Tag Archives: inspiration

Embrace Your Today Family

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

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Charlie Brown and the Peanuts Gang are some of my favorite people. This Thanksgiving, my table is adorned with all of them. A picture of the infamous Charlie Brown Thanksgiving meal hangs on the wall.  My intention is to serve little snack cups with samples of Snoopy’s cuisine: popcorn, pretzels, jelly beans, and toast.

Though members of the Peanuts gang had relatives and homes, they chose to spend holiday time together. To the main characters,  Lucy, Linus, Sally, Marcie, Peppermint Patty, Pigpen, Franklin, Violet, Charlie, Snoopy, and Woodstock, this group was family.

Some of us have little to no family with whom to spend Thanksgiving or any holiday. Perhaps family memories and members have faded to the past. Strife or tragedy may have prevented a sense of family at all. Most likely, the culprit of broken ties is a mix of distance and time.

We have, or can build, a Today family.  Temporary families dot my past. My family of origin briefly existed. Visits with extended family were short and far-between. My friends became my family followed by my (now ex) husband and children.

Everywhere I’ve lived or built a social circle, “family” has included persons both related and unrelated to me. One option is to look back and bemoan the loss of many of these relationships. Embracing a Today family sounds like a happier choice.

This year, I have invited relatives not seen in about 10 years. Jon and Tim, my sons, will also be joining us. Last year, two women had dinner here, while for a couple years prior I sat around feeling sorry for myself.

See the progression? Learning to look after my needs is an arduous task. In doing so, others are also blessed. It is worth the anxiety (where will everyone sit?), the money (lots of food!), and stepping out of my comfort zone.

I encourage anyone without a technically-correct family to celebrate the family you have today. Friends, neighbors, shut-ins, people at the homeless shelter  – all can be members of your family if you reach out in courage.

And you will be their family too.

three smiling women beside man holding smartphone

Today’s Helpful Word

1 John 4:19

“We love because he first loved us.” 

 

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*photo of friends: rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

It’s Been Rock n’ Roll, Sister. Rock n’ Roll.

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2015  Nancy Virden

photo-25063706-wheelchair-at-hospitalThis was not expected. None of it was really, but especially this.

He rolled into my unsuspecting day and rolled out leaving behind a star-struck and humbled woman. I had cheerily greeted him intending to boost his morale. Immediately at his response, the needy and the giver exchanged places. 

From his wheelchair he spoke of freedom to walk. Despite his struggle with three strokes he talked of strong faith. With a paralyzed left side he expressed expectation for recovery. His eyes grew wet at the mention of his mother because he is unaware whether she is still living. He laughed, and his dark tired eyes better resembled what must have once been a fiery and impetuous younger man.

He blamed drug and alcohol abuse as a teenager for his strokes at mid-life. For years he has lived in physical rehabilitation centers, most commonly known as nursing homes. One might expect him to be bitter at his fate as he wheels among elderly residents lost in dementia. Bitterness was not present. It failed to show up between his wide smiles and intense passion for life.

I was there to visit someone else. My friend sat patiently nearby as this man shared his life story with me. Lost love and poor judgment punctuated a past that had left him alone and lonely. Yet he was here, beside me, sharing a piece of wisdom that rocked my world.

“When I was [first] in the hospital, a doctor came by to talk to me,” he said. “I told him I wasn’t sure if I’d ever walk again, and he said, ‘One day at a time.’ I’d never heard that before. I didn’t know what that was…one day at a time.”

He grew still for just a moment, reflecting on the profound memory. “Those were professional words from a professional man, and I listened.”

The simplicity of the doctor’s remark had turned the life of his patient around. The first-time stroke victim had poured himself into daily workouts and therapies. For weeks, then months he pushed himself to the limit, repeating ‘One day at a time’ as his mantra. Two years later, he walked out of the hospital, a new man.

Then he had a second stroke. And a third.

Since he moved into rehabilitation center, a few years ago, his old friends do not come by, his remaining family will have nothing to do with an ex-drunk, and he wonders and worries about his mom.

“It’s been rock ‘n roll, sister. Rock ‘n roll,” he said. His left foot dangling helplessly over the wheelchair’s foot rest, he burrowed his gaze into mine. “One day at a time. The doc told me one day at a time, and that’s how I do it.”

One morning, one step, one day at a time, we can experience a meaningful life.

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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 is yours.

*pictures from qualitystockphotos.com

How to Become Who You Want to Be

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness  (c)2015  Nancy Virden

861Ok, who do you want to be?

Let’s get to the point: We are not in control of external events, however we are in control of our responses. Our responses will define who we are in the eyes of God, others, and ourselves.

So let me ask again, who do you want to be?

For two and a half years, a three by five foot handwritten sign hung on my office wall challenging me each day to respond to, What kind of person do I want to be? What step will I take today toward becoming that person? 

For about a year I read that with a bit of resentment and much negativity. I didn’t want to put up the effort to even decide who and what, let alone make changes. One memory is of facing the sign and sticking my tongue out at it! Many days its message was ignored.

Nonetheless, I’d placed it there. The same motivation forced me to confront it consistently regardless how I felt. During what I believed was recovery from a major depression episode, it became clear I was actually experiencing a much grander change. Life, and my responses to it were adjusted. I didn’t want to repeat old behaviors that left me ashamed.photo-24758778-vector-image-of-green-arrow-and-blue-bar-graph.

Specific goals came later. The sign is no longer up, not because I don’t need to consider the questions, but because they are now automatic in my thought processing. Both my wall and mind have space for a plethora of affirmative answers.

Taking small steps toward who we want to be today is healthy and makes us stronger. It’s a mistake to chase colossal ambitions that overwhelm our current strength. One day at time, practice will change our hearts, and give us momentum.

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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 is yours.

*pictures from qualitystockphotos.com