Sharing Will Take You Out of Isolation

Flowers for Valentine's Day

Image by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

Self-Care Tip #180 – Sharing will take you out of isolation.  Be a friend to yourself.

If Valentine’s is about Love, today felt like Valentine’s Day to me.  Your support, my friends, came to me like bouquets of home-grown roses, lilies, daisy’s and bird-of-paradise.  You swept me up and carried me over a threshold of something I didn’t want to cross alone.  Thank you.

Carl, dear Carl, is always surprising us.  He told us yesterday about his own amazing dad and then said,

I can truly say I know how you feel.

Even though much of this feels unique to me, I know it is not.  Pain is not unique.  It is our choice to experience it alone or in community.  I choose you.  Thank you for choosing back.  Thank you for my flowers.

Mom has always been a fierce lover of flowers.  She arranges them dramatically and gives them out, believing that their beauty is enough for now.  She never worries about when she won’t have any.  I actually don’t ever remember Mom without them.  She just can’t stay away.  Either she goes where they are, or they seem to some how follow her.  Sounds like story fodder but it’s true.  She will be one of the loveliest in heaven, just because she was designed to be.  I can’t imagine all that Mom will learn on beauty through an existence disconnected from time.  I’ll know where to go when I want to gather some for you.

Mom goes to see Dad every day.  She’s usually wearing something shiny or bright or both.  Dad’s hospital room is in full bloom and there is always food for nurses or visitors.  This is how Mom does her fighting for Dad.  Through beauty.  Not bad, huh?  She washes him every day so she can spare him as many further humiliations that come with illness.  He is lotioned up; more able to receive than he ever is outside of the hospital.  In their own way, he and she give to each other like that.  I’ve seen Dad cry and Mom just push aside the tubing and get in beside him on his electric bed.  In the hospital, a lot can happen.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and Dad said,

Well, I guess I’ll just have to let this one pass.

But if Valentine’s is about Love, he doesn’t have to worry too much.

Since round high school, Dad has told me that I have to sing some day at his funeral, “The Only Thing I Want Is To Be With Jesus,” By Joni Eareckson Tada.  I am sure I never will but he refuses to believe it.

The only thing I want is to be with Jesus.  Just to see Him smile and say well done, what a day that’s gonna be.  I want to feel His strong and Loving arms just hold me to His side, and to be with Him, throughout eternity.  Just to be with Him is heaven enough for me.

My seven year old asked the other day,

Mommy, will Papa be alive when I have kids?

I told Dad and he laughed.  He’s an easy laugh.

That’s a really good question.  What a mind.

Dad has almost died about a zillion times and it’s easy to feel like he will live forever.  All I know is that if he keeps putting me through this, I’ll need you there to take me out of the isolation and remind me that none of us have been chosen to be alone.

Question:  How has pain been a connecting force in your life?  What has helped you share what seemed impossible at once to let outside of yourself?  Please tell me your story.

One More Honest Way To Say, It Starts and Ends With Me

Hi! I am feelin so good today. At present: joi...

Image by jessica mullen via Flickr

Self-Care Tip #150 – Be honest about why you don’t like them.  Be a friend to yourself.

Today I spent with my in-laws and my own parents:  a blend of the Philippines, farm-white middle America, and Lebanese superstar.  It was tense at first but was, despite my husband’s and my paranoia (based on preformed something-or-other) nice.

When I look around at my family, I see their good features all the while remembering their not-so-good bits.  Depending on my state of mental health, the good is more apparent than the bad, or vice-a-versa.  It depends on Me.  When I am feeling confident, loved, and am doing what I like to do in life, their fabulous selves seem like the people who came to visit.  Not the ones I “walked out” on X-number of times before.  I’m sure it goes both ways, even if they haven’t typed it up for the world to read.

All of us do form opinions about each other.  You, me, or any other connection do.  We all have some level of judgment about who is holding the other side of the string.

See, I like people more when I am doing well.  Is that so unbelievable?  Well sometimes, yes.  It is more unbelievable than we first think.  It would be more believable to say, rather, that I like people more when they are nice.  Or I like people more when they do good things.  That is easily believable.

When we have opinions about people who are less than lovely, this little epiphany is there to help:  We like others more when we like ourselves more.  Introspection is useful if we know what we’re looking for.  Using this handy-dandy epiphany-tool, we might be able to get inside ourselves and see that how we feel about others is about “Me.”  It feels like we don’t like someone because they are a baddy.  But the truth is, we aren’t feeling so good about our own selves at the time.

Inversely, we might be able to do the same for others.  When they behave negatively, pull out your epiphany tool.  (It comes in many colors.  Mine is pink.)  We can remember, “Quisas!  They don’t like themselves so much now.”

What this little epiphany-tool patent banks for us is the ability to own our feelings in one more honest way.  Feeling good in life starts and ends with “Me.”  Isn’t that refreshing!?  Ah.  Sigh.  Relief.  At least we have a place to start and finish.  Me.

My mom, sweet Mom, tucked into her car about to leave today, was swelling with joy about my melting body-fat.  It was a little overwhelming for her, dear thing, and she reacted by throwing out her “gift.”

When you get to the size you want to be, I’m going to take you shopping!

I’m not going to get into all the history of my mom (whom I do love to no end) and me as it relates our “compatibility” in the arena of fashion (very little of which I naturally have) nor shopping.

I said,

Mom, just take care of yourself.  You are the best gift I could ever want from you.”

And she is.  This healthy part of Mom is.  She, that has fought so hard all these years to be healthy, is a treasure without a number.  I just want her.  And I can say that because I feel pretty good right now.  She’s always been a treasure, even when I didn’t appreciate her enough and wasn’t using my pink-epiphany-tool.  When I think of the parts of our history that are less warm and fuzzy, I think, “That’s how things go.”  And it rolls and ripples through to the space where angels fly.  A place big enough for our good and bad parts.

It all starts and ends with Me.

Question:  When is it hard to see your own role in how you feel?  Please tell me your story.

Think About What You Have. The Season of Epiphany.

the Epiphany

Self-Care Tip #145 – Think about what you’re wanting and waiting for, and then think about what you have.  Be a friend to yourself.

Today my husband told me that it is the season of Epiphany – the climax to our waiting and wanting (or Advent) is celebrating when we find out that God became a human.

I like epiphany’s.  Who doesn’t?  At dinner we talked it over with the kids.  We asked them questions like, “What do you remember from last year that you’re glad about?”  “Did you learn anything that you want to remember in this new year?”  My three-year-old was glad our house isn’t destroyed yet by the rain.  (Yes.  It is raining again.  Blah.  The basement should be filled in with dirt!)

Then, my epiphany came.  Self-care includes being grateful for what and whom we already have in our lives.  Ta-da!  May not seem like much but it hit me strong and soulful.  I have names, including yours on my list.

Self-care for me today was stopping on the bits of life I already have, the people I already know, the gratefuls I don’t habitually spend enough spirit on (generally all of them.)  I get poetic and lumpy thinking about it.  My epiphanies feel like soppy insides, doe-y eyes, choking up over the smell of my husband’s neck, the mysteries of time and such.  Epiphanies generally don’t come without a waiting and a wanting.  It can all be deliberate, which is good news too, because those of us who don’t do that unconsciously have a chance.

As said by Fred Clark, Author of blog “Slacktivist,”

Epiphanies don’t seem like the sort of thing one can schedule ahead of time and plan for.

It isn’t as romantic as I hear it was for Edison, but we can plan.  Waiting, wanting, and the ah-ha’s can be deliberate and are part of self-care.

Question:  In this season, what are your epiphanies?

Do The Opposite. For Your Self.

Condomaniac

Image by VideogameVisionary.com via Flickr

Self-Care Tip #121 – Do the opposite, do the “un,” and go where you don’t want to go.  Be a friend to yourself.

Frank, accomplished in chess, employed in a 3 digit salary job, married with children, and he heard that things were going well.  From other people.  In his opinion, Frank believed the inside life-details were more destructive than the redemption of the apparent details.  Frank listed himself off to me like a confession, but he got little relief from the exercise.  It didn’t change that he was still addicted to sex, ashamed and the addiction was changing his ability to function in the other areas of his life.  He was taking more risks and realized that if he didn’t get clean, he’d lose “everything” but the addiction.  Not wanting the addiction didn’t make it go away.

How many of us wrinkle our nose at the Frank’s out there!  How we avert.  Either side is not really good or bad.  It just is.  Frank is addicted.  And we are ignorant.  Sex addiction is in the recesses and communes of where any of us live.  And, “we” are no better than they or worse.  It just is that way.  The qualifiers are the stink that kill our connections.  The qualifiers are rotten.

One thing I love about Jesus’ earth-story is that He was always un-everything.  He was Un-segregation, un-rules, un-prejudice, un-divided, and many people thought he was un-qualified.  Wherever these things were, He went there.  I love seeing people who use Him to draw lines between their spaces.  To say, “This is because Jesus wouldn’t…”  Hmm.  Jesus wasn’t scared of mucking up in the chaos of people’s lives.  Jesus not being scared is actually the wrong way to say it.  Let’s say rather, Jesus honed in straight to the muck and chaos, drawn there because He couldn’t and didn’t want to stay away.  We are not so loving as that but who cares about motives?  I also say with confidence that Jesus/God understood biology much better than we did then, now or will.

When we can look at each other objectively, when we don’t personalize what isn’t about us, we can let go of some of what separates us.  It goes both ways.  We are afraid of Frank and what he does.  Frank is afraid of what he does and of us.  But it’s not the fear so much as it is the qualifiers that ruin us.  Bad, good, Clang!  Down go the dividers.

None of this is meant to minimize the pain that these things bring on, such as addiction.  Rather, taking away whatever is dividing us helps us be more present with the pain, with each other, and often leads to healing.  It is another opposite, another “Un,” another Jesus-move.  Doing just the opposite of what we think should be done.  Got to love that Man!

Why would any of “us” want to be connected to the addict, or to whomever is doing something hurtful, scary, negative whatever it may be?  Why?  For your self of course.  Our life is better if we are.  That is a motive I think is worth pursuing.

Question:  How has your life gotten better when you did the opposite of what you felt like doing?  Please tell me your story.

Branding and Branded. Stigma Goes Both Ways.

 

mentalhealth.wa.gov.au

 

Oh, the struggle to understand that behaviors may have something to do with the brain! I shake my fist at stigma! I shake my fist at prejudice!

Now, I can go on a little calmer and say, if you are struggling with this yourself, you are not alone. Even if you are the one propagating it. You stand on the shoulders of others.

In Jesus’ own words:

Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.

He was talking to me, I know, and you.   We have all been rude and ignorant in our own time and our own place.   We find ourselves holding 2 positions, accuser and accused. The context of our various roles changes with knowledge, coping skills, experience, maturity, pain, mental capacity and so on.   But that we hold both roles in some space of time and place will never change in this world.   Even in heaven when we “see face-to-face” we won’t be completely informed.  We know we will continue learning timelessly. What will change is the abuse, the prejudice, the judgement.  Once and for all, we will finally let that go and believe at a chromosomal level that God is and deserves to be the only Judge.

There must be a genetic component to our double lives in this world. This tendency towards stigmatizing. We know there is a lot that isn’t genetic and for that we fight to grow ourselves and grow others for our own sakes and for theirs. The benefits reciprocate as much as the pain does. And even though being branded feels personal, it is not.

For more relating to this, read the blog posts Forget About Divisions In Knowledge, and Forgive to Get Friendly With Yourself.

Self-Care Tip #109 – Don’t take it too personally when people sneer. Be a friend to yourself.

Question: How do you keep yourself objective when prejudice hits you or someone you love? Please tell me your story.

Walk Away From Your Junk

the rogers park young women's action team

Image by samuelalove via Flickr

Number one on Bella’s List:

There are endless new beginnings.  Had a bad day?  Stop right where you are and call-it out.  Then if you want to, if you are willing, if you are able you can start again.

But who is able?  Anyone who wants.  Even the severely disabled can say at some level that they want to end the hurt.  New beginnings are a privilege.  They are the dandelions we pluck and make a wish on.  It reminds me of when Jesus,

walked right through the crowd and went on his way.

The people were trying to push him over the cliff and they just plane didn’t see him walk among them and away.  We do that sometimes with our “start-over” opportunities.

There’s an interplay of forces that make our new beginning possible or impossible.

  • Humility – a willingness to learn.
  • Biology – a physical ability to stop, drop and roll the fire that’s scorching our emotions
  • Insight
  • Choice – choose it

Bella told me more of her story.  After she said, “The day has been ruined!,” her husband took them all to the table.  He told the kids, “Mom’s right.  The day is ruined.  Now who wants to start over?”  And then they all prayed for a new start.  They walked away from the junk.

Self-Care Tip #93 – Start over any time, every time you want.  Be a friend to yourself.

Question:  Do you find this to be true for you?  Is it a real option to start-over when you want?  Please tell me your story.

    Self-Care is not unChristian

     

    Don’t be afraid of self-care.

    Self-care is Christian and scientific.  I have awareness of the culture that frowns on taking bad behavior out of the church and into the laboratory.

    A few days ago we talked about self-care not being selfish.  That circuitously brought up the question about how “the church” feels about this blog.

    Confusing “the church” with Christianity can be problematic.  I have confused them in the past.

    When my brother started talking evolution, I felt cold and clammy suddenly.  After my mini-panic attack, he told me about reading the entire works of Darwin and I had another mini-panic attack.  “There’s no way evolution didn’t happen.  There’s just too much evidence supporting it.”  I was confused.

    It took me a long time to realize that I didn’t have to be worried about differences between me, science and God.  Funny that my comfort level grew with this as I realized how little I knew.  In fact, my joy expanded, when I realized I would spend all eternity growing my knowledge.  That is a lot of everything that just won’t fit into any box I can think of.

    iwantthatpainting.com/Why-does-it-always-rain-on-me.html

    Now when something crashes through a pet-paradigm, I remember that it’s ok.  (Down fear!  Get down anxiety!  Heal dogs!)  I may see a different reality.  Parts of me may become changed by that knowledge, trauma, death of a dear one.  Becoming changed and different is ok.  Because God is the same.  God already knows whatever about evolution, or that the world is round.  He knows that we try to turn medical symptoms into something spiritual, like depressed mood.  He knows it and He’s still here.  He is the prototype of presence.  Now that people can look into the brain and say where feelings and behaviors come from, we can get past that and on to the next revelation.  So what if it is medicalized.  Science and spirituality are not exclusive of each other.

    So is self-care Christian or scientific?  Things aren’t that binary.  Self-care is both.

    Self-Care Tip #84 – Don’t be afraid of self-care.  Be a friend to yourself.

    Forgive to Get Friendly With Yourself

     

    Professional baseball bats are typically made ...

    Image via Wikipedia

     

    Self-Care Tip #80 – Forgive.  Be a friend to yourself.

    A reader wrote yesterday

    Always intrigued by the possible connection between empathy and forgiveness….

    Great progression of thought.  From both an anecdotal perspective and some biological considerations, David Mullen PhD and Everett L. Worthington Jr. PhD, are two of my favorites.  Other than Jesus, they have and do say it better than just about anyone.  I heard Dr. Worthington speak when still a resident-physician in psychiatry.  The story he told of his mother’s murder and how he came to forgive her murderers seared into my memory and has ever since been a reference for me in my personal life and medical practice.

    The call came on New Years Day, 1996. His brother’s voice was shaky. “I have some bad news,” he said. “Mama has been murdered.”  …Their mother had been beaten to death. Rage bubbled up in him like lava. He heard himself saying, “I’d like to have that murderer alone in a room with just a baseball bat. I’d beat his brains out.”

    Here’s where the empathy came in

    …He tried to picture the crime scene. He imagined how a pair of youths might feel as they stood in the dark street preparing to rob the house. Perhaps they had been caught at robbery previously. They would have been keyed up. The house was dark; no car was in the driveway. No one’s home, they must have thought. Perhaps one said, “They’re at a New Year’s Eve party.“ They did not know that Worthington’s mother did not drive.  …Worthington imagined their shock when her voice came from behind. “What are you doing in here?”

    “Oh, no!” one must have thought, “I’ll go to jail. She is ruining my life.” He lashed out with his crowbar, slamming his mother three times. Panicked, the youths went crazy, trashing the house, both for having their plans ruined and for the shame of having murdered.

    This is part of the process that led Dr. Worthington to forgive the murder.  You can read more in his book, The Power of Forgiving.

    There is an interplay, between choice and biology/non-choice.  It’s uncomfortable to think and talk about.  I can feel the hackles on the necks of my readers start to stand up just writing it and I humbly acknowledge my limitations in sharing this concept.  It is what I have tried to describe through many of my earlier blog posts.  This unlikely union between such polar concepts.

    Being a Christian, I have awareness of the culture that frowns on taking bad behavior out of the church and into the laboratory.  When I think of empathy and forgiveness, I see party-hoppers moving in and out of those very places irreverently perhaps in some people’s minds.

    Some other time we will broach further the idea of self-care being Christian v. scientific.

    Self-Care Tip #80 – Forgive.  Be a friend to yourself.

    Question:  Does any of this resonate with you?  Please tell me your story.