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* bi-polar

I have written earlier about depression as that is something my psychiatrist assumed I was living with initially. It has its own realities in terms of how it shows itself, meds to use, etc. But some of those initially diagnosed as depressed are actually living with something a bit more complicated which is bi-polar. As in getting into “highs” that can be up to manic, requiring hospitalization, for those living with bp1 and hypomanic (lower level that doesn’t require hospitalization) for those of us with bp2.

The challenge with living with bp is that it is a mental illness. Like depression, it’s not something a person can just “control” as in make go away and never come back. For many but not all of those living with this a combination of medications and therapy can help a lot. Some living with this are still able to work, but many are not. But one of the tough things about it is it’s an illness that doesn’t go away. Once there one will have it for the rest of one’s life. That’s tough. Because it isn’t so much fun to have to live with. Meds help, but they are strong so there are side effects as well. Sort of a “what in this is me and what’s the meds?” kind of thing.

Therapy helps a great deal as it’s a lot to have to live with. In being able to talk through your thinking with a wise, kind person you can verify where you’re doing fine and where your system needs a bit of a tune-up. When things go hypomanic, to be coached on the executive function that becomes problematic. When depressed, on dealing with this as well.

And then there’s the impact on my spouse and children, God bless them every one! They are part of the journey as well, whether they want to be or not. And not just along for the ride but having to live with it as well in their own ways.

So I don’t know where you came from back about 15 years ago or so, but I’d be just fine if you decided to go back there oh bp of mine.


* searching

Some things just need to be found. For other things it’s more of a “Wouldn’t it be nice if…” Then there are those new things that just show up. Sometimes, though not very often, they just fall into your lap. But most of the time you have to go search for them.

First, the fall-into-your-lap types of things. These are the sorts of things you probably weren’t looking for but “poof” all of a sudden here they are. These are unexpected discoveries, often both in terms of what they are and what they respond to. Science generates lots of these all the time. 3M’s Post-Its are an example. When the search for one thing the scientist came up with something else.

Second, the let’s-go-looking types of things. To start, it helps to make sure you have as well defined a goal or object you’re searching for as possible. Sometimes this is very clear, as in “I need to find gas for my car.” Other times it’s a lot less clear as in “I need a new job but it’s not clear to me what that should be.” To which of course is added the reality that while gas stations sell gasoline, it’s only in times of economic prosperity that you can just go pick a job off of a shelf somewhere (and even the it’s only certain types of jobs).

Then comes the actual process of looking for what you’re trying to find. Sometimes the steps involved are quite clear as in before you can get gas you need to find a gas station… etc. Other times it’s a mystery Every.Single. Step. As in what explorers face. Those exploring new lands or new areas of science or artistry.

Then of course there’s deciding whether you’ve found whatever it is you’re looking for. If you have then great! Time to celebrate! (at least a little) And if you haven’t, then the search goes on…

* greenifying

Image by Larisa Koshkina from Pixabay

It’s greenifying outside. The time of year when somehow, this nature of ours, exposed to months of cold and snow, somehow comes roaring back into a much more visible form of green life. Right now things are growing so fast you can almost see and hear them doing it.

How do they do this greenifying? How do they somehow hold onto it inside while the temperature plummets and absolutely freezes most things left outside? In our case for months on end? So that when the snow melts and rain falls and the sun begins to work again everything knows how to come out green at once, like a giant competition? With flowers on top of it all like icing on a cake? Magical!

And the birds and butterflies who fly north–how can they even traverse these incredible distances? The birds to bless us with their songs again as they flutter about the greenifying that is happening.

There are parts of living in Minnesota I don’t enjoy. But the greenifying? What a blessing this is!

* sunshine

It’s sunny out today. So much nicer than the alternative. Things are so much brighter and warm. And it’s very early much early spring now so everything but our dead trees in the back are getting green so fast you can almost see and hear them growing.

I’m not a fan of grey days. Too many of them in a row gets me down. Sometimes it’s grayness that either leads to or is part of rain or snow. That’s better. But other times it’s just grayness. That’s not. Colors fade and if it’s not summer, the temperature becomes much cooler or even downright cold.

I grew up out in the sun. 12 months a year as we lived in Madagascar where “cold” was weather in the 60s (F) which didn’t happen very often. It was time spent outside on the beach, playing basketball or volleyball on outside courts, riding bike, etc. Being in our “boxes” was reserved for school and sleeping. Gray days and rain, while frequent, was almost always warm.

And so I guess it makes sense that I view sunshine as the sign of life, the invitation, almost mandate, to be outdoors, to celebrate all of God’s incredible creation, to live.

And yet, as much as I still like sunshine, need it really, I now spend my days inside in the “boxes” I live and work in. Doesn’t make much sense and so I do need to do a better job of getting outside.

Out of my boxes, back into the sun. As in the days of my youth.

* fly away

For many of those of us who grew up flying back and forth overseas (for example MKs as in “Missionary Kids”), one of the magical parts of life was being able to get on a plane on one side of the world and then, after a day or two of up to several flights, being able to get off your final plane to a home on the other side of the world. In my case that was the different worlds of Minneapolis, MN and Fort Dauphin, Madagascar. The latter was a small town of about 50,000 back in those days located on the far southeast coast of the island at the end of either a 3-day drive or somewhere between a 1 and 3 hour plane flight depending on what type of plane you were flying.

One of the really big things about this reality is no matter what you were in the middle of on whichever side of the ocean(s) you were on, it pretty much ended by the time you were on the plane flying out with a new slate of things starting when you got off the plane on the other side. Three times for me this was just being gone for 3 or 4 months from Madagascar at which point you were back there again, so while a break, not a total one, more of some time away in the US. But three times when I did this it was for a year or more. This was much more of a break. Enough for there to be many endings in leaving either end with many beginnings in the new world to follow.

And I do mean “new world.” For though I have flown round trip from the US to Madagascar and back over 10 times in my life, the only way my brain can really understand how this western world is all connected to the African world is that I am flying some form of a “space” shuttle from Europe down to Madagascar and back. People are people. But their worlds? Very hard to believe they’re all part of one given how incredibly different they are.

One of the challenges MKs and some of those like us who’ve done this type of travelling face is a temptation to just pick up and move when things get to be a bit much. Put an end to what isn’t working and start over somewhere new. This generally doesn’t work very well if you’re wondering because there’s so much of one’s past that remains a part of one’s presence, almost like one’s DNA. But the thought is there because in my case I really loved the other side of the world I was blessed to grow up and then later work in. And there were some things in these United States which were quite honestly good to be able to get away from for awhile.

But here in the US is where I now am and over there is but memories and short news articles about various things going on. Along with friends and the beauty of it all, but there is there and that’s where I am not.

But still…

“the cows were quiet last night”

I was working with my Malagasy team in a small Toby (village open to those with special needs) back in the mid-1980s. This village was very poor which was why we were concentrating our efforts here. The way we did our work was set up tents right in the middle of the Toby and sleep in them for the week we were on site working on various things like housing, water supply, gardens, handicrafts, etc. Houses were made of what was available which was reed covered roofs and mud-covered reeds for the walls. They were not sound-proof.

Meals we’d share with those we were working with. So both my colleague, Noel, and I were surprised to hear the villagers asking each other during breakfast about how noisy the cows had been that night? Cows, we thought? There are no cows in this village as it’s far too poor to afford such a thing. There were cows in a neighboring village, but that was too far away to hear even on a quiet night.

So we talked to each other about it as the villagers said the cows hadn’t been too noisy which was good as they’d had trouble sleeping the night before. And then, seeing some very discreet sideways glances we realized the “cows” they were talking about were he and I and the noise was our snoring!

* stuck, part I

It happens. You’re cruising along, thinking things are going pretty well then all of a sudden–you’re stuck. As in no movement forward and backward’s not a possibility. And here you are. What next? What next is the whole getting unstuck part of things.

If you’re driving a car, SUV, etc. stuck means you’ve taken your vehicle to a place it’s not designed to make it through. Or it can make it through but not taking the route or speed or angle you chose.

In real life next is generally getting out of the car and assessing the situation. As in where are you stuck and what is it going to take to get you out of here? Can you do it on your own or are you going to need some help?

Then it’s working on the getting out part. If you can do it on your own or you have to because you don’t have a choice it’s possibly shoveling dirt to free up your tires so they’ll get proper traction again. Or digging down a mound that is blocking your path. If it’s more complicated than that, where you’re going to need some help it’s then seeing who’s available. If there’s no one around you may have to wait awhile.

One reality is sitting there and fretting about it isn’t going to help. Neither is getting back in the car and just spinning your wheels. In fact almost without exception that’s only going to make it worse. Sometimes you may not have a choice and will need to work on it yourself, slowly a process that is. But if you’re really stuck then getting some help will be useful.