Category Archives: Hope

The Forest of Imagination

There were three lost children. Each child thought she knew the correct way forward and that the other two were hopelessly lost. But, truthfully, they all three were lost, each in a forest of their own making. Each forest was unique with its own terrible and fearsome trees, and each forest was borne into reality from the imagination of each child.

This story is about the middle child and her forest. Running and hiding and clawing her way amongst the dense trees of her forest, she couldn’t see that she already was where she desperately wanted to be. The trees looked frightening and threatening. If she had been able to see with clear eyes, eyes not distorted by fear and loneliness, she would have seen that the forest was indeed her forest, welcoming and magical. She had brought all the fear and anger and helplessness with her and had painted it over the top of the trees like a canvas covering a rainbow.

“How do I let go of the fear and hopelessness?” she asked the trees with desperation coloring her words.

“You simply believe that it’s true — it’s all true. Believe in your power and our power and the power of all creation. Let go of the fear, and trust in magic and hope and love.” The trees swayed in the wind and spoke to her softly. Their words were songs of comfort that soothed the fire burning in her brain and heart.

“Trust,” they repeated. “Let the magic happen. Quiet your brain and calm your heart and allow the magic to happen. It’s been inside of you the whole time, waiting for your sunshine. So quit running and searching, and shine.”

 

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Faith in Darkness is Light, reprised

Light my path to help me see.
Touch my heart to help me believe.
Catch my tears to help me heal.
I’m lost in the sea
of opportunity and fear.
And I seem alone
though I know I am not.
And I feel alone
though I know I am not.
I do not understand the language of angels.
Faith in darkness is light.

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Bitterness and recovery

So I continue to struggle with my health and my recovery from poisonous antibiotics, but there has been a shift.

I let go of the bitterness.

Bitterness has a sharp taste, and it stings like tiny needles. I know because I’ve been living with it for four months. There has been a lot to be bitter about these past four months as I’ve mourned the loss of my health: bitter that the pharmaceutical companies and the FDA are immoral, unethical, and corrupt; bitter that my doctors are misinformed and uneducated and unknowingly prescribed a poison; bitter that some doctors won’t even listen to their patients, instead they believe the “research” that the pharmaceutical companies have funded and provided over what their patients are telling them; bitter that I have no legal recourse and the institutions can continue to poison more people and make their money.

And of course, the ubiquitous, “Why me?” Just bitter at the universe that I have been selected to experience this pain and sadness.

These have been my thoughts for four months, almost to the exclusion of thoughts of my children and my husband. Self-pity and deep, intense bitterness.

Also, these past four months, I have searched for the stories of others, trying to find hope in their journeys. I was poisoned by Zithromax that, from what I’ve read from other people, will take several months from which to recover. Since it’s a “relatively” short recovery time, there isn’t any support on the internet. However, it takes years to recover from fluoroquinolone antibiotics, and there are support groups and websites on the internet to help people. All of these support groups and websites are run by people who have suffered the poisoning themselves because the government, the pharmaceutical companies and the doctors offer no help — they don’t even acknowledge that the problem exists. So a grassroots support system has sprung up as ordinary people try to help each other go through a terrible and painful ordeal.

Many of the symptoms are the same except that my recovery time will be much shorter and there will be none of the tendon problems. The twitching, anxiety, “cycling”, muscle pain, headaches — all of that is the same. So I have been extrapolating from their stories. And today I was surfing the stories of recovery on floxiehope.com, and in most of the stories, the person, at some point, quit being bitter. They accepted their journey and let go of the personal witch hunt that was going on constantly in their heads.

And as I let the bitterness go — as I let the thoughts of hatred, anger and revenge towards all of these institutions and doctors go — I instantly felt better. It happened. And it’s happening to other people right now as they innocently and trustingly take their antibiotics, so I do think it’s important to get the word out, to be a voice. But I have to let the bitterness go. It’s hindering my happiness, my recovery and my health.

I want to live and love and be healthy again and be with my family, and, as long as I’m deeply and intensely filled with anger and bitterness, I’m impeding my own progress. I’m my own enemy. So instead of staying focused in the past, I choose to trust in my future. It’ll all be okay. I’ll be a different person — I’m already a different person — but it’ll all be okay.

And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.

— Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

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Action is the keystone

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On to the next lesson that I have learned during this time of pain and illness. And you may be thinking, “Really, Angel? Really? More posts about your sickness?” And the answer is yes because the lessons come fast and furious during your darkest hours. I’m ready to get off this f-ing train, but I’m taking the lessons with me. They came at a very high price.

During the past eight weeks, there have been some extremely bleak moments filled with despair and hopelessness. Also, during this illness, as I have been able, I have written on my little online blog, which is my way (and many people’s way in these modern times) of talking to the Universe and connecting, however obliquely, to other silent humans.

And I have found that during the moments when I am writing about hopeful thoughts, I have felt hope in my heart. I have felt stronger and brighter and more hopeful about making it through to my happy ending.

And I read a lot of uplifting literature. Lately I have been reading about Eastern philosophical and spiritual ideas, such as Buddhist thought and Rumi’s poetry. And the ideas are little seeds that become rooted in my consciousness. And then, as they sprout, the thoughts become action.

And action is key to the whole process. When I write about hope, I feel hope. When I share hope on my blog, I feel hope in my heart. You are what you act, and writing is action. Teaching is action. To act upon an idea is to embody that idea.

So that’s the latest lesson on this long, painful journey: act. Act on your positive thoughts. Act and you will become the positivity.

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Thoughts and action

Logical-thought

My posts recently have all centered around my sickness. I absolutely hate this sickness and hope it is over soon, but it has not been without its lessons.

The most recent lesson concerns thoughts and actions. This sickness has been incredibly painful and very very long. This is my first experience with a long term illness and the depression snuck in unexpected and uninvited. It was a deep depression that was taking its toll on my body and mind.

I went to see a counselor because the depression had become too much for me to handle alone. She talked to me about thoughts and action. She said that the longer I dwell on negative thoughts, the more they will gain strength, and when they gain enough strength, I will act upon them. She said that I must stop the negative thoughts in their infancy when they don’t have much strength, and I must not let them get to the point where I would act upon them.

Luckily, I had been meditating for a few years so I had some experience with controlling thoughts. So I put her advice into practice and began nipping the thoughts in the bud. I won’t say it was easy — I used all sorts of distraction techniques as well — and I won’t say that I was always successful, but I was successful enough to not go spiraling out of control.

And then one day — a day that I was feeling well — I thought, “I’ll write a little today.” Immediately, all the negative thoughts came crashing in: I’ve never been successful; I don’t know how to write; I don’t know what to write. But I had just spent the past couple of days nipping negative thoughts in the bud, and my mind immediately did it again. Snip snip, the thoughts were gone. And every time they tried to crowd back in, snip snip and they were gone.

And I could move. I could write. My negative thoughts had kept me from writing for so long, but I had learned from this illness that if you allow negative thoughts to become a runaway train, they will gain strength and you will act upon them, as in this case to never write.

And I wonder about the flip side. Can you allow positive thoughts to become a runaway train? Can you see the love and beauty that exists around us, and nurture those thoughts into full blossom and action? Can you see your own talent and worth and nurture those thoughts into full blossom and action?

I have learned from this illness that your thoughts are your power. Thoughts, when nurtured and strengthened, are your actions. So clip the negative thoughts when they are young and weak, and encourage and nurture the positive thoughts until they are so powerful that your actions reflect the very best part of you.

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Don’t live yesterday. Live today.

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I continue to struggle with my health. I have been very sick for over seven weeks now. I will spend the entire day crying, and this past week, I went to see a counselor about my depression. She said that long term illness and depression go hand in hand. She said that I had to accept my illness and right now, I was mourning the loss of my health, and that I had to find something hopeful to keep in my thoughts and my heart to help me get through this illness.

After talking to her, I found the strength to fight again. I had quit fighting, and my mother and my husband were carrying the hope and the fight for me. Yesterday morning, I did a meditation on hope and health. It was an extremely positive meditation and very helpful, and I had a very good day yesterday.

But as evening fell and the night came on, I felt the twitching in my muscles that marks the beginning of another “episode,” and the fear, which is now my constant companion, fell more heavily onto my thoughts. So this morning, as I lay in bed just after waking, I tried to repeat the meditation of yesterday. I thought, if I can just repeat the positive steps of yesterday, I will have a good day today.

I don’t know if you have ever tried to meditate in desperation, but it’s not very effective. And then, as I lay there, desperate and trying to repeat the meditation of yesterday, a tiny voice in my head said, “Don’t repeat yesterday. Live today.”

And the profoundness, and perhaps the sadness given my current situation, of this statement hit me immediately. I can’t repeat yesterday, and, the truth is, I don’t want to repeat yesterday because I don’t want to live yesterday. I want to live today. I won’t lie: I desperately hope that today is as good as yesterday. But, whether it is or it isn’t, I still don’t want to live yesterday. I only want to live today, right now, and whatever it brings.

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Finding hope

rayofsunshine1

I have been really sick for a really long time. I took Zithromax (Azithromycin) six weeks ago and had an adverse reaction to it. The physical pain and mental suffering caused by Zithromax is excruciating. Besides just the intense physical pain, you are also robbed of hope, and your world becomes bleak and without happiness.

And, six weeks later, I continue to struggle with both the physical and mental pain, and I just try to “get through the day” and have one more day of recovery under my belt. But an existence like this, for weeks, wears at your attitude. Where I used to see the positive, I only see negative. Where I used to anticipate a bright future, I only anticipate more days of pain and fear. Where I once had hope, I now only have desperation. As I told my husband, “I have no more fight,” because I have no idea how long this pain will last or how long it will take to recover. I just know that it continues day after day after day.

Then last night, I was watching How I Met Your Mother as I tried to pass the time and get through another day. In the episode, Lily was crying because she felt like she had missed her chance to be an artist, to follow her dream and live her passion. And Marshall said to her, “I promise you, your best and your most exciting days are all ahead of you.”

And I finally felt hope again. That one sentence brought a small ray of sunshine into my bleak existence where all color had seeped out and I was huddled in the corner, torn from all the happiness and goodness in the world.

So if you are on a particularly dark and painful part of your life’s journey right now, like I am, then let me say:

I promise you, your best and your most exciting days are all ahead of you.

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The Uncrowned King

Aragorn_by_tommelibom
Aragorn by Thomas M Madsen

We’re writers, storytellers, artists. We’re ephemeral yet infinite. We’re weak in our doubt and strong in our creativity.

We are a collective. We are one. Our voices, each unique, sing to the heavens and create space.

Remember this. When you look at the person next to you, know that that person is a songwriter and a poet. Know that their voice is as important to the chorus as yours. Know that their thoughts are as solid as yours, and know that even though they may seem lost, they are actually just on a different journey.

Then look in the mirror, and know that the person you are looking at is a songwriter and a poet with a strong voice in the chorus. Know that your thoughts are solid, and even though you may feel lost, you are actually just on an interesting, if perhaps sometimes difficult, journey.

Know that you are the uncrowned king.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

J.R.R. Tolkien

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Quotes from my husband

Recently my husband said two things that really impacted me:

Stay positive. It’s how we win.

Once she embraced love, she could fill the world with her imagination.

My husband is the accidental sage. His words are said in passing but can mean so much.

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An epiphany at the store

Sharon-Stone

I was at the grocery store today, standing in the checkout line as you do and idly looking about. I glanced over at the magazines, and of course the new Shape magazine immediately caught my eye given the large semi-naked picture of a beautiful Sharon Stone on the cover. My mind starts meandering down its normal path, “Wow, she looks really good. How old is she now? She must be pleased about that…” etc etc.

But then I looked up and I noticed that not one — not one  — person in the grocery store looked even remotely like Sharon Stone. I saw mothers looking very tired wrangling their small children; I saw co-workers laughing with each other and being silly; I saw couples doing their shopping while strolling very comfortably and happily next to each other; I saw one girl staring pensively off into the distance; I saw another mother clapping her hands and making her baby laugh.

Then I looked back at the magazine cover, and I realized — I suddenly grokked — that it was completely fake. No one looks like that, not even Sharon Stone looks like that. They may as well have put a picture of Lisa Simpson on the cover and told everyone that they are expected to look like this:

Lisa_Simpson

The picture of Sharon Stone was no more real than a picture of a cartoon character. But we take on these images and we judge ourselves and others on these fake cartoon images. We expect ourselves and others to look like those images, but it is unattainable, as unattainable as making yourself look like Lisa Simpson.

And in the process of chasing this fake idea of beauty, we miss the real beauty in both ourselves and others. I saw happiness, sadness, weariness, silliness, and love in the faces of the people all around me in the grocery store. And it was beautiful. Joyful in all the emotions and unutterably beautiful.

The cartoons on the magazine covers look just real enough to fool us, but the next time you feel your mind falling for the illusion, look up. Look at the people around you and realize that none of them resemble the image on the magazine cover. They are true. The magazine cover is not.

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