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Things We Have to Find a Way to Make Peace with   Leave a comment

Things we have to find a way to make peace with:

Aging.

Our responsibilities to love and care for our children and help them toward adulthood.

Loving our children as they are, not as we imaged they would be or think they should be.

Years ago, before I started through this middle phase of life I thought I knew all these things were important things to accept.  It’s not like I’d never heard about these things.

Now I’m not so sure.  As in I’m not sure I accepted them nor did I know how hard it is to accept things that I can clearly see are right and rational.  Knowing something is true does not cause my mortal mind to accept it and move forward.  I know that I believe it.  I know that it’s true that these realities will happen and unfold around and in me and that they are in fact destined to do so.

But I still don’t truly know how to accept these truths.

That aging will happen, is happening to me and those I love.

(Not easy, still think I’m immortal just like a 10 year old does.)

That I had/have a responsibility to love my children well and help them an appropriate amount as they grown up.

(Not easy, because how the heck do you figure out what is truly needed for each child person you live with and what you’d better not even try?)

That I also have a responsibility to fully accept my children as they are, not as my foolish self thinks they should be.

(And not like I don’t love them and like them as they are, but I wonder if I must not fully accept them as they are, since my brain brings up sentences I could say that start with phrases like, “If you would just try…..,” or “Don’t you think it would be a good idea if you….,” or “Here’s how you….,” when advice is unasked.  Thankfully at least part of the time I don’t say these sentences, and remind myself that the particular thing I’m getting stuck on isn’t truly important.)

The second and third things make a great paradox don’t they?  I hope you noticed I have to make peace with my responsibility for my kids and my not responsibility for my kids.  Where’s the easy 1, 2, 3 step plan for that, please?  Did I miss the instruction manual?

 

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Posted August 14, 2019 by swanatbagend in parenting

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Appearances   1 comment

Appearances can be deceiving.  Trite but true.

Over the last hundred years or so, image has become more important, more forceful in our culture.   Recently, of course, one of the main avenues for that is social media.

I’m thinking about this because I just updated my profile photo on Facebook.  We went to a friend’s wedding Saturday night and it was a cocktail dress occasion.  So I looked pretty good.  I wanted a photo of that because I almost never dress up like that.  I don’t usually wear makeup either.  So of course not only the occasion but how good I looked had to be commemorated by taking pictures.  Then once I had the great shot of me I had to use it on Facebook.

Well, I didn’t have to, but if you were 52, and you had a photo like that, and at that distance the wrinkles around your mouth were not visible, I’d lay money you’d have used the photo yourself.

So here’s the thing.  You get these compliments, and it’s nice to know that you look good.  But what’s inside?

At the same time that I managed to look pretty darn good, I’m still rolling through anxiety and depression, as I have been for the past 10 months.  It’s much better, yes.  But it’s still here and I’m still struggling.  But you can’t see that in the photo.

So how many of the other people out there that I think look great, either on their social media accounts, or that I see in person, and sigh because I can never, ever be as “together” as they are, are also struggling, suffering or silent?  Of course I’m never silent, but we’re not talking about me now.  Those other people you see every day.  Odds are I bet, they are fighting something.

…those “together” people.

Solution   Leave a comment

Our pastor said it’s like wedding vows–following Christ eventually points you to the same fact–you can’t keep the vows.  You could do a pretty good job, maybe.  But you can’t fulfill them completely and well.  You will mess up.  You will sin.

So, there has to be a solution.  Why are there the vows if we can’t keep them?  Why are there right and wrong things to do if we can’t always choose the right thing?

We know what’s right, but don’t follow through.  We need forgiveness in our relationships with our dearest ones and in our relationship with God.

Thank God for his forgiveness and mercy.

Posted July 29, 2019 by swanatbagend in reality

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Depression Inside vs. Outside   Leave a comment

When people ask how you are there ought to be a rating system you can use.  Sometimes it’s too complicated to explain how you are.  Sometimes it just goes back to the reality that nobody can see inside your head or read your mind.

So I think there need to be two scales, maybe 1 to 10 that you could use to let someone else know how you are, when someone who knows you fight depression asks how you are doing.  (Which, thank you to those of you who do ask.)

There is one scale for your functioning, the outside stuff others can see, the things that need to get done and how typically you are getting them done.  Is everybody clothed and fed at your house and can you find the car keys and take care of the cat and the toddler?  Can you drive the kids to soccer practice?

The other scale is how you really are.

That’s the one that nobody can actually see, the one that I’ve found to be hard to explain, the internal something is wrong that is not rational, the internal something that one desperately wants to be right again.  (I guess I’m not so much writing about circumstantial depression, i.e. depression that has a cause such as a major loss in your life.  I’m talking about the depression that visits you despite your doing a lot of things right, things you’re supposed to do to take care of yourself.)  This is the gray cloud that lands on you for no reason.  This is the goo you slog through on the way to the next bus stop in your day.  It’s the lack of interest in things you usually enjoy.  It’s the internal thing sapping your joy. 

It’s the internal reality that others cannot see, but that I think needs to be acknowledged.  I don’t know if it would help, but perhaps some sort of shorthand would, “Internal is a 5, external a 7,” or a 2 or 3 or whatever.  If you’re functioning, that’s great, we’re glad.  At the same time, we know that a lot of times in life you have to fake it til you make it.  The inside may not match up with the outside.  And that’s OK, it doesn’t have to right away.  It will someday.

But for now, there’s more to me than meets the eye.

Maybe this is obvious and there’s no point in blogging about it. We all hold things inside of us that others cannot see and don’t know about.  So those with depression aren’t the privileged few.

Maybe we all need an internal/external scale, a validation of the dichotomy we all live with at some level.  I think that makes me feel less crazy.  And that’s worth something.

 

Posted June 1, 2019 by swanatbagend in mental health

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Life is a Journey   1 comment

Life is a journey, not a destination.  Right?  I tend to think that once a problem is solved, I won’t have any more problems, and nothing else will ever go wrong.

But of course, that’s not how life works.

With my recent time of depression and anxiety, true to form, I assumed when depressed that I would always be depressed.  Then when I felt better, I assumed I was home free.

When I got depressed and anxious again, pretty severely, I thought that I had been sucked back into the Upside Down and would never be able to find my way out again.

It all started last fall after about a year and a half of life stress and transitions, followed by a too big dose of stress, and from October until March I was seriously depressed and so anxious it was impossible to believe that things were going to get better.  I couldn’t see a way into the future.  Things appeared to my eyes to be falling apart.  These negative thoughts went so far as to take the form of obsessive beliefs that most of our household appliances were no longer working, that our van’s transmission didn’t work, that there was a leak in the water pipes and our pressure wasn’t high enough.  What else?  There was one truth in my thoughts–our computer was so slow as to be completely useless. Thankfully, dh bought a new one at Christmas, so that problem was solved.

At one point in November of last year I really thought that my house was rotting from within and that with all the rain we had been getting, and the green mildew decorating the siding, that it would just up and rot, and collapse into the forest.

Nothing would go forward, nobody would live to grow up and survive.

In March, after five and a half months of that, the cloud of despair just lifted one morning while I was watching the birds I feed out my kitchen window.  “Could this be it? Is this really happening?”  I went through the day thinking it would come back.  It didn’t, not for three and a half weeks.

Then it descended again over the space of about 20 minutes one evening in early April.  After another month, it has lifted again.

So, the obvious observation is, it will change.  Whatever it is now, it’s bound to be different, whether that’s good or bad.

But above and beyond that is the reality that my fears weren’t real.  God did keep me alive, and he’s kept me and my family through a horrible time.  It wasn’t me, because I didn’t have faith that I would get better.  I didn’t have any faith whatsoever.

However it doesn’t seem that my faith had much to do with my salvation from this despair thing.  Seems like God does the work and does the providing.

I don’t know what else will come, but I don’t have a choice.  I go on knowing the cloud could come back down.  One thing I know–God has brought me safe thus far.  So here’s my Ebenezer.

Posted May 15, 2019 by swanatbagend in mental health, reality

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Why Candles?   Leave a comment

I recently thanked a friend again for a lovely scented candle she had given me, vanilla nutmeg cardamom (I have no idea where she found such a unique scent).  She said, “You know, you like candles more than anyone else I know.”

This is why I really like candles and enjoy having them on my mantelpiece or on top of my desk.

1. I love the bright or soft colors of the wax.

2. I love the scent of a good quality candle–floral, foresty, fruity–but it does have to be good quality.  What I don’t like are candles that smell like cheap fabric softener.

3. I like the glow and flicker of the flame.

Put those three factors together, and I don’t know why everyone doesn’t love candles.

A candle flame is bright, warm, cheerful, and it lights up a room.  At the same time it is frail, feeble and small.  It flickers.  It moves in a magical way.  The color, the scent and the flame unify to speak to my heart about eternity.  The candle flame is both fragile and ethereal, and strong.  I can focus on a candle and think clearly.  The candle flame brings me to the center and calms me down.

A candle is my statement of faith.

That’s why the candle my friend gave me is almost gone.

Posted May 14, 2019 by swanatbagend in reflections

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Cheese Biscuits   Leave a comment

If you like the biscuits at a major chain seafood restaurant, here’s how to make them.

 

Preheat the oven to 450.

 

1/2 cup butter

2 cups flour

1 T. sugar

1 T. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2-3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

3/4 cup milk

 

Using a pastry blender cut the butter into the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cheese.  Add the milk and stir until all the dough is uniform.  I always have to add a bit more water or milk to get most of the flour in.  Drop the dough by spoonfuls onto an un-greased pizza sheet.  Bake for 14 minutes until they look golden and crunchy on top.

In the meantime, melt 1/4 cup butter and add to that 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. garlic powder and 1 tsp. onion powder, stirring together.  Immediately after the biscuits come out of the oven, top each biscuit with a bit of the butter mix.

Posted May 11, 2019 by swanatbagend in recipes

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