I’ll Be Okay

A month ago, I wrote about learning the difference between depression and grief in “Finding Hope Under the Blanket.”

My description of grieving the loss of my young, functional body left out an event that triggered anger and envy. I got an announcement that a woman I know at church, a long-time hospital chaplain, was to be ordained as a Minister of Spiritual Direction.

My immediate reaction was intense. I looked back over 28 years with rheumatoid arthritis and saw how it limited my choices and opportunities.

I cried. I rarely cry, so that alone got the attention of the retired man I live with.

And me.

My whole being, body and soul, was sad and angry.

I wrote in my journal. I carried those intense feelings around for a couple of weeks before I talked to a trusted friend and my spiritual director. All that helped and the intensity of my feelings lessened slowly.

Last Sunday, I sat in church lost in a spectacular piece of music performed by our choir and organist. Out of nowhere, the thought popped into my head–without the arthritis, would you have the faith that your spiritual journey has led you to? Would you ever have considered any form of ministry?

No.

I started in AA a few months before my arthritis was diagnosed. Both are chronic illnesses and they have intertwined in my faith journey for the last 28 years. The 12 steps (12 Steps), particularly 1-3, 10, and 11, were my introduction to a template for a personal relationship with a Higher Power.

I am grateful for the many gifts of my spiritual journey. Sometimes I tell God I think I’ve learned enough and he can ease up on my challenges now. Then I have a special moment like last Sunday and I know God still has much to teach me.

Would I prefer a less painful way to learn? Hell, yes. But I don’t think it works that way.

I learned over these years how to do hard stuff. And deep inside me, in my soul, I believe that whatever comes, I can be okay if I remember to ask God for help.

In “Finding Hope Under the Blanket,” I wrote

Without words, my spirit reached out to God and grace made the difference…

Many times lately, my prayer is simply, “Help me.” And that is enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Published in: on November 17, 2015 at 11:42 am  Comments (6)  
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Give Up or Surrender?

I just about ran out of pluck.

And gumption.

And grit.

I’ve had 6 surgeries in the last year and a half, some bigger than others, but all required some rest and recovery time.  My muscles atrophied from all the sitting.  It’s harder for me to move around easily. Then I took a trip and came home worn out and sick with bronchitis.

After a long day of consciously feeling the fear of not getting better and staying weak and fragile, I realized I had a choice. I could give up or I could surrender to reality and begin the work to get better. Giving up looked easier.

Giving up means admitting defeat. It’s saying, “I have lost, there’s no sense in trying anymore.” Surrender means stopping the fight against forces you cannot control. Surrender allows you to reserve your energy for later. It’s the process of letting go. It does not mean giving up. (Teresa Bruni)

I surrendered. I asked–well, begged–God to help me find my pluck and gumption and grit again.

The difference between surrender and giving up is the difference between suffering (giving up) and being at peace (surrender). It is the difference between being lost and finding your way.  (Tim Custis)

I remembered what I hear in 12-step meetings:  Do the next right thing. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.

And from Anne Lamott:  Right foot, left foot, right foot, breathe.

Giving up is resistance to what is. Surrender is acceptance of what is. Giving up says “No” to life (you curl up in a ball on the bed). Surrender says “Yes” to life (you hold your arms wide open ready to receive). Giving up moves you away from God. Surrender moves you closer to God.  (Tim Custis)

I exercise in the pool again. I ride the exercise bike in the basement. I lead with my weaker leg when I go up the stairs from the basement. I bought some new shoes (Hey, girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do) that work with my new orthotics so I can walk outside.

I’m not angry at God anymore. I had to feel the anger and tell God I was angry before I could let go of it.

There is no hope in giving up. It’s a dark, miserable place to be.

God and I are buddies again.

I have hope again.

And pluck.

And gumption.

And grit.

Thank God.

Published in: on April 21, 2015 at 12:03 pm  Comments (15)  
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And I Have Good Coverage

I’m not the first.

I won’t be the last.

I’m going to vent about the medical insurance situation in this country.

I have good coverage–AARP Medicare Complete issued through United Health Care.

Yesterday I spent 1 hour and 48 minutes with my cell phone connected to my medical insurance customer service number.  A lot of that time was spent on hold. My battery went down from 72% to 33%.

I ended up as frustrated at the end as I was after the initial 20 minutes on hold before I talked to a live person.  I eventually yelled at that live person.  I never do that. I’m not proud of myself.

I’m not going to try to explain to you what the issue was.  I could, but I’d just relive the anger from yesterday and you don’t really care anyway.  I wouldn’t if you were telling me the story.

Here’s my take on this:

1.  Customer service people are doing the best they can with the training they have.  I get that. But they are not medically trained.  They are trained to follow the directions on a computer screen.  They need pieces of information to fill in the blanks on their screens.  Many of us don’t have short answers that fit in the blanks on their screens.

2.  So they keep asking the same questions and we keep giving them the same answers that don’t fit.  Then we get put on hold “for a few minutes.” I asked my live person to please come back to me. He said he would.  He did.

3.  Then came another set of questions.  My answers still didn’t really fit in the blanks.  They were about the same as my original answers.  Then I went on hold again.

4.  Next, I got “conferenced-in” with another live person.  Three of us were on the line together.  More questions.  More time on hold.

5.  The second live person came back and told me they would be contacting the doctor’s office and would approve or disapprove within 72 hours.

6.  Approval or disapproval wouldn’t answer my original question.  For that, we wait for the claim to be filed and for the insurance to pay their part.  Then we can appeal the part we’re required to pay.  That should be easy to resolve.   And why couldn’t they just tell me that at the beginning?

I am a liberal Democrat.  I am glad people can get insurance now, thanks to Obamacare.

But the same screwball insurance companies are making decisions about my medical care, not my highly-qualified doctors.

AND THIS IS NOT WORKING!!

Okay, thanks.  I needed to get that out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on January 16, 2015 at 5:59 pm  Comments (4)  
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Angry Conversations with God:

A Snarky But Authentic Spiritual Memoir

Got your attention, huh?  Susan E. Isaacs wrote the book with that title. I had to explore her story so I got it from the library.

Summer reading lists appear everywhere this time of year. Oprah’s magazine, the newspaper, Parade (that slick section of the Sunday paper that hides in with the ads and comics), blogs I read online. The NPR website must have a list–I haven’t looked.

I don’t buy books much anymore. Partly because the retired man I live with and I have a fixed income these days instead of a refillable well of money.  Partly because I have so many books already that some live in a big Rubbermaid bin in the corner of my office behind the open door. They call to be released from their box every time I notice the blue bin in the corner.  Not so good feng shui for creativity.

I’ve rediscovered the library.  When a book on a list looks interesting, I add it to the Books list on the Notes app on my phone.  (Just writing that cracks me up.) Or I go to my computer and add it to my Wishlist on the Greensboro Public Library website.  Isn’t the internet great? I never remember what the books are about later so I just randomly pick one when I request a specific book be sent to the branch closest to me.  At least I don’t waste money on so-so books.

These days I allow myself not to finish a book that doesn’t interest or entertain me.  I couldn’t do that when I was younger.  (Why?) Now I figure I don’t have the time to waste.  I feel bad for the writer, even though I’m the only one who knows I didn’t finish.  Some books I slam shut astonished that some publisher gave the author a contract.

I’m almost halfway through Angry Conversations With God.  Susan E. Isaacs takes God to couples counseling with an ex-pastor therapist.  The book includes dialogue with God, Jesus, herself and the ex-pastor therapist.  The book is witty, a tad irreverent and funny.  It’s also thought-provoking. And as goofy as it sounds.

Isaacs is an actress/comedian, and participates in improv performances. She has plenty of reasons to be mad at God. She works on her relationship with God through role play.  I can’t decide if it’s just too cute.  I keep reading so I think it has something for me to ponder.

How is my relationship with God?

“What do you do for fun?” every counselor, therapist, minister, friend asks.  The question nags at me every time someone asks.

What do God and I do for fun?

I need to ponder that some more.

What do you and God do for fun?

(to be continued…)

Published in: on May 30, 2013 at 1:11 pm  Comments (7)  
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Are You in Control of Anything?

God will keep giving us opportunities to learn we are not in control.  I read that in a book this morning.  You know it’s true, don’t you?

I’m getting better about not-so-significant stuff, like lines and being on hold and the whole health insurance mess.  But the big stuff still gets me in the pit of my stomach.  You know that cold, dark, heavy spot in your gut when you know one of your kids is in trouble or really struggling?  (It is one of the few things that can kill my desire to eat.)  That’s when you know you’re not in control and are powerless.  What’s left at that point but anger and prayer and tears?

The retired man I live with struggles with this more than I do, I think.  Yesterday morning plugs in the wall of our house that faces the street stopped working.  Adaline was coming for the day and the tree lights wouldn’t go on.  To him, a major issue.  And, I have to say, a bit unnerving in a 55-year-old house.  No circuits were off so it was kind of weird.

The retired man I live with called an electrician.  They can send someone Monday.  (Yesterday was Thursday.)  So he called my brother who lives 3 hours away but knows a lot about electrician stuff.  For hours they tried to troubleshoot the wiring in that wall.  I told the retired man I live with that I would kill him if I had to call an ambulance for him while Adaline was at our house. He kept at it.

It’s not fixed.  We have no Christmas lights.  He is unhappy.  And not a whole lot of fun to be around.

God keeps giving us chances to learn we are not in control.

Published in: on December 16, 2011 at 8:19 pm  Comments (14)  
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Children of God

 She is 91.

She is small.

She is powerful.

She is filled with God’s Spirit.

She wears bootcut jeans

with a white shirt

and a leather belt.

She comes to Higher Ground

to pray

and play the piano

for the hymns we sing.

She brings lunch

for the folks who gather

and are hungry.

Finding her center and balance,

she puts one foot in front of the other.

We hold our breath

as she goes down the steps.

She follows her walker

to the curb.

It takes a while.

Her ride waits.

A red sports car slows to a stop.

The driver must idle

as cars pass on the other side.

His tires squeal his anger

as he accelerates

past the older black sedan.

Our writing group pauses.

We lift our heads up, shocked.

She buckles her seatbelt.

Her driver takes her home.

We take a long, deep breath.

We are all just children of God

doing the best that we can.

Published in: on October 21, 2011 at 9:40 am  Comments (6)  
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I just want to ask why

I are amazing,”

says a 2-year-old girl.

“Who are you?’ we ask.

Me!” says a 1 1/2-year-old girl.

These kids are well-loved.  They were planned-for and very welcome.  They are surrounded by caring and supportive adults.  I pray they don’t lose that feeling of delight about themselves.

I doubt they will grow up to be computer hackers.

A hacker got into my yahoo email account.  My contacts got an email asking for money  because I was stranded in Madrid.  I was at a writing retreat at the coast with my phone turned off.   Mike was at home babysitting our granddaughter.  He answered a lot of phone calls from concerned friends.

I’ve changed my password and communicated with yahoo security.  They are investigating.  The hacker erased my address book.  I hope yahoo can get it back for me.  (Please send me an email if you want me to have your email address.)

I really do want to ask the hacker “Why?”  I guess it’s probably about money.

Maybe the hacker wasn’t wanted or loved.  Maybe nobody taught him/her that choices have consequences.  Maybe no one cared enough to teach right and wrong.

Or maybe he/she is just a clever, bored teenager with too much free time.

I think the whole thing is just mean.

Published in: on October 10, 2011 at 8:30 pm  Comments (9)  
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Girl Power

“GIRL!!” came the text last Friday from the doctor’s office.  We have another grandchild on the way!  Stephanie and her husband, Will, are due in January.  They had an ultrasound and saw her moving her hands and crossing her ankles like a proper lady.  Wow.

A week ago I woke from a dream at 4:30 am unsure of where I was or even what year it was.  In my dream I was again a young mother of two preschoolers on a really bad day.  Everything was out-of-order, me most of all, and I was spiraling down in anger and frustration.  I wasn’t seeing me at my worst.  I WAS me at my worst.

I wrote down what I could recall and later that day wrote about the power and the feelings in the dream.  I can’t let go of this dream. I feel the out-of-control-ness.  It still scares me.

I was anxious during my second pregnancy about my ability to manage 2 kids in diapers in 2 car seats.  They were both very much planned and welcomed, but the second happened quicker than I anticipated.  They are 26 months apart.  Our grandchildren will be 23 months apart.

I know I’m not that young, overwhelmed woman any more.  And neither are my daughters.  I’ve worked hard for years to understand and learn from that time in my life.  I hope I’ve passed some of my wisdom on to them.

I am wondering, though, why that dream now?

iPhone–>PANIC!

If you have an upcoming appointment with me, please call or email and tell me when it is!

I really messed up.  I tried to sync my iPhone calendar and iCal on my Mac computer (I apologize if this is gibberish to you) and lost (!!!) a bunch of events that had been on both calendars. But not everything (??).  I’ve done it successfully before and I swear I did nothing different.

I feel sick and my head hurts. I went to the Apple store with my phone and my computer.  “The Genius” (that’s what the help desk people are called) didn’t fix my problem.  I’m shocked, actually.  I wonder how hard he tried.

I read in my iPhone for Dummies book. I consulted “Help” for iPhone and iCal.  I prayed.  I took slow, deep breaths.  I said many of the words that we don’t say around Adaline.  (She’s not here.)

I don’t know what to do next.  Maybe I’ll go try another Genius.  One who has a very-much-loved mother who gets confused and upset with her phone and computer.  Usually my gray hair and dopey sense of humor get the attention of young people.  Not this time.

I think I’ll go back to carrying a paper calendar with a black cover from Staples.  (Go ahead and be smug if you’ve always used a paper calendar.)  I know how that works.  I can use my phone/computer as backup for the old-fashioned calendar.

Any suggestions about how to fix my calendars?  Please help me…


Published in: on July 5, 2011 at 6:35 pm  Comments (4)  
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No, You Can’t!

Remember what 15 felt like?

Can I...?”  “No, you can’t.”

I want to…”  “No you can’t.”

May I please…?”  “No.”

“Why not??”

I feel like that.  It’s my body saying “No, you can’t.”  And inside I’m screaming “Why not??”.

My rheumatoid arthritis flared up all week.  It was mid-90’s hot.  And humid.  I wanted to drive 4 hours to a weekend retreat for people who are HIV-positive from all over the southeast.  Only the dining room is air-conditioned at the rustic retreat center and the paths between buildings are uneven and unpaved.

“I can’t,” I told the director of the day center where I volunteer.  “I can do hot or pain, but not both.”

I’ve read several books lately about our bodies and our spirituality.  I see layers of metaphors in my decision to take care of myself.

I allowed myself to be sad for a day or so.  Limitations frustrate me.  And I realize some of the changes in my body can’t be fixed or reversed.  My granddaughter, at 15 months, can almost outrun me.  More metaphors.

I’m not what I thought I’d be at this point in my life.  (Is anyone?)  So I pray for willingness and acceptance.  And the continuing ability to laugh!