Monthly Archives: December 2012

Before The New Year…

creative-brillianceI woke up this morning, and my SO felt I was tense; I told her it was the same old thing, the negative thoughts that are holding me back. She said she wished I could find some joy, be joyful: I agree.

I went to the Rabbi first thing in the morning. I haven’t seen her most of December, and she will not be available until February. In talking about how I feel, she brought up the  fact that my obsessing over what I don’t have right now is a large part of my anxiety, my tension, my not finding or being joyful. I intellectually see that I can be in a self defeating loop, but have trouble breaking myself out of it.

With all of our discussion, she gave me kudos for remaining with this blog, for remaining so honest, and for, in the depth of my darkness, my ability to still find compassion and care for others (she said evidenced both here on this blog, and what I’ve told her privately). The Rabbi said so many people who come to her for help can’t seem to go beyond saying they want help and actually doing something about it, nor are they able to reach out to others in pain, so deeply entrenched in their own. My SO agreed with her, again both of them bringing up all that I am trying to do to get myself focused,  to appreciate the good things about myself, take care of myself, and continue to search for ways out from under the black cloud that I sometimes let remain over me.

We worked on a visualization: the Rabbi read Psalm 23 to me three times. With my eyes closed, I was asked to first think about what, if any, words or phrases lept out at me. Then, with the second reading, what visuals came to mind. The third time, to go deeper and see where it took me.

It’s the third time I want to talk about. I envisioned, during the second time, from “…You are with me; Your rod and your staff-they comfort me…” an arm, strong, firmly grasping that staff. During the third time, that arm was there throughout, on my right side…and I saw my right hand resting/holding onto that arm. It was there during that whole visualization. It was strong, steady, and…I’m not sure what I felt, but it felt right.

The image has remained with me, and as I’m writing it out it’s a pretty strong image for me. While I escaped into seeing “The Hobbit” after my meeting with the Rabbi, I saw the staff throughout the movie, wielded by the wizard Gandalf (I am NOT saying he is a stand in for God…just the connection, tenuous as some may see it).

What I was asked to do was to find a mantra, to say to myself when I start obsessing over the negatives, belittling myself, or a rise in anxiety. The Rabbi asked me to memorize Psalm 23, and that is what I shall try to do, and use it as a way to help get me out of this self-destructive mental loop. I will do my best.

For the coming new year, I wish everyone the best they can possibly hope for, a way out of any darkness that assaults them, and as much happiness that they can find. I wish these things for myself, as well. I always seem to forget wishing these things for myself.

I hope you do your best, for yourselves, in this coming new year, and always.

Stuart

Psalm 23

God is my shepherd, I shall not want.
God makes me lie down in green pastures.
Leads me beside still waters, and restores my soul.
You lead me in right paths for the sake of Your name.
 
Even when I walk in the valley of the shadow of death
I shall fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff-they comfort me.
You have set a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
 
You have anointed my head with oil, my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of God forever.
Amen.
 
~ from Gates of Healing, a Message of Comfort and Hope

 

 

 

 

Perspectives

earth-2“I believe everyone should have a broad picture of how the universe operates and our place in it. It is a basic human desire. And it also puts our worries in perspective.” ~Stephen Hawking
 
“I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.” ~ Anne Frank
 
“If we are too busy, if we are carried away every day by our projects, our uncertainty, our craving, how can we have the time to stop and look deeply into the situation-our own situation, the situation of our beloved one, the situation of our family and of our community, and the situation of our nation and of the other nations?” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
 

I was settling down in the movie theater to watch “Les Miserables” and the thought struck me, then, of what I should write about today. We each carry our own burdens and how we face them/allow them to affect the way we handle them shapes our days. I know, intellectually, that there are people around the world (if not even around the corner) who are suffering in their lives worse than I am. We all know this, and we also know we can’t take the entire weight of the world on our own shoulders. It is just too much.

We can work on ourselves, be better for ourselves, and so hopefully be able to be better for others, offer more of ourselves to others-even just one other person-when we’re not bogged down,  knee deep in our own trials and tribulations.

Knowing the musical I was about to see, and the real life suffering that existed then…and now…put me in a different place while watching the film version. I still hurt, I’m still anxious…and I’m trying to put things in perspective.

When we came back home, I had an email from an internet friend. No air quotes. Friend. Supporter. All around good guy, from what I know of him. He has a medial condition that may not allow him much time left with us. Timing is unknown. His biggest fear is not for himself (although I’m sure there is that: stoicism in the aftermath of bad news, maybe) but for the one he’ll leave behind. My heart is heavy with this news, and I offered him all I could: my thoughts, and I will include him in the prayers that have now become part of my daily routine.

He mentioned leaving something eternal behind him, and, in all honesty, the best I can think of is that we should try to leave behind good memories, smiles, and a sense that our lives meant something to not only ourselves but to at least one other person, if not many. That we touched them in some good way, supported them as we would like to be supported, and loved as we’d like to be loved.

My worries are of a financial one right now, and my future; his are life and death, and his future. It’s up to us to handle what we are going through with as much grace and strength as we can.

I know I wish my friend much grace, much strength, and that he continues to look for what good he can do now and in the timeto come.

I wish that for any who are suffering, in any way, as well.

The Rewards of Patience

patience-Road-Sign“I’ve learned that waiting is the most difficult bit, and I want to get used to the feeling, knowing that you’re with me, even when you’re not by my side.”
― Paulo Coelho, Eleven Minutes

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
-Harriet Tubman

“If patience is worth anything, it must endure to the end of time. And a living faith will last in the midst of the blackest storm.”
-Mahatma Gandhi

“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.”
-Lao Tzu

I guess I’d like to know, from whoever is reading this blog…

what reward(s) YOU have attained from being patient?

For me, the  major thing has been finally finding love in my life, after being so impatient, longing for it, for such a long time. I met my SO online, a blog writer whose creative writing I truly admired. From comments on each others blogs, to emails, to Skype, to finally meeting face to face (all this ran over the course of six months)…and April 2013 will be two years since first discovering each others blogs by way of the Blogging A to Z April Challenge.  The other side of this, with being patient, in that ours is a semi-long distance relationship, is that we’ve had to take our time getting to know each other. We appreciate, care, and accept each other as we are, and being patient in this way, not pushing, not moving things faster than things should, has a deepening effect, a relationship of love, built on so many different levels. I could not ask for a more wonderful woman in my life.

What I am impatient about, and what affects my moods more than anything else, is my lack of a full time job/career at this stage of my life. It leads me onto many dark paths (as you readers already know)…and, as you know, I want/need this to change. I hope to have a second interview after the new year starts with a company that I’ve had dealings with in the past (through a previous job).  I’m trying to be patient, as I knew there is nothing I can do to move the process along any faster. That is out of my hands, and I have to accept it. Sometimes, it is just too hard, and that  is where the overly negative posts come from.

So…today has been a mixed day: a number of things accomplished, one which was very necessary to do, but sad nonetheless. It took two hours to slog through and bag two black garbage bags of “stuff” that will need to be shredded. Thank goodness for the Mobile Shredding Truck that does it in my county!! The positive that came out of this: my SO finding some important documents that relate to my father’s timeline during WWII and after; most of it will have to be translated, but I now have dates (some approximates) that I did not have before, plus added info.

Maybe it is time to dig out my play about him and add in these facts. Being patient, going through everything, has brought this to light. So…good alongside the sad.

So….again…I’d like to know what you’ve gotten from being patient. It’d be nice to have comments on good things.

Breakage (a Tanka Poem)

brokenthingThings, falling apart
One more, after another
Things, sliding away
Keep moving forward; you do
Another piece drifts away
 
It piles up, you know
They do not feel it; To Them
It’s only one thing.
But one more top of it
One more…raining, it pours
 
Bit by lousy bit
Cascading all in a heap
Needs to let up, some.
Keep moving forward: you do!
Backwards…tumble…standing still.
 
****************************************************************
 
“When I panic, God, teach me patience. When I fear, teach me faith. When I doubt myself, teach me confidence. When I despair, teach me hope. When I lose perspective, show me the way-
back to love, back to life, back to You. Amen.”
~ from Talking to God by Naomi Levy (c)
 
“When you feel broken, alone ,full of PAIN, and not sure of what to do anymore, just SMILE.”
~ from Unknown
 
“Grant me, O God, the strength to face each hour of this and every day. In fact, when it seems that I cannot face even this hour, fill me with sufficient strength to face the next five minutes. Amen.”
~ from Gates of Healing, a message of comfort and joy
 
 

Downs and Ups

letting goOne bad night
But many better days
Not wiped out
Not gone
But, at this moment, 
Pushed below the surface;
Trying to rally, trying to let it all go
And enjoy what is here, now,
Which is so much more.
 
“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”
 
“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness.”
 
“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”
 
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Had a bad night; woke up at 4am, something went wonky, set my mind at a million wonky anxiety things a second; took something for it. Then, trying to fall asleep again after being up for over an hour, had an anxiety laden dream. Nightmare. Whatever it was, this morning is the antithesis of how I’ve been feeling the last couple of days.

I am tired-so tired-of feeling like this. It has been a really pleasant couple of days (yeah, there were moments, but they were pushed aside and I dealt with them after a bit). This morning…not so easy. I’m tense, stressed out, and have a monster of a headache. It’s supposed to be nasty out, so it is a pj day (which, at this moment, sounds like the best thing).

Said my morning prayers (Thank you, again, Rabbi Pam…and thanks to Naomi Levy) with my SO, which always helps. Will def do some of the online Mindful Meditation, and try to readjust my thinking. That’s what it is: I get to that point that I start beating myself up over things I know I have no control over.

One thing I have to deal with is feeling like a failure. That comes out of my mouth too often. The psychiatrist wanted to know is that how I feel just now, or something that has deeper roots; it’s deeper, and I have to really start addressing that feeling and its history in me.

I don’t prefer suffering, but I do have a hard time letting go.

“Be with me God. I feel so lost. I can’t seem to escape the dark cloud that is hanging over me (today). Help me, God. Give me strength to combat despair and fear. Show me how to put my pain into perspective. Teach me to have faith in the new day that is coming. Thank You, God, for today’s blessings, for tomorrow’s hope, and for Your abiding love. Amen.”

~ from Talking to God by Naomi Levy (c)

 

 

Of Camels, Communication and Care Taking

“When I am lost, help me, God, to find my way. When I am hurt, shelter me with Your loving presence. When my faith falters, show me that You are near. When I cry out against You, accept my protest, God, as a prayer too. As a call for You to rid this world of all pain and tragedy. Until that day, give me the will to rebuild my life in spite of my suffering…Amen.”
~ Talking to God by Naomi Levey (c)
 

During this month, communications with others has been key to my mental health, a positive source. The internet and phones (cell or land line) have kept me in touch with others, not feeling so lonely. Yes, there are times not having someone around to take care of is utterly lonely. I find myself wandering around, not really settled. This is the first time I’ve gone someplace and not had to check in with anyone, to see if they are ok, if they are eating, etc.

Skype, Facebook, cell phones, emails: all are important to  how I’m trying to cope. It’s not always easy: I’d almost always rather be somewhere else than in the apartment. I reach out, and, thankfully, others have reached out to me as well. It’s not as one sided as I used to feel.

Someone surprised me with a very unexpected gift (a gift card) and then with words why it was given. The why is so much more important, and I can not tell you how humbled I felt, how bereft of words I was at this act of kindness. Others have left me with great gifts of their support and care, and again…that is what has been really needed. It’s good karma, a Mitzvah, a good deed…whatever you want to call it…I thank one and all for what you’ve done.

“Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.”
— Emory Austin

“God gave burdens, he also gave shoulders.”
— Yiddish Proverbs

I’ve lived the role of care taker for many years: first, with my children; then when my father got very ill; and after his passing, with my mother. With her passing, a role I’ve had now since I was 24 years old is no longer part of my life…except it is, but in a different way: care taker for myself. The one person I pretty much put in the background, the one who I took care of only on the periphery. I can’t say I was a total drudge and had no fun for myself, for that would be a total lie.

But…in REALLY taking care of myself, treating myself well, loving myself…not really. That has been brought up to me often enough now in these last few months, and part of my healing process is dedicated to trying to do those positive things. I have an amazing woman by my side, and some amazing friends and family, and a circle of caring internet friends…they all help. It does need to start with me; not narcissistically, but for a healthier me in body and spirit. It’s communicating with myself too; the prayers help; the meditation helps; giving myself a breather helps.

CamelAs to the camel; I went to a Christmas pageant on Christmas Eve (no, I’m not converting: this was with my SO, and the pageant was cute with kids in costumes, their choral singing, etc). The (out of focus) camel captivated me, and I know for the hour or so I was in the service, I was outside of myself and observing, listening, and finding my own meditations and prayers.

It was good to sit with so many people, hearing them laugh, seeing them smile, with the simplicity and care for their children.

It’s always a good afternoon when you spend some time with a camel. 🙂

“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.”
— Bernice Johnson Reagon

Laughter

During a long drive, I turned off the CD I was listening to, just needing some of the quiet (as quiet as it can be on a highway). Many things crossed my mind, some of it in the negative realm and my doing my best to blow it away with other thoughts. Almost a driving meditation, concentrating on something else, focusing my attention on the task on hand. I drove safely, very aware of the trucks and other cars on the road, so don’t worry. The traffic was light.

Here is what came to mind when I thought about laughter: three stories, all dealing with times when most would not even think it’d be a time for laughter, but…this is where I went.

My mother had an unofficial nickname: Edith “Two Shoes” Nager. When my father died, in the funeral home, we (my mother, my son, my daughter and I) were in the side room when the family and friends were called into the main room. My daughter looked down at my mother’s feet and said “Grandma, you’ve got two different shoes on!” We all looked: yup…same type of shoe, but two different colored shoes. The four of us started laughing out loud. The moment was cathartic and broke a lot of the tension we all were experiencing. A cousin of mine came in to scold us for laughing, but…well, he is not important to all this. I told the assemblage, during the eulogy, why we laughed, and they laughed/chuckled along with us, along with the feelings of loss of my father.

At my mother’s funeral, I again gave the eulogy. When talking off the cuff about parents sometimes being difficult, my son (a young man now) snorted a laugh. My instant retort was with a “shut up”, but with a smile towards him, and again the assemblage laughed along with us for the moment.

Charlie, Sam, Me, and Rich: June 2005

Charlie, Sam, Me, and Rich: June 2005

I guess these thoughts entered my head as I was driving past the hospital where my HS friend Charles died. My memory of Charlie is almost always of him laughing/smiling. At his funeral, I was asked to give the eulogy as well. I asked the congregation there if there was anyone who shared a smile, a laugh, with Charles. Everyone raised their hands, and everyone smiled.

Sometimes, we need to just remember, even at the most dire of times of loss, some of these moments. An online friend just lost her father, and her post was full of memories like that, laughter and smiles of and with her dad.

Here’s to the moments of lighter, brighter days…those behind us, those still to come.

Wishes, Hopes, and Prayers

 I wrote the below first for Lisa, for all the reasons one would think. I did this just before the first night of Chanukah. Originally, it was only with her in mind, but…I had invited a number of people over, to help me get through the evening, and I wanted to break with tradition, which in my house was: light the candles, say the blessings, and then either eat or open the presents. Not much else went into it. wishes

So…I gave Lisa her copy, told her it was written with her in mind, and then asked if it was OK to share it out to the guests, since I had nothing to give them beyond opening my apartment to them, inviting them in, and sharing the evening (recounted in an earlier post), food, laughter and stories.

Now, I give this to you. I again asked her first, before doing so. She agreed, again, that it was a good thing to do.

One postscript to the above: when I saw my therapist, it had been a couple of weeks of last minute missed appointments. I told her about the evening and what I gave everyone. It was then it dawned on me:

I gave this out to ten other people, but I did not give one to myself!

When I went home, I printed out one more copy, just for me, and hung it by my desk, so I see it now every time I sit at the computer. It’s part of the process: allowing myself to experience my own wishes, hopes, and prayers.

There are some things I can give to you…Wishes, Hopes, and Prayers for:

Love…

To feel it coming to you, and from yourself to yourself!

Loved Ones…

To share in your life, to surround you, at all times!

Happiness and Joy!!

Good Health!

Patience, Calmness, and Satisfaction…

As much of a stress free life as possible…

Fulfillment in all you do…

That your needs are met as often as possible…

And…

That if you’ve been searching for something, that it comes your way,

And SOON…

And it is all that you hoped it would be!!!

Thank You for being in my life

Thank you for the love, care and concern that you have shown

THANK YOU!

In The Middle of Difficulty…

385521_302182713157766_152560524786653_867085_1581139378_n

I find myself in the middle of a difficult period of my life.

Others tell me that opportunities lie just  around the corner.

I want to believe that, hold onto that thought, take it inside and embrace it.

It is not the easiest thing to do,

And I know that there is next to nothing I can do at this moment to make anything happen.

Everything stops at this time of year,

For thoughts are on gatherings and gift giving and days off;

Of eating, of cheering on your team, of taking a nap, of cleaning up…

So, with patience, I must wait past the season, to begin again.

Renew the search, and hope for the best.

For, there does lie opportunity, harmony, and hopefully simplicity…

It’s just on hold, for a week or two.

My wish for you:

That if you’ve been searching for something, that it comes your way, and soon…

and that it is all you had hoped it would be, if not more so.

I Get By With A Little Help…

“It may seem funny, but people you aren’t related to can take care of you and love you and teach you to trust people again. Families aren’t biological.” ~ Kathy Kane Hansen

heartopenI am sure, but I hope I’m wrong, that we have blood relatives that are practically strangers to us. That there are people who you’ve gathered to you, or have taken you into their arms, that are more of the family that you’ve wished for, hoped for, dreamed for. Luckily, I do have an extended family that does include some blood relatives who do care, with a much larger circle that, while not related through birth, mean everything to me, my brothers and sisters, who have been by my side for years.

Some have come and gone, some have reentered my life, and for each and every one, I feel thanks.  There are some who are gone from my life, for one reason or the other (some in finality) who I miss terribly. I know I cherish those who are here, now, and hope they will remain alongside me for quite a time to come.

I also know they are not the ones who can “save” me. They can offer support in so many different ways (physical hugs are among the best, but I have to make do with the mental ones for the most part), and in the end…it is all up to me. This group that I do call family means a lot to me, and I’m glad and lucky they are in my life.

So…

Seeing a psychiatrist yesterday for the first time (with her), she listened-a really good listener- and said what others have said to me in so many ways, so many times: that I have to open myself up to the positive things that I have and the people are around me, who believe in me, who accept the me I am and the better me that I can be. I need to accept myself, forget the past mistakes, work through my history and start moving forward, that I should be proud of my not sitting still but doing all I can to pull myself out of the pit I’ve felt myself in. So…I am trying. I hear it enough. Hit me in the head long enough and I might start getting it.

“My enemy said to me, ‘Love your enemy.’ And I obeyed him and loved myself.” – Kahlil Gibran

“Teach me how to love myself, God. I am so critical of myself. I set such high standards for myself…I am unforgiving of myself. Help me, God. Teach me how to enjoy my life. Remind me to be kind to myself. Show me how to embrace the person I am. Lead me to appreciate all the miracles that surround me each day. Soften my heart, God; open my eyes. Fill me with the capacity to treasure my life. Thank You, God, for creating me as I am. Amen.”

from Talking to God by Naomi Levey (c)