Wait.... I am weak and not in control? Nooooo......
So, in my blogs I often write advice about the various ways I have learned to cope with life. Hence the name of my blog: stumblingthroughlife.
You see, I am no “Life-Guru” or “Dear Abby”. I am merely writing what I have learned as I’ve stumbled, fallen, had my heart broken, been afraid, and yet through it all triumphed at the end. Many people ask “Well what if you go through YEARS or DECADES of one disaster or another? How can anyone handle that?”
Well, without telling my whole life story (that may be a book… one day), allow me to simply share that I HAVE BEEN GOING THROUGH OVER A DECADE OF HELL AND BACK. You see, through every obstacle, loss, grief, I have found the strength through God to carry on. Many times I am so weak He has to carry me himself. I am in one of those spots as I type.
I have fought with my thoughts, read every authoritative book and blog, prayed, read the Bible. But there is rare a person who ever knows anything about what I am going through. You see, I am an introvert. I like to carefully analyze and strategize every thought, motive, and move I make. But I can be very extroverted as well.
Through this latest turn of events, when I didn’t think life could get any worse. It did. But after struggling through every possible emotion possible, not being able to eat, sleeping for days. I am ok now.
You see, what I learned is that in an area of my life, I thought I was following God’s plan for my life. It seemed right. But yet according to the Bible it was not. You see, God doesn’t ever outright speak to me (I do not hear voices…. in my head or otherwise). But He whispers… He speaks through life events, through triumphs, through other people, through Scripture. But you must be in tune with Him to hear it.
I have always prided myself in being a strong, independent woman. A planner. In control. But God allowed me to fall smack on my face before I gave up that control. And I have 100%. Because I have found that through life, I can make the best made, carefully thought through plans…. sometimes they are brilliant and I reach my goals. Other times they were MY plans, and God has put my stubborn self back in my place.
I need that at times… as I stumble through life. When I was agnostic, I always bashed believers in higher powers as “intellectually and emotionally weak people who had to make up some higher being they just were not as strong as people like me…. agnostic.’ But THAT lifestyle never worked for me. I logically began to apply the principles of the Bible to my life… still not 100% sure about this “Jesus” thing…
But after applying it to my life, and seeing the evidence, I realize I DO need a Father, a Husband, an Almighty, someone who is greater than myself to pick me up and carry me through my ups and downs in life. I cannot do it on my own, nor do I want to.
That is that. And life is life. And I am excited about what is yet to come!
“Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.”—
“Do not just look at an issue in your life and let it pass on by like it doesn’t effect you. Every issue effects your daily and future life, so be on alert and manage your life in a way where you take care of every thing you can with awareness, consideration, and compassion for others too. Only the person who acts upon solving their own issues knows the way of not committing the same mistakes again and again. Be that person and help others change around you and you will be looked at as a hero.”—(via dizzysvisuals)
There is No Hiding From the Monster's Under Your Bed.
"Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win" -Steven King
As a child, I remember checking under my bed and in my closet for monsters before I could go to sleep. In my mind, they were real, and out to get me. Then I grew up, and I have never had a monster, goblin, ghost attack me. But lack of monster’s physical attack does not mean they are not real.
As Steven King says, monsters ARE real, they live inside our heads. They attack us on a daily basis. They tell us things like, “You are not good enough.” or “You are a failure.” These monsters inside of our head exist solely to bring us down. To attack us. To defeat us. It is time to pick up the sword and fight these monsters, keep them from ruining our lives.
But how does one fight the monsters in our head?
Prayer. God is on your side. Or for those who do not worship a god: meditation.
Fill your head with positive thoughts. Make no room for negative thoughts.
Take a walk and enjoy nature. Breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the beautiful creations around you.
Read a book.
Take a long, soaking bath (candles, bubbles, go all out) and release the stress.
Fill your life with positive people: people that bring you up. People that see your inner beauty and encourage you.
Please leave comments on how you “fight your inners monsters”. I would love to hear your thoughts.
For me? This verse in the Bible helps:
2 Corinthians 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
“Normal and abnormal are like night and day. We recognize that they’re two different states, but the exact line between them is sort of impossible to draw”—Jerome Moller, The Other Side of Normal (via ilostmy30s)
Sometimes in life, we allow ourselves to be caged in. To not live to our full potential. To “keep on keeping on”. This can be devastating as we go around and around in this never-ending circle of keeping up with the Jones’ in search of happiness.
But some beg the question, “Isn’t life supposed to be a journey towards happiness?” My answer to that is yes and no. YES, as humans we strive for happiness. But in the process we are stuck in cages. We put on a facade of happiness. We follow the advice of “professionals” and repeat positive phrases to ourselves.
I say “Screw that.”
Life is not a box of chocolates. Yes you never know what you are going to get, but not all are destined for “their version of happiness.” We allow ourselves to be stuck in cages instead of flying out of fear of what may be beyond the cage.
I could go on and on about this topic, but bottom line: Do NOT let yourself be caged in by what is accepted as social normality.
As the Lynyrd Skynard song says: ” ‘Cause I’m as free as a bird now, And this bird you cannot change.” Fly aways, do not change for others, only for what you know will bring you to true happiness and your destiny as defined by God (or whatever god you serve).
These days, people seem to cling to ignorance like a shield, cowering in fear behind it to deflect away those uncomfortable truths that so damage their own egos. Ignorance is never something that should be encouraged, but there does seem to be a disturbing trend of anti-intellectualism in America.
Shhhh... I'll Let You in One a Little Secret About Life.....
Just like the Robert Frost poem, in life there comes a time where we are faced with a choice. Should I follow everyone else and take the clear path in the woods to reach a certain destination? Or to risk it all, follow our vision, appease our curiosity, and carve our own path? The path already traveled is a guarantee (or so we think). But carving our own path could be dangerous….
For me? I choose to put my snake boots on, grab a machete, and cut down every tree limb and obstacle in my way to reach my destination. Carve my own way. And with ever obstacle put in my way, every time I fall, get scraped and hurt, I rise up again to complete the mission. Every time I fall down, I am more determined to finish.
After the fight, the paradise I discover is unlike any other place… And I can call it my own.That is discovering the meaning of life, my friends.
The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both
Sometimes this phrase worries me. Because I may not be happy all the time, but when I am, something feels off. I’m not a pessimist. But I am a realist. And realistically, life’s always in an imbalance. Which means that if I’m noticably happy…. I’m missing that imbalance. And I hate being ignorant.
Photo by providedMartha Armstrong (right) lost her mother Patti Hodge to an overdose of painkillers six months ago. Armstrong’s YouTube video has drawn attention to prescription drug abuse.
When Martha Armstrong’s mother died in November, she really lost two people.
The first was a talented, loving woman who hand-sewed her children’s clothes, rescued stray animals and cared for the dying as a hospice nurse. The other was a tortured soul whose struggles with pain, depression and substance abuse derailed her personal life and several marriages.
Armstrong’s mother, Patti Holden Hodge, was no match for the prescription drugs that came to consume her. She hopped from doctor to doctor in search of painkillers, and turned to street sources when other avenues dried up.
She had to have them. Until they killed her.
Hodge died Nov. 3 in Timmonsville of a lethal cocktail of drugs. She collapsed on a piece of key lime pie, a half-written letter to her seventh husband by her side. Authorities ruled her death a suicide. She was 64.
In her grief, Armstrong came to realize that she and her mother hid behind masks of pain for years. Her mother feared exposure and the loss of her career should her addiction become known.
Armstrong had pushed her to get help, but fear and embarrassment kept Armstrong from speaking out and telling others about her mom.
Until now. In a swirl of grief and frustration, the 28-year-old Francis Marion University student recently posted a homemade video on YouTube in which she shared her mother’s story and appealed for people to confront the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse.
“It is through these personal stories that lives will be changed,” the Florence woman told her audience in a voice shaking with emotion. “It’s time we stop hiding … and start talking about the fact that painkillers kill people.”
The video, titled “I am a rebel with a cause,” has attracted hundreds of hits since it debuted late last month. Perhaps more importantly, it caused others who had been suffering in silence to reach out to Armstrong with their stories.
They now are talking about making a documentary, raising public awareness about painkillers and petitioning state lawmakers to enact stricter controls over prescription drugs.
Among those Armstrong is working with is Susan Overstreet, a Florence mother who lost her 25-year-old daughter, Jaycie, to an overdose of painkillers one year ago.
Overstreet fought for seven years to help her daughter get off prescription drugs, but they seemed to be all too easy to find. Overstreet is now raising Jaycie’s 8-year-old son in her absence.
“She loved him dearly and hated her disease,” Overstreet said. “The country needs to start realizing the severity of prescription drugsand the way they are taking over. There is just no control over it.”
A Growing Threat
Statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Centers for Disease Control tell the grim story: The number of painkiller prescriptions written by doctors almost tripled in the last 20 years to 210 million.
And in the last 10 years, overdose deaths from prescription painkillers quadrupled to almost 15,000 a year — a death toll larger than from heroin and cocaine combined.
In South Carolina, health officials track distribution of controlled drugs by pharmacies andhealth care providers, looking for indications of drug abuse, such as doctors issuing out-of-the-ordinary numbers of prescriptions for painkillers. The 12 field agents who focus on narcotic violations average about 500 arrests annually.
In Charleston, Jonas Coatsworth is administrator of a drug-abuse treatment program atCharleston Center. He said about 400 people seek treatment in his program each year for painkiller abuse.
“The numbers have definitely increased over the past decade,” he said. “I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that this is pretty close to an epidemic.”
The explosion in narcotic prescriptions shows that some doctors are fast and loose with prescribing painkillers, Coatsworth said.
And, he said, he has seen many with legitimate pain issues become addicted to painkillers even when they’ve had no prior history of alcohol or drug abuse. “Then once they get on the opioids they get an itch they can scratch,” he said.
Susan Overstreet of Florence (left) with her daughter Jaycie Alexander. Alexander, 25, died a year ago from a painkiller overdose.
Such was the case with Overstreet’s daughter. Jaycie had no history of substance abuse when a doctor prescribed her Percocet pills to help with pain from shingles she contracted after giving birth to her son.
“Before you knew it, she was on her second bottle and it became apparent to me she was an addict,” Overstreet said.
Jaycie cycled through stints in detox, rehab and halfway houses. She also spent time in prison after her mother reported on a parole violation just to keep her away from drugs.
The measures worked for a time, but the pull of painkillers remained strong.
She relapsed again last May after leaving Overstreet’s home to attend a 12-step meeting. “I never saw her again.”
Jaycie ended up a drug house in the Florence area and started using morphine pills. The people there beat her up, stole her cash and threw her out of the house.
She stumbled to a restaurant for help and ended up in an emergency room. There, a doctor prescribed her painkillers for her injuries from the beating, despite the fact that she already had morphine in her system, Overstreet said.
The next morning, some kind-hearted workers from the restaurant took Jaycie in and offered her a place to sleep. A short time later, she died from a drug overdose, her mother said.
Overstreet wants to make a documentary about her daughter’s story in hopes of warning others about the danger of prescription drugs. She also wants to petition legislators to pass a law requiring doctors to drug-test people with known narcotics histories before writing prescriptions for drugs like painkillers.
“Somewhere, somehow, there has to be some control over this,” she said.
Call To Action
Her new friend, Armstrong, agrees. She believes community leaders and elected officials need to do more to warn the public and limit access to painkillers.
Armstrong’s mother had long battled addiction and mental health issues, struggling for years with a heavy drinking problem. Hodge put down the bottle in her later years, but she fell into drug addiction after being prescribed painkillers to cope with a chronic spinal condition.
Hodge became despondent after the death of her mother last year, and upped her intake of pills to dangerous levels, telling family members that she was contemplating suicide, Armstrong said.
Armstrong told her mother that she needed help, that she took too many drugs. “I told her to get help, but she refused to do it,” she said. “The last conversation she had with me, she said, ‘I never want to talk to you again.’?”
In her video, Armstrong displays a photo of her mother from happier days as a young woman, along with a quilt Hodge knitted by hand. Nearby sits a brass urn with her ashes.
Armstrong said she did the video in one take because she didn’t think she could endure a second try. It’s painful to talk about. But she has no intention of stopping.
Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or Twitter.com/glennsmith5.
Stand tall and proud in who you are, and care not too much of those who do not wish you the best. Trust love and allegiance to the pure and honest you: the you that sets others free when you simply choose freedom for yourself. Many fear this natural state of your inner beauty shining out, and let them fear or disapprove, and just keep shining.
“For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin- real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. - Alfred D. Souza”—
Why is it so hard for people to be authentic? Why does everyone have to wear a mask? Why do people find it necessary to compare ourselves to others, get plastic surgery, and waste money and energy in order to fit in?
Our culture claims to teach individuality. When you’re young, you are told you can be anything when you grow up. They implant false beliefs that set up young children for failure. Reality? Not everyone is destined to be President, a doctor, a lawyer, a singer, etc. Then one day, these children get smacked in the face with the “Real World.”
Being authentic means you’re being real, genuine, not fake. It means being honest and open. It means not putting on a show or a masquerade. Don’t conform to the trends and social norms around you. Be a leader of the social and business circles you are a part of. Don’t compromise your morals for acceptance.
Not everyone will like you for not just going with the flow, but many people will respect you for it. Trying to be someone else rarely gets you very far. I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.
But how does one do it?
1. You have to look at your past decisions, where you had the chance to be yourself but chose to be someone different. This can be disheartening for some. We’ve all screwed up, but that doesn’t mean you are destined to make bad decisions. Take those experiences and decide to make change.
2. Don’t listed to bitter, negative people who only put you down. There’s always going to be that person that has past issues, and take out their pain on others by criticizing or putting people down. Being authentic means not listening to these people. Know yourself and where you heart is and be confident in that. But never stoop to their level and retaliate.
3. Don’t regret your past. It is ok to look at your mistakes and learn from them, but don’t dwell in them. Make active decisions and move forward in your life. Don’t just SAY or THINK about doing these things…. Words and intentions mean nothing.
Being yourself is risky. Many people may not understand you, but it is well worth the risk. Through being genuine and real, you can find a way to pursue the life and work God has called you to do. I think it’s important for us to know who we really are. We know need to know the true state of our hearts. We need to know our limitations as human beings. It is your choice and responsibility to create the life you want to live.
Personally, I consider it my failure if I don’t live up to my potential, using the gifts that God has blessed me with. Do I struggle to be clear on what that potential is? Sure! Am I sometimes confused about the road I should be on? Every day! But I don’t let that stop me. I stay focused on what my inner guidance system is telling me about the road I should be on. And each day I do the most important thing to keep me moving down that road.
Has this clarity and focus taken me some time to figure out? You bet! And along the way I have sought the advice and knowledge of coaches and other experts to help guide and keep me on track. And LOTS of failure.
Because at the end of the day we are all walking a similar path through life. The country where we live may differ. The language we speak may differ. And the color of our skin or the clothes we wear may differ. We are struggling to conform to what is normal. To not stand out. To blend in.
I say: “Screw that!”
There is absolutely no need for you to accept another’s version of you and your life unless you choose to stand there with them and take it on. If you know who you are, there’s no need to try and convince another person who you are and what you stand for. If they don’t get it and don’t want to, it really is none of your business.
KEEP IT REAL AND SUCCESS WILL FOLLOW. DON’T BE FAKE. JUST BE YOU!
Ahhh, it is that time of year my friends!!! The flowers are blooming, the birds chirping, the sun shining… It is time to open your windows, pump up some tunes, take out the supplies, and get rid of the clutter that is in your homes. People become obsessed with taking household inventory, and organizing rooms, drawers, and attics.
WHY NOT TAKE THIS OBSESSION AND DO SOME EMOTIONAL CLEANSING?
Do some inventory of old thoughts, behaviors, and negative feelings and set about creating change for the inner you? Take some time to cleanse yourself of past hurts, regrets, and failure to forgive others (and yourself!)? Take control of this baggage that will only serve to keep you from moving on in life and weigh you down?
These will prevent you from carrying things in life that will bless you and lift you up!
BUT HOW DOES ONE GO ABOUT DOING THIS?
Well there are many ways, and many steps that the “experts” recommend. This is what has worked for me: First, just take some time to yourself and write or type out the negative thoughts swimming in your head. Don’t worry about making it look pretty or editing. GET YOUR RAW EMOTIONS ON PAPER!
COMMON TYPES OF EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE PEOPLE CARRY
FEARS: Face your fears head on and conquer them. As in a previous blog I wrote: “Slay the Dragons in Your Life!”
GRUDGES: Make a choice to forgive others and yourself for past wrongdoings. Holding grudges only hurts you, not the person you are holding a grudge against!
REGRETS: Regretting the past is a waste of time and energy. Live in the present!
FAILURES: To err is to be human. Learn from your mistakes, live in the present, and thank God that you are not where you used to be. Make a resolution to not make the samemistakes again.
DISAPPOINTMENTS: If you have high expectations of people, you will be let down. That is the nature of relationships. And think: we have all been guilty of letting others down, whether consciously or not.
REVENGE: Don’t even think about it. You will be the one hurt if you plot revenge. Waste of time. Forgiveness is the only way to let go of these past hurts.
DEAL WITH THESE ISSUES IN A POSITIVE WAY
KEEP YOURSELF BUSY AND LEARN NEW THINGS! This is probably the MOST effective way, but is a slow process of getting rid of emotional baggage. Volunteer. Join organizations. Get involved in the community or churches. Pick a new thing which you have always dreamed of doing or learning, but didn’t get time to pursue it. It will give you the opportunity to create new memories that you can cherish for a lifetime!
SHED TEARS! Crying is not sign of weakness but studies proved that it is natural way to clear the emotional bondage; this will give instant relief from stress as well. It is OK TO CRY!
SHARE WITH LOVED ONES OR COUNSELORS! Talking about your emotional baggage to your close (trusted) ones makes you feel better. It may not possible to talk about everything, but if this case you can go to place where you can shout louder or talk to yourself this looks weird. Talk to God, act silly, dance around like a fool when no one is watching! That is true joy!!