Saturday, February 21, 2009

On The Pool Garden: An Introduction. Or, How I Fell Off the Deep End.

I look back at last January and am amazed by the thing that happened in me. I am looking for a word to describe it and am having trouble...epiphany? Transformation? Stark-raving-mad? It was something new, that's all I can really say.

I used to love winter. Every snowflake made me smile. I loved the colors--yes, the colors...gray, brown, black, blue, white. (I still love these things.) But for several years in a row, I was getting depressed in the winter. It wasn't the weather, really. I was bored, I had no purpose, and all I did was watch tv and movies. I felt bad, which sprouted more feeling bad which ate the bad feelings and got bigger. That's how depression works in me.

Late in '07 I was gaining freedom from depression and learning to see the pattern I tend to fall into that leads there. So in the winter of '08, when I found an artistic expression that captured my imagination and that I had some hope of making reality, I was so very grateful. But it was an experience so new for me that I still shake my head at the person I've become.

It started with looking at pretty pictures in gardening books. I have found that when I admire something, I want to be/do it. This has never been a realistic desire in the realms of singing, acting, or painting. But reading gardening books, I was suddenly convinced that I could do it! I could learn, plan, carry out a design, and produce something beautiful. So I dove in.

I decided I was more interested in gardening than maintaining our pool (old and always green by July). We had it removed during a thaw in January and that 15X30 ft. oval became my blank slate. I read tons of books. I got a notebook with graph paper. I drew several different layouts. I learned botanical names of almost all the shade plants that would grow in NY. I lay awake at night turning ideas over and over in my head! Nothing, ever, had kept me from sleeping before. This passion/obsession lasted through the planning stages of the winter, the digging stages of the spring, and the weeding stages of the summer. Its winter again and I'm so happy to be planning the next garden and I cannot wait to see how the Pool Garden looks this spring.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

On Pain and Suffering

Disclaimer: These are thoughts and truths based on my own small experience. Pain is very personal and I can only comment on mine. The Truth of the love of Jesus is not just for me, and can be received by trusting in Him.

On Monday I had surgery to remove a mucocel from the left side of my bottom lip. I wonder a bit if it was really necessary, but that's a rant for another day. The surgery was quick and I don't remember a thing. What I ended up with was a puffy face and massive sutures (stitches) digging into my gums. I managed the pain with ibuprofen until Wednesday when I forgot to bring it to work. I begged some off of a co-worker who was more than willing to help. When time came for the next dose, I was reluctant to ask for more. I really don't know why. I think I was being stubborn. So, of course, I was in pain.

It wasn't severe pain, but pain is pain. The nurse asked me to rate my pain after the surgery and I was flummoxed. I gave her a three, because I could imagine being in greater pain. A pain scale between 1 and it linear? Is it logarithmic? Is it based on previous pain? But how can remembered pain compare to current pain? So far, I think my pain scale goes like this:
A) I'm fine.
B) It hurts
C) This is the worst pain of my life!

So Wednesday it hurt and I wasn't going to do anything about it. Then I started to suffer--I just wanted to put my head down on my desk and I didn't think I could finish my work. But then a light switched on and I thought "Dude, (its always Dude in my head. I blame tv.) this is my fault so I better quit being a wimp and learn something from the pain" So I asked God for grace and the guiding of my thoughts, and as I puttered around work this is what I learned:

I sometimes say to myself that pain only has the effect on me that I let it have. This is really just a mind game and only works temporarily

My pain always comes with riders. In my opinion these are the aspects that contribute most to the suffering. One of them is fear: Is something wrong? Is it infected? Am I going to have a hole in my cheek? The answer to that is God's love. Nothing can separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus! His plan is to give me a future and a hope and in every situation He holds me Safe. Mmm...peace.

Another is self-focused FEELINGS. Its in caps because its hard to see or feel anything else though them. For me, the basis for these feelings is the idea that my needs are not being met, nobody understands, there's no end in sight, ow, ow ow. The answer to this is God's love too! No one cares for me as much as He does. He holds me, and provides for me, and speaks Love to me.

Peace during pain lifts most of the suffering. And its available every time I turn to Him... as I discovered Thursday, Friday, and today. Gratitude during pain is really nice too:-)