Travel Thursday – Anxiety

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​As much as I love the idea of traveling, and the actual visiting places, the anxiety associated with the anticipation of planning is one of the most debilitating and horrible things to deal with. It’s something that needs to get done, or the trip itself is a no-go, but starting the planning…

And it isn’t even the actual planning. I love the listmaking, and the reading the tour books, researching what i want to do when I get there. It’s the starting. The monumental decision of putting the money into non-refundable tickets. Hitting that send or buy or submit button takes three times as long as filling out the information on the forms.

In the case of our Ireland trip this summer, it isn’t just buying plane tickets; it’s renting a car. There’s the anxiety of finalizing the search with a credit card number, but there is also the shortness of breath and shaking hands just thinking about driving in the UK again.

After eight years back, I thought I was ready. The memory a cry in the distance, but the closer it gets to reserving a car and planning a route from the airport to the cousins and the cities, and the ferry to Wales, my stomach jumps up into my throat and I feel a choking sensation. I can’t imagine what it will be like to get on the plane with this feeling gnawing at me.

It’s almost unbearable, and there is no earthly reason to feel this way at this moment, weeks in advance of actually having to do it.

My kids are coming, so compiled in all of that stress is the stress of pretending that there is nothing to be anxious about to soothe their own normal, rational fears, so I must hide my own, some irrational fears, but fears all the same.

I feel quite sick writing about it right now.

I vividly remember the white knuckles, the terror of every intersection, every roundabout, reminding myself to breathe, the post-it note on the dashboard telling me to turn into the left lane, always the left lane, thanking G-d at every church passed, the slight sound of scraping as I inched too close to the town wall.

It’s all coming back to me.

Not the feelings a few years later that maybe I could do it again; I got through it once, and it wasn’t that bad, but the anxious screaming IT WAS THAT BAD, PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME!!!

But as with all things, it will be okay.

Between that time and now, I have received many tools to get me through this one little hitch that seems so overwhelming, but I can get through it; I know it.

One of those is a diagnosis and treatment for the elevated anxiety that falls into the not quite normal range of emotion and brain chemistry as well as the same for depression, not entirely unrelated, but the destination will assist in alleviating any extra. I have a therapy session planned for a week prior as well as reconciliation with my priest. Not for anything specific, but you know…anxiety and such.

Another thing was something I heard at one of my first masses, actually it was at my first healing mass, the anointing of the sick. My entire life, no matter how severe, no  matter how stressful, no matter how bad, I would tell myself that it would be okay. I didn’t necessarily believe it, but just saying it to myself did have a calming affect.

At that first anointing, my priest quoted St. Julian of Norwich, subseequently a new found favorite of mine.

All will be well.

All will be well.

In all manner of things,

all will be well.

How perfect, and how needed, then and now.

Yes, I’m still anxious, and som of it will be debilitating, but all will be well.

Instagramming Across May

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When I first heard about Instagram, I thought, oh no, not another social media thingy. But once I began to use it, I really enjoyed it. Especially the way I can post directly from it to my Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. Because those two latter ones are more anonymous than my FB, I do need to be careful not to post any identifying information or at least to be aware of it when I do.

In getting my new smartphone, I’ve discovered that its camera is better than my camera-camera and my Kindle camera and having 4G that actually works is the bonus, so I’ve been using it more lately. I also love the way the layout on multiple pictures looks. It lets me be creative and really use my imagination.

This May has been incredibly busy as you’ve read in the posts I’ve made and in the lack of posts I haven’t made. But I have managed to make Instagram posts because they are just so easy to upload.

I wanted to share them with you.

As a writer, I hate the saying, but sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

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Anointing Mass

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This was my fourth or fifth anointing mass. Our church holds these twice a year. it is a lovely mass with music and inspiration and no matter what the ailment – whether physical or mental, whether relief is granted, there is always some form of healing whether it be spiritually, in our hearts, or simply through the camaraderie of joining with so many others for a beautiful morning and then socially at lunch.

The tables are always set beautifully with a seasonal centerpiece, or rather smaller items across the table that we take home at the end. There are also inspirational cards to remind us of our anointing and also of G-d’s presence in our lives, supporting or comforting us and more.

At my first anointing mass, in my priest’s homily, he mentioned Julian Of Norwich and her saying: All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

This reminded me of myself. Whatever huge thing is happening, my response is always, it will be okay. I don’t always believe it outwardly, but it centers me into striving for it. There are always worse things. I will get through this. For a long time I had forgotten this, but that first anointing mass, at the time I called it a healing mass, was exactly what I’d needed, and it gave me something to carry with me as well as someone to look into.

After returning home yesterday, and after an hour and a half last week with Brother Mickey McGrath, I was inspired to draw.

The first photo is what we received at the luncheon, and the second is my art that I created last night.

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Je Suis Paris

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Artist: Jean Jullien

I haven’t had any problem expressing my outrage and my pain with the terrorist attacks in Paris, France earlier this week. I put the news on for the first time in two months. I needed to see what was happening thousands of miles away but in a place I’ve thought often about. My thoughts went to my friends who live there, to my son’s school visits to Paris in recent years. I have been struggling with the outward expression of solidarity however. As the French flags went up on Facebook profiles, I knew I didn’t want one, but I didn’t really know why. My friend put it into words when he removed his transparency from his profile pic. Here we are supporting France (as we should be) when we ignored the same type of attack in Beirut this week, ignoring Kenya’s terrorist attack at the beginning of the month, and the Syrian Refugee Crisis.

Many people cite racism. The French are white Europeans and not Middle Eastern Arabs, but that’s not my thinking or the thinking of my friends, so why do the majority of us focus on their pain?

For many Americans, myself included, France is our friend. Of course, we’re upset at the tragedy befalling others, but we know France. France has been our friend since the literal beginning. They helped us become who we are, not like a parent, but more like a favorite and favored uncle. That doesn’t mean that Great Uncle Al, twice removed and divorced from the family isn’t thought about and cared about and mourned when he dies, but he’s not Dad’s brother. Dad’s brother has picked me up and patched up my skinned knees. He’s taken care of me, and he’s always there when I call. It’s not the homoethnicity as much as the familial relationship that we have with the French people.

In addition to that, I mentioned that my son has been to Paris. Twice. I imagine how I would have felt if he were there at this time and it tears me up. I have put myself in the places of the Syrian refugees and Arab victims and I’ve cried and felt pain and received courage from them but my family

Since I wasn’t able to attend Sunday Mass this week (I hurt my leg and couldn’t manage the walking), I still read the readings, and one of them spoke to me about this tragedy and unrest in the world.

In my life, the readings and the Scripture and my spiritual headspace includes everyone; it is a part of my everyday life. I live it. It is a Living Word.

From today’s Readings in the Entrance Antiphon:

The Lord said: I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction. You will call upon me, and I will answer you, and I will lead back your captives from every place.

– Jer 29:11, 12, 14

This stuck with me throughout the morning, and regardless of your religious affiliation or no affiliation we can still think on and want and hope for peace and for affliction to be gone, in my life, in my family, in my world.

G-d promises to listen and answer and lead back those of us who are ‘captive’, missing, stuck in situations not of their making; to help them escape, like Moses leading the Jewish people out of Egypt and out of slavery.

Non-religious people have their own beliefs and hopes for peace and ending conflict and affliction and bringing those ‘captives’ back home.

The current book that I’m reading is Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich. In the 16th Revelation she relays from her vision:

‘But take it, believe it and keep yourself within it, comfort yourself with it and trust yourself to it; and you shall not be overcome.’

You shall not be overcome.

We have the strength to get through these tough times and any other tough times that are yet to come. G-d is speaking through her, and her visions – she is not alone in her world, and similarly we are not alone. We are surrounded by people who are on our side and want to and will help us through the hard times and celebrate the good ones.

As I said about prayer earlier today, prayer builds up, and doesn’t tear down. That doesn’t mean that prayer is the only way. Embrace all the ways people want to help, through spirituality or through humanity, and we will be better for it.

Retreat, Day 2: Anointing Mass

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My church has a twice yearly Anointing Mass for anointing the sick. It is also called a Healing Mass. Everyone is welcome whether for a physical or a mental ailment. Many of the neighboring nursing homes and assisted living centers bring in their residents for this special mass. This was my third one. I go for both my depression and my knee pain.

Obviously this is for people of the Catholic faith, but belief or not I still think it is a wonderful experience of community and sharing our joy which halves our pain*. Seating is every other pew so the priests can move through to anoint and offer the Eucharist.

There is music and singing; there are prayers and scripture reading. It’s a Mass so it includes the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

The Mass is followed by lunch. I usually attend alone, so it’s always a surprise who I will be sitting with. So many people go to so much trouble, cooking, setting everything up, decorating. There are prayer cards and a favor to take home. One of the volunteers makes them. They are so thoughtful and creative; it makes me want to go home and create something.

In yesterday’s writing, I mentioned having an object to help with meditation and contemplation. Today we were given a small medal with a cutout of a cross. I have been given this week’s object, I see.

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I encourage you to look up today’s readings. They are always a link from the past history to our daily lives. One of the things I enjoy about going to Mass so often (usually four times a week) is that despite the words being thousands of years old, they still speak to me. I relate to them on a regular, almost daily, basis.

First Reading: Lamentations 3:17-23

Second Reading: James 5:13-16

Gospel: Mark 7:31-37

My prayer

card:

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Julian of Norwich is one of my favorite mystics. Her work is said to be the first one written in English by a woman (1395).

One of my favorite of her quotations struck me when I first heard it. Ironically, when I am in a pessimistic mood, I will still often say that everything will work out; it will be okay.
Her words:

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well”

is so close to my own sentiment that I did a double take the first time I heard it, which was appropriately at my first healing mass.

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[Borrowed and paraphrased with permission from Dumbledore’s Army and the Year of Darkness.]