My February Prayer

I discovered the most lovely prayer, by the Trappist monk Thomas Merton, that perfectly fits my state of mind (and heart and soul) these days:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

Nor do I really know myself. And the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you, does in fact please you.

And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore I will trust you always, though I may seem to be lost, and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Amen.

This simple yet enormously profound prayer captures all of my fears, my doubts and uncertainties, and encourages me to prayerfully hand them over to the God who loves me beyond measure, trusting fully that he will never leave me, so I do not need to suffer the sometimes overwhelming, anxiety that I often feel.

January was horrid. A migraine almost every day. A major fibromyalgia relapse. Seasonal Affective Disorder. The constant pain, day after day, exhausts me and leaves me frustrated and depressed, and also keeps me stuck in the house. The only time I left the house was to go to the dentist to deal with a difficult molar–which now needs a root canal. And my birth mother rejected my attempts to repair our estrangement, which makes me feel as though I’m ten years old and my mommy doesn’t love me anymore.

Mostly, I fret that I am drifting aimlessly, just going through the motions of living. Wasting my life. Annie Dillard says that “how we spend our days is how we live our lives” and I shudder at the idea that my life boils to one big headache.

Still, as Merton writes, the desire to please God is sufficient. That, and the knowledge that God is with me, even in the migraines and root canals and hurtful rejections of life.

And Merton is right. For now, at least, understanding that God is holding me is enough, has to be enough.

Life is Grace

I am changing my blog’s name to fit the direction I want to take it, and my writing. There will still be plenty of photography, and if anyone should be interested in making a purchase, just click on “Gingerfancy Photography” above the blog header. To read more about why I am changing the name, and how it fits with the past history of the blog, please keep reading. Also refer to the pinned post at the top of the blog, the quote by Frederich Buechner.

Welcome! I’m Barbara and one thing I want to make clear straight away is that I am determined to live a full, generous, and creative life, one filled with love and laughter, despite chronic pain and disability. This is a good time to plug in one of my favorite quotes, by Joseph Campbell:

We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

Continue reading “Life is Grace”

Winter Wednesday

It’s cold. And changing my antidepressant from Cymbalta (which was helping my fibromyalgia but had quit helping my depression) to Fetzima (vice versa) isn’t helping my grumpy mood any. I have developed strange food cravings (carbs, sugar, and more carbs) and I am frighteningly grateful for cable TV and Law & Order reruns.

Continue reading “Winter Wednesday”

Why Does Everything Sound Better in French? 

Even having a migraine, with all of its painful and ugly connotations, sounds romantic in French. According to one of my favorite books, Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language From the South of France, by Kristin Espinasse (an American married to a Frenchman and living in Provence), to have a migraine in French is avoir la tête comme une citrouille. Literally translated into English, this means “to have a pumpkin head,” which is amusingly descriptive of a migraine. If, that is, someone is pounding violently upon the pumpkin that is one’s head.

However, I did discover another tip in the same chapter. The chapter is called is Citrouille and is about Espinasse’s rather hilarious attempt to celebrate Halloween American-style with her bewildered French neighbors. Next time vous avez la tête comme une citrouille, simply scream at your pumpkin head “Allez-vous-en!” (get out of here!) Scream as loud as you can with someone whacking at your pumpkin head with a hammer, anyway.

I apologize for my lousy French grammar, by the way. Should mon la tête comme une citrouille ever va-t-en laisse-moi tranquille (go away and leave me alone), I hope to brush up on my college French.

N.B. As always, I use textures from 2 Lil’Owls on my photos, this one included. I highly recommend their entire line of presets, textures, digital papers, and workshops. If interested in purchasing, my affiliate link is https://2lilowls.com/ref/9

Wordless Wednesday

My chronic migraines are giving me a rough time the last year especially, which is why I am doing less writing and more posts with primarily photographs. It’s hard to concentrate on writing when there is an entire percussion section going mad inside my skull…but hopefully soon I will have some decent writing days. I hope. 

In the meantime, on a happier note, here are some peonies! 


the sad times…

I am feeling horribly fragile today, as I have been on most days these last months. Fibromyalgia pain, worsening back and neck pain from arthritis, migraines, foot pain, and depression, a nasty depression relapse that just goes on and on and on…Are my medications not effective any longer? Are changing hormone levels playing a role? Am I getting worse as I get older? Did breaking my foot so badly throw everything off? Or all of the above?

It’s hard to say. But none of my usual self-care strategies seem to be helping anymore. My gratitude journal, guided meditation, walking, losing myself in a good book…all of my long honored tried-and-true comforts are failing me. I’m also having a tough time reaching out to friends because I don’t know what to say.

And part of this, I know, is the ongoing pain of childlessness. The gaping, supperating wound that never heals. It’s always there, a dull ache that crescendos to a roar at times, like around Father’s Day, which is this coming Sunday.

I don’t quite know what to do with so much pain, both physical and emotional. My husband has been wonderfully, incredibly supportive, I have terrific doctors, but it’s as if my usual coping mechanisms have run dry. So all I can do for the moment is to hold on tight to the love I know heals me. From my family, my husband, my God. And force myself to get out of bed every day, to get dressed, to sit out in the backyard with the sun and the flowers and the dog, and hope that eventually healing grace will start to take hold.

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’

Mary Ann Radmacher

unfulfilled potential

Consult not your fears, but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but what is still possible for you to do.  (Pope John XXIII)

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the strength of a woman

The strength of a woman is measured by the extent of her refusal to allow hardship to dictate her and who she becomes
–C. Jobbell

20130914-202017.jpg
Me and my aunties (my dad’s sisters) this summer

My mom and me having a moment at my wedding.
My mom and me having a moment at my wedding.

Dedicated to my mom, my grandmothers, and my aunties, the strongest and most loving women ever!

(The first picture above is of my Grandma Resch on her wedding day in 1914)

grace and grumpiness

I am so incredibly, amazingly, crabby at the moment. I overdid it with my physical therapy exercises yesterday and am paying the price today. I also, I admit, was (to my surprise) completely emotionally overwhelmed yesterday by the election of Pope Francis. Pope Francis. But I am experiencing a tough letdown today after my elation and tears, which is making me headachy and grumpy.

It’s so easy to find grace in the beautiful moments, the happy times, when it seems as though God’s love is in the very air we breathe. Which it is, of course. But now? As I sit here in our cluttered bedroom, staring at the immense pile of dirty laundry that is refusing to wash itself, not to mention the many books which I swear mate while we sleep that have no home at the moment, and I could really use a shower, if I could work up the energy to turn on the water, get some towels (any clean ones?) and dig out some shower gel and shampoo which I know we have, somewhere or other.

my little family
my little family

Yet…I look at the face of my sleeping cocker spaniel, faithfully dozing next to me on the bed. I look across the room and see our wedding portrait, and I remember that I have a husband who takes me to all of my doctor and physical therapy appointments–and they are legion–and never complains. I remember my mother, and how thrilled she would be to see Pope Francis, and I smile, and say a quick prayer to her. And I think to myself, wow, am I blessed. Even if I do suspect my physical therapist of trying to kill me.

"Habemus Papam" - Cardinal Jorge Mar...
“Habemus Papam” – Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., has been elected Pope Francis (Photo credit: Catholic Church (England and Wales))
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