Micah 4:1-5

Monday, November 28, 2011

A promise of peace

In days to come
the mountain of the Lord's house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised up above the hills.
Peoples shall stream to it,

and many nations shall come and say:
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths."
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more;
but they shall all sit under their own vines
and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid;
for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

For all the peoples walk,
each in the name of its god,
but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God
forever and ever.
(NRSV)

Thanksgiving List

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving was nice this year. Not that it isn't usually, but it was good. Other than my mom being really sick (sinus infection, bronchitis, not too major), it was nice. Haha, already said that. But really no major incidents. Just family stuff- the question of how to figure out if the turkey is done, who makes what, where everyone will sleep. All the same questions that are asked every year and we never figure them out. But it's a tradition and it's nice. I didn't want to take time out of the day to write this. I just wanted to be with my family and fiance. So I wrote some things down the night before. This is my "Thanksgiving List."

THINGS I AM THANKFUL FOR (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)
1. My parents and their constant, unending, unwavering love, protection, and support. I only hope that one day I can be for my kids what they are to me.
2. Thomas. I found my best friend, my one true love. He makes me so happy and loves me more than anything. And he always shows it.
3. The rest of my family. They're so eclectic and loving. They always support me. I know if I ever needed anything, they would be there in a skinny minute.
4. My friends. They are always there when I need them and always happy to do so. I hope I always return the favor.
5. The internet. I know that sounds stupid, but the digital age allows me to use Skype to connect with far-flung friends, Facebook, and endless research on any topic I want. It's great.
6. This blog. I have connected with so many people. It's helped others, but it has really helped me. I've become braver and more honest with myself about how I feel. Expressing my sorrows and joys in such a frank manner has done wonders.
7. Finding out that I can write something with meaning. Kind of goes along with the blog, but I feel that my words have power. I have often felt like I didn't have words or the right way to say what I meant or what I needed. I know that I am developing that strength.
8. Books. They are enlightening. Classics, humor, and everything in between- they provide both challenges and relief.
9. I never thought I'd say this: my Bipolar Disorder. I see the world in a different light. Often harder and harsher, but I appreciate things more. It's made me who I am. I have found my true friends and realized the bonds of family. I have found the depths of love residing within people.
10. God. An interesting journey for sure, but a powerful and deep one. Part of His plans are becoming clearer, while others are still hazy. But I have faith. I have trust.

THINGS THAT ARE SLIGHTLY MORE FRIVOLOUS, BUT AM STILL THANKFUL FOR
1. Jeans. You can never have too many pairs.
2. My perfume that drives Thomas nuts.
3. Bath and Body Works triple moisture body cream. It comes in every scent. And yes, it's as magical and wonderful as the name.
4. Online companies that provide free shipping.
5. Pens, pencils, and paper.
6. Pintrest. It's addicting to be sure. But it's like an internet memory. I can keep things that I like on the internet in one place without having 600 bookmarks. And it's visual, a huge help for me.
7. The right jacket at the right time. I hate being unprepared.
8. Wedding magazines- endless inspiration and a large list of what I don't want my wedding to be like. Ever.
9. Crayons. Happy happy, joy joy.
10. Sweet tea. A miraculous beverage.
11. Warm blankets.
12. Febreeze. Makes it re-wearable when you can't launder.
13. Medication. From bipolar disorder to ibuprofen, they help some of us get day to day and others to get rid of that annoying headache.
14. Being able to watch tv shows online.
15. Art and design. Architecture. Making life more beautiful every day.
16. Sudoku and fill-in puzzles. Time passers that supposedly help your brain. I'm all for that!
17. Travel. So many places I want to see. It literally broadens your horizons.
18. Mail. Call me old-fashioned if you will, but I love writing letters and getting letters. Awesome.
19. The dictionary and thesaurus.
20. "Bones." I love this show. The odd characters, sub plots, etc. Great stuff.

My favorite moments are times like these. When I'm awake and my loved ones are asleep and all feels right with the world.

I'm still here...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Yep. I'm still here. It's November 19th and I am still in Clemson. I won't be back in Charleston for another week. Yes, the final medical withdraw paperwork was not completed Friday, so I am stuck in my empty apartment (my dad came and took most of the stuff back home). It's rather depressing. I am also running out of things to do. I really should try and enjoy this time that I have. I have a few days alone. I can't apply for jobs since I can't actually follow up on any of them, not being at home. I have no school work. I have nothing I have to be doing. I should enjoy this, right? Yes. I should. Except that I'm missing Thomas and my family and my friends. I just found an eyelash on my nose. Okay, I'm going to close my computer for the night, put on some music, take my medicine, and work on my quilt until I'm sleepy. Tomorrow I'll wake up and strive to do the things that I always say I don't have time for. I'll write someone a letter, sew, create a pattern for a new stuffed animal, read, do 20 sudoku puzzles in a row, balance my checkbook, make my wedding registry list, go for a long walk in brisk weather, straighten my hair, and color. That should keep me occupied for a while. As an aside, I have decided to do what so many people have been telling me to do for years: I'm going to write. Or at least, I'm going to look for a writing job. I'll keep going on the blog, obviously, but see if maybe someone needs an entry-level writer of some kind. If you know of anything or have any ideas, please email me at the blog's website or leave a comment. Also looking for ideas if I wanted to get something published, but I have no idea where I would go with that. Hence the begging for suggestions. If I wrote a book, what would you want to read?

Time to come clean

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Not gonna lie, I've been avoiding you. Yes, you. All of you. I'm just going to say it and can you promise that when you're done reading it, you'll leave it at that? You probably won't, but at least give it some thought before you come rushing at me with comments/suggestions/advice. I'm leaving Clemson. There. I said it. It's been some time in the making, but that's my final decision. My room is mostly empty and I am waiting on the final paperwork for my medical withdraw to go through. The completely blank walls of my room, minus a to do list on a sheet of paper taped to the wall, are a stark concrete block reminder that by Thanksgiving, I'll not be living here. And I just killed all of the bugs. Just organized my dresser. But anyone who knows me or reads this regularly can attest that I am more than just a bit up and down. I am not leaving because of Clemson, or a lack of support here, or something else. I did all that I can do. Student Disability Services, counseling, one-on-one sessions with professors to make sure I got the material. But I can't predict when the Bipolar Disorder will rear its ugly head. I can put every precaution I can think of in place and it still doesn't change the fact that it happens. I think I really underestimated my support system in Charleston: doctor, therapist, family, sisters, Thomas, friends, the smell of the marsh... Okay maybe not the last one, but maybe so. I regret not being academically or mentally equipped to finish the semester with everything my parents put into tuition and all of their help. But I think if I didn't go crazy and apply and give it one helluva shot, I would still wonder. I did the best I could. That's all I can ask of myself. I tried.

I'm coming at all of this from a semi-rational state. I've had a lot of time to process this, both with my parents, with Thomas, with friends, and by myself. In one week I got engaged, turned 23, and then decided to leave school. And yes, there are plenty of terrible things about leaving school. Not feeling like I finished, tuition loss, returning home in a worse state than when I left, the shame of it all. Oh the shame. (Hence the request to not really talk about it.) But I spent a lot of time staring at the walls, dreading packing and leaving. I came to some conclusions. Yes, I will have to find a job. I hate job hunting. It's made worse by the fact that most listings are for people with degrees and experience- I have neither- kind of rubs salt in the wounds there. An income will be nice to have though. I might even get the chance to explore what I really want and enjoy doing. I'd love to do something that would give me a chance to write- who knows! Those chances are slim on Craigslist. But I'll find a "meantime" job. I get to plan a wedding from home. I get to try on my mom's wedding dress, see the church again, probably wish I want to elope instead at least 3 times before the actual wedding, and all that fun stuff. I get to see Thomas more than once or twice a month. Trust me, as soon as you've made the decision together to get married, you really don't want to spend any more time apart and the Navy is due to provide us with that soon. So I'm glad that I don't have to have a commuter marriage as I grew to talk about it. I get to marry him, move in, and then spend time in bliss, briefly interrupted when we find out those weird quirks about the other you can only find out about once you live together every single day. It's okay. I think we're pretty prepared. :) I get my support system- everyone- back to help out. I don't tell them enough, but their constant presence is usually enough to set me straight.

God and I are better. Really. Here's the conversation. G= God. L= Lauren. Just in case you can't figure that one out. It also takes place over years. Lots of time gaps.
G: "You have Bipolar Disorder!!"
L: "What the @*&%!! WHY? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?"
G: *silence*
L: "No, seriously. Why?"
G: "Later. Try and figure it out now, I have things to do."
L: *perplexed* Enter in period of cycling between confusion, bad days, calm periods, more bad days, anger, frustration. Later- "Are you sure you can't figure it out for me? Please? I am feeling very alone. You are still there, aren't you?"
G: *more silence* But then gifts appear. Doctors who get it. Parents who do their best to understand. A therapist who gets me now and who I want to be. Friends who stay by my side, even in uncomfortable times. Plenty of learning experiences.
L: "Okay, that's nice that they all want to help out, but seriously, do I still have to have this?"
G: "Yes. Hold on. I'm working through you. But you need to work through you for a while now too. Don't try to accomplish everything at once. Get to a point where you can deal with this."
L: "I'm trying to deal with this, but you are making it difficult! Why do I have to have this? It SUCKS. Where are you sometimes? I need some person-to-God interaction."
G: "I am with you always. Just not always in the way you want me to be. But I'm here in the way you need me to be. Think about that for a while."
L: "Fair enough." **Enter in period of Scotland, Clemson.** "Okay, so I have to leave school again? What are you trying to teach me, making me go in and out of school all the time? Can't you give me a little heads up? Let me know so I stop face-planting."

ENTER IN THE REVELATIONS:
1. Bipolar Disorder may be characterized by cycles, but dealing with it in Therapy is not!!!! Oh my goodness, the years it took me to realize that!! It's also a painfully slow and often frustrating experience until you look at it in hindsight. For over three years, I have been in therapy with my therapist (sounds redundant, but want to re-iterate it's with the same person), and often it seems like we talk about the same stuff when things are good and the same things when things are bad. In this semester, you've heard me write about all kinds of things relating to my BPD and how I've dealt with it. The how I've dealt with it is the key factor here. First, for the first time I was able to actually say: wow. I'm going through something really bad (like a panic attack) and I should go talk to someone RIGHT NOW. And I followed through with that. Before, I would have never done something like that. I would have ignored it. I kept following up on it.
2. Just because you do something about it, to recognize it, doesn't mean it will change. This one is very important. I always came from the mentality that once you were able to recognize a problem, you could fix it. Isn't there some maxim like: half of the solution to a problem is identifying it? I think so. I have to accept that (for the moment) just being cognizant of its existence is progress enough. I often felt this semester that even though this was being touted as "progress" still left me feeling awkward because I can't fix a bad day. I don't know how yet. Leading me to:
3. I can change the course of my therapy. I know there are dozens of different styles of therapy. Television and experience have taught me that. There's a lot of merit in just having someone to talk to. A monologue for an hour might bring up things you hadn't lead your brain to think of before. Sometimes you need guiding therapy- with the right push and shove, you might actually go do something! Question and answer sessions can prod along times when you just feel stuck. I love all of these things because each have their place at the right time. There are also times where you need to bring up something to work on. Part of the issue I've been having is the difficulty of asking for help- not because I'm afraid anymore, but mostly because I don't know what to ask for. Now I do. I want to know how to change a bad day/period. I don't know if it's possible, but I want to try. No one knows better than me that some days you just can't do anything about it. But the medium to low lull periods when the apathy just settles like a heavy wool blanket- I want to get out of that.
4. God gave us free will for a reason. I know sometimes we're afraid, afraid that choosing our own course of action will set us up for sin or disaster. And I know it seems an odd thing to write about in a post where I started off announcing that I was leaving Clemson. But I might not have figured these things out if I hadn't have come. If I didn't have the gumption to leave for Scotland for three weeks and travel by myself, I wouldn't have felt empowered in a way I never had before. I did that purely out of choice. I chose to set that up and go. Sometimes we fail to look for opportunities and instead we think that if God means for them to be, he'll do the leg work and then, ta-da! A mission project or a job offer or something that slaps us in the face. I'm all for face-slapping opportunities, but seriously, you have free will. USE IT. Even if it is choosing school when you're unsure. Go for it. You will figure it out. You might even find your own Scotland on the way.

I felt God reeling me back in this last week. I've cried my eyes out over leaving this amazing school. But he also stroked my head and dried my tears and said, "look at all that awaits you instead!" I can try again in a few years, or a few decades. College will be there. But I get to spend the last bit of my "single" life with my family close by. I'm getting married. Then I get to live with my husband. Not having school as a factor isn't great, but it opens a lot of possibilities that I didn't think were available to me. I still have a long way to go. I'll be 70 and still figuring out how to live with Bipolar and how I can better listen to God. This blog's readership spans 6 continents and many countries. It's cathartic to me, but I hope it's also helpful to others. As God said (in the Bible, not in my head this time), ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’

I'm pretty weak, but he's got some serious power.

Someone else said it

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I am very sorry that I have waited so long to post something. To say the least, my life has been busy. I will probably write a very long post tomorrow after I have continued to gather my thoughts. Until then I will leave you with some of my favorite quotes that I have continued to gather and might offer you a glimpse of what's been going on lately. I promise, more detail later.

Even if happiness forgets you a little bit, never completely forget about it. -Jacques Prevert

Perhaps the feelings that we experience when we are in love represent a normal state. Being in love shows a person who he should be. -Anton Checkhov

Nothing is permanent in this wicked world, not even our troubles. -Charlie Chaplin

When I went to school, they asked me what i wanted to be when i grew up. I wrote down 'happy'. They told me I didn't understand the assignment, I told them they didn't understand life. -John Lennon

Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of these things and still be calm in your heart. -Unknown

We can only learn to love by loving. -Iris Murdoch

Before you speak, ask yourself: is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence? -Shirdi Sai Baba

The adventure of life is to learn.
The goal of life is to grow.
The nature of life is to change.
The challenge of life is to overcome.
The essence of life is to care.
The secret of life is to dare.
The beauty of life is to give.
The joy of life is to love!
-William Ward

Avoid making irrevocable decisions while tired or hungry. -Robert Heinlein

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you've imagined. -Thoreau

She seemed to have had the ability to stand firmly on the rock of her past, while being completely and unregretfully in the present. -Madeline L'Engle

Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end. - Unknown
 
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