Tag Archives: Cleveland

What You Look for is Exactly What You Find: Discover Happiness

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

One quick look at world news, and we need a good story to wash off all the corruption and heinous crimes and abuses.

Uplifting articles are available if we will look for them. In the past week, some co-workers showed their support to a young man who rides his bike 6 miles one way to work every day, no matter the weather. They bought him a car.  In Baltimore, a returning soldier surprises his children at school.

In my corner of the world, a mentoring program initiated by our governor is teaching middle school students in Cleveland, Ohio to dream beyond supposed limitations.  About twenty people from my church are in Houston helping to clean-up after Hurricane Harvey.  A friend drove me to the hospital for a procedure and waited for hours.  These are good stories, and they are everywhere.

Will we look for them?

“Challenge yourself: Look for the positives in your day …and find happiness!  Oftentimes what you look for is EXACTLY what you find,” wrote Dr. Louis Bevilacqua, founder of Sanare Today, a multi-location holistic mental health and addictions Intensive Outpatient Program.  If he is right, then we need to look for beauty. 

There is a world of difference between looking for the positives and denying struggle.  By admitting we hurt, we remain in the truth.  This post is not promoting  ‘positive-thinking’ in the sense that we cheerlead ourselves into being who we are not or do not want to be.  Our challenge is to own up to pain, and find the equally realistic better parts of life.

Today I woke feeling down.  Despite temptation to mull over sad truths,  I thanked God for rest and warm shelter. Guess what happened next? I smiled! Choosing to acknowledge God and his love made the morning’s start easier and more pleasant.

Where are positives when life is dark?

Understandably,  critical life stressors press hard.  Sometimes our hearts feel as if they have stopped. We see only pain. Emptiness rules our days, and desperation, our nights. How is looking for the positives supposed to help then?

When I was at that point, I knew only a handful of positives outside agony.  Here is the short list.

  1. In the depths of a sense of worthlessness, I knew other people, many of them strangers in health care, wanted me to survive.
  2. Emotionally lost and unaware of my footing, I knew only that I was on my feet.
  3. When suicide seemed the obvious choice,  I knew God might have other plans.
  4. Drowning in a sense of abandonment, I knew Jesus was still present.

These facts were all but buried under hopelessness. Yet because they existed, I could look to them as glimmers in the dark. Clearly, this was no picture of cheerleading!  Combined, they were the thread that connected me to the next step. Then the next. Then the next.

Mine was a long recovery. Learning to tally the good created a space where I could start to believe in life’s purposes.  It is my hope that you will see your opportunity to look for possibilities instead of focusing on bad news. 

Today’s Helpful Word

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

*********Comments are always welcome (see tab below) NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with 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 is yours.

Feeling Better Feels Better – 2 Mantras to Help You Find Joy

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Driving up to a CVS drive-thru, a thought that has been on my mind lately paid another visit. 

You see, a few years ago I used the term “assuage” (meaning to lessen an intense feeling) in an email to my therapist.  The reply included, “I never knew that word until I helped my daughter with her spelling list last night. One of the words is assuage. HaHaHa. It’s in the small stuff!”

It’s in the small stuff. Joy.  Amusement at life’s little quirks.  Relief from negativity. Hope.

My aunt, who has been a huge inspiration since my childhood, once talked about finding beauty spots wherever she travelled. Lovingly cared-for flower gardens in a front yard, a wild daffodil on the side of a freeway, a pretty city square – these are all types of things we may not notice every day. 

Inspiration in motion

When I first moved from  country to city life thirty years ago,  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 my new town.

The first house was old with prism windows. Rainbows splattered across the furniture and floors every day. Later, the home I am still in,  has woods out back. Deer come regularly to munch and sun themselves,  birds sing,  and even a family of ducks once waddled down our sidewalk.

At CVS this morning, I noticed the bright yellow of the poles protecting the building from careless drivers. It brought a small smile to my face because that shade of yellow is my favorite color. Talk about small stuff! That made me laugh, too. 

It takes practice, but anyone can start today. Start noticing.  Start appreciating.

Two mantras to keep in mind

  1. It’s in the small stuff
  2. Beauty is everywhere

Discovery is a fun game to play whether alone, car-pooling, playing with children, or at work. What is beautiful in your life today? 

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 106:1, 2

 Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord or fully declare his praise?

 

 

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Comments are always welcome (see tab below).  NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with 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.

  • log pic by kozzi.com tree pic by RWLINDER on rgbstock.com

From Emotional Rags to Riches

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness  (c)2017 Nancy Virden

I was spoiled. Living in the western suburbs of Philadelphia for six years, certain comforts like full-serve gas stations, free valet parking at doctors’ offices, and grocery home delivery are privileges which trickled down to average folks, and I took advantage. Now Cleveland is home again, where none of these are available. Poor me (back of hand to forehead with a pout).  I have to pump gasoline, park my car, and carry groceries like most Americans.

Sigh.

Pity party over, truth is, even when change is simple and positive, it is at least a tad stressful. A major move, death of a loved one, leaving home to go to school, getting married… these are heavy challenges. Changing a worldview and lifelong core beliefs is grueling.

Believe the best

Switching out a negative and hopeless mindset to one of embracing life involves daily courage. Due to abuse, neglect, and myriad reasons, some people question their worth from childhood forward.  False messages collected from what was heard and seen in a family of origin need to be compared to real evidence. We must confront our ignorance and denial. Beliefs can hold us hostage; beliefs can change.

A therapist said, “…please believe the best of yourself too. If there is another reasonable explanation, take that one, and don’t beat yourself up.” She was referring to a tendency toward guilt and shame when one’s core belief is “I am always wrong.”  No one is always wrong. Looking for another reasonable explanation is wise. Taking it in is admirable. Changing one’s view of self is brave.

I am not heroic by shopping for groceries and filling my car’s tank. However, working hard to garner a wealth of insight and newfound understanding is my emotional rags to riches story. With God’s help, patient professional care, and a teachable spirit, my life has turned a full 180 degrees.  

Beliefs can change, and so can you.

girl lookingToday’s Helpful Word

Philippians 4:8

 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

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NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with 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.

-1st picture from Qualitystockphotos.com; 2nd pic from rgbstock.com

 

 

Full Circle: A Week of Miracles Part Three

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

IMG_20160419_130624People who are proud of our midwest state and cities, and who will strike up conversation with anyone; home of Rock ‘n Roll, the birthplace of aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright, John Glenn, and Neil Armstrong, and eight U.S. Presidents; cornfields; Lake Erie; mid-size “big” cities and small towns; die-hard sport fans and this year’s NBA Championship; and more cornfields – that’s Ohio in a buckeye nut shell.

Of course there is much more, and during the Republican National Convention (RNC) this past week, the world saw the finest city Ohio has to offer – Cleveland. Yes, I am biased. Cleveland is my home, where I raised my children, and where I fit in.

Having spent six years out of my element, I learned how sweet home really is. No one looks at me funny when I strike up a lively conversation with a stranger. I can say y’all and you’zns without anyone acting like I need a better education.  It’s OK to wear a lampshade to church (odd hat party), to offer a gift card I cannot use to an acquaintance without committing an offense,  and to borrow eggs from my neighbor. This is my culture. Home.

In years past, opportunities to volunteer in Ohio have included working with people of all ages, particularly children. For years I prayed for these people, for my city, and for how I could make a difference. My prayers did not stop while away. I left a Cleveland that was struggling to survive. In the economic downturn of 2008, Cleveland was hard hit with an unemployment rate upwards of 10%. When I came back, Cleveland was building, and had scored the RNC.

IMG_20160619_100507Many people I know, and plenty I do not know pray for Cleveland regularly. I am but one of tens of thousands who believe in a literal God, a Heavenly Father who hears and answers earnest prayer. In the weeks before the RNC, there were gatherings of like-minded believers who interceded in prayer for the safety of our people during the upcoming convention.

Thousands gathered at the Wolstein Center on Saturday July 16. Prayer groups gathered at key spots around the city to declare victory over violence on Sunday night. As one can see on videos and in news reports, people prayed with protesters, police officers, and bystanders. Countless others prayed at home and in churches.

The police were united, and well-trained and positioned. Our police chief prayed with an angry protester. Christian believers deescalated conflicts. It’s never a good idea to mix anger and alcohol, and bars that expected heavy crowds into the wee hours closed early. Clubs had slow business.  Accomodation for hundreds of offenders was prepared, but there were only 27 arrests.

Leaders of protest groups have said they could not get their people to come out.  The city was peaceful, outside troublemakers stayed away, and Cleveland was spared. Believe what you will, but as for me, I will continue to pray for my city.

This is full-circle and meaningful to me. I went away unhealthy and consumed with negative false beliefs about myself and the world. Cleveland was suffering and despairing with its people speaking of hopelessness. This summer, I am renewed as is my city.

Cleveland is not perfect. Racial tensions can be tough here. Forty years of busing seems to have had an adverse effect.  This is a largely segregated city with Cleveland more or less divided in half. Prayers going up for Cleveland are not only to prevent violence during the RNC, but to heal and unite our citizenry.  I believe in hope because I believe in prayer.

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COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with 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 is yours.

– picture from Kozzi.com

Cleveland Has Found Its Anti-Depressant: Joy is Palpable Today

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness  (c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

IMG_20160622_101335The last time Cleveland won a championship, I did not care.  I was three years old, in a smaller town, where people held a stereotypical view of the big city up north. You’ve heard it, the mistake on the lake.

When I found out I was moving here in 1987, I cried. It was bored into my brain that Cleveland was a nasty place to live. I asked God to please show me beauty in Cleveland.IMG_20160619_100507

It did not take long.

Soon, seven points of beauty proved to be antidepressants in this city. Today there is sheer joy in the streets. Cleveland is proud of our NBA Cavaliers.

The beauty in Cleveland is in the breath-taking Lake Erie. One of the largest bodies of water on the planet, it is a peace-giving, life-renewing, place of rest. Walking along its shores fills me with wonder and calm. The people who walk there are friendly, and I have not noticed anyone doing anything to hurt another person or the landscape.

The beauty of Cleveland is found in people’s front yards. If you are a Clevelander, have you taken the time to look? Little beauty spots sprinkle the lawns – flowers, trees, memorials, tokens of faith, flags of honor and sports’ teams.  There is an aura here of pride that shows up in front lawns.

The beauty of Cleveland is found in its hidden treasures. A quick drive through the city may leave you with an impression that we do not have a lot of money, and our tastes are lacking. I only say this because privately owned places of business can look a little dingy on the outside. Gazing only at the superficial, one might assume that business is flailing and the owners do not care. Wrong.

Step into those places and see for yourself the pride people take in their hard work. Go in the store that needs paint, and where the outside light is dim. Inside you will likely find a beauty spot you never expected to see. My experience has been,  for the most part, walking in to orderly, well-run, eager-to-serve ma and pa shops. I see a single woman starting her own dry-cleaning business, two friends excitedly taking over a hardware store, and franchise owners who greet their customers personally. Is Cleveland perfect? You can choose to glance at what you do not like, or to study the real heart of the city which is beautiful.

The beauty of Cleveland is found in its park system. Metroparks is one of the best park layouts in the country. Its walking, running, riding, and horse-back trails are stunning in any weather. Trees loom over valleys and homes, surround rivers, and are filled with birds. Sights, sounds, and smells are invigorating to the soul.

The beauty of Cleveland is found in its Fine Arts. Playhouse Square is second only to Broadway. We have a world-class orchestra. Our museums house rare and precious art by the Masters.

The beauty of Cleveland is hope. Each year, resident sports fans say, “Maybe next year.” Believeland has the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We have the Republican National Convention coming next month. We have a surging enthusiasm.

And now WE HAVE A CHAMPIONSHIP!

The truest beauty in Cleveland is its people. They are the pulse, the beat energizing this beautiful city. If you do not live here, and you think you are a sports fan, try this on for size:

Our downtown closed today. The mayor declared a holiday. Businesses all across the metropolitan area are letting employees leave to go to the victory parade. Radio stations are talking of nothing else. One major television network is devoting the entire day to the Cavaliers and our city’s celebration. I drove down the street earlier this morning and do not think I saw one person without a Cavs shirt or hat. Cavs flags are on cars, porches, and doors. People are talking of little else.

As many as 800,000 to a million people are expected at the parade today. Let’s keep this in perspective – Cleveland’s population is less than 500,000. Traffic is jammed from 30 miles out as the parade kicks off in about an hour. People were lining the street as early as 7:00 last night. The Lakefront airport is fully booked. Busses are taking up to four hours to get to downtown and returning for more eager, patient riders.

In short, this city has gone wild with joy!

Proudly wearing my Cavs t-shirt, I was asked if I am a Cavs fan. I answered the way I think many people around here feel, “I am a fan of Cleveland.”

If you have not lived here,  you do not know the meaning of die-hard fans. Watch today on TV, listen to the commentators. I guarantee they will mention our amazing fans. That is because fans of Cleveland make up this city.

And that is beautiful.

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COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with 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 is yours.

 

Seven Men in Three Trucks Set Example

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2015 Nancy Virden

Cleveland is terrific when it comes to garbage pick-up. Clearing out a home during a major move can create what appears to be a ton of garbage. You know what it looks like – the boxes, dust, cleaning and sorting, and piles of throw-aways. My recent move involved clearing out two houses. You can imagine the full-to-overflowing trash cans.photo-24756121-illustrated-image-of-a-dustbin.

This morning it took seven men to empty two large garbage cans, pick up a box spring, mattress, and another heavy box from my tree lawn. Last week was similar. 

Not all seven of the men arrived at once. First, two stopped their massive garbage truck in front of my home. The driver took a look, wrote something down, and left. Nothing was picked up.

A single driver manned the automated truck with its fork-lift type arms, grabbing cans up and down my street, shaking their contents into the truck, and setting them back in their places. It’s a simple procedure when garbage cans are lined up in a neat row.

Today, however, I could see the struggle as gigantic metal bars reached for their target, almost knocking over the box spring leaning against it. The driver raised the lift and brought it down hard, snapping the obstacle in several places.  After retrieving and returning my garbage can, he left a mess.

Four men, squeezed into the tight cab of a third trunk, jumped out and gathered up that mess. I felt relief looking out at the almost normal lawn. Hauling two empty garbage cans into the back yard is all the responsibility that remained of what would have been a difficult task without help.

Recovery from an episode of major depression compares to these events. Piles of negative thoughts and thought habits collect in the brain until it is nigh-impossible for one person to overcome on her own. The physical component of the disease kicks in, driving hopelessness and a sense of worthlessness into one’s core. When this has happened to me, I have needed kind support.

However, not all support is the same, effective, or timely. People who I wish would come alongside me sometimes stop, stare from a distance, and go away having done nothing. Others try to get involved, yet discover my struggle is too much for them.

Obstacles like lack of insight, ignorance of the facts, and limited know-how can cause some people to leave or hammer me with hard accusations and a command to just snap out of it. In a few cases, friends have backed-off for the sake of their own mental health and wellbeing.

It is mental health professionals who effectively led the way toward change. One more investment I am making is openness, making room for that figurative village in my daily priorities. 

You can too.

Ultimately, it is our responsibility to clean up our yards. Accepting available support is the primary way emotional overloads and false core beliefs are cleared away. Personal inner power to overcome is freed to do the rest.

In faith, Jesus is my ultimate provider of strength and utmost support.

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NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with 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.

 

 

 

 

 

The “Sleepwalker” Statue and a “Lively Conversation”

Compassionate Love:Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2014 Nancy Virden

Art is art, so they say, and freedom of speech is, well, free. We Americans like these premises most of the time. 

Years ago, in Cleveland, Ohio there was a KKK rally held downtown.  Close to that time a Cleveland-area suburban black family woke to a burning cross on their front yard. What do you think the reactions of the children from that home, now grown, might be to a statue of a KKK member placed near where they live?

At Wellesley College, an all women school in Massachusetts, an artist designed and built a life-like statue of a man wearing only his underwear, stumbling across the lawn with his arms outstretched. Sleepwalker.

Students are protesting and asking for its removal because it is frightening and a reminder of the threat of assault.  Wellesley’s President likes the ensuing controversy because it has caused “lively conversation.”

In both cases, I believe we are talking about something more damaging than political incorrectness.  

Due to a variety of flaws in our data collecting process, and the fact most victims of sexual abuse do not report it,  statistics on these crimes are incomplete. With the more consistent statistics we do have, the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center has concluded that 1 in 4 girls are victims of sexual abuse before the age of 18:

“In addition to low self-esteem; sense of worthlessness; abnormal view of sex; mistrust; anxiety and depression that many of these girls may carry into adulthood, young people who were raped or endured an attempted rape as adolescents are over 10% more likely to experience the same in their first year of college.” **

Is it possible that a quarter of Wellesley’s students have been sexually abused as minors? Absolutely. It is not just victims of prior assaults who are reminded of very real fears by Sleepwalker. 

I believe Sleepwalker is significantly offensive and makes light of the power of image to incite fear and traumatization. 

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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.

picture from Kozzi.com

*Sexual Violence on College Campuses, Cleveland Rape Crisis Center website, Resources section, retrieved from http://www.clevelandrapecrisis.org/resources/statistics/sexual-violence-on-college-campuses on February 9, 2014

*U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2011). Child Maltreatment 2010. Available from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/research-data-technology/statisti…
*Statistics About Child Sexual Abuse, Cleveland Rape Crisis Center Resources section, retrieved from http://www.clevelandrapecrisis.org/resources/statistics/about-child-sexual-abuse on February 9, 2014
 

To Amanda Berry, Gina deJesus, Michelle Knight, and the Rest of Us

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2013 Nancy Virden

free

Not Today.

I have been a victim; I am not today. 

Pain has threatened to overwhelm me; today I turn to loving support.

There have been hours and days I’ve been too afraid to run; I can run today and declare my freedom.

Sometimes my thoughts take me to anger, then rage, then revenge; I choose today to trust God with my vindication.

This moment it is tempting to go into the shadows and curl up and be sad; today I can limit that time.

My emotions will rise and crash driving me to wonder if I will ever be OK; today I will not worry because I am not alone.

Vicious words aimed for my heart are on the tip of my tongue; today, I will not be my own abuser.

I have been vulnerable, felt helpless, and scared; today I recognize my strength has come from inside, buttressed by God.

In the years that are gone I can see regret and waste; today I choose to look forward to watching how my experiences will play out for good.

I have cried incessantly; today I cry in the arms of those who care.

Darkness has been my existence; it is not today as I rest in the sun’s light. 

This is a day sorrow, grieving, and hurt could steal my life from me. I was a victim.

But not today.

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NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. I speak only from my experiences with 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.

*photo from Kozzi.com