Winds of Change                                                              03-12-2017

            Change is not a roadblock to life unless we make it one. From the moment your daddy’s sperm and your mother’s egg joined on that momentous occasion of your creation, your life has consisted of constant change. If you have taken even the most basic health or sex-ed classes in school, you have seen the way a fertilized egg nucleus divides and multiplies until all the cells become a blob that eventually evolves into an embryo. Each of us has experienced (depending on your age) our own growth from childhood, through adolescence and into adulthood. You may even be old enough to see there are stages of adulthood as well.

     There is an old saying about death and taxes being the only guarantees in life. I would venture to insist upon a third guarantee: change. One can fight it or accept it but change happens. If we deny and attempt to stop it, we may find ourselves stuck in an eddy of circular paths going nowhere. But while we may stagnate in our stance against changes, life will continue on its merry journey all around us.

     Understand – these words do not advocate always going with the flow, not at all. Instead, this article is attempting to point out that nothing stands permanent, unchanged forever. Even basaltic mountains wear away over time. Yet, we may indeed stand against a small piece of the floods of change and alter a tiny flow to suit our needs, wants or desires. Such is often advisable. For instance: standing up to a bully; helping someone in need; complaining to a corporate president about shoddy treatment; returning unwanted snail mail advertising writing on the front of the envelope: Delivery Refused; arguing against unjustifiable increases in property taxes; recycling, reusing or repurposing instead of throwing something away are  but a few examples. No matter how hard we try, we cannot stop the world from changing. Change is as inevitable and as persistent as death.

     Embracing change is accepting life. For me, when time comes to stand against some change, I focus my time and skills to alter the flow of a small piece rather than trying to stop it. I may not like that my favorite soda has gone up in price. I realize I most likely cannot change that. But I am not helpless. I can: 1.) buy it only when on sale; 2.) switch to another brand; 3.) switch to drinking tea or water; 4.) complain to the manufacturer (though in the past this turned out to be a waste of effort); 5.) grumble, whine and complain but pay the higher price 6.) cheerfully pay the extra, it’s only a dime right?  

     For me, life is a mandate to embrace change, pull from it what benefits I can tease out, and discard the stale ideas of the past. There is something to be said for using what I have to make the best of our world as well. As a writer, I have no need for the most current, ultra powerful gaming computer – the one with the most recent video card, a terabyte of ram, the fastest multi-core processor and the astronomical price tag. My computer use is limited to surfing the net and daily writing. A four-year-old laptop is more than sufficient for the task. When it begins to fail, it will be wiped and find a new home in a recycle bin somewhere, and I will move on to another. One designed for simplicity, not the ultimate gaming experience.
      Above all remember, change will always accompany us, it is the ‘spice of life’ and like it or not, a permanent, integral part of being human. Pick your battles, fight with all your heart and reveal in what you can accomplish. But remember too, for good or bad, change happens, embrace it and enjoy your life.

Follow Your Heart                                                        02-05-2017

I heard that so many times in my younger years. It sounds fantastic and now that I have managed to live it, I am a much happier person for it. Unfortunately, during the time I was wallowing in the depths of depression those words, like so many others were just words.  They held little positive meaning for me.

Oh, I understood the words, what they were supposed to convey. I was so heart sore and stuck in the past. I constantly relived (in my mind) the many failures of the preceding forty years of life.  It took me many years to discover that I could actually follow my heart. What it took to get there was turning my focus around.  To do that, I had to lay my past to rest and learn to live in the present. This process took a few years but it is possible.

It should be noted that not one of those people who made statements to "follow my heart,” had the slightest notion of what was hidden in there. Some days I a harbored a sincere desire to die.  Others, I felt overwhelming bouts of envy.  It wasn't greed or anything like that, I envied anyone who did not find their lives stuck at the bottom of a dark pit reliving every conversation all the way back into my childhood. 

Following one's heart is supposed to be about living one's dreams. For me, dreams did little but remind me of my shortfalls. Following my dream or my heart was not the best advice to give. Those words often frustrated me and I would slip deeper into my cocoon of despair, reminded yet again, that a happy life was beyond my reach. 

I attempted to enact some changes. I tried to force myself into a positive attitude, and begged for solid ground to stand on, or a ladder out of my personal pit. Either I didn’t have the energy to follow through with my hopes or I misunderstood where the path I chose would lead. Many projects lay forgotten, others abandoned because once I got moving I did not like where they were headed. Some others never got off the ground because I found myself unwilling to do the work required to bring them to fruition.

Today, looking back at that time in my life, I know I wanted someone to fix things for me.  I wanted the doctors to cure me.  I thought counselors might hold the key to my ills.  In many ways those turned out to be poor choices.  I believe the failures I continued to have came from my failure to understand building block number one. 

Building Block 1.)  Fixing the broken me was my responsibility.  The  mental health doctors cannot fix what is going wrong in a person's mind. 

A.) Psychiatrists/ Doctors do not as a rule offer counseling.

B.) Doctors felt a need to label my 'troubles,' give me pills and send me on my way.

C.) The doctors turned me into a guinea pig testing countless medications trying to find something to break the depression. Nothing seemed to work at all, or they worked in negative ways.  I went from medication to medication to medication for over two years.

D.) Some of the prescribed pills had bizarre affects on my mind and/or my body:  Hallucinations, had my feces change to chalk white, developed a muscle tic in the corner of my right eye, made my body all jittery. 

E.) The pills the doctors felt had some positive effect on my depression left me lethargic and without enough energy to pursue anything to help myself. 

F.) The lethargy remained with me so long as I took the drugs.

G.) The pills did not help me sleep, instead they put me into a coma, and left me with a hangover that lasts for several hours the next day.

H.) The phrase “chemical imbalance in the brain” is a way of legitimatizing prescribing pills.  (Note: not once in ten years were my brain chemicals extracted, measured, or tested. The imbalance was presumed because of my difficulties.)

I.) True the drugs did reduce my anger a bit. It did not make it go away.  (That could only be accomplished by my altering my thinking patterns.)

J.) The prescribed drugs had another side effect: they reduced my ability to care about anything.  Truth is I felt nothing.  Hence why I starting poking my hand with a needle, to get some sort of feeling into my body.  Often I had hundreds of little scabs on the back of my hand as a result of trying to feel.

K.) No two doctors came up with the same diagnosis of what ailed me. (This was over ten years of treatment, and I saw at least eight different doctors.)

Somewhere along the line something occurred to me. The idea might have come from one of the hundreds of counseling sessions I had. I do not remember where it came from.  Personally, I like to believe Spirit was whispering it in my ear and eventually the idea began to sink in:

The only way I ever get out of this hole is me pulling myself out.