Today's Activities and Introspection

Today, I spent a few hours out in the sun. Spring is really finally here! While this spring is different than other springs here, I have become determined to press forward and not just let everything at home go because I feel jumbled and scared and just hesitant to do anything- I wish I was more hesitant in my thoughts... they just seem to go everywhere and I am having a hard time keeping them upbeat these days.

So, when I was able to this morning, I headed outside. I stood for a few minutes with my eyes closed and just enjoyed the sun... feeling the rays and the warmth and the slight breeze. Then I took a deep breath and got to work. Instead of gardening this year and trying to full scale farm I figure that I should just try to clean things up and try really hard to get the property ready for next year and if I am lucky, I will be able to work it next year. So to start, I brought Casey out so that he could keep me company and eat the fresh growing grass and clover. He seemed to have a great time and was quite round in the belly a few hours later when I returned him to his yard. And while he ate I chattered at him, prayed out loud and filled small bags with whatever detritus I could find. I filled boxes with kindling, pulled up and moved stock paneling from the tightly woven grass holding it to the ground. I shuffled my feet through the long grass and filled a few bags with fence parts that I couldn't see but I could feel with my bare feet. It wasn't much and only a few hours of work... and I should have been doing school work. Then I left and mowed a few lawns for some elderly people who can't do it for themselves and had a friend spoil me and take me out to dinner. But I found a few things in my mind while I was working in my yard that were interesting revelations to me.

One was the sorrow of picking up the miscellaneous debris- I was surprised to feel myself crying. I finished what I accomplished with a sense of a job well done, but while I was doing it I thought of so many things. Things like my dreams are like all of the detritus laying on the ground- all broken and shattered and I feel like I am losing everything. I feel like no matter how good I have been or how much I have tried it is all useless... and all that's left is to pick up the pieces that are left and throw them away. I am not even sure that I will still have left which is me is really worth much anymore. Everything feels too broken, the nightmares are driving me mad, and I will admit that when you realize that you are just starting to ignore the chest pain because it is coming so constantly and consistently... I think that is a problem. I wonder if there are some hurts that just go too deeply to heal. And yet, I felt satisfied and relatively happy as for a few hours I held the world an arm's length away and picked up trash and just thought about things. I thought about fence building and how to survive through this next year. I was even silly enough to imagine having myself in enough shape that I gardened next year, and raised a pig or two and got a companion for Casey would would really like one.

I also thought about how alone I feel and my desire to hide from almost anything and anyone these days- friend or foe. I think it is safe to say that this confusion and depression that seems to have settled into my soul will walk many more miles with me... I have no idea how to shake it off. I have even stopped going to counseling- it just doesn't seem very worthwhile. It feels almost like I am surrounded by dementors and I want to fight them and make them go away, but I have no wand... I am no wizard... and I am too weary to even try and conjure up the words of the spell. And yet... I am blessed. I have many friends and family who care and worry for me. I think people would do more if I let them, but instead I hide and pretend that everything is OK to almost anyone and I don't talk about these things to almost anyone. I wonder who I think I am kidding... I know that someday I will feel better- at least I hope I do. These last few years have been pretty horrible. I am working to think good thoughts and read my scriptures because I do not think that Heavenly Father has abandoned me and in many ways, I am sorry for the sorrow that he is feeling over this situation. I know he is looking after me in my trials.

So I am headed to bed after this long day. My head is full, my heart is heavy and the feeling of peace I had earlier is gone. And to add a funny note to the day, I burned my back something terrible from my time outside. (A good lesson for people like me who are OK with being immodest when no one is watching... if I had been wearing a shirt I wouldn't have had that problem.) But I think the time that I spend outside, working and thinking and really being introspective was well spent. So many of my earthy brothers and sisters share the same trial in their future (or their past) as I struggle to face now. I hope that I will be successful in enduring and doing what my Father would have me do. And on a short term note... I hope I sleep tonight! :)


History of a Song: May - "Reverently and Meekly Now"

The words for this hymn were written by Joseph L. Townsend (1849-1942) and the music was written by Ebeneezer Beesley (1840-1906) The text for this hymn was written in 1891 and in 1986 the journal of the Hymn Society of America praised this hymn for its 'special poignancy'.

Joseph Townsend was born in Pennsylvania in 1849, but traveled a bit when he was younger and ended up growing up in Ohio, Kansas and Missouri. He attended the University of Missouri and later moved to Utah to try and improve his health and well being. In 1872, he converted the the LDS church and later served a mission for this church. He was a principal of Payson High school in Utah and taught at Brigham Young Academy in Provo. He has a total of ten hymns in the current LDS hymnal and he died in Payson Utah on April 1, 1942. His hymns and songs include 'Choose the Right' and his words and works have been quoted many times over the year by various general authorities including our current prophet Thomas S. Monson. Mr Townsend is also listed as one of the '75 Significant Mormon Poets' or 'Early Mormon Poets of Note'. (On a funny side note, I couldn't find a picture of this artist to display... but he does have his own Facebook page. :D )

Ebenezer Beesley was born in England in 1840. His family converted to the Mormon religion when he was quite young and he was baptized in September 1849. When he was an adult, he emigrated to Utah territory in the George Rowley handcart company with his family- they were in the eighth company and Mr Beesley was known to play his flute for the group when everyone was camped at night. They later moved to Salt Lake City and he served in many musical positions in his ward which included choir director and music director. Mr. Beesley was a contributor to the Juvenile Instructor magazine and was also one of the few who was appointed by the prophet John Taylor to oversee the publication of the first LDS hymnbook which included music- there is a picture online of the artist with this prophet that the LDS church has in its archives. In 1880, he became the director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and was with the choir when they made their first trip to perform out of Salt Lake City. Eleven hymns in the current LDS hymnal contain music written by this author. He was known to play the violin and a picture of him and his violin was published in the book “The Mission”.

One unusual aspect of this song is that the lyrics speak from the Savior's point of view and not from a third person position. This aspect of the song helps to make the hymn more personal as we sing it and hear the pleading of our Savior in the words that we echo around us. Another aspect about this hymn that is not common in most hymns is that this particular song has whole verses that are song by only one gender. Whole verses and words attributed to the Savior are sung only by female voices. In that sense, this is one hymn that gives women in the LDS church a voice during Sacrament. All of the rest of the ordinance is presided over by priesthood holders alone... but in this hymn and a few others that are usually used for the sacrament portion of the meeting women have a part all their own that is important and beautiful in its own right. And if you think about it, this way of singing in church is not only unusual, but seems to be almost entirely restricted to sacrament hymns. In my mind, this gives women a power of their own to bless the sacrament in their own way in this important and necessary function of our meetings and our salvation. (That said, in many congregations, men do sing the female only parts making this thought sort of a mute point... and not all women are sopranos so it could be argued that even some women are left out of this 'blessing'. :)

This hymn is currently #185 in the LDS hymnal. It is a favorite of many members and has been performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as well as numerous other artists. I researched this hymn because it is a favorite of my cousin Lance. What does this song mean to you? Please share.



... was a great day. What I tried to do was slip a little bit of fun into my day in between the internships, the job applications, the cleaning and the work and here is some of the fun I found.

I took Casey out of his yard and brought him to a huge patch of clover... I was unable to get a good picture of him as he is too busy eating! :) I spent a few hours talking with him and doing some yard work and giving him the time to get his fill of fresh stuff. I felt like I could almost see him smile. It was wonderful!

While I was cleaning up outside I lifted some boxes off the ground and I recognized the slender tail or a newt (or a salamander- I'm not sure which and I am happy for suggestions. :) So being the nosy and curious and just plain adoring of 'almost any animal or amphibian I can get my hands on' person, I had to say hello and hold him and feel him warm up in my hand. Every year when I see these lizards I am struck by their color and beauty. And they look so fragile and graceful at the same time. They are really a treat to see.

And then for the first time I went to look at the goslings that just hatched. The parents and their young ones were safely in their house and did not appreciate my bothering them... and pictures were VERY hard to get. Luckily, my geese are more bark than bite and while I was a little deaf for a few minutes after I left the house.... it was worth it! :) We let them out of the house today to eat grass and Teddy (the pooch) has been so cute as he wants to play with them very much and whines when the adults (Sir John and Mistress Ford) chase him away. It is quite funny.

Lastly, before I re-entered the world of work away from home... I took Casey into his yard and gave him a good brushing. I think that I could produce a whole new donkey out of the amount of winter hair i puled off. He still needs a few more times with the brush but I think he had a great time and I sure did as well. It was lovely to see the hair blowing in the breeze and to just feel useful and so in touch with the farm again. I will have to see how much my life changes over the next few years...

It was just a nice, joyous, calm interlude in my busy crazy life and I really wish and hope that I can do it again some time. It was a blessing and a boon to my mental state and mood that I needed and just felt wonderful and worthy and honest. :)


Fear and Trust....

I am not even sure where to start with my thoughts this evening. If I was a better writer I could have a punchy beginning and all sorts of neat stuff like that, but I don't think that I am capable of that. I think that I have a lot of learning to go... on so many levels.

Over the last few months, I think that I have really tried to figure a few things out in my mind. I will not pretend that I have any answers even though I swear I have been trying in the ways that I can to discover the answers that I seek and for the most part I have simply felt more alone and scared and even a little frustrated and impulsive to a point that controlling myself has taken every molecule of strength that I possess... and I am not sure that I have the energy to fight any more. I think that some of this is the gluten talking- the pain, discomfort and sickness that comes with a gluten exposure tends to leave me weak and emotionally unstable as well as physically weak and broken. One slightly wrong step after a gluten exposure and my ankle can be twisted and hurt for hours or too much movement can cause nausea, vomiting and all sorts of uncomfortable problems including vertigo. But I can't blame all of my current feelings on a gluten exposure- I have been feeling many of them for a while now. I think that the two biggest problems that I am feeling now are do to an imbalance of mental and physical homeostasis. I am feeling way too much fear and my level of trust towards almost any human being is pretty non existent at the moment.

In so many ways I am being unfair. I am feeling a lack of trust towards everyone even though I can rationally tell myself that most individuals have done nothing to earn my concern and my fear. And I feel my fear in my dreams and it always seems like fear is lurking quietly behind my eyes, my thought and everywhere I go. Even the fact that I realize I am so fearful scares me – what an irony. ; ) I have always prided myself that I try to be so understanding and tolerant of others. I feel like I easily love and give to others, but I recognize that I cannot give true love if I am full of fear nor can I receive it. And it will be impossible for me to trust anyone if I cannot stop feeling so much fear. I recognize that one struggle I am having is that I no longer trust Heavenly Father completely. Nothing that is happening in my life right now is his fault, but I almost feel that opening myself up to him is too open. I feel like closing myself off from everyone and everything is the only way to try and avoid more pain and I just don't feel like I can take any more. The funny thing is that I think the pain will get worse if I do not find a way to force myself out of the figurative plastic wall I am building around myself, my mind and my heart- even though the wall feels a little like sanctuary. A scripture that I read today really has been sticking in my mind and my thoughts over the afternoon:

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)

I so desperately do not want to feel fear anymore... or at least not as powerfully and constantly as I do. And I want to trust people again- especially people who are worthy of trust and there are many. It's funny that I feel so alone, but surrounded by so many who want to help and they can't … because I have shut them out. The scripture is right as I can tell you- fear is torment; a punishment that I would like to stop heaping onto my head and my spirit. However, I don't know how to let the fear go. As much as I hate it and wish for it to be gone, I feel myself holding it close... almost like Gollum feverishly struggling to hold and almost worship his 'precious' and his own downfall. Fear in some ways is the only emotion I trust anymore. Will it pull me do to the depths of despair and hell? That I do not know... only time will tell. I pray that I find a way to move past my fear and my distrust before it consumes me. I pray for the ability to keep fighting even when I feel to weary to do so any more. I think of another verse from John and wonder if it might be a part of my answer. I hope so. It is a nice answer. :)

No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:12)


Systolic Fluctuation...

Well, the good news is that when I went to the doctor today my blood pressure had improved from last week's low of 82/52. We are not ready to cheer though because 90/58 isn't that much better... but at least my orthostatic hypertension is improving. And being a silly person, I must have gotten a gluten exposure sometime in the last twenty four hours because I am really feeling the effects. I can't for the life of my figure out what I ate so I am guessing that I was 'infected' working at the food pantry yesterday. So I am feeling really good about the systolic improvement, but I probably didn't help my heart much with the pain meds that I took to control the celiac pain this evening. It still sometimes surprises me how much it hurts and how easily I can be exposed to the gluten protein. It is so clear that the only way I was exposed was by working in an area with people eating gluten and microwaving it and touching me- that is such a frightening concept. I am not sure I will ever get used to it. It feels almost like I am a leper... in the sense that anyone who gets near me can hurt me without even meaning to. Celiac disease definitely doesn't improve my social life in the slightest and I find myself saying no to so much. So far this week I have declined an invitation for a baptism as well as a graduation party. It's just not work the risk.

I have managed to actually eat breakfast for six days in a row now and I am going to give it my best shot to do it tomorrow even though I am not sure I will feel up to it. I know that these occasional exposures are one of the things that keeps me from having consistent healthy eating habits... or at least consistently not eating. In some ways I wonder if I am anorexic without the psychological aspect. I am aware I am too thin, I don't like it, but I almost feel powerless some days to change it when I am facing nausea, difficulty finding food, lack of time, etc... The pain is so bad when I do get an exposure that it is so much easier to refuse food than risk the chance of exposure and since food is not easy, it just makes it harder when my life is in upheaval.

But hey, I am grateful that my blood pressure is improving! I am getting ready to have a weekend where I spend time taking care of a friend's farm which I am excited about... and try to get a ton of schoolwork done... which I am also excited about! The opportunity to play with goats, a large flock of chickens and lots of dogs sounds like quite a treat.. or at least I will do my best. I promise I will also eat a lot. So here is to a good... and hopefully... productive weekend! :)


In the Blink of an Eye...

A totally scary thing happened this afternoon. My husband had taken Bug up to town to do laundry and to take his service dog to the veterinarian. Everything went pretty well until at one point Bug's impulsiveness managed to override his rational thought and Bug jumped out of the car and ran across a busy parking lot towards the street. We are lucky as he was unhurt and was stopped by someone who recognized and 'caught' him. But that was seriously a close call.

Bug's tendency to run really seems to stem from his sensory problems. From the moment he could walk, he would run. (After all why walk anywhere when you could get there faster.) When he was around 3-5 years old, he could literally run for hours and I was a very fit individual then... exhausted, but fit. :) I remember one experience vividly in my mind when I was struck by the realization that my son's sensory needs were so high and severe. As a family, we were hiking in a park up a steep hill with a very strong wind that seemed to push us back down the hill. My husband and I would turn our faces and our bodies so that the wind didn't strike us directly and other hikers would do the same... Bug would face squarely into the wind and laugh as it pushed and pressed at him. His long curly hair flying straight back along with the ends of his jacket whipping in the breeze... and he was clearly not only enjoying the sensation but craving and needing it. I felt like he was trying to embrace the wind. The joy and satisfaction and almost ecstasy on his face was breathtaking to see. (And a good lesson on adversity as well.)

In some ways that period of time was easier as my husband and myself were always on the alert ready to run, stop, or tackle him. His impulsiveness and inexplicable running have faded with time as his sensory needs have become more controllable and integrated into his nervous system. And in some ways that has added more danger as we rarely have two people on top of him constantly and we as parents are no longer constantly on high alert- which is probably healthier for us... but not for Bug. It only takes a moment for the potential for life to change in ways that we do not want. One blink could be one blink too many.

Of all the blessings that I count at the end of my day, I am so grateful for the opportunity to spent the evening with my son- still safe and whole. I am grateful for a husband who does try so hard and is a great person and my friend. I am thankful to go to sleep with my family still intact and well. I am so grateful that my son really does seem to be well on the way to conquering his sensory disorder... maybe someday I can work on conquering mine. There are so many things to be grateful for. I am truly blessed.


Orthostatic Highs

I have never understood why people would take drugs/ alcohol for a momentary high. There are so many natural ways to find a high. (I will admit that I do not know how similar the 'highs' are) Good exercise will create that high and give you other health benefits as well. The joys of service can give me a high that can last a few hours. Being able to help someone and seeing the joy in their face and posture or even the gratitude and relief is a marvelous experience. I won't pretend that I am getting enough good exercise and I am struggling with my volunteering lately, but a few times a week I have an experience which will give me a high for about a full minute. I am totally having orthostatic problems these days.

For those who are not sure what I am talking about, our bodies can experience sudden blood pressure changes based on movement- usually with the blood pressure falling several points. And this is the experience that I am really starting to discover. It's actually an amazing experience. The longest 'spell' that I have had happened to me this morning, although I will admit that these spells are happening several times a week. This morning, I woke up and stood up from my blankets and, within a moment, my head was spinning. I couldn't see anything but a vision of almost gray sparkly glitter as seen through a kaleidoscope and my knees buckled and I collapsed back onto the bed. Thought becomes extremely difficult and my hearing is impaired. I sensed the dismay of the cats and I felt Jeeves climb up onto my chest as Achilles begin to poke his nose in my face, but I couldn't actually see them or really hear them if they were making noise. I just end up lying there feeling an immense rush of almost peace and slight joy. One of the few thoughts that can seem to get through is a feeling of almost relief and that I wouldn't mind if the feeling stayed longer- although a minute is usually the maximum that it lasts. Today as I started to move my head and attempt to sit up I had a strange thought- “If this is dying, it really isn't so bad.” The thought was a little scary but also made me smile. I am learning so much in this life and I know that my life is in the Father's hands. I must try to care for my body and pray to know His will. I must also learn more trust, even in this period of my life where all trust is difficult. Trust towards the Father and what his plans are for me, trust in friends, and trust in myself.

There are so many that do so much and harm themselves in so many ways to find ways to numb their sorrow, to care for the mental health problems that they face. Some are running from past experiences and some know of no other life. The adversity that many experience in this life can be so much that I marvel that I experience so much less than they. I marvel that they struggle on and do their best... and know that my best wouldn't be as good as their actions on a daily basis. My heart problems are holding steady and these orthostatic problems serve to remind me of the blessings that I have and to help me to feel if only for a few moments the sensations of peace and relief. There are really much worse challenges in life. And a few moments of forced mindfulness... to just lay there and feel myself and my physical presence... I will admit, I do find these things to be a small blessing indeed.


The Joy of Ducks.....

Yesterday, I found a beautiful duck feather in my yard. Even though I have ducks, I rarely see beautiful feathers. When they molt the feathers are tired and worn and the beautiful feathers tend to easily be blown away. But yesterday, I found a beautiful one just as it dropped off my Khaki Campbell named Opal.

There is just an innate beauty in feathers to me. They are soft, smell nice and feel 'warm'. There is something earthy and wonderful about them – I sometimes feel like I can feel the sun radiating out from the light fibers. I do not know if I feel that way because I just love ducks in general or if feathers themselves bring these thoughts to mind. I will admit that I am totally partial to birds, but ducks are really amazing to me. I can feel my heart lift as I watch them waddle across the yard and ducks have the most amazing personalities. Don't get me wrong, other birds have personalities and we have had some chickens whose personality sparkles.... but almost all ducks I have ever had the privilege of sharing space with just seem to bubble and shine and I guess remind me of my own personality.

The find of loose feathers reminds me that spring is here. That the earth is ready to grow and this is a time of growth for me too. What I do now and the choices I make will effect my 'harvest' in the fall. Have I been successful or on the way to successful with the goals I made in January? Am I preparing myself appropriately for the choices that I have? In the end, as I watch my ducks rejoice in my yard for the earth's renewal, they are teaching me. They remind me that trouble should fall off of me like water falls off a duck's back.... that humor is necessary for so many situations in life and makes things easier... and that the interactions with the creatures of the earth may be some of the most fulfilling interactions outside of family. Their enthusiasm for life and joy in the present moment are examples that I think many human beings- including myself- need reminding of on a constant basis.

This is a very snotty thought, but I feel very sorry for people who do not have the opportunity to be 'enslaved' by ducks. It is a wonderful blessing in my life! :)


I Can Not Celebrate Death.

I have felt a little conflicted over the 'good' news of the death of Osama Bin Laden a few days ago. News reports and videos show people celebrating and in a general state of happiness as well as the usual comments that 'he is in hell', etc... I will admit that my first emotion was simply sorrow and relief. I get the impression that these emotions are quite unusual in this circumstance. Yes, I was relieved that he can no longer do a lot of damage or some of the horrible things that he has done. But I was sad for a few reasons. First of all, I find it fairly hard to celebrate any death... In fact, is there ever any reason to celebrate death? Everyone of us is Heavenly Father's child and while we may not always agree with them or even intensely dislike what they do, they are still a child of the Father. The Father grieves for our actions and this man's actions just as we do. I guess I also see his death not as a just punishment for his actions, but as an 'easy way out' and a mistake.... for now he is a martyr. I am not a history expert, but I have certainly gotten the impression that making martyrs of people rarely hurts the individual's cause. As a Mormon, I am reminded quite often in church about the martyrdom of the prophet Joseph Smith and through readings it has become evident that his killers were attempting to end the existence of the 'Mormon' church... well, that didn't really work, did it? And Osama's death certainly seems like a good recruiting tool for his organization. Whereas putting him in prison would have stopped some of his work and brought him back in the eyes of many to the stature of a human being... which in the end is what he is. He is not a monster or a demon... he is a child of God.

I also feel for his family and his friends who are now grieving. Grief is grief, and for those who died on September 11, 2001 their families still grieve and many are consoled that their relatives were wonderful people. The friends and family of Bin Laden probably feel some conflict in their feelings. No matter how we feel about Osama Bin Laden actions, beliefs, etc... he truly lived his beliefs. How many of us truly live our beliefs... even when they are unpopular? In the end, his actions have caused the death of thousands... many who are not named when we look at the wars that have begun. And we have vowed to hunt him down and have done so and taken away his life. I guess I cannot help but think of the line that we tell our children when someone hurts them.

'Two wrongs don't make a right'

It seems too bad that we do not always follow our own advice. I truly hope that his death brings some peace and closure to other people, but I cannot feel joy or exhilaration at this event. It feels like a symptom of society's collective anger and not justice. It is simply another sad piece of the human tapestry that we weave.