Open Door

Open Door

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Symbols of Christmas

The Symbols of Christmas
Do we really know what Christmas is anymore?
Or do we spend all of our time just running to the store?
Wasting all our efforts checking our lists,
Worrying about the presents we missed.
We go through the motions, but is the spirit there,
When we trim the tree and hang the angel hair?
How do we remember the true meaning of Christmas?
By the symbols and signs that were left to remind us:
A star sits on top of the tree,
Representing a long fulfilled prophecy.
Can you make the connection between red and Christ?
Red is for blood and his sacrifice.
The color of green and a needled pine tree,
For the promise of eternal life to be.
The candle is an image mirrored from a star,
That the Sheppard watched appear from afar.
A bell rings out, to call sheep back to the fold,
All are precious to the Sheppard, I am told.
The gift bow ties us all together,
This is the way it will be forever.
The candy cane is a Sheppard’s crook,
To pull a lost lamb back to the nook.
A wreath is a symbol of eternal love,
The kind that is found in heaven above.
Through the passing of time, the meaning is lost,
The material world developed, but at what cost?
By forgetting tradition, the magic is spent,
The heart is gone, and so is the rent.
So teach the children and help them see,
Or the symbols of Christmas will no longer be.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dealing With Depression

How do you cope with a sadness when it is immobilizing and completely irrational?  This is a question I have asked myself countless times throughout my life.  I have struggled with depression for most of my life, but I have managed to set aside most of the symptoms for many years now.  Once, I had a friend inquire as to what it feels like in the thralls of my worst moments and I have to say that the fires of hell would have to pale in comparison to that terrible place.  It is a black hole deep in the earth from which you must ascend without the strength to even stand.  All of your loved ones stand at the top of the hole screaming down at you to "snap out of it" but you can't even grab the rope they have tossed in your direction.  

Depression is a very lonely and selfish state of mind.  It is completely destructive and highly contagious.  You can slide to the bottom with a single careless step and spend months analyzing your fall -- time lost for everyone who has the misfortune of loving you.  Ultimately, my husband and daughter's suffering prompted me to change.

I can recall the moment very vividly.  It was my daughter's second birthday and I realized that because of my issues I was not the mother that she deserved.  As I laid on the bathroom floor, deciding if I should take my own life I concluded that it wouldn't save her.  If I chose the coward's path, then she still would have spent the rest of her life wondering why her mother had held her in such little regard.  I loved my little girl too much to hurt her like that, yet I couldn't go on just existng for similar reasons, so something had to change.  That day I decided to live with an awareness which was absent before.  I avoided toxic relationships and focused all of my efforts on being whole.  Have I tumbled over the abyss since then?  Absolutely, but now I can recognize where I have lost footing and end the down-hill spiral before I reach the bottom.  Just like any other health issue, early intervention is paramount.

Several years later I read somewhere that depression is a signal that your mind sends to your body when something isn't right.  It is a residual primal instinct that cues our bodies to fight or flight.  Since neither is a possibility in modern society, the pheromone builds up in our system and manifests itself in the form of sadness.  This made total sense to me, only my instinct was triggered by the opposite of most people.  The majority of people fear the unknown while I fear stability.  I was secure and the feeling was so foreign that I couldn't abide it. 

This concept probably sounds as strange to you as it was for my husband or anyone else who comes from a functional family unit, but that wasn't my childhood.  Looking back on my early years, I found that the few fleeting moments of happiness were followed by the rug of security being ripped out from under my feet.  Here is the root of my anxiety.  I had the ideal husband and a beautiful little girl, but my schema was convinced that it would never last.  My certainty was such, that I was subconsciously sabotaging my happiness every day, hurting not only myself but everyone closest to me.  The pattern was prominent within my mother as well and I could see that I was carrying on her tainted legacy. 

Recognizing the pattern was first but most important step to recovery.  I still held a lot of anger and resentment directed towards my parents, which inadvertently created their worst attributes inside of my household.  Forgiveness and understanding was the only way to get past my negative feeling so I actively sought out their experiences.  Through the life-stories of my mother and father, I discovered how much better my childhood circumstances were compared to their own.  With empathy, came my acceptance and ultimately, the ability to let go of the past and move forward.  It was much harder to forgive myself, but eventually I saw the person I am through the eyes of others and decided that I wasn't so bad.  With self-acceptance came a whole new world full of light and new experiences.  For the first time, I could see the world around me filled with beauty and wonder.  Why would I want to live in the dark with all of this sunshine beckoning me with laughter and warm breezes?

I don't believe in treating depression with medication.  That is like throwing a band-aid over a gushing wound.  It is the symptom and eventually the cause will rear its ugly head through the drug-induced haze.  The only person who has the power to end my sadness is me.  Every difficulty I encounter is filtered through my perception and I am the one who is in control of that.  Do you know that 70 % of all experiences are internal and only 30 % is external?  It is not what happens in life that will define me, but how I perceive those trials.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

New Perspective

The pity party is over and I am ready to move forward once again.  All it took was a little perspective.  Did you know that Stephenie Meyer was turned down 11 times?  J.K. Rowling over 15?  Ellen Hopkins gave up on finding an agent and went directly to the book companies, not even knowing how many times they had declined Crank.  I have decided to wear my rejections as a badge of honor that I have earned on the field of battle.  The other conclusion I have drawn, is that I need to stop focusing on the trees and visualize the forest instead.  In marketing, you plan for 50 no's before you receive a yes.  Why would publishing be any different?  I have to be resolved in pitching my manuscript 50 times (10x more than I already have)  If you look at it that way, my 3 no's and 2 I won't even bother telling you's aren't really that big of a deal.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Goodbye, Uncle Doug

    My Uncle Doug passed away this morning and I find myself reflecting on my childhood once again.  I have lost so many loved ones over the past several years, people who have influenced my life in profound ways with simple acts of kindness.  Uncle Doug and Aunt Julie's house was my most favorite place in the whole world when I was growing up.  I would walk in the door and Uncle Doug would beam at me through his thick glasses and shout "Angie baby!" like he was so excited to see me, which he always seemed to be.  Looking back now, I realize that he was the only male figure in my life who actually listened to what I had to say.  I was kind of a chatterbox and a complete overly-sensitive mess who would cry at the drop of a hat, but he was gentle and infinitely patient with me.  There house was a constant -- my sactuary that was a soft place for me to land.  I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge just how important this loving couple were to me.  He is with Aunt Julie now, but their seeds of compassion will continue to sprout up, echoing through eternity.