Difficult Times

The past few weeks have been trying. Several areas of my life have been in turmoil.  I came home early from the 9 to 5 Monday.  I couldn’t stop crying.

I did what was needed to manage the situation. A little dinner, a little nap, a lot of Scripture and prayer. By the evening, I was better. Drained, but better.

Tuesday was better and today is going fine. Tomorrow is Friday Eve.  So all is well.

The weekend holds promise for a blessed time with the clowns…I mean the girls. Our party theme is clowns and our menu is salads.  I am going retro with a Jell-O molded shrimp salad.  I was thinking maybe my aunt’s Southwestern Salad would be a good one, too.

I should not have been so down after Saturday’s adventures. Fishing, breakfast at the lake, a nap, a buggy ride at the lease.  He and I had a great day.  I was feeling ill on and off all day Saturday, though.  I still don’t know if I was stressed and depressed or fighting a real illness.  That is the thing about the depression. It simulates the symptoms of a cold or the early stages of the flu.  Body aches, fatigue, fuzzy head.  I usually manage the thoughts and feelings pretty well.  Especially the thoughts.  The feelings and the body symptoms are the difficult part to manage.

A lot of prayer, some rest, some talking to golden friends, his nurturing love, His nurturing Love, all worked together to put me on track.

The cherry on top was a short video of a high-kicker from Cali! That made everything grand, again! Funny how grands will do that!

I cannot overstate how grateful I am for the healing I have experienced the past few years. Recovering from the devastating grief our family has suffered has been a slow process.  I still reel from it if I let myself think too much about who is missing in our lives.  But, the future is full of hope.  The future is full of beauty.  The future is full of love.  All the love from all the past loved ones will continue into the future through our generation to the next.

I recently read a book that asked what I would want to be remembered for at my passing. I hope I am remembered for believing in love and the power it holds to restore and renew and prosper the mind, heart and spirit.

My political statement: His Love Matters.

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Blue Winter

Silly of me to feel this way.  I have had a blue winter day.  The sunshine of the island and the false spring days we have had lately didn’t stick with me today.  The gray sky and cold rain got me.   At least for part of the day.  I let myself get blue for a while.

I seem to have turned the mood around.  I switched to the 70’s music station on the television and actually did a little dancing.  Ironically, in front of the same mirror I danced before when it was the early 80s. I didn’t like dancing alone so I always danced in front of my mirror.  Tried it today to see if it would work on my blue mood.  Yes. It did.  Thank goodness.

Every time I have a down time, I fear the return of the black depression that has plagued me on and off through the years.

Lately, I have had some down days.  But, my thoughts haven’t really been down.  I feel more like I am bored.  I am busy, but not at anything very engaging or interesting.  I am slightly embarrassed to admit this.  I believe intelligence should overcome boredom.

Perhaps, I am reacting to job stress.  Maybe I have my thought processes zoned out to keep from stressing about the upcoming audit and the needs of my current position.  Not enough hours in the work week to do all that needs doing.  No overtime allowed at all.  Period.  This will be my third such audit that comes along every three years.  I always lose sleep over it.  We have always had great outcomes.  Nevertheless, I fret.  May is forever away and just around the corner.

Perhaps, I am unwilling to do things at home to make myself feel better.  I have been reading for pleasure.  I have a simple crocheted scarf almost completed.  I have a few crafting projects awaiting.  Even better than all this I have a wedding to help put together for our daughter.  Only parents and siblings and his daughter on the guest list, but still I want the event to be special and memorable for her.

Still, I have a gap in my attention.  I pass time piddling on Facebook or Pinterest, puttering around the house trying to keep up with the housekeeping, occasionally doing something in the yard.  Mindless things.  I need something to hold my attention and get my mind focused on the task at hand.

A hobby?  Yes.  I suppose a hobby other than reading and writing.  I hesitate to delve into something.  I can’t recall how many projects for which I have bought supplies and tools yet not completed or even started.   The tools and supplies are usually passed on to other crafters.  As I stated, I have a few projects I could do but not enough enthusiasm for them to drag stuff out and begin.

Frustrated.  That is it for me right now.  I was busier with projects when the children were young and Mother and Daddy needed my help than now when I have hours I could spend creatively.

What is the problem?  What do I really want to do with my time and creative energy?  Am I overreaching the issue?  Probably.  Break down the problem.  What do I really want to do this week with my time and energy?  Do I want to work out patterns to cut felt pieces for ornaments?  Do I want to get a darker washable ink to draw on the fabric I have been trying to embroider with my own design?  Do I want to try again to smear paint on a piece of canvas?  Would I rather write a draft of a new poem?  Should I work on the painted finish of the stool in the bathroom?

I have a friend or two I need to make time to call.  I have a cousin I need to call and hopefully be able to assist.  I have a birthday party to attend.

And always, I have him…..he needs attention.  I love giving him attention.  Sometimes, he lets me.  Sometimes, he is busy with his own projects.  When my blue winter days come, he gives me attention.  He turns the blue to silver and the gleam of delight returns to my heart.  I am ever mindful of him and what he might need from me.  After all, he is my favorite hobby.  And definitely never boring!

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Winning Battles

This past weekend, I was “home alone”. No bad guys came along to make things exciting.  (Thank Goodness!)  It gave me time to sort out some things.  Not always a good thing.  When I am alone at home, I can sometimes fall too easily into despair.  The bad guys I fear are not human.  Rather, they are the wraiths of the past clawing at my mind.

I had to battle through some issues. No tears.  Just feelings of anger.  Anger that I still have not destroyed them altogether.  I went through journals from the past couple of years.  I pulled out some passages and tossed the rest of the notebooks.  Then, I went through the passages to try to make sense of them.

I am much better than when I wrote them. As I have healed my emotional issues, I notice a spiral motion.  For many years, it seemed I would be down and then circle around to not so bad and then to doing pretty well.  Then, I would continue on back to being down.  But, the down was always worse than the last time.  I feared getting to the bottom of the spiral and never making it back around to the good side.

A couple of things happened that changed the direction of the spiral. Slowly, the spiral has continued, but the direction has changed.  The difference is that now the spiral is going up.  The bad side is not as bad as last time.  And last time was not as bad as the time before that.  The pattern has continued long enough that I believe I will finally be free of the black hole that lingers out on the horizon of my mind.

What were the couple of things? The first occurred several years ago.  I was confronted with a mental health provider who tried to convince me that perhaps I was bipolar like my father.  I had completed the 15 question “yes or no” questionnaire.  I answered yes to three questions.  Yes, I have had racing thoughts.  Yes, I have overspent money and gotten in a bind.  Yes, I have gotten into arguments with others.  I answered no to the other twelve questions.  When he realized his insurance covered customer was about to get away unmedicated and not added to his case load and cash flow, he tried to declare that perhaps I was borderline.  If yes to those three questions make me borderline bipolar, this world is full of crazier-than-me-people.  I got mad and told him thanks but no thanks in a very not nice way.  I left and while driving away realized that I am not following in my father’s footsteps.  I am not even close to being mentally ill as I have always feared.

The second thing was something I did with his help. I determined that a fast was in order.  I needed to fast and pray and let God take care of something.  So, I fasted for three days.  I was physically ill by the third day.  I have blood sugar problems anyway, so it was a challenge from day one.  But, he supported and encouraged me.  And God gave me two things.  He resolved the problem I was fasting about specifically.  The unexpected thing can be summed up in this statement I wrote on the last evening.  “God, if the day comes when all I have is Your Salvation and my sanity, it will be enough.”

I knew then that I would be okay. That was a little over four years ago.  That is when the spiral started going up.  I have still had dark sides of the circle.  Each time has been less dark, less terrifying, and taken less time to get through.

The war is not over, but the tide has turned. Each battle is entered with more confidence of victory.  The wraiths will come again.  I will continue to sharpen my sword and hone my skill wielding it.  The day will come when I will hear them in the distance and they will not be allowed to cross into my mind.

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Diversion

I have a simple diversion tactic. Keep pushing stuff around in the house.  Makes me feel like I have done something.  All I have done is move junk from one place to another.  Purpose?  Diversion.  For twenty years, I have done this.  If I am pretending like I am getting organized and getting rid of clutter, I don’t have to think about other things.  Things like how much I miss my children.  How much I miss my parents and my grandparents. How much I miss other relatives either gone from this world or living too far distant.  How little I seem to have to do other than go to my 9 to 5 and do a little housework.  Yes.  I need to read last week’s post. But……….

I am at a loss as to what to do with myself right now. My mind rushes along, but my body can’t keep up.  My thought processes are not focused.  I have found myself working through another cycle of grief.  It is different from cycles in the past.  It is more than true about each person having to grieve in their own way and time.  I never expected to deal with this so many years later.  I am just sad about all of it all over again.  Yes. There have been some private issues surfacing that may have triggered this.  First one thing then another.  Then, something else.

But, you know what? I can get through this.  I will feel better soon.  He will help me.  I am letting go of some material things and some irrelevant ideas.  I am letting go of things that are holding me back.  What am I being held back from?  My cousin knows.  She told me what I should do.  I am about ready to get started.

Meanwhile, a certain little girl and her baby sister occupy my happy thoughts and bring me great hope. I found the thing to make her giggle.  My Hallowe’en decoration:

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The fish don’t seem to mind!  The cat looks surprised!

Do NOT Give Up.

That is what I keep telling myself.  Do not give up the fight or give in to the darkness.  I have intentions.  I have desires.  I have wishes.  I am trying to make myself let go of the side of the pool and swim across the deep end.

What does that involve?  Letting some things go and focusing on the main things.  Focus.  That is the struggle.  If I focus on this thing, what happens to that thing?  I care about it, too.  I like too many things.  I want too many things.

I have for years read about simplifying and de-cluttering.  I have done a ton of work doing just that.  Even to look into my closets, most would be surprised at how little I really have in them.  None of my closets are packed.  They are fairly organized and tidy.  I have spent ages eliminating all sorts of things in my life.

The problem, as I said recently, may lie in the goals.  I have too many goals.  Too many things to distract me.  How do I get to the point of letting go of ideas?  I don’t have too much trouble letting go of things.  But, letting go of creative ideas is another struggle.

Even this weekend, I found some items for a project.  Spent a whole dollar at a yard sale on them.  It will take five or ten more dollars to have supplies to do the project.  How in the world do I get around to doing it?

Basic living seems to take up all of my time and energy.  And still I have not found a spot to allow myself to actually do some messy work.  I don’t have a work space.  I will set out some things and work a few hours.  Then, other things have to be done.  The work doesn’t continue.  The mess is in the way.  Back to the bins and closets it will go.

I am at a standstill.  No progress since last week.  I don’t know what to do or how to get through this block.  The basic steps would be get off the computer.  Get out the tools and supplies for one project.  Set up on the dining table.  Sit down and work.  Whoops.  My mind just raced off to worry about not getting the project completed and having to leave the mess out for a day or two.

I do believe I am ridiculous in my way of thinking.  I do believe there is a deeper issue.  I do believe I may break through to the real issue someday.  Therein lies the fear.  What if the real issue is something I cannot deal with?  What if it is too deep and too painful to deal with?  What if I go over the edge?  Into that black chasm?

My aunt asked me what I do to overcome the depression.  Riding it out.  Knowing it will pass.  It always does.  He holds on to me until I can hold on again.  I write a lot that is never read by others.  The darkest goes into the fire.  The darkness is less dark than in years past.  I do not use medication.

I do not lose touch with reality.  I know that is the greatest fear.  I have looked insanity in the eyes and called him Daddy.  He could not be reached in that dark place.  I associate creative pursuit with an unstable mind.  If I don’t get carried away with creativity, I won’t get carried away.

Understanding this behemoth does not slay the dragon.  I have not yet found the sword that will do the task.  It takes more than identifying and understanding and defining the problem to solve it.  A plan of action, resources to implement the plan, a time line to follow for the plan are not enough either.

There is another element needed.  Courage.  Daring.  Audacity. What it is called doesn’t matter.  Guts to jump off the high dive.  Guts to jump off the river bank.  What is the worst thing that could happen?  Yes, all of those things.  Look them in the eye and jump.  Plunge into the icy cold unknown.  Someone is waiting to reach out and pull me back in if the struggle is too much.  He has been doing so for more than thirty years.  When I am in too deep, he calls upon his Friend to help.

Maybe this week, I will have the audacity…………………….

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Trouble in Paradise

I am having a pity party.  I have some ongoing physical problems that won’t resolve.  Things get better then fall apart again.  I am not progressing at the rate I consider acceptable in my creative work.  I am feeling a mild panic at my age.  Not that I am aging, but that there is so much undone, still.

I am feeling fear that many of the wishes and dreams I had will not be fulfilled.  Most of them are within my own ability to achieve without his help.  But, the blocks in place seem mired in muck that is too much for me to deal with these days.  And I am the only one who can deal with them.

I try to look at others who are struggling with even larger, sometimes life threatening issues.  Intense illness or personal tragedy.  I have been through personal tragedy.  I pray I am mostly done with that.  I have told too many loved ones goodbye at graveside.  My health issues are not life threatening. But, they are life interfering.  Things I want to accomplish and am unable to get there.

Of course, I seem perfectly healthy from the outside.  I am one of those with a hidden physical illness and the additional emotional problem of depression.  Then, there are my feet.  My painfully damaged feet.  Pain that prevents certain activities or serious consequences for some types of activity.  Pain that interferes with sleep.

Sleep deprivation leading to a pity party.  So, here I am today in my beautifully simple life.  Safe from harm.  Home and pantry loaded with luxury.  Loved ones doing mostly okay.  I have good days and bad days.  Today is not so good.  My orchids are falling unseen today, I fear.  Wait a minute…………I need to stop right now and gather them up.

My health issues will improve.  My creative work is moving.  Maybe not like a freight train, but neither is it backing into the closet.  The gardening is coming along.  I did get a few things taken care of around the house over the weekend.  Sago palms sit in pots at the front door.  The stuff piled on the carport at the back door has been moved.  I have organized my crafting things onto the bookcase I got from the thrift store.  I did do some crochet and embroidery work.  I spent some time visiting with my cousin.  The children’s issues from last week have smoothed out.

Yes, my life is beautifully simple.  Sometimes, too simple.  It is my life.  And I am doing the best I can at this moment in time.  And tomorrow I will do the best I can in that moment of time.  The measuring stick cannot be arbitrary.  Some days, my best will be soaring above the clouds.  Some days, my best will be treading muddy water in a puddle.  Most days, things are somewhere in between.  Higher rather than lower.  Temporary.  Things change.  That is a good thought to hang on to, whatever I am feeling or doing today.  No matter how the orchids are raining, a couple of things do not change.  He and he love me.  And I am blessed with the capacity to love them back.  Orchids enough for today.

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Topsy-Turvy

Topsy-Turvy
Sometimes I still get topsy-turvy. I drop into depression. I don’t know what triggers it. I don’t know how deep it will go or how long it will stay. But, I do notice as I write this, I am referring to the depression as a separate entity. I am calling the depressed emotions “it”. This has only developed in the last couple of years. Previously, I identified myself as depressed.
A couple of things I do for myself to treat the sadness are walking and acknowledgement. Walking is easy to explain. I have a route that takes about forty-five minutes to walk. There is a spot along the way I stop to voice praises and prayers and ask questions. I spend about five minutes doing this. I don’t struggle for answers. I try to do the walk several times each week.
The second thing is acknowledgement. I see my emotional mood and my mental state. I notice how I am feeling the way I might notice the floor needs sweeping or the wash piling up. The sadness becomes a task to resolve. It (probably) is going to need doing again sometime. But, I know I can improve the issue before me now. I no longer fear that the sadness will go too deep and never go away. It has taken 30 years to learn to manage the depression. I don’t use medications or outside therapy. I rely on Him and him to watch over me.

The rain falls. I cry. I hear a faint melody.
The sun shines. I love. I see a ray of hope.
The wind blows. I breathe. I know I will have another dance.
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