Thursday, January 24, 2013

Unexpected Adventure

Is there something in your life that makes is lack least YOUR control?  Do you have health conditions, an abusive significant other, children with "issues," elderly parents that you care for, something that can turn your  carefully planned day around in a heartbeat?

When I was younger I would always get annoyed by "Self-Help" Gurus who preached the gospel of"Taking Control of your Life."

Please don't misunderstand I am not saying don't plan for the future, or don't manage time wisely, and especially not the idea, "Tonight let's get some (hmmm....pop song, I wonder what 'some' they are referring to, lol) and live while we're young?"

Each of us had a limited degree of control that we can exercise in our own lives.  If you are blessed enough to have good health all of your life, a terrific job, loving family, and NO elements that are out of your control, you may want to skip this and look up those "Self-Help," gurus I referred to in the 2nd paragraph.

For those of you who have had life happen to them I wish to discuss the ONLY element that we ultimately control in this life.  That is OUR REACTION to whatever life throws our way.  We DO have control of that one single thread in our world. 

In other words, last night I went to a free health clinic where I live.  The examining registered nurse told me that my pulse was hesitating between each beat.  I had felt lethargic and out of sorts all day.  I would get dizzy each time I stood up.

Taking this combination of factors she advised me to get to a doctor.  It was to late to get in to my doctor so I went to the ER.

After checking me out thoroughly for four hours they decided they wanted more tests and sent me off to the hospital for an overnight stay. 

Today should have been MISERABLE in the extreme.  I couldn't take the meds that I needed until four hours after they were due.  I couldn't eat, or drink.  Physically I felt distinctly unwell.  Emotionally I felt intimidated by the possibility that I might be about to have a heart attack.  CONTROL IN MY LIFE?  Not so much.

Then Ella Enchanted entered my room.  (Not her actual name)  My first tip that I would really like this lady was that she had short spunky hair like mine.  The second wss that this woman was filled with fireworks.  They seemed to explode magically around her.  (NO I was NOT on any medicine, remember?)

This dear soul and I proceeded to have a party.  For the first time in my entire life I was sad to have medical tests end.  We giggled, gabbed, and grew and all in a three hour span of time.  She was a medical technician supremo.  She keeps her room filled with charm, and joy.

If I had NOT had that arrhythmia last night, and a bit of a scare I would not have been in THAT hospital meeting Ella Enchanted.  Did I have CONTROL over those circumstances....not at all.  Did those circumstances lead me to something better than I could ever have imagined on my own?  Absolutely!

So the next time the rug gets yanked out from under your feet in life open up your mind to possibilities.  Who knows, there may be an Ella Enchanted waiting for you.

The very best part was that I'm NOT dying, having a heart attack, or anything life threatening.  I have had a mitral valve prolapse most of my life and it kicks in every once in awhile.  Apparently it did so yesterday, but I wanted to make certain that it was nothing new and different moving forward into my future.

If there is anybody reading this post that is a "Control Freak," somebody that thinks that they can actually wrest from life total control...loosen your tie, take your hair out of it's tightly repressed knot on the back of your head.  Remember that even the most unpleasant circumstances can lead to some amazing blessings perhaps even an adventure or two!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Walking Through the Valley of the Shadow

In the Old Testament, Psalms 23 is a beautiful literary verse.  It says in part, "....Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...."  I feel distinctly like that is what I AM doing right now.  The shadow of death has been occasioned by the death of my beloved husband of twenty-seven years.

I am learning new life lessons.  Indeed I feel as though I am being instructed in a "Master Class," of grief and sorrow.  My beloved husband was my "Dream come true."  I dated LOTS of toads before I found my handsome prince.  I knew pretty quickly after I found him that he WAS my handsome prince. 

Due to a series of unforeseen circumstances both of us were retired by the time that we were in our forties.  That meant that for the last fifteen years of Nyle's life we were together virtually twenty-four hours a day seven days a week.  It was pretty rough at first.  Learning our boundaries, becoming more patient with each others differences took great patience and effort.

It felt a great deal like we were rough rocks tossed into the old rock polisher.  The way that this machine polished the rocks was by pounding them against each other and knocking off the rough surfaces.  What emerged was a shiny, polished, beautiful creation.

Nyle was a wonderful husband.  He was romantic, thoughtful, funny, talented, brilliant, the man of my dreams.  So now trying to create new dreams without him hurts at the cellular level of my body. 

I like to be viewed by others as an endlessly positive person.  If I had my way I would outdo Pollyanna!  lol  Yet I am learning that sometimes you just HAVE to cry.  Sometimes it helps to cry.  The worst times are when the missing is too deep for the release of tears.

I can NOT look ahead to a future without my handsome prince in it.  In my Mother's family the woman tend to live a LOOOOOOONNNNNNNGGGGGG time.  My grandmother was 91 my mother will turn 94 in February.  I wish to admit that the idea of living that long right now without Nyle is horrifying.  So instead I stumble along moment to moment trying to wrest a little joy or satisfaction out of life.

The coping strategies that have served me well in life are not doing a good job with this pain.  I know there are support groups for just feels like everyone involved in those groups are on the downhill side of this pain.  It would help to know that someone else is fighting an ongoing battle with the "Shadow of death."

So, if any of you in "Blogville" are dealing with this sort of sorrow I would appreciate hearing from you and knowing how you are finding a "New normal."

Friday, January 18, 2013

Gun Control?

There is a vivid dialogue currently being presented by many of my friends and relatives on Facebook.  The subject matter is gun control. 

I have spent my life doing my best to emulate the peacekeeping principles prescribed by Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament.  What that means to me is that I steer away from contentious dialogue.  I prefer to see the commonalities that exists among humanity rather than the differences.

On the other hand, I simply can't be silent on this issue anymore.  I have heard rhetoric explaining how the "Right to bear arms," made it possible for the Civil Rights Movement to exist...the blacks needed to have the power to defend themselves against the Klan and other bigoted groups, often including the law keepers of their towns.

I have heard many, MANY interpretations of the 2nd amendment.  I decided that instead of seeing the 2nd amendment of our constitution through the eyes of the NRA, or the counter arguments I would read the famous amendment for myself.

My husband Nyle used to say that the dialogue over "the right to bear arms," was misinterpreted constantly.  He was frustrated that such a short historical statement could be interpreted in so many different ways.

I feel that it's important to take a historical statement in the context of the time period that it was made.  So I decided to paste the actual 2nd amendment below so that as much as possible any discussion on this subject could start on a common ground.

To be clear I would like to have a healthy non-emotional discussion of these issues.  That means I would welcome comments and opinions of others, but NOT contentious, angry discussions.  I enjoy intellectual communicaton.  In this manner I gain knowledge.    

 Amendment II
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

I wonder if those men that drafted this short amendment had any idea the furor that those simple words would cause over the history of our country.

Let's start by putting their words into a historical setting.  They had just fought a huge battle with England for the right to be their own country.  A militia was what we would now call "the military."  There was no Navy, Marines, Airforce, or Army.  There simply was a citizenry of patriots doing their best to defend home, religion, and country.

It WAS essential that this citizenry had the essential right to own a gun.  It was essential not only for defense, but also to procure food and protection for their individual families.

So to me the words "Being necessary to the security of a free State," defines a different time and place.  In this time and place we have police, we have a HUGE military organization or in the words of the 2nd amendment (militia).

Oh this is such a huge issue that my head aches from trying to tackle it.  Yet I wish to express MY point of view. 

In this country we have seen bloodbath after bloodbath caused by individuals who were mentally disturbed in one way or another.  In the wake of yet another horror (school in the East where a semi-automatic gun and far too much ammunition enabled a disturbed young man to slaughter innocent children) we all wish to find some peg on which to hang blame.

If the principle had a gun at school would he have been able to stop the madness?  How about the school teacher, should they have also had guns?  Do we now ascribe to the idea that if we ALL carry a gun we can ALL defend ourselves?  Are WE the militia that the founders of the Bill of Rights had in mind?  That asks the question DO we ALL have need of carrying guns to defend ourselves? 

The next peg I have often heard is that the senseless violence that has been perpetrated over and over again in the United States by these aforementioned disturbed individuals is a direct result of violent video games and violent movies.

Then the following question is, "Where are the parents?  Why are they allowing their children access to such disturbing material?

After incredible sorrow, the death of precious innocents in a world where we need all the innocence we can cling to, we all long to find some principle, some practice, some something to BLAME!  It's a natural part of the grief process.   So off we dash to point our fingers in the direction of whatever makes the most sense to us.

One other area that is my particular arena (I was violently bullied for all twelve years of my public education) is bullying.  So many, TOO MANY of these "disturbed individuals," have been the victims of ongoing, consistent in and out, five days a week.  In some instances that adds up from first grade through twelth.  

Psychology says that it takes around 4 positive statements to rub out the effects of one negative statement.  If that is true think of how many years it might take to rid the soul and being of a sensitive person from twelve hideous, frustrating, years of being bullied.  If you took the ratio literally that would mean twelve years times four which would give the amount of forty eight years.  That is assuming that the following forty-eight years you were filled with constant positive messages.   Forty eight years of living to cleanse your heart and soul from the conscious, and sub-conscious effects of daily, consistent, persistent sieges of attack from bullies.

This is an issue that our blaming finger is often pointed at.  If bullying were done away with these shootings would stop.  

Now next idea.  Did the framers of the constitution foresee semi-automatic and automatic weaponry?  Would they have seen the need for regular citizens to have carried such extreme firepower?  

If the latest perpetrator's mother had NOT had enormous quantities of guns and ammunition would this boy still be alive, as would the children, and his mother also?   

England and Canada have stringent laws against the ownership of such weapons.  They still have killings and violence, but in comparison to our own it's far smaller.

We often hear, "If guns are outlawed then only criminals will have guns."  Again, England and Canada with their strict gun laws don't face nearly the range of violent crime that we do in the United States.  So this concept does not seem true when looking at empirical evidence.

In summary, I feel that it is IMPERATIVE that we find ways to limit the purchase of large quantities of guns and ammunition in our country.  Are we all looking forward to a future when each city will  have the need for defense?  If that is the case gun laws will NOT matter.  In an apocalyptic world EVERYTHING will change.  The good news is that WE ARE NOT IN AN APOCALYPTIC world.  To protect ourselves from a world where anarchy reigns we need laws, rules, and regulations AND FAR FEWER GUNS!


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

White Flag Days

I would be a fool to suggest that every single day of life you can be balanced, rational, and non-emotional.  I believe that one of the lessons we can learn very well on earth is how to tame our emotions, focus on the positive, and create our own reality....hopefully not a psychotic break.

Having said that there are just times that I symbolically fly a white flag and cry out in my own mind, "I surrender!"  I have through the years created certain rules for myself regarding White Flag Days.  Rule #1....These times which are often called "pity parties," are never longer than a day.  It's ok, even necessary to surrender once in awhile, but like Cinderella if the time period goes past midnight into the next day you have committed a serious sin....WALLOWING!  Remember how sad Cinderella was when she didn't get out by midnight? 

Wallowing is a very dangerous condition.  It's when you become blinded by your own personal misery into the idea that YOUR grief is bigger and sharper than someone else's grief.  Your particular brand of suffering somehow should be spoken about in soft sad whispers or shouted in loud, emphatic tones!

Stop the wallowing.  Stand up straight. Then proceed to your coping tools.

1.  It's a BRAND NEW DAY.  You've never had this day before.  Feel excited by the little surprises of knowledge and living tucked away into this stream of consciousness we call living.

2.  There is virtually an unlimited supply of chocolate in this world.  Chocolate that can be hot or cold, candy or mole sauce, chocolate that causes a lovely euphoric sense that can last for an hour or two....HOORAY FOR CHOCOLATE!  What's that?  Chocolate causes you to break out in fat?  There have been scientific studies that show that people who use fat as a coping technique ARE usually happier than other individuals, and are NOT unhealthier.  Have you ever noticed that there is a scientific study for EVERYTHING?  How DO they justify spending money to support the wise things that the rest of the world already knows?

3.  Do a spiritual cleanse....I don't care if you are Christian, Buddhist, or Agnostic, we all know that there is some sort of force, or energy that causes our physical body to move about.  That energy needs to be strengthened and cleansed to recharge you and give you vitality.  So, read your scriptures, pray, meditate, stand on your head, do yoga....find some expression that cools down your emotions and heats up your motivation to make the best choices available to you.

4.  Call a dear friend.  Today as I was busily melting down the phone rings.  It's a dear friend.  We were young together.  We danced on a stage, acted, laughed, loved, lived, and learned together.  At the time we thought that we were very mature.  From the vantage point of several decades away I feel differently.  Nevertheless this beloved friend and I have sailed the seas of life together.  I know that she loves me, and I love her.  After speaking to her I always feel better about life.  If you don't have such a friend yet, GET ONE!  Better yet, BE one!

5.  Serve someone else.  It never fails to amaze me that the tiniest act of service, even if it's just to smile at someone in a rush that is obviously stressed also lifts my load.  The other day I spent about fifteen minutes explaining some crafting principles to a lovely young woman.  I'm not sure that it helped her but I felt lighter and better connected to the community of humanity that we call life.

6.  Laugh....yes, you heard me right, laugh!  Another one of those scientific studies showed that 15 minutes of laughing at a funny movie, with a good friend, or any other humor inducing type of positive practice produced enough brain chemicals to support positive contentment for a small portion of the day.  So imagine what two hours of humor could do?

Well that's my list for today.  I wish that anyone that reads this would be kind enough to add to MY list.  I am always on the lookout for great coping techniques.