It seems that for success in science and art, a dash of autism is essential. — Hans Asperger
Today’s post was written by the broadcast journalist of the group, Patricia of Patricia’s Corner. In the post she writes candidly about her experiences with Asperger’s Syndrome. She also invites us to look around and find others, like her, all around us. “They may seem different, but they’re the same.”
If I practiced none of the other coping strategies I wrote about in the “coping” series, I might be okay, but the one thing that saves my sanity, my life, and probably the lives of a few others is prayer. In fact, journaling, creating, shutting it down, listing, sleeping, and spending time with trees, would have little effect if I did not pray.
So I pray. I pray. I pray. I pray.
I’m not talking about begging and bargaining, though I’m pretty sure I’ve attempted some of that this year. Instead, I’m talking about being in communion with God, listening for/to His voice, and doing my best to respond to the madness of 2020 and life in general in ways that honor Him, deepen my trust in Him, and elevate my consciousness.
I am not overstating when I say prayer has kept me sane.
There are few words to describe our collective trauma this year, and I can’t say that I haven’t wondered or asked “why?” from time to time. But God is absolutely sovereign, so I try in all things to yield to His will–no matter how unfair, unreasonable, or impossible circumstances seem to me.
Moving toward prayer during difficult times challenges everything in me. It calls me out of self-centeredness, moves me away from my desires, and pushes me to higher levels of God-consciousness and light. The outcome is beautiful, but the work to get there isn’t pretty.
Moments like the ones 2020 has presented us with are tolerable and livable only when I am in constant contact, when my focus is heavenward and not on this tiny difficult moment. While I may not know the beginning from the end, prayer firms up hope and gives me a glimpse of the beautiful possibilities. For all of us.
Gracias: Thank you for joining me for the seven-part “Coping with the Madness of 2020” series. If you’re interested, you can find a few more tips in two posts I wrote six years ago–different circumstances, but they still work: Getting Through the Crazies, Part I and Getting Through the Crazies, Part II.
And thanks to my friend Charmaine whose yellow iris is featured at the top of this post. I have difficulty shooting irises and expected little from the shots. This one turned out to be one of the favorites among those I shot from her garden. Who knew?
In a cool solitude of trees
Where leaves and birds a music spin,
Mind that was weary is at ease,
New rhythms in the soul begin. –William Kean Seymour
I’ve written enough about tree therapy on the blog for you to know that “talking to the trees” is definitely one of the ways I cope with life’s challenges. You’ve probably figured, then, 2020 has driven me to the trees more times than I can count.
I could not find time this week for a full tree therapy session, but I took advantage of drive time for quick doses.
The sight of autumn taking over as I drove to work was thrilling, and the drive through campus was like entering an autumn heaven. The reds, yellows, and oranges vied for my attention.
Some mornings, I parked, stood outside my car in the early morning quiet (before others arrived), and took it all in. I listened to the wind and trees sing in perfect harmony as the crisp leaves danced across the parking lot.
Even such short pauses with the trees shake off the madness.
If you want to read more about how trees help me cope, take a look at some of my older posts or click the #ThursdayTreeLove hashtag below:
- Consider the Trees, December 2014
- Pause for Sanity, January 2015
- Praying with Trees, February 2017
- The Oak and a Lesson in Self-Healing, October 2018
Hopefully, the posts will persuade you to try a bit of tree therapy!
I am joining Parul Thakur for #ThursdayTreeLove every second and fourth Thursday of the month. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to her latest #treelove post.
If 2020 hasn’t driven you to the brink of madness yet, I’m sure [if you live in the US], the last few days tested your sanity. I used practically all my coping strategies between the time I cast my vote Tuesday and when I read earlier today that the Biden/Harris ticket prevailed [Praise the Lord!].
When my stress levels are off the chart, I do the one thing that calms immediately–I sleep. And that’s exactly what happened Wednesday night when I started writing my blog post on sleep as a way to cope with 2020 madness; two sentences in, I fell asleep.
There are times when I struggle with insomnia for days, sometimes weeks, but when I encounter high levels of emotional stress over situations I can’t control, I have no problem escaping through sleep. When I wake up, even if the worst hasn’t passed, my emotions and/or stress are a lot more manageable.
The links between lack of sleep and stress and good sleep and our responses to stress are widely discussed in academic and medical journals, so it’s no surprise that sleep helps me to “wait out” 2020’s madnesses with patience and calm.
And that’s a good thing, because, if nothing else, 2020 is trying to teach us to wait.
When my anxiety or stress levels heighten they are met with an equally strong desire to create. During the “lockdown phase” of the pandemic–March through July–I wrote poetry (almost daily), participated in seminars and workshops, tried new vegan recipes, painted, sang, doodled, and experimented with creative photography.
Since I returned to work in this pandemic season, the drive to create to combat the stress of this moment has been so intense that I had to add micro-creation sessions to my day.
I find a moment to doodle while thinking through a solution or while listening to a podcast or webinar. I fiddle with the lines of a poem I’ve already drafted in the wee morning hours. I transform a photo. I create inspirational Instagram posts.* I cut and tear pages from beautiful magazines and use them in art journal pages. I even do little things to create order out of the chaos of my desks [at home and at work].
About the images: The set of floral art in this post is the work of Rae L, one of my Love Notes friends. She sent the envelope full of cheerful flowers a month or so ago. This is how she’s coping with the madness. Aren’t they lovely?
*A few weeks ago, my desire to create order spilled over to my Instagram page. I wiped my IG clean, changed my name, and created a uniform look for my page. If you have a moment, check it out. Maybe, you’ll be inspired: iamchandralynn.
Last week my friend Chella posed a question on Facebook: What are you doing to bear this anxiety? I can’t remember if I answered her question, but I’ve certainly thought about it.
Let’s face it–life can be hard, but 2020 has taken hard to a seemingly unbearable level. The year has presented a perfect storm of anxiety-inducing madness. There are things I’ve always done to deal with anxiety, stress, and the general disappointments and heartache that life brings: Pray. Meditate. Journal. Walk. Create. Though this hasn’t changed since we entered this tumultuous year, my activity in these areas has ramped up quite a bit since March.
I thought I would kill the proverbial “two birds with one stone” and get a few short blog posts out of my answer to Chella’s question. I’m not answering in any particular order. It’s all important and part of my spiritual practices and soul journey.
If I don’t write, I feel like I’m not breathing, so I journal.
I journal every day—in the morning, throughout the day, and in the evening if I don’t crash first. I have literally seven [or is it eight?] journals going at once; they serve different immediate purposes, but they all work to save my sanity.
Weekends, though, provide freedom to journal without worrying about schedules and tasks. I can spend hours journaling without disruption. Today, I’m adding something new to my practice–a guided journal.
I rarely have a shortage of words, so I’ve never needed journaling prompts or guidance. I don’t think I’ve ever done a full guided journal before, but since my friend Dee [Delores James of Keep It Tight Sisters] wrote one, I am doing one now.
It’s nice to sit down this Saturday evening with her latest publication, It’s My Time: A Guided Journal to Deeper Self-Love. In addition to plenty of writing space, the book includes affirmations, quotes, motivation, lists, writing and thinking prompts, and contemplative exercises to guide the self-care journey. Bonus: It’s purple! 🙂
If you’d like to learn about the therapeutic [and other] benefits of journaling and some simple approaches to journaling, see my July 2016 post: Journaling: Unleash the Magic. If the idea of a completely blank page is a bit daunting, a guided journal like Dee’s is a great place to start!
Note: All the images in this post are from It’s My Time: A Guided Journal to Deeper Self-Love. Even though this sounds like a sponsored post, it is not. 😀