Looking for lost change

In my last post, quite a while back, I spoke about Jack Canfield’s rule number one, of taking 100% responsibility for your life. I wrestled with that principle for a long time. I could not understand how I was responsible for having an accident, or having someone I loved die. There’s, however, a second part to this principle E+R=O. This part is easier to understand. We cannot control events but our response to the events we experience determines the outcome for us.

The other day I was busy emptying out loose change from a jar where we keep it. What can you do with loose change? A lot, if you keep putting into the jar. Our perception of wealth is a little askew. A bill for a hundred dollars seems huge to a poor person but a wealthy one will give it as tip. What does this mean, in relation to the principle? If you keep putting coins in the jar one day there will be more than hundred, maybe a few of them. Why bother with loose change? Because not everyone can give hundred dollar bills as tips.

There’s not a problem with the change or the bills. The issue is perception. We think of ourselves as lacking when all we have is change, but we are alive and with greater or lesser health. I lost my mother two and a half years ago. I’d give anything to have her back. But my wish is one beyond my power. I want to kiss her paper soft hand, as it was at the end. But she’s now somewhere else, where I cannot go right now.

That’s a sobering reality. I can react with anger, denial, self-loathing, but that won’t change the outcome that I cannot bring her back. I miss her terribly. She was my companion, my friend, But I am human. I cannot control life and death. I remember her everyday and think of our times together, all of them. The hundred dollar bill can buy me a meal at an expensive restaurant, but cannot restore my loss. That’s why looking for change is important. We need to keep the jar full.

Talking responsibility

In his book The Success Principles, Jack Canfield talks about taking 100% responsibility for your life. This principle is so fundamental to the core of his work that it is the first principle in the book. Why such emphasis? Taking responsibility entails a number of things. Give up blaming, yourself or others. Give up self-pity, and feeling you’ve been dealt an unfair hand. It means owning, your life, and everything that comes with it.

One of the questions I used to have was how could we be responsible for the bad things that happen in our lives. But that’s not the gist of the matter. Owning our lives means accepting responsibility for how we handle feeling we’ve been dealt the unfair hand. Looking for solutions, and not excuses. It’s a fact sometimes we have excuses that are justified. But this should not be the most important factor in our reasoning. Accepting what’s happened and dealing with it as best we can, with the resources we have, is vitally important to our well-being.

I’ve written in these blogs from the beginning about following your bliss. In order to do that you must accept full responsibility for your life, your actions, and the consequences. Doing that will enable you to move toward a healthy and positive mindset. It will relieve you of holding grudges, which invariably hurt ourselves more than the other person. Acceptance and gratitude will empower you as a human being and as a spiritual being. Bliss will be more within your reach because you will not be caught up in the game of blaming and self-pity. These things are harmful, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Follow your bliss. Open up to your dreams, feel thankful for what is in your life that is good, and refuse to label yourself or let others label you as a victim. Your willingness to accept life as it is given to you, and make the best of what you have, will be a way towards seeing your dreams become a reality. You will attract goodness if you practice acceptance and gratitude. This will open up doors that were closed to you before. You will see opportunities in places you had not been aware of. You will find your inner strength and you will thrive.

Be well. Be safe. God bless.

Anxiety returns

It’s a commonplace word nowadays when you hear it. Anxiety. But what does it mean. How does it appear. What does anxious mean?

I’m barely breathing. My mouth is dry and my tongue is sticky. I have racing thoughts. I’m praying but can’t say words so I’m praying with my thoughts. It’s scary. It’s like slipping on black ice and seeing yourself spin around a thousand times.

Mental illness is not just a word. An image of some scary looking person that should be in a loony bin. It’s a full-fledged, real illness. It just doesn’t happen in the body but also in the mind. I keep thinking about my mother who passed away but who always talked me through each of these episodes.

I’m in such pain. My heart aches. Tears sting. I want this to stop.

For years this has been a taboo. Speaking about this. But the glass ceiling must not be broken, but shattered.

People must understand there are millions who wrestle with this. They must realize the pain it entails. And the anguish that grips your heart, clutches you like a claw, and refuses to be dislodged.

I’m writing these words not just because of me but because of all the mentally ill. We are just people. Trying to live as best we can. Taking our medications. Raising our children. Fighting a monster.

Finding joy in the midst of sorrow

Joy is probably the closest equivalent to what Joseph Campbell coined as following your bliss. It is that feeling that lights a spark inside of you and makes you feel alive and vibrant. It can come from many different sources. Going for a walk and seeing the beauty in nature. Talking to a loved one and feeling you are being able to truly communicate. Hearing a song and feeling your soul dance. Joy is healing, powerful, and connects you to the eternal.

There are times when finding joy may be difficult. Sorrow, deep seated and embedded in your being, will prevent you from feeling joy. You may want to shake that sorrow off but that is not always easy. Healing must occur in order for that sorrow to be dislodged and healing comes from faith. In yourself, in God, in others. It comes from acceptance that all is well even if you are in the midst of turmoil. It comes from love, for yourself and others.

When sorrow strikes you feel as though the rug has been pulled out from under you. You feel you have lost your balance and your center. That’s when you start reaching out for love. It can come to you from different sources. People that you love and love you. Prayer or meditation. Doing small things that will help you heal. Buying a bouquet of flowers and putting them on your table. Writing in a journal even if you think you are an awful writer. Centering yourself by thinking about all the things you are thankful for.

Joy will come back. Maybe not in a grand, spectacular way, but in small strides. You might read something and feel it resonates within you. You may turn on the tv or pick up your cell phone and see or read something that moves you. You might see a book online or in a store that has a message you need to read. Joy will come back. Grief comes in waves so it may catch you unawares. But each day you will move a step closer to healing.

When the wave hits you remember what surfers do. Ride the wave. As days go by it will become easier to think about acceptance and then to start practicing it. Children are great examples. They fall, get hurt, cry, and then get back up and continue what they were doing. That’s a powerful thought to hold on to. You also can get back up and continue. It won’t be as easy as it is for children but it is possible. And each step forward is a triumph even if you take two back.

One morning you will wake up and remember all that used to make you happy. Practicing gratitude, even for small things like a hot cup of coffee or running water will help you realize that there are blessings in your life. The pain won’t disappear but it will diminish. Choose to honor that or whom you lost. Feel grateful it or they were in your life, for however long it was. Try to feel thankful that you felt love. Ask love to come back into your life. And, finally, don’t give up. You are too precious, even if you don’t realize it, to give up on yourself.

When your health is a concern

In my previous blogs I’ve shared ideas and resources to use for wellness and well-being. Sometimes, though, these don’t seem to be enough. Wellness is compromised by stress, worries, excess of activity or a greater work load.

These can happen to people in all walks of life. Executives and homemakers, students, and professionals in many fields of work. The pace is increased, or there are greater responsibilities, or tension wreaks havoc with our lives.

At these times it’s when we most need to remember our bliss. Even if there is not enough time for leisure, doing small things that will help us heal a cold, relieve a migraine, maintain a degree of comfort when the pace picks up. Reading a few chapters in a book, an article in a magazine,  trying a new recipe, listening to a podcast in the middle of a traffic jam.

There are people who suffer disabling illnesses. That does not mean we give up on following our bliss. In fact, it’s in the most difficult times when it’s most important to do those small things that will help us to stay on course.

Music is something that helps me a great deal. It breaks the cycle of stress. For others, it may be to sit quietly and sip a cup of tea or coffee. You can take a break to do this at some point during the day. I’ve read about parents who get up earlier to have a time of quiet and rest without interruptions.

Reading and writing also help me a lot. Bliss comes in the form of expressing my thoughts or learning about someone else’s.  There are those who use jewelry that serves for carrying essential oil scents that are helpful. I’ve seen lockets and bracelets, I myself have a bracelet with lava stones, that can be permeated with the essential oil.

There are other ways to follow your bliss. These are as unique as you are. Some people spray paint. Others beachcomb. Cycling, skateboarding, walking or jogging. Following your bliss was a term Joseph Campbell used to convey the thought of living in that way which makes you feel alive.

Prayer is something that centers and comforts me. Many health providers and therapists encourage meditation as another way of centering yourself. Athletes, artists, musicians are among people who speak about being “in the zone.” What I’ve understood this to mean is being able to detach from the atmosphere that surrounds you and reaching a point of total concentration and fruition.

Ultimately what we want to achieve is this concept of doing that which makes us feel alive. It is essential to do that. Whatever goes on around us that throws us into a spin has to be dealt with in a way that preserves our wellbeing.

We are in the midst of the holiday season. For many it increases stress. Others, because they have no family or significant other nearby, feel a great deal of loneliness. We need to follow our most basic need to feel well, to feel needed, to be in a mental and physical state where bliss can be found.

I think the most important thing in doing that is to realise we don’t need to do big things. We need to do things, even if they are small, that will help us beat stress, illness, loneliness, sorrow. Reaching out and sharing may seem weak but it isn’t. It’s smart and healthy. Wherever you find yourself,  do something, anything,  that comforts you, gives you happiness, makes you well.

Be safe. Be well. God bless.

 

 

Finding forgiveness

I began the journey of mental illness long before I found out about following your bliss. A kind therapist told me about this concept and how much it helps a person when they are on the path of discovery, self acceptance, and embracing joy.  These were things I wanted to bring into my life, but as I have said before, speaking about mind and body, integration does not come automatically.

I knew writing brought out the best in me, but in the place I was at that time, writing had become a dry well. As much as I tried, I could not find my creative spark, and following my bliss seemed a concept as distant as the moon.  Two decades have gone by and I found out I was once again able to write. I had always kept reading but I had distanced myself from poetry.  Finding out I could write poetry again came together with the joy of reading it, and I picked up where I had left off.

How is this related to forgiveness? The reason I stopped writing was closely related to pain I internalized. Instead of pouring it out onto paper I kept it bottled up. When I understood this a few years ago the journey toward finding forgiveness began. It was a twofold task. I needed to forgive myself, but I also needed to forgive other people who had, knowingly or not, inflicted pain.

I read that not forgiving keeps one person imprisoned. Yourself. I had therefore to embrace forgiveness and let the joy I felt come to me when writing be my conduit. Words made me strong.  Letting the pain come out through them made way for healing to occur. And healing brought blessed forgiveness. I learned a valuable lesson. Second-guessing myself was for the most part useless. Letting God heal me by opening up to trust was the wisest decision I could have made.

Breathe your joy in, let your anguish come out, and accept grace. Bliss is waiting for you. And forgiving, whether it’s yourself or another, will open up the door and set you free.

God bless. Be safe. Be well.

 

Facing the unexpected

A few days ago something happened that upset my whole balance. My son, who is in the army, came home for the holiday weekend and told us he’d been informed his unit would be deployed in the coming winter, between nine and twelve months. Needless to say, his words left me in tears. As the weekend progressed I alternated between pain, anger, and lack of understanding.

I questioned many things, not in the least why God would allow this to happen. My son is nineteen years old. I’d had dreams of him going to college, meeting a girl, getting married, having his own kids. I looked forward to him being successful in a career but I never thought he’d choose to go into the army. He’s been a soldier for two years, but when he enlisted in the National Guard, he promised he would be going to college.

When he came back from completing his training in the National Guard and said he was going active I was in shock. I found a Chicken Soup for the Soul book for Military Families. Reading it I understood a little better why he was making these choices but his news about deployment left me reeling with pain. Besides reading the book, I started looking in other directions, trying to find terrain I could set foot on.

Grief, just like physical illness, can numb your ability to think and respond clearly and reasonably. I wanted everything to be reversed. At the end of March my mother passed away. He had gone to training a few weeks before. The night she died, he did not find out until four hours later, because I kept calling and he didn’t hear or did not want to get up since their sleep is scant.

My grief was intertwined with anger. I was very close to my mother and before the turbulence of teenage years started, I’d also been very close to my son. Why the two of them would go away almost at the same time sorely tested my faith. I felt someone was playing a cruel joke that made no sense. Prior to him coming for the holiday I had been having one of the longest streaks of migraines in my history. I wanted an answer that was merciful, not indifferent.

I’ve talked previously of the connection of mind and body. I reread the Military Families book. I prayed, wrote, read, listened to music that soothed me, used the essential oil diffuser at night. I called upon all
of my mental and emotional sources of support. I have a younger daughter and didn’t want to transmit my grief to her, especially after she’d lost her grandmother.

It took a lot of effort to put my mind and body to work together. Even more so, to stay emotionally grounded, if at all. Facebook posts from Christian folks, groups related to the ocean, cooking magazines I like to read, and magazines with diverse articles that centered on issues people face, were all resources I went to. I realized I was testing the posts I’ve written here about wellness.

Eventually, like the tides flow, my feelings ebbed and flowed. I struggled with anger, and felt this roll of the dice was unfair. It’s only now I’m able to focus with clarity. I’m at least closer to peace within. Wellness is indeed not just the absence of disease, but a balance in your body, mind and spirit. I suspect I’ll end up repeating this cycle a few times and will go on learning as I go through each repetition. It’s very hard not to feel resentment but this is something I don’t want to have inside of me.

I think it’s all a learning process. I don’t like it but it’s something useful and probably necessary. Resilience comes from bouncing back when you take a fall. At least that’s what I’ve always been told. And balance only happens when all that you are is working together.

Be well. Be safe. God bless.