Compassionate Love:Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness
(c)2014 Nancy Virden
It is a beautiful farmhouse. Its sprawling front room overlooks a country road backed by endless corn fields. A wall-to-wall stone fireplace maintains a cozy aesthetic year-round. When I first learned we were moving out of this home, I cried, especially as it became clear we were going to settle in a big city.
In 1987, my husband’s job took us to Cleveland, Ohio only two hours north of the farmhouse. It might as well have been a full day’s journey since I perceived it to be as far from beauty as anything could be. Obviously, up to that point I was not a city girl. My childhood had been split in half with the latter nine years spent on a large property complete with a creek, woods, orchard, acres of garden, and a sledding hill. Country environments agreed with me; outdoors was my chief refuge.
City life? The idea could not have been less appealing. Why, cities are ugly with cement and wires, very little grass, few trees, and more cement! These were my thoughts concerning Cleveland; I needed to find beauty in our new town.
Our first home in Cleveland was an old house with prism windows. Rainbows splattered across our floors every day. Having never seen anything like that before, it was my first discovery of city beauty. Outside the window of our second home, a wild tree grew. For five years it was fun to watch as its branches spread out. Our third and last home in Cleveland had fruit trees and woods in our backyard. Deer came regularly to eat and rest, rabbits had babies in our grass, a variety of birds sang, squirrels (some my kids named) were laughable, and even a family of ducks waddled down our sidewalk.
It didn’t take long though to find Cleveland’s richest beauty – its people. No one could have told me before our move that I would enjoy raising my children in the city. Looking for the positive in our situation changed my attitude completely.
At present many of us are experiencing more snow, flash floods, tornadoes, or thunderstorms. In cities, piles of the once-white flakes are likely now gray and dirty, mini-mountains surrounded by muddy slush. This has been a long and eventful winter, an unusual one. Slush, cancellations, blocked roads, flooded basements, and closed schools seem more tolerable in small quantities; our winter blues could be extended as long as Puxatawny Phil’s shadow.
“Changing my focus, changing my negative beliefs, changing my worldview…whew! Now I can either say that job is overwhelming, or difficult. I can say it will not be done in my lifetime, or ask, ‘how far will I get today?’ Looking at the task makes me feel tired already. What if I were to feel energized by the challenge?” (From my book, Always the Fight).
Discovery is a fun game to play whether alone, car-pooling, playing with children, or at work. In today’s weather, what blues of winter can we notice that are awesome, lovely, and hopeful?
Winter blues include the hottest part of those homey flames in the fireplace, the happy sight that peaks momentarily through all those clouds; and a proud color on many of the U.S. Olympics teams’ uniforms. Plastic sleds flying downhill, fuzzy mittens covered in ice, and that second layer of socks may also be winter blues.
What is beautiful in your life today? Can you bring to light your winter blues?
NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours