The Hope rock

I have been a member of 615 Rocks for a few months, but have realized that I’m not very good at painting rocks.  There is so little space on the rocks, and I’m not sure how to work with the uneven surface.  I have a lot of different crafts I do so I’m unwilling to master another one.  I’m becoming too scattered.  I need to focus on one thing.

But I had this little pile of rocks I needed to do something with.  So I spray painted them copper and wrote inspiring words on them.

I took these three rocks on my wanders on Friday, 11/17/17

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I left the “Hope” one at the CVS in Hermitage.

It was found by Rachel Michelle, who then took it to the CVS near Harding Place.  She said “I found it the day I turned in my two weeks notice to begin a new better job!!! It was the sign I needed!”

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Someone else took it to Vanderbilt hospital, where it was found by Jess Robertson, who said “Couldn’t have found this rock at a better time or place! I think I’ll hang on to it, we can definitely use a little “HOPE” right now!… Found it as I sit with my husband recovering from heart surgery…much needed!…I plan to rehide it once he’s discharged…prayerfully it provides the same hope for someone else’s family!”

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How nice to know that one little rock  – with nothing more than a simple word, can inspire so many people.  It is wonderful to see how it is touching people’s lives.

 

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There is hope after diagnosis

A guy came into my workplace yesterday, obviously experiencing the mania that comes with unmanaged mental dis-ease. He was raving about conspiracy theories and the Temple Mount – said he was even frisked by the police in the Holy Land just 50 days ago.

Little does he realize but I speak Crazy fluently, being a citizen of that country. I’ve also taken classes and read books on how to safely interact with people who are on the edge of “dealing with it”. I enjoyed the challenge of the conversation, but was also reminded of how far I’ve come.

Today is marks the 17 year anniversary of the last time I was in a mental hospital. There is hope after a diagnosis. Since I started taking care of myself, I’ve had the same job for 16 years, I’ve been married for 12, I’ve published four books and I have excellent credit. You can have a mental disorder and be fine – with proper care (a lot of it is self-care).

Like many people, I went through the trap of thinking it was a temporary thing and got off the meds (which weren’t good for anyone anyway – they no longer prescribe the one I took) and went off the deep end again. I went to the hospital again (both times self-initiated) and got on different meds that gave me clarity so I could start taking care of myself. It is hard to be “normal” when the high is so vivid and interesting. Everything is connected. Life is 31 flavors when high with mania – but only vanilla when “normal”. I’ve learned how to be in the middle.

A lot has to do with getting enough exercise, eating right, and enough sleep. Writing helps me a lot. But Americans aren’t into self-care for anything – do whatever you want and damn the consequences – and blame them on someone else. This is true with every disease we have.

The only way out is to –

admit that there is a problem,

that it won’t fix itself,

that it is chronic (think heart disease, not the flu),

and that you have a lot you can do to help yourself get better. It isn’t all about the meds – but they are important.  Look through my “Survival” book list for books that will help you help yourself.

 

Most of all – remember that a diagnosis is not a definition.  You are a person who has a mental health diagnosis.  You aren’t the disease.

 

 

Peace is possible

We tend to have a set of blinders on when it comes to peace. We forget that the world isn’t always at war. Let us focus on times of peace that have happened – times when long-standing disagreements have been resolved. What “could never happen” has happened before and can happen again.

I invite you to recall specific moments of peace –

The end of apartheid in South Africa.
The removal of the Berlin wall.
The peace accord in Ireland.

All of these conflicts seemed to dissolve overnight, yet they required the intense energy and attention of many people who prayed and worked for their resolution. All along it seemed hopeless – too big to fix, too large to solve.

Do you feel the energy of the change? A huge shift in energy occurred that made it possible for peace to flow.

Now take that energy and push it towards today’s issues –

Israel and Palestine.
Race relations in America.
Refugees fleeing war and poverty.

These seem bigger than us, impossible to resolve. And yet the past tells us otherwise. There is hope. Change is possible.

Keep pushing.
Keep believing.
Keep working.

The Dragonfly

Once, in a little pond, in the muddy water under the lily pads, there lived a little water beetle in a community of water beetles. They lived a simple and comfortable life in the pond with few disturbances and interruptions.

Once in a while, sadness would come to the community when one of their brother or sister beetles would climb the stem of a lily pad and would never be seen again. They knew when this happened that their friend was dead, gone forever.

Then, one day, one little water beetle felt an irresistible urge to climb up that stem. However, she was determined that she would not leave forever. She would come back and tell her friends what she had found at the top.

When she reached the top and climbed out of the water onto the surface of the lily pad, she was so tired, and the sun felt so warm, that she decided she must take a nap. As she slept, her body changed and when she woke up, she had turned into a beautiful blue-tailed dragonfly with four broad wings and a body designed for flying.

So, fly she did! As she soared she saw the beauty of a whole new world – and a far better way of life than what she had ever known existed.

Then she remembered her beetle friends, and how they were thinking that by now she was dead. She wanted to go back to tell them, and explain to them that she was now more alive than she had ever been before. Her life had been fulfilled rather than ended.

But her new body couldn’t not go back into the water. She could not get back to tell her friends the good news. Then she understood that the time would come when they, too, would know what she now knew. So, she raised her wings and flew off into her joyous new life.

-author unknown-

(This was read at my Mother-in-law’s memorial service, and I think it is worthy of passing on)

Poem – the key in the rubble.

Just by being stubborn
you can get to be the person you have been.

Many people have to be able to do the work.
Maybe they should not be afraid.

We have buildings in our childhoods.
We have buildings in our hearts.

Inside each person is the key,
located in the middle of an argument,
buried under the pain of grief.

Our pain is our teacher.
Our hurt is our healing.

Without judgment
without fear
without turning away

look into your life.

Look into your own building site
among the abandoned rooms,
the peeling paint,
the broken bricks,

and find your heart
Again.

This is the day…

One of the advantages of being human is that we have memory. We can do the same thing over and over again, making tiny adjustments, until we get it perfect. We can use this time and our awareness to make something really awesome occur.

One of the disadvantages of being human is that we forget. We do the same things over and over again, and we think we are doing them the same way and we aren’t paying attention at all. Our routine becomes mindless repetition.

I was in the middle of my yoga practice this morning. Currently it includes a warrior series – warrior one, two, and peaceful warrior. They are pretty predictable, but there are a lot of little adjustments I can make to improve them. In the middle of the practice I remembered that I needed to set an intention for my practice today. An intention is kind of like a prayer, but it has a little more focus.

An intention can be to heal yourself, or for the healing of someone you love, or for the healing of the world. You set your mind on a path, like aiming a plow at a field. Aim it well and dig deep, and you’ll reap an amazing harvest.

I said “God, I dedicate this day to you.” And then I got a strong feeling back – every day is God’s day. “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

All we do when we bless something is to remember. We are giving credit where credit is due. We are reminding ourselves that it came from God. We are giving back what has been given to us. We are being mindful that this amazing thing didn’t just happen out of nowhere. It wasn’t an accident. It is a gift, made for us to appreciate.

It is the same idea in giving the firstborn unblemished male offspring of the herd up for sacrifice. It isn’t the second born – you don’t have a backup. You don’t know if you are going to get another one. It is admitting that if it weren’t for God, you wouldn’t even have that one.

God’s math is different from our math.

Be thankful in all things, and in all times, for everything. The more we notice things to be thankful for, the more things we notice.

This isn’t the “prosperity gospel”. This isn’t about attracting wealth. This is about creating new eyes and a new heart. It is about creating a sense of wonder and amazement and thankfulness. When you start to look for things to be thankful for, you change. You soften, and open up. It becomes like an Easter egg hunt. You find one or two at the beginning, and then it leads you to the secret cache where you realize that everything is a gift, and everything is something to be thankful for.

That is the meaning of Easter as well – new life, new growth, new birth. There is always a chance to begin again. Why not now?

Sure, I know it isn’t Easter. It isn’t the New Year either. But the same idea holds. Every day is a good day to begin again, slate wiped clean. God offers this to us every day, and we accept this gift by being thankful.

Thankfulness or Blessing – what comes first?

What comes first, the thankfulness or the blessing? We give thanks for our food before we eat it. It is sitting right in front of us. But we normally give thanks for our blessings after we receive them, if we remember to give thanks at all. Often we are so caught up in the fact that we finally have what we want that we forget to be thankful.

But what if we are thankful before we get what we want? What if we pray our prayer of thankfulness even before we can see what we are going to get? What if we are thankful even before we know what we are going to get?

Jesus tells us to pray as if we already have received. In Mark 11:22-24 “22 Jesus replied to them, “Have faith in God. 23 I assure you: If anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, all the things you pray and ask for—believe that you have received them, and you will have them.” (HCSB)

Then you may think, but I don’t have that much strength in my prayer. I can’t pray that well. I have doubt. It is hard to believe. In Matthew 17: 20 we learn from Jesus that not much faith is required. “For I assure you: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (HCSB) Just pray for it, and know that God will do the rest. A tiny bit of faith is a lot in God’s hands.

Does God need us to pray before we get our blessing because it is already on the way? Might it be that we need to be prepared to receive our blessing?

I have noticed that when I pray before anything, I’m the one to change first. I start looking for God. I start looking to see where God is going to pop up and surprise me. I pray before helping patrons at work. I pray before leaving my house. I pray before meeting with friends. I am trying to be in a constant state of prayer. I’m not very good at it, but I’m trying.

I remember when I used to smoke pot. I’d smoke, and I’d wait to see what happened. Food would taste better. I could hear parts of an album that I’d never noticed before. In reality, all of that was already there. I just put myself in a position where I was looking for it. I expected to experience life in a different way. I think prayer is the same way. I think prayer opens us up to receiving God. We open the door and God steps in.

I think that God was going to send us that blessing anyway, but we just wouldn’t have noticed it. How often do we take things for granted? How often do we think that what we have is just OK and not that much?

I heard once that praying before meals proves that we are not animals. One goal in Judaism is to be a mensch, a real person. We need to become human, to win over our animal nature. The goal of true alchemy is to transform the lead of our animal nature into the gold of our human nature.

Praying makes us human. Praying makes us better.

So what should we pray for? A new car? Extra money to pay off our mortgage? The get-rich-quick pastors of the megachurches would tell you that. Their message is the “prosperity gospel”. The fact that it has to have an extra word to describe it should be a clue that it isn’t the Gospel of Jesus.

Pray for big stuff. Pray for things not for yourself. God is big. God wants to hear from you. That is part of why God made you.

Pray for nuclear disarmament. Pray for peace and understanding among the nations. Pray for an end to war and greed. Pray for people to wake up to their true nature. Pray for us all to take care of ourselves and our planet.

Don’t be hesitant. Pray hard. Pray without ceasing. Pray as if we already have it. And remember that God always answers prayers. Sometimes it isn’t what we want it to be – but it is always what is needed. Pray for the grace to be able to accept God’s answer. But most importantly, pray.