Lost and Found

Lately, I’ve been meeting quite a few people questioning where their lives are heading.  I don’t know if they’re all “lost” though.

Let’s define “lost.”  A lot of people don’t know where to fit in.  It takes self awareness and meditation to know what you believe in and who you are.  Even I am revamping my life, once again, to create my destiny.  I do believe we can be active change agents in our present and future.  There isn’t much we can do about the past but learn from it.  Or not repeat it.  But why can’t we be participants in life, not just observers and bystanders?

Maybe this is why people feel lost.  They aren’t fully living, engaging in interaction, going after their dreams.  It’s time to set intentions.  What do you want out of life?  Do you like where you think you are heading?  It’s about having faith and hope that tomorrow will be better than today.  And even if it’s not, it’s about getting knocked down and getting back up.  That’s resilience.  Yes, that can be a Psychology term, but it fits so many other scenarios.

Do you think there is no way out of your situation?  This might make you feel lost.  If you meet someone new, or read something, or watch or listen to something, you may have a new perspective.  Yes, this is good.  Apply it.  Be determined to learn.  At all times.  You will find the answers you need.  Perhaps not even an answer you want, but need.  Later on, you will want this required puzzle piece.  Don’t stay lost forever.  Find a way to be found.  The World depends on it.  You just don’t know when you might have the answer someone else needs to figure out that next step on that path called Life.  Live, grow, inspire.  You’ll never feel lost again.

Bittersweet Memories

Well, it comes a time in life where things come to an end.  Like the life cycle, there is birth and death.  Last year, when most people were celebrating holidays, I had many friends experience the death of loved ones or remembrance of the passing of others who would have otherwise been there to share in festivities.

I personally have had challenges beginning and ending.  I reversed my kidney disease to Stage One, where my doctor is amazed that it is as if it never really existed.  Of course, it looms overhead, that it could return, but I’m relieved that my labs have been improving for the past two check-ins.

I have permanently quit drinking alcohol, and now can return to social events and decline politely that due to medical issues, I will be consuming soda or water.  If I go to a bar now, I ask for a decoy drink of clear soda with a lime or cherry, so I can blend in, or so no one buys me a drink.

I am finally becoming proud of myself and who am, where I have been in life, and where I am going.  I have been surrounding myself with positive, supportive people who believe in my dreams and my potential.  I have returned to making larger goals for myself and accepting more things that I cannot control.  I am looking forward to a more peaceful, optimistic future and a life of possibilities.  I am more forgiving and loving of myself and others.

Sometimes life has unexpected turns, but with a divine higher power and clarity of thought and awareness, anything can be turned around, and many new opportunities are possible.

Best wishes and May God Look Upon You in 2019!

One Nation Under God

All I can say is, if the politicians and dissidents can’t get along in this country, at least a corporation in my city has the priority correct.  I know this is a terrible picture, (and I was standing in the middle of a highway tonight to take it), but the theory rings true.  Why can’t it be one patriotic nation under God?  I have no idea why everything has come to such polarization, with elections coming up; slander advertisements on TV when I’m minding my own business watching local news, and everyone vying for the side they think represents “We the People” the best.  I vote bi-partisan, even though I’m registered as a Democrat.  I usually vote Republican on a lot of issues, but with trepidation to admit I would be one, with the party at such odds with itself.  I went to college to work in social science fields, so it makes sense to vote pro-non-profit organizations and their funding sources.  I’m annoyed that at one point, in 2002, I thought charter schools were the best way to go for our country, and then our current Educational Director of the United States says so too, in 2018, much to chagrin of public school employees.  Everyone is begging me to go back into teaching with teacher shortages, and at this point I say shove it!  I’ve been asked to make homeschool parents videos to tutor their kids, and this makes more sense to me than sending them to a bunch of failing and dysfunctional school systems, public or private!

So yes, I was thinking, One Nation, Under God, because the nice thing is, I can have such differing opinions, be strong-willed, and even slightly arrogant, and still be in the same country, not fleeing terrorism and living as a refugee, I have medical care that people in other countries stand in line for 3 days just to get a vaccination when Doctors Without Borders comes on a mission trip, and I was actually educated by both public and private schools, without fear of being jailed just because I’m a woman, and despite what everyone thinks of our current president, no I am not under a dictator’s regime where I fear for my life if I mention politics and its fanaticism that is underway at election time.  Why can’t people just use their intelligence to vote for a person that represents their causes.  I’m tired of people saying democracy is failing.  I still wouldn’t want to live in any other country.  Come on people, get this together.

When the Going Gets Tough…

Well, I haven’t written much lately, because I couldn’t think of anything inspiring to say.  Usually I try to make this blog inspirational, but quite honestly, life really threw me some curve balls.

On a positive note, I had great lab results last month for my Chronic Kidney Disease, and now instead of moving toward stage 3, (where stage five is absolute kidney failure), I have reversed it to stage 1.  This means that if I can keep up this good progress, it will be like having no kidney damage at all.  I attribute this to a pretty aggressive diet plan and weight loss.  Also, to the multitude of prayer partners I have keeping me on a prayer chain at church, and my husband’s co-workers, who have been praying faithfully.

My husband didn’t make it through college, although we might make another run at it again.  It was such a chaotic mess of paperwork and deadlines, but in the end, he just wasn’t prepared.  He dropped classes at the first week, which at least meant that we did not incur any charges.  However, he just got a new full-time job as a line cook, so I don’t know if it makes much sense for him to finish.  I suppose for the assurance of a completed task, a check of the box, a milestone; maybe just for bragging rights.  It doesn’t seem imperative to finish, though.  We’ll see.

I haven’t had an alcoholic beverage in almost a whole year now.  I have quit many other times, sometimes for years, even.  But to realize that I don’t ever want to go back to having another drink has been quite a change.  My friends are still always inviting me to some type of gathering where wine consumption is involved, but I finally feel like I can attend without the pressure of having a glass in my hand to deal with social discomfort.  It does make some of them insecure, as if I am making a judgment about them, but I don’t have an issue with drinking for them, just for my health concerns and my own choice.  Hopefully, they can eventually respect that.

I hope everyone can feel like reading this message today shows that progress can be made, even if it is a few steps back, and one forward.  I am happy to say that even the cliche, “consistency is key,” really does work.  I’ll try to post more as life moves ahead.  Surely, the Lord isn’t done with me yet.

Remembering Goodbye

I haven’t posted in awhile.  I guess it wasn’t intentional, I just didn’t want another “vomit onto the page” type of post.  A lot of my previous issues got resolved in the past couple of months.

I wanted to have an online ministry with my blog, but it became apparent that my readers wanted to see a “real” me, flaws, warts, and all.  They wanted pain, but I wanted to showcase God’s glory.  But why can’t we be damaged and show how God’s strength is made perfect in weakness?

I read everyone else’s posts, that I get in my e-mail.  I’m sorry if I have not reciprocated and liked or commented on anyone else’s blog page.  I was stuck in my own world of grief and injustice.  I was mad at God, and the world.  Why did it all seem so unfair?

I heard people talk about being a good person, both online, and in real life.  Why do I need to prove I know God?  Can’t I just be a good person?  I began to wonder-what is a good person?  A repentant one?  A suffering one?

The Bible tells us to rejoice in our sufferings, as Christ has suffered.  I really don’t know what to make of this, taken out of context.  I don’t see how we should be happy to experience pain.  This “everything happens for a reason” rhetoric makes me pretty mad.

But I am saying goodbye to my past.  I have discovered that I have no real enemies left.  Everyone has made their apologies, and created new futures for themselves without blaming me or anyone for what has happened to them.  They are not mad at me for pointing out the blessings in the pain.  They are rejoicing; they are seizing the moment of tomorrow, with lessons learned.

I am letting go of what could have been, as well.  I have been accepting today, the moment-what is, and not what was.  I am tired of putting the pieces of shattered dreams of the past, and making them into a mirrored reflection that no one can recognize.  I do agree with looking back to find repetitive habits that lead to your own demise, but living for just what you have-the present, is a much better alternative.

Look at who you are right now.  Do you like what you see?  What can you do to say goodbye to a destructive past?  Is how you feel right now a place of peace?  How can you, make this moment, and the future, greater for yourself and others?  Make small goals and celebrate each one.  Make larger goals, but don’t lose sight on the present moment.  What can you learn from just today?  Can you reflect daily, instead of wasting time in regret and sorrow?  What if today was your last?  Would it be a proper goodbye?

Don’t delay making today great.  Find your faith today.  Find your belonging now.  You can be happy and at rest with just the basics.  These are your building blocks.

For what profit a man, to gain the whole world, and lose his soul?

On the Merry-go-Round

Well, I have ridiculously found myself to be a smoker again, since March, after vape cigarettes made me violently ill.  But I have made a staunch claim to sobriety, and after vowing to never drink alcohol again, (which was never really much a problem, I just don’t see any fun in it anymore; especially not at social gatherings where people tout their political views out of fumes of liquor).  I have just purchased a small lot of herbal loose tea, re-adopted my diabetic nutrition plan I used seven years ago, and have lost 10 pounds.  I saw an actual orthopedic specialist who has informed me that I don’t need knee surgery for my osteoarthritis, but need a more specific physical therapy, which starts tomorrow, and I can’t wait to be able to walk, and then jog again!

This is the good news.  The bad news is that I have another unopened pack of menthol smokes to await me upon rising in the morning-if I even go to bed now.  I have called the tobacco quit hotline and signed up again for their services and will receive a box of patches in the mail.  Here’s the thing.  I have a box of patches from the last time, and I can just put one on now.  The reason I gave up on this method of nicotine replacement was the completely out of control way they made me feel at night when I slept with them on.  I would have horrible, strange dreams, wake up over and over and then finally rip the idiotic thing off my arm, and sleep for a few hours and then try to suffer through my day.  I went to a vaping pen to switch milligrams of nicotine, and actually did get to a 12mg bottle.  And so, when I went back to smoking, I only had a half pack a day.  So now, here it is-night owl time, and if I go to bed with a brand new patch, I will probably get no sleep.  So of course, instead, I decide to blog.  I do want to go to bed, and I want to wake up and put a patch on, and get through the morning as if a “morning smoke” doesn’t exist.

I hope my husband has his protective headgear and cloak of armor for whatever I might throw at him tomorrow.  But I know I don’t want to smoke.  Now, I hate the smell, all of my coats need dry cleaning, I’m due for dental work, and don’t want to ruin it by continuing to smoke, and all of the like.  Very well meaning goals, but then there’s that ignorant pack just sitting there.  I guess I’ll give it to the new neighbor downstairs (yes, spread the cancer risk, right?), and just stick to these patch treatments until I break a coffee mug or two by throwing them in my sink, just because, well, that’s what withdrawal feels like to me.  It was so much easier to quit drinking, because I hate the bars here in town, I don’t like drinking at home alone, I don’t like drinking and driving, and somehow my designated driver always ends up more drunk than me, and I hate paying for high-end spirits.  I don’t miss drinking at all.  And to make it worse, I only really had anything alcoholic at holidays, and now, I just want gourmet coffee and tea.

It’s like I said before, cigarettes were my buddy, always there through any situation, always ready to listen to any story of how bad work was, or what was wrong with that guy at the stoplight, running it while red?  My mom says she still dreams of smoking, and she quit 20 years ago.  I fear I might go mad without them.  Is it really possible to go crazy when you quit smoking?  I guess I don’t think I am a deity, or a special savior to humankind, so I’m probably just exaggerating.  I think what I will miss is the ability to go anywhere next to a smoker, ask for a light, and have that instant sense of belonging.  I don’t make friends easily, but when I do, I have them for life.  Smoking has been my buffer for nervous meetings at the bus stop, or waiting for your break to be over with people from other departments.

I need better social skills I guess.  But I’m such a bookworm, and always studying some complex law, medical, global news tragedy, I can’t seem to make small talk.  So I guess just say nothing at all.  Or just “hi,” and stand still.  Talk about the weather, like everyone else does.  It doesn’t have to be a life altering conversation, for crying out loud.  And so the smokes are good-bye.  But hello to another new level of health.  I don’t want to have to call this hotline next year and tell them I couldn’t quit this year again.  And this time I want to do it for me.  Not my mom, not my husband, not my doctor, not my friend who tells me “don’t you know those are bad for you?”  I want to quit for me.  I have other dreams in life to plan and pursue.  I don’t need another health crisis waiting for me.  I hope someone else can read this message today, and know that recovery is definitely not a finger snap and you’re set for life.  I just praise God, that there are people in my life on this recovery journey, and not just drugs and alcohol.  They believe in my potential.  They see that I’ve been fighting to improve.  I want to be able to tell people that it really is possible to have a healthy life.  But I have never believed in fad programs, and I have only gained the wisdom and patience from failing, and then starting back over again.  Learning from my mistakes, and listening to the stories of other people.  I had a pretty difficult upbringing, and I can see how it turned me into the destructive person I’ve been.

God never gives up on me.  Those prayers, those tearful nights, the days you wish you were already back in bed, because you don’t want to feel the way you do.  I know what that’s like.  But today, I can say, I have faith that can move mountains.  I have a God that is putting people in my life that know what I’m talking about, and I’m not crazy.  I’m not alone.  Sometimes, people just need to know it’s ok to feel what they are feeling.  Life can really chew you up and spit you out, but there is healing.  It’s not always in an instant.  But each step, each bridge crossed-you can get to the other side.  I believe it.  And if God will do it for me, He will do it for you.

The Game

I came from a family of high-powered athletes.  They won every award possible.  My dad’s parents had a whole room of ribbons, awards, and trophies and took great pride in showing guests what their children had achieved.  Even to this day, my grandfather and his daughter are inducted into sports hall of fames.

Ask me if I care.  I don’t.

I was the book-smart one.  With straight A+ grades.  But then my grandparents asked me why I wasn’t in sports.  I told them I refused.  A mind doesn’t break down, but bones and ligaments do.  So I went to high school and spent 2 years getting college credit for free.  I had almost a minor finished before I even got into college.  4.3 G.P.A. and 30 on my ACT.  I got every scholarship offer to prestigious Ivy League schools, and even obscure ones that wanted diversity.  For you see, I was also bi-racial, and who doesn’t want the genius African-American attending your college?

But I didn’t care.  I got into pre-med and pre-law at the University of Chicago.  But I decided that I didn’t like Chicago when I went to visit.  The school I really wanted was in New York.  It offered a ride into a prestigious writing program.  You might be thinking I’m not the great of a writer, but I dumb it down here so I have a general audience.  I don’t want flowery words, and twists of metaphor and symbolism confusing people I might be able to reach.

And what did grandpa say?  You can’t afford to go.  You can’t afford the real estate.  Pick something you can afford.

So I followed my boyfriend, who was also a poet and writer, to a state college, with in-state tuition and a full scholarship.  He told me it didn’t matter, because brilliance can be anywhere, not just places with flashy names.  It made sense to me; off we went.

I went for two years, and realized the women in my Psychology program were intelligent, but the men were sexist and demeaned me and called me “sweetie,” and “hon.”  I left and transferred to the top school in the state for teacher education.

I found myself more enamored by the Psychology department than the English department.  So I spend most time finishing my Writing minor, and got to work on Psychology.  I was recommended to do an independent study on family violence, and I worked with children using play therapy.  I recommended the students in grad school to look carefully at their clients.  I studied PTSD in battered women and children and its effects.  I graduated and went to grad school.

Sadly, I went to a private school for graduate study, and commuted back to my original school to use its library for research.  I played the game.  I prayed, and did ministry action points for grades and integrated my faith in God with my work.  But their library was severely diminished in resources, and so I travelled to the state university library to find real clinical answers.

My biggest discovery and downfall was studying crime and sociopathic behavior.  At first, the documentary I watched on how a serial killer fooled a court and judge scared me.  But I pushed through that fear and learned the real mind games.

So this brings me to now.  My whole life is surrounded by rape and murder.  My friends and family all suffer effects of family violence.  I’m not so sure it’s the creepy guy that passes by on a sidewalk who is dangerous.  It’s probably your spouse, or boyfriend.  Or your best friend.

I believe in God, and I call him Jesus Christ.  But I won’t really go to church anymore.  I don’t feel quite at home there.  My pastor is reaching out to me, and I attend sometimes, if I’m awake and dressed; today I heard her sermon on the radio.  I felt comforted by her words of peace, and of continual Easter season.  But I know I can’t play the game.  I’m too troubled by society, and its continual violence against women and children.  I don’t think I can have a normal conversation anymore.  I feel isolated.  I feel jaded and alone.

The sad part is, my grandpa now says he is proud of me, for writing in a blog.  After never, ever saying he was proud of me.  But I don’t write for him, I write for me.  And I write for anyone in recovery, anyone out their hurting inside.

There is a God who redeems, there is a Lord who comforts.  But it is ok not to fit in.  It is ok, to be different.  Because even though I feel alone, I know I am alone with God.  And He hears my indifference and anger.  He is my best friend.  A friend who lays down his life for his friends.  This Lord died for all these evils in the world, and one day, He is going to make it right.  I know it’s not a game to God, our salvation.  But it sure is the best way to win.

Faith Matters

I went to the lab today to get ready to see my nephrologist (kidney specialist), and see how my Chronic Kidney Disease is or isn’t improving.  I have new alterations to my diet, because my nurse said that Cardiologists are not fond of sugar alternatives.  So I guess I be making tea with honey, lemon, or low-fat milk. I feel ok about getting my life back under control after my slip up with my weight and eating carbs.

I want to live longer.  I have finally adjusted to living in a rural suburb town, (if that makes sense to you-you like it, I love it.)  The streets are clean, police and firefighters are very diligent here at keeping the city safe.  Children can walk to the Junior High (that I live a mile from) safely, and the town has many community events.

I used to hate living here, because I went to college in a city 3 times this size, and it was always a rush to get around.  No one had any patience.  I went to a grocery store last Friday, and a 75 year old woman offered me samples of Salmon for Lent, and began to tell me her life story.  No one was telling her, “be professional,” and she gladly told me about how good God was to her and how she praises Him daily.  I felt pretty stressed out that day, and her reminder of our blessings gave me hope.  I even gave her a hug!

I went outside to my car today , and saw the old Jewish Temple next to the hospital, as it was built there many years before the hospital expanded.  It reminded me of the historical faith in my city, its diversity and respect for others who came here for refuge.  Even the Underground Railroad is in old houses here in some places.  I see that the city is not separated by race, and churches welcome all people.  I feel happy to call my town home, finally, after wishing the bus ran later, and for heavens sake, why can’t I get a pizza after midnight!

Sometimes home is where the heart is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fell off the bandwagon once…twice-well.

I’ve always made it a point to leave most venting blog posts to my personal journal or a phone call with a friend.  I’m sorry to say, this has not been a good couple of months.

I started a new medication for depression and anxiety.  It is thoroughly sedating and if I take it every day, I sleep most of my day away.  Well, as a result of sleeping my days away, I have stopped cooking a healthy, balanced organic diet, and have taken shortcuts and just cook pots of Jasmine rice, endless pots of coffee, (with sugar in it), not moved around to burn calories, skipped meals repeatedly, which has put my body into starvation mode, and cooked tacos and Chinese meal-in-a-bag dinners.

As you can imagine, my depression did not get better, I gained 15 pounds, and I stopped drinking water.  I made it to one meditation session, but I have basically just slept through everything and have made my physical therapy team frantic trying to squeeze me in for appointments when I wake up too late and schedule for late afternoon.

I guess it is really occurring that I probably won’t go back to work, and if I do, it will be for another boutique or the downtown coffee bar.  I can kiss profound workplace responsibility goodbye.

I never did know what I wanted to be when I grew up except a teacher.  I did that for 4 years, and like my professor said, “Have a back-up plan, for when you don’t want to be a teacher anymore.  It’s usually after 3-4 years you want to run far away from the field.

I like learning new things, making new global connections among research ideas, keeping up with medical science advancements, and the state of our world’s lost and forgotten victims in places without fluid medical care, or housing.

But I don’t know if a blog is the right place to be really talking about most of these matters.  I suppose if I said that I pray for right interventions and volunteers, and leadership to handle these grand problems, that’s the best I can contribute.

I thought about becoming a nurse still, but with managed care cutting into our patient care quality, I think even this position would leave me depressed, even if the pay was good.

I wish I weren’t such a pessimist.  I have a whole world ahead of me, and skills I have gained, and insight and wisdom that could teach others how to find a resource they need, or a support they didn’t think of.

It’s just a double edged sword about appointments all the time.  To make you improve and get better and back on your feet, but FOR WHAT?  What is the game plan?

Time to go back to the drawing board.  Until then…

Are We There Yet?

I think about when I will reach my next goal in life, and ask myself, “Am I there yet?”

Don’t we all live life this way, wondering if the next day is here, next week, next month, to the next milestone.  I once knew a woman who only felt her life would be complete if she got married, although it didn’t really matter to who.

Are you there yet?

What are you always waiting to achieve before you can fully live?  Why not today?  I tell myself if I lose 20 more pounds, I’ll finally have peace.  Or when I buy my next car, or when my husband graduates from college, I’ll finally have a chance to live.

I’m holding my breath.

Even though I started meditation last year, I find myself stuck in the same pattern of wanting the next thing on the to-do list checked off.

What if there wasn’t a tomorrow?

What would it look like today, that if you had exactly what you wanted, how would life be different?  That’s the miracle question every therapist is taught to ask.  And then you make plans to make that vision a reality.  So what am I doing about it?

I guess nothing.  I gained weight, so I’m back on the wheel again, waiting to live.  Do you think half of society cares if I weigh 8 more pounds than I should?

I have a stack of library books to read.  I just renewed them for 2 more weeks.  What am I waiting on?  Most of them are about publishing and freelance writing.  So get on with it, man!

Don’t wait to pursue your dreams.  Don’t let the ennui of life drain your motivation.  Live for today, so you can have something in your tomorrows.  Build intentions now.  Forget about things that don’t serve your ultimate purpose.  Find those supporters of your dreams today.  Find those champions for your fire.  Live again.

Live again.