Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Reflections of the Last Year and Preparing for the New Year

It's been one of those years. You know what I mean, where it seems like one thing after another occurs, and you just can't seem to catch your breath between incidents.

Let's recap 2015, physically and mentally. I started out the year with ECT treatments for medication resistant depression and then a psychiatric hospitalization.

Then, I had a series of low back pain injections, due to a continuing low back problem. I had a major fatigue illness that kept me from doing much of anything, including walking my dog for months. I even had a series of IV infusions that were supposed to help me regain my strength. That did help, after awhile.

I knew I couldn't keep up the rate of work I'd been doing before with running several businesses, giving writing workshops, participating on the Board of Directors for Florida Writers Association, blogging, editing and proofreading others work, and freelance writing. Along with taking classes to become certified to teach journal therapy, I was stretched mentally and physically. This could have led to the energy collapse.

So, I chose to concentrate on getting myself well. I resigned from the FWA board of directors, closed my businesses, and stopped freelance writing. I stopped taking journal therapy classes and the weight of it all felt great. I knew my priorities had changed and I now wanted to not only concentrate on getting myself well, but helping others in a more one on one capacity with their writing and with opening up about mental issues. I wanted and did become an advocate for Mental Health.

I even wrote a book titled, "Writing Heals" that gives others an opportunity to discover traumatic issues that had been holding them back, learning to accept them, cope with them, and using writing to overcome them and live a life of joy.

This gave me the strength I needed to schedule my yearly trip to see my kids and grandkids, without fear of flying or travel, or leaving my home. I'd become my own version of my book.

I did have a wonderful time visiting my kids and grandkids in Arizona. My husband even went, giving us some wonderful quality time with everyone.

Then, coming back, I got the news from my Optometrist that I needed immediate Cataract surgery, after a year's determination that my eyes had deteriorated to the point that corrective lenses were no longer available. Going through Cataract surgery for both eyes and then discovering that the healing process brought on Posterior Capsulotomy (a film grew over my new lenses, causing a cloudy view, blurring, halos, etc.) The eye surgeon, Dr. Newsom, said that it sometimes occurs in "younger" patients, when they heal too quickly. So, I then had to have 2 more procedures on my eyes,  to remove that issue.

In the mean time, I was having major GI issues, that ended up with me in the ER, then admitted into the hospital for a series of tests that resulted in a diagnosis of Colitis and Diverticulitis. The Colitis continues to flare up and is not under control yet. While I went through that, I had a black out while walking on the sidewalk behind my husband, that resulted in another trip to the ER to discover that there wasn't anything apparent to cause the blackout but resulted in various bumps, bruises, a chipped tooth, sprained wrist, and broken elbow.


And, the year wasn't over yet. I couldn't keep the incidents straight, they were happening so fast. The next thing I know, I'm in the ER again, with muscle spasms in my low back, so severe I couldn't walk, stand, sit, nothing. The pain was so severe, I called my neighbor to take me to the hospital, where after seven hours they sent me home with medication for muscle spasms and pain and an order for a week of bed rest. This meant I was in bed through the week before and during Christmas. I couldn't even decorate for Christmas, which actually ended up as a good thing, which I'll describe below.

Some of the good things that resulted were helping my husband fulfill his life long dream of getting a pilot's license. He'd been a remote control airplane and helicopter enthusiast his entire life. He'd longed to actually fly airplanes, eventually flying helicopters. So, I decided to help my husband by putting all our efforts toward this goal, including giving up a lot of of our free time with him.

One of the best things that happened was in June, when I opened up to my husband, myself, and my doctors about a 50 year old secret that I'd been keeping. I had an eating disorder. A binge eating disorder. I started seeing a new therapist who brought old insecurities and past traumas to light that helped me understand that by keeping the secret I was actually harming myself more. By, facing it, facing old life traumas, and understanding guilt ridden ideologies, I actually found myself letting go of past control issues and taking charge of my life choices, I finally understood that no one had control of my food issues. Only I could make the choices that resulted in a new pattern of lifestyle thoughts and choices that made me feel better about myself and let go of the guilt I had for so long.

I was able to apply my faith and love of God and His word to help me get through. I was able to let go of the obsessive control I had let others have and discover that I could leave the stigma of weight and food to others and not let them affect me.

I now have a more positive attitude toward food, myself, health and now have an even healthier relationship with nutrition and my body.

I now know that weight loss does not equal healthy eating or recovering from Binge Eating Disorder, and being thin does not equal happiness or health.

I am taking it one day at a time.

Best of all, I've learned better coping skills for Bipolar Disorder, Social Anxiety, General Anxiety, OCD, and PTSD. Skills that don't require psychotropic medications. My psychiatrist was in full support and helped me drop one medication after another.

Because of this, I've found that after eighteen years in the same house, where at one time I was so agoraphobic I couldn't leave my own home, I'm ready to move onto a new path in my life. A life that surrounds my husband's desire to fly and live in a community further away from the city and has its own airport. So, we are. We are moving to a community with its own airport and each house has its own hanger for an airplane.

I'm not even freaking out about it. I think the move will be a wonderful way to start 2016.

Although, when my husband and I thought about moving from our current home, we thought we'd be downsizing and thinning out our possessions. This new home is bigger than the one we have, it's on more land, and if you add the hanger space, three car garage space, and home space, it's more than three times of living space than we have now.

So, that's been my life this past year. Good and bad. Each event led me to a revelation about myself and my life's priorities.

And, my first commitment to myself is to give myself permission to change the direction of the memoir I'd struggled to write for the past year or so, and write with a passion for helping others. That makes me very happy.

I'm also going to make a commitment to increase my physical activity, as the community we are moving to gives Jack (my American Eskimo dog) and me more areas to walk, without getting near a major road.

I'll continue my therapy work on Binge Eating Disorder, reinforcing new techniques to help me be more mindful of my eating habits and choices.

And, I'll work with other writers, giving them of my time and knowledge, to help them become the best writer they can be and help them achieve their writing goals.

I have a wedding to look forward to, as my son is getting married to the love of his life and that could mean more grandchildren on the horizon. (yay!)

Finally, I'll continue my work learning as much as I can about the Bible and Christian History so that I can not only answer my questions, but give me a further perspective about my relationship with God.

The best thing is, with my progress with Bipolar Disorder and other mental issues, I am going to help as a Mental Health Advocate by reducing stigma and increasing knowledge for those who want to learn.

That's it. That's been my 2015 life, and my feelings about my future for 2016. Am I going to make a resolution? Doubtful. I don't think they are necessary and I'd rather work on improving myself physically, emotionally, mentally, and personally with positive affirmations, thoughts, and actions.

I hope that you had an enlightened 2015 and that you can look forward to 2016 without making unnecessary or unachievable resolutions.

Be kind to yourself and to others. Follow Jesus' commandments to love God and one another.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things. -- Philippians 4:8

Turn your thoughts to positive things, as urged by Paul. Make a conscious effort to think gentler, more noble thoughts. Replace all of your bad thoughts with kinder, love-filled thoughts, reducing stress and increasing your peace. Before long, you'll re-train your brain to naturally turn to truth, purity and excellence.

Happy New Year!


P.S. I hope you are enjoying my series on Mental Health. If you have any suggestions for a topic, please let me know.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving Series - Practice an Attitude of Gratitude

The practice of gratitude as a tool for happiness has been in the mainstream for years. Long-term studies support gratitude’s effectiveness, suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, greater health, peak performance in sports and business, a higher sense of well-being, and a faster rate of recovery from surgery.

But while we may acknowledge gratitude’s many benefits, it still can be difficult to sustain. So many of us are trained to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives. And for gratitude to meet its full healing potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just a Thanksgiving word. We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit. And that can take some time.

That’s why practicing gratitude makes so much sense. When we practice giving thanks for all we have, instead of complaining about what we lack, we give ourselves the chance to see all of life as an opportunity and a blessing.

Remember that gratitude isn’t a blindly optimistic approach in which the bad things in life are whitewashed or ignored. It’s more a matter of where we put our focus and attention. Pain and injustice exist in this world, but when we focus on the gifts of life, we gain a feeling of well-being. Gratitude balances us and gives us hope.

There are many things to be grateful for: colorful autumn leaves, legs that work, friends who listen and really hear, chocolate, fresh eggs, warm jackets, tomatoes, the ability to read, roses, our health, butterflies. What’s on your list?

Some Ways to Practice Gratitude

  Keep a gratitude journal in which you list things for which you are thankful. You can make daily, weekly or monthly lists. Greater frequency may be better for creating a new habit, but just keeping that journal where you can see it will remind you to think in a grateful way.

  Make a gratitude collage by drawing or pasting pictures.

  Practice gratitude around the dinner table or make it part of your nighttime routine.

  Make a game of finding the hidden blessing in a challenging situation.

  When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead. You may be amazed by how much better you feel.

  Notice how gratitude is impacting your life. Write about it, sing about it, express thanks for gratitude.

As you practice, an inner shift begins to occur, and you may be delighted to discover how content and hopeful you are feeling. That sense of fulfillment is gratitude at work.
Thanksgiving Gratitude Infographic courtesy of Mind Valley Academy
Author’s content used with permission, © Claire Communications

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Game Day Today - Michigan vs. Michigan State

I'm not normally a college football fan. And, I don't follow the schedules or even watch them on television. But, when a particular game comes around every year, I turn into a different person. That game is the Michigan vs. Michigan State game. 

Ironically enough, is today!

I was born in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and grew up in Muskegon. I don't know how or why we/I became a University of Michigan fan, but it's been in my blood since I can remember. 

Living in Florida now, I haven't even been back to Michigan in 34 years, but the connection of this game is what keeps reminding me I am a Michigander. 

According to Greg Stephenson at

You can find the game on ESPN today 2:30 p.m. Central, 3:30 p.m. Eastern

The Series Record between these two teams is Michigan leads 68-34-5

According to Stephenson, what's at stake is this: "The winner becomes the top threat to Ohio State in the Big Ten's East Division and a serious contender for college football's playoff — and yet all that feels secondary. What's at stake this weekend is Michigan State's seven-year dominance of the rivalry it cares about the most, a run of success that is now in serious jeopardy with Jim Harbaugh coaching at Michigan."

According to Bill Connelly from SB Nation "MSU has won six of the last seven against Michigan and still ranks higher than the Wolverines in the polls. But if the numbers are any indication, Michigan has a chance to swiftly create a new narrative."

Of course, my bets are on Michigan. 

The rivalry between the two teams and their fans/students starts long before the game. According to Russell Westerholm, from the University Herald, "The rivalry is coming alive this year with Michigan State ranked seventh overall and shares a lead with Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State for the lead in the Big Ten East at 2-0 in the conference. Michigan State is also 6-0 overall and has been ranked in the AP poll as high as second.

Since losing its opener to Utah, Michigan has held its next two opponents to one touchdown each before shutting out its last three opponents. Michigan State's offense may challenge the Michigan defense the way Utah's did, but Vegas odds makers are favoring the Wolverines at home nonetheless."

This is great news!! The Wolverines are the favorites for this game!! 

So, get your game face on, paint it blue, or just flop on the couch and tune into ESPN. It's going to be one heck of a game.

If you'd like to visit more pages about the University of Michigan try:

Of course their FaceBook page has great pictures and lots of game day information.

Picture courtesy of Michigan Football Photos.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Greatest Book Ever Written - Guest Post

I'd like to introduce Jane True. A writer friend of mine who is my guest blogger. She wrote this piece and I felt compelled to post it on my blog. I hope you like it as much as I did.

Many a Christian has read the Bible from cover to cover, I’m not one of them, but am in the process of joining their ranks.

                  My Protestant Bible of choice is the King James Version. Modern translations are abundant, but in my opinion, pale in comparison to the beauty and majesty of the King James Version. Its unique Biblical English is almost a language unto itself and is derived from late sixteenth and early seventeenth  century  translators, more interested in being faithful to original manuscripts than in making their translations in the street language of the day.

                  Most reading programs suggest starting in the New Year, but I missed January by four months.  With May 1st as my start date I was already 120 days behind. If you factor in the fifteen minutes required reading each day and divide it by , oh never-mind, you do the math, it was a lot of catching up to the current date which I didn’t accomplish until the middle of July.

                  There are sixty-six books comprising the Old and New Testament. Interestingly we started at the third chapter of Ecclesiastes perhaps because it dealt with all the times to be born, die, plant, pull up, kill, heal, you get the point. I still question why King Solomon wrote such a mournful piece with all that God had given him.

                  I admit I am like a thirteen year old boy when it comes to the feats of Joshua, David and Daniel. Once I figured out David’s exploits were reiterated in the book of 1st Chronicles I could sit back and enjoy the read.

                  Of course that was before I delved into Ezekiel. 

                  The Bible is anything but boring. Bad guys, good guys, good guys gone bad. Promises man made to God, promises broken by man with disastrous results. Wives who dealt in subterfuge to push their sons and husbands ahead, a prostitute that saved the day, a racy love poem, and thank goodness in-between the respite of The Psalms and even they sometimes call out for vengeance.

                  That’s the Old Testament synopsis; the New Testament is new because it presents an avenue for a relationship with God as manifested through Jesus Christ. Using the Old Testament as a backdrop, the New Testament is a reminder of the futility, the impossibility, of pleasing God by man’s merits.
                  I’m glad I pledged to undertake the journey of studying this collection of books that embraces Spiritual enlightenment and marches through history by faith and by golly. This book spans the ages from the beginning of creation, the forming of the nation Israel, to the Son of God, Jesus, walking on this earth, and concluding with a tantalizing glimpse of the future, which is not the end but a new beginning.

                    No wonder it is heralded as the greatest book ever written.  

Monday, August 17, 2015

God Speaks Through Suffering

Suffering in our world began the day Eve took a bite of the apple the serpent Satan offered her in the Garden of Eden. It occurs everywhere and has for thousands of years. Wars, disasters, crimes, and even senseless accidents occur every day.

How we handle what happens to us when an awful event occurs speaks clearly about what we believe as a Christian.

There is a passage in the Bible, found in 1 Peter 4:13 "Be glad for the chance to suffer as Christ suffered. It will prepare you for even greater happiness when He makes His glorious return."

God knows about suffering. He suffered the greatest loss anyone could ever imagine. The loss of a son. His only son. And not in any needless unfortunate accident. But at his own volition. He chose to send His son down to earth, to become human, and to endure unspeakable acts of torture and brutality ending with losing his life on the cross.

If you can't imagine anyone understanding how you feel as you suffer, understand this: God knows. And, He suffers with you, as He suffers with ever single person. He feels each person's pain and knows how each person feels. He has a message for you: there is a better tomorrow. Peace, joy and happiness are right around the corner.

Suffering is helpful when:

  • We turn to God for understanding, endurance, and deliverance
  • We ask important questions we might not take time to think about in our normal routine
  • We are prepared by it to identify with and comfort others who suffer
  • We are open to being helped by others who are obeying God
  • We are ready to learn from a trustworthy God
  • We realize we can identify with what Christ suffered on the cross for us
  • We are sensitized to the amount of suffering in the world

Suffering is harmful when:

  • We become hardened and reject God
  • We refuse to ask any questions and miss any lessons that might be good for us
  • We allow it to make us self-centered and selfish
  • We withdraw from the help others can give
  • We reject the fact that God can bring good out of calamity
  • We accuse God of being unjust and perhaps lead others to reject Him
  • We refuse to be open to any changes in our lives

Christ's servants can find rest and refreshment in fellowship with Him even when their work is difficult and stressful as seen in Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Meditate on 1 Peter 4:1-2.  Physical suffering, harsh as it may be, can equip us with a new outlook on life. Things once thought insignificant take on new meaning; other things lose their value. We live for God and He watches over us and guides us by His will. "Therefore, since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God."

God tells us to love one another and use whatever gift we have to serve others. Praise God always. Suffering as a Christian is inevitable. "However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name." 1 Peter 4:16

And I shall leave you with this final verse, "So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good." 1 Peter 4:19

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Cast All Your Anxieties On Him

We've all experienced anxiety in one form or another. Flying can cause anxiety. Losing your cell phone can cause anxiety. Even worrying about your child can cause anxiety. It's a normal human emotion. Some might even call it nervousness. You might experience it if you're having a problem at work, before taking a test or worrying about making an important decision. I'm deathly afraid of snakes. That's a form of anxiety.

There are many forms of anxiety: Anxiety Disorders such as Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Specific Phobias, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. For people suffering from these conditions the worrying and fear can sometimes lead to an agonizing life. You can seek medical attention or the help of a therapist to help you deal with your anxiety and worry issues. You can also seek the guidance and counseling of your local church minister. They understand how worry and anxiety can cause pain and suffering in a person's life. The jumbled thoughts, sleepless nights, and run-on list of worry that fills your mind are only part of what occurs when suffering from anxiety and worry.

According to James P. Gills, M.D., who wrote Exceeding Gratitude for the Creator's Plan, "the presence in our lives of the sin of commission - worry - can also be a result of failing to appreciate God. To worry is to not view life in relation to God's sovereignty, design, and faithfulness. Worry emanates from a life that is distracted and diverted into a self-centered perspective that is self-destructive, unproductive, and joyless."

Anxiety and worry are not uncommon in biblical times and are referenced quite thoroughly in the Bible. In the book of Deuteronomy, we see the Israelites hearing Moses' final words before they enter the promised land. He challenged them to obey the Lord faithfully and reject all forms of idolatry. Much is written in Deuteronomy about what would happen to the people for not obeying and how they would receive blessings if they did so. The Lord promised to give the people "an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart." (Deuteronomy 28:65)

God wants us to understand something about Him, and He works in ways so that we might know. But He wants us to repent so He can offer even greater insight to us when we believe by faith. The Israelites had seen many miracles and had been delivered miraculously from Egypt. Even so, their hearts remained unrepentant so that they could not understand or appreciate what God had done for them. Though God offered them understanding, He never gave it because of their stubbornness. Now Moses urged them to accept God's covenant and choose life.

Many of God's chosen people wrestled with anxiety and worry. Job suffered extreme loss which was humiliating and caused him great pain. "The churning inside me never stops, days of suffering confront me." Job 30:27

But, there is great comfort to find in God's words as well to ease the anxiety and worry in your life. In 1 Peter 5:7 we find the verse, "Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." God knows you better than you know yourself. He suffers with you and wants to care for you.

Believing in God can help ease your anxiety. In John 14:1, the verse states "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me." 

Talking to God about your troubles that cause you anxiety and worry can help. It doesn't have to be anything formal, the most fervent and heartfelt prayers are those spoken spontaneously from the heart. Remember this, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6,7

I have suffered from anxiety disorders and worry for many, many years. It's not a personal weakness, a character flaw, or brought on by poor upbringing. They are real issues that need a combination of care, strength, and faith.

I have persevered through many battles in my life, leaving me scarred, wounded, but not down. I draw on God's love and His son, Jesus Christ's support.

I'll leave you with this, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27

God has great plans for you and your life. He does not want to see you suffering. Find a way to open your heart and let Him in and bring you joy, peace and happiness.

Your Sister in Christ,

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Another Father's Day

The anxiety starts months earlier. Expectations whittle away at my denial until I can no longer ignore their penetrating slashes. Piercing echoes rebound in my head; the day is coming. The day is coming.

The cards lined up on the shelves in the store all ridicule me. “Which one of us will you pick this year?” they whisper tauntingly. I cringe at the thought of perusing the sentiments inside each small missive. What could I expect? These cards are for happy occasions. Love and gratefulness. To good fathers from thankful children. Who would make a card for me?

I could forget to send a card. I think about that rebellious act every year, but the guilt gnaws at me until I give in and pick the least sentimental, least personal card I can find, anxious to get the task over and behind me.

It could be worse; the anxiety could turn into a full-blown panic attack if I consider making a phone call instead. I’ve thought about it each time. But, what would I say? What wouldn’t I say? The deafening silence. The unspoken accusations. I didn’t have the strength. A phone call I didn't want to make. Memories I don’t want to remember. A father I don’t want to call my own.

A past I long to forget haunts me day and night. Why must I hide my pain? Why must I continue to act like all is well?

Shattered innocence.

 A child’s world no longer carefree. Where did that little girl go? Has she found peace? No, she’s still here, hiding deep inside. Yearning for safe shelter. Where is my guardian, my strength, and my protection? Am I strong enough? Not nearly enough, but my power comes from within. I will protect that little girl. She has nothing to fear with me by her side. I’ll hold her tight in the darkness so she no longer has anything to dread.

Who was that man who insisted I call him daddy? That man who entered my life while I was too young to choose. Who was that man who made me afraid? Long nights awake in the dark too afraid to close my eyes, too afraid to give in to sleep. Too afraid to wake up while the sun was still on the other side of the world. Daylight was my closest friend. Was my daddy like other daddies? Were all little girls afraid of the dark?

Shattered dreams and broken hearts, those were the crumpled, discarded toys of my childhood. No happy memories of father/daughter moments; no ice cream, fishing, or special days. Only darkness, fear, and shame. Responsibilities too heavy for a child to bear hung around my neck like an anchor holding me in place.

I applaud that young, scared girl, who grew into the strong brave me. Who still fears the darkness and who still lives with the shame. Yet, survived.

That man who is called “Father”, whose heart continued to beat within his chest; he lived on. Each year he grew weaker, yet he lived on.

I survived as well. Each year I grew stronger, knowing the end would come some day. A heart would no longer beat. When there would no longer be anymore Father’s Days.

And, now it is over. You are gone. And I am free. Am I bitter? No. Have I forgiven you? Yes.

However, I am ever so thankful, that there are no more dreaded Father’s Days for me.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

What's in a Name?

We all are given a name at birth. It sticks with us for the rest of our lives. Some change their names through their own volition or marriage. Some get nicknames tagged by others. Some get pet names by their spouses or lovers. 

There is One who goes by many names that has great power and compassion for mankind.  His name brings forth an awesome revelation that something more important exists in this world.

God created everything that exists. In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.

The One who redeemed us by His precious blood, our Savior, was the Creator of this universe.

God is the great I AM! But, He also goes by many other names. Throughout the Bible and history, He has been called many names. Some you many know, some may be new to you. 

Other names for Creator:

Divine Being
Supreme Being
Holy Spirit
All Powerful
All Knowing
King of Kings
Higher Power
Heavenly Father

Names of Jesus in Book of Revelations:

The First-born from the dead
The highest of earthly kings
The Alpha and Omega
Lord God
The Almighty
Son of Man
The First and the Last
The Living One
Son of God
Witness (also faithful witness)
Lion of the Tribe of Judah
Root of David
The Lamb
The Shepherd
Christ (anointed)
Faithful and True
Word of God
King of Kings
Lord of Lord

Whatever word you use when you call upon the name of God, remember to call in reverence and in love for the word that expresses the essence of our Creator in His most intimate relationship with you is LOVE, for God is love.

One thing you cannot deny is that there is power in His name.