Don’t Give Up

I used to think that everyone elses life was different and more better than mine.  Then I found out that a family member of mine drinks.  Yes, this was a turning point for me.  A reality check I suppose.  I never thought that she would go down that path but, when she revealed that to me, I was kinda shocked.  Slowly, but surely, I have been listening to the stories of countles other people whom I thought their lives were peachy-keen.  Same shit all the way around.  “I wouldn’t have married him had I known what I know now…he’s an alcoholic,” says one.  “My husband is disabled so I work two jobs, ” says another.  And on and on it goes.  I start to wonder at what point did I drift off into la-la land in my life?  Why the heck is this so shocking to me?  I’ve always known that other people have issues too, so what the fuck?

The human spirit has a tendency to not give up, no matter what the circumstances are.  When the human mind says, “Oh your not good enough, ” the human spirit answers, “Oh yes you are!  Keep going!”  But a reality check sometimes is in order.  Not everything is as glamorours or as escapist as we would like it to be.  How do we as humans cope?  We try to get away from it or we go through it with the strength of our human spirit on our side.  My spirit is constantly telling  me to get the fuck up and try again, every single day.  It doesn’t tell me that its going to be easy, no, that’s what the imagination is for.  It does tell me that I am more than capable to at least get the fuck up and try again.  So I listen and get up and try again.

I become frustrated many, many times.  Standing up isn’t easy to do either, yet I am thankful that I can even stand at today’s date.  For nearly seven years I could not use my legs as effortlessly as I used to in my younger years.  A few years ago, I found out that I was walking on a collapsed hip.  It depressed me something awful.  The idea that I could not walk again brought me down to a level I had not been in before.  I struggled to get out of those depths.  I researched depression and did what I could about health and exercise and such, but there was only so much that I could do on a collapsed hip (which is extremely painful by the way and I don’t wish that on my worse enemy if I’ve got one).  I tried mindulness techniques, taking my supplements, and going out for the shortest walks I’ve ever experienced.  Eventually, I received a hip replacement.  My spirit won yet again with its motivational short speech.

Now, it speaks to me again.  It continually is reminding me not to give up.  “Don’t give up!” it says, over and over again.  You see folks, I’m facing another small dilemna, one I’ve faced before.  This time my spirit says, “Don’t give up! Find a way!  You can do this!”  My dilemna?  Finances.  My husband and I recently moved to Texas from North Carolina.  It was my husband’s idea and I went along with it.  I quit my job on the belief that here would be much better, and easier, to find work.  Once again, it didn’t turn out that way.  Now, I’m just tired of all of this bullshit.  I worked hard in NC to get work and get back into being a good steward of my finances.  We get here and find that we are struggling again!  It is very difficult to find the motivation to get up and keep going.  I was so angry with my husband and daily I try to find the motivation to do something different in this situation.  I’m at the point now that I’m not angry nor am I thinking of getting even.  I’m on survival mode now and needing to work pronto!

Currently, we don’t have a vehicle…….yet.  The bus routes are only to town and not so far out west and walking is the only thing I can possibly do at this moment.  Is it irony? I don’t think so.  I really do miss my work and the people I worked with.  I can’t spend too much time reminiscing because my spirt won’t allow it.  “Wake up and smell the coffee even if you have to make yourself a cup!” it says.  It is frustrating some days, yet I still get the fuck up and I don’t give up.  My life is not yet over and I cannot spend it on remembrances, regrets or anger.  I just have to continue to be me…determined, loving, honest, motivated (the list is pretty extensive so I’ll just stop right there for now).  I look for work via the Internet and think about ways on how to get to the interviews should there be any.  I can only hope at this moment that there will be several interviews all in one shot but I also have to be realistic and continue to apply.

I often think that I am missing something.  I’ve thought about creative ways to do this job search and getting to where I need to go.  I have hope, motivation, spirit, determination and Internet connection (thankfully). Not everything can be done on the internet though and I miss having the social connections needed to keep pressing on and looking at other areas that are in walkable distance.  I’m clearly trying to figure this out, folks.  I’ve looked in most job banks here, like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed, etc. and have applied on those as well and found that they basically have a repeat of what the other job banks have.  There’s only so much that one can do to revamp a resume without having to embellish on experience or decorations on the paper.  I’ve listed most of the transferrable skills that I possess and those I’ve gleaned throughout my years of employment.  Hence, the title of this article, “Don’t Give Up.”

It is definitely tempting, and easy., to do so, just give up.  My mind would like me to believe that I am stuck, but my spirit says that there is so much opportunity to be had.  I am going to make a breakthrough, I just have to take it easy on myself sometimes, as I tend to overdo it a little.  Stress management techniques, like taking walks, are helpful at times.  I also peruse positive and motivational quotes continuously, which are also helpful at times.  Sometimes I just cry and cry and cry, then I get up again and keep going.  I just don’t give up.

 

After a deep sleep

So now I slowly awaken.

So many things have occurred after the holidays.  Even my gratitude journal lay dormant for a few months while changes occurred, as if a whirlwind entered my space.  Much upheaval, many thoughts to cope with, to sort out, and always, always fighting the demons of depression and physical pain.

Then there’s realization.  The realization that hope still lives in me.  The realization that I can get through this.  The realization that I am stronger than what I believe I am.  Just beginning to settle down in an old, new place, I find that I sometimes become overwhelmed.  Then I laugh at myself and tell myself, remind myself actually, that I’ve been here before, that all I need to do is tackle things at an organized pace.  I finally pull out my gratitude journal and begin to write again.  I come here and begin to write.  I cannot forget my purpose.  I have a story to tell, even if it is in bits and pieces.  I am shy in person, but I do not feel the need to be shy here.  I can speak to you as if I know you and you are getting to know me.

I am protected by anonymity yet I am known.  My words speak of years that have passed by and times that are coming and moments that are presently current.  I simply cannot forget my purpose.  I still have goals to achieve and a long journey ahead, yet I still have time to gaze at the blooming trees and the way they seem to be ablaze in the morning sun.  God is good, I tell myself.  I am thankful for the ability to see such beauty and to contemplate it.  No negative thought can take away what is before me, the sprawling carpet of farm, the trees enclosing it, marking its territory.  A reminder of when life gets too busy yet the beauty remains.  Even when life seems dormant, it is still beautiful.  When it awakens, it shows off its splendor for the world to see.

I, too, am a part of nature.  Like nature, I slowly awaken.  I shift my gaze and look upon that which is praiseworthy and excellent, real and untouched.  I see how everything changes, slowly, ever so slowly, nature adapts to its seasons.  It follows the flow with accurate precision and I follow it.  We both meet the sun and point our faces toward it but we don’t miss our pace while we grow.

This is what happens after a deep sleep.

Super Genes, A Willing Servant (Book Review)

I found this book to be an interesting read.  While there is a basic understanding that what we think and our environment and what we eat affects us overall, Super Genes helps the reader to see how deeply our lifestyles affect us.

Part One explains how the “memory of personal experience…may be immediately passed on…” to future generations.  This part helps the reader to understand the importance of how environmental and social factors affect us directly as individuals and future heirs of our genetic makeup.

The authors suggest that ‘what happens to you today…is recorded at epigenetic level…potentially passed on to future generations.’  Therefore suggesting that if one changes one’s life, our future offspring (and their future offspring) would fare better when faced with life’s circumstances (especially the negative, stressful life circumstances).

The authors further suggest that our genes first adapt to outer (and the inner) stimuli before mutating or transforming into something more permanent.

Part two deals with diet, exercise, sleep, stress, meditation, and emotions.  In this part, the authors state that ‘we begin with the lifestyle habits that send positive messages to your genome.’

This section is meant to open the reader’s eyes so that the reader makes more conscious choices toward positive lifestyle changes, including those of environmental and social stimuli.

Another key point that I found attractive was the section on inflammation.  Those of us who suffer from depression should be aware that inflammation and depression are in close correlation, as well as inflammation in other parts of our body.  While inflammation is the body’s way of fighting off infections and diseases, it can also have a negative effect when it becomes chronic.  The authors explain, and tackle, inflammation in “Getting Rid of Inflammation.”

Part three talks about the most common illnesses that most people face in today’s date and time.  Illnesses such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disesase, and depression, to name a few.

Overall, this book is meant to take the reader into the exploration of how one’s thoughts, emotions, environment, and eating habits affects the reader deep within the entrails of our body.  Wow.

I received this book for review from Blogging for Books.

The Professor Is In: A Book Review

This book is aimed at, for the most part, those who are looking for tenure track positions.  Generally, it explains how a graduate student should not self-sabotage in the application process and at the interview.  Otherwise, I found many points of interest in this book.
The author, Karen Kelsky, begins this book strongly, opening with an idyllic scene (a retirement party for a professor), where wide-eyed graduate students are fed false expectations of grandeur.  Dr. Kelsky then pours upon the reader the ice-cold reality that grad students will eventually have to face.  She continues on with quantitative data and factual annual gross incomes, comparing that of a tenured position to an adjunct position.  These are similar to that of a receptionist/front desk position and that of an administrative assistant.  The receptionist (adjunct) does equal or more work than the admin assistant (tenure) with less pay, with no chance of climbing the proverbial ladder.  What shocked me the most was that “adjuncts at institutions of ever rank often qualify for welfare and food stamps.”
Dr. Kelsky adds a bit of background of herself and how she came across the discovery that graduate students weren’t receiving the advice that would be needed for a grad student to succeed in their job search.  The author basically bursts open the doors and reveals the real struggles that grad students often face during their final years in school and their first years of job search.  The author reveals that grad students are simply sent off on their own, not just blindly reaching for something they might not get, but also lost and confused on how to obtain what it is they start out seeking.
The author provides great advice in this book, where she recommends that it can also be used by those who are planning to seek out graduate studies.  It really does help knowing what to be aware of before, during, and after graduate studies.
She goes on to explain, and prepare the reader, of how a job ad is formed, what kind of candidates are favorable to a universtity search committee, and how to present yourself and your work to make it to the top “acceptable” candidate list.
Dr. Kelsky goes step by step in the process, detailing every process right down to the reference letter, providing pragmatic approaches for the graduate student, regardless of age and experience in job search.  Of course, she throws in common sense, basic steps that every job seeker should already be aware of. For example, I found that Chapter Five was a basic tutelage on interview behavior that all job seekers of every level should already have learned and mastered.  There are workshops on this subject that are readily available, even to those job-seekers who are in the low-income bracket. In Chapter Forty-Eight, she recommends to “get everything you negotiate in writing.”  In Chapter 36, the author reminds the reader how to handle outrageous questions by stating, “You have control over your responses.  Also remember that you are not obliged to volunteer information out of codependent concern for your questioner’s comfort.”  In other words, you keep the focus on the purpose of what you are there for, even if you have to shift the focus back on that fact.
Lastly, the author touches on subjects of student debt, taking the step to leave an adjunct position, and what to skills can be used post-academically, and ends her book with a chapter on declaring independence, a subject that has been pronounced repeatedly within the book.
I recommend this book to anyone of any age, seasoned or beginner in job search techniques, graduate or undergraduate student, looking to put their prospective degree into use in the dog eat dog world that is the job market.  It is a useful resource book that should be shelved in one’s own library. The author has used a “been there and done that” approach, and has contributed deeply useful information for those who want to take their passion to a place where it should be.

I received this book for review from Blogging for Books.

Ways to Beat PMS Stress and Negative Thinking

Folks, regardless of your sexual orientation or gender, we all go through some form of PMS in our lifetime. I don’t know about you, but I go through heck and back every single month and the symptoms vary. I could be the happiest go lucky person people would love to get to know. Or I could be the meanest bitch around, where people run away screaming. Then the thoughts that go though my mind about my husband are horrendous! This is the time when I start seeing the very worst in him: how lazy he is, how bad he smells, how loud he chews, well, you get the idea. It is the most uncomfortable time for me. So, this early morning, I dreamt of ways on how to beat PMS stress. Yes, folks, I dreamt it. In fact, it was the last dream before awakening, so I still had it in my mind and decided to evolve it a little by trying to make it humorous and write a blog about it.

In my dream I was telling myself to research ways to overcome PMS and its varied symptoms.  A little hard to do since the symptoms are never the same. But I gave myself little ideas, like color therapy and cooking with my husband (or at least doing something nice with him). Small, seemingly insignificant things, will take away the focus on negative thinking, dissolving it with positive action. And the stress level will go down so that hormones won’t be uncontrollable jumping jacks. With that being said, here goes a few suggestions:
– Watch sad movies:
Yes, make it a marathon! Sometimes PMS makes a person very emotional. I cry at the drop of a hat. So, make a playlist of movies, by hand or by some special app, collect the DVDs that make you want to cry (only you know what they can be), and make a day of it. Cry your eyes out. It’s okay to cry you know.

-Read a book (or several):
With PMS comes depression. With depression comes a need to escape. The most healthy way to do that is to read a book. Whether it be a romance, action, psychological thriller, or non-fiction, the need is the same. Make sure that you are comfortable enough in your spot, get your tea or coffee (ginger tea is best since it decreases inflammation), and get
to reading.

-Play a game:
I personally enjoy hidden objects games. Most usually have a story line, then puzzles, then hidden objects scenes. Yours could be role playing games, like the Legend of Zelda, or it could be Pokemon (yes, I like Pokemon and I’m not ashamed to admit it), or it could be a Sudoku or crossword puzzle. No matter what the game of choice is, your mind will remain active and in the moment, and the negative thinking will whittle away in the background.

-Write:
Create a journal or several journals. Create something positive, like a gratitude journal, where you would have to force yourself to see the positive side of your life. Indeed you do have a positive side, such as your accomplishments, your family, your husband, what you’ve learned, etc. This will shift your mind from thinking negative thoughts to the more positive things in life, and help you feel much more better about life in general. You can also blog your thoughts, if that makes you feel most comfortable. In whatever format you choose, write it out.

-Do something with your significant other:
You can cook, go for a walk, do something crafty, learn about cars, etc., when you engage with your significant other. You’d be surprised at what you can come away with if you really ask questions, even something simple like changing the oil and the oil filter in your car, or why does your significant other enjoy doing certain things. You can recommend going to a museum, taking a short course, or going for a drive. If your significant other refuses to participate, don’t worry. Some of these things you can do on your own. This applies to those who are single as well. Which brings me to the next suggestion.

-Learn something new:
Life is full of new and exciting things. Wish you can draw? Then be bold and take that first step. You can go to classes, get on an online course, or go to the library and take out a book on the subject. Want to learn how to use that expensive camera you got last Christmas? Again, same as above. Want to learn about mindfulness, meditation, and chakras? Again, be bold and take that first step. You will not regret it. In fact, you will be accessing parts of your brain that you normally do not use. You will also learn how to beat stress and stop negative thinking in a constructive
manner. I’m not going to ask you to believe me. Try it for yourself and see.

-Color therapy:
Break out the crayons and color! Seriously! If you have coloring pencils and construction paper, even notebook paper, then color! Do whatever design you wish to do. It has a relaxing effect on your mind and helps to focus your mind and bring you to the present moment. There are also mandalas that are used for coloring on the web. Just pick one, print or save as a .jpg, and color (you can also use the Paint mode from your computer to color them in). Do a Google search on mandalas and it will give you a list of websites from which to choose your coloring mandalas.

-Food!!:
Just watch what you eat. It is tempting to go for the high fat, high calorie, high carb, easy to make and quick to eat, junk food hidden somewhere in the kitchen. But I encourage you, even dare you, to try something new. Make something from scratch. Try a vegan dish, or a Thai dish. Try a different way to make chicken or beef or pork. Like sandwiches? Make a Cuban sandwich! Try a low-carb dessert, with fresh fruit. There are loads of websites out there that you can search and loads of books at the library. Check it out!

-Exercise:
Simply going for a walk is exercise. You pump blood to the heart and create more oxygen to the brain. Make it a fun walk. If you have a smartphone with a camera, take pictures! It doesn’t have to be professional-style photos, folks. Take photos of what interests you the most, even if its your feet while walking, a house that has a certain appeal, the architecture of a building, etc. If you are the creative, crafty type, then window shop. Get ideas from the things that are on display in stores. How many times have you gone into a store, ready to buy something, and told yourself, “I can make that!” The whole point is to enjoy your exercise. Jump rope if you have to, just enjoy it. You will be releasing any pent-up stress, as well as endorphins, the “feel-good” hormone, which will make you, well, feel good.

-Got kids?:
OMG! I could go on and on with this section, but then you won’t read my blogs anymore, so I will be concise. If you have kids, the things you could do! You can cook with kids, have a picnic with kids, laugh with kids, face paint with kids, walk with kids (make sure you carry snacks), make snacks with kids. The things you can do with kids is infinite! Don’t have children in your home but love kids? Volunteer! Become a Big Brother/Big Sister, babysit, tutor, etc. So many things that can be done when there are children in the mix!

-Listen to Music:
I love listening to music. I listen to all types (except for rap. No offense!), and it just fills me with joy!  Make a playlist according to moods, or listen to all of your songs at once. Singalong with them or just create new dance
moves in the privacy of your own home. Don’t worry, no one will know (except me because I recommend it). If you have access to the internet, use YouTube to find different forms of dance and lessons, like salsa or country line dancing. You can do this alone or you can do this with your children or your dog. Play the music loud (if you can) or listen to it on
your headphones. Music is universal, enjoy it.

-Take a long warm (or hot) bath:
Does this really need explaining? Use whatever form of aromatherapy you have on hand, whether it be essential oils, bubbles, bubbles with essential oils, or just plain Epsom salt. Add music and candles to the mix, and you’ve created a nirvana of your own. If baths are not your thing, or you just have access to a shower stall, then take a shower!  Water helps soothe aches in your body, and the sound of water helps soothe the soul. Couple that with nice smelling body wash and shampoo/conditioner, and you will step out of the bathroom feeling like a new person (certainly not like the one that stepped in). Even if you have children in the home, this step can be done in the early morning, and again in the evening,
when everyone is asleep (sans music).

I sure hope this list of suggestions help you find new ways to beat PMS stress and negative thinking. I personally use many of the methods on this list, and they help a great deal to shift mental perspective and negative moods. Because PMS can last for many days at a time, I find myself using several methods in a day, throughout the entire time I’m PMSing. I hope this helps you as well.
If you have additional suggestions/comments, feel free to add. I’m always looking for new ideas to inspire and motivate me to do stuff.

I’m so happy that you stopped by today. I hope that you have a very pleasant and lovely day.

The Power of Surrender: A Book Review

I really enjoyed reading this book. From the very beginning, starting at My Initiation Into Surrender, to the end, Embracing Ecstacy, I found that I could hardly put the book down.
I found this book to be of interest because of the author. Dr. Judith Orloff is a bonafide psychiatrist. However, unlike psychiatrists that I’ve come across, she is a very spiritual person, and even dedicates this book, The Power of Surrender, to her spiritual teacher. So this isn’t just a clinical type of book, where techniques of mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy, or conditioning isn’t the only thing explained, but it is mixed with the warmth of spirituality and really looking inwards, where most of life’s answers lurk and where true love can really be found. The author’s work here sort of reminds me of the works of William James, a psychologist who believed that, in order to properly diagnose someone, one must look at all aspect of the client’s life, including the spiritual side. Dr. Judith Orloff is modern and crisp at her approach to psychiatry. I can only wish that more psychiatrists would follow this path instead of giving us clients the cold shoulder and endless medications that do not work and create more side effects within our bodies.
Dr. Judith Orloff starts the reader off with explaining what her experiences were when she began to put the power of letting go in the section entitled, “My Initiation Into Surrender.” I found myself relating to her almost rebellious yet kind nature and her need to get out of society’s status quo. Her need to be different, albeit following the footsteps of her parents, led her to discover a different aspect of psychiatry and medicine that her parents were unable to tap into in their time. This has helped Dr. Orloff not only experience the ecstacy of letting go, but also has allowed her to help countless other people in this process. And she reminds the reader that she is there with you every step of the way. Dr. Orloff reminds the reader to be “someone who wants to become everything you were meant to be and more.” Who doesn’t want that?
Dr. Orloff goes on to explain that surrender does not equate weakness, powerlessness, or being a pushover, in the section “An Introduction To Letting Go.” She talks about assertiveness at the right moments, regaining control of your life, and letting go of what no longer serves you. She explains the issue of reconditioning oneself, or reprogramming oneself from old habits and beliefs, letting go of drama, looking within oneself (which is probably the most challenging aspect in this book for most people), and recognizing that you are not what you thought you were in the negative aspect.
Dr. Orloff separates “The Power of Surrender” into parts. The author explains that these parts are the areas of most interested to the majority of people and she couldn’t be more correct. She starts off with Part One: Power and Money. Many, many people may find these subject areas quite daunting. And she explains exactly what kind of people find them daunting by writing about specific money types followed by useful meditation and surrendering techniques that will help these types see money and power in a different way.
Part Two: Reading People and Communication explains that reading people is not a personal thing, rather an exercise into understanding what the next person is going through without bias or judgment from your part. In other words, keeping an open mind when faced with people from different backgrounds than yours. The author also provides helpful surrendering techniques to be able to read people accurately. The author states, “People who read others well are trained to read the invisible and fine-tune their senses, including the sixth sense.” She goes on the explain the importance of communication and how potent it can be in everyday life. Again, the author provides useful surrendering techniques so that one can become an effective communicator. Dr. Orloff explains, “Impeccable communication means relating to others with compassion, flaws and all.” For some people, that can be a hard pill to swallow. Here she outlines the different types of communicators and asks that you be as honest with yourself as possible without judgment.
Part Three: Relationships, Love, and Sensuality delves into an ever popular area of the when, why, and how’s of relationships of all kinds. Dr. Orloff begins this part with an introduction of the Sixth Surrender: Honoring Soul Mates, Soul Friends, and Animal Companions. Yes, folks, animal companions. Here is where everything gets even more deeper. Indeed, the author forces one to look deep, deep inside to recognize all of the barriers one might have built against true love, by recognizing obstacles we put up ourselves and why. One of Dr. Orloff’s techniques here is the Surrender Old Relationship Rules, Create New Ones where the reader is again made to look at their own behavior towards relationships and take old bad habits and replace them with effective techniques. She also explains surrender strategies for soul mates and soul friends and animal companions. This part also touches the subjects of the Seventh Surrender: Exploring The Divinity of Your Body and Sexuality, where it explains how to pay attention to what your body is telling you (for example, if you’re sad, cry) and surrendering to the subtle energy in your body or your chakras. The authors further talks about surrendering to a positive body image, something most people have a problem doing. The Eighth Surrender talks about igniting sexual power. Here the author explains how to “get out of your head” and allow passion to flow. She lists the Ten Qualities of a Good Lover and Common Killers of Passion and goes on to explain how “orgasm is the crown jewel of surrender.” Here there are many surrendering techniques to look into. The Ninth Surrender requires the reader to look at the natural world and its sensual essence. Yes, the natural world is sensual. Here the author teaches how to look at the world around you with a different perspective: Night and Day, the trees, flowers, the sound of birds and frogs, stones, caves, earth, water, fire, the air, in short everything pertaining to nature. This third part will have you looking at yourself, and the natural world around you, in a very different way.
Part Four is dedicated to Mortality and Immortality: Cycles of Light. The author helps the reader to see illness and pain by providing surprisingly common sense strategies and five ways to heal yourself by surrendering to intuition (page 292). The author states to “use these along with information your doctor offers about various treatment options.” I found this part very useful, as I am currently dealing with a degenerative illness and I have faced depression, fear and have been “frozen in inertia” because I went from being vibrant and active to nearly bedridden. The Eleventh Surrender explains experiencing radiant aging. This surrender helps the reader to accept the changes that the aging body requires, to deal with the mental and emotional aspects of aging, explains the several factors of aging, and spiritual aging. The Twelfth Surrender refers to death and its concepts, includes a meditation journey into death, mourning and surviving loss, and even asks what is your perfect death.
Part Five entails the final surrender, embracing ecstasy, basically celebrating the blessing of joy. Dr. Orloff states that “being joyful is a courageous choice which makes your path of surrender vital and thrilling.” She continues by saying, “By consciously embracing joy…you’re declaring, “This is the person I want to be and can be.””
I read this book from cover to cover. I found that most of the surrender meditations were more useful to me if I recorded them with my own voice and listened to them at my highest relaxation state, before going to sleep. It helped me to see a part of myself that was always there, once I got out of my own way, and quieted the constant negative chatter in my mind. I recommend this book to anyone who has tried conventional methods with little to no results. While Dr. Orloff suggests that one can read this book from any starting point, I recommend reading it from the beginning. It is meant to change the reader’s perspective not only in the areas mentioned above but also from how one sees oneself. She also suggests not to judge oneself and to keep an open mind. I agree. The techniques in this book will help the reader see a different side of themselves, probably in a way they have chosen not to see. Like the Bible says, “You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” I hope you enjoy this book as I did.
I received this book on September 14, 2015, via UPS Ground, in really good condition (paperback version), from Blogging for Books for an honest and unbiased review.

On depression, photography and mindfulness

For a long time I have had struggles with the constraints of depression.  The way it just sneaks up on you sometimes and threatens your overall well-being in a matter of days.  Sometimes the overwhelming sensation of falling, like Alice going to Wonderland, just takes too long to subside, and the journey may seem long, dark, ominous, and bleak.  Then there was the longest battle I’ve had with this dark side of humanness: two years of depth, with a lot of prayer, a lot of support from my husband (who really made an attempt to understand what was happening to me), and the determination to take that daunting climb out of that underground cave.  I went from studying the effects of the Stanford Prison Experiment (of which I felt my circumstances were similar to), to having a collection of positive quotes and even studying a textbook on positive psychology.  I’m not crazy about taking pills for any condition, especially if I am aware of alternative methods, such as proper psychotherapy and psychiatry skills, so whatever I was prescribed was short-lived and really did not have the effect on me as the doctor felt it would. Only I knew what I needed and I sought it out as vigorously as I could.  Still, I was not completely out of the hole.

As I began feeling physically better (I was suffering from a severe case of gouty arthritis on the knees), I wanted to go out more, to socialize more, to change my perspective more.  Slowly, but surely, that is what began to happen.  My husband and I moved from one place to another and the change was exactly what the imaginary doctor ordered.  We went from an overcrowded and loud city to a rural paradise that only God Himself can create.  I was born and raised in the city, but my heart and soul were meant for the countryside.  My husband and I still struggled, but the environment was set up to be able to surpass the struggle, or at least go through it with a much clearer mindset.

We arrived in rural upstate New York toward the end of July and was very surprised with what I saw.  Of course this was not my first time traveling from the hustle and bustle to an absolutely serene countryside.  But it had been a few years passed for me, and my body, my mind, and my soul and spirit welcomed it with such wide open arms.  The air was cooler and cleaner and everything was so green.  In fact, we were in Greenville, NY, part of Greene County.  No lie.  Oh and we lived right across the road from a creek.  But I digress.

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Basic Creek, NY 81 (West), Greenville, New York 12083 (Original photo by Yvette Roman)

That August, my husband bought me an HTC One M7 smartphone and I loved the equalizer on it very much when it came to listening to music, but, little did I know the larger role this phone would play in the upcoming months.  As the summer months turned into fall, which then turned into winter, I found myself falling again into the throes of darkness.  This time I decided to take a proactive approach to this situation.  During previous studies I had encountered several ways to fight the battle against depression, including but not limited to, eating well, taking supplements, daily exercise (even simple walking), meditation techniques, and mindfulness.

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This tractor was just sitting there, near the bank of the creek. Greenville, NY (Original photo by Yvette Roman).

According to Wikipedia, mindfulness is ” the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment, which can be trained by meditational practices…”. (See Mindfulness).  Wildmind.org also defines mindfulness as ” … the gentle effort to be continuously present.”.  (See What is Mindfulness).  Wildmind also states that “in mindfulness we’re concerned with noticing what’s going on right now.”  So, I took that very seriously and began searching for ways to practice mindfulness by noticing what’s going on here and now.  I decided that it was time to take whatever I’ve learned so far about battling depression and putting it into action.  I will take up photography.  So I did.  With an HTC One M7 smartphone.

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I love barns and sheds. They have such character! Greenville, NY, along NY 81 East. (Original photo by Yvette Roman).

Because I also have a physical disability (arthritis) I decided that walking, not briskly, but at a leisure pace, fulfilled the physical exercise portion of the no more depression workout, and allowed me to also take in the scenery with a different eye.  And I saw everything!  The sky, the bare trees, the old pickups nestled in their parking space, a field tractor near the creek, the snow, the sun, the signs….everything.  I attempted to learn what I could about my smartphone camera: ISO, shutter speeds, special effects, macro, etc.  It was a little frustrating at first.  I was seeing everything around me with a different set of eyes for the first time and I had an innate desire to capture what I saw with my eyes on digital film.  It wasn’t working out.  But mindfulness isn’t about rushing into anything, it is about being present in the moment, sort of like living in the moment.  So I learned a new craft, slowly.  I became better in my photography as time went by.  I learned more about the technicalities of photography in general (there is so little out there about smartphone photography techniques).  I joined Facebook photography groups.  I even created my own photography group entitled, Nature Photography. (See Nature photography. This is a private group.).

This is the center of town, near the cross streets of NY 81 (going east/west) and NY 32 (going north/south). Greenville, NY

Today, I still consider myself an amateur photographer and I photograph when the opportunity strikes (always!).  I still haven’t upgraded from my smartphone to a digital camera but that’s okay.  I still haven’t learned fully about other functions and ways to manipulate the way photos come out.  I try my hardest to publish my photos in its original content, meaning no special effects and no editing, like the one shown above.  I think and feel that my photos reflect their honesty that way and can also be seen differently and more creatively if naturally blurred or if the environment is naturally two-toned.

Basic Creek, overpass view, facing southwest. Greenville, NY
Car bridge facing Red Mill Road, off of NY 81. Greenville, NY (Original photo by Yvette Roman).

There are many ways to fight the depression monster: one is learning something new, another is practicing mindfulness, yet another is watching what foods you put into your body.  I searched Google for many, many days trying to find creative ways to do things and new things that I can learn to do. So, if you find yourself having a blah moment, suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, depression, or anything that clouds your mind, first seek the advice of a physician.  Second, do some research.  Third, do something new and different.  The list can continue from there.  Live your life now, my friends, not tomorrow.  And if you have other helpful links, please feel free to share.

I am grateful for you and I hope that you live in the moment.

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At the boardwalk headed toward the beach, Kure Beach, North Carolina. (Original photo by Yvette Roman)

Gratitude journals

I don’t know how everyone else might feel about having to write down everyday, morning and night, into a gratitude journal.  A gratitude journal is similar to that of keeping a diary.  However, in this particular journal, one is to list or talk about all of the things that one is grateful or thankful for each and every day.

I remember the days when I used to keep a diary.  In fact, I still have one-subject notebooks teeming with random notes, quotes, ups and downs, that occur to me every so often.  It’s hard to keep up these diaries.  With a gratitude journal I find that it is also a little hard to keep up with.  I try to find things to be grateful for on an everyday basis:  the birds singing in the morning, the ability to see the sun rising, the ability to hear the mighty ocean waves roar and crash into the edge of the beach, learning photography (a daily challenge), learning new crafts (I just finished my first wood chip carving…yahhhh!), being filled with gratitude toward family and friends who have been there for me when I really thought no one would be, etc.

While there are soooo many things to be grateful for, it still is a challenge to remember to write them in a journal every morning and every night.  Those of us who are accustomed to keeping journals in general usually keep a generalized journal and input everyday feelings, thoughts, and activities that can either happen during the day or during the week.  Some of us lead extremely busy lives, whether it be working outside of the home or as a stay at home parent.  Still some just reach out for the bedside journal when negative thoughts and feelings arise and we feel that we have no one to talk to, so we spill all of our innards into this journal.  So then, how do I manage a gratitude journal?

According to www.oxforddictionaries.com, the definition for gratitude is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”.  Therefore the focus of keeping a daily gratitude journal is to be more in tune with the positive aspects of life, of thought, of feelings, of people, of circumstances, of faith, and of everything in general.  To be able to open up this journal daily and re-read previous entries should provide a feeling of accomplishment, of the fact that we, as human beings, living in this world filled with peril, can actually still see it as a beautiful place.  That other human beings, not so well known in the media and social circles, are actually kind, gentle creatures.  To see that one can also be as kind and appreciative in almost any situation, no matter how bleak it may be.

I guess that it is well worth my time and energy to write daily entries into my gratitude journal.  No one else has to see it.  No one else has to know about it.  It’s between me, myself, and I.  Managing it shouldn’t be difficult and being grateful shouldn’t be difficult either.  Stopping for a moment to help another, to pay it forward, to say thank you, to wash a dish…those are the little moments of gratitude that can be immortalized on paper.  Those stacks of notebooks can contain immense volumes of gratitude that no other individual can steal from me.  A gratitude journal can serve as a constant reminder that, no matter where in the world I end up, there will be a whole host of individuals who have positively changed my life and a record of how I was able to pay it forward.

Of those things and more, I am grateful.

Hello world!

Hi there!  This is my very first post.  Here is where I will put my thoughts on many, many things, and will add photos I’ve taken myself.  I’m known as wsdmwthn.  I hope that you enjoy what you see here and, please, feel free to add constructive criticism, if necessary.  Be respectful and I will always be respectful in kind.

I hope to see you again real soon!

Wsdmwthn