Tag Archives: mental health

Second Hand Rosie

Every thing in my cottage is mismatched, piece worked, and mostly vintage. Aside from a few family items, I acquired most everything I own in estate sales, antique stores, flea markets, etc. Like Second Hand Rose, “I rarely get a thing that ain’t been used.” Only I don’t feel abused.

I like the stories that my stuff generate. At this point in my journey it’s fun. This wasn’t always so.

Waiting for the microwave to announce my latte is ready, I wash the dishes in the sink. Memories flow from when I acquired a mug, a plate, a spoon. I remember buying the new sheers now covering my windows – and when my kitten chewed those pin pricks in the selvage.

Not that long ago household items, or rather the stories behind them used to send me into an emotional tailspin. A little further back household stuff could set me running, usually sceamin’ like the banshee, arms flailing as if swatting away a flock of crows – Hitchcock’s The Birds style.

*

When I arrived here at the ranch, this sort of behavior upset the livestock. It was time I put all I learned over the years into practice.

Long ago, before I learned to run from the memories (figuratively speaking – mostly) I’d pretend them away. Eventually fear and anguish bound and locked away much of my memory. Modern medicine calls it Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, (CPTSD).

By mid-adulthood I realized this skill had robbed me of much of the joys of my life. Since I clearly hadn’t gotten over it, I got help.

I worked for years with professionals that specialize in helping people with my symptoms. Finding the right help nor the work were easy.

I wanted to quit often. But I missed out on too many good times simply because I didn’t want to remember. I knew if I really wanted to experience “normal” I mustn’t stop the work.

**

I haven’t arrived yet. But instead of the memories dragging me away like an undertow, I can now stop them in place, sort of freeze the frame. At my age eccentric behavior isn’t unusual, so it’s all good. Most of the time I can now reason that what happened didn’t kill me and obviously it won’t stop me – without veering off course.

***

By the time I’d replaced nearly everything I ever owned I realized I had been surviving, not actually living. That’s not the life God wants for me. Sure, our early life was rough for my siblings and me. Sometimes it feels a little sad that I seem to be alone. Maybe I’m not alone. Maybe I’m leading the pack.

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

 

*Header, The Birds image courtesy San Francisco Chronicle

***The Bird image courtesy Google

**Hitchcock image courtesy Jason Bovberg 

Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under A Door Ajar

It Is Well

My floors struck me this morning.

No, I didn’t fall. The concrete didn’t rise or move at all. However the metamorphosis that’s occurred since I’ve been here at the ranch gave me a long pause today.

For most of my adult life my house simply couldn’t be clean enough, pretty enough, stylish enough… with four boys growing up around me…  Uh huh. A Psycho-Mom in the making.

Roo explains on Niece’s 1st visit, “we don’t touch black lacquer… or Italian glass… or brass…”

In hindsight I see how I drove my sons to the very edge insisting they swept and wiped up after themselves – constantly. Okay not literally – but I now realize I was too close to OCD for comfort.

So, believing this is my home now, that I actually live here happily may be a stretch for my sons.

I emerged from my parents’ dysfunctional household a huge, hot mess. Back in the day I desperately needed acceptance, approval and, dare I say it… recognition. Only perfection was acceptable. Decades later I began to understand that:

  1. happy, well-adjusted children care about stability and comfort – not sanitation standards, and
  2. God’s approval beats all others’.

After I arrived here I initially tried to keep the cottage up to my old standard. I made lists of items needing repair, sprucing up and this-just-will-not-do. They’re still on the side of the ‘fridge.

Today I noticed that I’m actually okay with daily visitors tracking assorted patterns on my floors – shoe, boot, various sizes of paws in a mixed media (mud, paint dust, dirt, grime and we-really-don’t-want-to-know). What’s more, the trails can be there for hours until I get around to cleaning – even overnight sometimes.

I’d like to say I never notice them.  Those first weeks after arriving here, Cole strolling in directly from the shop (actually checking on me), usually on freshly washed floors made me want to cry – or punch something. But now when I notice traffic residue I typically walk right over it on the way to something I enjoy doing even more than clean floors.

Housework will always be there. It can certainly wait as God and I watch the sunrise over a steaming mug, a covey of quail bobbing across the lot or the sun set after a day-long work party.

Instead of a constant stream of housekeeping I now enjoy the antics of fur kids, friends and extended family. Our combined circumstances often make the hope for my offspring coming to visit seem like a pipe dream. But instead of disappointment, sadness or occasional hopelessness, feeling how it actually is well keeps me in check.

 

Meanwhile, the pups are a constant source of amusement.

“The Lord answered her, ‘Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Are they really that important?'”

Luke 10:41 The Passion Translation (TPT) *

*The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017 by BroadStreet Publishing® Group, LLC.
Used by permission. All rights reserved. thePassionTranslation.com

Featured Image courtesy Pixabay

7 Comments

Filed under Notes from the Apex

Weddings, Funerals and Games

Each day during this past week and two weekends I’ve felt as though I was being pulled in every direction, my emotions jerking me around substantially. To cope I’ve been hanging out with my blogger friend Christi at Feeding On Folly more than usual.

For much of my life overwhelming, upsetting emotions was my normal – disappointments, heartbreaks and tragedies continuously shaking my foundation. Thanks to God I developed impressive sea legs early on and became very good at the hiding my feelings game. I got so good playing mind games I wanted to be a contestant on The Price Is Right. I would have seriously rocked that!

Image courtesy CBS.com

Jesus becoming my best friend, the Holy Spirit my closest companion was my game changer. Now God’s got me to where I enjoy relationships with my family and friends without the old, dramatic crash-and-burn episodes that once hobbled me.

I cherish my family. Being scattered all over the country as we are, I’m simply not used to talking at such intimate levels, each day with so many loved ones. But it’s what you do before, during and after weddings and funerals – right?

Most people I know embraced this reality in their 30’s. And if you’re like my family, at each wedding and funeral everyone’s astounded by how quickly the weddings and funerals thing is becoming their reality. The farther we get from thirty-something the more we gather for the latter.

So this morning as I resisted getting out of bed, I primed myself just in case I make the cut for The Price is Right. I crunched numbers on how many hours I’ve been on the phone as compared to how often I converse with extended family other than for weddings or funerals:

Big surprise this morning: not only has CBS NOT called me, but my mind is slightly scrambled, I can’t brain. Very old memories (good, bad and ugly) continue to surface at not-necessarily-opportune moments. My emotions range from deliriously happy to prickly-volatile as I’m sure the most former  more mature – fine, the older members of our tribe are experiencing as well.

Though the Bible says we actually are fearfully and wonderfully made*, the fearful thing for me is a no-brainer, the wonderful, well, let’s just leave the emphasis on the wonder. But while I am indeed special, I am not so unique. I imagine this sort of thing happens to most people reaching these milestones.

“Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble. They spring up like flowers and wither away; like fleeting shadows, they do not endure.”

Job 14:1, 2 (NIV)

Honestly, with Jesus I feel so much better in my reality. BIG PLUS – I get to choose:

Option 1 – We can continue the practice of keeping our focus upon God, trust Him to carry our concerns, fears, upsets as well as our grief and pain. When we do, the darkness recedes, we can feel hope springing eternal again, and the worst of times (that actually are not a surprise in the grand scheme of things) become a milestone instead of a stumbling block.

{Insert audible Ooohs-and Aaahs here}

-OR-

Option 2 – We can wear ourselves out trying to figure it all out without God, carrying burdens He ever intended for us. While it’s an impressive work-out, it also stresses the mind, body and soul to unhealthy degrees and steals joy from our lives. I certainly don’t want to pass that example on to my loved ones…

{Insert audience “Oh…” here}

I’m gonna go with God’s Overcoming Power in my life, Bob. (Drew, Dennis, Tom, Whatever).

Dunt – ta-da-daaaah!

Oh my God! I get heaven too!! Wowee!!!

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

1 Corinthians 15:55 (NIV)

 

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)

*Psalm 139:14

Raise challenge image courtesy Pixabay

4 Comments

Filed under A Door Ajar

Bed Head

Because of a recent conversation with Cole, I shopped for bed bargains this week.

Each of 4 sales reps all told me this is the best time of year to purchase a bed because “next week new models arrive and prices will go up.” The actual message being, “Don’t shop. Contribute to my luxury cruise – right now.”

My IL country home in 2013

‘Fact is, I’ve been casually studying ads since I left IL where I donated my wonderful Bassett double pillow top bed solely because it was ten years old. Abuse and gravity are taking their toll on my skeleton so I have regretted giving it up about 300 days a year since.

This week I thanked each each rep and took all the information home to 1. pray over, 2. research and 3. bounce my thoughts off of Cole and Izzy.

Also a fact: collecting my teensie-weensie tad of security has taken diligent care for nearly a decade. I like having some money in the bank and a couple of nest eggs here and there.

Even so, if God actually hadn’t guided me through this life day-by-day, logic and experience tells me that laying side-long across the head or foot of the bed Cole gave me won’t keep my sleep or back pain issues in check forever.

Another fact: Rising and stretching out the aches and pains is becoming a lengthy ritual again – daily.

We were all busy all week, so we didn’t discuss my bed business.

This morning I arose slightly less stiff and with notably less pain. But I was exhausted. I likely burned as many calories overnight as I do while I write (at my stand-up work station). I tossed and turned all the facts, figures and every possible scenario I could imagine.

All. Night. Long.

Sheesh.

Once aligned again and on my way to a steaming mug of warm deliciousness I read something interesting:

“Trusting Me [Jesus] is a moment by moment choice.”*

Silly me. As if I actually had to spend my entire savings immediately, I lost an entire night’s peace trying to work out not only my finances but the unpredictable details of my future. Decades ago I swore that nobody will ever make me do anything I’m not completely sure about again – especially not a sales representative.

Silly indeed. As if I didn’t know I could intentionally choose to continue trusting the God that brought me – and my nest egg here.

The old bed’s made, Latte’s gone, choices are made. I can trust God with my bed too.

Hero

For now, the little dogs, Hero and the chickens await me…

 

 

 

 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6, 7 (NIV)

*Jesus Calling, By Sarah Young (c) 2004 Sarah Young, Thomas Nelson Publishing, Nashville, TN, USA

Images courtesy Pixabay unless otherwise indicated.

9 Comments

Filed under Notes from the Apex

Run Away Brain

Before I was fully awake I stumbled over a toy that my most recent house guests had left behind.

 

 

Moving forward regardless, even before I prepared the trace amount of caffeine I allow myself, I was fussing and fuming over something else – it doesn’t take much. I’m often amazed how, at my age and with my wealth of experience, even now I can go from quiet tranquility to untamable shrew in 4.0 seconds*.

As happens sometimes, something reminded me of a fragment of the dark, sad past. Today, instead of reminding myself that was then and this is now, and without the little dogs to remind me Someone is always listening, I soon forgot I’m not actually alone here.

Heartbeats later I gave voice to the thoughts blowing through my mind like the gale force winds that uprooted the tallest tree from the yard, and tore away half the roof on the hen house.

Yep, suddenly angry words busted outta me like a runaway train.

Annnd once again I soon came to appreciate another of the advantages of life here in Our Place: as I worked up to a full-blown rage over ancient history Jesus’ warning from Matthew came to mind – hitting me like a board across the face:

“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”**

Like a muzzle check on a firing range, that advice shut my mouth and reset my reality in a heartbeat.

I no sooner confessed the open sewer line of thoughts I’d spewed into the air, asked forgiveness and then begged God to reverse any evil I caused, than the cottage radiated peace again.

With that, my latte and I found today’s place in Jesus Calling*.

Even now I am astounded by how, from the beginning of infinity God knew this morning was coming. Not only so, He also had His plan in place to comfort and help me – today and forever:

“When you focus on what you don’t have or on situations that displease you, your mind also becomes darkened. … You look for what is wrong and refuse to enjoy life until that is “fixed.”

When you approach Me [Jesus] with thanksgiving, the Light of My Presence pours into you, transforming you through and through…*”  (Genesis 3:2-6; 1 John 1:7 ) Sarah Young

Thank God we can stop run-away brains – restarting from right here and now. Oh, and can we keep early today and the rest of our pasts between Jesus, us and these walls?

Thanks!

“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”

James 1:26 NIV

 

Featured Image courtesy Pixabay

2016 Camaro SS image courtesy of Jalopnik

*(c) 2004 by Sarah Young, Published by Thomas Nelson, Inc. , Nashville, TN, USA

**Matthew 12:36 (NIV)

14 Comments

Filed under A Door Ajar

Bright Week

Spring, even Easter can be like a two-edged sword in my family. I doubt we’re so unique that this should surprise anyone. At some point in life most every body I know tires of winter’s short daylight hours and long, dark nights.

Even so, my family seems to have had more than average trouble getting through to spring – so much so that several times some of our loved ones didn’t make it. My siblings and I for example lost a parent, a cousin, and two siblings before spring.

These, our first losses were when we were all very young and somehow nobody explained what happened. So, understandably our history set up my siblings and me for a sneaky darkness to come creeping around in  early March. Typically that gloom lurks in the shadows until early April. Remarkably, none of us recognized that particular annual happening until we were all grown and set in our individual ways.

Since that realization we learned to reach out to one another about the time our spirits began going down for the second time. Regardless of which of us start it, we team together to help one another through, one way or another. We celebrate the good aspects of our family and we rationalize the bad, the sad and the painful. Mostly by Easter we’ve all beat it.

This year Easter came early so my breakthrough exploded into Easter Monday.

I’m glad to have celebrated the Resurrection, our hope in glory* with extended family this year – people who know my family, our history and they’re as glad to see my siblings and me get through our struggles as are we.

 

 
 

Today I determined – yet again – to continue my campaign to celebrate Bright Week. Essentially borrowing from the Eastern Orthodox tradition, only I’ll continue to observe through to Holy Week next year. Embracing the pain and rising above it, I’m confident God shall carry me through the joy of Easter Sunday all year.

I’ll let you know exactly how this goes after I finish sorting through last weeks’ photos.

“To them [the Lord’s people who are the church] God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Colossians 1:27 (NIV, [addendum mine])

 

3 Comments

Filed under A Door Ajar

On Second Thought

Contrary to my nature, I awoke with a negative thought this morning, my body and spirit feeling uncharacteristically heavy and dark.

Not realizing it, I carried that around with me through the first minutes of the day.

Also not usual in those first moments in that hour as my brain wakes, I began examining, probing the negativity.

Hours later I’m now slightly embarrassed. After waking and walking with the Holy Spirit all these years I’m still so easily tempted to shoulder burdens God never intended for me to bear alone:

  • grief,
  • anger,
  • anxiety,
  • remorse,
  • fear…

This morning grief got a good grip on me before I even recognized it.

Thanks to God, something outside the kitchen window soon captured my attention, changing the atmosphere entirely:

clear, blue skies decorated with white, fluffy clouds!

Sometimes it’s good to be easily entertained or distracted.

With the tangible vision of a brand new day, my second thought was, “Wow God, what a fabulous day!”

God and I kicked some ideas around together a while. Now, tea is cooling, sunshine is bursting through the windows igniting the rooms with energy. As I realize today is officially the last day of winter, I’m so very thankful for second thoughts.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

 

8 Comments

Filed under Notes from the Apex

Character

Stuff happens. How we deal with the stuff defines us.

“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

James 1:12 NLT

2 Comments

Filed under Notes from the Apex

Breathing

I imagine by late February just about everyone in this region and especially those in the northeast is very ready for longer, sunlit days and warmer weather. With the scantier rations of sunlight, rain, snowfall or wind, my moods chnaging with the winds used to worry me.

But this year is different. I notice the changes all around me and within me, but I’m not the least bit concerned.

No, I haven’t stoked the last fire of the year yet – our days of warm temperatures in early February took a dive again. Now in this second week of March, with warm mid-days and more evidence of spring nearby, I’m a little reluctant for winter to end.

I know, some people just won’t just be satisfied.

Lately I’ve been relishing the light shows on my walls and ceilings. I enjoy the warm energy surging through the rooms, the roar of the fire and golden waves flickering in the chrome of the bikes at the far end of the room – all cast from the safety of the wood stove. Though I failed to capture the lights on camera, I doubt I’ll ever forget them.

Rain fell overnight so this morning a little puddle greeted me from where it dried on the gray-streaked red floor. In my reflection I saw a stronger and gentler young woman smiling up at me. Today it’s funny how the occasional puddles bothered me when I first arrived here. I was upset after an extension cord shorted the outlet nearest the door (but not the treadmill). And I recall the frustration after none of my quick fixes stopped the leaks.

Now I simply roll with brother Cole’s grand plan that will not only stop the water leaking in, but will let more light into the cottage. For now I’m okay with an occasional extra mopping. Besides, I can wait to resurface and re-stain the concrete floors – until Cole and I can agree upon a color.

While circumstances aligned so Cole could bring me back to the ranch, I used to dream about how I would redesign the cottage. The funny thing about dreams is how little time influences them. The dream was far different during the first year-plus since I returned. People and livestock have come and gone, inventory shifted, projects reached completion and new ones began. The weather wasn’t all that was fairly brutal that first year. This year I welcomed winter.

Though the cold has worn old and I continue to look forward to upgrades and improvements around the cottage, I am comfortable and content.

At least every week something else about these surroundings, this time and place resound like peaceful chords through my soul – the soul that arrived here bruised and weary. For this season I freely breathe. I also weep, heal, laugh and dance. And I rest as one-by-one I lay my old burdens down.

God is the best dance partner!

“For the Lord will deliver Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they.  … Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” Jeremiah 31:11, 13 (NIV)

3 Comments

Filed under Notes from the Apex

Two Joys

During the winter months, with firing up the wood stove, ashes, muddy floors and extra hours of darkness there are always additional tasks and chores waiting. I probably like a clean house a little more than is healthy, so I can easily dig myself into a rut indoors.

Still, when the calendar tells me spring is near I force myself outdoors every day, regardless of the weather.

Today my reward has been two-fold:

I found buds on the bulbs that began shooting up weeks ago – a very welcome addition of color to neutral winter shades.

Then I stopped to feel the sunshine warm me deeply. This is huge for me – normally I can quickly feel anxious being still – especially in the yards.

But over the winter God daily urged me to rest and let Him do His job (running the universe). As the sun rose over the treetops illuming the bulb bed the words from our predawn time together resounded through my soul:

“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!” Psalm 30:11, 12 (NLT)

After a while I skipped down the driveway singing aloud. No first responders were involved.

Be blessed and pray it forward!

19 Comments

Filed under Notes from the Apex, photography