08/31/13 Why Am I Still Here?


Imagine sitting here talking with God about what He wants you to do with your life.

Imagine sitting here talking with God about what He wants you to do with your life.

I write this with a fresh cup of coffee at my dining room table. In my mind however, the surroundings look something like the setting in the picture. I’ve considered my DVT/PE (Pulmonary Embolism) as a divine appointment with God. I think He’d been trying to get my attention for ages, but I always had a good reason to blow Him off: too busy, making money, paying bills, sweating over inconsequential stuff, worrying about what people thought of me…. the self-absorbed list goes on.

He got my attention on August 8th, but not before I made a few more decisions guided by self-doubt and worry about what people would think of me: Go home instead of the E.R., people will laugh at the fat lady thinking she’s having a heart attack and if she is, she deserves it anyway, she takes such crappy care of herself…. The self-induced pity party and train wreck of thoughts can go on and on until they kill you. Or nearly.

Sometimes a little clarity and wisdom can manage to penetrate your addled mind. My seven-day stay in the hospital gave me time to stop running and actually LISTEN for His voice in my confusion. The quieter I got, the more receptive I could be to thoughts and insights.

If my life were a business, it would have closed down this year due to mismanagement and bankruptcy. As a human, I DID nearly shut down from poor management and spiritual starvation. God in His infinite grace stopped me in my tracks. For that, I am profoundly grateful. What do I do now? I think anyone who has had a life changing event occur comes to the conclusion that if they didn’t die, there’s a reason they’re still here… what is it? Unfortunately for we attention-deficit humans who want answers NOW, God doesn’t always answer you in the time frame you’d like (I want it NOW, YESTERDAY if possible)

For me, the path becomes clear one little step at a time. Sometimes there’s a lot of space between those steps, when I’m too caught up in myself to really care what God would like for me to do. Those are the days I only follow His prompts if it’s convenient for me. Arrogant little squirrel!

I’m finishing the third week of recuperation. During the first few days, I graciously told God I’d like to have this whole matter cleared up to my satisfaction as soon as possible, but if it took a week or so, I suppose I could put life on hold while I figured out what this lesson was for me to learn. How far do you think I got with that mindset?! I think it landed me in a giant pot hole and there I’ve squirmed around until I’m finally admitting I have to get off of this throne I’ve built for myself and let God have His rightful place in my life.

Wow, a bit more light and clarity dents my thick skull. I wasn’t aware that we squirrely people could have such hard little noggins. We could smash walnuts with our rock heads!!

I have a few snippets of ideas and thoughts to ponder for the time being. God never lets me in on the next step until I’ve got what I need to from the step I’m on. I know my life needs some changes. Sometimes I wish God would send a life coach to help me figure things out, and then I realize He does, but I can’t see the next move until the time is right.

At the rate I’m going, I’ll be 225 years old before I get it all sorted out!

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10/06/12 G.L.A.D. Chronicles – Week One


This blog is an egg of an idea still very much in the nest. Thoughts can come a plenty, but some, on further examination, seem as appealing as yesterday’s dishwater… cold, with the bubbles burst flat. 2012 is shaping up as the year that will either knock me out in the eleventh hour or see me become a dogged woman pursuing a seemingly out-of-reach goal. I vote for the second choice!

What does G.L.A.D. have to do with it?

The letters stand for what I hold dear (God’s grace), something I take way too for granted (Life), a few ghosts (Activity of the physical variety would be my ghost from the past. Activity of being a light to others is my Casper from the recent present. Spending time with God in prayer, contemplation, more listening, and less moaning like a rattling old ghost myself.) and some daunting D words (Depression, Dietary choices, Decluttering). I think those three are pretty tangled together in my case.

For a female who’s read enough books about health and diet to stock a small-town library, why am I still so overweight? Knowledge alone isn’t getting me thin. I believe that I’ve had depression to some degree most of my life. As a teenager, I’d have episodes of feeling “The Black Hole” crowding in on me. I knew when that happened, I wasn’t fit to hang out with humans. It would last a few weeks and then move on. Life would feel normal again. I never really knew what brought it on, but I could surely feel it coming. I discovered aerobics in my late teens and noticed when I did them… well, I discovered a few things. My first real experience with aerobics was with a Richard Simmons album (yes, that’s right, one of those shiny black discs that played at 33 rpm) titled “Reach”. The problem with doing a workout to a vocal prompt with no visual guidance is that I put my back out shortly afterwards. I don’t think the goal of using his record was to end up walking like Quasimodo!

Anyway, making myself breathe hard, break a sweat and choose foods that didn’t come in plastic wrappers seemed to keep Black Hole away and my clothes would magically fit. When I had too many dates with ice cream from U.D.F. (United Dairy Farmers to those of you not from Cincinnati) and Twinkie boy, my clothes would mysteriously shrink and that ‘Rebel With A Cause’ Black Hole would come knocking. I don’t know if I associated these things back then. I just knew I looked sassy in my faded jeans and size ‘Small’ British band t-shirts. 

I suppose these chronicles will be about pursuing the G.L.A.D. and leaving the G.A.S. behind….

G-Gritting my teeth at the thought of ever

A-Accepting

S-Sue as a human with any redeeming value whatsoever 

I had such a surprise breakthrough this week. This involves backing up a bit and giving you some background.

Oh, how the years go by….

September 25th was my 30th wedding anniversary, a momentous milestone these days. My husband Craig and I celebrated by going to a retirement party for a friend of Craig’s, being held at Great American Ball Park during the Reds game. Before I loved squirrels, I adored piggies. Imagine my delight, seeing a few of my porcine friends at the ballpark.

Why do I want to sing “Macho Man” and “Y.M.C.A.” when I look at this construction worker pig?

What a jolly piggie!

Everything went pretty well until time came to head back to the car. Overweight and out of shape, long walks and stairs are things I tend to avoid. Hence why I’m overweight and out of shape. On this evening, I didn’t have a choice. It was h-u-m-i-l-i-a-t-i-n-g. When you’re sweating so hard and panting loud enough to cause a slew of calls to 911 because people hear a pervert following them, it’s scary. Climbing the stairs in the parking garage, I had conflicting thoughts blaring through my brain. The first wondered why it smelled like a mens urinal at the bus station. Did these people never hear of regular deodorizing and sanitation practices? The second image centered around my chest which felt ready to explode. I wondered if this was what a heart attack felt like and questioned if not, how could it possibly hurt worse? The third was a passionate prayer that God didn’t let me die right there in that urinal needing sanitation. What’s gross is when you’re sucking air that hard, you REALLY get the stench of urine in your nostrils.

For a few weeks, my heart has acted oddly, sounding like an out-of-tune-Mayberry band, with the odd, but regular, heavy heartbeat. Breathing during any exertion has become increasingly labored. It causes me such embarrassment that I try to hold my breath when anyone walks past within earshot. Heaven help me if they linger longer than twenty seconds. If that happens, I pretend I’m thinking about Robert Downey, Jr. in “Iron Man“. I wonder if I might experience simultaneous combustion if I were ever to walk on a treadmill and watch “The Avengers” at the same time? Oi, now there’s something to think about.

Back to the story, this has all vexed me enough to call my doctor and ask for an inhaler. He wanted me to have a stress test and a pulmonary function test, to see if there’s anything to worry about. The stress test has come back normal, for which I profoundly thank God. The P.F.T. will take place Monday. I sincerely hope I’m simply an old gray mare who’s ‘just’ obese and out of shape. If this is the case, a box of Clairol, diligent exercise and mindful eating can improve my symptoms dramatically. I think I’ve danced with denial long enough. That’s a mental exertion all its own.

On October 1st, I weighed in at 252 pounds, measured a 48″ waist, and I currently have an energy level of minus ten. Transparency must be my middle name. I don’t have the wherewithal to skirt the truth. The waist is the only measurement I hold interest in, as the number is one of the indicators for heart health. I’ve apologized to my heart for treating it like crap and I’m trying to make amends.

Oh, the breakthrough, I nearly forgot to write about it. Note to self: add Distractible to my D words. As I worked on something at my day job this week, my perpetual negative self talk kicked in and started to drone on about what a nincompoop I was. From somewhere inside me, courage hopped up and I said out loud, “I am NOT worthless and I’m NOT a loser. Period.” What the heck? In all my fifty-three years walking this Earth, I’ve never had the natural response of thinking I’m somebody and refuting that negative b.s.

Please hang out and take a walk with me.

09/14/12 Depression Sucks, But It Doesn’t Have To Be The End


Cat, with its mouth open

Cat, with its mouth open (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hello everyone. The summer brought a lawn that I nicknamed Tumbleweed Connection and a drought in my blog. My writing vibe was dry and dead. Inspiration seemed as elusive as fitting into size 12 jeans… just not happening!

I wondered what it would feel like if I were to write a meaninful blog sharing insights into a life pursuing a relationship with God and then I realized I don’t even know what that looks like. Who can define such a relationship? Isn’t it rather relative, a matter of perspective? For some, it could be the ‘twice-a-year-letting-your-backside-hit-a-church-pew’ (Christmas and Easter). For others, it’s prayer 24/7. For a few, it’s talking to God throughout the day about all matters great and small.

I fall into the third category. It doesn’t make my way any better or worse than the rest of the world. It just makes it my way.

What if I measure it by how happy I am? I don’t think that would work either. I’ve had the summer from hell. A very bad bout of depression that isn’t quite over yet. Something about a dark night of the soul comes to mind.

Depression is so hard to explain to a person who’s never had it. It’s having every blessing you could ever hope for, yet you still feel on the verge of tears and ready to walk away from everything, crawl into a cave and hope there’s a landslide, so that the opening to said cave would be covered up and you could hide endlessly from humanity.

It’s looking in the mirror and wondering about God’s sense of humor in making a mutt like you, while looking at others and feeling sure they have all the answers. You’re the only one who could possibly be this stupid. You trudge along and try to get through the episode. Part of you wouldn’t care if you didn’t.

Then something happens, it can be miniscule or gargantuan, the happening is different everytime. Maybe it’s hearing a dear friend is really sick or an acquaintance has lost a longtime job and may lose their house. Or maybe it’s when you’re delivering the newspaper with your son and you make the acquaintance of a cat, an adorable feline who wants… DEMANDS your attention… you give her fifteen minutes of cuddles and then when you try to leave, she proceeds to put her teeth in your leg. For whatever reason, this doesn’t even phase you. You patiently have a conversation with this feline, explaining that this behavior isn’t cool, that if you’re going to hang out together, she must keep her teeth in her mouth and not on your leg… and you guess you’ll just have to come back next week and give her some etiquette lessons. The whole time, she sits there gazing at you like she’s actually listening! You walk away feeling a little bit lighter and smiling, not really sure why, but life seems a little better, suddenly.

In that moment, I talk to God; laughing about the absurdity of speaking to a cat as if it understands me, wondering how many people saw this daffy woman …. being who she is… and suddenly life doesn’t seem so bad.

I bet the prayers of friends might have had something to do with it. Maybe God knows better than anyone what the best way is to reach your hurting heart. It might be crazy as heck to everyone else, but it works for you. 

Maybe you can pass the blessing on and pray for someone else having a bad day/month/year/life. Maybe, just for today, the depression doesn’t win, God seems a little closer and you have a smidgen of insight into why you’re here.

To straighten out cats with wayward teeth!

Abundant blessings to you. 🙂

12/23/11 My Christmas Wish For You


Christmas cards with angels, scandinavian “nis...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s been such a busy time. I’ve noticed that the things I didn’t get around to in the past few years are the same things I didn’t get to this year either.

Sending out Christmas cards.

I even went so far as to put the cards I bought last year out on my dining room table (among the temporary home of the Polar Express set at the North Pole, courtesy of my son.) I looked at the bag nearly every night. I passed the bag often on my way to: working for a living, working on Christmas gifts for my elderly friends, writing poetry, journaling, breathing, watching Christmas films with my family and endless episodes of “Antiques Roadshow”. My husband is a bit addicted to the show! Alas, the bag didn’t get put into use. Maybe next year.

Losing X number of pounds by Christmas.

Nope, didn’t get that accomplished either. I gave that one a lot more thought and even an infrequent effort or two. Alas, I am still my soft, squishy self and the cats continue to love sleeping on my cushiony softness. In my next life, I would make a great role of toilet tissue. 🙂

Learn to stop getting annoyed at a second’s notice and popping my cork.

Well, I’m still menopausal, so I don’t really suppose this one is a realistic hope until that phase of my life is finished. How much it’s got to do with it, I’m not sure, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Actually, if I really think about it, I have probably made a wee bit of progress in this area. Or I’m deluding myself and I’m still a nasty old bat!

Have my life all together and be the picture of total contentment.

I’m sorry, I was so busy laughing at the notion of this last one that I forgot to keep typing. I’ve come to the conclusion that as long as I breathe on this earth, I’m going to remain a human and continue making mistakes at the rate of about 1,000 per day. The good news is: God has my back and He’s nowhere as clueless as I am!

Remember to send out Christmas greetings on time.

Hey, wait, I AM wishing my dear friends a Merry Christmas on time! You CAN teach an old cat lady new tricks. Yay, there may be hope for me yet! 🙂

My Christmas wish for you is that whoever you are, whatever you believe, and wherever you are in life at this time; I wish for you a very Merry Christmas, peace in your heart, discernment for God’s will in your life, family and true friends to support you and cushion the ride when life gets bumpy. And it will. As long as you’re breathing and taking up space on this planet, it will. But just like for me, God’s got your back if you let Him.

Now THAT’S an awesome thought at Christmastime.

Happy Birthday Jesus!

& Blessings to you!

 

 

10/10/11 making tiME for ME


Poster (Time)

"TIME" Image by KTVee via Flickr

Good morning one and all! It’s been a busy few weeks. September is crazy busy with birthdays, anniversaries, Oktoberfest, LIFE….

October is the month I’m declaring that I’m important enough to devote some serious time to improving my health and giving me some spiritual and mental chill time. I don’t do this anymore. Maybe that’s why my body has landed in the state it’s in. I’m not sure what the state is called. Unkept, Let Go, Just Don’t Give A… any of those would fit. I’m moving to a new state, giving notice: I’m too important to live my life with one foot “in the grave” and the other foot in “I’m just too tired to care”.

October 1st, I began a health program recommended by a friend. The first 21 days are designed to ingrain some new mental and physical habits. I’ll report at the conclusion of the 21 days how I think it’s going. At this point I can report that I’m feeling better, lighter, a little more energetic and generally pretty happy with it.

I’ve also decided to work on my own recovery program. If you read this blog last month, you may have noted that my mind was so absorbed in my loved one’s life that I wasn’t giving a lot of effort to my own recovery. That’s never good or very productive at all. It’s kind of like when your car is stuck in some mud, instead of moving forward a bit to get out of the rut, you just spin those wheels harder and harder in place, determined that THAT will get you free. But it never does seem to, does it?

I may have mentioned the book “The Help” awhile back. I read it over the weekend. What a great book! Talk about keeping my stomach in knots and turning page after page to see what happens next! Our Book Club for “The Help” is next Monday, October 17th. What a lively discussion I’m anticipating. 🙂  I’ve waited to go see the movie until after I read the book, thankfully. To do it the other way around would have robbed me of so much of the tension I felt throughout the book. If anyone is interested in going to see the film this weekend, let me know.

Until next time, enjoy this weather and your countless blessings. :–)

Cheers!