I Dare You

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“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.” – Seneca

Too Weird Not to Share

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Okay — this is so odd I had to share it. The KKK fighting Westboro Baptist? Somehow, I can’t see this as a win for anyone, but you have to admit: free speech certainly is alive (and weird?) in the US of A…

Silence

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Meditation is hard for me. I’m not good at sitting still. I’m not particularly good at walking mindfully. What I do best is be in nature. Want someone to watch birds with? I’m your girl. Sit and watch a mountain breathe? Sounds great. But sit on my butt on a cushion/ a chair/ a zafu? Hmmm…

So I have to trick my monkey mind. I’m a firm believer in what Thich Nhat Hanh says about washing the dishes: just wash the dishes. Don’t anticipate dessert, he admonishes — just wash the dishes. It’s the same with being still: just be still. Focus.

Love and Other Bullshit Ideas

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They say that actions speak louder than words but I sometimes wonder if either of them are effective.. I know that the words “I love you” are sometimes over used and have become trite and cliché. I also find that there are some things that I try to “do” to say I love you are also seen as trite an cliché. I sometimes think that love is rather insignificant to life in general. It seems like a word that really carries very little importance or weight.

Look at the people around you that you think about as being in love. OK. Skip being in love and just settle for people that love each other. Look at the way they live their lives: two different worlds and interests. Yeah I know that they say that opposites attract, but I see some incredible combinations of people sometimes.

Artists with scientists. Poets with realists. Reds with browns. Summers with autumns. I sometimes wonder if love isn’t something we pressed on ourselves to fill a void. I see people that break up on Monday and have to have a new lover by the weekend. I see people who have n voice or purpose of their own. They have to be part of a couple. They have to be somebody’s something. They can’t be Joe or Jane. They have to be Joe and Jane or Joe’s Jane.

That isn’t love. And it isn’t love to need someone to be Joe’s Jane. Maya Angelou has a remarkable poem titled “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”.

A free bird leaps on the back

Of the wind and floats downstream

Till the current ends and dips his wing

In the orange suns rays

And dares to claim the sky.

But a BIRD that stalks down his narrow cage

Can seldom see through his bars of rage

His wings are clipped and his feet are tied

So he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill

Of things unknown but longed for still

And his tune is heard on the distant hill for

The caged bird sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze

And the trade winds soft through

The sighing trees

And the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright

Lawn and he names the sky his own.

But a caged BIRD stands on the grave of dreams

His shadow shouts on a nightmare scream

His wings are clipped and his feet are tied

So he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with

A fearful trill of things unknown

But longed for still and his

Tune is heard on the distant hill

For the caged bird sings of freedom.

Too many people allow this myth of love. This thing that we have allowed ourselves to create to make us comfortable in our fears and unwillingness to leap forth as an individual. Think about it. People who live in fear of striking out on their own hide in wasted lives. They claim love. I love her. I love my kids. I love where I am. They don’t know the meaning of love. Love is that feeling you have for freedom. That feeling you have to soar with the butterflies. Love is that manic expression that your heart longs for.

That yearning you have to sing loud and dance naked in the fields. That is the love of your life. But we have allowed ourselves to believe that giving up who we are and becoming who someone else wants us to be is love. We see ourselves as sacrificing for the better things in life. I call Bullshit. We give up the greater things of life. Freedom. Expressiveness. Creativity. Why?

To meet someone else’s expectations of who we should be, what we should look like and how we should we act.

Yea. We trade life for some wasted thought that we have created to hide behind. We keep our own selves down. We turn our backs on what keeps us happy and fulfilled for something we call love.

Confusion

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A short while ago, a Facebook page called ‘The Christian Left’ asked its members to help support a FB ad. There was an innocuous ad:

Are you a Christian? Are you a Liberal or a Progressive too?

Do you feel alone in the ‘Conservative Christian’ world?

Join us.

However, FB pulled it. The idea that you can be Christian — follow the words of Jesus, believe in Christian salvation, and support liberal ideology — is antithetical to conservative, fundamentalist and evangelical Christians. Who seem to have the airwaves these days.

I don’t get it. My heart hurts over this one. The same way it hurts when people justify homophobia, or racism, or Islamophobia through Biblical text. It’s the worst, most dangerous kind of cherry-picking.

Even if you believe in an historical Jesus, and are a devout Christian, the actual Bible was written by men (really — no women). It was edited, reworked, revised and translated by men. All human, all fallible. Even if you believe in divine inspiration, all of it — each word, each punctuation mark — was filtered through the infinitely flawed persons involved. Not one himself perfect.

And it’s such a complex, contradictory text. If you want to look to Leviticus for words against homosexuality, you have to take the rest of Leviticus as well. And really? We don’t want to… But Paul isn’t much better — rife w/ contradiction, spelling out in detail sexism, racism, and homophobia. Do we want to return to a time when women couldn’t cut their hair or speak in church, when slaves were acceptable, when widows couldn’t remarry…? In other words, we choose what we will follow from both the Old Christian Testament and the New Christian Testament. And far too little of what we choose is loving, these days…

If you want to dismiss and ridicule the various laws of the Qur’an as a Christian — and I know several Christians who, cloaked in ‘religion,’ do just that — several laws in Leviticus are at least as punitive and ridiculous. Be wary, Matthew says, of the log in your own eye, hypocrite…

My heart grieves when I hear people defend a homophobic agenda — one that preaches hatred of dear friends, family members and wonderful colleagues. That it’s clothed in a Jacob’s coat of colorful religious belief is even darker, and far worse. I can’t imagine the historical Jesus or the Christian Jesus preaching hatred of anyone. When organizations with honorable pasts, and admirable names, make statements like gays are responsible for Adolf Hitler, his Brown Shirts, and the Holocaust, I wonder what Jesus they believe in. Certainly not the one who loved all the little children in my VBS class, even the gay ones. And not the black ones, according to several ostensibly Christian churches — racist Christianity is known as ‘Christian Identity.’ One presidential front-runner’s church even labeled the Pope as the Antichrist

So when the Christian Left has its ad yanked from Facebook because of ‘negative user feedback,’ you have to wonder: who doesn’t think Jesus believed in clothing the poor, feeding the hungry and being good Samaritans? Who has a problem w/ treating everyone w/ loving kindness? What’s wrong with believing that the Jesus who likened the rich man getting to heaven as a camel going through the eye of a needle, would have real problems w/ current corporate behaviors…? And if you do believe that hatred, class warfare, racism and homophobia are Biblically sanctioned, how do you call those fears Christianity…?

Fires

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Being severely depressed is having things in your brain randomly light on fire. If you’re severely depressed, these fires happen so frequently that all you have time to do is run around trying to get the fires to go out. Sometimes you have water for the fires, sometimes all you can do is try to light a backfire.

Sometimes nothing works, and you want to die. Sometimes nothing works, and you live. You can’t tell what’s going to happen, but you can’t ignore the fires because they’re FIRES. You have to put them out.

Trying to get back to normal is like building a house. To build a house, you need blueprints, materials, labor, and know-how/experience. I have some of these things, but not all at the same time. And all my experience is in putting out fires. Not building.

Relapse

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I don’t trust my new-found stability. At all. It’s been 18 months since I started "recovering”.
And yet I still feel unsteady on my mental feet, shaky in my equilibrium. I feel like my stability could go at any moment – like a three legged stool that was meant to have four legs. So what does my therapy tell me to do with those kinds of thoughts? Well, examine them: is the idea that "my stability could go at any moment" actually true?
What are common triggers for relapse, anyway

  • Bereavement
  • Job loss and financial woes
  • Victim of crime
  • Large scale change, such as moving to a new home or getting a new job
  • Hormonal changes (eg. menopause)
  • Physical illness

But each of us has our own set of triggers, so the ones I’ve identified above are just a starting point. Still, it’s somewhere to start. I encourage you to set up your own list of triggers for an episode.
Okay, so the idea we’re questioning here is "my stability could go at any moment." But… looking at the list above, I see a lot of VERY BIG things happening to people causing them to relapse. Not so much the tiny day to day life stuff causing relapse.
That makes me feel pretty hopeful that relapse is, in general, caused by the big things: not taking care of yourself, grief from losing someone or your job or being the victim of a crime, and even big positive changes such as moving or getting a new job.
I see recovering from depression as trying to bail out a leaky boat. Eventually you may get the boat fixed so it’s not leaking anymore, through therapy and meditation etc. But if a large wave comes along, you may have to bail out the boat again—that’s not a failure, that’s just physics.

 

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