3 Ways I’m Learning to Manage My Mania

manic |ˈmanik|
adjective
• showing wild and apparently deranged excitement and energy
• frenetically busy; frantic
• Psychiatry relating to or affected by mania
colorBeing manic is one color of my crazy. The onset is sudden and usually follows a series of events (bad or good) that require emotional processing. As I’ve mentioned before, food followed by purging has been my way of coping with seemingly overwhelming circumstances. I’m grateful to say that, though the struggle is persistent, I am learning other ways to deal. If bulimia and restricting calories is your vice of choice, I’m here to tell you, there are strategies that work better and longer than the momentary euphoria accompanying an eating disorder (or any self destructive behavior, for that matter).

Acknowledge It ~ It sounds simple, but it isn’t…always. In order to rectify anything we must first confront it. It’s best we do this before the one closest to us points it out. When I feel this wild energy bubbling up, I look at myself in the mirror and call it out. It usually sounds something like this, “Hey, crazy. Slow down. Take a step back. Wait to make any decisions until this chaos has calmed.” If Chris is the one pointing it out to me, for some reason, it is not well received.

Seek Wise Counsel ~ I have 3 advisers in my life. This week, I sought the direction of my spiritual adviser and counselor. I literally walked into her office blurting out the craziness swarming around in my brain. She listened and responded in a constructive and applicable way. The willingness to reach out and express my thoughts and compulsive behavior with someone who knows me and loves me anyway, is crucial to my wellness. Without it, keeping a clear and healthy approach to life is impossible.

Find a Quiet Space ~ I’ve said this before…when I need to “retreat” I sit on the floor of my closet with the door closed. It seems to be the only place I find stillness. There are times when I am in desperate need of divine direction and I can’t hear that direction if I don’t physically remove myself from all of the noise bombarding me every moment of every day. I close my eyes and breathe in a deep cleansing breath. As I slowly let it out, I envision myself physically exhaling the frantic and again, inhaling calm. This is surprisingly helpful. Just the mental image of the action, puts me at ease.
RetreatFor those of you reading and nodding your head, “Yep. That’s me. Uh huh. Me too! How’d she know that?!” I hope this is a source of encouragement and hope for you. We all have our experience. What good is it if we’re not sharing it to help others face challenges and overcome adversity? There is so much power in being able to relate to another human being. In doing so we’re saying, “You’re not alone. I get it.”

Does this resonate somewhere with you? Maybe you thought of someone you know? Talk to me. Tell me what you’re thinking.

Baby Asher

Many of you have asked me the story behind the cover picture on my Facebook page. I want to tell you. I want you to know who Asher is. Honestly I haven’t had the words to adequately describe the experience.

So, I wrote him a letter in hopes to honor Lindsey and let her son know what a remarkable mother he has.

Today marks one week since baby Asher was born. He lived outside the womb for 24 hours. In that time, he was adored by all who were fortunate enough to meet him. No one treasured him more than his mother, Lindsey. I will never forget following her hand through the lens of my camera as she gently ran her finger along the contours of his little frame. She didn’t miss a single detail. She made sure she knew every line in his palm and wrinkle in his foot. She breathed in the smell of his skin. She delicately touched his head, feeling his baby soft hair beneath her finger tips. She memorized his face. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

I am one of the fortunate few who met this special child and told him how precious he was. I will not go into details about the time I witnessed of Asher’s life on this earth. It’s not my story to tell. When Lindsey is ready, she will tell it and eventually I will write more of this little one who left such a huge imprint on my heart.

Asher Knox MartindaleDear Asher,

One week ago, today, we were all anxiously awaiting your arrival. I had met your mom and dad only the day before, but this experience would bond us for a lifetime.

From the moment you came into this world, you were adored. Your mama had a head start on the rest of us. She had been feeling your kicks and movements in her belly for months. You were her constant companion. She loved you long before seeing you.

I had the privilege of capturing your daddy’s face the first time he saw you. He loves you so much, precious boy. It’s such a difficult thing for a dad to watch his child struggle, knowing he cannot step in and save the day. Because he would have, darling. He would have traded places with you in a moment. You could see it all over his face.

Here is what I want you to know, little one. Your mom is so brave. Her courage is more than admirable. She has fought for you from the very beginning. She knew that medical facts showed little chance you would survive. She heard the doctor’s words and knew the odds that were stacked against you. She also knew that she would carry you, in her belly, as long as she could. She would give you life and if only for a moment, hold you in her arms, sheltering you from the coldness of this world, whispering lullaby’s in your ear.

I was witness to incredible love, sweet Asher. Your mama loves you extravagantly.

She wants all who know her, and those who don’t, to hear your story and know your name. You were a little champion. I am so, so grateful to have met you. You were wonderfully made and your life has great purpose.

Your mommy and daddy miss you, darling. There are so many tears. There are also beautiful memories of a day filled with…you. Your life. Your story. Your purpose.

Your legacy will continue. Your name will be spoken in many circles. Your memory will outlive us all. Those who know your mom are forever changed by her courage, faith and unconditional love.

You are beautiful. You are loved. You are chosen. Now may you rest in the arms of the Savior who spoke life into being. You are safe. You are well. You are home.

Love and Light,
Joy
(the girl behind the lens)

Five Minute Friday: Rest

RestAhhhhh. I take a deep breath in and slowly exhale preparing for a few tranquil moments of meditation. Rest.

Last night a beautiful young friend and I were discussing this very thing. I watched as tears ran down her checks and onto her blouse. She wiped them away with the sleeve of her sweater while saying, almost in a whisper, “I just don’t feel as close to God and I’m not sure how to get back.”

One thing I’ve learned in my years of running is that when I feel distance it is not He who creates it. It is I.

For me, I can’t always reconnect without meeting Him under the circumstances of rest. Being still. Opening my hands to the heavens. “Here I am, Lord. I just want to sit here a while…in your presence…where restoration can be found.”

Exodus 14:14 says, “The Lord will fight for you. You need only to be still.” Why is being still so difficult?

I looked into the eyes of this remarkable young woman who, though just out of her teens, has played the role of mother, provider, protector and spiritual leader for her siblings since a very young age and therefore doesn’t know what it feels like or even how to be still.

I encouraged her to open emptied hands to the heavens, fully expectant of the blessings He would flood down, filling not only her hands, but her heart, mind and body. Pour out her cares to the God who formed every detail of her being in the womb of the mother who would leave her soon after. Allow someone else to bear her burden. Even if only for a while. Renouncing the illusion of control.

 Surrender, to me, is the epitome of rest.

Do you find time for rest? Is it difficult to be still? Join Lisa-Jo and a community of participants over at Five Minute Friday and tell us your story.

This Day

Pure JoySome days just flow.
The kids don’t whine when waked up for school.
Breakfast is on the table when they come down with sleepy eyes and bed head.
They change into their clothes without being asked.
Lunches are packed.
Clean socks are waiting by shoes.
Jackets are on.
And they’re off for another day of learning and growing.
Walking out into a day paved with faith as we release them into the impeccable care of their Heavenly Father.
The house is quiet now.
The hum of the dryer is all that is heard.
The sun peeks through the clouds as snowflakes fall, quickly melting on impact.
The house is warm.
Smells of coffee and burnt cinnamon fill the air, rising to the ceiling.
It’s another day. Filled with endless possibilities. More than can be embraced.
My lips curve into a smile with teeth.
So this is grace.
This is the undeserved and grossly underrated exuberance of God.
This is the beauty of second chances.
This is light and hope. Blessings and goodness all swirled into normal.
May I remember this moment on the not so smooth days when the children whine from dawn to dusk and the pantry isn’t stocked from my lack of grocery shopping.
When there are no clean clothes and every step is a struggle.
I want to remember this warmth and calm of a peaceful heart at home.

Getting my bearings

My eyes open and I draw my first conscious breath of the day
I must get my bearings after a night of seemingly constant dreaming
It’s morning
Everyone else is sleeping
The Master beckons me into his presence
As I sit in the stillness of time before dawn
I am surrounded by silence
Yet, it is peaceful
reassuring me that
the one who knows me best
holds my future
and
it is very bright.