COMFORT ZONE

 

 

 

 

 

By Lisa Huddleston

 

Balance is simple on a yoga mat

Edges are clearly defined

Fingers and toes can stretch without fear of stomping

And everyone respects anothers’ space

 

In other places a comfort zone is hard to reach

Each bubble is a different size

Angry elbows crowd in one spot

While it’s the knees that cramp in others

 

And still other spaces ebb and flow

Making it uber hard to be sure

Today’s fence may not hold tomorrow’s flock

It may not be tall enough or wide enough or strong enough to keep the little herd safe

 

So we do our best in the space of this day

Fingers and toes stretching against the comfortable edge

Elbows and knees colliding with other crowded joints

And goaty-heads butting the prickly safety of an expandable wire fence

 

Woody and Me

By Lisa Huddleston

A few of you have expressed a desire to hear about my experience with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) so here it is. Last Thursday was my final session of 65, and although I enjoyed my time with the staff at my psychiatrist’s office, I was glad to see it end. I am not a patient patient.

Let’s see … here are some of the questions I’ve been asked

What was it like? Well, it felt a lot like I would imagine having a woodpecker imagespeck on your head for 30-40 minutes, 5 days a week feels like. Okay, maybe not that bad, but I was startled by the experience especially for the first few days. My head was awkwardly strapped against a chair, and my eye on the side that was being stimulated ran tears down my face. The nerves that run from my left eye to my upper teeth on that side jumped with every jolt, and I was asked to play a video game called “Text Twist” throughout each session. It was uncomfortable, but definitely not unbearable, and I decided right away that it was better to do what was required without too much complaining–I just wanted to get the most benefit from it that I could. I would not be afraid to do it again.

Did it help? My answer at this point would have to be yes–but really not as I had hoped it would. Right before beginning TMS, I was struggling through a severe episode of depression. My energy level was extremely low:  I was spending most of my time sleeping either in bed or on the couch, Mom and Chuck had taken over all of the cooking, and I was pretty much just breathing in and out. Since TMS, my energy level is up. I am cooking dinner, cleaning house (as much as ever–wink, wink), going to yoga, weaving, and contemplating the arrival of two new pets–a couple of recently-born Toggenburg goats. So, yes, it helped. However, my attitude is still pretty negative. During the past several months to a year, I have withdrawn from many if not all of the limited involvement I still had with people. So now, I have more energy, but not any real sense of a direction in which to expend it. This time my “recovery” is not like dark clouds lifting to reveal a clear blue sky (the way I have described the end of a depressive episode in the past). Rather it is a physical invigoration without the sensation of a dramatic emotional “lift.” Hard to describe, but hopefully somewhat understandable.

Would you recommend TMS? Yes, I would. I am better off than I was (although not as dramatically as I’d hoped). I had little hope for improvement without it. None of the medications I’d tried were doing much good, and the side effects they brought with them were wearing me out. TMS has been a good thing for me.

How are you now? For nearly 7 weeks, I have had a daily 3-hour job to do: get up, get dressed, drive 50-60 minutes to the clinic, spend 40 mins with “Woody,” and drive 50-60 minutes back to the farm. TMS literally has been my whole life. Without it, I am at loose ends. I met with my counselor a couple of weeks ago, because I knew that I was going to feel like this when TMS ended. I had nothing waiting for me to do. She gave me this advice, “Follow your enthusiasms.” And that is what I’m trying intentionally to do–follow not lead. And life is going okay. There is still the hope of more progress over the next couple of weeks, but this may be it. I think I can live with that. I am not sure I could have before.

Thanks for asking.

COMMON GROUND

By Lisa Huddleston

Look!

Listen!

Have ears that are open

Have eyes that can see

The signs of the times

And the voices from our pasts

Are all around

 

Ancestors

Our very own

whom Mr. Trump would trump

whom Mr. Bannon would ban

Immigrants, slaves, and disenfranchised

Oppressors and oppressed

Our very own

Call and are calling to us from their graves

 

Remember the wars of the past

Of the present

The ways your people our people all people

Died and are dying for being in the wrong skin at the wrong time

 

Do you hear them

Can you see their faces

In the bleeding cities

In the mirror

From potato fields and

killing fields

From long journeys and

Trails of tears

How can we turn away from

Turn our backs on

Turn our faces from

Those who cry today

For help

For love

For justice

 

The signs of the times

Of all times

Of what has been and will be again

If it must be–let it not be

These signs are all around

 

With clear eyes and unstopped ears

Listen!

Look!

 

And act to stop the unstoppable

EVERY DAY IS A GIFT

By Lisa Huddleston

My favorite gifts!

My favorite gifts of 2016!

It’s been said that every day is a gift. And I do believe that’s true. But did you ever get a gift that didn’t fit or that you simply didn’t want? You’re sitting in the family circle around the tree and the youngest cousin is handing out the presents and you’re watching each present being opened and the receivers are smiling and thanking the givers and all you can think is, “Why the heck did I get this?” Of course, you paste on a smile and say thank you like all the others in the circle do, but inside you hurt a little. How can your own people not know you any better than to give you this? Do they really see you this way?

And then, of course, you wonder how many of your specially chosen gifts have been received with the same internal consternation. Did everyone like the gifts you gave them? Did they feel as though you did or did not know them? Ugh.

Gift-giving is hard. Gift-receiving can be even harder.

The past few weeks have been full of difficult days. Yes, they have been gifts, and I have received them, and there have been many I would have returned had they come with a receipt, but that’s not the way life works. We get the days chosen for us, and we learn to live with them. We find a place on a shelf or a table where they kind of work into the décor, and we manage to squeeze them into the tableaux of our lives.

Yesterday was a hard one to find an appropriate place for, but it will come to me eventually, and someday it will look just right on that shelf. Just not today.

This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it [even if we can’t be glad with it]. (Psalm 118:24)

 

 

SILENT NIGHT, HOLY NIGHT

By Lisa Huddleston

She sits one row ahead of me in the darkened Christmas Eve service
I notice how happily she points out two rows of visiting family when the pastor stops to exchange greetings
He kindly gives the required response, smiles, and moves on to shake another hand
She sits tall in her chair, graying curls cut close to her happy glowing face
Pride fills her eyes and her heart and she can’t seem to stop touching her grown daughters
A hug here, a gentle scratch there
She is so glad to be able to hold her granddaughter for as long as the little girl allows
All too soon the candles are blown out and the sweet gathering comes to an end
It is a holy night and I know this mother one row ahead will treasure it always in her heart

A POTHOLE IN THE ROAD

images-3By Lisa Huddleston

Yeah, I had that happen to me only it was much worse, because I was all alone. You’re so lucky to have help.

You just need to make yourself get out of the house more often.

Have you been going to yoga? You know, exercise makes you feel much better.

I read this great book all about how depression is a spiritual problem. I can loan you a copy.

If you suffer from clinical depression, chances are you have heard many statements like those above. People equate depression with laziness or sadness or lack of willpower. Depression is much more than that—it takes the energy from your life. You can’t read, you can’t create, you can’t clean, you can’t get ready to go out, you can’t carry on conversations, and sometimes you can’t even sleep. It isn’t situational, and there is little that a depressed person can do about it other than to depend upon mental health professionals and wait it out. But the waiting can feel impossible at times.

I called my doctor’s office the other evening, because the waiting had become just that. Because I have drug resistant depression very little has helped me when the dips in the road swallow me whole and without warning. I can’t help thinking about the “easy” ways out. (Again, that’s what peoppotholele call it.) So this time I called. And now my husband is home for the next couple of weeks at my doctor’s recommendation watching me and handling my medications and worrying about letting me out of his sight for too long. He knows I am smart and stubborn. I am sad for him and for me. I don’t like seeing him as my keeper or my adversary. I don’t like being treated as a child who cannot control her own medical care.

In January, hopefully as soon as possible, I will begin Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. My doc says it’s the gold standard, and he has seen great recoveries in other drug resistant patients.

Until then I’m stuck waiting and listening to well-meaning advice and faking it when I can. What do I want to hear from friends and family?

I’m really sorry you are feeling so rotten.

 Is there anything I can do to help?

 Sometimes just breathing is a good day.

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

By Lisa Huddleston

When I was a little girl I believed in the magic of Christmas. I believed the red light on the neighbor’s porch really was Rudolph’s nose. I believed that Santa really did know if I were naughty or nice and that he rewarded my behavior accordingly.

I took delight in the once a year showings of Charlie Brown and The Grinch and Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman. I wouldn’t miss them for anything! I loved lying on the carpeted floor in the dark in front of the tv cabinet eating popcorn and basking in the multi-colored glow of the real Christmas tree.

images

The church pageant on Christmas Eve was always the same but that only served to make it just right. The angels and shepherds and Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus, the brown paper bag with bon bons, nuts, and oranges that each of us kids received at the end of the service, and our handheld candles lighting the small sanctuary with mystery and expectation as we headed out into the cold Michigan night.

unknown

My grandmother sent a cardboard box full of Christmas cookies to our house every year—again always perfectly the same. Sour cream animal cut-outs with pastel icing and lebkuchen and pfeffernusse and springerle. Hopefully a visit from Gangi and Papaw, too, and my sisters and I loved jumping into their bed in the morning to wake them up and giggle together.

springerle

springerle

On Christmas morning the presents around the tree covered the entire floor of the room. I think I always got everything I’d asked for: Chatty Cathy, Nancy Drew books, new pajamas (always opened on Christmas Eve), clothes, bicycle, and more. My mother was a generous Santa Claus to say the least. Now I know how hard she worked to make that happen.

I was pretty young when I realized Santa was a myth. I remember asking my dad to confirm what I was almost confident of including the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy for good measure. Dad, ever painfully honest with me when I asked a question, told me the truth, but added that did not include Jesus and God. I thought “duh” since I had not included them in my list anyway, but I’m glad Dad tried there. He was not a religious man, and I remain impressed by his effort. I was angry with my parents for a time. I felt lied to and betrayed, but I got over it.

I swore not to handle Santa the same way with my children one day, but I did it anyway. They were not as angry with me when they discovered the truth, but I felt terrible.

Although a lot of the magic is gone and I struggle during this time of year, I continue to love the beautiful lights of the season. They add a magical glow to the ordinary spaces of life, and winter’s darkness really benefits from them. Lights shine brighter in the dark.

I wonder if the magic will still be there waiting for me when children are once again in our Christmas. Maybe their belief and wonder at it all will stir the embers of my soul and let the light shine in the darkness once again. Thankfully their parents will have to decide about Santa, but I will comply as always.

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Until then I am thankful for the joy that remains–both present, in my memories, and on into the future. Sparkling lights, opportunities to let people know you love them, and as Dad reminded me, the true story our myths celebrate, Immanuel, God With Us.

I pray you’ll have a merry, magical Christmas and keep your eyes open to the lights in the dark: Rudoph’s nose, twinkling trees, and a star of wonder in the winter sky.