing to listen before talking, that they truly have your loved ones’ best interests in mind. I’ve been to counselors who don’t listen; they just speak at you not to you, trying to force their ideas onto you. Honestly, it just made it all worse.

Another issue I want to address mostly pertains to parents, though it is not exclusive to them, it just so happens that it’s mostly parents who do this. When you find out your child has been self-injuring or has been thinking about it, I know your first instinct is to pull them in and shelter them, don’t let anything touch them. This is a generally a bad idea in my experience, ESPECIALLY if they’re in their mid-teenage years. They’re at that point in life where they’re trying to find their individuality; they’re trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be, they’re trying to learn how to be themselves and separate themselves from you so they are no longer just someone’s son or daughter, they are a person. An individual whom they feel is worth something in this world. I cannot stress enough how important this stage in their life is. If you never let them grow up, never let them learn how to be an individual, then they’ll never be fully prepared for the world when suddenly, they’ve graduated college and are out on their own. They won’t know what to do because all their life they’ve been coddled and spoon-fed how to live. At this point in time in their lives they don’t want a parent, they want a friend. They want someone they can trust; who they can go to with their problems where they know they won’t be judged for how they feel or who they may happen to love. And I’m sorry to tell you, but if they don’t find that kind of atmosphere or relationship with you or your significant other, then they’re going to go elsewhere to find it. That elsewhere might be just a good group of friends, or it might be drugs or gangs where they can end up getting into a lot of trouble then or even later on in life. At the same time though, don’t push too hard. Just let them know that you’re there for them, no matter what they need.

Now I know I’ve said a lot of what not to do, so I want to share a couple things that I’ve personally found to be helpful when struggling with urges to self-harm. Instead of trying to tell them not to do something, try saying that you believe in them, you believe that they can hold on and resist. That you know they’re so strong and that they can make it through. A quote I once read from the book A Bright Red Scream: Self-Mutilation and the Language of Pain by Marilee Strong said it better than I could ever hope to word it. A woman was describing her plans for the future about how she would like to have a family of her own one day, “But,” she said, “right now, my goal is just make it five more minutes … then five more.” Sometimes that’s all they’re going to be able to do, and you have to support them in that. No matter what, make sure they know that you are there for them, but keep in mind that if things start getting out of hand, or if you feel it has gone beyond your capabilities, then it is your responsibility as their friend to seek out proper help.

Speaking of the book by Marilee Strong, I would highly recommend it not only for those who deal with self-harm, but also for those who wish to understand better from a more scientific point of view. She not only interviewed over 50 people who suffer/have suffered from depression and self-mutilation habits (including some famous names), but she also interviewed psychiatrists, psychologists, and neuroscientists to try and get the full picture. While it does mostly focus on those who self-harm in result of traumatic incidents in their pasts, it still gives you a good look into the lives of these people who struggle day by day just trying to get by. Some reviews do say that a few of the stories can be triggering, so if you are sensitive to this kind of material please read with caution if you chose to look into it.

With all of that said, and with it now being after 5am, I want to thank you all who do at least try to reach out. I know your hearts are full of good intentions; I just wanted to make sure that you knew a little bit what it’s like in our shoes. We can’t up and change our moods on a whim; it’s a difficult process that we have to go through but we really appreciate each and every friend we have who supports us and helps us get through our darkest hours. I know for me personally, while it’s been a long hard road and I’ve lost friends along the way because of it, I wouldn’t change my past for anything. I wouldn’t take away these scars because that would change who I am, and I’m proud of whom I’ve become because of them. I wouldn’t be as strong as I am today; I wouldn’t have the confidence that I have now in myself that I can do anything I put my mind to had I not gone through those years. I know I still have a long way to go, but each day is a new page, and if I can help even one person understand better, or help one person realize that they’re not alone…then why stop at one?

Related Posts:

https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/suicide-happens-help-stop-it/

http://brokenlightcollective.wordpress.com/

http://twloha.com/vision

Photo by Melanie Lynn Griffin

Unfriending a Facebook OOPS

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Although I doubt I’m going to my upcoming high school reunion, perusing the Facebook page has been a blast. Lots of old familiar faces, with an emphasis on the “old.”

One guy, who will remain nameless because I’m about to cast aspersions, especially caught my attention. We were in school together all the way through, twelve years. I had a crush on him in fifth grade. Course, I had a crush on a lot of guys in the fifth grade.

Anyway, there was his smiling face and without thinking, I clicked the Friend button. A few minutes later, I was confirmed and decided to visit his page.

You can tell a lot from the places someone visits. He lives in Florida now. Let’s see – Sand Trap Bar, Roo’s Pub, Party Central, Sail Inn Bar, Heads and Tails Lounge . . . all over a twenty hour period. Hmmm. Either this guy is a busy peanut salesman or we may have an issue here. It’s not even a weekend.

Lots of baseball and beer posts. Yawn.

Uh-oh.

Strike one: Posting a photo of a typical traffic tie-up on the D.C. Beltway (which is actually from 2008) and claiming that the Truckers for the Constitution have shut down the city and the liberal media is hushing it up. Well, I don’t know, I guess there are worse things than conservative conspiracy theorists. I have a few other Facebook Friends like that.

Traffic in 2008 that has nothing to do with the fact that only a couple of truckers showed up to “shut down D.C.” last weekend.

Strike two: A photo of a red and white Obama urinal-target poster with an additional comment, “Let’s impeach the Kenyan!” Don’t tell me he’s one of these guys who thinks Obama isn’t an American . . . oh, it gets even better: “Get the Taliban out of the White House!” Oh wow – here’s a photo of a dog taking a crap and the President of the United States is coming out of its rear end. Thanks for that. Seriously, this guy has retained his scatological fifth grade humor.

I’m kind of fascinated by people like this. I consider staying “friends” with him just to keep an eye on the breeding grounds for future Tea Party nut cases. But then:

A big strike three: He posts a photo of two young black guys in the VFW where he had gone to have a few quiet drinks with “people like him.” He leaves the VFW after protesting that they aren’t enforcing the veterans-only rule and should not welcome “self-entitled persons” like those pictured. He muses that the reason these guys don’t have a job is because they couldn’t pass drug tests. It apparently doesn’t occur to my ex-friend that the guys might be military. Or even employed.

African-American Soldier

I’m sorry to share this unpleasant story. Maybe you see a lot of this; I don’t, thank God. I just wanted  to remind my white friends that racism is far from dead. People of color already know this. I won’t even go into the comments from this guy’s other “friends.” Suffice to say, the N Word is alive and unashamed in Florida.

Unfriend.

African-American President: Get Over It

African-American President: Get Over It

Official White House Obama photo by Pete Souza

Colin Powell photo in public domain

.

Monsanto, Bald Girls, and Chili with Beans. Also Congress.

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In America, every month is declared “Earth Shatteringly Important Issue” Month, have you noticed? Due to the recent implosion of the country’s political system, you might have missed October’s various claims to fame.

I became quite familiar with these “awareness months” when I worked on Capitol Hill. My first day at work for the Sierra Club in D.C. (long before you could watch the congressional circus on C-span), I was asked to peruse the daily debates in the Congressional Record for any mention of environmental issues.

Heady stuff, right? The import! The historical implications!

The first issue I read devoted several pages to a long, flatulent debate over whether October should be declared National Chili Month or National Chili with Beans Month, beans being vitally important to a certain congressman’s district. Now that I think about it, my disillusionment with Washington began right there with my first Congressional Record.

bowl of chili large

Chili with Beans

Who would have guessed that future sessions of Congress would make chili beans versus chili beef look like a productive debate? At least they passed budgets and kept the parks open in those days.

Ah well, I don’t want to add more hot air to the ranting about Congress – this post is supposed to be about the month of October, not Congress.

Mostly these National Blah-Blah Months pass right through my brain without pausing for processing, but October carries several monikers that warm my heart and which might also be food for thought as we watch our government “at work” (or not) this month.

October is National Co-op Month

I’m a big fan of cooperatives, where you buy into a collectively owned business or operation and then, well, cooperate with each other.

The word cooperative comes from cooperation, of course, which means “to work together.”

Are you listening, Speaker Boehner?

Let me tell you about the town where I live, Mr. Speaker.

Old Greenbelt, Maryland is a cooperative community designed and built during the Roosevelt administration. It’s a National Historic Landmark because it was the first planned community in America, and it’s internationally recognized for its collectively owned homes and open land, all run with strong citizen involvement. A co-op grocery store, credit union, nursery school, restaurant, and several artists’ co-ops thrive in our town.

The democratically elected Board of Directors runs our town for the benefit of its members.

For the benefit of its members – did you catch that, sir?

Eleanor Roosevelt wrote that: “Communities of this type presuppose that the people living in them are going to be interested in the welfare of the whole community and that they are going to be successful in bringing about certain changes in human nature.”

Like, say, giving a damn about the poor and the sick and the elderly and our veterans? That would certainly be a change in the nature of our congressional leadership. Eleanor hoped that co-op residents would be “less selfish and more willing to share their security with those around them.”

Imagine that, Mr. Speaker. Imagine if everyone could have a decent healthcare plan like yours.

First Lady of Greenbelt

October is – Are You Kidding?

The first week of October is National Hair-Pulling and Skin-Picking Awareness Week. Don’t laugh. I know – they could have chosen a more catchy name. But it is what it is. I wrote a post about this last October which remains one of my most popular, probably because it does have a catchy title: Hey Girl, You’re Bald!

It’s my personal story of growing up as a hair-puller (trichotillomania) with bald patches on my head and eyebrows and eyelashes. A weirdo, in other words. Although this form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder caused me tremendous shame, guilt, and anxiety, it also taught me to be less judgmental of people who are different from the norm – if there even is such a thing as “the norm.”

Being a weirdo taught me acceptance, compassion, and empathy — something else that certain members of the House of Representatives might consider this month.

Being a Christian — which most Tea Party House members boast about — is supposed to teach one compassion and empathy, and maybe even lead to those “certain changes in human nature” that Eleanor Roosevelt dreamed of. But in the words of President Jimmy Carter:

Photo: We couldn't agree more.

October is non-GMO month

I know, I know – these guys need a little marketing help with their name, too. Just think of it as National Safe Food Month. Non-GMO month started three years ago as a way to educate people about the dangers of genetically modified organisms in our food. In case you aren’t familiar with Frankenstein Food, this is a type of genetic engineering that crosses plants or animals with DNA from bacteria, viruses, or other life forms. Eeewww, right?

Right.

Biotech firms do this to create plants that can withstand direct application of poisonous pesticides and herbicides (because of course consumers want their food drenched in toxics).

Most developed nations have restricted or banned GMO foods, but the U.S. government approved them based on studies by the very companies that create and profit from GMO’s. Surprise! Monsanto doesn’t think there is anything to be concerned about.

(In case you are interested, Monsanto’s political action committee spent $654,000 on the elections in 2012. And yes, they maxed out on Speaker Boehner.)

Although a significant majority of Americans say they want their food labeled with GMO content, Monsanto and other biotechnology lobbyists have fought against labeling and have managed to keep these ingredients a secret. Monsanto contributed millions to stop a 2012 California proposition that would have required labels. They’ve already contributed nearly five million to beat back a similar vote that’s about to happen in Washington state.

You need to do some homework to keep this stuff out of your kitchen and your body, but you can find the information if you work at it. The following ingredients have a high potential for being genetically modified: corn, canola, soy, beets, cotton, malt, citric acid, maltodextrin, and soy lecithin. More than ninety percent of the soybeans grown in America contain Monsanto’s GMOs.

Corn on cob BW

Careful what you eat!
(Thanks, WPClipart)

Buying organic products is the best way to guarantee your food is safe, and some companies have taken a pledge to stay away from GMO’s. Visit this great website to find out more about the dangers of GMO foods and how to avoid them.

After all, if you’re one of the thousands of workers furloughed because Congress can’t get its act together, you’ve got plenty of research time on your hands – it’s not as if you can afford to go anywhere without a paycheck.

While you’re at it, why not sign this petition in protest of this outrage:  Believe it or not, Monsanto is about to win the prestigious World Food Prize … for creating GMOs! I’m sure this has nothing to do with the five million bucks Monsanto contributed to the World Food Prize foundation a few years ago. Because that would be wrong.

There, see? I wrote a nice little post about October and totally ignored the goings-on in Congress. Well, except for the briefest mention.

Enjoy October! And buy organic!

Can We Please Just Talk about Cute Animals??

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Guess what the most popular topic on my blog is this quarter? Death.

Yup, death. That’s fun, isn’t it?

In an effort to figure out why you readers are so morbid, I reviewed the quarter and found that it all comes down to a matter of simple math. Not that I can actually *do* simple math, mind you, but I’m sure that math is to blame for your recent fixation on death.

You see, the great majority of my posts lately have been related to the D word, so every time you click, you are registering your fascination with death. I’m not giving you much choice. Some of the posts are kinda funny, IMHO, but they’re still deadly.

I’ve done everything from an educational piece on Suicide Prevention Day (not funny) to a story about a traumatic moment with my chronically ill brother to a poem about music and my dear — yes, departed — mother.

I wrote a piece about my cousin, who’s buried in our garden under the apple tree, and one about Trayvon Martin, and two poems about the recent death of a friend with Lou Gehrig’s disease. All in the past few months.

I’m a Blogger for Peace, so I write about war once a month — which entails the D word every time, no matter how clean we pretend our distant, drone-directing American hands are. We’re causing death and plenty of it.

So I’m thinking it’s time for me to write something hysterically funny. Something light-hearted and frivolous; something you will laugh out loud at and then immediately forget.

What we need is a good belly laugh!

What we need is a good belly laugh!

I know! I could tell about frolicking squirrels!

This might not work though, because I was reading a blog last night about squirrels running up and down a tree, and my expectation was that they were about to run into the street and get flattened. Seriously. That just seems to be where my head goes right now. (The squirrels did not get killed, didn’t even get frightened. Just ran up and down a tree. Period.)

Always good for a laugh, unless they get run over

Always good for a laugh, unless they get run over

Wait! How about I write about the cute deer eating apples out back and drinking from the bird bath?

These green apples are a tad tart -- have you got any red?

These green apples are a tad tart — have you got any red?

But then I would have to tell you about how I very nearly accosted a man in a red pick-up today because he drove past my house a couple of times. I was certain that he was armed to the teeth and scoping out his fall hunting grounds. No doubt he had seen my resident deer and was out to shed blood. I almost flew out of the house like a maniac, intent on gesturing aggressively at the bright orange No Hunting signs that dot my property.

Then I remembered that he was merely driving by on a public lane.

I guess sometimes you just are where you are . . . Oh God – my cat has chased a little mouse up the curtain. No death, please!

I gotta run.

Nobody up here, honest!

Nobody up here, honest!

Not Yet. Not Right Now.

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I don’t go to concerts anymore,

At least not yet.

Classical, I mean – real concerts.

It’s too hard.

Mom has passed on.

 

Mom has passed on,

But not before passing on her love

Of the concert hall to me.

My whole life, I watched her fill with that love,

Even if it was just a record on a turntable.

 

She would breathe deeply and close her eyes.

Her head would sway gently,

and then she would begin to conduct with just the slightest lilting motion of her wrist,

as if her hand was filled with helium and could not resist.

 

When she was young,

She sang soprano

With the Philadelphia Orchestra.

She gave up those dreams

To have us. Three of us.

 

Even when she was old and had lost most of the rest of herself,

She still swayed and conducted.

Sometimes I heard the music;

sometimes only she did.

She might get a little smile, like she had a secret with the universe.

 

So, no, if you ask me to describe how it feels

To hear a beautiful piece of music,

I won’t . . . OK?

Not yet; not right now.

Mom has passed on.

 

The WordPress Daily Prompt:

Describe what it feels like to hear a beautiful piece of music or see a stunning piece of art.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/daily-prompt-beauty-2/

Things are Quieting Down, and I Don’t Like it One Bit

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I’m a fan of the concept of “living in the Present Moment,” something recommended by spiritual sages throughout history and also by Pure Inspiration magazine.

I like thinking about it, talking about, writing about it, leading retreats about it. But I’m not very good at doing it — sometimes I don’t even like doing it.

If (as so often happens) it’s a sunny day, I’ve just sold an essay, and I’m walking in a field of daisies, then I’m down with the Present Moment thing.

Life Ain't All Daisies

Life Ain’t All Daisies

Most of the time, though, I either forget to live in it, don’t want to live in it, or have already moved on to planning my next Present Moment. Occasionally I’m obsessing about past Present Moments and what I might have done or said differently.

In Search of Discipline

Lately I am making an effort to clear my schedule — to say “no,” to refrain from filling every evening with friends or events, to just “be.” This didn’t begin as a spiritual practice; two happenstances coincided to bring on the intentional openness in my schedule. Well, three.

The first is that I’m working on my thesis. This is going to take serious discipline and organization, things at which I do not excel. I can get stuff done when I am essentially reacting — working with others under work plans and deadlines — but if I’m self-directed, big projects take some real doing. My inclination is to fill my time with everything except what I’m supposed to be doing. (My houseplants are extremely well tended lately.)

The second motivator was a meeting with my financial planner and an unpleasant surprise about my retirement plan, such as it is, which resulted in my beginning to keep a budget. It was truly a shock to find out how much money I spend and how much I waste. So I have to stay home more and be more intentional about my cooking, entertainment, and random purchases.  A spontaneous dinner out, a movie and popcorn (OK, and some Gummy Bears), a trip to the nursery for some annuals and herbs — these add up!

Thirdly, there is the chronic issue of my beyond-messy house. I bethought myself, “Self, if you stay home more, you can clean in all that spare time.” Not so much. I just mess up more. Well, that’s not completely true — I washed one-third of my bathroom floor the other night. Don’t ask.

Living (Uncomfortably) in the Moment

So there’s all this space. Space to live in the present moment, space to just be who I am, where I am. And it makes me anxious. Like something is supposed to be happening. Like I’m missing something. Like I *should* be doing something. Like I could jump out of my skin.

It’s crazy.

I’ve preached a sermon about this at my church; I’ve led retreats and classes about this; I’m in two weekly spiritual support groups where I often lead discussions about simplicity and silence and present momenting. I’ve stayed nice and busy preparing all those things.

Here I am, though, practicing what I preach. I am left alone with myself to remember how far I am from who I want to be, who I am meant to be.

Memories pop up. Feelings surface. Grief and guilt and shame emerge, and anger and angst.

I worry about climate change.

I remember that the odds are good I’m going to die someday, because people I love keep being sick and/or dying.

I know my discomfort is good. I even believe the dying part is good, intellectually. I know for sure there is a better place than this world because we have such a strong desire in our hearts for that better world.

One Thing is Certain

One Thing is Certain

Grant Me the Serenity

I’ve been working hard at trying to become my real, whole self. I made a life mission statement earlier this year, which helped, and my therapist and I continue to work through my childhood crap and how it affects me today. Of course, this means everything is all stirred up, but it needs to be stirred up in order to sift through the debris and silt at the bottom.

It’s all good, as they say. It just doesn’t always *feel* good.

Being here in my space, living in this present moment, leads me to pray and to meditate and to recall that I’m not in control of the universe. The only thing I can hope to control is myself.

There’s a prayer that’s used in Twelve-Step Recovery programs that I think says it all:

God, grant me the serenity (isn’t that an exquisite word?)

To accept the things I cannot change (friends, family, and me dying; mass shootings; government shutdowns)

The courage to change the things I can (dirty bathroom floors; my thesis; my finances)

And the wisdom to know the difference (does it have my name on it?).

I wish you serenity, friends.

Mountaintop Moment

Mountaintop Moment

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