Blog-tember Challenge: Mood Board

Instead of a mood board I decided to share my Vision Board that I created as part of my work through this book:

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For the past 1-2 years, I have been dealing with another bout of depression which I am sure was fueled by the stress of so many changes in my life this past year. This past summer my goal was to get healthy and one of the things in my functional medicine doctor’s plan was to read this book. The author’s point was to become a Visionary not a Critic (pp. 24-26): “While the critic whispers incessantly to you about your shortcomings, all that is wrong, and how hard you must work to change, …the visionary knows who you really are, identifies with your basic goodness, and has specific longings just for you.”  The book said to create a Vision Board by first reflecting on what hopes you have in going through this workbook. Then, by cutting out pictures from magazines that speak to these hopes and your vitality. As a former artsy crafty person, it was fun to be creative and take the time to do this for myself. So this is what I came up with.

img_0004The book asks, “What does your vision board tell you about your deepest longings and intentions for yourself on this journey to resilience?”

My deepest longing is to be free from self-sabotage brought about by my incessant self-judgements. When I strip away all this negative judgement I am left with the person I really am, even if I don’t feel like I am her. That’s why I included affirmations such as “I am free from fear; I am full of peace” and “I have the courage to change.”  They feel so very far from true-like it’s almost wrong to say them. But by not saying them, I am not true to myself and I continue along the sad road of self-sabotage. Along with the Scripture verses, “I am precious and honored” and “I am chosen, holy and Christ’s heir”-they don’t feel real, but I must fight to believe them.

I also included comforting and serene pictures to remind me that I am someone who longs for peace, rest and comfort. And it’s okay to have these things. Because when I experience them, I can then give them to others.

I included pictures and quotes about healing because true healing is not the absence of pain or disease; that’s just a cure. True healing is a mental state that shows I am resilient and have the ability to find joy in tough times.

I also included a picture of a snowman because it reminds me of the innocence of childhood and brings me back to my memories of childhood.  This is a reminder that it’s okay to be nostalgic, to receive soothing comfort from the past. While I find joy in my memories, I also desire to be creating new memories by experiencing beauty in the present moment. Because by remaining focused on the past or future, I am contributing to my old patterns of stuckness and self-sabotage. This reminds me that life is about a balance.

The book finally asks to come up with an intention statement for yourself as you go through this book. My intention as I continue along the road of healing is:

I allow myself to become who I truly am by letting go of the fear of change and of becoming this new person. I allow myself to let go of the things that overall don’t matter but instead embrace all of the beauty in my self, others and Creation.

Son of God: reflections on the film

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Dear Friend, I saw a movie about you yesterday  called Son of God. I always get my hopes up about this kind of thing, that in watching it I’ll be able to “see you” or “know you” as if for the first time. I thought the movie was well done but I definitely came away disappointed. But my self-talk was good. I realize it’s just a movie and I can’t help my cynical nature. No amount of will power can force me to become emotional or to forget all the cliche images, phrases, etc. that I’ve been bombarded with my whole life.

My brain tries to wrap itself around the idea of you, your story from the Bible. For some reason the you I’ve grown to love is not the same as you in the Bible, not yet anyway. The Bible and movies like this one are just words and images like any other powerful story. Powerful, emotional, yes, but how is the real thing different? The real thing is quieter, more private, something only you and I know. The way you love me and how I’ve come to experience this love has no comparison to anything I read or see in the media.

Yes, I shed some tears during the film, and I definitely prodded my self to look past what “I’ve always known” and see it with “new eyes” but it didn’t really help. Of course, I had the self-criticisms of “You’re just like the people in the movie who doubted, only worse ’cause you actually haven’t gotten over your doubt” and “you’re unlike anyone else who is strong in their faith; otherwise you wouldn’t be as cynical as you are.”

Some other thoughts were, what would I have done if I lived at that time? Would I have initially been intrigued, then fallen away, initially followed You, then denied or betrayed You, or would I have believed and fought for You til the end? For sure, not the latter if I were anything like I am today, always questioning, doubting, wanting proof, never settled or secure or at peace. But I have come to accept this as okay.

What I did like about the film that I don’t usually see when reading Scripture is that it really reflected Jesus’ love for everyone, even the faithless doubters, Pharisees and other self-righteous people–people like me. He was very touchy-feely which was both awkward and great.

I found myself thinking, if I live at that time, I would have treated this man like I do all powerful and popular people, who I admire. I would have felt jealous of His connection to and love for others. I would have wanted Him all to myself (I still do). Like a love-starved child, I would have wanted Him to take time out just for me. In the movie, it showed Him doing that just like in the Bible, with Peter, with the woman caught in adultery, with Nicodemus. But as always, I would think, “It’s His duty. He has to love me. I’m no more different or special than anyone else.”

At first, I couldn’t believe how I was comparing Jesus, my God, my closest Friend, to people in my life I’ve done this and continue to do this with, like my parents, siblings, leaders in my church and some of my friends and other family members I greatly admire or who I presume are especially loved, admired and popular. I really felt the peoples’ desire to just see Him, have a glimpse of Him, just touch His robe. And when He actually turned their way, acknowledged their existence, I could feel myself becoming undone. “Why me? In this whole crowd of needy, yearning people, why would I deserve even a glance?”

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at my approach to this very powerful person, as though He was just another authority figure in my life. Someone who I both idealize and fear. Someone so charming, my envy and love for them is almost one and the same. But also, someone I think I need to survive. Someone to pass on their wisdom, to fill me up, to pat my back, to teach me and mold me. I have always stood in the shadows longing to be someone different. I have always felt like a receiver, but now I know I can also be a giver.

The answer I am unravelling in my life is, this God I know and love is so much more than a person. I just can’t wait until the day when I finally can understand this. But I am willing to wait in anticipation.

As much as I am grateful for growing up the way I did, I often wonder how would I be different if I never knew Jesus, the real You, til now? Actually, most of the time, I feel that way: like I rarely experience the real You. All this stuff I read, hear about, watch, just contributes to the distortions, throws fuel on the fire of doubt and cynicism and monotony. Times when I really know You are almost always when I am alone, really centered on You.

I hear you in a way that ends up illuminating specific truths I thought I’d always “known.” My eyes are opened and I really am set free even if for a second.

 

Looking for Home

I used to be so at home on these pages.

Now I feel like a stranger wherever I go.

I could really come alive,

words were the only way to quench my thirst, sometimes

dripping, trickling

but often gushing, streaming

life-giving water for my deadness, a current

so straight and true I could always connect

anything that once seemed wayward, meaningless.

I would just feel whole, purged of the stains

of Haphazard emotions and Disastrous thoughts

Even now I am not free.

This writing is jilted

I always have to force myself to this page

Because I don’t want to face this pain

Not pain of the actual writing

But the catapulting piercing and raging pains of judgment

The judgements of this writing and of my soul behind it

Trying to scramble together any small thing I know about myself

I am so lost when I’m not broken

Because when I AM broken (again)

no one sees me as that anymore including myself

No more excuses for me.

Write the dead words

Pick up the pierce pulsating head

Move your weary body

Choose from your plethora of skills to combat that anxiety

Don’t ever let that negative thought win the battle

You can take the pain

You will push through this migraine

You will find a soft place to lay your head

A quiet haven for your restless mind

If you just look hard enough

I wish I could just forget, forget how to fight

So I could give myself a break for once

Sometimes I feel so trapped in my today, yesterday

And tomorrow

Split hairs

This was a piece I wrote for my writing group (unedited). We write words or phrases, then put them all in a bucket. We then draw one out and then spend 10 to 15 minutes writing on it. The phrase was “split hairs.”

Split hairs are hard to find but you know they’re there. For some reason, you just know when it’s time to get a hair cut. Something just feels off.

I feel “off” and “on” at the same time.

I am trying to really get at the “me” that is within.

But where do I find her?

Or maybe it’s useless because the more I try to find her, the more I push her away.

I want to live fully and be okay with it.

For some reason, I am not okay with my split hairs.

I am always trying to go get a hair cut

As if the change will turn me into the me I’d always dreamed I would be

But the problem is, whenever I get my split hairs cut off

They come back. It seems there are more and more of them.

So many problems. Why do I only see the problems?

The problems become me.

I want to at once be rid of the split hairs and embrace them.

Will I ever learn the art of doing this?

Is it even possible?

I am peace while I am raging

I am still while I am incessantly moving

I am free while also focused

I am rigid and smooth

I am whole and broken

I am cold and warm

I am stagnant and I am productive

I am lively and dull

I am childlike and mature

I am steady and fragile

I filled with hope for tomorrow and drowning in despair

I am light and I am swimming in my heaviness

Lord when will these extremes end?

Or can I just allow myself to flow into them

In and out breathing on my waves

I will reach the finish line

Whether I have curly or straight hair

Damp or dry

A bob or buzz cut

Perfect Barbie hair

Wavy or frizzy

Stylish or split hairs

It is all of me and I have learned to live with it.

Transformation Barrier

This week during Bible study we were talking about Romans 12:9-21 where Paul lists all these things that love is. The girls and I discussed what transformation would really mean if we did these things. My friend Vanessa had the idea of making two lists, one of all the things that are not demonstrative of love in the Kingdom and another corresponding list of who we really are in Christ. Then, she said, “You burn the first list.” I got really tense when she said that. I literally felt myself freeze and say internally, I could never do that. While I had always heard of (and continue to) transform my thoughts through writing, I for some reason like to visually see all the crap that I believe written out. Sometimes I just write all the negative thoughts down and forget to go back and actually write the transformed statement next to it. I like to go back and read (and reread and reread) all these thoughts. It gives me some sort of perverse pleasure.

The idea of burning my list of crap seemed revolutionary for some reason. Almost terrifying. In that moment I realized the very simple truth: My barrier to growth and true healing is that I love my crappy self too much. Or I think I do. I continue to believe that I am a more significant, interesting person being “messed up” than “healed” and “whole.” It all goes back to some weird belief that I need more love and attention in my life, and I can get that by being “sick,” “messed up” or “weak.” Even though I know for a fact this is all crap, I continue to believe it.

Why do I think I need more love? What more could I ask for? I have an amazing God who continues to pour on me blessing after blessing when I least deserve it. I have a supportive family who loves me and true friendships that will last a life time. In fact, I can’t think of one person in my life that does not continue show love and unconditional acceptance of me.

Again, it goes back to my mind. I am always striving for what’s right in front of me. Lately, I have been irritated because I am trying to recreate moments from my past. Times I have felt “high” on life. Instead of living for today. I basically abandon things I have always enjoyed like writing in my journal or playing the piano simply because I can’t get that emotional high to please me the way it used to. I do the same thing with caffeine-the bane of my existence-food and with particular types music and boos. I have experienced such extreme emotional highs on these substances or activities in the past, as if these temporary highs are eternal and significant. I have all these damned expectations for myself, expectations no one in their right mind would place on another human being. If I can’t reach some sort of inexplicable perfect feeling, I, at best, avoid the activity altogether (my black-and-white nature) or continue to “feed” myself until the day ends. Realizing, obviously, that the emptiness still remains.

But, thanks be to God, I am learning to say, “This is a new moment.” and “You are a new person.” “Accept yourself for who you are now.” And “There’s more to life than a fleeting feeling, however intense.” I am glad I am learning to tell myself the truth; I have really transformed in that area. But I am so sick of this back and forth war. I want to be done with all this childishness. Love freely from my deepest self, without wondering what my true motives are and analyzing every tiny decision I make or word I say. Will I ever be free?

Mostly, I don’t know how to live in shades of gray (but am very aware and learning to change). I am either in the past OR the present OR the future. Somehow it seems impossible to learn from my past experiences but not become obsessed with them and even more impossible to accept and cherish this moment while also anticipating and being hopeful for the next.

That’s all.

Snow, tea and my beloved Josh

I am hanging out with Mom in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. I am on Spring Break, but how would you guess because it is a beautifully snowy day. We have gotten about 9 inches of snow. Earlier Dad left for work and Mom and I enjoyed trudging through the fluffy white to wipe off my car and pull it into the cavernous garage. Luckily they live in an apartment, so there is no worry about shoveling.

Right now I want to focus on the moment. Maybe it will help me get out of this funk of irritability. I wanted to hang out and spend time together (with Mom) so I am trying to fight against my anti-social tendencies.

I am enjoying lemon, ginger tea and Josh Groban. And the sound of keys clicking.  I am grateful for the zinginess and tanginess of this tea. Hot (temperature wise) for my frozen fingers (what’s new during the winters of the Midwest), and spicy hot, a hotness none other than ginger can provide. The best of all, it hits my stomach in a comforting way with no added nuisance of heart-stopping, anxiety-inducing caffeine for my sensitive nerves.

I am grateful for Josh Groban’s phenomenally comforting voice. While his older music is as familiar to me as a beloved pair of well-worn socks or as common and delightful as a loved one’s laugh, I am relishing in his newest album my mom just turned on. Each vibrating tone is a new gift to caress my senses. I don’t think there is any other voice in the world quite like his. I wouldn’t be surprised if the angels in heaven sounded like a thousand Josh Grobans all harmonizing sweetly and perfectly; I don’t think there would be anything besides his tenor that could better blind me from the annoying, disturbing and stressful thoughts that constantly crash against each other inside my head. Maybe a hot bath in the dead of icy winter or piece of dark Ghirardelli after a particularly agonizing day at work. But probably not. Josh Groban’s incredibly rich timbre surpasses most things that bring me joy in life.

I hope you are able to find comfort in the smallest things (and biggest things) of life today!

>Random Thoughts During my School Day

>I am feeling quite discouraged by everything around me. I’ve tried to ask for help. My anxiety has decreased and now this blanket of sadness…if I close my eyes and just allow my emotions to take over, I probably would not be able to contain these tears. Outside the snow falls soft, barely there. That’s how I feel: barely there. I’m not going down into the hole. It’s almost like I am at peace in this sadness because I am not alone. There’s a woman at my school who I’m really worried about. I wish I could tell her how I feel, how I know how it is. I’m still recovering from the black days, from the time where hope was buried so deep there was no way to unleash it. When breathing was a task. So much of a task I didn’t even realize it. I can’t talk to her…yet. I don’t even really know her yet my heart is breaking when I can sense her desperation.

And there’s the students. And this occupation. Everyone’s talking about it. Why are we in this field again? Does what we do make any sort of difference? Sometimes I am so disconnected from what I always that I was, what I could do. I sit and stare at my class of kids and think, this is what I always wanted. So why do I feel empty, so utterly barren in the depths behind my shaken heart. I almost get to the point I want to be. I can feel excitement build, anticipation because my real creative loving self is trying so desperately to be the teacher I always dreamed I’d be. But then frustration which, thank God, does not lead to rage like it once did. But rather disenchantment. I just sit there and all my hope is extinguished because these kids are so needy, desperate, searching, hungry. The way they express this is with their disrespect, their disruptiveness, their meanness to classmates, their obnoxious comments and actions. I do not feel anger toward them. Just sadness for them, their classmates, me. There’s something missing in their lives that makes them think they can do whatever they want. And as every day passes, it only seems to get worse. That kids are becoming harder and harder to teach because of their messed up home lives, our poisoned environment. The questions about why children are the way they are…as compared to a few decades (even a few years) ago…they never end. My mind is bleeding trying to catch my breath, fill up my spirit with answers.

Oh God sometimes I cannot breathe in this world. I am so desperate for your healing. The people around me don’t realize how desperate they are for Your touch, Your life. Especially these innocent kids. But the world just gets worse and worse. I don’t know for sure why I have chosen teaching as a career. It has rarely been what I always dreamed it would be. But I’m not sure I would be confronted with a different picture of the world if I had a different career. In fact, I know I wouldn’t. The world is messed up. The older I get, the more I realize it and the more I long for heaven.

Behind every smile, I see tears and the realness behind the plastic. I want to believe the person is really happy. Maybe he or she is or maybe they think they are. I’m not sure my sadness is really wrong yet. It hasn’t brought me to a blackness where I can’t think about going on. I praise God for my ability to get up when I’m down, which I couldn’t do just a few years ago. And there’s so much to thank Him for in this job. I’m not trying to just survive anymore…I am really working on myself. I generally have hope…well, lately it has been slipping a bit. But I remind myself of all the things working against me that affect my outlook: my history of serious depression, getting off my meds, it’s winter and this is when I’m usually the lowest, my stress levels, and more. The fact that I am still this positive makes me marvel at how God is working through me.

I don’t feel I am getting out what I wanted to say. I guess when talking with (listening to) some of my coworkers this morning, I realized everyone’s having similar thoughts as me but they only let their guard down just a bit. It’s easy to see how they use good things-humor, friendships, food, etc.- to boost themselves up, to cover up what’s really going on, which I think is good-something I need to do more. Otherwise these teachers wouldn’t be able to do their job. They would end up in the hospital like me.

But I just feel for them…for the students too and wish You could do some sort of miracle to help us out of our misery, to clear up this devastating confusion, to wipe the tears, to instill strength, inspiration.

Love and dedication is not enough. I cannot change these kids’ circumstances with just these. Nothing is changing it seems. But I want to believe what I am doing is making some small difference.

I am kind of going through the motions when it comes to my job. I plan and plan and it seems all this agonizing does nothing. No matter the kids’ behaviors, I still tend to blame myself…Don’t really want to get into this. Maybe I can observe some of the other Spanish teachers to get some inspiration.

I am down but not defeated. If anything I feel kind of comfortable underneath my blanket of sadness.

I want to do more than just long for heaven in this life. I live here right now so teach me what that means. Is this world ugly or beautiful? Beautiful because it is Yours and You are in control. Beautiful because of the beautiful people I meet and engage with every day. Your creations. Beautiful because of the colors, the skies that take my breath away. The crisp white against a spectacular blue sky. Winter’s hues are truly amazing. When I can soak in these beauties, I can escape the other reality. The reality of ugliness. This reality seeps into my conscious and invades my veins and I can barely breathe because of the stench. Somehow we are to live and breathe in the moment. And that moment is in this hideous world, where somehow I am still able to see indescribable beauty. I can feel indescribable pain at the same moment as I sense unfathomable peace and security. Lord, help me live in Your love in this dichotomous world, hanging onto hope despite an aching heart, shaky spirit and downtrodden soul.