Today is the last Monday in May – the month for Mental Health Awareness. Mental Health Mondays will be a bit more sporadic, but that doesn’t mean your own awareness of your mental health needs to be. Hopefully, in the last few weeks, I’ve given you some resources to pay attention to how you’re feeling mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and keep moving yourself forward one step at a time.
If you hit a block and need a little support, check out the “mental health” and “mental health monday” tags in the search bar.
Contact a mental health professional. (I am not one. I am simply someone like you, struggling, and trying to stay on top of it.)
All I wanted to do today was to sit in my backyard, in the shade, and listen to the nature: the birds chirping, the chipmunks chattering, bunnies stirring in the grass, and even the kids laughing and the cars driving by. And every hour, I can hear the church bells from over a mile away.
Unfortunately, my kids needed things, and I was the taxi. Once this publishes, I’m going to sit inside in the air conditioning and read a book and then I’m going to join my rosary group on the telephone.
I know how blessed I am.
I also know how fragile the balance is, and so I keep on it through awareness, lists, and the sound of music, whether that’s with instruments, voice, or nature.
Any way I can help, please ask. We are a community and we help one another.
Long time readers know of my affinity of the annual GISH scavenger hunt. I had opted out of last summer’s, and wouldn’t you know – that was the last one. I know Misha Collins, the actor who started that hunt has been pulled in too many directions, and he finally decided that last year would be the last. This has led me to two ideas.
The first is to honor the legacy of fun with a quick hunt today. It’s similar to one that I’ve done with my kids when we were on vacation. How that one was set up was that they each got a small bag, like a party goody bag that among other things included a journal, a pen, and a photocopied list of things to look for. It gave them something to do in the car, and it reduced the complaint, of “I’m bored.” At the time, my kids ranged in age from 10 to 19.
Below (and on the Download page found in the sidebar), you will find a colorful sheet to print out for your own hunt. The directions are at the bottom, and you can add your own items to the back if you like. Below that, I have just the list if you’d prefer your list to fit on a quarter sheet of paper or for emailing.
The second thought I had was to have my own scavenger hunt during the traditional week that GISH is held: July 30 through August 6. I’m still working out the details, but here is a preview of the logo I’m creating.
My idea is to post two items per day (perhaps 16-20 items). You can put your “entries” in the comments on either the main post or the individual item posts. I’m not going to judge anything, but I will draw a random name from the participants for a small prize (still working out the items and the prize). That person will receive an e-gift card and to receive the prize must consent to share their email with me. (I will not sell or share their information with any third parties.)
Enjoy today’s mini-hunt and I look forward to seeing everyone at the end of July for the hunt-that-has-no-name-yet.
Before I share some of my thoughts and suggestions, I’d like to inform readers that I am not a meditation teacher; I only know things that I’ve practiced in classes and what I’ve been taught as well as what seems to work with me. I have done centering prayer a few times, which I find hard to do for any length of time. Last week, for five days, I joined a Mindful Writing Challenge, which began with a five minute meditation that then proceeded to a writing exercise. I really enjoyed how this made me feel. It calmed me; it set my writing time as definitive; it motivated me to get something on the page. And it was consistent. I’ve used similar breath work from a prayer retreat to settle me in before bed. These are what I’m sharing with you with one or two links.
If you have any reason that you can’t do these breathing techniques or stretching, consult your doctor. You do not want to start ANY exercise program (even if it seems minimal) without checking with your health care professional.
I also want to remind readers that it really is okay to simply sit in silence for five to ten minutes. That’s enough for a recharge.
It’s okay to listen to music.
It’s okay to listen to the rain.
It’s okay to just breathe.
Find your center.
I’ll include the link at the end, but my new Spotify playlist dropped this morning, and it has a few musical selections, some with lyrics, some with only music that may help to calm your mind and let yourself go deeper or simply rest.
Try it out. Keep what works; ignore what doesn’t.
This is a 5 minute video with Elena Cheung. Sometimes it’s not the activity, but the person helping you with it. I played this one, and I really like Elena’s voice and personality. That may seem shallow, but if the person you’re hearing is creating stress for you (through no fault of their own), it’s not going to decrease your stress. Do your own googling to find what you like and what you’re comfortable with.
Another breathing style I learned on retreat is a simple Inhale-Exhale saying the words (prayer), Accept (inhale), Surrender (exhale). My teenage daughter was having a really bad day, and I breathed this with her, and it really did a lot to settle her down so she could get ready for bed.
A new one I learned last week is 4-4-8 technique. Breathe through your nose. Inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 8.
Sit in a chair with your back straight. Breathe deeply. Inhale slowly. Hold the breath. Exhale slowly. Do this for five to ten minutes.
In my town, I’ve seen signs all over unmowed lawns, stating, “No Mow May.” This has proved very convenient for our family as our lawnmower is on the fritz, so I guess we’ve got one more month to get it repaired or replaced.
Sustainable Saratoga has some helpful tips on how not mowing benefits bees, which benefits all of us. Of course, check your local ordinances for property upkeep, but generally, you’re only required to mow your lawns in June, July, and August, but it varies by locality. Also, visit their link for Pollinators and Native Plants (Saratoga County and parts of Upstate New York.)
If coloring’s your thing, visit my new page: Coloring Sheet (link in the menu) and look for the World Bee Day sheet to download and color.
And if you like a snack while helping the bees, stop into your local Starbucks where they have the new Bumblebee Cake Pop, but I took photos of it from all angles, and all I see is a yellow cat. If someone could show me the bee, I would very seriously appreciate it!
Sometimes, you just need a mindless break. But some of those mindless breaks can actually be mindful.
Yesterday, after mass, and the May crowning, and then praying the rosary in the garden there, I came home to my husband and daughter heading out for some Mother’s Day shopping, and I opted to stay home. What did I do with myself?
I sketched and I colored and I read.
The reading was a heavy, emotional book, and the coloring helped me through the traumatic chapter. As you can see from the photo, I wasn’t able to finish the coloring page. I plan to do some more tonight.
In addition to the sketches, I’ve included photos from this week. When I was in the depths of my depression, I’d drive a little bit and take photographs. At that time, my focus was on church architecture and really old cemeteries where the names were barely visible. Today, I take photos of nearly anything that catches my eye.
Drop some of your art and photos into the comments. And remember to breathe.
For those who know, Wednesday is new comic day. It’s a weekly collaboration and celebration of reading and community tied together with a pull list and a handful of new issues. They range from black and white and vibrant color and everything in between, where words and pictures mesh to create something new that cannot be done with only one or the other.
Each local comic store has its own personality, and Earthworld Comics in Albany, NY’s personality was as big as the heart of its owner, JC Glindmyer. As the motto stated, they (and he with an assortment of helpers) had been rotting minds and seducing the innocent since 1983. We moved to the area in 1995 and had been visiting Earthworld whenever we were in Albany before that, well befoe our kids were born. My husband wouldn’t move to a place that didn’t have a comic store, and with Earthworld he found the best.
JC died this week.
We missed him on Free Comic Book Day due to a family obligation – it was the first one we’d ever missed, and this one really stings. Each first Saturday in May we’d get there early, waiting for the doors to open, hanging out with the costumed superheroes of the day that JC arranged to be there: Spider-man, Gamora, Batman, Supergirl, Wonder Woman. There were special days all through the year: Batman’s 75th anniversary, Halloweenfest, Fangirls Night Out, and while Free Comic Book Day was filled with free comic books and entertaining heroes, the biggest hero was JC, raising money each year for local charities.
I would also be remiss in not mentioning how often he helped us by floating our comics from payday to payday, knowing our struggle, but also knowing that we were regulars (for a couple of decades) and needed the respite of reading the new issues without the embarrassment of not being able to afford them. Kids don’t always understand the money aspect of life, and JC knew how important some of those books were to the little ones.
If Halloween was on a Wednesday, Earthworld would be our first stop before trick or treating. Below is a photo or our kids dressed up as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman – the one trio we couldn’t wait to dress them up as!
During the covid pandemic, I’m sure he was worried about business, but he pulled together a curbside delivery after one week or so, and we tried to get there each week. We didn’t necessarily need the comics, but supporting JC was something that we didn’t even have to discuss. He met us (and other customers) curbside in his Earthworld t-shirt, Superman cape, and of course, his mask and gloves. A real super-hero.
We’ll be there today because it’s Wednesday, but the store will seem emptier, quieter, sadder.
If you’re visiting upstate New York, stop in at the Albany store, and see the magic for yourself. If you’re too far to appreciate our bounty, visit your local comic book store and see the magic there.
May your memory be an eternal blessing, JC. You will be sorely missed. ❤