Is it my secrets that brought you here? Well then, let’s just cut to the juicy reveal.
1) Like everyone else on planet earth, I wrestle with fear and sense that blog readers long for bloggers (even design bloggers they deem to be “less deep” types) to more frequently go out on a limb and authentically share thoughts they are maybe terrified of sharing. I mean, that’s typically where all the fruit is, if you ask me. 2) After a nervous breakthrough a decade ago, I learned that peace comes when I venture: in the direction of my fear…and through it, and not away from or around the fear. 3) While I never tire of seeing and sharing beautiful shelters, I’m equally inspired by how we might become, in small but important ways, lovely and loving shelters for each other. (The images of animal friendship just feel right with how I am feeling.)
photo at top: Pinterest/unkown
Like you, my thoughts have often turned to all of the stress we see around us. I have felt a little, but my people are experiencing a lot, and maybe you are too. So let’s chat for a moment and not get political but maybe get existential.
But not too existential! I don’t wanna add stress or detain you online when you could be luxuriating in nature, interacting with friends, practicing your faith, and giving back to the universe (all such effective antidepressants!).
I get worried about us sometimes.
About how common depression and anxiety have become in our culture. About all the violence and aggression and our constant front row seat to it. About how much artificial reality is increasingly replacing the real in daily life and how much nature we’re missing. I get worried about the fact there is still so much stigma surrounding mental illness in spite of the fact one in four of us is suffering.
There are more than a few places (and varieties of wine!) to turn for stress relief techniques, and if you google those three words, you’ll be confronted with 15.5 million results. So many opinions and strategies for recovering wellness. So many pills, promises and products pointing to relief. So much art that unlocks and names our pain. So much spiritual guidance. There is help in abundance. But the suffering continues, and I wonder what keeps us reaching for the quick fixes, keeps us stuck in unhealthy patterns, and keeps us resistant to true transformation that endures?
I’d love to hear your responses in the comments.
I’m a personal believer in daily transformation, in seeking grace for the strength to start right where I am planted, in seeking transformation this very moment–without a plan or even any hope. I love AA, 12 steps, and addicts in recovery–we are seeking the same grace for serenity.
How do you manage stress and maintain a healthy love for humanity?
Three of the most helpful ways I find balance and perspective to manage stress are: meditation, prayer, and walking in nature. The meditation I do is centering prayer. Sometimes it can feel boring or humbling, and other times I sense there is a peaceful divine therapy at work. This practice is consistently about emptying, observing, and letting go. I am happy to share more about centering prayer should you be interested.
My prayers changed after the breakthrough. They’re not wordy or often spoken aloud. Instead, I kneel and simply bring the contents of my heart–all of it—in surrender, to be placed under the blessing and purified. The deep desire of my heart when I pray is always the same. It’s a version of: PURIFY MY VISION SO I MAY SEE AS YOU SEE. Even if my heart harbors resentment and bitterness, turning to communion with God and offering consent, gently leads me like a shepherd into forgiveness.
And forgiveness? Wow. It’s a powerful, lovely healer.
Walking in nature is also deeply restorative since it connects and anchors us to the universe, erasing all those illusory barriers we often believe exist. We don’t live on earth–we ARE the earth. We are made of ocean and stardust after all. I see the bird’s wing, and it becomes this wondrous and beautiful miracle. I see sunlight dancing through the trees and am dazzled by the master creator’s brilliance. I notice my own small hands and think “oh, what lovely you have held!” In nature, gratitude bubbles up over and over again.
None of these strategies requires me to be polished, polite, or even positive. Only present. Shauna Nieqiest nailed what I am expressing in her book: PRESENT OVER PERFECT. I may show up hopeless, angry, broken, and stressed. I may show up in a state far, so very far from perfect. Yet somehow, my vulnerable brokenheartedness can align with perfection (or whom I call God through Christ) to create in me a new heart. It’s a creative adventure really. It’s a paradox I love.
I’m thinking about you this very moment; about all you’re facing and juggling. I know you may be carrying a heavy load of cares and stress which could be weighing down your heart and compromising your heath. You’re important, and I want to remind you of who you are.
You are that true, shimmering, luminous soul underneath all of the titles. Perfectly made to be loved, you are remarkably resilient and good. You’re strong. You’re brave, and all of your beautiful scars reflect this truth. Since I’m a believer all prayer can do is heal and that we can heal each other, I am sending you blessing this very moment.
Light for your darkness, comfort for your suffering. Gentle tenderness to soothe the harsh edges. Precious relief from the pain.
May you begin to breathe easier. May you trust the trustworthy energy pulsing within the music of every moment, especially when your feelings and thoughts tell you otherwise. May you be encouraged and baptized by streams of living, lovely water flowing from realms within realms we cannot see. May you sense a hidden wholeness flowering delicately within you, offering assurance in tender whispers that you indeed belong and that all shall be well.
Peace to you right where you are.