To-Do: Self-Actualization

I met with a college advisement counselor today who advised me to meet with another advisement counselor. The first one, an elderly man with a warm smile, was checking off classes on a list, writing down programs and semester names, chatting about how education is truly the greatest profession.

I smiled. I nodded.

The whole time of course I’m thinking about how long it will be before I can finally get out of this school and start teaching. How much out-of-pocket and scholarship money it will take to complete a teaching degree. How many more semesters of my life I will be sitting in classrooms being lulled to sleep by teachers–not counting the years my own students will be lulled to sleep by me.

I’m thinking about how I don’t even want this career. I just want to write, write and be heard and accepted; write and get all these freakin’ stories out of me. Write and maybe help people. Write and get paid to do what I love, write so I can find some meaning for myself.

I’m thinking about how I don’t even care about life most days; it’s just one foot in front of the other, dragging and scuffing and stubbing my toes. I assign meaning to a college degree: when I have my BA, I will be happy. I will be self-assured. I will be successful. I will be okay.

I’m not at a place yet where I can just be happy, but I feel I should be. I think I can take some of the pressure off by reminding myself that I may never reach true joy in this life. Mostly I’ll just keep stumbling along doing my best, and sometimes not even that. And that’s okay.

So when I attend the advisement appointment tomorrow with this newly recommended adviser, I’ll tell myself that it doesn’t matter how many semesters it takes me to finish this degree.

At least I don’t have to worry about keeping self actualization on my to-do list.

And for those of you looking for some oh-so-slow music to help you keep some perspective, I suggest Low, one of my dad’s favorite bands. This song is about recognizing that even when the band members go deaf from their rock and roll days, there will be lots of perks.

So they rock out.

Poetry Friday: What Is Love?

(Once upon a time I was a hopeless romantic. Those were the days.)

What Is Love?

Love is a new beginning,
love is the last word,
love is the “happily ever after,”
love is all you need.

Love is a song sung by angels.
Love is a story told by dreamers.
Love is two pairs of eyes locked together
with no hope of escape.

Love is the moment of stillness
when you wake up in the morning,
and all the world holds its breath
as you first open your eyes.

Love is discovering,
knowing,
forgetting,
and remembering.

Love is a suit coat around my shoulders;
singing together in the car;
kissing while making breakfast;
roses drying in my bedroom.

Love moves the artist’s paintbrush,
love wakes the sleeping child,
love ties the world together,
love is warm and bright and wild.

Love is you, you, you, you, you,
and me.

Love is us.

The Belt Notches

You need to read this. Matt is such an amazing writer and his pieces always make my day better. I want to improve 7.85 billion percent in the next five years. How about you?

Must Be This Tall To Ride

Graphic courtesy of jamesclear.com Graphic courtesy of jamesclear.com

I was dressing for work the other day when it happened. While buckling my belt, I noticed it needed to be pulled a notch tighter.

You notice because your belt develops this funny little hump where it gets settled into being buckled in the same notch over and over and over again. And then—bam. It needs a new home. Strange. Different. Uncomfortable, but not in a bad way.

My belt got tighter because I’ve been making good lifestyle choices, both in terms of physical fitness and eating habits.

You don’t really notice the changes day to day. The improvements are so incremental that they would seem nearly immeasurable. But, added up over weeks and months, they are not only noticeable, but in some cases—drastic.

Most of the time, I drive right by my ex-wife’s office on my way to and from work each day.

For many months…

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More Turkeys

I don’t have much to say because I don’t feel qualified to blog lately. I’ve tried to maintain a realistic yet positive blog since December; however, some of you may have noticed that in the last month or so, my posts have taking a slightly more depressing turn. This makes sense because (and of course I didn’t realize this fully until about a week ago) I am depressed! Lol. It’s hard to not feel stupid that I, Maney, self-proclaimed “girl of depression and anxiety” did not recognize the signs. It’s more than a little embarrassing. So for those of you who are nodding knowingly right now, “I thought she might be taking a downhill turn,” you were right. Next time feel free to call me out on it.

I am currently attending a university I have heard called “Mormon Harvard.” I hate to actually write out the name because if you know, you know, and if you don’t, it really doesn’t matter. One university degree is about as good as the next, and frankly I still miss my old school. But anyway, the point of this is that at my university we do these weekly things called devotionals. Probably a few thousand students gather in a huge building and we get to listen to a great speaker for an hour. My experience of devotionals has been positive thus far. But today our speaker (Dan Clark) really struck a chord. He made me realize that I have been setting my personal expectations pretty low.

To be fair, I have an imbalance of chemicals in my brain. That’s real. But it’s more than that. Since I realized that I have been really low for the last little while, I have a footing. Like when you sink too deep in a body of water and you’re almost out of breath, but once your feet touch the ground, you find the strength to push up. Or like that story my dad used to tell me (which he denies telling me) about the donkey that fell into a pit and the farmer gave up trying to get him out and started burying it. Shovelful and shovelful of dirt went in, trying to give the donkey a proper burial. But the donkey wouldn’t have it. Every time a shovelful of dirt fell on its back, it shook it off and stepped up. By the end of the day, the donkey was able to walk out of the pit.

You’d never think a donkey would be smart enough to get itself out of a pit, would you? Okay, I can’t pretend to know your predisposed beliefs about donkeys, sorry. They don’t have the best reputation of the animal kingdom, at least in my opinion. Except for maybe the donkey that carried Mary to Bethlehem, but he/she was the exception. And speaking of animals, I actually wrote a similarly inspirational post about turkeys a while back. (I finally figured out how to put a URL into a word! #smileyface)

Well, anyway, sorry for how rambling this post is. In my defense, I can literally feel my brain straining to have complex thoughts since most of my energy lately has been spent trying to survive and hopefully find some kind of happiness.

The point: I really believe that you are a beloved child of God, Reader. Don’t set your expectations low because you think you’re a donkey or a turkey, because even they have really awesome potential. And here’s to me and you feeling happier in the future, eh?

 

Say Something

I write a lot and I tend to be pretty open about my problems and feelings when I write. You guys get a glimpse into the Maney Universe every so often, understanding pieces of me that I guess probably 99.99% of the world’s population never will. That’s kind of cool, right? Or maybe it’s not cool–I’m okay with that. I’m gonna keep writing.

Today at school I was thinking about if one of my close friends ever asked me directly about my depression or suicidal thoughts. If I thought they were serious, or maybe if I realized that they were going through the same struggles, what would I tell them? And suddenly I was like, “Wait a minute! There are probably at least one or two people who read Maney (as my dad refers to it) who actually feel this way.”

I mean, you’re not reading this for the stellar writing or original thought processes.

I feel like for a lot of people, “suicide” is a no-no word. If you don’t say it, that makes everything better. FALSE. These people do not get it. And that’s great for them! It would be awesome if no one ever had to deal with this trial, because to quote Buffy, “My life happens to, on occasion, suck beyond the telling of it.”

This is what I would tell a loved one if they confessed to me that they were dealing with this crap, and wanted to know how I handle it:

Tell someone, tell someone, tell someone. Figure out who cares, and tell them. Network. You need to look around at the people you socialize with and decide who can help you. You can’t do this alone, because it will be you and your brain sitting in a dimly lit room discussing a very dark topic and it will end badly.

“Uh, hey, brain. I want to die.”

“Hm. Well, due to the terrible situation we’re in and the imbalance of chemicals that is me, I can’t think of a better or more logical alternative. Go for it.”

“Sounds good, thanks.”

NO! This is not true! YOU HAVE BETTER OPTIONS. And you need to figure out who is going to be the one to tell you this when times get especially hard. For me, it’s my parents, a friend or two, and God. For you, it could be a close friend, an employer, a significant other, a family member, a religious leader, a kind-looking woman at the bus stop, someone on a suicide hotline, a counselor, a doctor, a teacher or professor–figure it out. If one doesn’t work, just keep trying. Move down your support list until someone is ready to do back-flips to keep you alive. Make it their problem. And if they really love you, the back-flips will begin.

If you think that you don’t have anyone who cares if you live or die, you are wrong. If any such unloved person exists in the world, you are not them, Reader, because I love you. I want you to keep going. And I know that God, your loving Heavenly Father, wants you to keep going, too. He loves us so much, more than we’ll ever understand.

As my sweet counselor texted me, “You are a very important person and deserve life to a be a little less hard and much happier!”

Do you believe it? Well, we’d better.

Gold Feelings, Silver Glass

Something strange happened in class today. One of my professors was going off about when the term “and/or” is appropriate. Well, that’s not fair. I really like this professor. Anything she “goes off on” is usually either funny or pertinent to our lives/grades. Anyway, she wrote on the board: “You can have apple and/or oranges.” I was listening more or less intently, waiting for the bell to ring and excuse me for lunch, when she brought pineapples into the picture. And that’s when it happened: I was filled with this sweet, gold feeling, streaking across my mind and settling comfortably in my mouth. As if hearing the word “pineapple” took me to some magical mind palace (oh, Sherlock) where everything was warm and yellow. And it was nice.

Really it all got me thinking about how there are tiny things in life that are just so good. Like laughing. Or for me, washing dishes while watching Fringe, Buffy, or Veronica Mars. Raspberries right out of the garden. Being with close friends. Eyelashes. Brown paper packages tied up with string–what?

You get the picture.

Sometimes my life is a mind game. And I have to convince myself that things are going to get better. To quote the band Mates of State, “Everything’s gonna get lighter, even if it never gets better.” I write that to myself in my journal sometimes. Or I sign off at the end with “still shining.” Because I really think life is what you make it. And all mental illness aside, I really am a positive person. I’ve been messed up and I don’t know if I’ll ever get totally back to normal, but deep down, I’ve got a lot of hope. Hope for my future. Hope for the world. Hope in some kind of peace when everything ends.

And because this quote has been on my mind lately (thank you, guy driving with Olan Rogers), I’m throwing it in here. Credit to Goodreads as my source.

Gandalf the White: “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it… White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.”

My dear Readers, make like Pippin and just believe.

(In honor of a couple of friends’ kind advice, I am going to try and reduce my number of tags in future posts. I believe the conversations included algorithms and the term “cutesy,” but I don’t know. Here’s to new ways of writing.)

Trials

I pray for trials because I know they bring me closer to God. This habit of mine has become something of a family joke; my family says I should leave them out of these prayers because they have enough trials. I think it’s true and I try hard to get the point across to my Creator that I want the trials to affect me and me alone.

Anyway, a trial I’ve been facing for the past few months is dreaming every night. I’ve already discussed this but whatever. I dream about offending people I love, making huge mistakes and feeling guilty, being in scary TV shows I watch, missing classes in school, seeing my dead or missionary friends, etc. I hate dreaming I hate it hate it hate it. Haha, I used to love dreaming because my dreams used to be funny or interesting. Nowadays I face my deepest fears when my eyes are closed and my breath is steady.

My Heavenly Father must know I need these nightmares because in the morning I am deeply grateful for reality. I see the beauty in dust motes, ticking clocks, dappled sunlight, chirping birds, socks, poetry, rustling papers. I know He wants me to be happy. So today I am grateful for my nightmares, because without them I wouldn’t know how special my life is, in all its quiet, lonely, and uneventful glory.