Truth, Be Told

Stopping and restarting: diets, work-outs, medications – why does it still surprise me?

Re-engaging gets harder each time. What I can never remember, though, is why I stopped. This time I don’t even know when I did. This time it wasn’t a conscious decision to completely stop whatever.

I’ve been summing the last few months up a little off-handedly. “I did a stupid thing,” I say.

Truth be told, I did a few stupid things.

I never said, “I’m going to quit exercising.” I just missed a day or two, felt run-down, had something else to do, hurt too badly.

I never said, “I’m going to stop eating healthy.” I just became ambivalent. One cheeseburger couldn’t hurt, one donut, one candy bar, one Christmas cookie.

I never said, “I’m going to hibernate.” I just let the winter darkness and my limitations pull me down. It’s really hard to stay awake and engaged or enthusiastic when it’s midnight-black at 6:00 PM, and you haven’t been eating well, sleeping well, or talking to anyone – about anything.

I never said, “I’m going to stop taking my medication.” I just forgot a few mornings, got a little muddled, felt a little sluggish, somehow, ignored them for a while. A long while. Even though I knew better – even though I’ve witnessed the catastrophes of others, I didn’t see it in myself.

The real root of the problem would be that I went off my anti-depression medication sometime early last summer.

The last one was catalyst; the first stupid thing I did. Everything else fell apart pretty easily, pretty quickly, catastrophically, as would be expected. I still didn’t see it. I struggled through, day after day, every minute segment of every minute of every day. I became intolerant; of others, of myself, of life. I thought I was ok.

I cling to subtleties. I profess sincere differentials between thoughts and actions. I solidly stand by my declaration, belief and pronouncement in defense: “I am not going to hurt anybody, and I’m 100% not suicidal… I just don’t want to live anymore.”

To me, there is a glaring chasmic separation between the two. For others, there is not. Suddenly, I had an appointment with an employee assistance program, and subsequently, my PCP, a Psychiatrist, and a Psychologist. In fact, up until I said those words, I still thought I was ok. I honestly did not know I felt that way, until I said so. Finally, I saw the problem.

That’s how I ended up restarting, sitting across from a randomly assigned therapist, suffering through pregnant pauses, and what I projected would be some light-weight psycho-babble.

“What’s good about you?” was the first question asked of me, after explaining how I got there.

We both sat in my silent hesitation as I struggled to process what I thought I should be saying to end this nonsense. Tears got in the way, but eventually I blurted out something impersonal to break the silence.

“I’m logical,” I offered, “Procedural. I do what I say I’m going to do.”

“Then you’re saying you’re reliable?”

“Right,” I snorted, sarcastically continuing, “Except I’m not reliable right now. I can’t stop crying. My ears are ringing fulltime. I always have a headache. I’m exhausted; have to push myself through everything. I argue with myself all the time. Over stupid things. Like, I noticed my socks are sticking to my rough feet and think, “You should moisturize your feet.” But, I keep sitting there, doing nothing, until I eventually re-advise myself, “You should really moisturize your feet.”  But, the lotion is upstairs, so I decide I’ll take care of it on the next trip up. Eventually, I go upstairs, and come back down again. I’m shuffling around the kitchen putting together lunch, and my socks are snagging and tugging. Yeah, I forgot about it, but I’ll do it when I go back up for bed. But, at bedtime, it’s -7 degrees. I am cold and my feet are colder. Even though the sheets have taken up where the socks left off, I’m not about to get out of bed and put chilly wet stuff on my heels. In the morning, I struggle with the darkness, with the cold, with my clothes which are tighter than they should be. I put on my socks and shoes downstairs, and re-realize I should really, really moisturize my feet, soon.

In response to my embarrassment at having ended up so wrecked, the most amazing and consistent thing I heard, over and over, from different people in different walks of life, with different degrees; PhD’s, DO’s, MSW, Counselors, Therapists was this: “It’s not your fault your body chemistry isn’t built to handle stress. Some people just have low levels of what we need to cope.”

I’ve been working my way back into the game for two months now.

Do I feel I need to be ashamed of this? No.

Do I expect understanding from everyone? No.

Do I still feel a little stupid for being solely responsible for straying so far from a life formerly sort-of under control? Yes, I do.

I’ve told anyone who’s asked:

I don’t know who that other person was, and I don’t want to be them ever again. Ever.

So, I’ll accept the side effects. I’ll bear with the constant ringing in my ears, expecting at some point it will fade out of my conscious awareness. I’ll counteract the appetite suppression with advance-planned daily menus to be sure I am eating enough. I’ll use the excessive thirst to help get in at least 6 cups of water a day. I’ll exercise more than regularly – almost daily and sometimes twice daily – to stay limber and combat the added muscle pain on top of my normal muscle pain.

I’ll thank GOD for science, and for the friend who posted the article below. I count myself amongst good company, citing Pastor Perry Noble’s poignant point:

“It’s ok to not be ok,” he says, “but, it’s not ok to stay that way.”


Quote for the week:


.Vulnerability sounds like truth

Enjoy this week’s discovery links:

Pastor Perry Noble’s Brave Blog

Why You Should Choose Vulnerability:

Brene Brown:


Biblical Meatballs

There are at least six, solid, Biblical references regarding meatballs.

“Hi, we were wondering…”

I received a significant, mid-week invitation from a dear, don’t-get-to-see-often, friend. It was one of those jump-to-it, second-chance, “you don’t want to miss this,” opportunities. The last time I rode along became a scary freeway ice-dancing event featuring sliding cars, sudden lane-swerving, and frightening brake pumping. A few near-accidents in, a committee of concerned participants made the reluctant decision to head home before reaching our destination. It was a hard call to make, because individually and as a group, we don’t take volunteering lightly. In this case, it was clear a no-show would have serious consequences, but the severity of the travel conditions could not be ignored.

That’s how a recent early Saturday morning found me munching a Clif protein bar, hanging in the far parking lot of Sam’s Club, waiting on another ride.

In mission work there are sometimes great gaps of knowledge. This one wasn’t much of a mystery. We knew where we were headed, and what we would do. Still, the informational brochure I was handed filled in a lot of unknown blanks in my perception of the project. The impressive scale of Cass Community Social Services in Detroit is something to behold. The volunteer schedule is equally as impressive.

The Saturday kitchen schedule was filled by a church confirmation class from Alpena, a church youth group from Northville, the Detroit chapter of One Brick, some Michigan State-ers on spring break, and a women’s church group from Tecumseh. It started off slowly, but at one point I counted 24 people in the kitchen.

We had arrived believing we would be making sandwiches, and left not having made a single one. The new first order of kitchen business was slicing semi-frozen flanks of meat. The first problem I encountered was a lack of latex free gloves. By default, I became the dishwasher.

A volunteer named Bobby, who has been washing dishes at Cass for 9 years, so far, demonstrated the basics. Food down this shoot; rinse, load, fill, sanitize, stack, and re-shelve. I really wanted a bit more instruction from Bobby, but he wasn’t inclined to give it. He walked away and I proceeded to process dishes, utensils, pots and pans for two hours straight. Bobby would fly by every once in a while, saying the same thing, “You’re doin’ alright!”

During one of those passes, another volunteer pointed to my cleaning stash and requested an aluminum scrubbie. When I turned for it, Bobby was in my way, so I asked him to please hand it over. He didn’t. “The scrubbie,” I reiterated, thinking perhaps he hadn’t heard my quiet voice in the ruckus. He just stood there, shaking his head at us. I tried again, carefully explaining and renaming the item, “She would like that scouring pad, please.” Finally, he cracked a semi-smile and pointed behind her. There, at the exact spot where the question had originated, in a rather obvious place, was another one. I was a little annoyed at that. I felt it would have been easier for all of us if he had just come right out and told us there was another one available, and no one would need to take mine.

In those two minutes, my pile had grown to overflowing the staging-space allotted to dirty items. but went back to work with a conquer-this-mountain attitude. Eventually, I was relieved of dish duty. I didn’t want to be relieved, but Lynetta – head cook, kitchen orchestrator/coordinator, menu planner – insisted. She handed me two bowls with bananas, oranges, and grapes, pushed open a door and told me to go sit outside. A few minutes later, I became the fruit sharer, offering fruit and fresh-air seats to the also forced-to-take-a-break cooking crew.

The beef slicers also chopped a lot of broccoli and garlic, grated carrots and cheese, made rice, cracked dozens of eggs, and melted butter. From 9:00 AM until Noon, the principles hustled us along. It was about then that some of the volunteer shifts had ended. There were only about 6 of us left. Lynetta told me to go grab some parchment paper, and pointed in the general direction supplies. I wasn’t exactly sure where to look, but eventually I spied, grabbed, and delivered. Then she wanted to know why I wasn’t making meatballs, with the few remainers who were also running out of time. I explained about the latex, and she gleefully cried. “Grab an apron and suit up!” One of the volunteer groups had shown up with a box of latex-free gloves. On my first grab, it was interesting to discover my right hand was reluctant to roll anything. It was sorely sore from squeezing the hand-held faucet. Still, I did my best with the sticky stuff. Out of 500 meatballs needed, jumping in at the last minute, I probably rolled somewhere around 50.

During the course of the morning and early afternoon, Lynetta changed her meal plan three times while we were prepping. Due to a lack of peppers, Pepper Steak turned into Steak ala Cass, which is actually pepper steak minus peppers, plus onions and mushrooms. Ten trays of garlic bread were prepped for the oven. For the most part, those who come for Cass meals, don’t eat vegetables if they’re presented as a side. Miss Lynetta devised a way to sneak them in. Meatballs were beefed up with carrots, broccoli, and onion, and stretched with crumbs, eggs and cheese. At the last minute, we learned a vegetarian entry would also be needed. We reviewed ingredients available, put our thinking caps on, and came up with a very improvised veggie stir-fry.

I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: each person’s mission experience will differ. I can’t say this is an accurate reflection for anyone else but me, but, the 30-second do-this dishwashing brief, the here’s-two-bowls-go-sit-outside directive, and the frantic search for parchment were unnerving in a successful, hyped-up sort of way. There is something to be said for being available and able to fumble around, change directions, and do whatever has to be done. It brings a little self-pride, a little coping confirmation, and an absolutely miniscule idea of what may be expected next time.

My unofficial three-part summary of Cass Kitchen philosophy:

Be aware of your surroundings.

You can find whatever is needed, if you look.

If you can’t find it, improvise.

Quote for the week:

the best teachers.

Enjoy this week’s discovery links:

Bible Verses About Meatballs:

Cass Community Social Services:

One Person Can Make a Difference:

One Brick:

Food Safety, Cleaning and Sanitizing:


Peeps & Pesach

My own personal Peeps Fest officially begins on April 2nd, specifically planned to not coincide with April 1st. Just about that time those little chicky delights start popping up in corner pharmacies, eventually finding their way to mega-supermarket shelves. The first time I ever saw a color coordinated Peeps aisle was in the Adrian Walmart. Baskets, boxes, artificial grass, single color M&Ms, and Peeps of every color stood in tiny little color-segregated communities. My little mind was blown – what a fantastic idea!

That’s about when my display gets displayed, as well. The collection grows a little larger every year. Peeps trinkets, and magnets, and baskets, and stuffed toys reappear. The real Peeps disappear… very slowly, mostly to allow appropriate lengths of time for proper stale-ing. Peeps Fest ends when the edibles run out, or have been stale-ified beyond the limits of what I believe my teeth should be subjected to.

This year, pre-Peeps-Season, I followed an innocent link to clearance items. As you might imagine, one Peep led to another. Truthfully, by the time the medium sized box arrived, I wasn’t at all sure what I had ordered. I brought it to work, to allow others to share in the happiness mystery. While in progress, I was asked, “Why did Peeps send you a box?” They didn’t. I sent me the box. I Peeps-presented myself. Why? Just trying to be responsible for my own happiness.

Sometimes, my display gets displayed earlier than others. This has been a later year. Partly, because I had real reservations about displaying my newly re-revised attitude, aka how I was before. Before everything. Before, well, to quote Lisbeth Salander, “Before all the evil…”

My “before” is not nearly so novel-melodramatic, but it is an extremely well-defined moment in time.

Sunday, April 13th became an absolute and cruelly-marked moment in time for residents of Overland, Kansas. On the eve of Pesach, a grandfather and grandson, outside a Jewish community center, and a woman visiting her mother at a Jewish retirement home were gunned down. The act was a hate crime.

The intended targets were to be Jewish. They were not. They were Christians; two Methodists and one Catholic. The duo were present for a singing competition; the daughter visiting. All can be defined as participating in harmony, with no qualms about the religious references or location of  events or buildings. They were also at the wrong place, at the wrong time. When the mother of the teenager, and daughter to the grandfather), arrived at the community center, she says she, “”knew immediately that they were in heaven.” I understand that.

Pesach comes from the Hebrew root Pei-Samekh-Cheit, which means to pass over, or to spare. If only those bullets had passed over, or spared.

My wind-down thought this week ends paralleling Peeps and the tendency to hoard, stretch and pull and grab at what we think we want.

What constitutes “happy”?

Yesterday, I might have held up, “generating fun, being silly without fear of having to explain an unexplainable switch from near darkness to radiant light.”

Easily, that type of “happy” stales in comparison.

An encompassing, revised definition is hard to come by.

It seems easier to backwards-define:

Not living in fear of entering a house of worship or community center, whether holding the same philosophies, or not.

Not living in fear of attending school; small or large; elementary, secondary, public, private, secular or non.

Not existing in martyrdom, not being exiled, not being segregated, not persecuted;

Not living in fear of losing my life based on my beliefs, or anyone else’s.

Somberly, as far as I can tell, “happy” is mostly just “not.”


Quote for the week:

 “When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.” Peace Pilgrim

 Peeps Pesach Peace 2014

Enjoy this week’s discovery links:

Steig Larsen and Lisbeth Salander:

Book of Exodus:

Peace Pilgrim 1908-1981:

A little bit of Fluff – Peeps Surgery:

Affirmation Pants

My life has been a little different lately; lots of talk and introductions.

For years, my friend Desiree has encouraged me to find a mantra. She has one she uses regularly to sign email. While it’s not an uncommon thing to do in email, I interpret most sign-offs to be quirky, personal, inspirational quotes that mean something to whomever is using it.

I’ve never had a mantra. I’ve never been that inspired by any singular quote. I’ve also been operating under the assumptions that a) I’d have to be in a meditative state to use a mantra, b) if I was in a meditative state, I wouldn’t need a mantra and c) any old saying would do. I figured it was just a distractive phrase to take you out of where you were: to redirect and elevate your situationally frustrated consciousness above whatever situation was causing the need to do so.

I admit I’ve probably taken inappropriate liberties with any un-niceties I’ve repeatedly muttered under my self-justified breath. SBM, FtLoP, LBCJ. All mantras I’ve coined. Sometimes, I’ll throw in a more mainstream IDGaF. If you know what any of those abbreviations mean, you’ve probably heard them from me a number of times. If you don’t, consider yourself lucky. It’s just as well.

As I mentioned, I’ve recently been introduced to a number of speculative persons who are either trying to figure me out, or trying to help me figure me out.

Last week, I could have saved them all the trouble by confidently spouting forth my firm belief in my beliefs. This week, though, I’ve got a whole different story.

One of those speculators introduced me to Pema Chödrön – an American Buddhist Nun who re-teaches Buddhist concepts to the current world. I found used copies of “Don’t Bite the Hook” and “Getting Unstuck” on Amazon. Audio was recommended, so that’s the way I went. It took me three evenings to get past the first 5 segments of “Don’t Bite…”. I just kept replaying them over and over, becoming more and more amazed. It’s really quite simple. In fact, it’s so simple, it seems too simple.

“Getting Unstuck,” got into that mantra thing again, so I considered some nerve-striking sayings I’ve taped to my desk, my mirror, my fridge, my closet. I chose to channel a moody affirmation offered by Snow Patrol’s, Gary Lightbody: “This isn’t Everything you are.”

I was doing ok with that one. It has pulled me out of quite a few uncomfortable moments, while reminding me that this moment, when things have gone awry – this very specific moment, isn’t everything I am. It’s just a moment. It will pass.

You’re probably wondering about the title pants. I bought a new pair with some forceful encouragement, and the unreserved observation that they made me look like I actually have a butt. I don’t. I’ve got Noassatol disease. (Say it aloud a few times. You’ll get it. ;-)) In any case, I wore those Lee “Sinfully Soft” style pants today. When you’re buying pants, you make sure they fit. You may not check out what the closure button says. You may not read the hangtag description. If they fit, and you like them, and they’re the right price, on clearance at Kohl’s with an additional 30% off coupon, you buy them.

Then, one day, when you’ve been over-using your newly acquired mantra, you discover something remarkable. Something that literally packs the power to make you laugh in delight… in the company restroom. And you don’t really care who hears you, because there, in your pants, appropriately where they should be while you’re doing what you do in a bathroom, there are affirmations. Written affirmations on the lining and creative pocket pouches of your new pants. Phrases; lot’s of them. Lots of encouraging affirmations:

You are Valued.

You are Creative.

You are Successful.

You are Confident.

You are Inspiring.

You are laughing because you never expected to be taking graffiti encouragement from your pants.

It’s been clinically proven that laughter reduces stress, and just when you’ve relaxed enough to stop giggling, you realize you’ve been carrying those phrases on you all day, and it makes you laugh a little more. It makes you feel… good.

Thank you, Lee jeans company for the amazing, affirmative, and very comfortable pants.
affirmative pants Lee

. Quote for the Week:

“It’s a miracle I was able to get out of the house today. It’s a miracle I’m even wearing pants, a double miracle I remembered to wear shoes.” ― Lauren Oliver, Delirium

Enjoy this week’s discovery links:

Pema Chödrön:

Pema Chödrön: (video) Heightened Neurosis, Trouble Makers, and Not Biting the Hook:

Making Affirmations Work: