Tag Archives: life worth living

words to live by, ideas to hang onto

If anyone can do this, I can do this!

If anyone can get through this, I can get through this!

I have something worth fighting for: my relationship with John, the most important thing in the world to me besides my faith. He means everything to me.

BUT, if that falls apart, God forbid, I have something worth fighting for: MYSELF. Sometimes I feel like I’m a mess, that I don’t want to save myself. I’ve destroyed everything and I deserve to die. Well, maybe I have destroyed myself. But God Himself said, “O Israel, you have destroyed yourself; but in me is your help” (Hosea 13:9). I know He is saying the same to me. I know inasmuch as anyone deserves to live, I do.

More words:

“The trauma of the whole thing [splitting with her husband of 8 years] has been humbling, and for the first time, I’m a little bit wobbly […] I’m a case of arrested development, in a way – from spending your 20s with someone who really loves to take care of you, as my husband did. But I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.” – Olivia Wilde

images via 1, 2

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finding a big country

Tonight this song was playing in the deli where I eat dinner sometimes. I like the song, but I’ve never paid attention to the words before. They seemed to jump out at me tonight, though. Listen for yourself.

So take that look out of here; it doesn’t fit you.
Because it’s happened doesn’t mean you’ve been discarded.
Pull up your head off the floor, come up screaming.
Cry out for everything you ever might have wanted.

I thought that pain and truth were things that really mattered,
But you can’t stay here with every single hope you had shattered.

I’m not expecting to grow flowers in the desert,
But I can live and breathe and see the sun in wintertime.

(Big Country)

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making a life worth living (part 3 of an ongoing conversation)

Mindfulness is a part of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) that I’m still learning about. From what I can tell, there are different ways of practicing mindfulness, but at its core, mindfulness’s goal is to allow you to observe and describe your feelings, to recognize them without being driven by them (and without forming myriad secondary and tertiary feelings about your feelings.)

Mindfulness exercises are often meditative in nature. For instance, you can observe and describe an object. The goal is to focus on the simple facts and avoid judgments or feelings about those facts. You can also observe your breathing to ensure you’re breathing deeply (which is calming) instead of from your chest (which can tire you and reinforce your anxiety). For me, though, my mind is so hyperactive that it’s hard to focus on breathing for any length of time. Maybe that just means I’m a novice.

I was in a cute little shop the other week, though, and the cashier came over and demonstrated a handheld Tibetan Singing Bowl for me. I didn’t ask her to — she just came right over! And then she was so deliberate and careful in her demonstration, not seeming to mind that it took awhile to show me. When things like that happen, I always consider that it might be God-appointed. I don’t jump to conclusions, but I do get ready just in case. Sure enough, this seemed divine. The Tibetan Singing Bowl is a meditation tool: you run the wooden striker around the rim of the bowl to make the bowl “sing” louder and louder. The catch is that you have to be mindful! You have to move the striker consistently around, apply consistent pressure, modulate your speed to change the sound. I immediately knew it would be helpful for my mindfulness exercises.

After thinking about it for a couple of weeks (I hate impulse buys — they make me feel guilty!), I went back to the store. The bowl I wanted was gone! There were others, but they weren’t quite as loud and nice. Thankfully, though, the cashier was helpful again! She showed me bells with a similar idea — and a much louder singing “voice”! You held the bells like normal, but instead of striking them or tilting them to ring them, you again ran the striker around the outside to make them sing. I bought the loudest bell and now I practice with it every day. My brain is still hyperactive, but I feel more able to focus on creating the sound than just on my breathing (something I still hope to put in place later!)


life is an airplane ride

Life is an airplane ride — You never have to think about it. I’m terrified of flying, but it’s therapeutic for me to do it anyway when I have the opportunity (plus, then I get to go neat places.) I always dread the moment when I have to think about the airplane leveling out, when I have to process the feeling. But then I remember the lesson I learned one day when I (terrified) stepped out in blind, delusional faith and got a drink from the drink cart. The act of speaking to the flight attendant, taking the cup, sipping the drink — these tiny interruptions in my vigilance were enough to make me realize that I didn’t have to think about the flight at all. I could read SkyMall and arrange my carry-on items and fluff my paper pillow and never, ever think about being on an airplane. But if my brain clicked over and I did feel happy and safe, I could look out the window — I could think about it and enjoy it if I wanted to. If it were safe for me.

So these days when I’m alternating between distractions and utter emotional breakdowns, I just need to remember that while the distractions aren’t solving the problem, they are letting time and the confidence I gain by willfully diverting my energy solve the problem. My problem. Which, right now, is that I can’t solve anyone else’s.

Life is eating a bagel — Speaking of distractions, I had an extremely low day last week, followed by an extremely programmed day where I had to (ineffectively; I’m not as good at faking it as I used to be) go through the motions. I was very tired. Very tired of life in general. But I kind of wanted a bagel. An everything bagel with lox, lettuce, tomato, and a heap of smoked whitefish salad.

I’ve tried to switch over into a survivor mindset lately whenever possible: “I could be dead, so I might as well!” which sounds morbid because of the ‘dead’ part, but if you think about it, it’s really freeing. I might as well take risks, do what I want, stop doing what I don’t want. I have borrowed time. I might as well make a little monument with it, a little altar to remember what God has given me. And I guess it sounds silly for that to be a bagel. But in the old testament it was a pile of rocks, so maybe not.

Anyway, I got up the next day and with my brain switched firmly into the ‘off’ position, I went and got my bagel. And I sat with nothing to do — no book or computer — and just focused on my bagel. I focused on the smoky taste and how the poppyseeds hurt the pizza-burned roof of my mouth. I focused on the bite and then chew of the bagel’s texture. I focused on eating each bit of whitefish salad before it fell out of the back of the sandwich. And I looked around: at the hipster guy across from me jamming to the music to show that he knew what it was, the girl beside me eating with her earbuds in her ears, the chubby girl in the exercise outfit with her boyfriend laughing beside her. And things might not have been okay before then, and things definitely weren’t going to be okay after then, but while I sat and ate my bagel, things were nice.

And I could eat bagels all the time, in a manner of speaking. I’ve been trying. Going to the little French bakery in town and eating a macaron or two. Walking around the city. Eating dinner at my favorite deli and staying until they close. Taking a bath. Looking at funny pictures. Watching stand-up comedian after stand-up comedian, hoping that there’s still another on Netflix after each one. But then every now and then I stop, because it feels like a band-aid. I tongue the tooth that’s been hurting, so to speak, and the pain is as bad as I’ve ever felt. And suddenly I’m under waves again. I can’t even imagine a bagel.

So. I say it sometimes with sarcasm and sadness: I guess I’ll just eat a bagel! But really, I need to keep eating bagels, one at a time, and never ever stop to check the ache. Until maybe one day my solid, happy heart will surprise me.

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making a life worth living (part 2 of an ongoing conversation)

Here are a couple of things that have proven very helpful to me during times when my emotions feel more difficult to control.

1. Willfully being social. Even when I feel like a mess, sometimes I can get it together and “act opposite” to my emotion by heading out to see a friend. I think of it like being in a play and “faking it ’til I make it,” acting like fun company until I really am having fun and forgetting my troubles. Sometimes I will also be deliberately vulnerable with a friend, acknowledging that things aren’t going well in a controlled way, but only insofar as I feel like it helps in creating a genuine friendship. I am so not the one to be giving friendship advice, so feel free to chime in about what you think about this point.

2. Working alone in a public space. Even if I feel like being with friends would be embarrassing or difficult because of my anxiety or sadness, I find it tremendously helpful to be in a public place. I pack up a book or a laptop and head to a comfortable coffee shop or deli (I’ve even scoped out some 24-hour ones for late night “company”) and work. Inasmuch as it helps me focus on my work or reading, it helps distract me from my negative thoughts. I also find it really healing to look around at other people enjoying their food and conversation — it almost provides a realistic plumb line that helps me calibrate my feelings. I usually feel more balanced and capable after spending some time out in the world.


making a life worth living (part 1 of an ongoing conversation)

This post is part of an ongoing conversation about things that would enrich my life.

1. Seeing more plays — the drama and spectacle on stage is a fun and happy reprieve, even if it’s a sad story. I always enjoy plays, but for some reason I forget to seek them out. I went to see Rock of Ages not too long ago and it was seriously the most fun social event I think I’ve ever been to.

2. Making trips to see animals (zoo, ranch, etc.) and interact with animals (volunteering at the Humane Society)

3. Doing more activities outdoors — I just read this post which was wonderful, and I especially liked what Reiland says about connecting with nature. Before my diagnosis, that was one of the coping skills I’d developed organically. I realized that going for a hike or canoeing or going to see animals made me feel grounded and gave me perspective in the nicest way. I need to make time in my schedule for these things.