Tag Archives: spiritual encouragement

Lunch with a friend …

turned into a five-hour visit.

Five hours.

Just visiting.

The waitress came by regularly for the first 45-minutes.  After that, we became a novelty.  She would still come by and offer service, but it was with a different attitude.

It wasn’t that she had to serve us (which she did because she gets paid to do so), but that she wanted some of what we had.

A friendship.

A kinship.

A shared knowledge of how much we were loved and cherished by Jesus.

People cringe at that word.  Yes, cringe.  You can say God all day long, but mention Jesus and people start to squirm.

But that is a post for another day.

Back to the point at hand …

Our simple lunch turned into five hours of worship, confession, joy, praise and thanksgiving.

Day two, resolution free, and I’ve already been blessed abundantly.

Living life in real time.

Speaking of real time, I encourage everyone to check out So Real Ministries, founded by my friend Lori, who along with myself, sat in a booth at Teddy’s in Nickelsville today for the whole five hours.  We did.  And nobody ran us out.  But I digress.  Check out So Real on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SoRealMinistries and on Twitter at @SOREALMinistry .

octoberleaftour_day2-16

And then there was light …

beautiful, blinding, mind-boggling, life-altering light.

That is the nature of bi-polar disorder, or in the more politically correct lingo, manic-depressive disorder.

The verbiage doesn’t change the nature of it, it simply makes those who have no clue about what it is, entails or emulates, feel better about saying it out loud.

Sometimes there is darkness, but when the darkness lifts, there is light.

And light in the aftermath of darkness is profound.

I would love to be able to explain this phenomenon, but I can’t.

I couldn’t even begin to explain it.

You either understand it because you live it or because you know someone who suffers from it or you are completely clueless.

If you are clueless, then there is nothing I can offer that will make the light bulb flick on above your head.  You will never know the depths or the incredible  highs of a brain that is well beyond your understanding.

I’m sorry for you, but can’t help your indifference.

Cluelessness  (not a real word, I don’t think) isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but without some understanding of what goes on in the mind of a bipolarist (also not a real word), there is no way anyone can possibly understand how incredibly wonderful the moments of clarity, without racing thoughts, without disorientation, without doubt and insecurities can be.

Without the chaos, the clarity doesn’t mean anything and if one never has clarity, then their accomplishments will be mediocre at best.

It is like walking into a green, summer field and seeing a triple rainbow arch over the green field that is covered by white daisies with yellow centers.

That is what the light is like.

A moment of pure bliss that allows dreamless sleep and pure and beautiful clarity.

It allows me to understand what I have been misinterpreting, to find the truth within the lies.

It really is impossible to explain to someone who hasn’t lost, at some point, control of their conscious thought and then when hollowed out, to crash and burn.

Crashing is not the best feeling in the world, but it is necessary.  It is like the control-alt-delete of the psyche and sometimes, it is at this point that people who pledge their friendship and loyalty jump ship.

How … well, convenient.

When I am depressed, well, I keep that to myself.  No reason to add fuel to the fire of the witch-hunters.

I am who I am and will be who I’ll be.

I don’t need validation from people who pretend to support me when they have no interest in who I am at the core, in the depths of my heart, in the center of my soul.

I am me.  I am not ashamed to be such although there are times when I am made to believe that I should be.

We bipolarists are not an anomaly.  We are a force to be reckoned with because not only do we have brains that see, feel and hear everything, we are able to function during these times of chaos.

That makes us talented and creative and imaginative;  and above all, it makes us survivors.

Those who take us for granted or think they can use us for their exclusive pleasure are the losers.

They didn’t get it.

They will never get it.

They lost the race when they rolled their eyes at our idiosyncrasies.

Our idiosyncrasies and oddities are what set us apart from everyone else and it is something to be cherished and embraced.

We are different, yes, and in being so, we are not cast in the same mold as the rest of humanity.

In my book, that makes us someone special and special is a pretty awesome thing to be.

I embrace it, even when I want to be rid of it, because it calls me to understand more than I should have to, endure greater disappointments than I should have to and to know more than I would have were my brain like everyone else’s.

It is at this point that I ask, who is normal?  Who can maneuver through a mindfield (not a mine field, a mind one) and end up standing, head held high, solutions in hand?

Kind of puts it in perspective.

I have been mocked by ones that I truly thought I could trust.

I have been shunned by ones who have know me for years.

I have been abandoned by ones that I would have bet my life I could rely on.

These things, these events, these setbacks have not broken me yet made me more determined to be who I am.

I am content with myself even when I am discontent with myself.

I am special and the people who are like me will understand completely and hopefully feel special, too.

I am misunderstood and  I am ok with that.

It means that I am a mystery and, let’s be honest here … how cool is that?

We are a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a riddle.

That makes us cool in the “you wish you could see what my brain sees” kind of way.

Yes.  I am bipolar and I take each moment, each second, each event as it comes.

It is amazing what you can see when you take one moment at a time.

I love my life and though there are times when I forget who I am and can’t string words together to make coherent sentence, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Not  a single thing.

I. Am. Me … and I’m good with that.

only one of hundreds of my favorite things about West Side  Market in Cleveland, OH and bipolarist comfort food :)

only one of hundreds of my favorite things about West Side Market in Cleveland, OH and a favorite of this bipolarist’s comfort foods 🙂

Being human means that …

we open ourselves up for things that maybe, if we weren’t human, we wouldn’t otherwise know.

We open ourselves up to disappointment.

To hurt.

To humiliation.

To joy.

To love.

To faith and friendship.

To knowledge.

To trust.

These are all part of what makes us human.  Trusting, loving and relying on other humans as we try our best to make our way along this journey is part of the process.

At the end of the day, when all is said and done, what we feel, what we believe, where we put our faith … that is what is important.

People will let us down because at the core, we are are human.

None of us are perfect and none of us can be trusted implicitly.

I find myself realizing for the hundredth time how foolish I was.

It won’t make any difference the next time.

I will trust and put my faith in humans knowing in advance that it could very well be a mistake.

But we are fallible.

It is ok to be wrong.

It happens sometimes.

Being wrong about someone isn’t the end of the world.

Yes, we will cry and cry and cry.  Or at least I will.

Crying and throwing breakable things is how I best deal with disappointments.   However, until I replenish my breakable stash, crying is my most appealing option.

Nothing wrong with crying when you realize you were foolish.

But if crying is all you do, then you never move past being foolish and if you never move past being foolish, then you didn’t learn a thing.

Learn something and move on.

People will sometimes let you down.

That is part of the whole human thing and just as we have been disappointed, we will disappoint others.

It is a circle … imperfect and yet a circle just the same.

And whether we like it or not, we are human.

Live.  Love.  Rejoice.  Enjoy.  Cry.  Laugh.  Embrace.  Trust.  Live.

That is the circle.

He looked right at me and I felt his power through the lens of my camera.  I was awestruck.

He looked right at me and I felt his power through the lens of my camera. I was awestruck.

Love’s like a hurricane, I am a tree …

bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.

Unequivocally, my favorite line of any song I have ever heard.

A bold statement, yes, I know, especially considering that I have heard thousands and thousands of songs in the decades of my life.

It doesn’t change this revelation in the least.  I first heard this song less than 72 hours ago.  It has been around for a while.  As a matter of fact, it was released eight years ago on my birthday.

I had to know more about who wrote words that surpassed any I have ever heard.  Maybe they struck a chord in me because I have a deep love and respect for trees and, on occasion, imagine myself to be one; swaying in the wind, basking in the sun, playing in the moonlight beneath a sky bursting with stars.

Being a seeker of knowledge, I went in search of answers.

The song was written by an independent singer/songwriter named John Mark McMillan.  In an interview, he says that he wrote this the day after his best friend died after sustaining injuries in a terrible car accident.  In the same interview, he tells of his friend, Stephen Coffey, a youth minister for Morning Star Ministries who said aloud the words “I would give my life today if it would shake the youth of the nation” the morning before the accident.

John Mark wrote the song the next day.  He says that the love he is singing about is not a pretty “Hollywood  hot-pink” love, but the kind of love that is willing to love even when things are difficult and messy.  He goes on to say that  “This song isn’t a celebration of weakness and anger.  It’s a celebration of a God who would want to hang with us through those things, who would want to be a part of our lives through those things, and,despite who we are, He would want to be a part of us, our community and our family”.

I have listened to this song at least 200 times since I first heard it.  I am listening to it now.  I cannot pull myself away from what it says to me, how it makes me feel, where it takes me.

I imagine, before the anniversary of the song’s release, (on my birthday), I will listen to it several hundred more times.  I know every note, every sound, every pitch, every word and I hold them deep inside of me.

They make me want to sing; the make me want to cry.  But not tears of sadness, but ones of joy and celebration that even with all my imperfectness, I am loved and cherished by a Savior that I adore.

I have taken the blinders from my eyes, the plastic wrap from my mirrors and have embraced life with a fullness and freedom that I have never quite been able to achieve.

The freedom to love, to be loved, to seek and, in seeking, expect to find.

I will never be the same again and that may be one of the most beautiful gifts I have ever been given.

I’m putting a link to John Mark’s version.  I have heard several artists sing it in the last couple of days, but this version, his version, is by far my favorite.

John Mark McMillan ~ How He Loves ….

John Mark’s song-story …

twitter

When the wheel never stops turning …

life can become more of a trial than a joy.

The thought process becomes so discombobulated with the inundation of information and images that simply focusing on what is relevant becomes a near impossibility.

My family and friends know that some of my blogs are about them.  They are about life as I live it, so how could they not be?

This particular blog is about photographs that aren’t my own; photographs I want to take.

It is about images I want to see with my own eyes, not through someone else’s.

It is about the words that surround the images.

It is about the music I play that enhances the images and the words that describe them.

It is about the the things I dream of.

These statements alone make me sound like some kind of fanatic, but I’m not a fanatic.

I am a photographer.

I am a writer.

I am (somewhere in my soul) a musician.

I want to see, write and hear for myself.

Experience the heat, the cold, the adrenaline, the magic, the music, the inspiration, the awe.

I work for a living so that I can traipse around to places I want to see, photograph them and then write about them.

It may sound as though I am putting down the importance of nursing, something I have done for 25 years.

I’m not.

Just today, a patient made me cry when he told me that I was a bright spot in his day and he looked forward to my visits more than he did meal-time.

If you have ever been in the hospital, you know that meal-time is one of the highlights, and so I felt very moved.

But I wanted, more than to speak with him and encourage him, to photograph him.

I have been on a photographic journey, teaching myself, learning from others, finding God in the creation He so beautifully paints, for more than 30 years.

It is my center.  My sense of self.

My life is made up of images.  They rotate through my head like a never-ending carousel .

Image after image after image after image.

And the words.

Mrs. Campbell in eleventh grade gave me the courage to have  confidence in my words.

She was my favorite teacher and the one, above all, that I remember the most.

And yet, I digress. (But thanks, Mrs. C)

I can’t even begin to explain, with all of my words, what the words, when coupled with the images, does to me.

It shatters me on a level that is the most perfect shattering a person could ever hope for.

I wonder sometimes if I am vain.  I certainly don’t think much of myself, so that kind of vanity is out, but the images … I like them.  I want others to like them.  I desire, not to be famous, or even rich, but to simply be able to live out my life doing what I love.

I don’t think that is too much to ask, but therein lies the vanity.

I look at myself and see nothing special … I look at the images I see through the eyes God gave me and I see great things.

I don’t mind, particularly, sleeping in my car.  I don’t need much more than toast-chee crackers and an occasional diet Dr. Pepper.

But I need to see.

To experience.

To feel.

I want to know what a North Dakota winter looks like, what a New Orleans Summer smells like, what driving along the coast road from California to Washington State feels like.

I want to see the beauty, to feel the air, to see the endless flat road of Kansas extending out in front of me.

I want to taste the fog of San Francisco and breathe the vastness of a Montana sky.

I used to think that I wanted too much, but a wise woman (my mamaw Daphne) told me “some people want the simple and others want the extravagant  … wanting is wanting whatever the dream may be”.

She taught me to not be ashamed to want the things I want and dream for the things of which I dream.

If I can see the things I want to see, I won’t need others to show them to me and if I can play the piano myself, I won’t long for someone else to play for me.

So my dreams are this … to see my country and then see Ireland, to play the piano and to have a jeep, preferably red .

That is the extent of the the dreams I have for myself …

I have much deeper and greater dreams for those I love and cherish, but myself?  It is the simple things that stir my heart.

I have hope.

I have faith.

Nothing else is required.

It will happen when it happens.

And it will happen.  Of that, I am certain.

Until next time, be well, my friends … be well.

And don’t forget to dream.

flowersfornini

Learning from Gracie as she contines to grow …

is an experience in humility.

She has Down’s Syndrome, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to or watching her.

She runs, plays, swing, argues, wrestles, loves, hugs, manipulates and somehow ends up being the center of attention wherever she goes simply because she has a larger than life personality.

She knows what she wants and how to get it.

Usually by putting her innocent-looking, pixie-faced, tinkerbell eyes on her Papaw.

He can deny her nothing.  He says he can, but he can’t.

Or maybe won’t is the better way to say it.

She has him wrapped as tight as Dick’s hatband around her little finger, her forefinger, her middle finger, her thumb.

He is wrapped.

Period.

Ice cream, Papaw.

Okay.

Pretzels, Papaw.

Okay.

Murder the neighbor and bury them in Louisa’s spring, Papaw.

Okay.

It is a joy to watch her as she learns to manipulate the ones she knows are easy marks.

I, on occasion, an am easy mark, but for the most part, she knows that Nini means business and expects her to act like a human child; but even I have my limitations when she flashes that smile and says “I love you, Nini”.

I am, after all,  human.

She is growing up so fast.

It seems like only moments ago that she was in the NICU with lines and tubes and a tiny body that looked as though it would break with a look and shatter with a touch.

But she passed the shatter stage a while back.

She is a pistol, is our Gracie, and as tough as nails.

She doesn’t take no for an answer, asks a million questions one after the other and could give Flash Gordon a run for his money when she feels like it.

I think we have all chased her (and lost) at some point, while she laughs and skips and eludes our efforts to catch her.

She is a bit like the gingerbread man.  Catch me if you can, she says, knowing we are too slow to be any real threat.

She went back to school this week and loved on all her classmates as though they had been cruelly separated for years.

I don’t know much about anything but I know this … a hug from Gracie can make the worst day, the most difficult moment, the hardest trial seem as nothing.

She has way about her.  A being, an aura, a spirit … call it what you will, but it is irresistible and it is life-altering.

She has a way of making you feel, at the moment, as though you are the most important thing in the world; and the ability to make you believe it unequivocally.

I cannot imagine, and will not imagine a world without Gracie for it would, without doubt, irrevocably break my spirit.

She is the epitome of sunshine.  I’m pretty sure when Jimmy Davis and Charles Mitchell wrote “you are my sunshine”, they did so because they had a premonition about Gracie.  God is cool that way.

She is a bright spot in the lives of everyone she come across.

It would be my great pleasure for all of my friends to meet her, to know her and to benefit greatly from one of her “I love you even if you are an idiot” hugs.

She doesn’t take into account how smart, how talented, how boring, how nerdy, how geeky, how crazy, how messed up, how depressed, how out of touch or how indifferent you are.

She changes lives, just by being, by smiling, by living.

A smile from Gracie, unless you are the devil  himself, will melt you like warm chocolate.

She is, unto herself, an entity.

There really is no way to avoid the beauty that enters your person when she hugs you tightly and puts her little face into your neck.

She is a gift from God.  A simple truth.

She sees life and people  in one dimension and that is unbiased love.  She doesn’t understand anything else (except the occasional temper tantrum that makes the Kraken look like a goldfish).

But we’ll save that tidbit for another day.

For now, by proxy, be encouraged by Gracie. She is a power to be reckoned with and it is wonderful to be a part of this precious child’s life.

“It’s Nini” she says, as she runs with her arms outstretched to me.  Every other thought in my head dissolves for it has no power against such beauty.

I am thankful for her.  I am grateful for her.  I am indebted to her.

May God continue to bless our sweet Gracie.

She is beautiful and she makes everything and everyone around her beautiful as well.

like a mermaid, she take to the ocean ... free and beautiful

like a mermaid, she takes to the ocean … free and beautiful

no matter where she goes, she will always be her daddy’s girl

Sometimes, only a papaw will do …

This day started out …

on the wrong foot entirely.

I suppose it is partly because I am a bit of a dreamer and mostly because I am especially susceptible and vulnerable to harsh words.

I found, before I’d really had a chance to begin my day, my feelings hurt, my spirit bruised and my pride wounded.

It wasn’t the first time.

It won’t be the last.

But it always hurts.

Always chips away a bit at the self confidence I work so hard to achieve and hold on to.

Always makes me feel less than I thought I was before.

And so it went.

I cried my tears and kept the ones threatening at bay more to prevent curious questions than anything else.

What am I  supposed to say after all?  I had my feelings hurt?

That answer is met with shaking heads and comments like ‘girl, you need to toughen up”.

Yes.  I know.

I wasn’t going to let it rule my day, though, that I had already decided.  Maybe I was on the verge of tears.  Maybe I did slip away and cry a couple of times during the morning.  Maybe I did berate myself for being the way I am and wishing fervently that I could change it.  But …

I decided right off that this would be a day of encouraging others and lifting them up as I wished to be lifted.

The day progressed fairly normally, with fluffed pillows, niceties exchanged between patients and family members, little touches to encourage those who were ailing; the usual day to day stuff I always do.

None of that, however, prepared me for what I would encounter in the late morning hours.

He was my last patient,  and I knew from research that his wife had been gone for many years and his youngest daughter, the last of three children to die,  had passed away two years before.

For all counts and purposes, he was completely and totally alone in the world.

I went into his room and introduced myself to him.  He looked at me for a long time and I wondered if he understood what I was saying.

Then he spoke, his voice barely above a whisper and said “I thought for a moment that I had died and gone to Heaven.  You remind me so much of my sweet Lacy.”

As it turned out, Lacy was his daughter, his favored child and one who worshiped her father.  He asked me to sit, which I did, in the chair beside his bed, and he proceeded to tell me about her.

She cooked him dinner every night and made sure he had snacks in his kitchen. She took him to the park and on long drives into the mountain when the leaves changed in Autumn.  She had, he related, a way with stories and often sat with him, while he ate his dinner, and told him one story or another.

He focused those tired and aged blue eyes on mine and asked me if I would tell him a story.

I didn’t have the heart to say no.  I told him a story about a rogue squirrel which found it’s way into my sister’s swimming pool and the adventure and hilarity that followed.

He laughed out loud until he nearly wheezed and said it was the funniest thing he had heard in a long time.  He smiled a wide smile, crinkling his wrinkled face until his eyes nearly disappeared altogether.

It was a wonderful moment for me … this laughter on an old man’s face.

I rose to bid him goodbye and he once again caught and held my eyes in his gaze.  He, with sincerity and a love that nearly shattered me, said “I love you, Lacy, you know that don’t you?”

I took his frail hand in mine and after pressing a kiss to his papery cheek, said ‘Yes.  I Know.”

In the few moments I spent with him, the beauty of his spirit helped to heal my bruised one and the harsh words of the morning were forgotten, useless and harmless against the joy he brought to me.

I had intended to swing back by to check on him and to tell him how much my visit with him had meant to me, but before the end of my shift, he left this world.

I’m sorry I didn’t get to tell him how he touched my life.  It was my intention to encourage him and yet, he brought me a kind of joy that comes about only once in a while.

Harsh words will always hurt me.  It is my nature.  I cannot change who I am at the core, but the encounter with the man who knew me as Lacy gave me something wonderful to bring up when the tears threaten.

I cried for him, but not out of sadness.  No, that would have been wrong.  I cried because I, not as Lacy, but as myself, never got to say goodbye.

Life unfolds as it should and while some of it is painful, for the most part, it is an incredibly wonderful journey.

I was blessed to know Lacy’s dad.

My Dad ... the man I admire most on this earth.

My Dad … the man I admire most on this earth.

what is it about dreams …

that seem to plot the course of the day ahead.

I have always, nearly without fail, remembered in detail and almost painful clarity, my dreams.

Sometimes they are of strangers and other times, erotic and provocative images and happenings of and including  people I am acquainted with.

Images that have no business being in my head are there and they tempt me to try to relive them in reality as well as in the dreams, of which I have no control, in which they were born.

I don’t make a secret of them.  I share them with the cohabitants of my dreams, often to my regret afterward, but nonetheless, I find that the ability to lie escapes me.

It doesn’t help matters that I, on occasion, am a blabbermouth and just blurt things out at random.  A curse and one of the things that, were I able, would immediately change about myself.

Those, I think, are more disturbing than the bloody, murderous ones for they are more realistic and leave me feeling vulnerable and exposed.

And then there are the non-dreams that are climatic in their own weird and distorted way.

I am certain, given facts that I am sure of, that I sleepwalked last night.

Things that were present when I went to bed were missing and no evidence, anywhere, of their disappearance, could be found.

I looked.

In the trash.

Under the couch cushions.

Under my mattress.

I know what was there and what is now missing so either I walked (and ate chocolate Nekot cookies) in my sleep, or there was an intruder who only wanted my cookies.

And who, pray tell,  breaks into a house leaving a priceless collection of vintage vinyl and takes only chocolate-peanut butter cookies.

Especially if they know me and know that I sleep with a very large cast-iron skillet capable of causing a serious brain hemorrhage or, if aimed just right, instant death

Nobody, that’s who.

So since the latter is improbable, I have only left to assume that I am, once again, up to my old tricks.

Walking and performing tasks, like eating, cooking and cleaning, in my sleep.

It disturbs me on some level that I do things in the night that I don’t remember.  It should disturb me.  It should disturb anyone.

But I know the cause, or at least I think I do.

For several weeks, as anyone who knows anything about me knows, I was manic to the point of being carted off by the men in white coats.

I thought it would never end and once it did, I missed it immediately.  That rush of feeling, the power of confidence that, in a normal state, I lack.

But one phase which lasts so long does not go without the alter-ego phase coming in to claim their share of the  psychosis.

I call it psychosis because what else is one going to call it … hyper to the point of explosion one moment and despondent to the point of mediocrity the next.

I live this every day, every week, every month.  One would think that by now, I would know what was coming next.

I don’t.  And people who try to pinhole me into their idea of normalcy don’t either and end up doing nothing more than pissing me off.

As do those who lie to me. Or make excuses instead of just being up front.

An omission or generated excuse is no better or worse than a lie and I put them all in the same bag.

I expect people to be straight with me no matter what and if they aren’t then they immediately lose their credibility and, as far as I am concerned are no longer relevant in my life.

I no longer listen to their words for they are, from that moment, nothing more than blather.  Filler because they can’t think of anything useful to say and therefore are useless to me on any conceivable level.

It is disappointing to me to think that I have friends who pretend to understand me only to find out that not only do they not understand me, they have no intention to.

Valuable time wasted if you ask me.

I try to conserve the space in my mind for those who actively want to be a part of my life.  I realize that I try too hard to make friendships sometimes.  I find people who pretend to understand me but have no real inkling as to who I am or what makes me tick.

It is a disappointment to realize that I have been, for lack of a better term, led on by their pretense.

But in time, all is revealed and life goes on.

I don’t hold it against the pretenders because in all essence, I have better things to do than hold a grudge.

But I will be more cautious in the future.  Once a manipulator, always one.

Funny, isn’t it, how they don’t see themselves that way.

Life. Goes. On.  and that is just the way of it.

I may be hanging, at times, by a thread, but in my mind, I am happy simply to be hanging.

Until next time, be well, be yourself and know that whatever you learn today will be most useful at some point (unless is is geometry and the jury is still out on that one)

in reality, what dreams are made of ...

in reality, what dreams are made of …

It is official …

I am out there swinging.   For those who suffer from manic episodes, no explanation is necessary, for the rest of you, all I can offer is a pathetic, well meant yet mostly misunderstood, “I’m sorry”.

What am I sorry for?  Ummm, where should I start?

I can’t explain it.  I don’t even try anymore.  It makes less sense to me when I try to make it make sense to someone else.

So I don’t because that in itself is an enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a riddle.

I’ll be back, though, at some point, as my old “weirdly abnormal” self.

Lucid and in total (okay, yes, a stretch even on a good day) control.

Until then … well, just go with it because ultimately, it is what it is.

And I take it as it comes, deal with it however I can and sometimes ignore those who are most important to me.  I, most times, inadvertently, end up hurting somebody’s feelings.

It isn’t always pretty but neither is reality; that’s just the way I roll if I want to survive the storm.

And I do.  Want to survive, that is.

Words of wisdom … BodieIslandLight

Really?  Get a grip already. madmaggie

Going to work tomorrow …

is a chore.

I wonder, sometimes, if I can be a nurse for next twenty years, until I can retire.  I have a  hard time envisioning it.  A hard time seeing myself there.

For twenty more years past the twenty-five that I’ve already given.

Seeing the harshness of humanity, the sickness, the sorrow, the depravity … the death.

It is difficult for me when all I dream of is traveling and taking photographs.

I want, first and foremost, to see my own country, and then Ireland and then all of Europe; Germany in the springtime.

I have dreams.

I have aspirations.

I am too soft-hearted to be a nurse … to see the suffering, to feel the suffering, to hold the suffering unto myself.

I bring it home with me.  I dream of it.  I cry for those who cry.

I sometimes think I don’t have the strength or the courage to do what I do and yet, I cannot turn my back on those who cry on my shoulder.

I feel overwhelmed, at times.  I feel inadequate at others.  I am only me, but still, I am called to be more than I feel I can be.

I pray with them.

I don’t know what else to do.

My life experiences, many of them troubled and harsh, give me an insight into the suffering that these people who lean on me need.

I hope I am enough.

I fear that I cannot measure up.

I want to encourage them and know, that somehow, through my own discouragement, I can help them.

I continue to pray that I can be a part of the answers they seek.

I see the fear, sorrow and uncertainty in their eyes.  I know their pain, I have been through the fire and I can relate.

But I’m not sure I can continue to face that every single day.

Not sure I have the strength to carry the burdens of those I seek to encourage.

No certain that I even want to.

And yet, I cannot abandon them for their tears touch me so deeply.  I succumb to their sorrows and find myself weeping in the wee hours of the morning for that which I cannot alter.

I have told myself many times that, in my heart I am photographer and while that is true, also,  in my heart, I am a nurse.

And I know now, that no matter where I go, or what I photograph, the love for humanity will always take precedence.

I will always, whether a recognized photographer or not, be a nurse.

It is the burden I bear.

And I bear it with confidence that I, in some small way, can bridge the chasm.

I want, whether through photography or nursing, to make a difference …

If I can’t, then I, on all sides, have failed.

I don’t want to be a failure.

A young praying mantis sits in the sun of early summer

A young praying mantis sits in the sun of early summer