A semi-moderate ramble…

Moderation.jpgI’ve a question. How far do we have to go before we’ve gone too far? I know, ‘be a bit more specific’. Okay, so here’s my current conundrum. And, before I carry on, do not for a second think I’m taking this lightheartedly. On the contrary, I’m stumped and have all kinds of feelings playing tag with me over it.

Those who read this blog regularly know I seek to be self-responsible which implies honest, accountable, transparent, and all that good stuff. That was part of Redo365’s mandate anywho. You also know I stand on the side of love, try to catch words that might be divisive in nature, and choose to be ‘pro’ damn near everything because of a belief that to oppose is to resist and what we push against, pushes back, perpetuating more of what we do not want.

So, that latter comment about being ‘pro’ is where I’m stuck. Would one call me a “moderate”? Geesh, me thinks not. I was vegetarian most of my life, now vegan, which is hardly moderate. Those who know me, know I have views, many of which are outside the box. No, I don’t think anyone would think me a moderate, but am I becoming one?

We are currently living in a media driven shit storm of monumental proportions. The US has a presidential candidate who stupefies me. In fact, I can’t believe I wrote ‘presidential candidate’. It seems so wrong. What rumbles in my brain is, “Really? That was the best you could do. Really?” Regardless, there he is standing beside his opponent, a woman whose entire adult life (damn near) has been spent in the public eye. She acted with grace and dignity as First Lady of the nation, and her career has been remarkable as careers go. And yet… WOW. The vilification of her as a person is beyond anything I could have imagined. Could somebody please talk about the state of the nation, or maybe about a platform? Oh wait, he does. He’s gonna build a wall, make groups wear an identifier, and… Oh, never mind.

Okay, then. How do I cope, or speak without becoming a ‘hater’, or railing ‘anti’ this or that? Hmm. Does moderation have any place when things go topsy-turvy? Tis the question, yes? And here’s two more. Does allowing make me weak? Does falling humbly to my knees begging for wisdom and guidance, make me a zealot? I suppose it depends on your perspective.

For me, both are the only way. I want to be moderate in my response to situations my head and heart can make no sense of. Has the world truly gone mad? Probably not. Instead, we’ve probably got some opportunities being laid out for us.

Backlash is a phenomenon first brought to my attention as a student of Women’s Studies. It is the recoil that occurs when an elastic band snaps. It is the push back response to something we don’t like. It is cause and effect. It is natural. It spurs societal change, it raises awareness. Without it we remain puppets. It occurs in big and little ways all the time and in fact, I find solace in the degree to which I perceive backlash occurring lately because it means great change is afoot.

Allowing others their space is tough. It means letting them have their up to my down, their indifference to my passion, and so on. It even means not resisting evil when staring me in the face. This does NOT mean I condone it, but I have a choice to play by its rules, or choose another way. And there’s plenty of backlash happening all around us, so we have lots of opportunity to choose new, more enlightened ways of handling ourselves.

I want to be up for the challenge. I want to remember Ghandi, and Thich Nhat Thanh who told Martin Luther King to sit. Can I be an agent of change simply by being present to challenge the status quo? Yes.

Of course it’s the slow and steady approach and as a method gets its own share of backlash. For the most part, I don’t give a beetle’s butt what people do. After all, I live in a glass house so keep an eye on stones and the like. On the other hand, when something is blatantly out of whack, I need to do a review and figure out how best to deal with it, you know, to keep the anxiety at bay. And, goodness knows, there are no end of out of whack somethings floating around these days. Everybody wants the government to act to stop this wrong, or that injustice. But wait a second, don’t a lot of those people think the government sucks? Hmm.

It is easy to point fingers and lash out at something, or someone, else. The tough pill to swallow is the one that asks us to point at ourselves, first. What could I be doing this very second to make things better? Stop pointing fingers comes to mind.

My wish tonight might surprise you because you probably expected moderation. No. I feel the need for openness. I, for one, want to be more understanding and far less judgmental. I want to hear, really, truly hear the other when s/he speaks. I want to look at myself when I see injustice and ask where I have acted unfairly. And so on. No matter what, I will always believe love is the answer. Love, the capital L kind, is all we need, because if being steered by it, we would instinctively do what is best for ourselves and others. With love as the driver, we would know exactly how to use moderation to our advantage and still get where we wanted to go.

Until tomorrow…




Welcoming me…

welcomeA few days ago, I posted a list of things that make me happy, hence a “happy list”. Since doing that, I’ve noticed some surprising results that are quite nice. It seems I inadvertently refer back to my list at the oddest times, but with the same results. I feel better. A smile is raised. I don’t have to see, touch, or smell anything, just the simple act of recall is enough to solicit those pheromones, or serotonin, or whatever it is that gets the happy juices flowing. Of course, a purely subjective observation is all I need to conclude that thoughts can make one feel good. So, in my new-found, somewhat cocky self-assuredness, I decided to try something else, write another list of sorts.

Now, this next list I’ll not publish – I don’t think. Despite my desire for transparency there are a few things I’d rather not expose. Plus, this “list” is more of a request than anything, a vision board in word only. I have done similar in the past, but on the eve of another super moon, the one going into my sign which is Aries, I’m feeling the alignment and decided to take a leap.

Part of the list, I’ve asked for before. I was not ready to receive it then, so it needs to be stated again. This time, however, I expanded on my desires. I put in a list of my own responsibilities. It reads a tad like those mantra memes on Facebook: “I am love” sort of thing, but not exactly. I wrote, “I welcome…” in an effort to step into who I believe I can be. But, that’s when the internal twisting started. I could actually feel my resistance, my fear, and apprehension – my doubt if you will – rise up. What an amazing experience.

I figure it’s kind of like when we decide to “put up or shut up”. It’s scary! I knew I had to leave my marriage all those years ago, but goodness me, talking and doing are radically different, talk being “cheap” as the adage suggests. And today was that way. I knew it was time to “put up” all the while feeling a feeling that says, “I cannot” when you really, really want to find your way to “I can”.

Letting go, whether it be to a marriage or a bad habit, is the same. (And I suppose a marriage could also be a bad habit.) Bad habits can have pre-nups, children, and a whole lot of baggage attached. You might need to rearrange a lot of your life to alter a bad habit. Hell, bad habits last a lot longer than most relationships do. But in the end, it is the same. We are seeking happiness and it’s easier to dispose of tangible items we’ve no doubt are making us unhappy. Those habits, though, they can be tough.

So, I wrote it out, put it in black and white. I welcome all the change necessary – with an open heart. Shit, even writing that terrifies me. My innards are churning. Really? MORE change? You have to be kidding me! But no matter, I welcome my worth, my value. I welcome new patterns that deepen my experience of joy and compassion. I welcome me.

And so I leave you with my wish, penned by Claudia Brandt. It is a part of her Happy List. Thank you for sharing, Claudia.

28. Watching butterflies
29. Picking sweet and ripe cherries from a tree
30. Bathing your feet in a cool rock pool after a long, challenging walk
31. Singing out loudly words that come to your mind spontaneously
32. Writing a love message
33. The scent of roses and lavender
34. Walking hand in hand in silence with your loved one
35. Not wishing for anything
36. Sunsets
37. Hugging an old tree and talking to it
38. Giving a rescued creature a loving home
39. A candlelight dinner enhanced by your favourite music
40. Breathing and being aware of the gift of life
41. Sending a wish to the universe
42. Looking into the flames of a log fire
43. A hot cup of ginger tea on a cold winter day

I welcome…

Until tomorrow…

No locks here…

Locks.jpgWhat is it about exclusion? How do we perform an act of excluding? Is it an unnecessary violence? I believe it is. That definition goes too far, you say? I do not think so, and wonder further, if it is not one of the reasons the world continues to stand divided in both big and little ways.

The house I grew up in was new, designed by my folks before I came along. The rooms were spacious, decorated with stylish, high quality furniture. (I cannot believe, however, that they put in only one full bathroom. There was a “water closet” in the laundry room but that would be a definitive fail by today’s standards.) Dad drove a new car every two years. A decision to convert the garage into a large family room meant there was no garage. A carport covered the car, but for all intents and purposes, it was left “out”. Mom collected Royal Doulton figurines. There was silver in the china cabinet, and cash stashed in a lingerie drawer. What there was not, was a locked door anywhere.

In my nineteen years in that house with no garage, there was never a break-in. No matter where Dad went in his snazzy car, or what Mom did in or out of the house, no one vandalized our property. You could say the Sullivan’s were “just lucky”. I mean, you could say that but you would have to fast forward forty-four years because the same is true for me. I do not lock my doors either, and in all that time, I have not been the victim of a robbery in my house. I do lock my car and have had it broken into several times. Do you see the irony?

Okay then. You’ve loads of arguments defending the locking of doors, plus, you’re tabling tons of “what if” scenarios. I can also see you scratching your heads wondering what the hell unlocked versus locked doors has to do with exclusion. Well, I’ll do my best to explain.

Exclusion comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be overt or so subtle as to be barely noticed. The act of locking something up is exclusionary. It is intended to be. In some cases, it is wise. I imagine my grandfather locked up certain chemicals used for tinctures and medicines, for example. I mean, folks are not always of sound mind when in the throes and an illness and might do things like overdose if they had easy access to drugs. So, yeah, I get that. But what of thoughts? Better yet, what about knowledge? Who decides what information someone should have, or not?

Seems we exclude others in all kinds of ways. But, to get back to my opening comment of it being an unnecessary violence, it still holds true in my mind. The trauma of exclusion can haunt anyone who has been cut out, or cut off. I’m sure I’ve read psychological damage is profound when a tribe member is ostracised. Perhaps compassion demands we revisit who we might be excluding and ask why? Is it to protect ourselves, and if so, what are we afraid of? Is it a real threat, or a perceived one?

I think those are great questions and worth further consideration, but I feel, at this point, the topic requires some research and more concentration than I’m able to supply, plus this blog isn’t necessarily meant for academic discourse. It is, however, as the redo intended, supposed to assist in helping me get and stay real. Thinking about ways I might exclude others, and the repercussions of that action, is what I was doing today. What I realised is that, for the most part, almost without exception, every time I exclude someone, it is because of some level of fear, misunderstanding, or resistance. Probably best I do what I can to include, yes? Would be kinder, for sure.

So, I wish tonight for fewer locks. Protecting from is equal to defending against, mostly. Either action initiates cause and effect. The outcome is not necessarily desired. Locks get bigger, fences higher, dogs more vicious and hearts get broken. Let’s say we start to trust inclusion is better, healthier, kinder, and more loving and leave it at that.

Until tomorrow…

Make a list…

Happy.jpgIt seems especially difficult to finish a post these days. For the first time ever, I’ve two documents open with writing on both, and cannot finish either. Furthermore, I don’t feel them remotely suitable. The blog is supposed to be spontaneously written, so that much struggle defeats the purpose. So, I’ve abandoned both and decided to write you a list. Let’s call it “my happy list” because that’s what it is.

I’ve been horribly down lately. No, scratch that. I’ve been in the throes of an episode which ended today. Nothing has changed. Nothing at all, but my mood shifted and so I decided to give thanks by writing out some of the things that make me happy.

They are the same things that make me happy regardless of what’s going on. I just wanted to make a list. Oh, and it is in no particular order.

  1. When the sun shines and it is raining so I can look for the rainbow.
  2. When a stranger I’ve smiled at, smiles back.
  3. When someone says, “Thank you”.
  4. A hot, no foam soy latte with cinnamon.
  5. Soft hair.
  6. Pictures of my granddaughter.
  7. My daughters.
  8. Dreaming.
  9. Comfortable shoes.
  10. Going to the cinema.
  11. Yoga (especially savasana). Meditation.
  12. Being welcomed by chickens.
  13. Seeing sheep and cows grazing.
  14. The sound of a running stream.
  15. Standing on the edge of the sea and breathing in the salty air.
  16. A horse’s nose.
  17. A dog’s paws.
  18. An owl’s call.
  19. Driving.
  20. The feeling of fear and apprehension when you start off to do something for the first time and the feeling of joy when you’ve done it.
  21. Soft, warm rain on my face.
  22. Running downhill.
  23. Laughing.
  24. Making someone laugh.
  25. Reading the classics.
  26. Crying unabashedly.
  27. A warm handshake.

There’s tons more. Isn’t that amazing? These things make me smile, make me feel good. They are simple, free, and can be enjoyed several times a day. Such a good reminder.

And so that is my wish. Write a list. My hope is that you will find there are a good many wonderful aspects of your life that bring contentment, and joy. I’m enjoying thinking on my list. I bet you will, too.

Until tomorrow…

To pop or not to pop…

Brain.jpgI was asked about depression the other day, if someone’s unstable brain can be stabilised without medication. Being neither a clinician nor statistician, I am not certain what research shows, but my own experience and observation would say, of course. On the other hand, and still just my opinion here, there is a terrific stigma plaguing this topic.

Without reservation, what has my knickers somewhat knotted, is the almost merciless vilification of pill taking for psychoses. It appears Tom Cruise’s tirade on national American TV years ago did not teach people how hurtful his view is. What I find most troubling is that many of those most critical have never suffered from a mental illness. Others simplify, arguing first hand expertise because, distraught after their marriage ended, or something similar, a moronic pill-pusher therapist prescribed a drug that put them into a stupor (their words). They boast it was sheer luck they escaped intact and advise everyone to stay away from shrinks and pills! (More of their words.)

I am not belittling harsh life events or traumas. Life’s platter of challenges is generous, but the depression or anxiety that rises as a result of these incidents often falls of its own accord. We are emotional beings, after all, and although we praise stoicism, feelings need release. Unfortunately, we’re still relative newbies when it comes to coping with extraordinary emotional episodes and do not necessarily know how to handle them. Hence, medication. And you know, it is okay, or it should be okay to take full advantage of that option. One bad experience should not be the gage for everyone.

A common theme among naysayers is that these mind-meds are addictive and cause horrific side effects. Scorners further espouse rhetoric claiming that the entire health network cares only for big pay outs by pharmaceutical companies. My response to claims like this is always the same, which is, really? I mean seriously, every doctor, therapist, and health practitioner cares nothing for a patient’s well-being because they are on the take? Come on! That’s just silly and not at all helpful. Honestly, if you’ve just had a stroke, would you refuse alteplase if recommended? This drug has had extraordinarily good results at reversing a stroke’s negative effects. Likewise, if you’re crumbling in a mental quake, getting help to stop the ground shaking beneath you makes perfect sense, yes? Yes!

So, why are so many hell bent on demonising the use of medication for mental illness? It seems nonsensical to me, of course, but then I’m not always the most logical of women. That written, I don’t like using broad brush strokes. I’m not denying that many medications in this area are still in the zygote stage, but some are brilliant at helping, and I know that to be true from up close and personal experience.

Do not misunderstand, I’m not selling drugs. I’d much prefer we learn to self-medicate with sunshine, long walks on the beach, and super foods and no, I’m not being facetious. But what if you just cannot find the sun?

I would like to ask everyone reading to consider this:

Each time you speak disparagingly about medication, or the society trying to address mental illness, you add more guilt and shame onto the person suffering. When in the throes of an episode, if remotely cognizant, that person already feels a pariah, deeply confused and overwhelmed, struggling to cope with a multitude of bizarre symptoms both physical and mental. They are torn apart, pushed and pulled in a dozen directions by well-meaning but often ill-informed loved ones as well as a diverse-message medical establishment. It’s not like they aren’t trying desperately to feel better, hoping against hope, you’ve the cure for what ails them. It’s not like they haven’t wished they could cut out the part of the brain causing their despair. It’s not like they aren’t wishing they could dance away, yoga away, meditate away, proper food away, or supplement away, their symptoms. They would do so in a heartbeat and MIGHT – eventually. But right now, they need your quiet, non-judgmental support whilst taking pills. Remember, it is their illness and they must find their way to wellness. Help them by loving them and respecting their decisions.

In case you are wondering, I am not currently, nor have I for years, used pharma for anything. I take B12 because I’m a vegan. I am blessed with a stunningly healthy body and my mind is pretty okay, mostly. It is not by accident, however, but through perseverance, trial and error, and a deep well of patience. I am, and will be eternally grateful for the GPs, psychiatrists, and pharmacologists whose vast knowledge once served me immensely. I would not hesitate to revisit them if the need arose. Likewise, I am thankful for family, friends, and society’s evolving awareness. There is a lot left to do, but change is coming.

So, I am wishing for adaptability. I am someone who often thinks she has all the answers. It is a character trait I’m not in love with and one which doesn’t really meet my needs. In my defence, I usually interject because I wish to help, and am sure those who so strongly resist certain treatment options for the mentally ill, have a similar motivation. However, adapting to a more holistic approach to all things, puts an end to having to be right. Is there ever just one way, and one way only? Hardly. We must all work to find our own way and adapt along the way.

Until tomorrow…