Easy peazy!

Well, that was easy!! Much simpler than originally anticipated to change the template on my blog. Now it is looking much cooler and more modern up-to-date than it was before!! Really helps to follow blogger template options, and not get stuck in that same ol' blog rut. Notice it still has a "green theme"... because green is my favorite color!!

Sometimes it is better to break out of a routine - think outside the box - and explore new options! Just need to make sure those options are 1) desired, and 2) brings improvement.

For someone who has literally spent decades living in a box - to "think outside the box" is not always a simple decision followed quickly by actions. Usually takes me much prior thought and consideration, weighing the cons and pros of each action in an OCD kind of way. However, in this instance for blog design changes, it wasn't as difficult to make that step! Thank you all for putting up with my blog quirks, and encouraging me to step it up a notch! Now I'm thinking maybe I should actually start putting tags (aka: labels) on the blog postings. Oh fiddle-dee-dee... I shall think of that tomorrow!!

Sock lint

I just have to say...
I HATE sock lint!!

Whew, glad to finally have that off my chest!

What is “sock lint”? Have you ever found little bits of - what can only be termed as lint - on the bottom of the foot, or between toes, when taking socks off at the end of the day? This, my friends, is the substance commonly known as sock lint. Well, it is commonly known by that name in the Musing’s household!

Where on earth does sock lint come from, and why doesn’t it ever seem to go away (especially after the socks have been laundered many many times)??

Theory: A sock industry conspiracy! The development of an increasingly disintegrating sock... along with compromised integrity in the toe area encouraging holes... which forces more frequent replacement purchases!

Either that or... 
sock lint aliens are plotting to take over the earth... one foot at a time! 



blog follow-up: NO, I do not have "moist" (aka: sweaty) feet!!
thanks people for bringing up that additional unpleasant topic... LOL :D

Blog rut

Someone once said... the only difference between a rut and a grave are their dimensions. According to dictionary.com, being in a rut is defined as:
  1. a fixed or established mode of procedure or course of life, usually dull or unpromising
  2. a narrow or predictable way of life, set of attitudes, etc; dreary or undeviating routine
Ruts are not really made for being creative. Don't believe me? Hey, just take a look at this blog as an example of being "unusually dull" and "dreary"... YES, I am in a BLOG RUT!! You see before you a basic pre-packaged blogspot template (soooo underwhelming and - I admit boring - even if green is my favorite color!!).

Most of my posts are merely words... very carefully thought out words which have gone through countless re-writes (both before, and sometimes even after posting)... normally with a "borrowed" internet photo (predictably in the same place - upper right corner). It has to be perfect - spelling, wording, spacing... I really must enjoy the tediousness of organizing on some level.

I read other's blogs, and am constantly amazed at the creativity out there! Great backgrounds - fun blog post content and layouts - also with interesting blog pages / profiles telling me more about themselves (providing much laughter with their delightful sense of humor!!). I really do admire (and yes... envy) other's abilities to color outside the lines in beautiful and unpredictable ways!!

Meanwhile I seem to repeat the same things over and over again - mostly due to my admitted limited artistic abilities (my school art teachers will confirm this very honest observation). Let's just say that I tend to do things in a very predictable and ordered manner - always working hard at staying within the lines.

Probably one reason why I used to do a lot of cross-stitch (before carpal tunnel smacked me). Cross stitch is an orderly manner of putting another person's design onto perfectly weaved cross-stitch cloth - just squares, colored floss and a detailed pattern to follow. And of course, I always made sure the backside of the cross-stitch was "almost" as perfect as the front. Again, you don't believe me? Why do you have doubts?

Okay, I am breaking with my standard blog protocol here... and posting personal, just taken photos of my last cross-stitch project (the friend's "baby" I was making this for I think has graduated high school by now) - and look at me!! I am not placing the photos in the upper right corner!! Woohoo - I'm getting creative??!!

Front view
Back view

Front close-up
Back close-up


Do you believe me now? I have come to know that my organized, predictable, slavish attention to details trait curse that I possess - is a huge obstacle in overcoming certain things. It makes it very difficult to make and accept changes in perceptions - because my mind has already ordered, categorized and filed them away in the cabinet of beliefs.

The whole process of picking out the stitches leading to depression, and re-doing the work is painful and time consuming. However, I must believe and have HOPE that in the end it will be worth it - and that one day I shall look at the cloth and wonder how something could have become so wonderful.

Choices

Elder Boyd K. Packer
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints
I have been pondering on the choices I make every single day (literally hundreds of choices)... how these choices can clearly affect myself and others... and how they can have an impact on dealing with depression (or any other illness). Depression for me has been so closely tied to my thoughts - which can lead to certain actions - which lead back to thoughts (a vicious circle at times).

For example: if I think I am of no value in the world - I then act accordingly - which then confirms that original and completely distorted thought. Everyone has value (even when - or maybe even more especially when that value is difficult to see)... 'cuz God does not make junk!!

I was recently lead to a wonderful talk given in the October 1980 General Conference - for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I would like to share a few words from this talk... words spoken by Elder Boyd K. Packer, an Apostle of the Lord. I hope it brings you some level of insight and comfort - I know it did for me!
     The crucial test of life, I repeat, does not center in the choice between fame and obscurity, nor between wealth and poverty. The greatest decision of life is between good and evil.
     We may foolishly bring unhappiness and trouble, even suffering upon ourselves. These are not always to be regarded as penalties imposed by a displeased Creator. They are part of the lessons of life, part of the test.
     Some are tested by poor health, some by a body that is deformed or homely. Others are tested by handsome and healthy bodies; some by the passion of youth; others by the erosions of age.
     Some suffer disappointment in marriage, family problems; others live in poverty and obscurity. Some (perhaps this is the hardest test) find ease and luxury.
     All are part of the test, and there is more equality in this testing than sometimes we suspect.
(Boyd K. Packer, "The Choice"; Ensign, November 1980; emphasis added)

Sun through the clouds

Be still, sad heart, and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall
Some days must be dark and dreary.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I love going outside after a rainstorm as the sun starts peaking through the clouds! The air is fresh and the whole world appears to be somehow new. My favorite are cleansing spring or summer showers, where afterwards I can sense the stiring and delight in the sounds of nature.

Oh the lessons I have learned from the storms in my life... things that I would never have learned or experienced in any other way. If possible, and God willing, I never want to live in that same storm again... but am so grateful for what I was taught in those dark nights.

I have also recently learned to appreciate and love emerging from the cocoon of life's rainstorms. Have been experiencing a new and cleansed point of view of the world, and of my part in it. Spreading my wings, I delight in the small and simple things that seem to go un-noticed until after the long storm is over.

Believe it or not... (and I for one certainly have not always believed it)... Life Is Good!! Embrace the bad along with the good, and in the end it is the good which will eventually win the day (week, month, year, decade...). For me it has taken decades living in darkness - and now finally the light is starting to peak through those clouds!

Am certain there will still be clouds and storms in my future... for into each life some rain must fall...  but I need to remember the sun is always shining behind those clouds - and it is the Love that God has for all His children (including me)!! The sun peaking through the clouds in my life recently has reached a point where as of last week, I am now on 1/2 dose of the anti-depressant medication!! (but still the full dose of L-Methlefolate - and I'm so okay with that).

The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.
Today and tomorrow are yet to be said.
The chances, the changes are all yours to make.
The mold of your life is in your hands to break.
~ Author Unknown

Junk mail

My life has been full of a series of one form of junk mail after another. Back in the day (yes, I am old enough to say that)... junk mail was delivered by the postman - usually addressed to “occupant”. I don’t receive much of the physical junk mail anymore (unless you count bills, like the recently received property tax notice... ouch!!).

Then there were junk faxes received at work... a complete waste of paper. Now with the explosion of the internet, email, social networking, smart phones, texting, etc. - junk mail can take on a whole new level of insidiousness (not to mention lewdness and garbage in so many different forms).

Those are only the physical manifestations of life junk mail... what about all the mental and spiritual junk mail that is also received on a daily basis? This type of junk mail is not always as obvious to see as others may be... but it can be way more damaging to the soul. It usually comes in the form of thoughts, such as...
  • That was such a stupid thing to do/say...
  • I will never be smart/good enough to...
  • He/she/they really don’t like/love me...
  • I am not worth that...
  • If only I was...
  • When this happens, then...
  • I am a horrible _____ because...
  • Everyone would be better off if I just...
From whence is the source of this type of junk mail? Certainly it does not come from God!! It can take years (if not a lifetime) to recognize this type of thought junk mail... but even when acknowledged, what can be done with it? The habit of believing such statements is very difficult to break - and when in a depressive state of mind it is much easier to quickly accept them as truth.

For me, often these negative thoughts come from activities of comparison to others (my bad to their perceived good). There always seems to be someone more intelligent, pretty, skinny, funny, etc., etc.. I try to accept others talents and skills as gifts (often hard earned), and not put myself into a comparison line-up... this is a habit not simply overcome, and easier said than done!!

How do you handle negative thought junk mail? I could certainly use some tips and advice from others on this topic... especially since I still struggle with it.

If only I could just...

Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad

Ever have a bad day, when nothing seems to go right? I’ve totally been feeling like Alexander from the children's book... and even briefly toyed with the idea about moving to Australia (but as Alexander’s mom pointed out - everyone has bad days, even people who live in Australia).

A day is bad enough - but try having a bad week - or even a bad month!! Things have been really weird - up in the air - and not so positive at work lately. My team was told last week that we were going to be broken up - and moved to other software development teams - all due to a large reorganization in information systems. And get this... the way upper management decided to inform my team was in a conference call of all things!!

Then we were told that they don’t have everything in place with HR - so we won’t really know for sure where we are going for a couple more weeks yet. Pretty much the only good news from all this is that we all still have jobs... just don’t know what or where exactly that will be - nor what team we will finally end up working with.

Stress and change - both big trigger points for depression - but think I've handled it pretty well (so far). I found myself going through all the stages of grief (including periods of real anger!!) over all the losses that come with this change. But through it all - I know that I will be okay in the end - and after much prayer (and attending the Temple) - I have gained a sense of peace about it all. I just hope an ulcer doesn’t develop during this limbo waiting period.

Hummm.... if not Australia - maybe New Zeland?

A W O L

Yes... I have been Absent With Out Leave. Would love to point the finger of blame on various things, people, or happenings... but in the end the blog stops here! - and I am to blame. Currently mulling around some blog ideas in my muddled brain - though nothing is ready for prime time... yet.

So, in the interim I have decided instead to post this incredible song heard for the first time just yesterday!! I soooo needed to hear this message - hope you find inspiration in it too!  It is titled, Beautiful Heartbreak...

Weeds

I hated pulling weeds as a child... seemed like such a pointless effort. As soon as you think you are finished, suddenly more weeds magically appear overnight. Some say that pulling weeds builds character in children - but I always thought it was child slave labor at its worst... and aren’t there laws against that?

My parents were absolute prolific gardeners, with the entire backyard a veritable veggie farm (providing many opportunities for weed pulling character building). My Dad’s philosophy was... if a plant or tree didn’t provide something to eat, then it pretty much wasn’t allowed on the property.

I still hate pulling weeds, and at times allow them get way ahead of me. There is always that voice in the back of my mind reminding me of how futile my efforts are. Within a few short days the weeds will be back in full force, and I will need to start the process all over again. What is a weed anyway? Pretty much a plant growing where it is not wanted... undesirable, unattractive, and valueless.

This has led me to consider all the different weeds I have allowed to grow in my life garden that need to be pulled. There are a plethora of weeds - which through neglect or procrastination - have grown and matured; sinking down roots and choking out more desirable elements.

These weeds are a mixture of things like bad habits and distractions, along with other thorny plants. My life garden is quite overgrown and not looking the way I would prefer. If I will but allow the Master Gardener to take over - learn to listen to and recognize His guiding voice - this weed-patch of mine has the potential of becoming a much grander and more peaceful garden than any I can conceive of.

The garden He has in mind for me is painfully implemented as long nurtured plants are ripped out... deep holes dug here and there... boulders placed where I bruise myself stumbling along a changing path. Trees of all kinds planted in locations I am not so sure about... and a large variety of unfamiliar seeds.

Having faith in His expert design for my life garden does not make it easy. I pray for the strength to endure the whole weed pulling complete garden overhaul. I originally thought to make a small simple cottage flower garden - and instead His long term plan envisions a Garden of Eden.

Wolves

One winter evening, while sitting around a blazing fire, an old American Indian chief was teaching his grandson about life, and the inner war that goes on inside of all people.

“You see,” said the old man, “this inner struggle is like two wolves fighting each other. One is evil; full of anger, fear, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, hatefulness, and lies.”

“The other one,” he continued, poking the fire with a stick so it crackled, “is good; full of joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, friendship, empathy, generosity, faith, compassion, and truth.”

For a few minutes the boy pondered his grandfather’s words and then asked, “So which wolf wins, grandfather?”

His bright eyes focused on his grandson, and the wise old chief said, “The one that you feed.”



I remember as a teenager sitting in a Sunday school class at church, and again later in seminary - seeing a film narrated by Elder Boyd K. Packer about the "music of our minds" - and our minds being like a stage.  It was basically taken from an article found in the January 1974 Ensign magazine.

Being the irreverent immature adolescents we were - countless jokes were made about this. Yes, we were somewhat mocking of a message from a servant of the Lord - for which actions I am positive there will be time assigned for me to spend in purgatory.

Those words so thoughtfully given many years ago are pretty spot on target, even more so today. Elder Packer talked about the influences that music can have on a person – their mind, and their spirit. I would like to take this a step further and include all types of media presented in today’s world.

In addition to questionable music, there are movies, books, video games, television, internet, texting and so-called “smart” phones - the list goes on (and on, and on). Each of these can provide much good in the world… and in turn each can also hide a significant evil behind the guise of coolness, popularity, or even sometimes tolerance.

You might be wondering what all this has to do with the story of the two wolves. The question is... what types of influences do I allow in my life which are feeding at least one of those two wolves inside?

The scriptures say that no one can serve two masters - or in other words, it is not possible to feed both wolves at the same time. Negative and distorted thought processes which come with depression - can also effectively serve the wrong master, or feed the “evil” wolf. For me, this can be significantly enhanced by outside influences.

It is never an easy task to make changes in thought patterns - for me it has taken both ongoing therapy and medication (along with a great deal of love and support from dear friends). I still experience periods of depression - but I know to whom and where can I turn for peace.

I also know that my choices of media can have a powerful impact on all aspects of my life - mentally, emotionally, and especially spiritually. I tend to be very picky about the quality and type of media allowed in my home and in my life - striving to select that which will feed the good inside.

It takes everyone

My [daughter], peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high;
~Doctrine and Covenants 121:7-8

About a week or so ago, a dear friend and I were talking. She mentioned that even our trials and afflictions are actually blessings. My immediate thought was... well, they certainly wear a great disguise! How can something horrible or painful be remotely considered a blessing?

The more I pondered on this statement, the more I saw truth in it. It is from the hard times that we learn our greatest insights and lessons. Trials and afflictions come with great intensity prior to great blessings. The resurrection of Christ came after the crucifixion. The atonement came after the suffering untold pain in Gethsemane.

This may be difficult to understand, but I am grateful for depression. Huh? What did she just say? How on earth can someone express gratitude for something so incredibly painful and devastating? What I wanted was to escape depression’s intense pain by pretty much any means possible... and instead God gave me friends to hold me close and anchor me to life. God gave me what I needed, when I needed it the most - not what I wanted in the moment - for this and the lessons learned I am grateful.

Does this mean I want to experience again these past years of darkness and indescribable anguish? Oh heck no!! Does this mean I have learned what is necessary to never travel again the path of depression? Sorry to say this is not my current reality (if yesterday was any indication). But what it does mean is that I am stronger today than I was before. I know more today about the devastation of depression than I ever thought possible - and methods to pull out of a downward spiral. I am more able to recognize depression in others, and perhaps have opportunities to share and encourage them when they need a friend to hold them close.

You’ve heard the phrase, "it takes a village". In reality, "it takes everyone"! Everyone reaching out to God - leaning on each other for necessary support - bearing one another’s burdens, that they may be made light. (Mosiah 18:8-10)
I asked for strength, and God gave me difficulties to make me strong
I asked for wisdom, and God gave me problems to solve
I asked for prosperity, and God gave me brawn and brains to work
I asked for courage, and God gave me dangers to overcome
I asked for patience, and God placed me in situations where I was forced to wait
I asked for love, and God gave me people to help
I asked for favors, and God gave me opportunities
I asked for everything so I could enjoy life, instead He gave me life so I could enjoy everything
I received nothing I wanted, I received everything I needed
~ author unknown

Health news

Good news

I've been taking an additional medication to help with depression, and now I'm more upbeat than I've been in literally years (not quite sure how to handle this!!). What is this "miracle drug" you ask? Nothing spectacular, only a form of folic acid that my body can actually utilize. Deplin is the brand name - L-methylfolate is the important ingredient. For specifics, visit the Deplin website. For more personal information on this, visit Melanie at Methodical Musings of an Unbalanced Woman. She is much better versed on the topic than I am... I just know it seems to be working for me!! Thanks Melanie for letting me know about it!!

Bad news

Two weeks ago today, I had a clumsy accident. Me versus a cement staircase... guess who won? Hit my knee square on the front edge of a stair - ouch!! - and did a stunning tweak of my neck and arm. Tension headaches, migraines, aches, pains, and a nice limp (especially when climbing stairs)! Knee x-rays show no evidence of fracture... yippie!! But they do show... "minor patellar spur formation, and mild lateral patellar subluxation". From my point of view, this basically means painful knee for weeks (if not months).

Good news

My doctor told me to go get a good deep massage for my neck and arm. Sometimes it is just soooo difficult to obey the doctor's orders... HA!! Have an appointment setup for tomorrow afternoon (not soon enough for me!!). Thanks Admin Gal for convincing me to finally go see a doctor (convincing/threatening = same thing!!).

Edukashun

I spent this past week attending so many great classes at BYU Education Week! Haven't been to one of these for at least 12-years now... and am so grateful for the opportunity to once again feast on the mental and spiritual manna they offer.

I drove the 50 miles from my home to Provo, and back, everyday (rather than staying in the Provo area). Which meant getting up way too early in the mornings, and staying up way too late at night! But the lack of sleep was totally worth it!

Still need to fully digest the things learned this week. Back-to-back classes, all day and into the evening... pages and pages of notes (my still sore hand & arm attest to that) - it's going to take a few days / weeks / months to sort through and ponder. After that, perhaps I will have more rested brain power to share. Until then, I think it's time for a nap!

Idontcare-itis

This past week I have come down with a serious case of Idontcare-itis. A fairly common ailment that can often occur in conjunction with depression. The layman's definition of this might be... "it doesn't really matter anyway, so why care?"

One side effect of Idontcare-itis is a lack of interest in pretty much anything and everything. This could be a key factor behind why I really do not have much to blog about this week... except perhaps that right now I don't care that I don't care.

You might want to get yourself vaccinated - so you don't risk catching it from me! And wearing a surgical mask might help protect you from the Idontcare-itis germs (plus you would look so cute wearing one!!)

Trust

Just trust yourself, then you will know how to live.
- Goethe

I must have been around 16 or 17-years old, and borrowed the family car to go to the local movie theater with a neighborhood friend. My Dad explicitly told me the conditions for borrowing the car - I was to drive to the theater and back, with no “side trips”. Instead, after the movie my friend and I decided to drive to the neighboring town for an ice cream treat - before heading back home. She and I had a great time, and really were not late in getting back home... so no problem, right? Little did I know that my Dad had gassed up the car earlier that very evening, and had the odometer reading recorded (keeping detailed vehicle records like he always did). I was duly informed the next day that I would not be allowed to borrow the car again, until I had earned back my parent’s trust. I had not followed through with my part of the bargain, and didn’t even bother to inform my parents what I had done - resulting in the loss of trust.

Trust is a principle I have really pondered about lately. Trust in God, trust in other people, and especially trust in myself. It is difficult for me to trust in my own thoughts and feelings. This comes after many years of thought betrayal and distortion - due to the clouds of depression.

In the past I have been completely convinced of something, only to discover through study and therapy the distorted untruthfulness. This is one area where Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can really help... to wade through the distorted thoughts and finally discover the truth. It has been a struggle to trust my own feelings and thoughts - not really believing that I have earned the right to trust myself again.

I have recently been praying for help with a certain decision, and have experienced feelings (positive and negative) regarding each path to take. Yet even with positive feedback of one choice, over the negative of another... I still looked for confirmation from a source outside myself.

Not trusting in my own feelings, I counseled with my Bishop (congregation faith leader). I explained to him what the choices were, and how I was searching for an answer to my prayers. In talking with him about the positive and negative feelings I had experienced - he kindly informed me that these feelings were the answer to my prayers.

This has been a wakeup call. Recognizing that lack of trust in myself - was in actuality an expression of lack of faith or trust in the Lord. When I can trust again in my own thoughts and beliefs - then I am ready and available to honestly and openly put my faith in the Lord, and trust in the guidance He so willingly offers.

Am I ready and able to start trusting myself? I certainly hope so!

Blind wanderings

In elementary school I once read a book about a young boy who became blind in an accident involving fireworks. I was fascinated with the story of how he learned to cope with his eyesight loss, learned to read braille, and was finally teamed with a seeing eye dog.

After a long day in school, as I frequently walked alone the four blocks home, I would close my eyes - attempting to understand what it would be like to be blind. I had no cane of course, so would try to have one foot brush the grass lawn along the sidewalk as I walked. With closed eyes it seemed to take so much longer than I thought possible to walk from one yard to the next. Frequently I would end up "cheating" by opening an eye slightly to regain my orientation - and view how much further it was to the next driveway or street corner.

Life was so much simpler as a child than it is as an adult. Now as I walk along life’s path, I am regularly unable to see the way before me - and there is no easy option available to crack open an eye to gain a point of reference. My eyes are already wide open, but unable to see much through the darkness. Sometimes a counselor or friend will walk by my side for a few precious steps, helping to direct with a guiding word here or there - briefly illuminating part of the path with their inner light.

Most of the time I seem to be alone, floundering along stubbing toes and cracking shins on unseen obstacles. In faith I know that I am never truly alone on this path. Even more so than mortal friends - my Savior is always there to guide and help me, with His hand always outstretched.  I can look back on the path trodden, and clearly see places where the outcome would have been very different if not for His guidance through the roughest parts.

It is one thing to look back, to see and know in your mind - and quite another to have the ability to feel in the present. The most depressing part of clinical depression is the tremendous difficulty, or inability, to feel or recognize guidance and blessings of the Spirit in the moment. When I most need to feel God’s will, and know in my heart that I am loved by Him - depression clouds my ability to perceive that comfort.

So I continue stumbling forward (and I admit, sometimes a bit sideways) on life’s path...
  • able to see the past
  • darkness obscuring the future
  • alone in the present
  • not really alone, but numb

Eye-lights

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
beach & partial view of roller coaster
Summertime! Summertime when in my mid 20’s and living in California, always meant trips to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Not a ton of rides like some other amusement parks, but seriously probably the best wooden roller coaster ever!!  And of course there is the whole boardwalk atmosphere, with a great beach on which to flop down to enjoy the waves and sunshine!

Inevitably my friends and I would stop at a carnival type booth where you paid a couple of dollars to have the guy guess either your weight, or your age (within 10-lbs or 5-years). Ain’t nobody gonna get me to step on a scale in public to verify my weight... ‘nuff said! So I would consistently opt for the age guess. I always, always, won that contest - and received many a cheap prize at the boardwalk as a result.

People have never really been able to accurately guess my age... which can be a blessing, and a curse. A blessing because, what woman wouldn’t want to look younger than they really are, and seem to age somewhat gracefully? A curse because sometimes people just don’t take you seriously when they probably should... thinking you are a young flibbertigibbet or something. It’s not as bad now as it used to be, because now at least people think I am a more mature sensible mid to late 30’s (yeah, you might want to tack 10-years onto that number!).

There is one more thing about me that other people just cannot seem to correctly interpret either. That would be my eyes. Yes, I said my eyes... they don’t really tell the whole truth. My counselor told me, last year when I started seeing her for clinical depression therapy... that people would not believe me if I told them I have severe depression (heck, they wouldn't believe mild depression either). She said there is a certain light in my eyes which belies what is beneath. Leading others to think all is well with me, and most certainly never clinical depression.

The lesson here is... don’t base opinions on what you see on the surface! That is most likely not the true or whole story for a good number of people! Especially for one such as me, who have become skilled in hiding behind masks... even while leaving my eyes always in full view.

Lessons from the Grand Canyon

(disclaimer: photos blatantly stolen... um, make that borrowed... from the internet)

Once upon a time, about 20 years ago, a roommate and I traveled southward to see the sites of the Grand Canyon. It was my first time to see in person that true wonder of nature. A highly anticipated mule ride to the inner rim of the canyon was also on the agenda!

Bright Angel Trail
That morning as our mule train started down the steep switchback Bright Angel Trail - I was seriously reminded of my great fear of heights! With one leg seemingly dangling over the edge of nothingness, and the other fairly close to the wall!! I tried to keep breathing while holding tight to the saddle pommel, and anxiously repeating the same words over and over in my mind... "If the Brady Bunch could take a mule ride into the canyon, then so can I." It certainly didn’t help to listen to the mule guide inform us in detail of the trail dangers - or read the warning signs posted at the trailhead. After awhile I was finally able to relax a bit, breathe normally, and really enjoy the journey and spectacular scenery - once I decided that I could trust my mule to get me there and back safely.

It was an overcast day with light mists of precipitation helping to keep us somewhat cool along the way, but not enough to make the trail muddy. Finally we arrived at the inner rim, and a rest area (with actual flushing toilets of all things!!). We could walk... ur, make that waddle from being in the saddle too long... to the edge of the inner rim and gaze down at the majestic Colorado River, winding its way through the bottom of the canyon.

The weather didn’t changed much during the whole trip, and soon it was time to head back... up the trail. We paused frequently along the way giving the mules bits of rest, and as instructed we were to always turn the mule facing into the canyon for a rest break. A mule might backup and take an accidental plunge over the edge, but would never walk forward and fall with the edge danger so clearly in their sight.

Trail switchbacks
Just over half-way up, while resting the mules at one of the switchback bends in the trail - a loud crack was heard overhead. Thinking it might be thunder, everyone looked upwards. There was no sign of lighting, but there were a few rocks beginning to tumble down from the upper rim, the start of a rockslide - headed for the winding trail just above and below us. To our amazement, a large slab slowly separated from the rim, swiftly gaining momentum as it hurtled down the side of the canyon, picking up other rocks of all sizes with it along the way. This large slab slammed hard into the trail just above us, and launched itself clear of the trail into the canyon below. The other loosened rocks continued their assault, cascading down the side of the canyon wall.

Our group was off to one side, not in the direct path of the rock avalanche, in a position allowing a prime view of nature’s destructive forces playing out before our eyes. Clearly seeing hikers on the trail below us, we all attempted yelling out warnings of the rockslide, and for them to hug the canyon wall for shelter.

Some people quickly heeded the shouted warnings and moved to points of more relative safety. But there in the middle of the trail were two people looking around, not sure what they should do. It was truly traumatic to watch both of them hit by falling rocks. Rescuers were quickly sent from both the bottom and top of the trail to assist any wounded, and assess the integrity and safety of the trail before allowing any of the visitors to continue on. We were instructed to remain sitting on our mules, and could only helplessly watch the trained efforts of others.

I will never forget the shock and sadness of what I witnessed; one of the people I saw hit with rocks was fatally wounded, pronounced dead on the scene. What a vivid visual reminder of how fleeting mortality really is, and how it can be cut short unexpectedly at any time.

Lessons I have learned from this at first fun and exciting, then turned horrific, event at the Grand Canyon are...
  • Keep a watchful eye on the dangers of the trail edge to avoid an unintended misstep, which can cause serious injury or even death.
  • Pay heed to the warning signs and words of instruction from those guides who know the path well. Listen to those ahead on the path, for they may see something coming others are not aware of yet.
How do these mule ride lessons translate to my life today?
  • Hold tightly to and follow the iron rod running along life’s trail - it is the word of God and will lead to a place of joy and happiness. Keep a watchful eye on influences and dangers which can lead to a misstep causing serious injury, even spiritual death.
  • Pay special heed to the warnings and instruction given by prophets and leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - for they have a clear and inspired view of the path ahead. They will lead the way to points of safety, by helping to avoid unseen dangers.
Much of the time I find life's trail is obscured by mists of darkness and depression. These are obstacles which I have been given to learn from, and to navigate through. I do much better in my journey when I remember the lessons learned from past experiences - and from the wisdom contained in the words of the prophets. Even knowing this, I still have moments when I loose myself, stumble and fall. Humbled, knowing I will not make it to the top alone, while on my knees I cry out in pain, I cry out in prayer. I know that God will always lift me up (whether I am aware of it consciously or not), sending rescuers when needed to bind my wounds and assist me on my way.

Donuts anyone?

Years and years ago, I remember going to the Salt Lake Donut Co. with my Mom. They were very serious about their donuts, and made them for all sorts of grocery and other retail stores in the area. They did not sell to the public, but did allow people to come in and purchase their donut mistakes - or "cripples" as they called them. That is not a very nice, or politically correct, term today. However, back then it was just how they referred to donuts which were considered to be "seconds" (not first choice).

Those were the donuts which did not quite make the grade - something was wrong with them, and they were not considered suitable for selling to the public at large. But for a considerable discount, anyone could buy a big ol’ box of them. The secret was timing the visit to obtain the best type of rejected donuts they had (chocolate was always very popular).

I often see myself as comparable to a rejected donut - and that’s not just referring to my shape, mind you (hey, round is a shape!). No, it’s that I perceive there is something wrong with me - that I just don’t quite make the grade. The greater majority of all of the other donuts (aka: people) that I know are top shelf, first grade. Whereas I see myself as analogous to a leftover second reject.

For someone who is fairly blind (for whatever reason) to what I can plainly see in the mirror everyday -- they may happily conclude that I am okay, with perhaps some weirdness issues (as everyone seems to have).

For myself, I see a discounted misshapen donut with missing or deformed icing - and notice all the irregular bumps and cracks. I know that I can fit myself into society to a certain extent - but I do not believe that I really belong there. I do not believe that I can truly be of service to others. I do not believe I am worthy to be the recipient of service. I do not really believe others when they give me compliments. And I do not believe I deserve to be anything more than what I am... a crippled defective person (who sometimes tries to cover her, oh so obvious, faults with attempts at humor).

Currently I am working on my sad excuse for a self image, but I am certain it is going to take a very long time to alter my point of view. With lots of prayer, proper counseling, and seeking insights from good books... maybe, perchance, conceivably, in the realm of possibility... (step away from the thesaurus!)

Right now I certainly lack faith in believing I will overcome this - but hold onto the hope that eventually I will. How much does my point of view affect and influence ongoing periods and episodes of serious depression? How much does the depression affect my self image? I am not convinced it is a "which came first, chicken or the egg" type scenario -- but more of a symbiotic growth, which needs a good vaccine!

Cancer

There is no easy way to put this, so I will just simply say it... I have cancer. It can be very a virulent and debilitating disease - with no sure outcome.

What are the first thoughts upon hearing the word, "cancer"? Probably something along the lines of... cancer is a horrible physical and painful disease, which needs immediate treatment by professionally trained clinicians!! Get thee to a doctor, post haste!!

Not all cancer needs, nor receives, the exact same treatment. Each instance of cancer is fully unique to the carrier and their specific circumstances. There are a multitude of methods to treat cancer; it is never a "one chemo, or radiation, therapy fits all" disease. The type and intensity of therapy is ultimately jointly decided upon between a clinician and the patient.

Ah, but there are always the inevitable non-clinician and non-trained people in life - who have had a form of cancer in the past - and out of sincere empathy offer to others their "golden solution" and "cure" for this disease. A promised cure can be had, if it is truly desired. It worked for them, so it will surely work for others too.

What they apparently do not fully understand is that everyone's cancer, though seemingly similar on the surface, is totally unique and individualized on a cellular level. Therapy and actions which completely eliminate the disease for one, may never be fully efficacious for another.



Okay okay, please don’t have a heart attack! I do not really have "cancer". But I do have clinical depression - for which I substituted the word "cancer" in the above scenario (sorry if I scared you, honest). Doing this simple word-switch makes a difference in how an illness is viewed and reacted to. In reality both cancer and depression have levels of seriousness and severity, which should be dealt with in an appropriate and individualized manner. Plus there is always the possibility or hope of a remission.

I have gone in and out of clinical depression "remission" a number of times over the past 30+ years. Through a lifetime of experiences with my specific type of depression, I instinctively have grown to know what will work best for me in certain situations.

A couple of weeks ago, I was once again faced with the devastating thoughts of how easy suicide would be - and how it would provide a release from the unspeakable pain that depression brings. I knew that I would not act on these thoughts, just as I had not acted on similar thoughts in the past. But that does not lessen the intensity or reality in any way.

I suppose the mistake I made this time was attempting to reach out to certain people for desired support. This is something I have not really done in the past - pretty much keeping the full truth of such dark thoughts to myself. From some dear friends there was understanding in a "been there" way, accompanied by sincere sweet words of comfort which really did help in the moment (thank you my friend for your timely IM words that night).

For others there was more of the knee-jerk scared angry reaction of "how dare you give into temptation and entertain such thoughts... you know better than that". I understand that the cruel inflections and words spoken in the heat of the moment (purely based on own personal thoughts and past experiences), were given with a measure of love. A "golden solution" and "cure" was being offered, because it worked for them so certainly it must work for others too.

This dichotomy of reactions were confusing to say the least... leaving me not knowing exactly what to think, whom to ever again trust with personal thoughts, or which direction to turn. When confronted by such feelings, I did what I always try to do - turn to words of wisdom from the scriptures, and inspired leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Taking guiding insightful thoughts from my clinical counselor into my search, I found these words of wisdom, comfort and help...

Our choice is in deciding whether to defy or succumb to temptation, not in whether to have the temptation itself. ~Ensign, Sept 2004

From this I understand that it isn’t so much that I have such temptations and thoughts, but my choices and actions subsequently taken are what really count.

When any unworthy desires press into your mind, fight them resist them, control them. The apostle Paul taught, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1 Cor 10:13).
That may be a struggle from which you will not be free in this life. If you do not act on temptations, you need feel no guilt. They may be extremely difficult to resist. But that is better than to yield and bring... unhappiness.  ~Boyd K. Packer

Sad to say, thoughts of suicide are not a new thing for me. I have had such thoughts for almost as long as I can remember - and I may always struggle at times with similar thoughts. It does not make me a bad or defective person because another's solution does not work - it just means that my type of depression does not originate from the same source. At first glance depression can appear as similar on the surface, but is vastly different in nature and needed actions or treatment.

I know from previous experience with dark thoughts that I need to separate myself from the "temptations" - doing that helps me resist and control thoughts. In the past I have had to physically remove myself from certain situations - stepping back from the precipice so to speak. This time I physically removed things in my home, rather than removing myself. Leftover pain medications, from a previous surgery, were promptly and properly disposed of. A handgun, with ammunition, was placed in a secured safe-type lock-box, and the keys given to a good friend. Out of sight, out of reach, out of mind was the motto of the day.

I felt so much better after taking these simple steps, like a dark weight had been removed from my shoulders. Also, being able to meet again with a trained counselor to discuss certain thoughts and feelings has really helped too. How fortunate and blessed among people I am to be given necessary strength and counsel from professional and understanding loved ones when I need it the most.

When people ask me, "what can I do to help?" - my only answer is to just continue as a friend, and don't run away... because depression is not a communicable disease.

Vortex

"Just when you think you're out, they pull you back in. " ~Michael Corleone, Godfather III


Depression can be very much like the mafia. When you think you're making progress, and life can once again possibly be filled with some bit of color and sunshine - you get pulled back into the black vortex of depression. You begin to believe that this is just the way that life is, that there is no escape - and you'd just better get used to it.

But I have faith. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." ~Hebrews 11:1

Faith that somehow, someday, I can overcome depression's tightfisted hold. Faith that I need to be patient, as my desired timing may not be God's timing. Faith that there is a better and brighter everyday future ahead somewhere.

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." ~Psalms 23:4

Even when I walk through this valley of shadows and mists, I must not fear the now. But look with faith to the future. A future when all will be made right in my little world. Without this faith, I have no hope. When all hope is lost, then your life is indeed dark and totally without purpose. I choose to hope, I choose to have faith.

And as I say these things, there is still a part of me that doesn't fully believe it. Such is the power of the vortex darkness - and it is not easily overcome. To tell someone with depression to "snap out of it" - is tantamount to telling a blind person to "just look harder" and they'll see it. It is not a path I would choose to be on, but it is the path I must walk (like it or not).

Spaghetti parable

The first food spillage on my new carpet happened the other day. Like that first ding on a brand new dream car, or a tear in your favorite jacket - it can be a traumatic experience. And of course it had to be spaghetti, oh dear!!

Everything happened in such perceived slow motion - but obviously not slowly enough to have sufficient time for grabbing the plate. It was a heart stopping moment as I watched it plop on the floor.

There it was - pasta with tomato sauce oozing into the carpet fibers. A red stain already in process before I could get the mess shoved back onto the plate. Grabbing paper towels and clorox wipes, I was able to lift off most of the sauce from the carpet. Each towel and wipe used so briefly before grabbing a fresh one - and each one in turn immediately transforming from pristine white to red.

Hoping there was carpet cleaner in the broom closet - I yanked open the door. And there it was, a gleaming never before used can of carpet cleaner! I hastily read the instructions, and followed them as best I could. I dare anyone to find the mishap spot now!!

As I thought back on this event, I have reflected on how there are parallels to repentance and the atonement of Jesus Christ. The process of repentance is analogous to my trying to use paper towels and wipes in cleaning up the mess. There was a small degree of success, and it was certainly much better than immediately after the spillage. However, to be fully successful required the cleaning power contained in the can of cleaner. It was that which truly lifted the stain, and restored the beauty of the carpet.

In life we can do all that is within our own power and abilities to repent from our mistakes. But it is only through the power of the atonement - given us with eternal love by sacrifice of Jesus Christ - that we can fully clean and lift the stains from our body and soul.
...though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. ~Isaiah 1:18
How grateful I am for the blessed gift of the atonement in my life. Without this, I could never with my own efforts alone be able to clean away my sins sufficiently to once again stand in the presence of my Heavenly Father. It is my greatest desire to again be enfolded in His loving arms, and to hear Him say... "Welcome home, daughter."

April showers

Recently I read about someone who had a brain tumor. They were told that there was high risk involved with surgery, and the outcome could not be guaranteed. On the other hand, if no surgery was done - then death would come in a few short months. The person opted for surgery and is doing well now.

I sat and pondered this scenario for several minutes before coming to the stark conclusion that, faced with a similar situation, I would totally forgo surgery. I think this must be one reason why I have been given relatively good physical health, when compared to others that is. Oh how easy it would be to just let nature take its course, and offer a fairly quick sweet release from living in hades (for that is how I often view this mortal realm). Apparently someone has a reason for my still being here - I just wish I knew what the heck it is.

If you have read some of my past blog postings, you will know that I have gone in and out of clinical depression since I was a teenager. If I tell you that this year I will turn 46 - perhaps it will give you an idea how long of a battle it has been. Sometimes I just get so tired of swimming against the strong current of depression. Looking back, this time last year was by far the most intense and darkest episode of depression I have ever experienced. I am in a better place now than I was then, thanks to counseling and medication - both things for which I am grateful. But being in a better place does not mean the depression is gone - just tempered.

With quickly approaching anniversaries containing painful reminders - I worry about memories triggering a descent into darkness once again...
  • May 8 - Mother's day
    (my Mom is gone - I am not, nor will I ever be, a Mom)
  • May 15 - Mom's birthday
    (she would have been 77 this year)
  • May 19, 2006 - Dad's death day
    (five years ago this year)
  • May 20, 2002 - Mom's death day
    (my parents died four years, and one day apart)
  • May 30 - Memorial day
    (a day to remember the dead)
So far so good, no severe depression events or serious suicidal thoughts, But I do really want to either run away (and not stop) - or just sleep through everything (which is itself a form of running away). It has not been a good week (and it is not even close to being over).

One bright spot is that I have hired someone to take care of my yard work for me this summer. I have zero motivation to work in my ugly yard this year (not even planning on a veggie garden either). The cost will be so worth it, even if it means I'll be eating ramen or oatmeal for a few months to help pay for it ;-)

Well, it's getting close to midnight, and I'm finally tired enough that I can quickly fall asleep. Lately I've been staying up late to tire myself out - which seems to be a better alternative to laying in bed letting my thoughts drift around before finally falling asleep. I still wake up about the same time every morning (darn internal alarm clock) - and I've never been a morning person. So watch out! I'm sleep deprived and cranky... approach with caution!

Here and now

"Oh, that I could have had my days in the days when my father Nephi first came out of the land of Jerusalem... Yea, if my days could have been in those days, then would my soul have had joy..." ~Helaman 7:7-8


I often wonder why I was born at this time, and in this place. Oh that I could have had my days in a different era or location. Wouldn't life have been easier there and then?  But a small voice inside tells me, it would not really be a challenge to live somewhere or somewhen else. That in the here and now is where I belong - and it is here and now where I will learn the specific lessons necessary for my progression.

Why then do I often just want to run away, sometimes by any means possible? To shed this here and now - and escape to there and then (future or past, it doesn't really matter). In that day, or in that place, my soul would have joy. I perceive it to be an easier time and place in which to live - but would it really?

Then my thoughts turn to wondering why I haven't been given the gift to leave this painful mortal existence behind? It always comes back to the fact that apparently God wants me in the here and now for some reason - and that I should be grateful for what I have - not looking at what might be a possibility given that choice. Perhaps I did have a choice, and as a result of a decision made before, I find myself here and now.

Here - now - there - then - time - space - future - past... each aspect so intimately connected in a way, and yet completely separate. Navigating through it all is so overwhelming. Where's my ostrich hole when I need it? I want to burry my head and somehow escape.

Dust and Chaos

As you may, or may not know, much of my home has recently been in a remodel phase of its lifespan. Chaos, construction dust, and restaurant food are words which help describe this latest adventure.

The chaos has settled down… somewhat. The pervasive dust is still in process of being hunted down and duly eliminated. I have been on a quest to put dust, and all such creatures associated with it (i.e. dust bunnies), on the endangered species list. (Please do not contact the ASPCA or local Humane Society… no real animals have been hurt in the process of cleaning).

I have found being able to once again use my kitchen for something other than a bedroom - is actually enjoyable. A 2+ month hiatus from cooking has proved to be educational to say the least. Here are some things I discovered…
  • Restaurant take-away food can be quite expen$ive - and fattening!!
  • With a limited amount of restaurants in my area - I am quite sick of all of them by now
  • Microwave warmed-up restaurant food gets real old real fast
  • Eating leftover delivery pizza for days on end will drive your taste buds insane
Surprisingly, preparing food at home can be relaxing in a way - and delicious (even if it is being done by a low rate amateur, such as myself). Let's just say that Food Network worthy I am not! Pretty sure there will still be those times when I’d rather just have cold cereal for dinner, or go hungry - than to put forth the time and effort to cook for just one person.

ugly food photo
shamelessly stolen from the internet
However, one good thing about being single and living alone - I am the only one who has to suffer from my culinary attempts. That is unless you dare to come over for dinner!!  I’ll cook something fabulously mysterious - betcha I won't even know what it is!!

Conflicting thoughts

I have been struggling over the past few days - dealing with conflicting thoughts, and some degree of guilt. Wondering if I am somehow lacking in the basics of love or charity for a certain someone? Or is it a health (mental & physical) self preservation reaction?

I came home the other day to see a phone number on my caller ID. When I saw who had called, I immediately got a stomach ache and tightness in my chest. It was very close to having an all out anxiety or panic attack - I truly did not wish to speak to this person. The thought crossed my mind, and there was an honest desire, for this person to somehow just go away. And no, I did not call them back.

Talk about split personalities! A part of me knows that I have done what I can regarding a relationship with this person (to no perceivable avail) - and that I should step back and leave this person in God's hands to take care of. Another part feels that perhaps I should walk that second mile. Then there is yet another part that reminds me I really have already done that, and even more.

It is very draining to have any level of relationship with a person who consistently criticizes anything and everything about me and my actions or decisions that they can possibly find. I call people like this "energy suckers" - those who do not give on any emotional level, but are constantly taking.

I suppose I am in a way seeking permission - or at least a confirmation to know for sure - that it is okay to separate myself from further contact with this person. I know it would be in my best interest to do so, but it is a very difficult decision to make.

Perhaps I should mention that this person is my one and only sibling, my only living immediate family member. Someone with whom I have never to my knowledge ever been able to relate with (no pun intended). We are complete opposites, having made totally different life choices. This is someone with whom I have pretty much nothing but DNA in common with.

Dreaming

I grew up in the era of television shows like Bewitched, and I Dream of Jeanie (of the two, Bewitched was my favorite of course. Samantha had a few more brain cells than Jeanie ever did). In my mind, how exciting it would be to possess magical powers. Chores and homework would be a thing of the past! But try as I might, no amount of nose twitching or eye blinking could produce any semblance of magic (much to my youthful dismay).

As I grew older, my fantasies took a more technological turn - which seemed to be somewhat more realistic in nature. Perhaps I could become better, stronger, faster... yup I envisioned being the next Bionic Woman! After that came dreams of transporters and replicators from Star Trek (actually I still dream about those two items sometimes).

I suppose you could say that when I was growing up, I wasn't satisfied with my plodding little life - with the grass certainly greener on the other side of the fence (well, on the other side of the television screen).

In reality, true magic comes from developing relationships with others - not from blinking or twitching. Perhaps someday there will be bionics or transporters as viewed on television. Until then and after that time, there is the wondrous journey from here to there and back again with friends and family to provide much needed love and support. Can't get that from a machine!

Dreams are important. It is the dream of accomplishing something that can inspire me to achieve what was thought to be impossible. Goals are not completed in the blink of an eye, or twitch of a nose. It is the journey - with all the tiring efforts, failures and skinned knees along the way - that provide a fulfillment of dreams. Even fulfilling dreams I never before considered, and now cannot envision living without.

Surviving the waves and currents

Many years ago, in what seems like another lifetime, I lived fairly close to the Pacific Ocean for about five years. In order to more fully enjoy the beauty of the ocean, I became a certified scuba diver. Along with a written test, a big part of the training class was learning basic scuba skills in a swimming pool - prior to traveling to the ocean for open water certification.

We were required to learn how to...
  • Clear our masks of water, while sitting at the bottom of the pool. 
  • Swim 200-yards wearing a snorkel and fins (not too difficult). 
  • Swim 50-yards underwater without coming up for a breath of air (a bit more difficult, took me two tries). 
  • Lastly was the requirement to tread water for a full 10-minutes with no support (no hanging onto anything or anyone). 
This last test was easy at first, but as time went on it became very tiring and increasingly difficult to stay afloat. All this was accomplished in the relative safety of a quiet swimming pool.

Now imagine yourself in the ocean with underwater currents, and waves that can push and pull you in many directions. Not to mention dangerous storms; decompression sickness (the bends); possible embolism; being tangled, injured or trapped in underwater vegetation or rock formations; running out of oxygen; or having encounters with dangerous sea creatures. It can be quite easy to injure, or even kill yourself while scuba diving - thus the need for training, and the ever present caution to never dive alone - to always have a dive partner. It is the job of each person to keep an eye on their partner, and be there to help in the event something happens.

Life is very similar to scuba diving - constantly being pushed and pulled in different directions, with a multitude of dangers all around. Our life training manual is contained in the scriptures, and we will all have frequent tests.

Right now I have run out of oxygen, and am desperately trying to keep my head above the surface by unendingly treading water. There are many times when I just get so tired of fighting the waves and currents and want to give up - to silently sink below the darkened surface of the water.

But I have a partner, someone who won’t ever give up on trying to help me. He has a constant eye on me, and allows me to hold onto Him when I am ready to surrender to the darkness. He is able to buoy me up and give me moments of peace and rest. Who better to help me eventually make it to the safety of the shore, than He who once walked on water? My problem is that I frequently tend to rely on the arm of flesh, floundering desperately under my own power to stay afloat - and often fail to reach out to Him who is always ready to save.

In a previous post I mentioned girding on armor and having a ready battle plan for fighting the mists of depression’s darkness that plague my everyday life. Trust me, when in the depths of the ocean, wearing heavy armor isn't such a good idea. Unless said armor is the buoyant whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-14).

Now it is a matter of finding His superior armor amongst all the clutter and debries in my brain and life. To put it to good use, and set aside the arm of flesh (reliance on myself, who am truly imperfect) - and always remember to reach out to Him who is perfect, He who saves.

Storm on the horizon


It was the summer of 1977, and I was 12-years-old. My Aunt JoAnn wanted to take three of her children on a road trip to see some LDS church history sites in Illinois and Missouri - but she only had 4 or 5 days total vacation time to drive there and back. Two of my cousins are within six months to a year of my age, and knowing it would be a fabulous experience for me - my Mom convinced my aunt to take me with them on the whirlwind car trip.

My aunt and an older cousin did all the driving - going straight through that first night - the next morning I woke up somewhere in Nebraska. It was the first time I had ever been where there were no mountains to be seen anywhere - just a huge empty sky and unending flatness. I remember feeling uncomfortable, and a bit frightened. I wanted to return home to the safety and protection of my mountain valley - to escape that vast nothingness. It wasn’t at all familiar to me, and I really didn’t feel like I belonged there.

This event of long ago was brought to remembrance last night as I pondered the reasons why I almost seem willing in a way, to slide back into depression when given an opportunity. It came to my mind that the darkness of depression had become a familiar place to me - a place where I have lived so much of my life (decades really). Leaving that state of being behind, now living in this new world of light and color seems almost strange, at times uncomfortable and a bit frightening. This is going to sound weird, but it is almost like a "homesickness" in a way. As miserable as it was (and is) to be in that darkened depressing world, at least it is a very familiar place for me. Better the devil you know kind of thing.

Now that I can better see this behavior trait, I am aware of the need to work harder on accepting this new state of being as my real home - to become familiar and comfortable in a world of light and color. I need to be more aware and better notice when the mists of darkness appear on the horizon. I can sometimes in advance see or feel it coming. That is then the time to gird on my armor, and have a ready battle plan on how to move out of the storm’s path - rather than allow it to engulf me.

I am quite certain this will not be an easy thing to do - but then nothing this past year so full of changes in thoughts, perceptions and attitudes has been easy. The Lord never said life would be easy, just that it would be worth it. I still have a long journey ahead of me - so if you see me sliding unawares back into the darkness... shout out your best sounding battle cry to help me remember to come in from the storm!!

To languish or wallow? That is the question.

What is it about the word, languish that I so much identify with myself? In particular on days like today. I have good intentions, and a list of things that need to be done - and yet I languish in a chair for going on 10-plus-hours now, doing nothing really productive (unless you count attempting to lose myself in online mindless games). Languish: to lose vigor and vitality; to be or become weak or feeble; droop; fade.

On days like this I just want to fade from life - from reality - from stress - from the world in general - from myself. I feel maybe I need someone to encourage me to get up and get moving. But let’s be honest here... I would probably tell them to, "Mind your own business!! Go away and leave me to wallow!!" (now there’s another good descriptive word, wallow).

I languish, I wallow, I simply waste away precious hours and days. In my mind’s eye, days like this epitomize true laziness at its finest. At least that is the way I perceive it - and I berate myself about it over and over again - saying vicious and unkind things in my mind. Things that are directed solely at myself, and my obvious lack of anything resembling worth.

Knowing from whence these false thoughts originate doesn’t always help free me from a mind and body that is constantly fighting against what at times appear to be overwhelming massive blobs of depression. The impenetrable mists that chokingly block out all light, and leave me rotting in a well of darkness. How’s that for descriptive? Care to join me for tea sometime here in my abyss of misery? I thought not... run quickly away from here - run for your life! Please don't worry about me, I'll probably be back to a reasonable semblance of sanity by tomorrow (I hope).

Under construction

It's been a few weeks since I've written anything here... sorry 'bout that, but I have a really good excuse (I promise!!). This past year has been a time for my mind, body and spirit to be "under construction". Realizing that physical surroundings can have an effect (good or bad) - it became clear that some construction was needed for my home.

Basically it boiled down to the fact that I need to have more light in my home. The decor choices of my parents was soooo them, but really not me. Here is what the living room used to look like...

Wood paneling & wood burning stove.

Most light was promptly swallowed by all the brown colors.
So the remodel adventure began on January 3, 2011. It's not over yet... but the end is getting closer! First step was to move all the furniture out of the room (not an easy task). Then it was demolition time... now that was kinda fun in a way!

Stove now in the basement, built-in bookcase temporarily relocated.
But most important - the paneling is GONE!
(along with the sheet rock it was glued to)
New sheet rock was put in place!
Bad news: I added quite a bit to the project... the hallway, my bedroom, 7 new doors & 2 new windows.
Good news: my bedroom never had paneling on the walls (much easier to deal with).
Bad news: now where am I going to sleep during construction?
Good news: my parents made the kitchen large enough to do double duty!!

Yeah, that's my queen size bed... in the kitchen!!
At this point in time there is paint primer on the walls, and all new trim and moldings around doors / windows. I am currently in the process of caulking everything in preparation for color to go on the walls - then the carpet can be laid - then I can move furniture back into the proper rooms (especially my bed!). Finally there comes what could be the worst part of the entire project... total cleaning of everything in all rooms, because of all that sheet rock and wood cutting dust that's everywhere!

When will I have time to post something here again... who knows. Guess it all depends on how long I want to sleep in the kitchen!

A big THANK YOU goes out to my wonderful neighbors and friends - who have generously donated their time and skills to this project. Without them, none of this could have been accomplished!!