Category Archives: Mental Health
“What we love we shall grow to resemble.” — Bernard of Clairvaux
There comes a day when we realize that looking for external solutions to our problems just won’t work. How vain has been the time and energy spent looking for the perfect mate or partner, the perfect job, the perfect life. So instead, we start to search for internal solutions; we begin to change ourselves.
To change ourselves is a different process from controlling ourselves, which cannot be done. But when we start to give up the control, the rigidity, the perfectionism, the self-will, we begin to change. This change seems like a miracle because it is! It’s an incredible gift from the Universe, who loves us beyond our imagining. The more we change our focus from the external to the internal, the more we’re able to accept ourselves. We become humble with each small choice to accept ourselves as we are. We become whole as we let that choice be enough for today.
Are you living within yourself or outside of yourself today? To keep the focus within requires self-acceptance.
I’m learning that when we lose faith in our feelings, we lose faith in ourselves and become outer-directed. That is, we look to the world to tell us how to feel and what to do. We seek approval and love from others so we can prove to ourselves that we are worthy. Paradoxically, to be outer-directed is to be self-absorbed. How can this be? We feel so unsure of who we are , that we cannot let go, be spontaneous or real.We can reclaim ourselves by becoming inner-directed. This means looking within ourselves for the direction we need. When we’re just beginning to learn to trust our feelings, this can seem to be truly agonizing. It means trusting the reality of our needs and our right to express them. Only then can we find the faith in ourselves and in life, that we have lacked.
Becoming inner-directed takes self-acceptance and self-love. It also takes time. Until then, there will be no real peace because it is the only way to find ourselves.
“I quit smoking.” — Me
I’ve done it!
I’ve considered myself to be a smoker since the age of twelve. My cousin Randy and I would sneak cigarettes from our parents and smoke them as we walked to school each morning. Back then, cigarettes cost no more that seventy-five cents from the vending machine at the local bowling alley.
By the time I was fourteen years-old, my parents had grown tired of trying to stop me from smoking and allowed me to smoke openly. My mother would even buy cigarettes for me when she went to the grocery store. I smoked and smoked and smoked.
There have been occasions in my life when I have been able to quit; usually because of illness of some sort (usually upper respiratory since I am asthmatic) or because of a new commitment to overall health. It has been nearly 2 months since my last cigarette. This time my reasons do include health concerns, mortality and cost. The price one pays for cigarettes now, with all of the various taxes, has become prohibitive.
My home smells better, my senses already seem more aware to smell and taste. Soon, I know I will also be able to claim better health and longer life.
“Beauty is the promise of happiness.” — Stendhal
Often, we are too busy or self-absorbed to notice what is beautiful in people and in the world around us. We hurry along, focused on ourselves, inattentive to what really makes life worth living.
The world is filled with beauty – winter twilight over the desert, a child’s laughter, a scene in a movie, the sun on the red stone walls of Sedona, a weeping willow, a lively song, our beloveds face. If we are attentive and learn to slow down, we will see all around us signs of beauty that speak directly to us.
We don’t have to go to exotic places to find beauty. It is here, in our lives, all around us. Finding it, we carry it with us, and our lives are enriched. The language of beauty is the language of joy.
- Stendhal moments. Overwhelming beauty in scientific research – at Boijmans in Rotterdam (eyemagazine.com)
- Photos from our trip to Sedona (mn2az.blogspot.com)
“A friend is a gift you give yourself.” — Robert Louis Stevenson
More. Some of us have come to believe that more means better. But there are some things where less is more, and one of them is a close friendship. The truth is, we don’t have many special friends, and that is exactly what makes them special.
Between such friends, there is a bond of understanding, honesty, acceptance and love that is valued even more over time. Trusted friends offer us the opportunity to learn to be intimate and to let ourselves be known as we truly are, time and time again. From that mutual sharing, we receive what we need. We can take certain risks, secure in the knowledge that the friendship will endure the test. With our special friends, we don’t have to worry about being perfect because we’re loved for who we are; the way we are. These friendships possess an innate freedom.
Special friendships can be platonic or romantic. It doesn’t matter. Through good times and bad, we begin to sense a divine triangle of growth and love between ourselves, our special friends and our connection with the Universe.
To my close friends, Trish, Andrea, Scott, Kevin and Gregg, “Thank you for accepting “me” as me. The five of you were the special friendships I had in my mind when writing this blog.”
- On Friendship (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- The Gift of Friends (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- Her ‘other’ best friend (psychologytoday.com)
“Sex is one of the nine reasons for reincarnation. The other eight are unimportant.” — Henry Miller
Henry Valentine Miller (December 26, 1891 –– June 7, 1980) was an American novelist and painter. He was known for breaking with existing literary forms, developing a new sort of novel made up of autobiography, social criticism, philosophical reflection, surrealist free association and mysticism, one that is distinct always about and expressive of the real-life Henry Miller, and yet is also fictional. His works of this kind are Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn and Black Spring. Henry Miller also was known to write travel memoirs and essays of literary criticism and analysis.
It is good and healthy to laugh about sex – as long as the laughter is on the side of life. Sex, after all, is part of the life force, and if it is surrounded by caring and honesty, it leads to a joyous intensification of our relationship with others and with the world. Then sex, like laughter, integrates.
Too often, laughing about sex betrays uneasiness, shame, disgust, and the want to hurt. We talk about “dirty jokes” and consign sex to the bathroom. We split off sex from other feelings and surround it with taboos and rituals and mockery. Viewed in this way, sex isolates us.
We need to learn to talk about our sexuality in a proud and affirmative way. Talking and laughing in a group, or with a friend, or with a loved one, is one of the steps we take to bring sex into the open to take its place as part of the diversity of life. Own your sexuality. Talk about it without shame and claim it a vital part of life.
- Setting Healthy Boundaries (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- Exploring Healthy Sexuality (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- Let’s not talk about sex (guardian.co.uk)
“Asking for help does not mean we are weak or incompetent. It usually indicates an advanced level of honesty and intelligence.” — Anne Wilson Schaef
I’ve received a lot of help lately. Most from my dearest friend and some from people I never imagined I would receive so much of their time or efforts. I don’t like to ask. I’ll spend more energy talking about how hard it is for me to ask, than the energy I’d expend simply asking for what I need.
Many of us may have grown up in isolation and with shame being constantly reinforced the way I did. Help began to feel like a luxury reserved for other people. I thought I didn’t deserve it. I thought I should be able to handle everything. I failed to realize just when I needed help, because I’m so accustomed to living life in a “crisis mode.” I tell myself that my concerns and problems aren’t important enough to bother somebody with. Then, when life becomes really complicated, I blame myself for feeling overwhelmed and almost unable to act.
But we all deserve help. We deserve all the help that we may want and need, whether it’s a ride to an appointment or for someone’s shoulder to cry on when we’re sad or upset. We are worth the time, effort and concern of others – not because any of us is different, but because we are the same.
- I Feel As Though I’ve Lost My Way In This World (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- How does it make you feel? (jennasauber.com)
- The Kindness Blotter: A Spate of Compliments and Helping Hands (fort-greene.thelocal.nytimes.com)
Do you suppose it’s true; for a human being to ever see a butterfly in our lifetime is a miracle? Someone shared this factoid with me a few years ago, and then I heard Katie Couric mention it just before she left the “Today” show. After hearing that, I did some searching of the Internet, looking for some data that would give me the odds of one seeing a butterfly or not in one’s life. Surely, someone has done the research and worked the numbers, haven’t they? I found that someone worked the odds for the Monarch butterfly; specifically those that have been tagged to give scientists the ability to track their migratory path and successful arrivals to their seasonal home. For someone to see a tagged monarch, the odds are over 3,500,000 to 1.
I love butterflies. The butterfly is a symbol of hope in for me. This past October and November found me riding the bus back and forth to the same appointment each day. From the bus stop, I walked along a jogging path used by a middle school or high school. From the very first trip I made, to my very last, each day I was “escorted” by a pair of Monarch butterflies that would fly seemingly while performing the tango. I can’t be sure if it was the same pair each day, but I am telling you honestly that every day two butterflies flew right along me for that one-third of a mile hike I made. At a time when I was feeling so lost, alone and afraid, there was my symbol of hope, right there at my side.
From what I can recall from Katie Couric’s brief mention of the odds of seeing a butterfly on this earthly plane and in our lifetime, it is important to note that even though our population has exploded, we still are not populating the planet all that densely. There is still about 7.5 miles between each human on earth if the entire surface was livable. Then there is the butterfly’s struggle from larvae, to pupae, to the big show of the transformed winged creature all worth noting. There are so many predators and things that could go wrong in this transformation. Perhaps it just isn’t necessary to know the odds. I think I’ll just be satisfied knowing that each time I see a butterfly, I’m witnessing a miracle!
- A Symbol of Hope ~ The Butterfly (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- California’s monarch butterflies in peril (photos) (news.cnet.com)
- Watch the birth of “super Monarch butterflies” that live 10 times longer than their parents [Video] (io9.com)