Tag Archives: longform

Ups and Downs

What a remarkable morning it’s been!

A fellow blogger at Life Continues shared some vintage photos complete with captions. I enjoy photography and I relish those times when someone else’s mind wanders in some of the same ways as mine. And I especially enjoyed her closing shot. Happy sigh.

I needed that. During the short, dark winter days we can be more sensitive than usual. Isolated by weather, spirits can easily take a nosedive.

For example, lately I’d nursed the sting of a clearly unintentional offense from DearFriend (not to be confused with DearOldFriend 😉 ). In fact, because of something else DearFriend said offhandedly a couple of times, the molehill had become a mountain in my mind. Soon I had to “walk it off” before I could spend my usual quality time with God.

Some days finding the peace that passes understanding* takes longer than others. ‘Ya know what I’m saying?

But this morning I was free of any gloomy feelings and was determined to not allow any negativity about anything – period. Then what promised to be a sunshiny day turned dark and overcast before I loaded the days’ firewood. With that disappointing change, once back inside I went to the WordPress Reader instead of working, seeking fun and lively headlines.

Comically, I was going to skip over that post. The title was a tad ambiguous so I kept scrolling. As I scrolled, I began to feel the days-old sting – DearFriend saying in passing that one of my post Headlines as it appeared on Facebook sounded negative to her. Since she’d just been through one of life’s wringers, she didn’t bother to read it.

Ouch!

But the timing this morning couldn’t have been better. I sure showed DearFriend… I scrolled back and read that new post. So there!

In that unfortunate conversation with DearFriend, time restraints did not allow for us to address my concerns for her – or her opinion of my writing. Later in my unchecked imagination, since one of my biggest fans no longer read my work I was ready to throw in the towel!

‘Fact is, I’m blessed with great friends that are consistently supportive. They understand that if I’m out of sorts there’s a good reason. DearFriend never implied she didn’t read any of my posts or that the one actually was negative. She said she had an issue on that one particular day.

Working through CPTSD issues, it’s easy to get stuck in a present day scenario. Often a moment can last for hours or days. Unable to see through the temporary fog – what would otherwise be a natural, reasonable response to new experiences – sometimes survivors can quickly slide down a slippery slope into the profound sadness of a past event or depression.

In those situations forward motion can falter and the joy of life can seem temporarily absent.

This is why friends, community, support networks, (ahem) the blogging community are essential to healing and recovery. One hand washes the other, people.

So, something I’ve learned this past year is to roll with occasional negativity, but don’t run with it. I’m learning to ask myself what I’m feeling and why. Often all I need is a simple momentary distraction:

  • Toss a ball – even better when there’s an obliging dog to chase it,
  • Positive affirmation. Say out loud, “I can do this,” “I can look from another perspective” “This is a test”
  • Step outdoors for a minute or two, loose those endorphins.

If in moments some happy possibilities don’t emerge,

  • Pick up the phone and shout out a simple, “Hey.”

Most times only God knows the grief or fear one may have just relived. More often than not with the sound of a safe, friendly, familiar voice, I’m happy to simply be alive and far happier than I imagined I could be.

Now and then we all need a little help and simple, healthy distractions may not always be ideal. Most of the time everyday life on the ranch keeps me in balance. My methods are by no means a cure-all to traumatic events or depression and sometimes distractions don’t help in the long run. After years of working with experts I’m learning to recognize when I need a life-line, so I don’t hesitate to ask for help.

I’ve also learned I actually can handle sad times. What happened back then was then. It’s not now. I can now enjoy today. The sorrow, terror and pain doesn’t actually last forever. By learning to help myself back up, I learned to help others up too.

 

What’s more, when the time is right I can enjoy acting silly with my friends, at ease with the rest of the world. Of all God has shown me over the years, I am most assured that nothing can interfere with His plans for my life – not even me.

 

“O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed; if you save me, I will be truly saved. My praises are for you alone!”

Jeremiah 17:14 (NLT)

 

* “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6,7 (NLT)

 

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Filed under Notes from the Apex

Falling In To Place

I must confess. For me the New Year didn’t actually begin on January the first. It didn’t start on the first Monday in January, or the first work day of the new year as I’d intended either. For me it dawned on the 7th – an otherwise nondescript Thursday.

Most notably that day did not go as I planned – something that would normally feel to me like the earth tilted on its axis. Instead I welcomed the change.

I’d been laboring over a book manuscript during my first year of blogging. Learning more about the mechanics and enjoying the experience, I wanted more – more followers, more comments, more feedback… I down-shifted. Ambition took over and before I realized it, I had become obsessed. I didn’t feel like the world was falling apart, so I felt better.

I’d been staring into the monitor till my eyes dried and my head hurt six days a week, letting my fitness and health care slide for days in a row. I’d been constantly thinking, reading, studying, cyber surfing until I realized I hadn’t even walked outside the house in too close to a week – yet again.

w o r k

What’s Next followers might remember The View From Ground Level. And you’d rightly assume I’d learned from that experience. Or not. My breakthrough moment came the day before Christmas Eve. I realized I had performed the rudimentary holiday preparations my phone apps hounded me to do, but not much else to welcome in the season. This is very not like me. Instead I worked, telling myself I was about to reach my dream.

Right about that time I noticed an old feeling lurking around just outside the shadows. It had grown bold, stepping closer into the light. I wasn’t enjoying my life or my chosen career. Instead I had been working it, telling myself I must work harder so I could get where I need to be, and then I could relax and enjoy my life.

Blind ambition had taken over. I banished that little monster after surviving a heart attack in my mid-thirties. A little ambition, in check is typically good. This time around I was plain stupid. Literally, doing the same thing again and again expecting different results. This past year I’d be hard-pressed to prove this is not my typical MO.

During my year-end break I realized my main concerns were work and want. Although I celebrated Christmas Day with my household, thankful that hard times hadn’t robbed us of that joy, I was pensive, intense and remarkably not joyful.

My Ghost of Christmas Future appeared to me in the form of the “God-hat” I had tossed away long ago when I gave my life to Jesus. I realized I’d walled myself in and despite all my positive self-talk, laborious prayer rituals, and my enlightened perspective, I had become stale, dismal and worn.

At that point I put on the brakes. The next day as tornadoes swept past our neighborhood, I pulled some post ideas from my drafts folder, added a little bling, ran the proofreader, named the files with post dates and saved them as drafts to publish from my phone. And then I walked away from my desk for the year.

Josey coffee Annie SprattFast forward to the first work day in January. Within minutes I noticed my neck and shoulders immediately tighten with that familiar, old pressure to perform, produce, provide. Instead of rowing in my chair to loosen up, I walked away holding my hands skyward. I made a cup of chamomile, and then sat in my prayer closet. I hung out with God till we were good again.

Rather than diving into my projects, the Reader or my manuscript, I started up the old laptop I use for business records.

I created a workbook; month to month spreadsheets detailing my financial plan for the year. I scheduled out the birthdays I’d observe, travel allowances and holiday budgets. Then I compiled my tax paperwork. I allocated every available dollar, checked the super-coupon site, purged my coupon folders, and drafted a back up plan to cover any ‘what-ifs.’

Relieved but not entirely satisfied, I overhauled my digital files and reformatted my back up drive. When that was done I wrote a long letter to my brother and his fiancee. I gave myself permission to not work. I lived.

What’s unique about that first day of this new year is I felt fine taking my life at a my pace again. I liked the unfamiliar, but comfortable peace, knowing what I have to work with and what must wait for residual income – essentially anything but food and shelter. But as billions around the globe can attest, my circumstances could be far worse.

Instead of my daily dread, that nagging drive to produce a monumental, world-changing post and manuscript, tabled and annotated, by my self-imposed deadline, I coasted. Rather than cracking the whip, screaming for the muse, I snapped my fingers to Pandora Radio and cruised through the day. It felt great!

sunrise walk

The next morning I slid into my work-out garb, slammed down some nutrients, stretched and walked out the door. After a luxurious shower and prayer time I ate a legitimate breakfast, made a pot of tea and calmly walked to my clean, orderly desk. Yes, I pinched myself to be sure I was awake.

Instead of my work day starting at five, it was nearly nine a.m. and I wasn’t falling apart. I felt like the over comer I’d been most of my life. Blind ambition put to rest, I’m enjoying life with God in control again. As I watched the birds and the squirrels quarreling over territories, I listen for orders from my High Commander. Knowing they’ll come in the perfect time, I can relax and work on my manuscript – at my pace – in God’s time.

 

Just Be Held, Casting Crowns
YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIZitK6_IMQ

 

“So don’t worry about these things… your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:31-34 (NLT)

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Filed under A Door Ajar, Longreads