Thursday, August 24, 2023

Chapter 13 - Respect Your Inner Person

Respect your personal limitations, listen to your body, your energy level. 

Another thing I’ve learned is, be “your” self. Not “someone else's” self. 

My first attempt at climbing out of this space was the strategy of busy-ness. Distraction. I was on the other side of all this pain, right? I can just move on now. So just keep swimming. Keep doing. The rest will come. It seems to work for others, so it should work for me, right?

I also erringly thought busy-ness would somehow enact a reward. Fix me. Fix life. 

So I gave every bit of myself spiritually, desperately trying to put it above all else, even while being physically sick through most of it. I felt like if I did, good had to finally come. Alas, during that time, My husband’s sister died a very sudden death, the "sale" of Dad’s property was disappointing, spiritual children and friends had left us, and I watched my Uncle die from cancer. 

Effort seemed to produce disappointment instead of blessings. And I was tired. Tired of trying. I wore myself out going at this pace. My joy was gone. I never had time to be creative. My once open loving spirit, became closed and emotionally autonomous in order to survive. Life was a chore. I had just enough time to keep up. No extras, no getting ahead, or getting things accomplished. All I ever wanted to do since I was a little girl, was be a housewife and take care of my family. I didn't "take care", I just got by. Got fed. Got done what was minimally required.  I thought that with my Dads death I could eventually stop working, and aux pioneer. But I haven't. And now the desire to pioneer has left me, its died. Along with my eternal optimist. I just didn’t care anymore, I just wanted to be alone. Not be obligated to anyone or anything. I lost the person I wanted to be. And even the person I was. There is mourning in that loss.  And it showed. So many people came up to me during that time and sincerely asked how I was. They knew. My good friend told me my eyes aren't sparkly like they usually are. I guess realizing I lost my inner being does that. Whatever light was in me before had now dimmed. The battery worn low.  

But I'll be fine. "I’m fine." I say.

I buried these thoughts so deeply most of my closest friends and loved ones didn't know they existed. (till now)

After all this struggling and just surviving for so long, I had changed my focus and forgot about nurturing me. I needed to slow down. Refocus. The writing I did while in the middle of my health issues helped soooo much, but I abandoned it in the years following, focusing only on my spiritual life and not ever on myself. Thinking that would somehow Fulfill All and result in some kind of reward. But I needed to find reward not just in a future promise, but also in the gift of everyday, of being human, of the earthly gifts God gave us. 

It was like an epiphany. I realized, I don’t need to mentally prepare to leave this earth! I am an earth creature. I LOVE this earth and all it has to offer. I need to feed that. It’s ok to live in the moment, enjoy now. Not tomorrow, not later, or in Paradise.  To slow down for goodness sake!  Why was I eating fast, cleaning fast, cooking fast, walking fast. Stop rushing!! Its ok to avail myself of earthly pleasures as long as it doesn't interfere with spiritual things. In fact, it can complement my spirituality, not erode it. This realization was a turning point for me. 

Some people need to keep busy, to be distracted, because being alone with their thoughts is scary. I tried that, keeping busy and distracted. But I didn't realize the damage I was doing to my inner person, burying her, not giving her time to live. I like my inner person. I like being alone with her, just thinking. I am an introvert. And I like being an introvert. I like who I am. Being introverted isn’t a negative thing. I recharge by being alone with my thoughts, to reset. I had not done that in for so long. I’m not a surface dweller. I need to dive deep, deep into myself and express what’s been buried. 

I wrote this during a camping trip, one of the things we do every year to make time to just “be”. 

To Just “Be” 

I am an only child. And thankfully, I am also comfortable in solitude. I never appreciated this quality till much later in life. Although I was comfortable in my solitude, I also felt that I had much to give others. My desire to "fulfill" made me want to devote my life to family, being a housewife. A pipe dream that was never realized. And now, after being fractured into so many different roles, for so very long, I have come to appreciate the ability to be in solitude. To just "be".  And yet it's so elusive. That's why camping is such a treasure, a yearly need. I find moments of myself, to be, and simply exist. Without obligation, the choice to read, write, draw, pet my fluffy, or my Molly, to stare out at the forest, to think, let things roll around in my mind and wander untethered.  Or just take a long nap without guilt or disturbance. The choice is mine. To breathe free of obligation, that is what it means to "be".  To,   Just,  Be…..

Writing releases and organizes my subconscious. I desperately needed that right now. I needed to make the time to do it. But to dig myself out of this darkness I needed to do something structured. Life wasn’t going to change, so the only thing I could change was my outlook.  I needed to get Back to Basics. A plan of how to get back to myself. Reboot this thing back into life.

And so I made a list:

The Basics

- Text

- Prayer

- Meditate

- Bible Reading

- Apply small things to improve your personality, day     to day. 

- Relationships 

- Boys

- Manageable routine of service.

- Remember, You can sacrifice too much. 

- Meals

- Do Stuff with Hubby

- Take care of family

- Take care of friends

- Be creative, make art, write.

-Do something that you feel accomplishes something.     A house improvement.

- Reminisce, write about Dad. Upload pics.

- Reconnect with friends

- Write them, connect, even if its just a short hello.


- Gratitude. 


Guidepost #3 wasn’t a single thing, but a series of little guideposts, nudging me along the way, tucked away in the back of my mind. I kept reading everywhere about the power of Gratitude. On the internet, in a daily text, in the publications. 3 things. 3 things kept coming back. Just think of 3 things.  

I guess it’s worth a try. I was floundering. So I started using an app that would remind me to write those 3 things down. Just simple things. They don’t have to be big. A flower, the warmth of the sun, a random smile from a stranger. Just 3 things that made me happy for just a moment. Doing this REALLY helped turn my thinking around. Helped me find joy again. I encourage everyone to do it! 

My animals were featured often in my 3 things. I finally had a cat in my life again, and he brought so much simple joy to be grateful for. The softness of his fur. His youthful curiosity. His joy at discovering new things, how fun it is to make a bed with the sheets flying and folding above. The feel of the brisk wind coming in the door. It was all so exciting for him. Seeing life through his big yellow eyes was a delight. 

Then there were other little steps I took along the way. Little steps to make more joy. I made it my aim to find time to be creative in any form. I looked through all my old art. Appreciated it. Reflected. I dragged out a cross stitch I bought 20 years ago. The most complex one I ever bought. I started having breakfast and lunch on the deck, making time to enjoy a simple task like eating. Just musing about those things, consciously slowing down, allowing myself time to think. It was so refreshing. To "Pause and Reset".

This was the name of a talk by a grandfatherly brother. Accompanied by thought provoking images of creation, he lovingly reminds us that its ok to slow down and enjoy life. It embodies the thoughts and feelings I was trying to enact. It was so profound and affected me so deeply, I want to share some of those thoughts with you here:

Happiness can be tricky. We all know people who by all standards should be happy, but they’re not. On the other hand, we know people who face many, many difficult challenges every day, but they seem to radiate happiness. Happiness is not dependent on things, on circumstances, or even on people. Because true happiness is not an end goal; it is a byproduct. Being joyful is an act of worship. Imperfect humans can lose their appreciation for things that become a routine part of life, even if these things are a reflection of God’s loving concern. Each festival the Israelites celebrated was a time when they stopped what they were doing, they would pause, and reflect on the blessings that they had received. What effect did this pause and reset have? One word — Gratitude. You know what happens when we feel gratitude? Happiness always follows. Gratitude reminds us that our Creator loves us and that he cares about us. It reminds us that God’s goodness exists even in the worst that life has to offer. Gratitude nullifies negativity. Gratitude is more than just a feeling, it’s a mind-set, it’s a disposition, and it’s a choice. We can make a conscious decision to see blessings instead of curses. Our Creator has bejeweled our world with daily reminders of his goodness, his power, but most of all, his love for us. All we have to do is take the time to look…..

Contemplate the abundance and the diversity of life.

Drink in the awesomeness of the universe on a starry night.

No two sunrises and no two sunsets are ever exactly alike.

Look up to the clouds.

What you see is ever changing.

There was nothing exactly like it before, nor will there ever be again.

The feeling you will experience is a refreshment of the soul; it’s a reset.

Eyes see only light, and ears hear only sound; but a grateful heart perceives meaning.

We perceive that God created all these things as a gift for us.

That’s right; each day was to be a very special gift, unique unto itself.

To make endless life not just special but amazing, wondrous, and always a joy.

Connecting with God’s creation helps to discharge anxiety. It shifts our attention to something safe, something enduring, something outside ourselves. Gratitude is the ability to experience life, not as a test, but as a gift. It helps us to accept life’s uncertainties by reassuring us that we are a part of something larger, something everlasting, something immensely important. We are a part of God’s purpose. Let gratefulness flow from the inside out to others. It will liberate you from the prison of self-preoccupation. 

We are never more than one grateful thought away from increased peace of mind and greater peace of heart. Just remember, to pause and reflect.

It’s such a beautiful video!! I rewatch it here and there, to refresh my mind and heart. To remind me to be Grateful. Each time, it touches me. 

(If you’d like to watch the video and refresh your heart too, please message me at and I’ll send you the link.)

It’s now been 8 years…. Since I began cautiously living…… 14 years , since cancer first reared its ugly head, and my Dad died.  Both changed my life forever.  But after forcing myself to slow down, to take the time to find gratitude and joy in the small things in life, I finally feel like “me” again. I found her! I remember her. She’s still there. And I am grateful. 

Is everything great? Is everything the way I want it? Am I bursting with energy and joy? Happy? No. I'm still tired. I'm still struggling. But I’m here! I’m home. I know myself again. There was a certain numbness before. I kept a wall up around my heart, out of fear that all of the emotions would spill out in one big mess. Now the wall is gone. How do I know? Because for the longest time, I couldn’t allow sentiment in. I couldn’t cry watching a movie, or hearing an experience, singing a song. I had to remain numb. But now? I actually mist up watching movies again! A song can make me cry big rolling tears. I wasn’t able to allow myself the luxury to do that before. Finally, that barrier is gone. And all the energy I once used to push down my feelings, can now be used to explore old loves. Books, Bible study, Writing, Art, Friendships. I’ve gained back some perspective. I’m not lost anymore. I can see myself more clearly in the bigger picture. I can see good again despite the imperfections. I see the stirring of warmth in the sunrise on the horizon. The faint glow of optimism. I just hope this break lasts long enough for me to write it all down, before the next curve ball. 

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