I believe in God.
Friday, December 28, 2012
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Honestly, it's been hard going through this program. The program is rather like boot camp in that it seems to be designed to break you down and then build you back up. Nearly everyone is reduced to a crying mess at one time or another, and some--like me--many times! Nonetheless, it works. This program really works. I and the others who come through are living proof of that.
Every day I accomplish something new. Today I stood upright for twenty minutes while holding a basket containing a five pound weight. When I leave, I will continue to accomplish new things. I just know it. Watch me go!
Sunday, November 18, 2012
For yes, despite all that is going on in Israel/Gaza, despite my constant worry and frequent breaks in my day to recite psalms, I still care about Reece's Rainbow. All children everywhere deserve safe and loving homes.
In terms of the Israel/Gaza conflict and my non-Jewish friends, some of them get it and some of them don't. "Charlotte" understands and is supportive completely; others not so much.
Regardless, I am scared for Israel. I am also scared to start the CHOP RND rehab program tomorrow. It will have good results, and I will most likely come out the other end feeling better than I've felt in a couple of years, but it is not going to be fun AT ALL.
If you are the type who prays, would you say a prayer for me, and one for Israel please? Thank you very much.
Saturday, November 17, 2012
1. Air strikes continue back and forth.
2. Civilian casualties continue to occur on both sides.
3. My father thinks this could be a distraction for Iran's progress towards a nuclear warhead.
4. THE SEPHARDI CHIEF RABBI OF ISRAEL HAS CALLED FOR PSALM 83 TO BE ADDED TO DAILY PRAYERS.
Despite the situation in Israel, however, I cannot stop praying for "Rheann" and the other children listed on Reece's Rainbow. They continue to need our prayers as well; nothing about their situation or needs has changed just because Gaza and Israel are at war. Tonight I looked at HIV+ children ages 0-5. It's a shame these children are considered "disabled." HIV is a truly manageable condition; with the right medications, people with HIV can have a full lifespan. Additionally, HIV can only be spread via mixing of bodily fluids. Kissing, hugging, drinking from the same cup, and other types of casual family contact CANNOT spread HIV!
Also, before I forget: I have a spot in my doctor's RND rehab program! I start Monday morning, and I am SO excited. It is not so much that I am excited to go through the program itself--that will be grueling and not very pleasant--but that I am looking forward to coming out the other end, out into the proverbial "light at the end of the tunnel."
Friday, November 16, 2012
I do. I am feeling that way today. There is so much pain, so much suffering in the world, and I just can't figure out what to do about it. Writing to God privately doesn't seem like enough, but maybe if I write a public letter to God, those of you who pray can join with me. Maybe that will come closer to being enough. Here I go:
I hardly know where to begin as I think of the tragedies affecting children the world over. Children are dying, God: from starvation and AIDS in Africa and from Qassam rockets and grads in Israel. No child should be robbed of his or her life, God. That simply isn't fair.
Among the dying children, God, are the precious lives languishing in mental institutions in Eastern Europe. I just read today about one region where most of the children die after three months in the institution. How can this be?! How can You let this happen?!
I know I have said I no longer conceive of You as a big pointing finger, God; You are more like a stream of water to me, and we humans must "place the rocks"--that is, use our own resources, skills, and opportunities--to "change the current" and help the world. Today, however, I wish I could still keep up that belief in a pointing finger: a pointing finger that would touch down and save the children of the world.
For Heaven's sake I'm doing what I can! Though my usual cause is Reece's Rainbow, and most of the time I only have spiritual energy for one cause, today I have energy for all the children of the world. Thank You for helping me to find that energy, and thank You for whomever reads this and joins me in prayer.
Doubting a Bit, But Still Loving You,
This morning, I "visited" the Down Syndrome girls 10+ page on the Reece's Rainbow website. "My" "Rheann" is on this page, making it doubly painful to look at. I seem to have been mistaken about whether or not these children could keep their grants once they turned ten: I thought they couldn't, but it looks as though they can. Regardless, these children are BEAUTIFUL, and I'm not just saying that. I know that I have only seen pictures, no video clips or real life action; I also know that there are MAJOR challenges to raising such a child. But these girls deserve a chance.
And then there are the children in Gaza and Israel living under constant rocket fire. I watched a video clip on Facebook last night of a little girl in Israel saying she almost stopped going to kindergarten because she was afraid of the rockets. I imagine that the children in Gaza are living under similar conditions. If you ask me where I side, I side with Israel, but as my friend "Margaret" pointed out, civilian deaths are always wrong and this violence needs to stop.
While the above problems are real and huge and grabbing one's attention (as they should), however, there are children living in other crises the world over. There is, for example, the AIDS crisis in Africa (about which I know nothing except that it exists) and the people living in shacks made from garbage etc. in Guatemala. (I've seen the pictures.)
What I'm trying to say is that the need is great and I can't do it all alone. I would love it if you could pick a cause and donate a little money today, but if you cannot, please just say an extra prayer or two. I am not Christian; I believe social action, not prayer, is the most effective way to help; in fact, I have no idea how much good prayer does or even if it does any good at all. I do know, however, that if I don't pray, I will be doing nothing to help and nothing good for which I can claim credit will happen. Put that way, how can I not pray?
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Israel has been under nearly constant missile fire from Gaza since withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Over 800 rockets have fallen this year alone, 245 of them in the last day.
Yes, that's right: over the last 24 hours, approximately ten rockets per hour have fallen on Israel.
Sadly, although the situation is magnified, the scene is not unfamiliar. Children in the area are literally growing up with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) as similarly traumatized adults try to keep them safe as they raise them.
Israel responded to this attack with their own missile fire last night, and they are planning a ground attack as well.
Lives, soldier and civilian, are in danger. We must stand strong. Hear me now: I AM A JEW. I STAND WITH ISRAEL.
I am not saying everyone on here should go adopt an older boy with Down Syndrome. I'm not even sure I could adopt and raise an older boy with Down Syndrome. (I do want to adopt someday, possibly a child with disabilities, but not an older boy.) I am asking that, if you want to raise awareness, pray, donate, or otherwise help any child on Reece's Rainbow, please consider these boys.
Also, Domino Status Flood has officially begun! Only one friend of mine has posted a status so far, but the day is still quite young. I am excited.
[Edited to add: We have so far only gotten six participants including me. Given what's going on between Israel and the Gaza strip right now, however, I am neither surprised nor dissatisfied. Even if only these six post and no one else does today, I still feel that I have accomplished something.]
If you see this, please participate in Domino Status Flood by setting your status to a three sentence or so blurb about Reece's Rainbow and leaving it there for two hours. Thank you!
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Now here's the exciting part. In terms of who's participating, I have: seven "yes" answers on the actual event, one "maybe" answer on the actual event, four confirmed "yes" answers via other means, and three or four (I lost count somewhere) contacts who have yet to get back to me. That means, at a minimum, I have ELEVEN people lined up to advocate for Reece's Rainbow tomorrow.
I know it's not a lot. That's a small number of people. But if every one of those eleven people gets the attention of eleven more people...we are going somewhere. And you know what? Even if only one person donates one dollar to one child...well, as they say in the starfish story, "It made a difference to that one."
This morning I "browsed" through Down Syndrome girls, ages 6-9. I'm telling you they're at least worth looking at and praying for. Maybe donate a little something too; a bunch of "little somethings" really add up and can make a lot of difference, allowing a family who could never finance an adoption on their own to actually consider it and maybe even go for it. Also, you all should know that the children listed cannot keep their individual grants once they turn ten; at that point, all the money is pooled into a general "older child" fund.
Earlier this morning I wrote a letter to "Rheann." Completely silly, I know, because to the best of my knowledge it is impossible to send things like that to these kids (I tried once before to send a birthday card when "my" previous little boy turned three), but I had to get my feelings out because they were so intense. I am praying for her, I care what happens to her, and I would like to say that I love her, although that's hard to tell based only on two pictures and a month and year of birth.
I must say, however, that I was very relieved when the newer photograph of her first appeared on Reece's Rainbow sometime last year. Many of these children are very delayed in all areas of development, partly due to disabilities and partly due to institutional living. The first picture of "Rheann," the one I saw when I was first matched with her, depicted what appeared to be a three or four year old who was supposedly ten. The new picture portrays a child who appears to be six or seven but is really almost eleven; that, however, is much more encouraging than the old picture. Am I making sense?
For your reference, here are both pictures: (You've seen them both before, but I wanted to post them together for comparison's sake.)
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Today, as always, "Rheann" is very much on my mind, but so are the Down Syndrome boys ages 6-9. Many, if not most, of these boys have already been transferred to mental institutions, and the sad truth is that by the time these kids are considered "older," (AKA now) fewer people want to adopt them. Not only that, but to my understanding, they will "age out" at age sixteen when, if they were not institutionalized already, they will be transferred to an adult institution, where they will spend the rest of their lives.
(I did a post last November called "Raising Awareness: Mental Institutions." If you need an eye-opener for this cause, go read it.)
Monday, November 12, 2012
Since last night, my heart has been breaking again and again every time I think of "Rheann." I really did think that she had a family, and the realization that she does not, that the little girl for whom I prayed for two years (with a break when I thought she had a family) still does not have a home, is earth-shattering, or at least me-shattering.
Also, just a little while ago I was on the Reece's Rainbow website looking at the page I was up to for today: Down Syndrome girls, 3-5. Break my heart all over again. Such adorable little girls, and so many of them labeled "transferred." I can barely imagine what they must look like now as opposed to how they looked in their baby house pictures.
Also, about the Facebook group: I am going to let it sit for a week just to see what happens to it, but then I have a couple of ideas for ways to help that require only a few minutes of your time. [Edited to add: Screw the waiting-a-week thing, I an starting the first event now.]
Here I am dropping a "prayer rock" in the "River of God": May "Rheann" and all the others (but especially "Rheann") stay safe and well cared for and find homes soon!
Sunday, November 11, 2012
Well, silly me, folks. I have an important announcement. "RHEANN" STILL DOES NOT HAVE A FAMILY. That's right; you read that correctly. "MY" LITTLE GIRL IS STILL HOMELESS. From the background in her picture, she appears to be in a good place, but no matter how good, an orphanage is not a home.
I would repost her picture so everyone could see the little girl for whom I'm praying, but I want to make sure it's legal first. For those who want to see it now (actually, there are two pictures of her) she is on the Down Syndrome Girls 10+ page on reecesrainbow.org
[Edited to add: Here is her picture!]
"My" first prayer-child, a little boy, found his home back in August of 2010. I signed up to be a "prayer warrior" (Reece's Rainbow terminology; not a very Jewish-sounding term, I know) for a second time immediately after.
That means I've been praying for "Rheann" since August of 2010. It's November of 2012, people. In just the short time that I've "known" her, "my" little girl has been waiting for a home for over two years...and God only knows how long she was waiting before that.
I asked for ideas. She gave me many, including starting a Facebook group. That one took hold.
As a result of my conversation with "Julie", there is now a Facebook group entitled "Reece's Rainbow Awareness." The group description will tell you more about what we are doing. This is a small group hoping to make a small difference, but an open group, meaning anyone can join and participate, and this could lead to a big group making a big difference. Won't you join me in my efforts?
[Edited to add: Call me an idiot, but in my eagerness to make a difference I did not check ahead of time and only found the official Reece's Rainbow group after I made mine. I would like to still keep mine, however, as a place specifically for teens and young adults to discuss ways to make a difference without spending much money.]
P.S. Never stop remembering and praying for/donating to/whatever you can do to help the little boys, ages 3-5, with Down Syndrome, listed on Reece's Rainbow.
For the reasons outlined above, I have developed a series of actions to stop visions before they start, or at least abruptly abort them very early on. My visions usually start when I have my eyes closed, so the first thing I always do is open my eyes. If that doesn't do it, I scrunch up my toes in my shoes--because of the RND, that "wakes me up" so to speak. If neither of those works, I simply shake myself like a wet animal trying to dry off.
I have thought of two metaphors to describe my life during "vision possible" phases. One is the match metaphor and one is the hallway metaphor. See below:
The match metaphor: Everybody in the world holds an unlit match. For most people, there is no way to light the match; they simply hold an unlit match. I and others who have similar abilities/opportunities, on the other hand, can see and approach the fire (i.e. the Divine). Once the match is lit, it can burn for a while without hurting my hand. (That would be the visions.) The problem is, I never know how long the matchstick is, so I can never risk lighting it, lest it burn me (cause a bipolar episode).
The hallway metaphor: In front of me when I pray is a hallway, with one door at each end. I have no control over whether and when the door at my end opens. Once it's open, however, I can pretty much choose whether or not to walk down the hallway, and I can pretty much come back at any given time. Similarly, were I to choose to proceed, I would not have control over what I encountered, but I could control my reaction to it.
Perfect example: Several years ago, before we knew I was bipolar, I was having a vision where I saw endless stripes of color, and I knew that I was surrounded by the energy of the universe. I knew also that I could play with it, so I grabbed it and tied a knot in it; then, realizing that that knot might affect the whole world, I untied it.
If I got all the way down the hallway, and the other door opened, I would meet God. (No, of course this has never happened and almost certainly never will.) Again, the problem is that I just cannot accurately predict the length of the hallway.
Also, somewhat related: I have a new friend! For the purposes of this blog, I will call her "Anita." "Anita" believes in my visions! She is always willing to listen to me talk about them. I try to listen to her talk about her interests, too. After all, that's what friends are for. I may not have gotten much chance to practice friend interactions growing up, (I posted about that on one of my blogs--not sure which one--once, but quickly deleted the posts.) but I am now making up for lost time and on a steep learning curve. Good for me!
Also, "yelling" today for the Down Syndrome boys, ages 3-5, on Reece's Rainbow. Please do whatever you can to stop them from becoming "lost boys."
Saturday, November 10, 2012
I explained to him the same belief that I outlined within the parentheses above. He said that in his opinion that view gave people too much power and that He thought God washed away the rocks when the stakes got too high.
I responded, "What about the Holocaust? Six million Jews died. Were the stakes not high enoguh then?"
His response: "The Jews didn't fight back as hard as they should have. the Germans acted with great deceit, but the Jews also trusted them too much."
I find that answer appalling, simply appalling. I find it dismaying that someone could think that six million lives were taken because people "didn't fight back hard enough" and "trusted their killers too much." Exactly what would he have liked them to do that they didn't do, and when?
I'm not so sure that God can wash away the rocks. I think the God-stream is already flowing before the person-rocks are positioned, but once they are there, the flow must be changed and is changed permanently.
P.S. Tonight, please plant your rocks of prayer or good thoughts for the little girls, ages 0-2, with Down Syndrome listed on the Reece's Rainbow website. May they all find families soon.
Friday, November 9, 2012
Perfect example: I was at Chabad House (an international Jewish organization with stations on every college campus) baking challah (Sabbath bread) with the Rebbetzin (Rabbi's wife) and some other girls, and I was telling the Rebbetzin about my new idea of God. She countered it with the story of her father's death: a freak accident in a boat on a stormy lake when he was 42. She said that this proved that God puts everyone in the right place at the right time; we just don't always understand. I suggested that God was the storm that killed her father, but that God God's self did not kill her father. She could not see the difference.
Another example, this one from me: picture a stream flowing along, with rocks and sand and other obstacles in the way. God is the water in the stream, or at the very least God set the stream in motion. The obstacles in the way, however, are not God; they are merely part of the universe.
Oh my goodness. I just thought of something. If God is water running over obstacles then the nature of God can change. If we humans are those "obstacles," then we have the power to change God. Read that again: We have the power to change God!
[Edited to add: After talking to my father (he's a Rabbi), I have a new perspective on our role as obstacles in the stream. We do not change God God's self; we change God's role in the world.]
All that being said, I still plan to write letters to an anthropomorphized God. Writing those letters brings me great fulfillment, and I have to be writing to a "something" or a "someone" in order to be writing at all. Despite my new understanding and enlightenment, I think it is OK to do this as long as I firmly remember that all of this (including this post) is metaphor.
Please don't be offended by this statement, because I feel compelled to write it: God be with you!
P.S. Every day from here on out, I plan to look all the way through one "waiting children" listing on Reece's Rainbow, really try to SEE every child, and then "yell" for them. Today I am "yelling" for Down Syndrome boys, 0-2. Please keep in mind that the "LOST BOYS" locked away in adult mental institutions represent the future of these kids if not adopted.
Thursday, November 8, 2012
I'll never forget the picture that did it. I don't remember the little girl's name (it wouldn't have been her real name anyway), but the picture on the right showed a smiling little girl dressed in pink. The picture on the left showed a little person in a boy's shirt staring dully ahead. The usual Reece's Rainbow blurb about the child was written in between, and below it in big red letters was something to the effect of, "HAS PROBABLY ALREADY BEEN TRANSFERRED."
Break. My. Heart. I've seen that little girl before. Somebody else was advocating for her in memory of their own daughter (with whom they were matched via Reece's Rainbow) who died of complications of heart surgery. Anyway, I had scrolled past the picture of the little girl multiple times, one face in a hundred, and then...transfer...oh my.
I started tearing up as I scrolled through more listings, looking at the pictures and really "feeling" the subjects of them, looking at pictures of happy children marked "transferred" and trying to comprehend what they must look like now. I finally got off the site because I realized that although there were things I could do to help (such as writing this blog post), sitting and crying in front of my computer was not one of them.
[Note to self on my hunt for God: explain this!]
I am confused. I know that there are endless tragedies in this world, I am aware of some of which I am aware and some about which I am utterly clueless. But I don't think that changes the fact that I (and all people) should be upset when I encounter one of these phenomena; nor do I believe that I should not let it "ruin my day."
In order for progress to be made in any situation, we must first feel compelled to make change. If this compulsion is to occur, we must let our hearts be ripped to shreds. The only way, the ONLY way to feel ready and eager to make a difference is to feel the need to repair our broken hearts.
So yes, please let your hearts be broken. No matter what the cause, no matter what else is going on in the world, let your heart break for something; let it "ruin your day" and then figure out how to "repair your day" by making a difference.
Come on, people, please make a difference!
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Anyway, far more important right now than "Where is God?" is "How can we help?" I am young; I have little spare money; all I can do is publicize and raise awareness. So that is what I am doing. PAY ATTENTION PEOPLE. follow the link in the top paragraph to learn what you can do to help.
Please do something. Even if you cannot donate anything, just blog, post on facebook, pray...find a way to help.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
I have read through the sections on two writers, Martin Buber and Mordechai Kaplan. Buber states that God can be found in community and in people helping one another; Kaplan's God is the force of good in the world. I find both to be inaccurate depictions.
Just a side note: In a couple of places, Buber almost literally described my visions etc. I thought that was fantastic, cool, and freaky because I have never encountered anyone who understood or had experienced that kind of stuff before. It's not that I ever thought I was the only one who could do this kind of stuff, but reading the writing of someone else who (probably) had had similar things happen to him was amazing.
Sunday, November 4, 2012
Wherever you are, if you can, sleep well.
Saturday, November 3, 2012
Hurricane Sandy has left me questioning and questioning the "why"s and "how"s of Your existence. I do not doubt that You exist but I am in turmoil as I try to make sense of Your nature.
My home town was barely touched by the hurricane. I would say it was a miracle, but I have seen pictures of the damage elsewhere. To call what happened or didn't happen to me a miracle would be to say You ordained it. If You ordained my survival and lack of damage, then You ordained the power loss, the flooding, the deaths of hundreds--and that I am not willing to accept.
Rest assured that I will now be actively seeking for answers. Regardless of how much I am or am not praying ritually, I will continue to compose my own prayers as I read works of Jewish philosophy in search of You. I want a relationship with You, God, just not the one I have now.
Hurricane Sandy has knocked me over theologically, to the point where I can honestly say that I no longer know You. I know You exist, but not Who You are. To a certain extent I will never know Who You are, but right now I know it least of all, and I am sad and mad and bewildered.
I feel betrayed.
I feel hurt.
I feel lost.
Good night, God.
(I'm not signing this one "Love"),
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Please comment and tell me how you are doing.
Saturday, October 20, 2012
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Also, I seem to be having some early bipolar symptoms again.
"If you're going through hell, keep on going...you might get out before the devil even knows you're there."
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Yesterday I made real progress in therapy. In fact, I think that that may have been the most productive single therapy session I've ever had. It was hard, but very, very good.
First we determined that I lean on other people so much--and yes, sometimes too much--because I do not really trust myself to be there for myself. We're not quite sure why that is yet, but we think it might stem from things that happened to me during childhood. My therapist said, however, that the best way to fix this situation is to focus on who I am now, not who I was then.
Talking farther, we discovered that I also expect all relationships--platonic and romantic--to end someday. That one is easier to explain: my two very much closest friendships both ended messily. Everybody loses a couple of friends over the years, but losing one or two out of five or ten is much less damaging than losing one's only two.
Somewhere along the way during the session, I broke down crying without knowing why. We made real progress, but it was very tough.
Sunday, October 14, 2012
1. I met this friend through chronic pain, if you will: I introduced myself because I needed to use the banister to get down the stairs and she was standing in the way. From then on, we talked about chronic pain, and when the bipolar episode hit, we talked about that. I honestly cannot recall a single conversation--or even a single sustained moment of conversation--that was not about one of my health problems. DON'T DO THIS, people! I cannot emphasize that enough. Even in your time of need, even if the bulk of your conversation is about your problems (as is sometimes appropriate), find a way to insert bits of conversation about other things, for your sake as well as the sake of your friend and the friendship.
2. For a few different reasons, I do not have a phone number for this friend. (Yes, I will still call her a friend until further notice. Call it wishful thinking, but that is what I feel like doing about it.) As a result, I was dumping just as much on her as I was on my other friends, but with my other friends, it got diffused throughout the week. With this person, I saved it up and dumped it all on her at once. DON'T DO THIS EITHER, people! That can be overwhelming.
3. Above all, I treated this friend like an old friend when she was a new one. What I mean by this is that I had been leaning on her heavily when I was just getting to know her. The other friends on whom I had and have been leaning that heavily are friends I have known since last year, while I have not leaned on any other new friend that hard. Lesson learned: DO NOT TREAT NEW FRIENDS LIKE OLD ONES!
So what am I going to do about this situation? I plan to do absolutely nothing; I mean that, and I hope I can manage to keep to it. I will be polite, and friendly if she wants to be, but I will let her call the shots. Either I saved the friendship in time or I didn't; only time will tell.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
I am in the middle of a bipolar episode. For the past week or two (so hard to remember dates etc.!) I have been dealing with bouts of depression, mania, and the occasional psychotic symptoms--sometimes all three in one day.
Then tonight I had a bit of a "falling out" with a friend. Something she said made me realize fully that there was a problem in our relationship. (I had suspected there might be for a while now.) When I gently "teased" her, she told me that she felt I was leaning on her too much.
Especially considering my mental state right now, I am extremely proud of my reaction to that information. Totally calmly, I said "OK. Thank you for letting me know; call me out on it next time." Then we went to pray. After evening prayers, I caught up to her as she was leaving and said, "I just wanted to say I'm sorry and I hope I've saved the friendship."
So now we will wait and see. I have a few theories about what went wrong, but none that I want to share right now. I just wanted to tell about the incident, and the episode in general.
Thursday, October 4, 2012
On the plus side, I ran into a friend from last year while riding a bus today. Always nice!
This is a very hard road to walk, but ultimately I believe that God is good to me, giving me little good things that, while not quite balancing out the bad, make it a little bit easier to bear.
Besides, to quote Steven Curtis Chapman (yes, I know I have used this quote before): "God is God, and I am not; I can only see a part of the picture he's painting."
May my picture include beauty from which I can draw strength.
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
1. Relief: Because school was so painful and because it was so impossible for me to keep up, I feel relieved to have that weight off my shoulders.
2. Happiness: Honestly, it is nice not having to worry about exams etc. I would take my old life back in a heartbeat, but if I have to live as I do right now, I will take my happiness where I can get it.
3. Sadness: I feel sad about having to give up my classes. I chose them carefully, daydreamed about them ahead of time, and until it became too hard for me to keep up, I was legitimately enjoying them.
4. Guilt: Whenever I catch myself enjoying my time off, I feel guilty and wonder whether I have the right to enjoy myself given the circumstances.
So there you have it: two positives, two negatives. Truly mixed feelings.
Sunday, September 30, 2012
Have you any idea how heartbreaking that decision was for me? How hard it was for me to drop my classes that I had carefully hand selected, and that I loved? Oh, it was a difficult decision.
As hard as it was to make this decision, however, there is no doubt in my mind that it was the right one. I was barely going to class. I was taking almost no notes. I was way behind on the reading, and on track to fail midterms. Staying in school made absolutely no sense.
God continues to be amazing to me, however. I was having a really hard time believing in God's existence (yes, the pain has been that bad) but then I heard three divrei Torah (literally "words of Torah," speeches on the weekly portion or something else Jewish and of interest) in a row that were about finding God in hard places. I truly felt as though they were specifically aimed at me.
And if the divrei Torah alone were not enough to restore my faith in God, my unbelievable friends have tipped the balance even farther in the right direction. These are people who have sat on the floor (easier for me to get comfortable on than a chair) next to me and held my hands during Shabbat prayer services, who have listened when I asked them not to let go of me and decided that that was more important to them at the moment than praying, who have done my laundry for me, who have gotten me food when I needed it...I have some wonderful friends.
I am truly miserable. Short of giving this to someone else (I would never do that!) I would do anything to get out of this pain. I am truly disabled right now (just watch me go up or down a flight of stairs) and realize full well--and this is scary--that without my doctor's rehab program I might never finish college. But even in the darkest hour, when the night is painted black and there is no moon to light the path, the stars that are God wink through the darkness.
I will leave you with that thought.
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Not God's existence: oh no. I know that God exists.
But seriously, God, this kind of pain?! I know that it will most likely last only a few weeks, but right now "a few weeks" feels like eons of eternity. I know I have to continue to treadmill, so I do, but then I find myself rationing my movements the rest of the day to make up for it, to the point of forgoing afternoon and sometimes evening prayers because I can't stand the thought of standing that long! (Pun intended ;) ) I don't understand why God would give me a condition that interferes with our relationship with each other, unless it is to push me to surpass this obstacle and deepen our relationship still more.
There is something to that last theory, actually. Perhaps suffering leads to growth, and from growth arise truth and beauty. If that is the case, I pray that this will go away at the right time, after my relationship with God has grown enough and before I go crazy! LOL
School is starting in five days!
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
As you can probably tell from this post, the pain is sapping my creativity as well. School starts in six days; I should be excited and sharing that excitement with the world. Instead, all I can find to write about is pain.
Somehow this doesn't seem fair.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Every time I start up going to the gym again (Yes, yes I know I should just go consistently and never stop and then this wouldn't happen!) I get worse and worse for about three weeks before I start to feel better. School will start during the second week of this process. I am very excited to start classes again, but cannot quite imagine actually walking around, functioning without a daily nap, in essence living like a normal, healthy college student.
Right now, I am playing Steven Curtis Chapman music for inspiration and comfort. I will just put one foot in front of the other and take things one day at a time.
Your prayers would be appreciated.
Friday, August 24, 2012
I also have my work-study job hours set. (Work-study jobs are subsidized by the government and one can earn up to one thousand dollars a term to go towards tuition etc.) I will be working on Mondays and Wednesdays for two hours each, and Thursdays for three and a half hours. I am going back to the same job I had last year: a library person who organizes books and works at the circulation desk. It's honestly a rather boring job, and it is really painful due to the RND, but it's a job and that's what matters.
I must say, between the classes and the work, I feel very grown-up and mature.
Happy school year everyone!
Monday, August 20, 2012
I am sorry to say that I did not ritually pray even once most days these past two weeks. I am sorry to say that I forgot "Erin," "Emily," and others who might need me. I am sorry, but I did forget.
Why? Because I was enjoying the lack of routine, structure, and restriction. I was enjoying the freedom to do what I felt like doing, when I felt like doing it; and, as I have mentioned on this blog before, I do not always feel like praying when it is time.
Now that I am back "home" (I suppose my parents' house is no longer home now that I have my "own" apartment), I am back in the routine. Bam--I have slammed myself back into it.
I would like to say that I will do better next time I'm home, but in reality, I know I probably won't. I will always crave that lack of ruling routine that led me to stop praying this time. I will most likely follow the same route again.
Oh by the way? We are now in the Hebrew month of Elul, the month leading up to the High Holidays, the season when I allow myself to listen to recordings of u'n'taneh tokef. More details to come, I am sure, especially if you ask for them! ;)
Friday, August 3, 2012
Over the years, various friend have taught me or assisted me with:
- How to "play pretend"
- How to stand on my own two feet and rely on myself
- How to try new things
- How to love and trust others
If the Rav (teacher) and the Chaver (friend) are the same person, then we must be willing to learn from everyone around us. Older or younger, anyone might have more experience and/or knowledge in a situation than we do, and we must be receptive to that. At the same time as we are learning from this person, however, we should also try to genuinely enjoy his/her company such that she/he might become a real friend.
Now if only I could apply these ideas to my tumultuous (to say the least) relationship with my younger brother...
Thursday, August 2, 2012
I am currently reading a book called The Other Side of the Story that deals with the concept of dan l'kaf zichut. The book gives many examples of cases where people misjudged others, and reminds us of the Jewish laws regarding treatment of others, even our enemies.
There is one idea in the book, however, that stood out to me above all else: We should be willing to use the same excuses for others that we would use for ourselves! What a novel idea!
It isn't really a novel idea, of course--I said that tongue-in-cheek--because the idea of v'ahavta l'reiacha kamocha (Love your neighbor as yourself) is as old as the Torah, perhaps older. But to many, applying these principles to daily life and using them regularly is, in fact, a novel idea.
The Other Side of the Story was written by Yehudis Shamet for a Jewish audience, but the principles and ideas found within are relevant to everyone, everywhere. If you can get past the Hebrew and/or Yiddish terms (usually translated or made clear in context), this can be an excellent read.
Whether you read the book or not, I challenge you to be kinder to others, even in your head.
Now I am off to pray afternoon prayers.
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
The stares I get because of my kippah pale in comparison to the stares I got, and would get, because of my arba kanfot, yet I want to wear them in order to feel closer to God.
There is also the issue of tallit gadol (my "big tallis", the kind I made once and wear each day when praying). I am not sure whether one needs a tallit gadol if one is wearing a tallit katan, and I don't want to give up wearing my tallit gadol.
So what to do? Opinions please?
Another problem for me was that some of the ideas of Orthodox Jews, and especially Ba'alei Teshuvah (those who "repent" and become religious), quite frankly offend me. I cannot recall any specific examples now, but I know that I was bothered in several places. One other thing that bothered me was the fact that the girl's parents did not seem to try hard enough to honor and help her connect with her Chinese roots.
That being said...
It was so nice, so nice, SO nice to read something by a fervent, passionate Jew. Interfaith dialogue is great and I love it, but there is nothing like "meeting" passionate members of one's own faith. I really needed that.
Throughout the book, I found many inspirational quotes. I will provide some of them below.
"Every mitzvah we perform takes place only because we are first granted a gift by Hashem."
"While the ability to speak properly and render admirably written characters is the sign of a cultured Chinese, the ability to use language to extol God's virtues and acknowledge our indebtedness to Him is one of the signs of a good Jew."
"I eventually realized that although there was a final destination in the form of a conclusion and in some cases a point of law or halachah, what mattered more was the journey itself and not the destination....The jewels were meant to be gathered along the way."
"The moment they were touched by a spark of Torah, they literally burst into flame."
"Secular studies were a window into heaven and an entranceway to Torah."
"Now, ensconced in this quiet capsule of time, I understood what our Sages intended when they taught: 'Wealthy is he who is happy with his lot.'"
I find the book to be a nice, wholesome story that would be encouraging to Jews attempting to grow in their faith and religious practice. Although I wish that it had focused more on the adoption process, I realize that that was not the point of the story. As a non-Orthodox Jew myself, I was somewhat uncomfortable with some of the attitudes and events in the story, but that is my problem.
Would I read the book again? Yes, probably, although not for a while. It is, after all, a good Jewish story.
The bulk of the conversation really did turn out to be sharing ideas and discussing the similarities and differences between our two religions. The second biggest part of the conversation was me teaching "Michelle" about Judaism. She expressed interest in seeing Jewish worship, and I invited her to come to Hillel with me sometime when school is in session.
For me, this interaction was an answer to daydreams and wishes I have held since coming to college. I have waited and waited to find someone of a different faith who is as passionate about theirs as I am about mine. I love, love, LOVE talking religion and observing others in their daily religious lives.
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Monday, July 30, 2012
Later today I have an appointment with my therapist. Her office is right across from a Judaica store, which is very convenient because I want a new prayerbook, specifically one by Artscroll. They have a more literal translation than Sim Shalom (my current prayerbook), and I like that. While I am in that store, I may treat myself to a new Jewish theology/philosophy book and/or a new kippah. I will post pictures of whatever I buy.
Oh--and the girl I met who wants to talk interfaith stuff? She was serious! We are currently facebooking back and forth to set up a time.
See you later, hopefully with pictures!
Sunday, July 29, 2012
I believe that every aspect of God is new, important, and true. To me this means that God is what we perceive God to be. Therefore, if one feels that God is an evil little boy who sets things on fire for fun (see my previous post), then God is an evil little boy who sets things on fire for fun, if only for that moment.
I experienced an evil God last night, one who cared to punish His people seemingly without mercy, one who served to make life miserable for sinners, one who did not forgive. I went to bed last night truly scared of God, so frightened I could barely close my eyes.
And yet, I feel privileged to have been able to perceive God that way and have feelings about it. In Judaism, we are taught that the Torah has 70 faces. I believe God has at least as many per person, just waiting to be uncovered.
Last night I uncovered one.
Our sages teach that the Temple was destroyed because of sin'at hinam, senseless hatred. Yet in that post, I was essentially hating on Jews who are different from me and therefore perpetuating the issue rather than being part of the solution.
Last night I went with "Emily" to a women's prayer group to read and discuss the scroll of Lamentations. In that scroll, there is a verse about God being Israel's enemy. As I thought about that, I realized that God, as I felt about Him last night, is a little kid with an evil laugh who sets things on fire for fun.
Nobody likes to think of God that way. We like to think of God as mature, loving, and merciful. In Judaism, however, God has many aspects and appearances. I believe that each holiday is there to help us experience a different aspect of God. tisha b'Av is for the God who destroys people through fire.
A God who destroys people through fire is dangerous and scary. I went to bed last night so scared of God I could barely keep my eyes closed. Yet we must remember that the month of Elul is coming, the time to ask forgiveness and fix our mistakes. We can change that fire so that we are warmed without being consumed.
Let's do it.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
I filled out the forms and took them to financial aid. The people there pointed me to the address on the forms, the center for continuing professional education. While I was at the bus stop waiting for a bus to get me somewhere close to where I needed to be, a random young woman invited me to a bible discussion at noon.
I got off the bus and found the appropriate road, but then had to walk a long way along a highway. The center for continuing professional education did not know what to do with me. The receptionist there made some phone calls and directed me to administration. She had one of the employees in her office get me some water and drive me back (thankfully). I decided I was done for the day and would go to admin tomorrow.
Because the woman who had invited me to the bible study said she was asking "random people", I assumed it would be an interfaith sort of thing. Wrong! It turned out to be a Christian bible study in which I was the token Jew.
But the woman who invited me wants to meet up with me next week just to discuss Judaism, which makes it all worthwhile.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Here is a list of commandments I attempt (and generally succeed) to fulfill on a daily basis.
1. Pray three times
2. Wrap tallis and tefillin
3. Recite blessings before and after eating
4. Observe laws of kashrut (keeping kosher)
5. Observe Sabbath restrictions (on the Sabbath and holidays)
6. Fast on the apropriate days
7. Add my own prayers for those who need them
And here is a list of commandments I would like to fulfill on a daily basis.
1. Ritual handwashing in the morning
2. Miscellaneous small blessings in response to the relevant phenomena
3. No longer picking at my fingers; my body belongs to God
4. (Not really a commandment, but I'm adding it anyway) Knowing when to tell about the revelations etc. I receive, and when to keep my mouth shut
Thursday, July 19, 2012
We began the conversation with the fact that I wanted my internship to start and it wasn't happening, and the man said that sometimes God's plans aren't our plans, which is EXACTLY what I've been thinking recently! He also agreed with me that gaining six people who need prayer, in the space of a week, is no coincidence. God knew these people would need me and God adjusted my situation so I could pray for them effectively.
Yay, God! I love You!
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Suddenly this morning I realized (or God revealed to me): the "someone lighter than [I]" has to do with the child I will one day adopt! It could be describing physical appearance (perhaps I am destined to adopt from Eastern Europe after all), but more likely is has to do with personality, spirit, and soul. I can't wait to find out more!
Also, although Laura Mouro tells me her family is OK right now and I believe her, I can't help but feel that the energy of the universe is turned against them. (Don't ask me what that means; I can't put it in any other words.) I will continue to pray for the health of both Laura and her unborn baby, as well as for the rest of the family.
I am beginning to feel overwhelmed with all the praying God needs me to do. In fact, I just had to turn down a case that was brought to my attention because I simply cannot handle any more. If you are the praying sort, would you mind taking up one of my causes with me (I'll be happy to write them out again; the list has grown) or even just praying for spiritual strength for me as I try to fit them all in? THANK YOU!
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
I really, deeply enjoy having a friendship such as this where we can just share back and forth without worrying about what is being said, whether either of us is talking too much, or pretty much anything else. We just sit down and talk.
And you know what? I CAN DO IT. I successfully navigated an important (albeit simple) social situation today! I DID IT. I have friends.
I have friends. I have friends. I HAVE FRIENDS!
On another note...
I was supposed to start an internship in early July, but it hasn't happened yet. I know that God knew it would work out this way (He knows everything), and I think that it's quite possible God planned it this way all along.
I believe that God knew I needed to move in with my friends, learn some basic "live with people" skills, and find my place in the group before the school year started, without the added pressure of schoolwork. I also think it is no accident that so many cases that need prayer (six now!) have come to my attention in the last few days. With an internship, I would not have the energy to properly keep up with all these prayer needs; as it is, they are my primary obligation and I can rise to the occasion.
Thank You, All-Knowing Mother and Healer, for Your actions in my life.
Monday, July 16, 2012
1. "Erin": Her needs are obvious and ongoing. She needs a loving family and home of her own, ASAP.
2. Sawyer Patterson: It would be miraculous if God could completely heal his Crohn's disease, but he at least needs the Remicade to take care of this flare-up.
3. "Emily": Without going into too much detail and violating her privacy, "Emily" has some ongoing health issues that have been plaguing her non-stop. She also has a friend who is basically using her as a therapist while he finds a real one. (I told her to tell him to start a blog; it can be private if he just wants to vent or public if he wants people to "listen.")
4. The Mouro family: As you know, I was blown away with an inexplicable urge to pray for them yesterday. I am continuing to pray until I know everything is OK with them and their seven (soon to be eight) children.
So there you have it: my prayer "line up." I feel so awful putting it in these terms, as if I am reducing these most important lives and their needs to nothingness. I pray for strength to pray for them.
If anybody feels inclined to pray for "Emily," please do so.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
But I was sitting and writing a letter to God about something totally unrelated today when I got the urge to include the Mouro family (themourofamily.blogspot.com; number twenty on my list from the previous post) in my prayer in a big way. Sometimes, just sometimes, when I get feelings like that it means something major is about to happen.
I have a feeling the Mouros need prayer.
Again, I could be wrong. (I hope I'm wrong!) I may be made to look like an idiot or a fool. But I beg for prayers for Cameron and Laura Mouro and their children.
Also, the "Randomness" post was an experiment to see whether one long post each day would be better than a couple of shorter ones. It turned out to be so long, however, that even I am turned off by it. So tomorrow I will go back to shorter posts.
First of all, having met "Emily's" sister and heard "Emily's" and "Julie's" opinions of Reece's Rainbow, here are my thoughts on adoption as it pertains to my future.
1. I will most likely end up adopting someone at some point; I'm just not sure who, how, when, or how many.
2. If I adopt a child with Down syndrome (or other severe developmental disability) I will be done having children, by birth or adoption, right there. That child will be my family.
3. I will not adopt out of birth order, especially if I have biological children as well. I think that would just be too off-putting and confusing for my children, both as a group and as individuals.
4. I will not adopt a boy who is my size or bigger. For safety purposes, I need to be stronger and in control if/when my child is raging.
5. I'm thinking that I may not have biological children at all, so that they don't have to be affected by the issues their adopted siblings may bring home. (One can avoid things like FAS or Down syndrome, but things like RAD are pretty much unpredictable.) If I choose to build my family through older child adoption, then that is how I will build my family.
6. I want to adopt my child/ren one at a time, giving each one a chance to settle in and get to know me while I get to know them, and letting my knowledgeand understanding of that child determine whether or not I "go back for" another one.
Now, on to something else:
Yesterday, for Sabbath lunch, I was at the home of "Emily's" boyfriend's sister. (Got that?) In the afternoon, a couple of "Emily's" friends came over. One of them knew how to read Tarot cards, and soon he was doing readings for all of us. Last night I told my mother what my reading said, but something in me feels that from here on out I should keep it private. I wonder if that's an indication of accuracy. If you're dying to know what was said, leave a comment, and I will consider posting both your comment and the reading.
And now something funny:
When I gave my roommates nicknames for my blog, I was not thinking about real people in my life with those names or similar names. I called one of my roommates "Julie" despite the fact that I have a blog follower whose name really is Julia. This doesn't confuse me at all, but others get them confused, so that if I say Julia, talking about my blog follower, they think I mean "Julie," my roommate.
Let's end with a list of the blogs that I read, with brief descriptions of each. (This will be long. You have been warned.)
1. add-one-chinese-sister.blogspot.com : One mother blogs about her two biological sons and her daughter Luci, adopted from China. Luci is seven (I think) and the blog is filled with descriptions of her antics.
2. adoptinggrady.blogspot.com : The blog of the family of my first Reece's Rainbow Prayer Child. Andrei ("Grady") suffers from arthrogryposis.
3. allarepreciousinhissight.blogspot.com : One family and their endless faith in God. Their daughter Chrissy died from heart problems in 2010, but the family has persevered, adopting several more children since, and trusting God to guide them through. Their son Sawyer was recently diagnosed with Chrone's disease; I am praying for him and you should too! (If you want.)
4. becausehefirstadoptedus.blogspot.com : The Smiles and Trials family's blog chronicling the adoptions of their two newest sons, Nolan and Oliver.
5. buildingtheblocks.blogspot.com : BEAUTIFUL family with multicultural children who know how to share, give, and sacrifice for one another. Check them out!
6. covenantbuilders.blogspot.com : This is Julia's blog. Her son Aaron was the first boy EVER to be adopted from his mental institution. His disability is physical, not mental, but I don't know much beyond that.
7. crazyforkids.blogspot.com : Another multicultural family with a good number of children. (I think ten.) Their most recent addition is a little girl from China, their second Chinese daughter.
8. creatingourjoy.com : One single mother and her two daughters from Ethiopia and Guatemala. Judging by her blog, she is enjoying life. We should all be able to enjoy life as well.
9. inashoe.com : Christian family with ten (or eleven? twelve? LOL) children. They live in a small house (hence the "shoe" in their name).
10. largefamiliesonpurpose.com : I love, love, love this blog. I may not always agree with the worldview of the blogger (in fact I often don't; she's very Christian), but I delight in reading about the daily lives of her nine children. She's also INCREDIBLY organized about running her home, and I could use to learn some organizational skills.
11. onethankfulmom.com : Twelve children, four adopted from Ethiopia. One daughter in particular suffers from major attachment and trauma issues. Very transparent blog, giving me clear warning about what I can expect when I adopt someday
12.ourjourneyoffaith.net : Another woman who has kept strong faith through great struggles, iincluding a daughter (adopted from Ghana) who suffers from depression and Reactive Attachment Disorder. Her courage gives me strength and faith.
13. raisinghomemakers.com : I don't agree with the worldview of this blog AT ALL, but something keeps drawing me in to read it time and again.
14. raisingolives.com : Another large, Christian, homeschooling family. Their oldest child is fourteen and their youngest is one.
15. ralphcrew.blogspot.com : This is the newest addition to my blog list. It is written by a woman who is raising several children--both biological and adopted--with Down syndrome.
16. riggsfamilyblog.com : Beginning at age three, their daughter Abby battled cancer for two long years. I watched most of it unfold after I found their blog. Today she seems to be doing really well, and they are moving forward with the adoption of another little one. (I don't know the details.)
17. smilesandtrials.blogspot.com : Seventeen children, ten adopted, several with disabilities.
18. smockityfrocks.com : Another large, Christian, homeschooling family. "Smockity," as she calls herself, is very creative with food, crafts, etc.
19. themakingofmom.blogspot.com : seven children, two adopted through the foster care system. They are planning to move overseas as missionaries in Africa. Their oldest daughter is only seven years old.
20. themourofamily.blogspot.com : I started following this blog after a disrupted adoption of a boy from Liberia while their daughter from Liberia was still living with them. Her adoption ended up getting disrupted as well, but by then I had been reading so long I just kept reading. And now I just love to read about their family!
21. welovebigfamilies.blogspot.com : Seven children; planning to move to Africa as missionaries and to run a school.
22. zoromski.blogspot.com : Two sons and three daughters, two of whom have Down syndrome, one of whom was adopted from Ukraine. This woman just loves her kids and it oozes out of every blog post she writes!
So those are the blogs I read.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
"Julie," who has a little brother with autism, stated that she feels that Reece's Rainbow romanticizes (actually, her word was fetishizes) children with special needs and the adoption thereof. In her opinion, Reece's Rainbow encourages families to adopt just because they feel like doing a good thing, and because they can. She said (and she's right) that there is nothing wrong with adopting for those reasons, but that they should not be the main or only reasons. She also said that the fundraising process reminds her of a little girl running a lemonade stand to earn money for a doll.
"Emily's"(she has a sister with Down syndrome and autism) main objection was the fact that Reece's Rainbow, and the blogs of the people who connected to their adopted kids via the organization, was that the challenges and sturggles of raising such a child are never depicted. Reece's Rainbow's slogan is "because every family deserves the blessing of a child with Down syndrome." "Emily" and I both feel that these words sugarcoat the truth, if not hide a large part of it completely. Yes, a child with Down syndrome can be a blessing just like any other child, but the challenges and struggles that come with raising such a child are enormous. For the most part, even the blogs by the adoptive families minimize the struggles to a vast degree.
In summary, "Julie" has issues with how the website and organization are set up and run all together, and "Emily" has issues with the stories that are told and how. I am not yet sure what to think. As I listened to "Emily" and "Julie" in our kitchen today, I found myself agreeing with them; as I type this, however, I find myself feeling like defending Reece's Rainbow.
One thing I value about my friends is the fact that we can have conversations like these.
From my meager research (I may do more later), I gather that, at the very least, posting photos of children from Russia and Ukraine is illegal. I am sorry for all the adoptive families, and their children, involved here, but more than one website has confirmed this fact.
That being said, I truly believe, and will continue to believe until proven otherwise, that the organization did, and does, more good than harm. Many, many children have passed through its system into the arms and homes of forever families. If Reece's Rainbow shuts down, these children will not disappear. They will still be waiting in orphanages and mental institutions, still desperately needing homes.
All of this has helped me to reach a decision: even if Reece's Rainbow shuts down and I never get word of her again, I will continue to pray for "Erin." It may not happen every night, but in general I will continue to pray that "Erin" find a warm and loving home, with enough food etc. and that, once there, she have access to the therapies she needs in order to thrive at her fullest potential. Until I know that has happened for her, I will continue to pray.
Now, on to the fun stuff:
Tomorrow "Emily," "Julie," and I are going out to lunch at a kosher sushi restaraunt. It was my idea; we had planned it for last Friday, but then I got (mentally) sick so we pushed it off. I am so excited. I love sushi, I love my friends, and this is going to be awesome! Then we will all crash at "Emily's" house for the Sabbath (though we are eating Friday night dinner at "Dan's" and lunch at "Emily's" soon-to-be-fiance's sister's house) and just all enjoy each other's company.
Still waiting for my internship to start. Wish me luck!
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Today I learned that, as far as I can understand, an organization called Spotlight on Adoption is trying to force Reece's Rainbow to take down all its listings. There may in fact be some legal issues with the way Reece's Rainbow operates; I don't claim to know nearly enough about the situation to have an informed opinion. All I know is that Reece's Rainbow has found homes for over 400 children in the past five years, and there are many more children listed who need our/their help.
Would you pray with me that Reece's Rainbow "wins" this one, that the listings go back up, and that all the children involved may find families soon? THANK YOU!
I'm not sure why it's so hard for me to trust and believe today. My symptoms are no worse than yesterday's. I am still plagued by causeless anxiety, but not so much that I need the emergency fix of my as-needed anti-anxiety medication, and my noise thresholds might even be a little higher.
And, on the other hand, the irritability just kicked in again. However, although every day is hard, overall this episode is starting to dissipate. I should find strength and hope in that.
Also, just because I feel like it: Yelling for "Erin"! Yelling for "Erin"! YELLING FOR "ERIN"!
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Thank you all for providing me with courage, strength, and most importantly trust and faith in God.
Many of you have likely noticed that I used to maintain three blogs, and now only use this one. There is a good story behind that, and I am now going to tell it.
When I first ventured into the blog world, I very quickly discovered that I enjoy reading blogs about and/or by large families, many of whom are very Christian. I have absolutely nothing against Christianity, but there were times when I didn't feel like wading through religious posts to get to the large family posts. Because of that, I decided not to blog about religion.
As I went on through high school, however, religion became a much bigger part of my life, and I felt like a hypocrite for not blogging about something so huge. I began another blog (this one) so that people could read about my religious life if they wanted to, and not if they didn't. I continued to blog about other things on my other blog.
When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I decided to start yet another blog for that, and chronicle my everyday life there. Once I was stabilized, however, I faced a confusing choice: should I blog about daily life on my pain blog, or on my bipolar blog? For a while, I flip-flopped back and forth, depending on which invisible illness was affecting me more at the time.
Finally I admitted to myself that religion is not just part of my life; religion IS my life. I am firmly Jewish, rooted to the ground and at the same time soaring upward as I pray (both the required prayers [required thrice daily but I usually only manage once] and my own prayer-letters.) Because of how much influence religion has on my life, I decided to only keep updating this blog, and make it my blog about anything and everything.
On the bipolar front, so far I seem to be doing OK today. I get swoops of stomach-sickening fear washing through me, and the noise from the air conditioner is unpleasent, but that is all. At some point I will have to venture into the basement (out and around) of the apartment house to get my laundry, but I cannot face that task just yet.
Monday, July 9, 2012
OK, let's find some thankfulness!
Here in this episode, I am thankful for all the things I mentioned last week, as well as a Great Big God Who created bipolar disorder and Who can get rid of it at any time. Right now, I trust that God completely. Symptoms are lightening up and I have no doubt they will eventually go away.
And while I'm at it: lest you readers forget,if you are the praying type, please do not just pray for me and neglect to pray for "Erin." She needs prayers too, perhaps even more desperately than I.
Now I would like to talk about an issue that is burdening my heart, and that issue is the number of people needing prayer for various reasons. The one problem I have with reading so many blogs (21!) is that sometimes it seems as though everyone needs prayer at the same time. I am human; I can only pray for a finite number of people, and that number varies. There was a time when I could handle up to seven, but that time is not now. At the moment I can only handle two: me (I really am going through a lot right now what with therapy, bipolar disorder, and chronic pain, so I do not feel guilty inclluding myself in my prayers) and my little Reece's Rainbow girl, "Erin." I would love to be able to pray for more, but the two of us are taking all my spiritual energy right now.
Sunday, July 8, 2012
That being said:
I can read, and concentrate! I can venture beyond my room (into the rest of the apartment) and still feel comfortable! I can follow my thoughts, and actually think them, one at a time! Still drop-dead exhausted (I just woke up from a three hour nap), and still taking that as a good sign.
I have reason to believe that at least one reader has been praying for me, and so I thank you all. Thank you!
Also, today is the seventeenth of the Hebrew month of Tamuz, the day when the Babylonians breached the walls of Jerusalem during their conquering thereof. We Jews remember/memorialize this sad day by fasting sun up to sundown. Six hours to go.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Today was hard. I spent the first third or so feeling so depressed I just wanted to go back to bed, much of the rest feeling so overstimulated I was trying to muffle the sound of cards as I played solitaire, and am now tentatively feeling all right because I am listening to music and surfing the internet. If I tried to go "live life" right now, I would not feel OK.
It's funny, but I was just reading a post over at Large Families on Purpose (largefamiliesonpurpose.com) about choosing thankfulness. So. Here we go: a "thankful-while-bipolar" list.
While in this episode, I am thankful that:
1. It's happening while I have no obligations, educational or otherwise.
2. I live with good friends who are loving, supportive, and forgiving.
3. I have a competent psychiatrist.
That, sadly, is all I can think of right now.
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Anyway, I am currently dealing with rapid mood swings from irritation to world-is-too-big to fear to no-energy. THIS IS NOT GOOD.
Monday, July 2, 2012
My inner child has not been very inner recently. I have been clingy and needing lots of reaassurance, both verbal and nonverbal. And yet somehow my friends enjoy my company anyway. (They have told me so.)
I have also been taking that inner child and (silently, mentally) gently introducing her to my friends by saying things like, "This is 'Dan.' 'Dan' is cool. He likes to play board games. You like to play board games." or, "This is 'Julie.' You'll like 'Julie.' She's really very nice." etc.
The big problem is that my inner child does not want to meet 'Emily.' I have absolutely no idea why; 'Emily' is a good person and a wonderful roommate. Oh well. I'll probably figure that part out in therapy.
Friday night, I was at dinner at 'Dan's' house with 'Julie' and a bunch of people I didn't know. One of those people was a girl my age with her hair and makeup done in the style worn by the girl who made my life h*ll in elementary/middle school. When I saw her, my trauma signals went through the roof.
As luck would have it, I ended up sitting next to her at dinner. I felt threatened, but I found myself thinking, "D*mned if I'm going to spend the evening terrified of someone who's probably totally harmless." In order to conquer my fear, I turned to her and started making conversation, and guess what? We had very little in common, but she was totally harmless!
And then that night I woke 'Julie' and myself up crying in my sleep. ('Emily' is my roommate, not 'Julie,' but Friday night we stayed over at her parents' house and 'Julie' and I shared a bedroom.) Oh well. At least I tried.
Friday, June 29, 2012
I grew up in a school where, for whatever reason, I was picked on mercilessly. The more they picked on me, the more I cried; the more I cried, the more they picked on me. Naturally, I blamed myself.
In high school, I sought therapy, which helped some, but I was also getting accustomed to my RND and bipolar disorder, so the focus of my therapy sessions was not usually on my childhood. When I started collegel last fall, I wanted to believe that all I needed was time, space, and friendships in order to heal. I was wrong.
So here I am, six years out of that awful school, and beginning therapy again. And oh, is it painful.
Starting therapy again has undone me. I am turning back into a traumatized child. Each day is a balance of feeling my feelings, comforting myself, and distracting myself from my feelings. Each day is one day closer to my next therapy appointment.
As I mentioned in my post "Currently..." I am damaged, but not conquered. I can rise again. I will rise again.
Watch out, world.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Currently, I am...
LOVING: my emotional strength; I may be broken but I am not conquered, and that is saying a lot.
READING: "Sex and Single Girls"; very entertaining, to say the least!
LISTENING TO: "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield; inspiring and comforting
WAITING FOR: 4:00 pm so I can go to the gym, which does not open until then.
DREAMING ABOUT: childhood...in a bad way.
EXCITED ABOUT: spending this Sabbath with my friends; always such fun!
OVERWHELMED BY: childhood memories
PRAYING FOR: "Erin," "Erin," "ERIN!!!" (and also healing for my aching heart and wounded soul.)
MISSING: my younger brother, who went through the same messed up school as I, and who therefore understands my trauma better than anyone else in my life.
TRYING: to hold on day by day between therapy sessions
WORKING AT: being happy and confident
HOPING FOR: inner peace
ENJOYING: coloring with my box of 120 crayons!
WEARING: a pair of "hand-me-up" shorts from my brother and a Habitat for Humanity t-shirt that I tie-dyed myself.
THANKFUL FOR: my family and friends.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
A very long time ago (I think senior year of high school, and I'm a college sophomore now) I signed up to be "Erin's" Prayer Warrior. A Reece's Rainbow Prayer Warrior is assigned a child for whom the Warrior commits to praying daily. I have not always been able to manage this for "Erin," but when I felt as if I just couldn't do it and needed to find her a new Prayer Warrior, Julia from covenantbuilders.blogspot.com encouraged me and said she would be my back-up in case I forgot.
I have heard that as one prays for someone, one begins to love that someone. That is certainly the case for me with "Erin." I care deeply about that little girl. I long to see her find a family and opportunities to grow and blossom. I long to see her safe and loved.
Please consider praying for "Erin" with me.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
This mental activity, however, is not something about which I can blog. It has to do with my past, and it is both too personal and too painful to post. Suffice to say I'm in a very difficult place right now.
So that is my explanation for the long silence.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
My feet hurt.
The rest of me has felt like a giant fireball on and off all day.
I just got back into going to the gym. It is going to make me worse before it makes me better. The "make me worse" part could last for weeks.
I am drained. I am tired. I want out.
This was supposed to be a much longer blog post all about my new living arrangements, the loft bed my dad built me, my apartment mates, etc., but I think that that can wait for another night.
Friday, June 8, 2012
Ein Sof, my Sister,
I thank You for always accompanying me on my journey through life. I know that I am made in Your image and that You will lead me along my paths, that my fate is in Your hands and that You will not desert me. I beg of You to protect those who need Your protection and to heal those who need Your healing.
I thank You, my Holy Social Worker, for providing me with wonderful friends. "Emily" and "Julie" are my apartment mates and I couldn't ask for better. Besides them, I have two or three other friends as well, and for that I am truly thankful.
Almighty God, Is-Was-Will-Be, I thank You for everything, always. I pray that I may always be Your partner in shaping this world. You give me the letters from which I may make words; You play the tune to which I may dance. I will rise up and LIVE, raise the next generation, be Your daughter, sister, client--perhaps even friend--for the remainder of my life. I thank You for the opportunity.
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- Apparently I do have it in me to post today, so I ...
- Sick to my Stomach
- The Weight of the World
- Across the World
- I Stand with Israel
- Older Boys
- Domino Status Flood
- More Reece's Rainbow
- On the Reece's Rainbow Front...
- My Heart is Breaking
- One more blog post for the night...
- A Stab at Making a Difference
- Visions, and a Friend
- A Revised View of God
- Reece's Rainbow Listings Are Real People
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- Despair and Tragedy
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- On a Journey
- I no longer know You: An Open Letter
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- Pictures of my Purchases
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- They're OK!
- Drowning in Prayer Needs
- A First
- I ask for prayer.
- Randomness (VERY LONG)
- "Emily's" and "Julie's" Views on Reece's Rainbow (...
- Update All Around
- Pray with Me!
- Fluctuating Faith
- Shout-Out and Thank You...
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- The Joys of Feeling Normal
- An Update
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- My Inner Child
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- I am a bipolar, Jewish young adult (had my Hebrew birthday, the one I count, and turned 23 this past January) who also suffers from Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. I love life and I live for my best friends: they are my purpose and my reason for trying so hard. I remain passionately devoted to those I love; I will not let my disorders make me totally self-centered. I like to read, write, and sew. My Rabbinical school plans did not work out, and I am now hoping to go into the field of Early Childhood Education. Please note: I am currently maintaining only Carried in His Hands. Enjoy!