07 August 2011

These are sad days. Let's make them better.

This time of year is always a little sad for me because it marks the anniversaries of the deaths of several people I loved and miss dearly. Michael, a friend from the Honor Academy, died in a car wreck 8 years ago. Memmaw died of Alzheimer's 5 years ago. Pawpaw and Miss Vicki both died of cancer 3 years ago. I miss them and for Miss Vicki and Michael, and especially Michael, it's hard not to be sad that I feel like they died too young. They both still "should" have had so much life ahead of them, so many things left to do and so many peoples lives to touch.

Then I look at the news and what is making headlines. Headlines are about the 38 people killed in Afghanistan when a U.S. Chinook (a helicopter ) was shot down. 8 people (including the gunman) killed in a shooting spree in Ohio; one of the victims was an 11 year old child. Premature babies reported dead after the Syrian government cut power to a hospital where the babies were on incubators, all part of the unrest and turmoil in Syria. The conflict in Libya. The economic turmoil in America. Rioting in England (specifically in London). The children in Somalia. Human Trafficking. Killer storms. Unemployment. The news is downright depressing.

I look at the news, at the condition of the world, at the depths of depravity and hatred, and the horrible things that humanity does to each other in the name of religion, politics, and money, and I think that they are the lucky ones. I think that they are the ones who don't have to live with all of this, they are at peace. I firmly believe that each of them, despite their foibles and wrongdoings in life, are safe in the arms of God, and I wish I were there too. Not in a suicidal sense, but in a "I'm longing for home" sense.

With all that is going on in the world, is it any surprise that depression and other mental/emotional health problems are so rampant? I know that a lot of times it has to do with physical/chemical imbalances, but when you take that imbalance and then add in all this crap? It's a recipe for disaster. And yet, the public looks at those struggling with depression and hopelessness and says "They're weak. They're stupid. There's something wrong with them. That's something to be ashamed of." And we wonder why people don't want to speak up about their problems, why people put off getting help until it's too late.

If you're reading this, take a moment to think about what you can do to make the world a little brighter, to help bring hope to someone who sees all the darkness and despair and desperately needs to see some light. Take flowers to a nursing home. Smile at the single mom working full time to make ends meet while going to college to try to make a better life for her family. Take food to the homeless people under the bridge. Stop and ask someone how they're REALLY doing, and then actually listen. Make blankets for a NICU ward. Take your pet to the local Army hospital to visit wounded soldiers. Volunteer with CASA to be an advocate for a child caught in the foster system who doesn't have anyone else who's really on THEIR side. Become a volunteer with Red Cross on a Disaster Preparedness team. Donate blood. Volunteer at a pregnancy resource center. Get together a group of your friends and family to go to Palestine to work in a women's shelter. Go read stories at a children's hospital. Join the auxiliary at a hospital in your community. Join the Patriot Guard Riders. The possibilities are endless.

I started out talking about what a dark place the world has become and the hopelessness and despair plaguing so many people around us, but I want to end exhorting you to find ways to fight to make it a better place, to bring light into the night. We can bring hope to those around us and by doing so, make the world a better place.

04 August 2011

Coping with stress

I haven't blogged in a bit because things have been kind of nuts. We just finished driving across the country from central Texas to central California and then the girls and I turned right back around and flew back to Texas, with stops (but no plane changes) in Los Angeles and Phoenix. I'm back at the house in Texas to finish dealing with movers and house stuff and then we'll fly back to California.

There's been a lot of stress. The emotional impact of moving away from the place I've called home since I was a little girl, away from my friends and family, the stress of the drive (a 2 year old, a teething 3 month old, 4 cats, and a dog in the vehicle with us along with luggage, yikes), dealing with getting packed up, finding a new house in California, dealing with that house not having heat/hot water/stove due to the gas not being hooked up, and a myriad of other issues along with just plain exhaustion. Feeling like everything in life is outside of my control. Yeeeeeah. But, I've been able to find ways to cope with the stress other than just screaming and going all lunatic like I have wanted to.

Music: When we were in the car and had done everything we could for the girls and they were still crying (and in one case, throwing temper tantrums over not getting her way), I would put in my earphones and just turn my music up all the way. I hated not being able to do anything for them but everything had been done and we couldn't exactly stop traveling. Listening to music was better than losing my cool over the fussing.

Deep breathing: self-explanatory.

Grounding in reality: when I start to freak out over things, I stop and ask myself is this something that I can do anything about? If it is out of my control, or is something I can't handle until later due to office hours or whatever, I force myself to let it go for the time being.

Nail polish: this one might sound a little weird, but I've been doing my nails as a coping mechanism. My husband asked "why the sudden obsession with changing your nail polish?". As I explained it to him, nail polish (besides being fun) is something I have complete control over. I pick the colors and the designs and when I want to change it. Yours doesn't have to be nail polish, but the concept is, find something you can control and go with it. Within reason. Obviously I don't mean start domineering your friends or anything.

Remember, when life is crazy, make the effort to find ways to cope.