Finding Peace in Times of Negativity

Many in Portland, including myself, feel we’re living in a dystopian world created by issues beyond our control.

We are attempting to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve watched the peaceful protests for Black Lives Matter escalate into all-out conflicts with federal troops who were not invited to our city. Then “grab and snatch” tactics by the uninvited and unidentified troops to control protesters by loading them into unmarked vehicles left citizens feeling unnerved. Our city is rid of the uninvited and unidentified troops.

All of us are entitled to support, compassion, and a just and equitable environment in which to live and raise our families. Government leaders and citizens of Portland are now in discussions to make support, compassion, and equity primary to all actions taken in Portland. 

However, behind the scenes, there are many suffering and struggling with depression and emotions out of control regarding all of these strange and unusual dilemmas we’re facing. I am one of them. And I know I’m not alone.

Many are writing blog posts and articles on the state of our mental health and how to relieve the stress of it all and ultimately find peace. 

I stumble around each day looking for something to do that interests me. My writing flounders. I write that with abundant kindness (it’s worse than floundering!). 

What can I do for someone else during these times? Write a note, make a call, send a text or email? Maybe. But somehow silence and solitude sound better. And I know that’s selfish on my part.

God gifts me with a new day every morning, and what do I do? After reading emails, I spend too much time on social media. Scrolling through my feed in search of something positive seems a waste of time these days. Then I am angry with myself for wasting a good part of His gift.

Finally, the other day I found something interesting and helpful. My friend, Robert McBride, posted something well worth reading. Robert provided his thoughts on an article appearing in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Mental Resilience Can Help You Through the Coronavirus Pandemic; Here’s How to Build It” by Andrea Petersen. Among his words, I found the following:

My idea is to think of my brain’s tendency toward negativity as something like a dog that’s a little wild but could be trained toward better behavior with consistent, loving effort. If I train myself to recognize pointless negative thoughts the moment they happen, like a dog lunging while on a leash, I can reflexively take control, since my hand is on the other end of that leash, right? I can control the dog if I just make the effort to do so. And I can curb my regativity the same way. I can put myself on a short leash and make the effort to train myself to think differently.

This makes a great deal of sense to me. If I sit down, plug into social media, and bombard myself with negative thoughts, my brain absorbs the negativity. The negativity will pull me down into the muck and mire of that news feed. Immediately on reading Robert’s words, I knew I wanted and needed to start building mental resilience and fight against negativity. I’m working on it.

The other way I’m working toward positivity vs. negativity is by making lists of things I need to work on. Today I made three lists: (1) administrative projects (I called it that when I was working; I still have similar tasks in retirement to keep us operating as a family), (2) personal interests (things I long to do, including writing), and (3) struggles (things I have difficulty facing, including writing).

From this, you can see that if I wanted to I could find a great deal to occupy my time. However, there is something inside me that bucks up against some of these things. It’s up to me to figure out how to balance all of this out while “walking the dog” and changing my mindset and my mental resilience.

For this reason, I’ll be on social media only minimally for awhile. I will continue to write here posting as it comes to me and seems worthy of your time.

John 14:27 states God’s promise. It should be sufficient in times like these.

 

 

The Three P’s — Pandemic, Protests, Problems

Pandemic

On Saturday, March 14th, our local news announced the governor had declared a state of emergency and we were faced with a pandemic. At our ages, it was suggested we “stay at home” and/or “shelter in place.” So began our isolation. 

It’s been four months since we assumed our place in the pandemic. Like good citizens, we’ve stayed at home with the exception of driving to our grocery store to pick up our grocery orders. Otherwise, church services, choir practices, committee meetings, doctor’s appointments have been held using Zoom. 

Oregon is now a part of the pandemic surge with daily numbers rising more than they did during the previous three months. Why won’t people wear masks? 

Needless to say, we’re growing a bit weary of the inability to mix with friends and family. Yet, we understand that what we do will help someone else be safe and healthy. The compassion shown for our neighbors is a good thing, something our world is quickly growing away from. After this pandemic is over, perhaps compassion will have taken a front seat again.

Protests

On May 25th, the national news announced the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN. The saddest part of that news is that George Floyd was murdered by a white police officer using his knee on Floyd’s neck to detain him. The officer’s knee was on Floyd’s neck for a total of eight minutes and 46 seconds, at which time Floyd expired.

It was no surprise when protests started the next day in Minneapolis. Protesters support those seeking justice for George Floyd and the wider #BlackLivesMatter movement. As of today, protests have been ongoing in many cities and towns in all 50 states and five permanently inhabited territories as well as 60 other countries. In my home state of Oregon, the protests have been continuous from May 26th through and including July 14th.

In most areas, the protests have been for the most part peaceful. There have, however, been some fringe groups taking advantage of the larger protests and creating riots that have included some police brutality, fires, looting, and property damages. 

Historically, we have witnessed similar demonstrations with respect to the systemic injustice and racism prevalent in our country. My hope is that this time perhaps we’ll get it right and those of us living with white privilege will grasp an understanding of what is needed to change the climate surrounding the issues raised by these our brothers and sisters. Many cities and states are discussing police reforms already.

Problems

Maybe things look somewhat different around here. And they are. You see, this is where the problems entered my life. Something happened with the theme I had been using for my site. The problems couldn’t be resolved. So, I went in search of something new. At every turn, there seemed to be a problem.

I began to think my laptop might be infected with a virus. Likely not COVID-19, but still. After a thorough virus scan by Norton, that was not the case. I kept digging. It felt like an archeologist must feel when on the BIG DIG.

Finally, success was found with this theme, and I went through all the motions to get my preferences and settings re-established. Not as big a crisis as the other two P’s, but a crisis inside my bubble nonetheless.

Lesson

The problem with my computer became a great distraction. There was no allowing in the daily news blurbs on the pandemic nor the situation in downtown Portland every afternoon and on into the morning hours of the next day.

I had a job to get done — my “business” had come crashing down and I had to find the cause and rebuild. Every minute of every day was needed to complete this unforgiving task. This showed me that the focus that I feel I have lost is still there. It must depend on what I’m attempting to shine my focus.

Next up, I need to sort out a way to shine my focus back on my writing.

Does anyone want to join me?

focus, darkness, light, Aristotle, quote
Attributed to Bliss Quotes

Featured Image Attributed to Sweet Pea Gardens