Archive for the ‘purpose’ Tag

How Normal People Are   Leave a comment

As I waltzed through a three and a half week period of feeling really great during my healing from depression process, I was so happy.  I was just so thankful to finally (I thought) be through with the pit of despair, any change was welcome and this was a truly wonderful change.

I had the energy to do projects I hadn’t had energy for.  I had the get up and go to clean the Florida room and sell and give away items nobody was using.  I did a lot.

And mentally, I enjoyed it.  Life was purposeful and I felt hopeful about various potential future plans.  I wasn’t overthinking the future either; it was just there and I thought about it occasionally and it seemed like a good thing.

It only occurred to me later that it’s possible that what I experienced for those three and a half weeks is what other people live all the time.

I don’t mean every person, all the time, because obviously some people have more issues than I do, some have fewer.   Some people’s lives are filled with material and spiritual difficulties so far beyond what I experience that clearly they aren’t living the dream.  Life is rarely that simple for anyone.

I just mean that feeling good, having lots of energy, having hope for the future might be other people’s normal.

My normal has usually been more subdued and less optimistic than that.  And I thought that was normal.  Maybe there’s a way to be in hopefulness and make it more of a stay than an occasional vacation.  It can’t be the goal of my life to get there, because I don’t have the power to guarantee that outcome.

But what that knowledge does is show me my variables: I regularly have to overcome them.  If I have to get myself to the front edge of motivation every day, that’s an obstacle.  If I have to sweep together enough energy for the to-do list every day, that’s an obstacle.  Those are real challenges.  This knowledge dispenses mercy, mercy on me and on every other person who doesn’t have a full load of energy, motivation and hope.

He came not for those who are well, but for those who know they are sick.  So if you need the physician–take heart.  He is for you.

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Posted August 27, 2019 by swanatbagend in mental health, reflections

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Calling   Leave a comment

When I was a teenager, and a young married, I felt at a loss as to what my calling was.  I had a high school diploma.  I earned a college degree.  I even got a master’s degree, and I was teaching English composition at a community college.  I was also married, playing piano at church, doing some freelance writing, but I still felt lost, like I wasn’t there,  as if I hadn’t fully arrived at my calling.  This was despite the fact that I was using the gifts I knew I had in fulfilling both a vocation and an avocation.

Only now, twenty years later, do I have more understanding of what I’m good at.  I feel more at ease with who I am and what I’m supposed to be doing.

I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

But I do know more about what compels me, and what will drive whatever I do, as I figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  I learned through experiences with unwanted and unnecessary cesareans how much suffering is perpetuated on women and their infants in the name of safety and health.  I learned through postpartum depression how alone and how horrible someone can feel.  I learned through parenting spirited children how much practical support and encouragement a mother can need.  I learned when my eyes were opened to all the differences of ability around me, how much God adores every one of his children.  I saw how labels, while perhaps necessary, don’t fully do individuals justice.

Precisely because of the events that happened to me, I was given a desire to nurture and support others.  I gained the motivation to help mothers survive well because I experienced why that mattered.  I resonate with the outcasts because I’ve seen the view through the eyes of some outsiders.  I have compassion on the anxiety and despair some people endure because I lived that myself.

I don’t know exactly what the job title is; I just know this is what I’m doing.

I couldn’t have created this desire, this plan, out of nowhere when I was twenty-four years old.  It came from trips through the fire.

So if you are younger, and feel like you’re just spinning your wheels, and that what you’re experiencing right now isn’t taking you anywhere, think again.  It’ll come; trust me, it’ll come.

Posted April 13, 2018 by swanatbagend in identity

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More   Leave a comment

At many points throughout my life, I have wanted to do more.

Whether I was genuinely motivated by a wish of my own or an original idea, or just looking on at what other amazing people had accomplished, the emotional results were the same.  I read about a five year old who started her own non-profit to bring hot lunch to the other children in her school.  I observed the faithful and amazing way a woman I knew wisely and lovingly parented her children.  I admired local entrepreneurs who started their own brewery in an abandoned church.  I saw a doctor friend both parent her children and further her career.   I scratched my head in amazement at the knowledge and skill required to found and run a company like Google or Tesla.  I gathered from the vibe in my culture that I was supposed to have a paid career and that my at-home-ness was an odd aberration that better childcare options would make unnecessary.

At times, the observations I made about what other people were doing left me with the sense that there was something wrong with me, that the work I found joy in was too little of a contribution, that I should somehow be doing something more or something better.

Should.

Be doing more.

Be doing better.

Then I saw an ant.  It was doing what ants do best.  She was seeking food for her sisters.  She was removing obstacles from the doorway to her nest.  She was cleaning her antennae.  She was sprinting along the sidewalk.  She was crunchy, streamlined, tiny, formed of amazing minuscule parts, but perfect.  She was beautifully pursuing who she was made to be.

She wasn’t trying to pollinate flowers.  She wasn’t feeling disappointed because she couldn’t get her abdomen to light up every night.  She wasn’t attempting to migrate to Mexico.  She wasn’t sunk into despair because she could not stride rapidly past into the upper distance like those giants who shake the earth.

My conclusion is not that challenging aspirations should not be pursued because they are too difficult, or that there is an underclass of people who aren’t good enough to deserve meaningful work, or that a specific gender is responsible for all childcare and it’s immoral if they escape their homes.

Rather, there is no need to think we must do something better or something more or something else that someone outside us says we should be doing.  We can move forward following the leadings we’re given.  We can trust that who we are is enough.

 

 

 

Posted December 1, 2017 by swanatbagend in identity

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Helpless   Leave a comment

Life is supposed to be ever onward and upward.  Our culture, as you’ve probably already been told by other bloggers, developed from the American dream, which all started when someone had the audacity to decide our country would be based upon people having the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Somehow, since then, our raison d’être has ballooned to include not just the pursuit of happiness, but the thing itself.

Advertising and media envelop us in images of how it is supposed to be.  Life is full of sunshine, with healthy athletic attractive families prancing across fields.  If you just see the right doctors and buy the right car, take the right medication, get your kid into the right college, your existence will travel forward on this pleasant upward trajectory–forever.

It is true that we do learn skills and competences, and move toward being more independent as we grow and develop from a helpless infant to an adult.  We are responsible to do what we can with what we’re given and not sit around waiting for someone else to do the work.

However, our care of our bodies cannot stop unexpected events from happening.  Our work doesn’t guarantee that we will have a meaningful career, grow older with a loving spouse, and have a pleasant retirement, despite our culture relentlessly pushing this model as what to expect, what should be.

While our skills are valuable and meaningful, they can’t save us from old age and death.

I’d like to think they could, but all I have to do is look around me.  I look at my own life.  Despite doing what is in me with the strength I’ve been given to live a good life, so many of the big things that make the most difference long-term, I don’t control.

I like to think I am in control of them.  I work hard to make things be the best they can be.  And I know how I think things should be.

I make choices all the time.  I work.  I respond.  I choose.  It’s not that I have no power.

But my power is limited.  I don’t control the forces that have the most influence on me–what happens to me and who is by my side when it happens.  I cannot by sheer will command the ocean to roar and another human being to do what I think is right and my heart, mind, soul and strength to be what I think they ought to be.

I am hemmed in on every side by my impotence.

 

Posted November 21, 2017 by swanatbagend in identity, reality

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Dismantling the Myth   Leave a comment

Perhaps many others of you are in the process of dismantling this myth, as am I.  It may be because we are products of our culture.  I suspect that not every person on the planet has had to come face to face with this particular reality.  But I also suspect that I am not alone in it.

Why not?  Because that is the myth: somehow I am so unique I stand alone.  Haven’t you felt it?  Haven’t you believed it?  But only see–

I’m not immune from sickness, trouble, disease.

I’m not alone in struggling with the ‘how-tos’ of life.

I’m not excused from having bills to pay.

I’m not going to get my house or my life perfectly and beautifully organized in every particular.

I don’t have a note that says I don’t have to deal with hard situations.

I’m not going to get everything I want.  In fact, I’ll be blessed to receive some of what I want.

I’m not going to be famous when I grow up.

My mother broke this news to me at some point in my early elementary years after I was infected with some disease related to going to the movies.  I was not going to be a movie star.  I probably cried for an hour at this news.  It didn’t stop me from continuing to hope, however.

When in school and college I was singled out as a stellar student.  My teachers told me I had a bright and fantastic future ahead of me.  No discredit to them; I know they simply wanted to encourage me, but I’m afraid I took those compliments to mean that good things would just magically occur in my life, like Cinderella’s pumpkin spinning upward into a coach.  I’m sure my love of fairy tales didn’t help; I always identified myself with Prince Ivan or the third daughter of the merchant–the one who transforms the beast, sees into the heart, and ultimately passes the test and proves herself.

I’m not saying that because I am small in the universe I have no purpose.  Rather the opposite: wherever I am and whatever I am doing, my part can be played by no one else.  I was created to do good deeds prepared for me.  As he wishes, he gives different gifts to each person, for the good of all.

Those were the ‘nots’. Here are the ‘ares’.

I am going to have days that are frustrating.  I am going to make mistakes. As Christophe André observes, “It’s the rent you pay to live in the house of life.”

My children are going to grow up and leave home.

My husband will probably need a hearing aid, and yes, both of us will have gray hair–if we have hair.

I am going to get old.

I am going to die.

These realities are the flip side of the myth that says I am immortal and invincible.  I’m not sorry my myths are being eroded: I’m joining the rest of the human race.  I just wish it had happened sooner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted November 22, 2014 by swanatbagend in reality

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It’s a Wonderful Life — December 6, 2013   Leave a comment

It really is. Even with the challenges of each day, and the ongoing struggles that have stymied me at times, for years at times, it has been a wonderful life.

Even though I’ve dealt with anxiety and depression off and on, mainly at life transitions, but always there at some level since I was 12 or so.

Even though I’ve been given kids who are special and unique and need more attention and love and nurturing than the average bear, and I haven’t really felt like I was qualified.

Even though I had a cesarean forced on me, that I didn’t need, with a general anesthesia because I kept telling them what I wanted.  Even though that led to a really horrible time for months and bonding problems for a couple of years.

Even though I walked through the bitter, nasty valley of infertility.

Even though friends betrayed me several times along the road.

Even though I have an autoimmune disease which affects me a little, or a lot, depending on the day.

Even though I have an infection that started with a simple cold on November 13th, and I’m still fighting it off, and the side effects from the antibiotic we tried include muscle and joint pain and nightmares.

Even though my back hurts right now, Oh well!

Into every life some rain must fall, and really, I don’t comprehend why I’ve had relatively so little rain.

There have been so many gifts along the way, for 46 years, that even if nothing particularly spectacular ever happened to me again, the good things I’ve already experienced would be enough to provide a lot of fuel for the future.

I’ve always had really good friends; no, make that some really great friends.  Once in a lifetime friends, I’ve been blessed to have several.

I’ve had the opportunity to better myself with a college education I didn’t have to fight for.

I’ve lived in some of the most interesting and unique places in the country, moved around a lot as a child.

So I know now people from all over the country.  I sure enjoy Christmas cards!

I had a truly wonderful childhood with two of the most devoted, thoughtful parents a girl could have.  They just loved on me and were so patient with all my weaknesses.  They made holidays and camping trips so fun and every day a good day, because of their love.

I married the sweetest man I know, who although we had almost nothing in common to start out with, now we have about 28 years of experience in common, and people give us anniversary cards that claim we were made for each other…..which, it seems, we were.  How fortunate can you get?  Not saying it was fun and easy.  Just that it has been a gift.

I have been blessed with not one, not two, but three priceless people who I’m blessed to be able to call my children, when at one point I didn’t know if I would be able to have any.  They have completely changed my life and I would not be who I am today without them.

And I got to have a fantastically perfect home birth with the last one, surrounded by women who loved me.  (That seems like just a bit of a bonus, frosting on the cake!)

I have always enjoyed reading and art and music and been blessed to benefit from all these arts, in home and away.

And maybe I’m not much like George Bailey, yet, not that selfless, and don’t want to be nor claim to be that important to my little world, but I’d like to look back and be able to see that at some points I played a part that nobody else could have played, that helped someone else along.

It is a wonderful life.

Posted December 8, 2013 by swanatbagend in Uncategorized

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