Adrift or Evolving?

 

I feel adrift.

Since January, following a fall, I feel adrift. Adrift as a wife, a writer, a friend, a human being.

My body, in pain most days, isn’t allowed to do housework as ordained by professionals. Simple cooking is OK. No vigorous kitchen cleanup reads don’t make a huge mess while cooking.

My mind won’t wrap itself around the craft of writing. Whether it’s working on my book, the blog, or book reviews, it doesn’t seem to matter. I feel mindless, wordless.

My summer days are mostly inside, and little or no exercise is ordered by any of the illustrious physicians in attendance so far. Don’t even mention flowers and gardening.

One chair in our home allows me to sit comfortably. Our bed allows me the comfort of lying down, but have you tried working from a prone position? I am trying to grow accustomed to standing while using my laptop, but years of otherwise make unlearning difficult.

Rays of hope arrived over the past few days.

After seeing multiple physicians, undergoing as many lab tests and imaging studies, and receiving steroid injections times too many, another doctor seeing me for an unrelated problem listened. I mean she really listened to my complaints and symptoms.

This doctor gave me what probably comes the closest to a correct diagnosis anyone has attempted. Then she referred me to a physical therapist specially trained in treating the adverse physiology I’m attempting to overcome.

(Sorry for the mysterious explanation. It’s a rather sensitive and personal subject as far as I’m concerned.)

We left that appointment feeling we’d been given a ray of hope.

A couple of days later our church newsletter arrived. Physically unable some Sundays to attend church, I’ve learned the importance of the newsletter to feeling in touch with people and activities.

On the last page of this newsletter, the second ray of hope came to me. In the form of a #40wordprayer, incredibly beautiful word creations limited to 40 words.

I requested and received permission to share not only the #40wordprayer, but also a reflection on a conversation with a friend and former student:

evolving

for the reminder
from a dear life-giver
that in life
all of the goals
and striving
do not automatically lead
to arriving
and as the world
is revolving
the purpose resides not
in solving
but in serving
and evolving…

Thanks.
Amen.
#40wordprayers

This prayer emerged out of a conversation I had recently with a dear friend and former youth group student who now serves as a radiation oncologist and just finished her final oral medical board exams. We marveled at how milestones in our lives give us the impression that we will one day ‘arrive’ at the destination to which we have been striving for so long. And then we mused at how this contrasts with the reality that so often these points of ‘arrival’ are actually springboards of ‘departure’ into the next season of the journey.

When Jesus came to the greatest milestone on his journey and cried out ‘It is finished’, it took some time before it became clear that he was actually saying ‘It is beginning’.

In our desire and hope towards ‘arriving’ at the next ‘destination’ of vision and mission as a family of faith at MPC [Moreland Presbyterian Church], may we be ever mindful that in this journey of life and faith, the ‘ends’ (great and small) are actually ‘beginnings’. And as we receive the gift of each new moment of life, may we hear the voice of the Giver saying, ‘My child, begin again.’

With Jesus and with you, brian

ATTRIBUTIONS:
PRAYER AND REFLECTION: BRIAN MARSH, HEAD OF STAFF, MORELAND PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, PORTLAND, OR
IMAGE OF CHILD: “PATH OF LIFE,” DIGITAL ART BY ALICE POPKORN VIA FLICKR

 

Am I drifting or evolving?

Perhaps this is a God-given time for reflection, discernment, and new direction. If so, I feel better about the conditions I find myself struggling through in my writing, my home life, and my friendships and other human connections.

Days on end, as many of you know firsthand, of the same thing takes us to a land of drought, parched to the elimination of our art. A life of illness or injury with no definitive answers, again as many know, leaves you with anxiety and stress and doubt, none of which enhances the body’s ability to heal. Nor do these emotions lend themselves well to family relationships and friendships with our online or real-tie community.

I am filled with hope on two fronts now: (1) from the medical community caring for me; and (2) my faith community providing prayers, encouragement, and as Brian said in an email this week special prayers for “sani-T!”

James 1:5-8 MSG
James 1:5-8 MSG

Attributions:
Image: Adrift via Unsplash (no attribution required; free images)
Image: James 1:5-8 (MSG) via Pinterest

Stay tuned for more about my “evolution.”

Interview with Nina Bingham, Author of Once the Storm Is Over

No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear. ~ C.S. Lewis

Today I welcome Nina Bingham, author of Once the Storm Is Over: From Grieving to Healing After the Suicide of My Daughter. In addition to writing, Nina is a life coach and clinical hypnotherapist. Educating not only from academic knowledge, she shares from her own hard-won life experience in a new and profound way. In private practice since 2003, she has treated individuals and couples with a wide variety of mental health issues.

Nina graciously agreed to answer a few questions about her professional life and her book, which will be out in February 2015. Additionally, I review her memoir on this blog on January 22nd.

Join me in welcoming Nina to my blog and gathering for discussion and questions in the comment section below.

First, Nina, thank you for your willingness to share such a personal story with your readers and my followers. I appreciate it is not an easy topic to discuss yet you have written an amazing book and have answered my interview questions graciously.

Nina, would you share with my readers a bit about your professional background aside from your success as a writer?

There’s a long history of mental illness in my family. My paternal grandmother was institutionalized with Clinical Depression, and my father was an unmedicated Manic Depressive (what is now called Bipolar Disorder). He self-medicated with alcohol, and was abusive as a result. Because of my family’s history, I earned an AA in Psychology. It wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I developed Clinical Depression, and became suicidal myself. When I couldn’t function anymore, I began taking an anti-depressant and rebounded. I wanted to use my experience to help others, so I returned to college and earned a BA in Applied Psychology, and had completed my academic program for my MS Mental Health Counseling Degree when my 15-year-old daughter began a downhill slide into severe depression after the death of her father. The family curse went from me to her. 

As a mental healthcare professional assisting clients experiencing grief, how do you help them find their way through the devastation of something like suicide where guilt is also an emotional response?

I normalize the experience of guilt and self-blame for them, so they understand it is the most common emotion shared among suicide survivors. We all look back and see where we could have done better or intervened sooner, or said something we wished we had said, or regretted having said things. Only people who loved greatly feel remorse greatly. And while I will forever wish I had done things differently, as time passes I can see that I did love her and I did get her help, that I did the best I could and knew to do at the time. I assure clients who are grieving a suicide, and even those who have lost a loved one by any means, that survivor’s guilt is common, and can be a heavy weight. My advice is to not grieve silently. Get support by sharing your feelings, and finding supportive people. They may not fall in your lap–you may need to go out and look for a support group or a counselor to talk to. But nobody should shoulder the burden of grief alone.

You yourself have experienced the loss of a daughter through suicide. What confounded you the most about not being able to cope with the depth of that grief on your own?

Because I’d been trained to recognize the warning signs of suicide, and had intervened to prevent client suicides in the past, it was doubly hard for me to accept that I had been unable to save my own daughter. Because of this I felt incredible, overwhelming shame. Because of the guilt and self-condemnation, it made it that much harder for me to seek support. Eventually I did find my way to a Psychologist who was very helpful in encouraging self-forgiveness. But what I feel helped me the most was to journal about my feelings, and to talk it out with a friend. I came to realize that suicide happens to every kind of person, in every culture, and mental health professionals are not immune. Today I am not hiding behind the stigma of mental illness anymore, and encourage everyone who has a mental illness to get comfortable talking about it. The more we share our own stories of our challenges and how we are coping and living successfully with these issues, the less societal stigma there will be.

Your memoir, Once the Storm Is Over: From Grieving to Healing after the Suicide of My Daughter, chronicles the lessons you learned during your grief and healing. Could you share briefly about your own healing and how it came about over time?

Key to emotional healing are the words “over time.” You’ve heard the saying, time heals all wounds. That’s true, but only if you express your pain and grief. Keeping the pain of trauma and loss too close to our chest can kill our spirits and hope for the future. Only when we give ourselves permission to be human–to make mistakes, and to see failure as part of the human growth cycle will we accept that we are not perfect, and in fact we are coded for error; making mistakes is part of how we learn and grow. Healing happens when we are willing to externalize the grief by expressing it. Not pushing it away from us and denying it or avoiding it, but looking at it squarely, facing it and saying: I am not perfect, but I did the best I knew to do at the time, and because of that, I deserve a little grace. Healing comes when we allow ourselves to stop running from the pain and to feel our real feelings.

Lastly, talk to us about writing your book and if you can, share with us any launch details.

This book was unintentional, meaning I didn’t write with the intention of sharing my story. It was my Psychologist who suggested I journal about my feelings, and get the grief on paper. To my surprise, I found that although it was difficult seeing my life and problems on paper, it was also miraculously transformative. The more I wrote the more I wanted to write, because it was like a salve that I could apply to the wound any time I wanted. Writing about my feelings was the biggest healing factor for me, because it’s difficult to deny what you’re feeling and thinking when it’s coming straight out of your pen! Journaling was like holding up a mirror in which I could see myself clearly, and that clarity really helped put things into perspective. My journal became this book where readers will be taking this journey through grief with me.

Once The Storm Is Over publishes February 2015 and you can find it on the book website, www.oncethestormisover.com and on Amazon.

Again, Nina, thank you for sharing your words and thoughts with us today.

Learn More About Nina:

Nina Bingham, Cht, AA, BA

Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, American Pacific University, HI

Associates of Arts in Psychology, Santa Rosa Junior College, CA

Bachelors of Arts in Applied Psychology, City University of Seattle, WA

Masters of Science of Mental Health Counseling Academic Program Completed-Capella University, MN

Nina Bingham is an Author, Life Coach, and Clinical Hypnotherapist. Inspiring, sincere and whole-hearted, she educates not only from her academic knowledge, but shares from her own hard-won life experience in a new and profound way. In private practice since 2003, she has treated individuals and couples with a wide variety of mental health issues. She is the author of 3 books of poetry and one recovery workbook, Never Enough. Her fifth book, “Once The Storm Is Over: From Grieving to Healing After The Suicide of My Daughter,” is due out in February 2015. It’s the autobiographical confession of a counselor who lost her teen daughter to suicide. What she learned about love and forgiveness changed her life forever. It will change yours, too.

Connect with Nina here:

createyourlife.nina@gmail.com

www.oncethestormisover.com

www.ninabingham.blogspot.com

www.amazon.com/author/ninabingham

www.twitter.com/liv_enlightened

www.linkedin.com/in/livingenlightened

Self and Soul: On Creating a Meaningful Life by Lorraine Ash | A Review

Are you living a life of quiet desperation? Questioning what it means to succeed? Wondering if your efforts matter? In this uplifting memoir, Lorraine Ash uses her own life experiences to explore inner landscapes where the seeds of divine healing and insight reside. These are the landscapes on which we create our own meaning and find the resiliency to thrive in a changing and challenging world.

(Image and synopsis via Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

Lorraine Ash shares courageously the story of her greatest loss: the stillbirth of her daughter, Victoria. I cannot begin to know what a loss, such as losing a child before life is breathed into it, does to one’s soul.

A beautifully written memoir takes us along with its author to explore the search for meaning after a loss of this proportion.

As I traveled along learning more about Lorraine’s journey, I began to realize there were still hurts and pains within me from childhood abuses. While combing through her words, I began to realize what I could do with those old abuses and scars.

One particular quote sticks in my mind and heart and will stay with me:

Some people scream out our insignificance … but it is we who choose to believe it.

These words jumped from the screen of my Kindle and into my being with such force it was as if they belonged to me all along. After rereading them a few times, I realized Lorraine’s words had given me permission to toss aside all the hurtful words flung at me as a child. A very freeing experience! (Thank you, Lorraine.)

As I continued to read, I felt as if Lorraine was a friend, a sister, a mentor of sorts. Life never gave her the gift of motherhood, but I see in her memoir that the qualities of mothering are within her and her nurturing reaches into the world via her words and her skillful usage of them.

Wherever you are, whatever your circumstances and/or your pain, reading Self and Soul will bring you inner peace, a new outlook on life, and perhaps even a moment of healing energy which allows you to move on with embracing life as it transforms with each new experience. to be.

I highly recommend Lorraine’s memoir to anyone interested in memoir, coping and healing following loss, and transforming life into a rich and bountiful experience.

DISCLAIMER: I received a copy of this book from WOW! Women on Writingas part of Lorraine’s book tour in exchange for a fair and honest review. The opinions expressed are solely my own.

Meet the Author:

Lorraine Ash, MA, is the author of “Self and Soul: On Creating a Meaningful Life” (Cape House Books, 2012) and “Life Touches Life: A Mother’s Story of Stillbirth and Healing” (NewSage Press, 2004). Both are spiritual memoirs, an old but evolving genre she believes in as a catalyst for personal healing and transformation and social change.

“We each were born as a character into a large family and cultural story,” she said, “and not always in the roles we would have chosen for ourselves. Then fate takes us in unexpected directions. Writing spiritual memoir is a way to weave our outer and inner lives to create meaning and trace and direct our evolving identities over time, including that timeless core in each of us called the soul.”

What does all that have to do with social change? Nothing helps the human race see and understand itself more than such honest witnessing in every corner of the human experience. There is no taboo territory in autobiographical writing, which the author William Dean Howells once called “the most democratic province in the republic of letters.”

In her workshops and writing retreats Lorraine fuses rigorous literary techniques with a wide range of spiritual and philosophical thought. Participants learn to find their strongest writing voice, structure their stories in compelling ways, and see their lives from surprising and useful new angles. All these goals are achieved in an informal backdrop of serenity and relaxation. Why? Because gracious contemplation is a friend to creativity. The ultimate achievement always is for the writer to lead herself, and her readers, to some spiritual truth.

Connect with Lorraine here:

Website/blog: www.LorraineAsh.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LorraineAshAuthor

Twitter: @LorraineVAsh

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/lorraine-ash/45/77/650

Book Details:
Publisher: Cape House Books
Published: October 20, 2012
Paperback and e-book available
ISBN-10: 1939129001
ISBN-13: 978-1939129000

Where to buy Self and Soul:

Paperback edition from CreateSpace (Publisher’s fulfillment partner—the fastest and most author-friendly way to buy!)

Paperback and Kindle from Amazon.com

Buy iBooks edition from iTunes

Buy Nook edition from Barnes&Noble

Buy Kobo edition

Also available for other popular ebook readers, or through your favorite bookstore! Audiobook edition coming August 15, 2014 at Audible.com, Amazon.com, and the iTunes store.

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