What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Just What the Doctor Ordered

I don’t know what to write about for this week. In spite of the positive stuff happening in my life – the “I can” stuff – today I feel less than enthusiastic. I’ve been sick with a virus since last Thursday. This cold, or flu, or whatever it is, has prevented me from participating in my regular things and one special thing. The required isolation has kept me from interacting with people. I had to cancel getting together with a friend, going to a long-awaited concert, meeting up with our regular Saturday night friends, going to church, and I had to stay home today instead of going to the coffee shop.

Down time. It is uncomfortable to sit around and do nothing . . . or not doing what I had planned. Inactivity seems wrong or bad or wasteful or something, but doctors tell us that resting is part of the healing process. So I am doing something. I am doing exactly what doctors tell us to do.

There has been a lot of time to think although it has been hard to stay focused some of the time due to the coughing, headache, fever, and fatigue. I set attainable goals each day: read a little, write some, read some more, and take a nap before my family gets home. I have managed to prepare dinner and do some laundry.

Not very creative. Just doing the minimum. But doing exactly what the doctor ordered. I’m okay with that. I am not always tolerant with myself when I’m doing “nothing.” I’m afraid this “laying around” will become a habit and the good habits I’m trying to develop or maintain will not survive. It happened before. Many times when I get “off-schedule,” it is hard to get back on track. With my new “I can” philosophy I can recognize the potential hazard and plan for it. One thing I’m doing as I begin to feel better is adding some (feeling) ALIVE activities back into my routine, one at a time. The goal is to be doing all the ALIVE things and working on some of the THRIVE things by the time I am “well” again.

Today I can accept this down time as a chance to heal, rest, think, and trust God. Today I can feel good about taking care of myself. I can feel at peace knowing I’m doing just what the doctors order.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My God; David's God

Higher Power. Don’t leave. I know that those two words (Higher Power) invokes many thoughts and feelings, some that could cause some of you to run the other way. That is a first reaction to anything god-sounding. Thinking about something bigger than us is hard to do. Yet most of us feel a sense of longing for something “more.” Can there be something/someone big enough to take care of all the things for which we are powerless? King David talks about that kind of Higher Power (who he chose to call God.)

“God's love is meteoric,

his loyalty astronomic,

His purpose titanic,

his verdicts oceanic.

Yet in his largeness

nothing gets lost;

Not a man, not a mouse,

slips through the cracks.”[1]

I hope [desire with expectation of obtainment; expect with confidence and trust.”][2] David’s God exists. I repeat David’s words and let other words come to me as I try to understand David’s God:

"Your largeness is beyond my ability to comprehend. You are so big . . . it is like not being able to truly understand what a billion is -- or even a million. And You are much, much, infinitely more than a billion, than a trillion, than a quadrillion, and even beyond a googolplex. BIG. And You choose to love us in spite of who we are and/or what we do. You are faithful and trustworthy. You will do as You promised. You are the only One God, who is active in Your creation -- of course that is because You are the only true God. You are able -- abundantly able -- to provide for and protect us. We cannot be lost because You see us. You see everything including a mouse, and also the tiniest of Your creations, as small as a mustard seed.

I praise You just because You desire to love us and be a friend to us, and care for our every need. You know what I need before I do. You are our hope and we can count on Your love, care, salvation, provision, protection, patience, acceptance, steadfastness, perseverance (in calling out to us by the power of the Holy Spirit), and so much more than I have words to express.

Praise You. Almighty God. Lord of heaven and earth. Master of everything. Praise You!!!"

David’s God is tremendously bigger than I can understand. If this God exists (and I believe David’s God does), awe and honor is appropriate. So, Praise God!!

[1] Taken from The Message. Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

[2] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Boundaries, Part 3

This week I want to look at boundaries not from a perspective of what I can’t do, but as guidelines for what I can do. “I can” statements and commitments look at what is possible. They give me a framework for deciding what behaviors will move me towards a life that thrives, a life of self-actualization, a life worth living,

In survival mode I live as though all those things I can’t do or have to do is all I am. I let the things I can’t do, the mistakes I’ve made, and the distorted thoughts define me. But, I am not the sum of my illnesses. I am so much more. I can move away from the boundaries that tell me what I can’t do and embrace possibilities. In other words, I can determine new boundaries that identify what I can do so I can feel alive and thrive.

In order to move from the familiar SURVIVE state of mind, and stay away, I need to set some different boundaries. I can use “I can” statements to make boundaries defining me as a person with possibilities, as someone who seeks to feel ALIVE and to THRIVE.

In writing the new boundaries in the form of “I can” statements, I want to be careful not to slip into “I must” statements that will leave me totally defeated if I fail to do them. “I can” statements give me options. They empower me to make different choices, choices that lead to further recovery and growth. A few of my “I can” statements are:

I can unconditionally love my husband, children, and friends.

I can grow in my relationship with God through Bible Study.

I can grow in my relationship with God through Prayer.

I can find peace and serenity in trusting God for the details in my life.

I can be a good listener and an encourager.

I can serve others when I have the means to help.

I can use my talents and gifts to serve God giving my life purpose.

I can write letters (email and snail.)

I can write because I am a writer.

I can enjoy substitute teaching and interacting with young adults.

I can live a life of integrity.

I can . . .

And, I can keep adding to this list as I become more able to look at the possibilities. My plan this year is to live as far from the fence, the “I can’t” boundaries, as possible. I will define myself by the things I can do. What can you do to increase your prospect of thriving, of living a life worth living in 2011?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Boundaries, Part 2

Last week I wrote about setting boundaries. Boundaries keep me from engaging in unhealthy behaviors. Setting up healthy boundaries allows me to survive, even in the midst of emotional turmoil. The boundaries are enough to keep me safe. Hurting myself in any way is not an option. I have agreed to continue, renew, my commitments from the past year. Drinking, self-harm, and suicidal ideation are not options. It is still scary to give those things up. It is scary because I know I can’t do those things, but I don’t know what to do instead.

During this last week I have spent time contemplating where to set the “old” (and new?) boundaries. I decided the three boundaries I had last year covered everything that will keep me safe and allow me to survive. I still felt something else needed doing. Is surviving enough? I want more than that. I want to feel alive. That’s the next step. Surviving is looking at the things I cannot do, drawing the line in the dirt, and/or putting up a barricade preventing me from going to unsafe places. Surviving. Isn’t there something more?

The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” I was asked to consider things that make me feel alive. What things do I do and think about to bring me contentment, peace, and a sense of wellbeing? I’m still thinking about it, but I know that keeping a daily routine is a key element. Bible reading, prayer, meditating, and journaling are musts. Also good is contributing to others – preparing meals for my family, giving rides to people when I can, help my mom and sister, and being a part of the leadership team for Celebrate Recovery (CR) at my church. I don’t have to do these things to survive. I do them because in the doing I feel good about myself. I feel worthy of the attention and love others give to me. I feel useful and realize that if I did not exist, some of these things might not get done.

Yet I still feel like there is something missing. I want more than just surviving. I want to be alive and live in the present, not reliving my past or speculating on the future. I want more. I want to have an impact on my world. I want to make a difference in the lives of others (without the manic grandiosity that can come from my mental illness.) This is more than being content with the status quo. It takes feeling alive one step further. It is thinking and doing in ways that lead me toward thriving (flourishing, prospering.) In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs language, I want to become “self-actualized.” My writing, as a vocation and not a hobby, leads me toward the goal to thrive. Teaching, in the preparing and presenting, gives me an outlet for the things that move me toward a life that thrives. It involves building on the things that make me feel alive ever moving toward being the best person I can be.

I need to think about this some more. The framework is in place. There are three life conditions I can exist within. I can look at my behavior and thinking, and decide where I am each day, and where I want to be. No one condition is expected to be prominent every day, but I can acknowledge where I am and deal with life from one of the three points of view and choose to move forward:


I used arrows to indicate it is a process where I, hopefully, move past staying in survival mode to live in the present, in a fully alive and content stage most of the time. Right now I can’t see myself thriving all the time. Maybe thriving all the time is not possible. Thriving looks at what can be possible and doesn’t necessarily, for me, take into account the daily things of life which need to be done.

Next week I will look at SURVIVE => ALIVE => THRIVE in a different way. Check out Boundaries, part 3 next Thursday.