Day 100

Day 100 of 100 intentional, reflective steps.

At the beginning on this journey I felt conspicuous and awkward, like a giraffe at a penguin party. Sharing my inner thoughts and insecurities was intimidating . I knew I was risking judgement to obtain understanding and wasn’t sure it was worth the outlay of vulnerability. At the end of the day I just wasn’t sure the cost wouldn’t be too high for me.  But I posted anyway. For me.

100+ days later I am overwhelmed. Almost 30,000 page reads when I didn’t even really expect  a dozen. Encouragement and solidarity with friends and strangers. So many people have sent me private messages. They tell me their stories and where my words have spoken into their circumstances and relationships. I am humbled beyond words; well actually humbled into more words to share.

Since this blog posted I have finally publicly acknowledged myself as a writer; a huge step for me in being able to see there is another piece of me beyond the public figure, community builder, pastor, consultant, entrepreneur.  In stark contrast to my more public microphone authoritative voice there is an internal quiet, often quivering, reflective voice that seeks to connect with others through words, stories and laughter. I have given her permission to speak. My confidence in the value of my own words has grown.

What’s next? Oh, more blogging, more journalism and there is a dream of a book. Not bad for a woman who wouldn’t even claim to be a writer 100 days ago! 


Day 99

Day 99 of 100 intentional, reflective steps.

I’m writing a book. This has been a dream of mine. Many people dream of being published. I have been fortunate enough to tell other people’s stories through journalism.  However, it is quite a different process to tell your own story. The weight of the words feels unbearably heavy and the responsibility to handle any unwitting accomplices gently, stifling. However, i’ve been invited to write my story and I will.

I am delighted to be in a place, however angsty, to write for my own joy. I’m equally happy to be able to share those words with whomever wants to read them.


Day 98

Day 98 of 100 intentional, reflective steps.

There are millions of word in print about how to interact with individuals who are mentally ill. Shoulds and should nots.  Cautions and guidelines. The challenge with reading and reacting to these bumpers on the bowling lane is that it has the possibility of being a barrier to real relationship rather than open an avenue to good communication. 

When we look at individuals of any stripe or category through a predefined lens we instinctively react.  A lens of racial diversity brings expectations of a certain kind of cultural behavior or acceptable speech patterns. A visible disability brings out an instinct to assist along with the assumption the disabled person is weaker than others and needs or wants our help. When mental illness comes on the scene it can be easy to assume that one of the conversants is less capable of healthy interaction than the other. This is as incorrect as deciding all black people speak ghetto ebonics, latinos are all from Mexico, all veterans have PTSD or physically handicapped people need help opening doors or reaching shelves.

I get caught two ways on this. Because I am so high functioning in my illness I have been able to mask it, even from myself. I can isolate without people knowing because my online presence is alive and bright. I can hold wonderful encouraging conversations with people while in my pajamas, having stayed in bed half the day.  I am able to teach and consult without having actually slept for days on end. I don’t appear ill when I actually am, but I want to be treated with understanding.

Do me a favor. Don’t pre-treat our conversations with your pity or laymen’s understanding of my diagnosis. Enter into the dance I have been choreographed in with investigative curiosity. If we are to have a real relationship  you cannot sit on the sidelines and merely observe. For my sake and for the sake of others lets have the courtesy to explore the potential, capabilities and wishes of one another before we presume to know who they really are.


Day 97

Day 97 of 100 intentional, reflective steps.

In the 100 days of this writing I have lost a total of 10 lbs and gained back 3. Net loss 7 fricking’ pounds. I have replaced meals with protein shakes, cut way back on calories, abandoned lattes, but the weight comes off so slow. Do I really have the patience for this? That would be a big. Fat. No.

This is why fad diets get started. Because people are impatient and want to see results rapidly. Is it so wrong to want results like we get at the carwash? Pay the money, drive right in, wash the fat off, blow dry, out. I have never considered myself a dieter even though I have tried several diet methods; ideal protein, take shape for life, south beach, weight watchers, extreme working out etc. The only effective diet was the depression diet and while I lost a lot of weight I was pretty sick too.  Turns out eating only popcorn, apples and drinking coffee for months works but backfires eventually by muscle loss, gastro intestinal difficulties, fatigue, agitation and maybe non diet related, bitchiness.  Even so, some days I am tempted to try that again, if I weren’t so dang hungry!

All those diets worked as long as I worked the plan. My problem? As soon as the plan started working I began giving myself permission to “slip up” once in a while and that was the downward slope of the upward scale needle. If only I were as skinny as I was when I first felt fat!

The failed hurdle for me, besides the fact that I can’t get my leg up over an actual hurdle, is self-discipline. Coincidentally, or not, this is the same hurdle that challenges me in spiritual life, academic life, finances, and keeping things on track at home. I’m over all a pretty organized person and that is the only thing that saves my bacon (mmmmm, bacon . . . ) from appearing to be an outright catastrophe most days.

Heres the trick. I can acknowledge the hurdle of lack of self-discipline and maybe even befriend it. However, when I fall I am so angry and disappointed with myself and frustrated that I can’t do things perfectly that the shame and guilt bury me. Failed. Again. Which, of course leads to self soothing in whatever ways I can; food, coffees, a drink or two, snacks, spending etc. 

The only way out of that deadly death spiral is to put anchors in the ground of self-discipline and grace.  Discipline to do what is needed and grace and understanding that I’m not perfect. 

Two anchors to keep me going in the right direction. I wonder if they’re made out of chocolate. 

Day 96

Day 96 of 100 intentional, reflective steps.

When the minions were little they used to play “backwards day”. Everything meant the opposite of what was said. If they said up it meant down. If they said stay it meant go.  Even the clothes went on backwards. 

Here is some reflective curiosity about my year in intensive trauma therapy. I have acknowledged so much of the abuse and craziness of my family. In recognition of some of the obstacles I would face, I have spent the whole of my adult life in helping relationships; therapists, counselors, pastors, friends etc. helped me understand my own thoughts and feelings.  In the midst of it all I have come to realize that I am a miracle, an overcomer and survivor. The circumstances that could have directly or indirectly ended my life did not, in fact, cause my demise. 

There is something heady to being a survivor. There is a pride and strength from claiming that. So, when this years emotional tsunami rose unexpectedly out of the sea of my past it was like it became backwards day, for the past 500 days. Instead of carrying pride at being a survivor I am forced to admit that I was a victim. Instead of preaching about overcoming I have to acknowledge that some events of my life held pieces of my soul captive. My optimistic focus of being one who rose above was buried by the reality of one who was just trying to survive the flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety and depression. 

The thing that has kept me hopeful and alive to this point is the fact that I can look back and see how far I have come and what I have survived. Looking back into my life as a landfill needing sorting and excavation seems to fly in the face of my “look for the sunrise” philosophy. 

Which is right? Look back or look forward? History or hope?