Of blocks and blankets

Isaac Asimov said, “Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” I’ve always liked that quote and thought I could relate to it. But not today! This morning I started my new attempt at a weekly blog post and it didn’t write itself like they usually have done over the past decade or so. At some point I realized it was going to be me telling a story, and I’m not a good storyteller (too many rabbit trails!). So, I find myself once again sleep deprived, on medication changes, and otherwise experiencing just plain old writer’s block. It seemed this weekend would be without a post until I remembered that, of course, you can just tell your readers what’s going on–and so I am!

Since I always have something I’m jazzed about I’ll leave you this week with a resource to ponder pursuing if you or someone you know has anxiety, ADHD, bipolar disorder, depression, sensory processing issues, sleep issues, stress (who doesn’t?!) or a host of other conditions that would benefit from a weighted blanket. You’ve probably heard about them by now if you are neurodivergent or have someone in your life who is (again, who doesn’t?!) because they are so helpful to many of us with aneurotypical brains. My weighted blanket helps me the most with anxiety and relaxation–I’m one seriously uptight chick, after all, according to a source near and dear to me<g>–and has been a godsend for the past few years.

If you haven’t seen these already you can always do an online search. Mine happens to be a Mosaic weighted blanket–thanks to the generosity of family members (as they’re not inexpensive but they are extremely well made and allow you to get the amount of pressure your nervous system benefits from based on your size)–but apparently there’s utility to be found in a wide variety of weighted blankets. Their website is a good source of information on weighted blankets in general and will get you started thinking about whether investing in one might be useful for you.

https://www.mosaicweightedblankets.com/

Okay, now that I’ve shared that tidbit about myself and am relieved to see neither my brain nor fingers are totally broken, I’m going to go curl up on the recliner under my weighted blankie. Until next time, keep being you very well!

Remaining

From a decade ago…a timeless reminder!

God remains in you in order to hold you up.

You remain in God in order not to fall.

–St. Bede the Venerable

Good words we all need to hear (or at least I do)…and pretty much all the time!

Stumbling Forward

Thank you, gentle reader, for turning your eyes to this blog. If this is your first visit here–welcome! This weekend’s post almost didn’t happen because of severe sleep deprivation and that’s not conducive to thinking clearly, much less writing well. But then I remembered the encouraging words I received last weekend when rebooting the blog, that I keep publishing my scribblings–and so here I am, scribbling away!

This blog has always been an outlet for the jumble of thoughts from my aneurotypical brain, often focusing on snippets of encouragement from my faith journey. As a close friend knows, I consider everything “on topic”–which is just another way of saying my brain finds so much of the world fascinating that it’s hard not to get caught up in the latest “bee in my bonnet,” as my dear husband so sweetly put it early in our married life. My journal contains the stream-of-consciousness stuff that I feel compelled to put down; my blog is more of an effort to selectively share what I am learning about neurodivergent living (known or unaware, disclosed or not, believed or disbelieved), as well as living with chronic physical conditions–and the occasional poem to placate a family member who thinks my infrequent scribblings of this sort worth sharing.

On sleepy weekends like these, or possibly at other times when I feel led to do so, I will share a rerun of a post from the past decade of blogging–primarily to jog my memory with something I felt was helpful at the time but also to hopefully allow you to be encouraged or informed as well. Having said that, let’s see what I dig up!

What Happened to the Blog?

So some of you may wonder what happened to my blogging after the pandemic started and I decided to reboot it. Well, the answer is that our beloved Basenji developed kidney failure and other age-related health problems and in much too short a span of time we had to say goodbye to my precious Piggly (otherwise known as Rascal). That put me into a new level of depression and ramped up my anxiety so much that writer’s block ensued.

As time stretched on with the pandemic and I had to self-quarantine due to being high-risk, I became socially isolated and this definitely did nothing to improve my mental health. A decline in mental health equals a decline in my writing, unfortunately for me. So I blogged in my head, more or less, or at the very least thought of blog fodder and got frustrated because I had severe writer’s block most of the past year and a half.

Next week I’ll ask my therapist to help me with this issue. I’m pretty sure I know at least one thing she’ll tell me to do and that I have already begun doing (again) recently–viz., keeping a daily journal. You’d think for someone who loves to write that I’d be able to journal regardless of my mental health but that is not the case for me. I think of so many favorite authors who struggled with depression, anxiety, manic-depression (bipolar disorder) and wonder how they were able to keep on keeping on? Must look into that more…

Anyway, when I’m depressed my limits include not having the energy to journal (or so I tell myself…I’m learning even a paragraph can be helpful). When I’m more anxious than usual I am the worst possible version of my recovering perfectionist self and can hardly stand to put words on the page, even though I have the energy. When I’m ramped up, well, that’s when most of my writing–and other forms of creativity–has occurred over the past eleven years of blogging (accompanied by waking up and eventually having to get up at unreasonably early hours to write, which then throws off my circadian rhythms which are already precarious because of my health issues).

So it’s a weird situation because when I’m experiencing mental stability I have to give increased attention to all the other parts of my life that I try desperately not to let slip through the cracks when I’m not doing as well and therefore it is my least productive writing time. I don’t know what that says about me as I’m always striving to do the things that encourage stability and you’d think a regular writing practice would surely bolster that. Whatever the case, it just feels good to be back in the saddle again, even if it’s only weekly. For those of you who have asked about the blog and encouraged me to reboot it, thank you for wanting to read more of my scribblings. It’s good to be back.

Music for Holy Week & Eastertide

A rerun for those of you who like music therapy during the Triduum and Easter season. I originally posted this six years ago so feel free to add more recent offerings and personal favorites in the comments.

Good Friday:

Traditional hymns: “O Sacred Head Now Wounded,” “At the Cross Her Station Keeping,” “The Old Rugged Cross,” and “Were You There?”

Bach’s St. Matthew Passion or St. John Passion

Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri

Contemporary: Matt Maher’s “You Were on the Cross,” “Jars of Clay’s “O Come and Mourn With Me Awhile,” and Bruce Carroll’s “Driving Nails”

Holy Saturday/Easter Sunday:

Contemporary: Carman’s “Sunday’s On Its Way”–and for the young at heart, here’s a fun video:

Easter Sunday/Easter Season:

Traditional hymns: “Christ Arose”, “Jesus Christ is Risen Today”, “Alleluia! Alleluia!” [Ode to Joy tune]

Classical: Bach’s Easter Oratorio & Widor’s Toccata from the Fifth Organ Symphony in F, Op 42 #1–Here’s a wonderful performance:

Contemporary anthem: Matt Maher’s “Christ is Risen.” Here’s a nice concept video done by a fan:

Contemporary hymn: “Easter Song” (Keith Green performance, although the 2nd Chapter of Acts is good, too)

Vintage anthems: James Ward’s “Death is Ended,” Don Francisco’s “He’s Alive,” and Dallas Holm’s “Rise Again”

Finally, I would be remiss to not include at least a few other year-round favorites that come to mind about the grace of God at work in our lives:

Bach’s Halellujah Chorus

U2’s “Magnificent”

Cat Steven’s version of Eleanor Farjeon’s “Morning Has Broken”

Johnny Cash’s “When The Man Comes Around”

Randy Travis’ “Three Wooden Crosses”

Any musical setting and/or performer for “Ave Maria,” although I’m especially fond of Andrea Bocelli and Perry Como’s versions.

The Bible in a Year Podcast

Are you wanting to soak in more of God’s Word? Do you find yourself planning to spend more time with Scripture but then it doesn’t happen? Are you an auditory learner? Or perhaps you’re just not big on reading? Did you plan to finally read the Bible through in a year but fall off the wagon? If you answered yes to any of these questions or are just curious…read on!

Fr. Mike Schmitz, known to many through the Ascension Presents YouTube channel, has got, in my opinion, the greatest Scripture tool going this year and the best thing is you don’t have to have started on January 1st. You can jump in at any point with Day 1. Also, he’s very realistic about people falling off the wagon–been there, done that–and is extremely encouraging about just picking back up where you were and proceeding forward at your own pace. Such grace!

Anyway, here’s more about its unique approach to reading through the Bible in a year from one of the podcasting platforms where you can listen to it; it’s available wherever you normally listen as well (e.g., Apple Podcasts app).

About The Bible in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz)

In The Bible in a Year podcast, Fr. Mike Schmitz walks you through the entire Bible in 365 episodes, providing commentary, reflection, and prayer along the way.

Unlike any other Bible podcast, Ascension’s Bible in a Year podcast follows a reading plan inspired by The Great Adventure Bible Timeline, a ground-breaking approach to understanding salvation history developed by renowned Catholic Bible scholar Jeff Cavins. For each period in the timeline, Jeff will join Fr. Mike for a special episode that will help you understand the context of each reading.

With this podcast, you won’t just read the Bible in a year … you’ll finally understand how all the pieces of the Bible fit together to tell an amazing story that continues in your life today!

Listen and…

  1. Read the ENTIRE Bible
  2. Feel more confident about your understanding of Scripture
  3. Experience the transformative power of God’s Word in your daily life
  4. Start seeing the world through the lens of Scripture

Each 20-25 minute episode includes:

Two to three scripture readings
A reflection from Fr. Mike Schmitz
A guided prayer to help you hear God’s voice in his Word

The Bible contains adult themes that may not be suitable for children – parental discretion is advised.

https://bibleinayear.fireside.fm/about

Moving Through Lent

For those of you who’ve been here before, this is an updated post from three years ago but the link is definitely still relevant, pandemic and life in general notwithstanding. Also, there is one other thing about Lent that’s new for me this year. “It’s not about what you give up it’s about who you become.” Thank you, Matthew Kelley, for summing up so well the essence of this liturgical season.

Wait! Before you get the link I just remembered a second thing that has stuck with me. Fr. Mike Schmitz said, in his homily on the first Sunday of Lent, “The heart of Lent is that we don’t trust God and we need to learn how to trust Him.” There. You. Go. Lent is all about loving God more, not just praying more, fasting more, and giving more, although these are all a part of the season and ways in which we show that love. The whole purpose of Lent is to become more Christ-like and that can only happen when we trust Him more. More trust equals more faith in Him.

Lent has been here since Ash Wednesday, of course, but on this Laetare (“Rejoice”) Sunday, in typical procrastinating fashion I’m just now taking the time to share something that my readers who observe Lent might find helpful. After all, we may be on the downhill run but we’ve still got three weeks to go! Below you will find–in my opinion–the best one-stop shopping (so to speak) for all things Lent from the wonderful Karen Edmisten.

So, grab your favorite acceptable Lenten beverage–I know some of you have painfully given up your precious Dr. Pepper or cozy cup of joe–settle into a comfy chair, and prepare to be informed, encouraged, and generally motivated to embrace this season in all of its unique challenges. Finally, I pray you and yours have, as Karen’s youngest daughter once said, “a meaningful Lent.” Blessings to you!

http://karenedmisten.blogspot.com/2018/02/its-back-meaningful-lent.html

Adjusting

Last week ago I wrote about waiting. As of one week ago today, the wait ended. Our beloved Basenji Rascal let us know through his behavior and symptoms [see the post titled “Waiting” for the link to a helpful chart re: symptoms] that he needed to be let go and so he made one last trip to the vet. Saying goodbye to a much-loved pet is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It has only happened twice before–once as a child and then later as an adult–but it’s been a long time and I had forgotten how much will remind you of your precious pet.

In my case, for the first few days, it seemed like everything I did was tied to his daily routines as well, resulting in much shedding of tears and extreme fatigue. Then there was a small, almost imperceptible, shift and the tightness in my body eased up. However, I found myself thinking he was in the laundry room with me one day when a tote bag hanging on the doorknob brushed up against my leg. Another time I mistook a throw pillow for his curled up form on the couch. Thankfully, for the past couple of days, I’ve been able to have more happy memories of his time in our household and the sad or painful thoughts aren’t constantly barraging my brain.

One day there will be unfettered discussions of Rascal’s tremendous time with us–e.g., how he loved his ice cubes and an assortment of human “snacks”–during those blessed four years and three months, but for now the memories are bittersweet. The man of the house misses him for, among other things, the special careful grooming sessions Rascal bestowed upon him; the son of the house has to go without special nose kisses; I even miss having my sleep disrupted by a sweet little bed hog. Rest in peace, my dear Piggly. There will always be a special place in my heart that’s yours.

 

 

Music Therapy: the Triduum/Easter Edition

Music for the Triduum/Easter season:

Good Friday:

Traditional hymns: “O Sacred Head Now Wounded,” “At the Cross Her Station Keeping,” “The Old Rugged Cross,” & “Were You There?”

Bach’s St. Matthew Passion or St. John Passion

Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri

Contemporary: Matt Maher’s “You Were on the Cross,” “Jars of Clay’s “O Come and Mourn With Me Awhile,” and Bruce Carroll’s “Driving Nails”

Holy Saturday/Easter Sunday:

Contemporary: Carman’s “Sunday’s On Its Way”–and for the young at heart, here’s a fun video:

Easter Sunday/Easter Season:

Traditional hymns: “Christ Arose”, “Jesus Christ is Risen Today”, “Alleluia! Alleluia!” [Ode to Joy tune]

Classical: Bach’s Easter Oratorio & Widor’s Toccata from the Fifth Organ Symphony in F, Op 42 #1–Here’s a wonderful performance:

Contemporary:

Anthem: Matt Maher’s “Christ is Risen”; here’s a nice concept video done by a fan:

Worship & praise: Adam Young (a.k.a. Owl City)’s cover of “In Christ Alone (I Stand)”

Contemporary hymn: “Easter Song” (Keith Green performance, although the 2nd Chapter of Acts is good, too)

Anthem: James Ward’s “Death is Ended”

Vintage anthems: Don Francisco’s “He’s Alive” & Dallas Holm’s “Rise Again”

Finally, I would be remiss to not include at least a few other year-round favorites that come to mind about the grace of God at work in our lives:

Bach’s Halellujah Chorus

Rich Mullin’s “Step by Step”

U2’s “Magnificent” & “Pride”

Matt Maher’s “New State of Mind,” “Alive Again,” “His Grace is Enough”

Eleanor Farjeon’s “Morning Has Broken”

Johnny Cash’s “When The Man Comes Around”

Contemporary hymn: “You Are Mine”

Randy Travis’ “Three Wooden Crosses”

Any musical setting and/or performer for “Ave Maria,” although I’m especially fond of Andrea Bocelli and Perry Como’s versions.

NB–I originally posted this five years ago so feel free to add more recent offerings and/or your personal favorites in the comments.

Some good advice; some of which I am following

MENTAL HEALTH WELLNESS TIPS FOR QUARANTINE…from my favorite blog, Redbud Drive.

Redbud Drive

James received this from a colleague. At the end of the whole thing I list some of the things I’m doing (that are helping me.)

From psychologist Margie Donlon:

“After having thirty-one sessions this week with patients where the singular focus was COVID-19 and how to cope, I decided to consolidate my advice and make a list that I hope is helpful to all.  I can’t control a lot of what is going on right now, but I can contribute this.

Edit: I am surprised and heartened that this has been shared so widely!  People have asked me to credential myself, so to that end, I am a doctoral level Psychologist in NYS with a Psy.D. in the specialities of School and Clinical Psychology.

MENTAL HEALTH WELLNESS TIPS FOR QUARANTINE

1. Stick to a routine.  Go to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time, write a schedule that…

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