Force and Resistance

Do not attempt to conquer the world with force,
for force only causes resistance.
– Lao Tzu

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A friend recently shared this quote with me, and I instantly connected with it. While it may, in general, be talking about leaders of nations it can also relate on a smaller scale. I have particularly felt this lately with tragedies here in my country. People are all fired up and trying to force their own beliefs on everyone else with the attitude of, “I’m right. You’re wrong. Period.” They may not think their “sharing” of beliefs or passive-aggressive behavior is just that, but it is. The more I’m bombarded with that sort of attitude, the less likely I am to hear anything you have to say, the less likely I am to respect you or believe you. All you’re actually doing is reinforcing my own beliefs and solidifying how important they are to me. On this small scale, personal level, force never works. As Lao Tzu said, it only causes resistance.

This idea of force can also be related to mental illness. The more people out there who try to convince the world that mental illness isn’t real, the more resistance they’ll find. It’s been hard hearing all of the stigmas, in the wake of the shooting in Florida, brought out and pounded in, after all the work so many of us have tried to do to break them down—with the truth. But we aren’t going away. The world has changed. People aren’t staying silent anymore about anything. But I’m not going to shout it anyone’s face. That would make me a hypocrite. I will simply continue to write, on my blog, openly talk to those who ask questions and hope, like others out there—others like myself—that in my small, quiet way, I can make some small difference or inspire others to do the same.

Still Here

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Yes, I’m still alive. Life has just been incredibly crazy and busy lately. I guess it’s always crazy and busy, especially when you’re a single mom, but it seems like it has been even more so recently. I constantly have ideas swirling in my head about what I want to write, I just haven’t been able to find the motivation to get them on paper – or the computer – yet. So, instead, I’m going to share a poem I wrote about my uncle. For some reason, I was thinking about the poem/him this morning, and I realized it had been fifteen years since he passed away. I wrote it for my mom, so it was really important to me that I get it right, that it be well-written. I remember being so nervous when I gave it to her. Looking at the poem now, I see how it could come off as harsh or judgmental, but after my mom finished reading it she started crying and told me that for not knowing George, I sure knew him well. She shared it with my cousin who I believe had a similar response. So, here goes . . .

Uncle George
(To One I Never Knew)

I can picture your brown skin
from the few times I remember seeing you,
along with the long, braided hair, black,
down to your waist,
trying to recapture and reclaim your heritage however you may.

I never knew you because you never wanted to know me,
just as you never wanted to know your own children or grandchildren,
just as you refused to acknowledge your parents and two sisters.

I never knew you, but I knew about you
and the cigarettes that scorched your lungs,
about the susceptible nature of your Shoshone blood
to the alcohol that slowly and agonizingly
poisoned your kidneys and liver.
That’s how I knew you, Uncle George—a smoker and alcoholic—
the monsters that turned you old before your time
and almost killed you—
           almost.

I can only imagine the final decision to end it all
before the slow and boiling pain consumed you with its viper fangs;
not wanting to imagine the gun put to your head,
your worn, wrinkled fingers pulling the trigger,
           gone at 54.

Neither can you imagine,
one who didn’t know me,
the grief that attacks me
and pushes long dormant tears out of my eyes,
yet wishing somehow you can see
that there is one who agonizes over you,
Uncle George, for one I never knew.

Music and Therapy

I’ve wanted to write more about music for quite some time, but it just feels like such a monumental task. Music means so much to me. I believe it is one of the most powerful forces on the planet. I love this quote by Victor Hugo – “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” Music is a language that speaks to the very core of my soul. Music is therapy.

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I’ve always loved music, but it was in high school that I first started to truly understand the power it has. I started listening to classic rock from the sixties and seventies. Here were these artists/musicians who had lived decades before I had, but who sang songs that I understood and could relate to. They sang songs about . . . me. The music was there for me in a way no one or nothing else could be. Not just rock, but classical, new age, world. The words, the music, spoke to my soul.

I think most of the time I take music for granted, it is such a part of my life. I have it playing all the time, especially in the car. I’m that crazy person you see totally rocking out as I drive—the one you point and laugh at! It’s okay, I’ll take it! Then, I’m reminded again. This one day, a couple of weeks ago, Pink Floyd’s Eclipse came on as I was driving home from a therapy appointment. I must have heard that song and the whole Dark Side of the Moon album at least a hundred times, probably more, in the last twenty years, and yet I was still amazed at what an incredible song it was. It gave me chills. The same thing happens every time I listen to Stairway to Heaven. I know it probably sounds incredibly cheesy, but that song, and Led Zeppelin, changed my life. It’s my favorite song in the world. Sometimes, when I hear it, I wonder if I’ll still love it as much as the first few times I heard it. It couldn’t possibly still be as powerful now, right? And yet, it is. I still get this . . . feeling inside when I hear it. A feeling of who I truly am and who I want to be. It’s amazing.

Music definitely has the power to affect how we feel—our mood. There are times when I’m feeling down, depressed, sad, and I’ll throw on music that only enhances those feelings. Bad, I know, but sometimes I want something that can relate. Other times, I put on something I know will put me in a better mood. Often, my rock ‘n’ roll can do that! I also have a “reminisce” playlist on my ipod. I call it that because it is music my friends and I listened to in junior high and high school. No Doubt, Alanis Morisette, Sheryl Crow, Third Eye Blind, Smash Mouth, Collective Soul and even Metallica’s No Leaf Clover. These songs remind me of better, or at least simpler, days and always manage to make me happy, no matter how down I’m feeling.

Of course, music can’t be on all the time, but it is a great supplement to my mental health. I highly suggest checking out the benefits of music therapy. According to the American Music Therapy Association, “Music Therapy is an established health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals.” For anyone who has found traditional forms of “help” or therapy ineffective, give music therapy a try. I really do believe in the power of music.

A Personal Post

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This is a personal post, just something I feel I’ve learned in my thirty-four years of life. Attempting to force or push people into believing what you believe by any tactics – shouting, screaming, constant debate, name-calling or even passive-aggressive behavior – really only pushes them away and actually does more to solidify their own beliefs than change them. I’ve found that quiet example, loving and respecting everyone, is far more effective. It may not always change someone, but at least it produces a relationship of mutual love, respect and peace. And those kinds of effects can be incredibly far-reaching.

One of Those Days

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It’s been one of those days. Yep, kitchen table is a mess, that’s a load of popcorn and who knows what else all over the floor and the counter is stacked with dirty dishes. It seems as though every time I think I finally have my life figured out, things are back on track, a hurricane comes and rips everything apart, leaving me in the middle of another mess I don’t know how to sort through, like I have no control over anything anymore. I sort of feel like a marionette—my strings being pulled and yanked by some other force. Is this normal? Does everyone feel this way? Or do other people actually have control over their lives? Do things go the way you planned or do they constantly fall apart? Is it me? Is it the mental illness? Or is it just the way life works? Right now, I’m stumped.

Beating My SAD

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I live in a desert. It’s a high desert, there are mountains, we do get snow, but it’s still an arid region. Because of this, winter snow and snowpack are very important. I know how important it is to our water situation come summer, yet I can’t help but be grateful for the mild winter we have had. I can only think of two major snowstorms this winter. There was a brief period of time where it got pretty cold, but for the most part it hasn’t been a bad winter at all. This is great new for my seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which hasn’t been nearly as bad as previous winters. It hasn’t abandoned me completely, unfortunately, but just like this winter, it has been mild. I think part of it has been my consistent light/heat therapy, but the warmer temps and overall nice weather have definitely played in as well. Rather than being holed up in my house, escaping the cold, but getting antsy and claustrophobic, I have been able to get outside, enjoy the sun, the warmth, birds, water, the sky, nature. It’s had an amazing effect! Yesterday morning I planned on hiking around this trail near my house, but got caught up taking pictures of all these great blue herons and white-crowned sparrows—which was just as much fun as hiking!

I know the warmer-than-usual, lack-of-snowfall winter has many people concerned, but I am going to remain grateful for how it has helped my health this season!

Seeing the Stars

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“When It’s Darkest, Men See the Stars.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

A friend recently shared this quote with me, and I loved it so much I wanted to share it here. It’s a good reminder that even in our darkest moments, there is still light. We may not see it at first, but it’s there. Sometimes it just requires looking for it.