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.

Back to Basics: A Simple Prayer for Strength

Over the past few weeks I’ve been working on developing a flexible routine that tries to accomplish both routine household maintenance (including administrative tasks) and the necessary self care chronic illness requires. I have made more progress than I have in previous years–where I set my sights way too high and then crashed and burned–but I’ve been struggling with my old foe perfectionism and what I “should” be able to get done. Thankfully my therapist provided a much-needed perspective last week by reminding me that my overachieving personality was creeping back in as I was feeling better and so when I had some not-feeling-so-well days I was being too harsh with myself.

As a result, over the past several days I was able to be both more flexible on a daily basis and yet more productive 0ver the course of the weekend and beginning of this week. Of course I also asked for help when needed! I now am giving myself credit for what gets done and am not beating myself up for all that remains to be done, especially as I remained physically and mentally stable through a family member’s out of town birthday celebration.

Now as this week gets underway I’m rereading the chapters on simplifying one’s weekly and daily schedules in Marcia Ramsland’s book from which I’ve been sharing these Back to Basic posts’ prayers. As she points out, we need to organize our time both horizontally (“looking forward to the week and the month ahead to pace your schedule and energy accordingly”) and vertically (“accomplishing the day’s tasks in a time sequence from morning until night”). Marcia also says, “The key to successful time management is evaluating your time from both angles. When you plan horizontally and vertically, you control your schedule, rather than allowing life’s events to control you. Being proactive rather than reactive is a wonderful way to live.” I can personally attest to the truth of this statement from a lack of doing this for decades! She also advises “only plan up to 70% of your time with a 30% time cushion for the unexpected.”

Finally, whether or now we have less energy due to chronic illness we all need down time, transition time, and unscheduled time to handle the fact that Life is what happens to us while we’re making other plans” (Allen Saunders, Reader’s Digest 1957 but also slightly modified in John Lennon’s song “Beautiful Boy”). 

Here’s the corresponding prayer for this topic:

“Dear God,

You know my life, and You know how much I can handle in a day. Please help me to organize my time so I can accomplish all that is in front of me. Gently remind me in stressful times to quiet my heart with a quick prayer so I can draw upon Your great strength to help me. Amen.”

Marcia Ramsland, Simplify Your Life: Get Organized and Stay That Way!




Thoughtful Thursday: Be at Peace

“The work that Mother Teresa could not get to she did not think twice about, nor should you or I, since God is not asking you to do what He does not give you the time (or health, or resources) to do. So be at peace.”

Fr. Joseph Langford

This comes as a great comfort when I juggle so many deferred tasks due to health, bad habits, and unforeseen circumstances and approach the Big 5-0 with excitement but also a sense of disappointment and frustration, like I have let God down. But then I remember that I often have an unrealistic idea of my limits and therefore my goals and He doesn’t. My wonderful husband also helps me with this when I fall into comparing myself to others. He provides a reality check while encouraging me to follow through with what is realistic and reconsider if I’m pushing myself, as he and I know I’ll inevitably crash and make my health problems worse.

So I take great comfort in the above words and I hope you will too!

Another Newman Quote of the Day

Another classic worth posting here.

Aquinas, Etc.

My first elementary lesson of duty is that of resignation to the laws of my nature, whatever they are; my first disobedience is to be impatient at what I am, and to indulge an ambitious aspiration after what I cannot be, to cherish a distrust of my powers, and to desire to change laws which are identical with myself. (Grammar of Assent, p. 347)

It’s hard to know where to begin in commenting upon this brief passage. It is just packed.

What is resignation to the laws of my nature? I think a good illustration would be to think of the madman who is convinced he has wings and tosses himself off a ledge with a false certainty that his powers of flight will deliver him from an inevitable sudden stop at the bottom of the cliff. So resignation to the laws of my nature would be…

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