Saturday, August 29, 2009

Keeping within limits

The holidays I had this spring and summer showed me how good it is for me to take time out to relax. They showed me how important it is to keep my life in balance. I decided to try not to get overly stressed again. I need to avoid getting depressed again.

A friend who I love and respect has promised herself not to do more than three big things in a week. She too tends to get into doing too many things, especially things for others, and becomes overwhelmed. Mind you, she doesn't have a mood disorder and is better able to cope than I am when that does happen.

This friend has become an example for me in many ways. I like the way she shepherds the people in her Bible study groups, caring for those who need it. In many ways I've come to live my life like her, at least in the way I care for people. (There are many ways in which I haven't followed her example, like in keeping a well organized house, though I'm working on it.)

I've followed her example, telling myself I'll only do three big things involving other people in a week. But something happened without any intention on my part. This coming week I have seven things planned - important things. UGGH!!! How did I get into this? How it does creep up on you, eh?

I need to take myself in hand. I need to be more careful. But it IS amazing how things crop up. Will have to try to whittle this down. I need to keep some time for myself.

Thanks for listening to my complaints. But I'm hoping that by writing here about this I will be able to commit myself to better live within my limits.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Christmas in August

I've been thinking so much about Christmas lately. Planning already. Trying to sort out how I can make it a good time instead of the horrid time it was last year.

For so many years now I've had a hard time dealing with Christmas, the stress of it always causing depression. I hate all the pressures that come with it, all the traditions that need to be lived up to. My life is busy enough as it is, without Christmas. Just can't deal with all the extra time and energy Christmas requires.

And yet I believe in celebrating the idyllic Christmas. I want that. Perhaps I'm expecting too much from myself to make it that way?

Anyway, I'm preparing for it now, hoping that I will sidestep problems when the holiday time is truly upon me.

How can I celebrate Christmas this year, without bringing on the depression tha comes along with it? Those thoughts are with me all the time now-a-days. I'm making plans.

I've started my Christmas shopping (though only one item so far). And I'm making notecards and other photographic items, planning to have an open house near Christmas when I can show them off and have them available for sale. I'll probably do that towards the end of November. The proceeds from the sale will support a church ministry.

Making the notecards is something I'm very much enjoying. It's a wonderful creative exercise, an outlet I really need. Something to distract me from the mental health work that tends to consume me. A healthy hobby.

I'll be making most of my gifts. If there weren't a Christmas time I wouldn't have as good a reason to be creative would I? And isn't Christmas all about being creative? The baking, the cooking, the decorating, the entertaining.

Christmas. I will look to the positive in it. I will look forward to and plan the good. Starting now. Little by little.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A balancing act

Life is a balancing act, isn't it? Trying to find balance between work and play, solitude and being with others, quiet times and busy times. I've been working hard to find such a balance now-a-days.

My last holiday showed me how refreshing it is to have down times - times away from responsibilities, times to spend in a book or just quietly reflecting. I remember how depressed I was for so long, how hard it was to get motivated. Today I feel very motivated. I've once more got lots of irons in the fire. But I want to stay motivated and not become overwhelmed with it all. I want to make sure I take lots of down times to keep myself fresh as well.

As you know, I get up very early in the morning, so I do have some valuable down times then. Time to spend with my Bible and in prayer. Time to remember what's important to me and what I most need to spend my time doing.

My mental health work, especially Living Room, takes up most of my time and energy. This is what's most important to me. It's what I believe God made me to do. I also have a 95-year-old mother who needs my attention on a regular basis. I need to spend time with my husband. Then there's the household. And there are my friends. And my reading, so important for my growth. ...and then there's my blogging, something that I've unfortunately had to slow down on considerably.

I want to keep the refreshed feeling I had following my last holiday. This means that I will have to be careful not to get too busy and to keep some time for myself.

The last two weeks were very busy. To make up for it I'm trying to keep this week quiet. I need to do some creative work, something I had promised myself to make time for. I want to print some of the photos I took on our holiday. I also want to turn some of those photos into drawings. They might become Christmas presents. Christmas??? Uggh! Hate the thought.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Someone to come alongside

I shared something with Living Room facilitators and supporters that I thought would be good to share here as well.

One thing that contributed to the depression I've recently recovered from was that I felt overwhelmed by all that Living Room brought me: people to support, interest by others - far and wide - to start up a group. A few weeks ago I even heard from someone in Pretoria, South Africa, eager to start a group.

"This kind of work is not something a person should be doing on her own," I thought to myself. I felt alone and burdened, finding myself unable to do more than absolute essentials. Depressed. I felt a need for a team, or at least a partner, to come alongside me and walk with me through this adventure and its responsibilities. I complained to my church and asked for prayer to help someone materialize.

And here I'll quote the letter I wrote to Living Room supporters last Thursday:

"God answered the prayers of my friends, but not in the way I had thought He would. My depression did lift and I learned to trust God again. Once more He gave me a 'firm place to stand,' as He has so many times before. And God showed me that my thinking had been all wrong. I'd had entirely the wrong perspective. Living Room is not my own work at all. It's God's work. And I am the one who has to come alongside Him. That's the kind of trust that Living Room was built on. That's the kind of trust in God that gave me the courage to do what I've carried out up to now. God is the One who created Living Room.

"The beautiful thing is that I no longer feel alone. I no longer find the work a burden. Amazing what trusting God can do for you, eh? With Him all things are possible. Through Him our weakness can become strength."

Friday, August 07, 2009

Images of life or death?

Hi everyone,

We've been back from our holidays for several days now. About time I wrote a post, eh?

First of all I want to thank Paula Joy, Merelyme, Di and Nancie for your kind good wishes when I went on vacation. And it WAS a wonderful time we had. Two days of busy photography sessions at Barkerville and the rest of the time total rest at a lake 26km off the main highway.

The time at the lake was so absolutely quiet, the bees and insects were the most notable sounds. And that humming came to sound almost as good as the songs of the birds. The bees did not bother us and we saw only the occasional mosquito. Lots of damselflies and a variety of butterflies. Oh yes, I guess we were a couple of times surrounded by cows. And their muching of the grasses was very noisy. And they did crash around a lot in the trees behind our site. But a little dog belonging to a neighbouring camper chased them away when they became a nuisance.

Our favourite place to photograph at Barkerville was the cemetery, a most interesting place. Some of the graves have been there since - well, the oldest one had a date of 1863 on it. The neat thing was that long ago plants had been planted there and, with no one to care for the graves (this WAS a ghost town), had all grown wild.

I loved photographing there. Found it meaningful in some way, though I can't put my finger on why that is. I've included some to show you here. Are they images of life or death? To me they're images of life - beautiful weeds growing in profusion all around the crosses.

Do these pictures say anything to you? Can you help me find the words to express what's so special about weeds and crosses?