Year end

Friday, December 29, 2017

I'm starting to recover from my bronchitis. This bronchitis is becoming a regular occurrence. I'm going to need to do some research to figure out why I seem to be getting this about twice a year now. It eats up a good two weeks or more each time. Anyone else have this problem?

I've been sitting by the fire reading and knitting and watching movies for a good week now. Not such a bad time actually. We celebrated a very low-key Christmas, with ham sandwiches and cookies sent by my brother in Hawaii. I've read three books. 



And, despite the fact that I was whining that I wouldn't have any gifts to open because we weren't going to be able to visit family, and my husband and I had agreed not to exchange gifts, there were gifts.


My husband cheated, and got me some, and our daughter and son-in-law stopped by with presents and a nice visit. As you can see from the above photo, I didn't move from my chair all week!

The coughing is starting to subside, so today I took care of a few things. I boxed up all the gifts for our sons and DIL, and my husband took them to the post office. I vacuumed and dusted and swept and did some laundry.

Sheets need to be washed, groceries need to be bought, and bathrooms need to be cleaned, but  . . . they always do, don't they? 

{The books I've been reading have featured plenty of servants to do the cleaning and cooking. I surely could go for that.}

Are you thinking about the new year? This quiet week between Christmas and New Year's is a perfect time for contemplation and planning. And even if I wasn't sick, I'd be staying pretty close to home this week anyway. We've had about eight inches of snow, and the temps have been in the single digits.

I don't like to think about resolutions. The word "resolution" sounds so grim and determined. And kind of like "will worship," as St. Paul describes it. I like to think of possibilities and dreams and goals, and see those words with little sparkles shooting out of them.


Here are some of my ideas, still fermenting, still bubbling in the pot.

*** Making Sundays device free. Here is a good article on this from a favorite website. Maybe. I do need to figure out how to corral the online time into a set part of the day so it doesn't invade my life all day, every day, as it often seems to do. 

*** Writing another nonfiction book and dusting off my fiction book.

*** Learning to knit a sweater and finishing two afghans.

*** Reading through morning and evening prayer from The Book of Common Prayer.  I'm not Anglican, but was brought up one and miss the rich liturgical prayer book. I'll use the old 1928 version. You know, because older is better.

*** Sorting through all the paper work in the basement. I still have boxes of old homeschooling papers and lots of photos to sort. This seems monumental to me. But sometime in the next five or ten years we will be downsizing and the time will pass quickly. Setting the timer for an hour and going at it regularly will make things so much easier later.

*** Visiting our children. In just the few short years since they've left home, our children have worked in Montgomery, Alabama; Winston-Salem, Jacksonville, and New Bern, North Carolina; and Richmond, Virginia. Now our youngest is moving to Des Moines. I've never been to Iowa. Far from being in the middle of a cornfield, Des Moines is supposed to be an up and coming city. I'll let you know.

I'm still dreaming, still thinking of different ideas. How about you? Any hopes and dreams for 2018?

A different kind of Christmas

Friday, December 22, 2017

This is turning out to be the most unusual Christmas I've ever had.

I thought at first we would only be seeing our daughter and her husband because our two out-of-state sons were unable to get enough time off to be with us. We had them all at Thanksgiving, so that was okay. But still, the first Christmas with only one of our children.

Then we got a call inviting us to our daughter-in-law's family's mountain house in Virginia, where both our sons will be. Now, we would be missing our daughter, but we'd be seeing both sons. And in a beautiful mountain setting. First time ever away from home for Christmas. But we were looking forward to it.

After a couple weeks of preparation, I had a pile of wrapped gifts and boxes of food and supplies, ready to go.

And now, the latest development. I'm laid up with bronchitis, and we won't be seeing anyone. Just the two of us here. We haven't been without at least two of our children in 30 years. And no other family at all? Never in my life.

This will pretty much be me all weekend.
And no presents to open. My husband and I agreed we wouldn't exchange gifts with each other as we're saving up for a trip next year. But that was okay; most of the fun now is watching everyone else open their presents.

Now, nothing to open. That certainly will be different.

We won't go hungry, though. We have piles of food here. I'm thankful I didn't get any cookie baking done. I felt a cold coming on earlier in the week, and decided to forego the baking and just try and rest and not get sick. Now that we're stuck here with my bronchitis, at least I won't be stuffing my face with cookies! 

My husband dropped off a ham and a casserole and other goodies this morning at our daughter's house. They were coming to dinner tonight, but we're postponing that until I feel better. I froze much of the rest of the food I was going to take with us.

After some realignment of my expectations, I'm trying to see the good here.

*** I can do a lot of reading which I've missed out on during busy weeks of preparation.

*** We have lots of wood stacked for cozy nights by the fire.

*** I won't have to do any cooking, just reheating. 

*** While we can't go to church (coughing too much), we can read the familiar story from Luke together and listen to some lovely Christmas music.

*** Our kitty won't be lonely for four days.

*** We can work on a puzzle together and watch movies.

*** I can nap and rest and make plans for 2018.

As my husband said this morning, we have had so many wonderful Christmases together with our family. We have memories and more to look forward to. Our children will be with in-laws and friends who love them.

And we have each other.

And we have the gift of Jesus, The Most Important Thing.
 One of my best Christmas memories was when I was pregnant and on bed rest and could do nothing but sit on the couch. No shopping, no baking, no decorating, no parties. But it was peaceful and lovely, just enjoying the lights on the tree and reading stories to our three-year-old daughter.  Who knows? Maybe this Christmas will be special in its own way, too.

 A Merry Christmas to you, my dear blog friends. Enjoy your family. And if you're alone, double hugs. xo Deborah

Finding beauty in everyday life -- an excerpt from my book

Monday, December 18, 2017

Thank you to those who have bought a copy of my book Help for Depression, and for your kind support. Today I thought I'd post an excerpt from the beginning of Chapter 5, Finding Beauty in Everyday Life. I think the information in this chapter can be helpful to anyone, whether or not they suffer from depression.

*****

Beauty will save the world. ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky

I write a blog entitled The Beautiful Matters. The beautiful does matter. Beauty is healing. Something in our spirit is drawn toward beauty and responds to beauty.

Who hasn’t experienced powerful feelings of joy and wonder at seeing something truly beautiful? A gorgeous sunset, the sky shot through with brilliant hues of purple, rose, and gold, or a vista of rolling hills covered in trees clothed in autumn’s splendid colors, or an expanse of water sparkling with thousands of brilliant diamonds in the sun. The sight of a baby contentedly asleep, the thrill of those first notes of a well-loved symphony, or the humbler pleasures of a pan of lovely homemade cinnamon rolls coming out of the oven.


We all crave beauty. We long for it. It has the power to heal the brokenness in us, and the capacity for restoring us.

We must make a conscious effort to seek out beauty in our lives, to claim it as our birthright, to fill our lives with it. We must shun the ugly, the tacky, the garish as much as we possibly can.

And when I speak of beauty, I’m not talking about the superficial images we are indoctrinated with in our culture. That make us feel defeated and unworthy instead of lifting us up. The airbrushed supermodels, the Pinterest- and Instagram-perfect pictures hinting at a life we can never hope to achieve. The beautifully decorated homes featured in the magazines and sponsored on the big and flashy blogs.

I’m talking about beauty that is true and good and real. There is more beauty in the lines on my friends’ faces, lines that speak of lives of sacrifice and suffering, as well as laughter and hope, than any modern nipped and tucked versions of beauty.

Some of my beautiful book club friends, showing off our Christmas slippers,
 a gift from one of our  members.

There is more beauty in a humble home with a welcome heart for those who are hurting, than one in which everything is carefully curated and styled.

So while this chapter includes practical ideas for including beauty in our lives, we have to remember the larger picture. Suffering can make us beautiful when it gives us a larger heart in which to experience life and empathize with others. Brokenness can be beautiful when it leads us on the path toward wholeness and truth. This is how beauty saves.

This kind of beauty is real. It is deep. But we don’t scorn the smaller things that point us to this larger truth. Things as simple as a beautiful bone china cup for our tea or a single lovely flower on our kitchen table.

Creating beauty in your life or experiencing beauty doesn’t have to be expensive or require a lot of work. Just the recognition of its importance is a good first step.

The very best place to start is outside, in nature. You may live in a city apartment or in an area with not much natural beauty, but it is there if you look for it. The sky is over all of us, and if you make a habit of just looking up and studying light and clouds, sunset and moonlight, you will absorb some of its healing power.

Even if all you can manage to do is to make a cup of coffee and sit on a balcony or on a deck and look at some trees and listen to the birds you will be opening yourself up to beauty. Close your eyes and listen to the birds. Feel the sun and the breeze on your face. Smell the freshly mown grass. Watch the shadows of the leaves moving against the sky.

You will gradually start to feel a peace, a quietness, in your soul. And even if you don’t, even if the depression and heaviness don’t seem to lift, know that the beauty around you is not being wasted. It is influencing you and touching you with its healing power even if you’re not aware of it.

Try to do this every day.

When you have a little more energy or are feeling a little better, look around your environment and think of ways that you can introduce beauty into your home or living space. We can observe the natural beauty around us, free to those who have eyes to see, but we can also create beauty.

In this chapter, I share some practical steps for creating beauty in your life. I realize that some of these suggestions may sound shallow or insensitive. Tell someone who is overcome with depression and anxiety, who can barely get out of bed in the morning, who is craving a drink to help numb the anxiety that is pounding in their chest, tell them that they’ll feel better if they clean out their closet or drink tea out of a china cup?

Yes, I’m actually recommending that. We don’t want to despise the small things. They have more power than you think.

Small things can make us smile.

And listen, your depression isn’t going to magically go away today or tomorrow. Even if you’re taking medication and going regularly to therapy, even if you are exercising and eating right, it will take some time. In the meantime, what can you do right now, today, to inject some beauty into your day? Because beauty also brings hope.

I used the days when I was feeling good to implement some of the suggestions in this chapter. Then I could be sure of having beauty around me when the dark days came.

*****

Okay, so this was a shameless promo. If you'd like to order a copy of this book, Help for Depression, click on the picture at the right top of my sidebar. A Kindle version will be available on December 22.

This winter, I'm going to be writing my next book, simply entitled The Beautiful Matters, which will expand on this whole topic.

Thank you again, and don't forget to enjoy the beauty around you as you are busily preparing for the Christmas weekend. 

xo

Help for Depression is on Amazon

Thursday, December 7, 2017

I've finished my book on depression, and it's now available to order on Amazon. Yay!


I have no idea what I'm doing here. I'm learning it all by the seat of my pants as I go along. It reminds me of when I first started blogging four years ago. I didn't know how to go about it and didn't know anyone to ask. So I just kept searching for my answers online and eventually figured it out.

Same here. I don't know anything about being an indie author or marketing my book. I don't know anyone personally who has done this. So I just am figuring it out as I go.

Just like blogging, I have to somehow market myself. When I posted my first blog post I guess I just expected people would show up. I didn't realize how much I'd need to do to let people know I was even here.

Several months of visiting and commenting on others' blogs eventually brought me readers and some great friends as well. Blogging isn't just a private endeavor, me writing by myself; there's lots of networking and socializing.

And that's actually one of the best things about blogging.

I guess the same is true with writing a book. People aren't going to know about it unless I figure out how to let them know. I don't even know when the Amazon search engines are going to kick into gear and a lot of other stuff. Duh.

So I'm starting with you, dear readers.

I'd be so grateful if you would visit Amazon and buy a copy. Only $7.99. Every copy I sell moves me higher in sales rankings and I guess that's a good thing. I would also be thankful if you would write a (hopefully positive) review.

I'm formatting the book for Kindle as well, and hope to have that available in a few days. That will be selling for less, and you can find it under the same title, Help for Depression.

Here's the Amazon link. Or you can search on Amazon with the book title and my name.

I was encouraged to write this book after getting so many positive comments on some posts I did here on the subject of depression. So, again, thank you for that encouragement and support.

Here is a description from the back of the book . . . 

Imagine sitting across the table from a wise and compassionate friend, one who has walked the same path as you for years, one who understands what it is to walk in the darkness of depression. Listen as she shares her heart, and gently listens to yours, encouraging you and offering practical steps to finding freedom and joy.

Covering the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of those suffering from a depressive illness, discussing when and if mental health counseling and medication is appropriate, and bringing a unique perspective of how to engage in loving and positive self-talk and how the presence of beauty in our lives is healing, here is a life-giving guide to help you through your own dark night.
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