New Year’s Conundrum

It seems that I am only able to do life improvement in one arena at a time:.if my weight loss/nutrition is going well, keeping up with editing my book falls behind. If I am very self-disciplined with my writing and editing, my physical self-care falls behind. Let’s not even wonder how my spiritual reading and discipline fluctuates as my stress or home responsibilities escalate!

I am blissfully envious of seemingly  balanced people…I am blissfully unaware of the work/scheduling/ accountability required to pull that off on a regular basis. I settle sometimes for a hippie mentality of “all things come in their time”, because it excuses my temporary ambivalence or apathy.

I do best when I follow a structured regimen of daily, weekly, and monthly plans that cover all the bases important to me: spirituality, marriage, parenting, physical self-care, writing and recreation. Things like volunteering and church involvement have their place, but after my family’s needs (and my own) are met.

Here’s to a new start, 2017! And a new plan for all the areas of life 🙂

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18 and Life to Go

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This is my only son.

My firstborn.

Today he turns 18 years old, but I chose this old photo of him because it shows him rowing away from me (us).

In so many ways, there’s nothing more anxiety-provoking than launching your first child into the world. But when he leaves us in 3 months, I don’t actually expect him to come back, except for (maybe) in the summers in between college years. I expect he will probably start and finish college in a timely manner, find his way in the world, find a nice girl, get married eventually, have a family of his own.

For any mother, having her very first child turn 18, register for college classes and Selective Service, make adult-sized decisions and mistakes: terrifying. Because that first launch is the final test as to whether his mom and dad did a good (or not-so-good) job of parenting him. Did we teach him enough about God? About kindness, compassion, community concerns, how to treat women, how to succeed without putting money first? Did we teach him how to be a good man?

I can’t even imagine what it is like for him; to look forward to college, to realize that he will finally be totally independent from us, will make every decision himself, every morning that he wakes up. Maybe he is like me, launching into adult life without a plan or a well-developed format. Or maybe he is like his dad, who was already planning his life before he even started it, who had signed up for the military before he even WAS 18. Yeah. I think he IS like his dad. Who although not perfect, is a good man, is a goal-oriented person, who sees the pros and cons analytically; not me, who jumped into everything with both feet without even looking.

That makes me feel a little bit better.

Happy 18th Birthday, Son. May you make this world better than it was before you entered it. We love you.

 

Check out my new blog, From Conception to Birth, also on WordPress!

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Shesabadmother has been pretty quiet, mostly because I am writing a book on vocational transitions!
Check out my book blog, From Conception to Birth, on WordPress. You can also reach it by going to http://www.bookbirthing.wordpress.com
Let me know what you think! And I am looking for additional interview subjects, especially minorities, gay or lesbian folks, and atheists or agnostics (to better reflect the general population). Contact me via the other blog…peace to you!

In the New Year, deciding DAILY to follow the real Jesus!

still…pertinent this New Year’s!

shesabadmother

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      Jesus made LOTS of decisions that left other people scratching their heads: he rejected the Pharisees’ and Saducees’ superficial notions of perfection and the Law, and spent his time reaching out to the flawed, good people that God brought into his path: the tax collectors, the poor, the huddled masses, the fishermen (the blue collar workers of that day!) – some of whom became his disciples, also the diseased and homeless.  But he also lived in truth, and spoke truth to those who had lost themselves in sin (anything that separates us from our heavenly Father), in corruption, even into demon possession.  He came that we might have everlasting life, and live in Heaven with his Father forever, and that our lives might have the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22).  He lived the life that his Father had intended for…

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CS Lewis far better things

This last year has been a whirlwind of medical issues and disappointments, but it has also been very fruitful in the writing department!  I have made significant strides in the construction and editing of my book on vocational transitions; secured more interviews for the book, did (and re-did!) structure and practical issues, and generally, paid more attention to my book than I did to my blog.

I have spent much time trying to neutrally look at how I perceive the world, my past, my circumstances, and the larger issue of fairness. To try to figure out whether pursuing fairness and justice in life circumstances is worth the cost that you pay in the end.

I guess I have discovered this: that the answer is different for everybody. There are some battles worth fighting, and others that are destructive. There is more strife to be found in the pursuit of justice in some cases, than in others. So if I am truly seeking peace, I must face an unfair (or toxic) situation, assess it and then either move on or fix it.

If I stand at a blank wall, shaking my fist at it, it will neither move nor respond.

If I stand at a wall long enough to see a door through which I can travel, that is progress.

I wish that I were wise enough to immediately discern the difference! But alas: I am not.

In the last nine months, I have also discovered this: that an intellect in motion tends to stay in motion, and one at rest tends to begin to softly snore.

The more I write, the better I write, the better I feel, the more I write.

Find your passion, and keep moving! We can neither re-live yesterday, nor predict tomorrow.

So move ahead. Stop looking back.

 

 

Beauty, Courage, Discipline, Sacrifice

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For me, beauty comes in many forms: poetry, prose, fiction, photographs, mixed-media art, sculpture, the smell of old books and mysterious attics, a memory of reading Nancy Drew books while perched in trees, the mystery of the perfect smell of my mom’s pasta sauce, the groove in that runs down the bark of an old tree (perpendicular to the ground), watching my nieces and nephews running around my parents yard in search of plastic Easter eggs filled with jellybeans or loose change. It’s something neither delicate or indelicate.

Courage? Boldness, taking risks, staying committed, being countercultural, sticking to my beliefs while having the flexibility to let God change my mind about something (or somebody), doing something that could cause a scar but gives a rush, holding back from running after my children during their first time on a two-wheeled bicycle, having a willingness to see – and change – my stubbornness or anything else that holds me back from embracing the universe.

The Discipline to tell the Truth? That one is more difficult; some people find that truth is just saying whatever comes to mind – which can engender cruelty; some people feel that truth is too ephemeral to say anything whatsoever; others don’t think that truth even exists. I feel that God’s truth is eternal, Man’s truth is fleeting and amorphous, and my truth is dependent on how I feel that day. So my truth can never actually be depended upon totally, unless tried over time and discerned over days, if not weeks. Discovering this has begun to turn me from an impulsive person who was capable of using my words to wound, to someone who makes attempts to pick carefully so as to avoid harm; but someone who still believes that there are things that are always inherently harmful – racism, sexism, suicide, genocide, disunity caused by selfishness, and hate. When in doubt – I compare it against how Jesus operated in the New Testament – from love – love for God and his fellow humans.

Capacity for Sacrifice? There are states in life that are supposed to be self-sacrificial, but which certainly people fail at. There is somehow nothing more disappointing than a mom who always chooses herself over her children; the damage that is left is self-evident and heartbreaking. It is also alarming to see a father choose his own selfish, sexual needs in order to pursue a girlfriend, over his own wife and children. It is horrible to watch a husband and father denigrate, dominate and abuse a family. It is a failure of epic proportions for a member of the clergy to engage in sinful pursuits, instead of denying his flesh and being spiritually pure. The implication? The Truth? That certain states or statuses afford a higher responsibility in self-sacrifice, and when that is failed, there is a circumference of damage that extends past the self.

May you pursue excellence in these four areas, this day and always.

(Do I find it ironic that the very person who birthed the quote, failed at every single one of these? Yes – but not surprising. Not surprising at all. Because there were moments in which Ernest Hemingway succeeded at them, too, and so he knew how to compare the two states – success and failure.)

God Grant You

Serenity prayer

Did you know that anxiety affects 18% of the population of the United States? (http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics) And treatment of anxiety is estimated to contribute about one-third of the total $148,000,000,000 annual mental health treatment “bill” in our country.

So much of our lives today involves decisions, people, and circumstances that are completely out of our control. We can devote so much time, energy, and love to our children and at the end of the day, there are still things that can happen that can change the course of their lives forever. We can pour our hearts into our marriages, and the other person could still choose to turn their backs on us. We could put all of our intellect and devotion into our vocation, job, or career, and we could still be cut by corporate layoffs or bad management decisions.

And still – it is part of our personal path to find our “happy place”, to seek peace despite our circumstances. Part of that process is finding support, especially if you experience anxiety. Sometimes you can get help by having a therapist explore new coping skills, but sometimes medicine is necessary in order to help balance out what your brain can’t do on its own. It may be necessary to use both tools in order to get totally well, and that’s okay; it is better to accept help and to be functioning, than to hide your pain, stress and anxiety. That approach can lead to all sorts of relational and functional problems, and can ruin your life.

It is also necessary, if you are experiencing long-term anxiety, to establish patterns of thought choices that enhance your life instead of diminishing it. For example, if you have negative internal thought patterns, you will have to train yourself to replace those negative thoughts with neutral or positive thoughts. This approach will take some time, but is an empowering method of self esteem rehabilitation and can also improve your physical health (Google “negativity and physical health” for info on how anxiety and negativity can make you sick).

The Serenity Prayer (pictured above) is a good start. Realizing that we are not in control of everything in this life, but that what we ARE in control of, we can take the reins of that and set the tone for – that is a very empowering thing. It is not a moment, per se, but an Attitude Adjustment that requires practice and gentle reminders. It may help you to copy the Serenity Prayer and post it somewhere noticeable – your dashboard, your mirror, your work desk, your fridge. Feeling helpful and powerful – instead of helpless – is a very good start onto the path of wellness.

If there is some event, some person, something that started you on the path to anxiety, personal uncertainty, or physical illness – let it go. Hand it back to the universe! If that means you have to write a letter and burn it in the backyard – do it. If that means you have to take all of the reminders around your house and throw them in the trash – do it. If that means you have to go to a therapist – JUST DO IT.

There is no time like Right Now, to start to get well!

Peace to you today.