When my life takes a nosedive I typically respond by checking out. Depression ain’t no little thing! Unfortunately, that means my creativity lags, motivation is nil, and all momentum ceases. I have no desire for anything, preferring to curl up in the bed and wait till the circumstances work themselves out. [Why can’t that happen without any effort on my part? hmmph]
These past 3-1/2 years have been one long span of ugly with only a few glimmers of daylight that quickly proved to not be the end of the tunnel, just small cracks in the cavern where I continue to
sleep walk. And yet, as I walk through this dark valley I have learned to be grateful for those small slivers in the cave that remind me of the Light and remind me that this is only for a season.
While this blog has been quiet, the world has not stopped around me, and there are many stories to tell from these past months (and years). That will come soon, I think, but there is much I need to process before the writing can occur. I love what Elise Blaha Cripe said about not being able to read while nearing the end of her pregnancy: “Too much to think about. Too much fog.” That’s how I’ve felt for most of this year… too much fog. I’m happy that my mental state is better right now, and I’m ready to take advantage of it.
There’s just so much to document, however small it may seem at the moment. I hope you’ll join me in the next few weeks as I work toward getting back a bit of my groove. If only right here on my little cyber field journal.
The past few years – and particularly the past few months – have been a roller coaster of success and failure, of good choices and bad decisions… of owning up to all of it while staving off depression and melancholy as best I can. As recently as last week I found myself entertaining the darkness of misery yet again, even as my mind was clear enough to recognize the dangers of allowing such depression to take root. None of this is new to me, and I seem to revisit it every year around this time, but knowing the pattern doesn’t help me prepare. It still surprises me. Which is why I’m so thankful for my birthday each year.
Today I am forty-four and have officially reached “middle age.” Most days I feel like I did at 26, the year of my spiritual about-face, and in my lowest moments I feel 16 again, when I could not see past the despair and angst that filled my spirit. But in the week surrounding my birthday I am happy and my heart is light. I am celebrating another year of experiences, and I’m looking forward to the time ahead in which I can strive to become my best self. God said His mercies are new every morning, and I’ve come to know that personally. I depend upon it! I’m so thankful for more opportunities to enrich this earthly experience and pass the tests of each new season.
I’ve heard people lament the passing of time and insist that they don’t need to celebrate their birthdays, but I’ve never understood that mentality. Birthdays are my fave. It’s the one day of the year that I’m allowed to celebrate myself! And I really do enjoy getting older. Even with all the joint aches and hormonal changes and (ugh) the onset of menopause, I am grateful for more time to become a better person and amend for past mistakes. My birthday is a beautiful reminder of the life that is still in front of me, just waiting to be explored. This day is my New Year’s celebration, and I want to make the best of it.
H A P P Y B I R T H D A Y T O M E
with love to everyone who fills my world with joy and speaks Truth into my life
In the latest newsletter from Michael at Box of Crayons it was mentioned that we have entered the final quarter of 2012. All of a sudden, this year is ending! I’m always amazed how quickly some seasons pass and how slowly the others – I’m looking at you, stinky-sweaty Texas summers! – but it seems the quickest of them all is autumn. Wasn’t it just yesterday that we said hello to September? The temperatures just begin to cool and then, bam!, we’re singing Christmas carols and Auld Lang Syne. I love the holiday season more than any other, but it goes by far too quickly.
Nine months have already passed in 2012. Michael put it this way: “Enough time to have a child.” Plenty of time to have accomplished a great many things. So he posed the following questions as a way to evaluate the year so far and to make a plan for the final quarter. As usual, I am woefully behind on everything I hoped to accomplish. But I’m grateful for a renewed sense of motivation and, hopefully, time to COMPLETE some things before we usher in the new year.
What’s one project you’ve made progress on so far this year?
The number one project for this year was meant to be a photo book chronicling my niece’s senior year. She graduated high school in the first days of June, and still I’m working on the book! What was meant to be a one-month project has become a never-ending bogland. The problem is certainly that I’m making it far too complicated, but that’s really no excuse. I have made good progress on it… absolutely… but there’s still much to be accomplished. And I really don’t want to drag it out any longer. Kiwi has already put her high school days behind her, so I’d really like to get this book completed and in her hands before it becomes even more irrelevant. That said, I have accomplished much, and I have a renewed plan to complete it. Thanks to last week’s CreativeLIVE / Khara Plicanic seminar on InDesign, I foresee a much greater speed in making this happen.
What’s surprised you most about the year so far?
Number one has to be my continued unemployment status. Two years and running. God has been so gracious and faithful to provide for every need, in one way or another, and I do have a part-time website gig that helps me (almost) make the rent each month, but full-time employment eludes me. And yet, in the midst of these long months I’ve never lost hope or fallen into despair. Moments of depression are inevitable, and the summer months nearly always kick me around, but I know that God has a plan and a purpose for the time still ahead of me. My challenge remains the same: to make the best of these leisurely days while I have them. I’ve failed miserably again and again, but (as I always say) I’m thankful that each day brings new mercies.
If there was one thing to focus on getting done before the end of the year, what would it be?
Aside from Kiwi’s book – which I refuse to let drag out until year’s end – I desperately want to jump into Project Life with both feet. I received all of the supplies before last Christmas but I never actually got started. I’m never good at working on multiple (personal) projects at once, preferring to put all focus and energy into one thing until its completion, so actual scrapbooking has always been shoved to the side. It’s the “some day” project that never seems to come about. Before 2012 fades away, I want to make Project Life a priority and get into a rhythm that can continue into the new year. That’s a habit that shouldn’t be too difficult to create, should it?
Who will you spend more time and attention on in the coming months? Which relationship will you give renewed attention to?
I need to return to a community of faith. This year I’ve been indifferent about attending church services, and though my reasons and feelings were valid, I know it’s time to return. It’s no longer about my heart but more about discipline and making Sunday mornings a priority. I’m not sure what worship will look like for me (new community? different venue? new church altogether?), but I really do want to return to a community of believers. The Word of God commands it, and I want to be faithful and obedient.
Where’s the edge for you? What are you learning?
I’ve long known that fear plays too large a role in my life, and I’m finally learning to take back control. Max Lucado stated, “Feed your fears and your faith will starve. Feed your faith, and your fears will.” I’m learning to feed my faith again. And I’m truly at my wit’s end, “at the edge”, with bowing to ridiculous fears that threaten to paralyze me. The process is slow – I’ve lived with some level of anxiety for most of my 43 years – but I’m trudging forward. Every few years I manage to knock down a few more blocks from the invisible wall that holds me back. By the close of 2012, I’m hoping for a pile of rubble at my feet.
So there are the plans and the goals and the hopes and dreams. Now, what do you see for yourself as you stare down the end of this year? Leave a comment here on phrenetical or share a link to your own blog post answering these questions. I’d love to encourage you in the months ahead!