Category Archives: Life Issues

Contending With the “Gloomies”

This fall I had an early attack of the “gloomies”—a blue mood that makes a person lose incentive for doing anything. Back in October my area got four or five days in a row of cloudy, gloomy weather. I wondered if the sun lost our location coordinates! In addition to that, we put up thick plastic storm windows earlier this year. The gray weather, combined with my inability to see outside, brought on the dreaded “gloomies”.

This year I found a welcome difference in my perspective—the realization that the gloomies can be fought. The gloomies are here, but it’s not the end of the world. My mood will change. It is a battle, and yes, I have to push myself, but I don’t have to lay down and take it. I have weapons; I just have to take them up and use them.

What weapons?

The most powerful weapon is to praise God, especially when I don’t feel like it. Praising God takes my focus off my blue mood and switches it to God. I’ve found that praising God clears my head and calms my heart.

While I’m doing that, I can also:

  1. Go outside. Yep, right out into the gloom. It’s challenging the hold the gloom has on my mood. I pick up twigs, or feed the birds, or just look at the patterns of the bark on the trees. Nature has so much variety and detail to see. Nature reflects its Creator in some aspects, and I can gain insights, if I get myself out there and look.
  2. Write something–a letter, a blog post, a reflection on a book I read, or revise a piece I already wrote.
  3. Listen to music.
  4. Color or draw.
  5. Get rid of clutter. As I clean up the material clutter, the mental/emotional clutter goes too.
  6. A new weapon this year, courtesy of fellow blogger/photographer Gary Fultz, is cooking new recipes.
  7. Add more light inside. I dug through some Christmas decorations and found two sets of candelabras—plastic “candles” that you put four-or-seven-watt bulbs in. After the bulbs warm up, they twinkle. It makes the room more cheerful-looking. Nowadays, the LED candelabras are popular, but this is what we have, and it fills the purpose.
  8. Decorate the plastic storm windows. Within two days of putting up the plastic, I missed being able to look outside. It was a feeling akin to homesickness; I couldn’t believe it bothered me so much. So I taped pictures of flowers I had colored onto some of the inner storm windows. That way, when I open the curtains or drapes, I see something beautiful, not the opaque plastic. Childish? Perhaps, but it lifts my spirits.
  9. Change interior decorations. My mother and I both worked at stores which sold candles, artificial flowers, and ornamental items. Over the years we amassed quite a variety. Soon after the gloomies hit, I decided to change one little corner near the computer. I rummaged around the candles until I found a beautiful mint green candle. I paired it with a miniature artificial plant and put them on the stand in the corner. All this may sound like much ado about nothing, but I’ve read that the brain gets used to the furniture and decoration arrangements, and gets in a “rut”. Changing the way a room looks gives the brain a bit of a jolt, and gives a lift to the spirits.

©P. Booher

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Diving Into A Sea of Books–People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them The Keys

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As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”—one you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them The Keys, by Mike Bechtle, is a book I would have liked to have read years ago. That would have saved me considerable frustration, with myself and with others. It explains some things I’ve wondered about for a long time (like why I can’t come up with a quick reply in a conversation). 

As the title suggests, this is not a textbook (read “dry and boring”) type of book. Instead, Dr. Bechtle uses personal illustrations, humor, and stories to make his points about dealing with difficult people, whether they be family members, co-workers, bosses, or others you spend time with regularly. You know—those people who just DRIVE YOU CRAZY!

Some points which jumped out at me are:

  1. You can’t change other people; you can only change yourself. You can influence other people, but it has to be their decision to change.
  2. Change comes slowly, whether to you or the other person. “Crazy people” learned those behaviors over time, so it takes time to change.
  3. Crazy people may drive you crazy, but they are still human, still made in God’s image. The craziness  isn’t all there is about that person. 
  4. The “old-fashioned” virtues of kindness, humility, patience, and gratitude are still needed as you deal with your crazy person.
  5. Set boundaries and be prepared to sound like a broken record to defend your boundaries. You will need to defend them.
  6. A person’s basic temperament—whether introverted or extroverted—doesn’t change, so don’t try.  To try just puts a lot more stress on the relationship, and neither one of you needs that.
  7. What you can’t change, you can often adapt to. 
  8. Be proactive, not reactive. Dr. Bechtle suggests ways to give thought to situations, and then act upon what you’ve considered, instead of having a “knee-jerk” reaction. This one point alone made the book valuable for me, a person who tends to react, but wants to move away from that tendency.
  9. Thoughts lead to emotions, which lead to behaviors. A change in thought patterns means a change in emotions, which means behaviors change.
  10. There is quite a difference between expectations, and expectancy. Expectations about people often lead to bitter disappointment; expectancy means you are operating from a position of hope. You know there are no guarantees that your crazy person will change, but there’s the possibility.
  11. This book is about relationships; it’s really about the importance of faith and hope in relationships with difficult people.

People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them The Keys is one of the most helpful books I’ve ever read about personality and relationships. It’s a book I’ll read again, probably soon; this time, to take notes. 

©P. Booher

 

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A Little Bit of Light

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I’m always amazed by how much light one candle or one nightlight produces. When I go into a dark room and turn on a little four- or-seven-watt lightbulb, the difference is stunning. Even that tiny bit of light pierces the darkness and makes it easier to see. 

I don’t feel as though I have a lot of light, but I need to shine the light I have. That little bit of light from a nightlight can keep me from stumbling in the dark. The little bit of light I shine may be what helps someone to gather the courage to keep going, to not give up, not give in, at least for one more hour or one more day.

 

“No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:15 (NLT)

©P. Booher

 

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Thoughts on Spiritual Disciplines

In Christianity, tithing, praying, reading, memorizing, and meditating on Scripture are known as spiritual disciplines. They are means to an end; the end is a closer relationship with the Lord. However, an ever-present danger is that without the end always being kept in view, and without a generous amount of humility, pride comes in. Pride which says, (for example) “I tithed X amount of dollars last year; I’m more spiritual than you.” This is the pride of the Pharisees whom Jesus criticized in blunt language.

As I considered this, I thought, What about these spiritual disciplines:

Forgiveness, as in, “Oh, I forgave so-and-so for what he did to me 40 years ago”. Or, “I had to go to the Lord seventeen times to forgive so-and-so.” Can you imagine somebody taking pride in these things and posting them on Facebook? Nope, I can’t either.

Mourning for sin, either mine or someone else’s

Praying for someone who is absolutely, positively, my enemy–and genuinely wanting God’s best for that person

Praying for someone who is not an enemy but who rubs me the wrong way

Exercising patience when I want to do anything but

Speaking gently when I’d rather scream 

 

There are more, but I’m sure you get the picture. For me, the activities usually considered spiritual disciplines are easier to do than the ones I just listed. The ones listed are hard, really hard to do in life. They are so hard I cannot do them on my own; I need God’s help. Oh, and one more thing—I can’t take pride in them because I do need God’s help.

©P. Booher

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A New Faith-Based Resource for those with Chronic Illness

Since arthritis grabbed my attention a few years ago, I’ve been searching for materials which bring faith in God into the equation. I bought one booklet, but kept looking. 

Recently I came across Chronic Illness—Walking By Faith. After reading an online excerpt, I realized this 31-day devotional by Esther Smith is more what I had in mind, so I ordered it. Esther Smith was diagnosed with lupus and hypermobility syndrome; she knows what it’s like to live with chronic illness. She knows how one day you can be fine, and the next day you can barely function, or are somewhere in between. She knows how people say you look fine, but you know you’re not. She knows how symptoms can vary from one day to the next, or even from one hour to the next hour.

Esther writes with compassion and empathy, tempered with a dose of reality. While you won’t find quick answers or guarantees of healing, you will find much encouragement.

Each two-page devotional begins with a Scripture verse, followed by a reading relating to the verse. The devotionals end with questions for reflection and an action prompt, whether to pray for renewed faith, or another suggestion.

I am a week into this devotional, and am glad I found it. I recommend it to anyone fighting a battle with chronic illness who wonders where God is, if He knows, or if He even cares.

©P. Booher

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Another Weapon Against COVID: Humidity!

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Earlier this month I wrote about the part Vitamin D plays in keeping the immune system healthy, and so warding off the coronavirus. You can find that post here: www.countryripples1.blog/shout-out-to=vitamin-d.

I discovered another weapon in the war against COVID-19: humidity. In the summer I’m not a fan of humidity. Hot, humid summer days knock the stuffing out of me. That changes in the winter, though, as my nose and sinuses protest against the dry, furnace-heated air. We generally have a tea kettle filled with cinnamon water on the kitchen stove, and a vaporizer steaming in the living room.

An article in Scientific American online pointed out the importance of an indoor relative humidity of 40%-60%. The researcher wrote that COVID thrives in the dry air of well-insulated homes, but raising the humidity level to that range changes the indoor environment to one not suitable for the virus. Beyond that range, however, tips the scale to a too-moist environment, setting the stage for mold to grow.

You can read the entire article here: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/another-way-to-protect-against-covid-beyond-masking-and-social-distancing.

©P. Booher

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Shout-Out to Vitamin D!

Back in 2019, I tested low on Vitamin D3. Because vitamin D3 helps regulate mood, I believe my deficiency was a factor in the depression that I was faced with then, and which I wrote about here: www.countryripples1.blog/2019/06/05-depression-a-heavy-spirit.

Vitamin D3 not only regulates mood, it also helps with processes in the muscles and nerves. It is needed to absorb calcium, which makes it important for healthy bones.

Because vitamin D3 boosts the immune system, low levels of it can promote COVID-19 infections.

Sunshine is a well-known source of Vitamin D3, but if you live in the Northern Hemisphere in the winter, (as I do), it can be hard to get enough of it. Another deterrent to getting enough D is that vitamins you take may not be easily absorbed by the body and may simply be eliminated without the body getting benefit.

Your doctor can do a simple blood test to show whether you have a deficiency or an insufficiency in the vitamin, and he or she can tell you the amount you need to take.

©P. Booher

Sources: https://vitamindforall.org/letter.html 

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Christmas, 2020–What’s Changed, What Hasn’t Changed

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This Christmas will be different from all other years for many people. If you are accustomed to having a lot of family or friends over, you may be re-thinking that tradition. People who can are opting for virtual get-togethers; people without computers or internet access will find other ways to keep in touch. As has been the case since March or so, flexibility is key. Maybe you can’t have it exactly the way you’d like, but if you keep an open mind, options may appear that you never saw before.

The way we celebrate and the traditions we have are changing before our eyes, that’s for sure.

What hasn’t changed??

Consider this: the reason for Christmas (the Mass of Christ) hasn’t changed at all. Christmas wasn’t thought up by Santa Claus or retailers; Christmas was God’s idea. Christmas is still the birth of the Baby Jesus, God Who came to Earth because He loved people so much. “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name, Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matthew 1:21-23, KJV)

Maybe this is the year when we focus less on the way we celebrate and more on the why we celebrate.

©P. Booher

Author’s Note: If you have lost a loved one this year, especially due to COVID-19, please accept my sympathies.
No words can be enough, but I pray you will allow God to bring you comfort.

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Mental Reinforcement

These are days I need to keep mental “ammunition” close at hand. Here is some of the “ammunition” I use:

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”        (Philippians 4:8, KJV)

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (I Peter 5:7, KJV)

“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”     (Psalm 27:14, KJV)

“For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” (Isaiah 41:13, KJV)

“But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.” (Proverbs 1:33, KJV)

“Lo, I am with you alway, even until the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20)

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2nd Timothy 1:7, KJV)

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, KJV)

P. Booher

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Diving Into A Sea of Books–Rambler–A family pushes through the fog of mental illness

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As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “meh”.

Caution: Possible Triggers

Last Christmas Eve I drove the four miles to church in a fog so thick everything was a whitish-gray. Familiar landmarks disappeared, swallowed up in the enveloping fog. I went off the road once.

Reading Rambler, Linda K. Schmitmeyer’s memoir of her family’s struggle with her husband’s mental illness, reminded me of that scary experience. The landmarks of family routine and roles shifted like the images at a carnival fun-house and the bonds of love were tested as her husband’s mind grew unstable in the swirling, thickening fog of mental illness. As the illness manifested itself, Steve, who had a bachelor’s degree in engineering, couldn’t concentrate on his work enough to be the chief breadwinner. He couldn’t do things that formally he had no problem with. He acted in ways far out of character. At times, Steve drove hundreds of miles away from home without telling anyone. Other times, he threatened suicide. The illness thwarted his ability to be the husband and father he wanted to be.

Linda was thrust into the new role of head of the household, while working everyday, trying to understand her husband’s condition, helping the three children understand, and grieving the life that was slipping away. In the early days, she was frustrated by Steve’s behavior, believing that he could control it. Gradually she realized her husband was not in full control of his mind.

Eventually, through months and then years of treatment, doctors diagnosed Steve as schizoaffective, after an original diagnosis of manic-depression (as bi-polar was called in the 1990’s).

Told in topical format, rather than chronologically, Rambler gives a first-hand account of a family’s life in the midst of mental illness, of trying to hold it together when it feels as though the ground underneath is sliding away.

Because of the subject matter, Rambler can be a painful read at times. Ultimately, it is instructive and life-affirming.

It is instructive because the book points out a correct diagnosis takes time, as does finding the appropriate medication and dosage. Any medication has side effects, and those must be dealt with.

The book shows the approach that doesn’t help: insisting that the person can beat this, if he tries. Mental illness doesn’t result from a lack of willpower. Nor is it a character flaw. More and more research proves it is the result of processes in the brain which go awry.

Rambler also illustrates the approach that does help the patient and the family: a listening, caring heart, one that does not judge the person or family. Linda found the support of several people, especially her sister, Nancy, absolutely essential to helping her and her family make it through those tough days.

The book is life-affirming because the family didn’t give up. Steve and Linda continued to support their children’s activities, even through the hard times. Steve committed himself to getting better: he went to weekly therapy, and participated in clinical studies. He and Linda became active in NAMI–the National Alliance on Mental Illness–a support group for patients and their families, which also involves researchers and health-care providers. They remain active today. Steve and Linda’s three children–John, Luke, and Elly–are grown and say the experience, hard as it was, deepened their compassion for people who are struggling in various ways.

Rambler shows that mental illness doesn’t have to define a person; the person is so much more than the illness. Steve’s life shows a person can go on, as the three hundred fifty-five mile bike trip Steve, Linda, and Nancy took proves.

Note: Discussion questions appear in the back of the book.

For further info.: http://www.lindaschmitmeyer.com. You can also follow her on Twitter@LKSchm.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author, for purpose of review. This is an honest review.

P. Booher


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