Category Archives: Strengthening through adversity

Muscle only grows when it has been tried and tested, and then given a chance to rest and recover. And then doing it again. While we don’t enjoy the hard times, we can see them for what they are and who they help us become.

What is real? What difference does it make if something is real or imagined?

While the kids were young we always had a family book that we read after dinner and the kitchen was cleaned up. Some were single volumes, others were entire series. We loved quite a variety. We made it through hundreds.

book

Sometimes we’d stay up later than we should, cuddled on the couch, and reading “just one more chapter, please!” This was true as we worked our way through the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling.

I remember one evening particularly when the power had gone out and we were reading by flashlight. We ended up staying awake past 1:00 a.m. to finish the book. That memory is dear to all of us.

We did the same thing with the movies. We all waited and saw them for the first time together. Kind of a fun family tradition. Since then, watching and reading again has always made us think of each other.

Over the weekend we were watching the final Harry Potter movie together before Alex leaves for graduate school in a few weeks. So, when we came close to the end of the film, we all knew what was coming before it happened.

It’s one of my favorite conversations, in both book and movie. The scene takes place after Harry has willingly let Voldemort kill him in order to save all of the others. After the wand blast, Harry finds himself in a clean, white, between-life conversation with Professor Dumbledore. As Harry makes the choice to go back and continue the fight against evil, the scene ends with this last interchange:

“Tell me one last thing,” said Harry. “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?” Continue reading What is real? What difference does it make if something is real or imagined?

Spinning out of control into lockdown

This article is part 1 of a 5 part series.

For series summary, click here.

I’m sure that there are as many different stories of how one would end up in the psych ward of a hospital as there are people who are admitted. I won’t pretend to know all of them. But I do know mine. Maybe there are others out there who can save themselves some pain by recognizing similarities in our respective journeys.

hospital bed

Every day was turning into what I call “screamers.” I can usually handle one or two or three days in a row of these, but after a couple of weeks my defenses were wearing down. I just needed to get out of my skin, if even for a short time, to rest and gear back up. I had tried every weapon in my arsenal: trying to find an emotional or psychological cause of the screaming, enough rest, careful diet, consistent exercise, good music and sunshine, focusing on work around the house, time with my family, service and compassion for others, prayer.

Lots of prayer.

I called the psychiatrist’s office and let them know that I wasn’t going to make it through the weekend. The phone call resulted in a change in my dosage of medication and for that first week I was able to back off of the edge. I was almost giddy with relief.

prescription

But by the time my scheduled appointment rolled around I was again dangling over the precipice. I felt I just needed to step back from it all, step back from being what seemed to be me.

I didn’t know what else to do.

I had to be honest with my doctor and admit that I had become suicidal again. Continue reading Spinning out of control into lockdown

To avoid reaching our breaking point, do we need to already be broken?

Last night was kind of a rough one for me. I couldn’t go to sleep. I was relaxed. I was tired. But each time I started to doze off, my head jerked a little and there I was again, wide awake. The last time I looked at the clock was at 4:00 this morning.

That is a lot of time to just quietly be alone and do some thinking. Even for me.

As I lay there, I couldn’t help but go over the past several weeks. Kind of action packed, but without the great memories of a fun trip or outing.

It had been about six weeks that I had been spinning and revving up into the ceiling, so we were tired to begin with. Then the unexpected stay in the loony bin, which no matter what you may think, is NOT a vacation or rest of any kind. Then we discovered another clot in my leg at the same time that my levels of blood thinners were high and my blood, theoretically, should be too thin, not too thick. So back to Salt Lake twice again this week and other doctor appointments here in Logan.

Enough already, right? Continue reading To avoid reaching our breaking point, do we need to already be broken?

Is age a requirement of gaining wisdom?

Living in my own version of reality, I often forget that I am actually 47 years old. I instinctively think that most people I meet are older and wiser than I am. They certainly know more.

Yet a few minutes spent with our kids and me making comments like “I can’t believe that commercial just said that. When we were kids that would have been outrageous!”, it is obvious that I am not the young, spring chicken I pretend to see when I look in the mirror.

I’m not sure when I got old, or older as the case may be. It just seems to have happened while I wasn’t looking. Regardless, phrases that used to make me roll my eyes when I heard my parents utter them now come quite readily out of my mouth.

What’s more, they reflect what I actually feel.

classroom

There is something about being young and in college and so sure that we know more than the older generation. Our solutions will work; just wait until we are in charge. We are going to change the world. Life will be ultimately fair to everyone and all people will be kind to each other. We’ll show these old duffers how it should be done. They are so closed minded that they just can’t see it.

I remember feeling invincible and smart and insightful and, most importantly, passionately right in my opinions. Continue reading Is age a requirement of gaining wisdom?

Why do we wash windows?

Probably the warmest day of the season so far today. That’s music to my soul. I kind of hibernate and move slower during the cold months. I’m sure I look and sound like an 85-year-old, crotchety man complaining about the winter. Just ask my kids.

Truth be told, I can look out the window and be truly appreciative of the beauty of snow and ice. Thank heaven for that thick window and insulation in the walls and blowing heat from a furnace on my side of the glass. Makes it much easier to see the wonder of it all when my bones don’t feel like they are going to snap in half from being frozen.

But those wonderful, protective windows that I spent appreciating the cold through, have suffered the majesty of the wind and rain and snow storms that we survived these past months. To take a deep breath and enjoy the view was getting harder and harder – my long vision of the world was being stopped right in front of my face and the spots and dirt on the windows took on more and more of the picture.

So today, in the warmth and bright sun, with some good music in my ears, I set about to wash all 24 windows in our house. As things usually go with me, I was soon also washing down the siding and making sure any evidence of birds was gone. While I had the ladder out, it seemed just one extra step to climb up and pull dead branches out of the gutters. That last storm had especially reminded us of just how puny we really are compared to the forces out there.

After putting away the ladder and washing my hands, I climbed the stairs and walked over to the tall window from the second floor. The bright sun filled the room and I looked out the now, very clean window. Nothing impeded my vision and I could clearly see out, into the world.

It may rain tomorrow. I hope it doesn’t, but that is always a possibility. If so, the windows will only have been clean and clear for a day.

Would it have been worth it?

Continue reading Why do we wash windows?