Tanzania Trip Teazer

14 09 2017

I didn’t get to blog about Tanzania. I’ll update here at some point. It was a great trip with much less connection to wifi than promised or assumed. Also as I returned my first week with jet lag involved two family birthdays, the next week I co-led Vacation Bible school for 85 children, the following week we spent time preparing for and going through with a memorial service for my mother-in-law who tragically passed from heart complications, and then a week or two to end summer and get kiddos started back up at school. that it was an incredible 3 weeks that has much to process and there is more to come about studying with professors of and at the University of Dar es Salaam, politics, history, philosophy, religious beliefs of the people of Tanzania; learning about the original spot where East African Slave trade began, visiting villages of the Gogo people, eating their foods, experiencing amazing hospitality and wondering if it is of genuine hospitality or out of a sense of duty and notion to please white people stemming back to days of colonization. Also we experience amazing choral, instrumental, and dance performances from the village group participating int the Chamwino Music Festival. We visited schools for children, teenagers, and graduate seminary students. We worshiped ina few different settings, We went on a day long safari and saw many animals participating in the circle of life.

More to come …

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Help Leena Learn in Tanzania This Summer

26 05 2017

I’m taking a risk and have partially paid for a study abroad adventure in Tanzania this summer! This class is  one more check off the graduation requirements list for my Master of Divinity Program at Seattle Pacific Seminary. Students in cohorts from my seminary entry year and earlier have a cross-cultural Immersion study abroad class option to fulfill a particular requirement. If you want the travel option you kind of have to jump onboard as they are offered and if it is of interest to you or you need to graduate because our program doesn’t offer trips every summer. 

I technically could wait another year or two and wasn’t sure how I’d afford this trip, but my husband convinced to take a risk (or leap in faith) and apply for the trip because:

 (1) because as mom and congregational child/youth/Christian Education minister when will this kind of opportunity so blatantly present itself? 

And (2) because, he reminded me – Africa in general and Tanzania specifically, was the place that I always said I wanted to travel to learn about and experience the culture. as a child, teen, and before I became a mother. I was shocked I actually forgot how much I desired this opportunity in the past and apparently life has taken me other directions in the past 20 years. 

This Tanzanian travel dream is dusted off and making a comeback now that I’ve turned 40. Our trip is coming up quickly  – July 8-27, 2017 – Would you like to join me and be on my “Leena Learns in Tanzania Support Team“? 

You’re invited to support me through prayer, encouragement and learning with me as I learn in Tanzania via following my blog (you’re reading  it) and/or joining a little Facebook group for trip tidbits and updates that I just created. 

If you’d like to help support me financially with a few dollars or several you can donate via my FundMyTravel.com page or contact me directly for offline donation options. 

I hope you’ll choose to join me on this adventure one way or another!





A Tired Daughter’s Rant About Health Care and an Ailing Registered Nurse 

4 05 2017

My family is fully immersed in realizing the medical/dental bill implications piling up for husband and daughters from a simply amazingly medically chaotic month – wondering can we afford some mental health care for myself as caregiver in all this? 

Daughter strep throat, then a what we were told was sprained but now is broken ankle healing in a cast for 6 weeks. 

Junior high age Daughter who fell accidentally, bit through her lip, and broke/chipped the bottom parts of her two front teeth. 

Husband who had surgery for and recovery from removal of gallbladder filled with nasty gall stones. 

And also this week we’ve been waiting days (almost a week!) for Medicare insurance to decide whether or not they’ll help pay for a transfer for my upper-60s father to move from the hospital to a skilled care center for recovery – because it would be a dignified safe option for him rather than releasing him home mostly alone to potentially have another fall as he is still feeling physically weak. 

Here is my rant of a tired caregiving daughter of a Registered Nurse (two actually!):

I’m wondering why my dad who was a military medic and registered nurse for many many years and whose body has essentially degraded because he spent those years caregiving for so many others in physical, emotional, and spiritual ways – why must he be treated as a pawn in a $$ game between medical facilities and insurance companies? His disabilities and ailments come because he put some serious time in helping others and sacrificing time with family to do so – don’t tell me he needed to work harder. There really is something we owe to those who care for us in such a way. It seriously upsets me. 

I wish I had the energy to put into polictical lobbying for the health care votes our law makers are placing – for now my family is potentially merely a casualty and we (at least my immediate family) aren’t even the ones who will be the worse off for it, it will be hard but we’ll hopefully have access to resources and figure it out – I really pray we are able anyways. 
Someone told me the other day in a devotedly Christian manner – and not knowing my full situation – society is not responsible for cleaning up the mistakes of others by providing Medicare and Medicaid – it is the responsibility of the person to figure it out and help themselves or end themselves. (I humbly disagreed on many levels). Also my internal reaction: Come on now – my dad killed his back lifting people like you when you were in your most vulnerable moments medically and held tight images of people like you that he tried his damnest to help heal – and now you’re telling me that his pain taken on to help you is considered cleaning up after people’s mistakes and choices? Too bad his choice was a career helping heal people’s bodies – too bad for him he didn’t choose something that would treat his body and maybe health care insurance wallet better – it definitely would not have been healthy to his dignity to not use the gifts he was given in care for others in their medically vulnerable moments. 

Oh man, I guess I have some feelings about this. Time to go maybe attempt a nap.





Grief – Resurrection – Mission: Life as Mom in Grad School

27 03 2017

It is my Spring Break – alas, I have a bit of energy to blast a blog post.

I just read an article from the Presbyterian Outlook magazine regarding the first words Jesus spoke to his grieving  disciples in the first moments they meet him after resurrection. The author emphasized Jesus’ first words to be words of peace and then encouragement to send them back into action with the good news that he is alive, has conquered death, and is God incarnate (God/human) whose mission is to point people back to a genuine life of loving God and loving one another. Having just come out of a very emotionally and physically intense seminary quarter of study this past Tuesday (I was granted an extension on a final paper) and getting ready to start back into studies on Wednesday my soul somehow resonates at a perhaps lesser level in experiencing this cycle of working hard, falling into grief, surprise at resurrection, peace and then having to get myself back on task. Actually I feel this almost every quarter.

It doesn’t seem to be a very healthy cycle, but I’m almost certain it is normal for most graduate school students to have a similar experience we have ten weeks on the quarter system to open ourselves up to a fire hose of information with a requirement to filter what we can to produce deep theological and even new and surprising work. At the start, this doesn’t seem too daunting, but by the end it feels like one of those survivor type reality shows where you’re exhausted trying to get to the end and yet working as a team to hold one another up to accomplish the task together. We all have some type of obstacles trying to take us out through the quarter – finances, family, friendships, negative interactions with professors or struggles to complete the workload, work outside of school, health concerns, and more.

My obstacles this past Winter quarter have been a combination of timing of events:

  • Working through the beginnings of a major transition with our church that began the same week as winter quarter and added hours and emotional strain on church members and myself;
  • My husband’s structural engineering workload going overtime because the weather is getting warmer and people can build;
  • Deadlines or major events occurring at the same time for our daughter’s activities – normally it isn’t an issue to take them to a band/orchestra rehearsal, or an every other week girl scout troop meeting, or a sports practice. The difficulty was that all the concerts, cookie sales, basketball games, softball startup events, gearing up for martial arts testing and things requiring extra effort happened throughout the same three weekend/two week stretch of time – including my school finals week(s).
  • Also, ADHD – predominantly inattentive, is something I’m still learning to identify how my life is affected by this and trying out new strategies of which are and some are not effective and from there working to create new habits. However, it is not an easy feat to re-work forty years of very ingrained coping mechanisms to help my habits become a bit more healthy not only for myself, but my family, those I work with and serve, and those with whom I study.

All of this throws me into a frenzy at the end of each quarter and a type of exhausted grief and panic wondering if I will pass, am I worthy of continuing on for a Master of Divinity, and am I an imposter just thinking I can do this? Then by grace and with encouragement of God, professors, co-workers, family, and others I get the work done and anxiously await my grades and sleep – or stare at a wall – a lot. My grades come through and I pass – sometimes with ‘As’ sometimes with a C – but in my mind, a pass is a pass. I am overwhelmed with relief and peace. A few days later I begin receiving emails from Spring quarter professors with a list of books to quickly acquire and assignments to begin working on and have completed for the first day of class. Break and vacation are flexible terms in the life of a graduate student – we are quickly back on mission an ready to start the cycle all over again. Somehow we make it through. I am a part-time student (approx. 8 credits/quarter towards 120 credits total), in my third year, and still have two or three years of this mission left to go — Wheeeee!





Lenten and Easter Retreat for Suicide Survivors

1 03 2017

I have never attempted suicide – and I’m sure I know a few folks who are survivors (of whom I am aware and who I may not be aware) – this could be a great online Lenten retreat/practice if you are a survivor of Suicide. I am re-blogging this pastor’s intro to the online-retreat and you can find her first retreat post for Ash Wednesday here: https://maryrobincraig.com/2017/03/01/ash-wednesday-retreat-for-suicide-survivors/

Blessings.

Mary Robin Craig

green-river-1  This 2017 Lenten and Easter seasons, I am offering a free online retreat via this blog for those who have lost loved ones to suicide.  This means that I will be posting on this topic on Wednesdays and Sundays, with something each time designed to serve as a springboard for prayer, meditation, or contemplation ~ however you choose to characterize a time of quiet for yourself or a small group.

Because Lent and Easter are seasons in the Christian Church, and because I am a Christian (Presbyterian) pastor and spiritual director, these posts will have a Christian flavor and tone.  However, I am ecumenical in outlook, and will endeavor to make this a hospitable space for anyone who stops by, whether of any faith or none.  All are welcome.

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How to Redirect Pent Up Anxiety and Overwhelm for Good – One Time Each Week

25 01 2017

I am NOT a certified professional of psychology, counseling, or therapy in any way.However, I AM a professional at allowing anxiety and overwhelm to take me over and eat me up inside. I am also a professional patient for those who are professional therapists and counselors. I just watched a video on Facebook of Cory Booker US senator sharing words to those who are anxious and overwhelmed by the actions of President Donald Trump and his administration. I really needed his words to calm anxiety that has set on my heart and mind. 

I observe anxiousness and overwhelmed emotions others are also experiencing through their social media posts as well as the face-to-face real-time conversations that happen with my family , with my friends , in the church I work at, and the classrooms of my seminary program. The basic question is: “Is there anything we can do? Is there really anything anyone can do?”. These questions come from people who oppose Trump because it creates legitimate worries and anxieties for the every day happenings in their life. These questions also come from people who are avid supporters of Trump in a manner that dismisses those who have concerns to tell them “The decision has been made, deal with it.” 
Here is the video I watched: 

First Days of a Trump Administration: We Must Resist


My takeaway response after watching this video is:

For all experiencing anxiety and overwhelm in our political climate hear words of encouragement, from U.S. Senator Cory Booker, that give you something to do with that anxiety. 

>> Do ONE THING A WEEK to support fighting for a cause or to show kindness and care towards others. 

>It doesn’t have to be money – but maybe that is what you are able to share right now – pick a different organization or cause each week. (Girl Scouts are selling cookies – support leadership of our future women! #hint #hint)

>It doesn’t have to be time -but maybe that is what you have (support causes and share kindness online or face to face, volunteer somewhere politically, in schools, in churches, in senior centers, after school programs, sports clubs or an organization promoting full bellies for all, etc, write emails/make calls to senators and representatives, etc, march to show your support and solidarity for a particular cause or people group, PRAY, etc)

> it doesn’t have to be talents – but maybe you have gifts, talents, and skills to share with others in your neighborhood or community, use them for good. If you need help brainstorming post here and I’ll help you out. 

>It doesn’t have to be stuff -but what if what you have that is just sitting around collecting dust can give life to another? (Buy Nothing and Giving communities online exist in a lot of places and you can start one up if your community doesn’t have such a thing. Support a school PTA or church rummage sale or “Fill a Truck” fundraiser – even if you aren’t a member or have any children in school. )

We have to refocus the energies of our anxieties and release the pressure of overwhelm in to loving and building up one another rather than tearing each other down. It can be your ONE thing a WEEK combined with the one thing a week of others that makes all the difference in healing divisions. 





Adult ADHD & Me Part 1: Discovery

21 01 2017

Have not blogged here in a while. The last three posts have been products from the past brought to light or shared thoughts from others.

I think I’ve been quiet because there is one topic I’ve so badly wanted to blog about but either needed more time, experience, research information, processing, courage, understanding, etc. And as I type that sentence I realize my topic is what causes me to need all of that before I blog – or do most anything in life.

Let’s just say that – as most all of us are – I’m continually on a self-discovery journey and ever since my last years of undergrad college over 15 years ago I’ve been trying to figure out what is ‘wrong’ with me. At first depression combined with co-dependency, then no it is actually anxiety and that causes the depression, then the therapist that told me to pray for my husband more and I would be cured, then Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (hormonal/chemical imbalance – PMS for 2.5 weeks a month), and then ‘busy mom’ syndrome.

My newest diagnosis came when I stepped out of my personal bounds of respecting the diagnosis of the  doctor I met with telling me I have “busy mom syndrome” – to whom I had been sent by a therapist (who worked with me on the PMDD but also life coaches women with ADHD) to be evaluated by since my health insurance would cover the visit. I returned to my therapist and said I normally respect the diagnosis of doctors but I just couldn’t take this diagnosis that felt like a slap in the face after a 10-15 minute ‘interview’ with only a list of the DSM-V criteria and questions about my present but not my past to be screened for hyperactivity that I already knew I didn’t have. So I went in debt to be evaluated by a psychologist who specializes in testing for and diagnosing and four hours of a battery of testing over two month’s time (because he broke his leg and needed surgery mid-evaluations!). I honestly was not searching until someone told me I had it but I needed real testing words and numbers to help explain somethings about me that couldn’t be explained by other conditions/mental illnesses. The funny part was I was giving a choice at the very end to decide whether or not I thought my brain functioned as a brain with ADHD.

The psychologist said that in every test except for one, and except for the evaluations by two persons close to me, I have a non-hyperactive version of ADHD. The trouble was he was supposed to make his diagnosis based on the results of a certain number of questions from one test and personal evaluations and they were not helpful. He concluded that the reason I did score for ADHD on these is because in the past 39 years of my life (just turned 40 in December!) I have managed to be able to somewhat function and get through life by developing many coping mechanisms and habits to help get around. However, there are ways life would be so much simpler without having to make sure I had all these coping mechanisms in place every morning before getting out of bed. Without any pressure, he said often medication can be helpful and if I wanted to try it he would writing a letter of diagnosis for me to bring to my doctor. Having already discussed medication options with my therapist I was OK to give it a try.

Ironically – I ended up taking this letter back to my PCP who referred me to her ADHD diagnosis doctor who was the one who diagnosed me with “Busy Mom syndrome”. So a few months later I was back in her office with this letter and she was floored. She took it well and I discovered she is a younger doctor who is still learning a lot about the world of ADHD, all the ways to assess it and all the ways it can be manifest in  person – for instance it will be different in a 40 year old woman compared to an 8 year old boy. I’m grateful she took this well without showing offense and I think I’m sort of a new lab rat for her. I started on a low dose of a stimulant medication to treat Inattentive/Non-Hyperactive ADHD. This type of ADHD means I physically may not be all over the place – but my mind on the inside is a computer with several windows and an internet browser with many tabs open, pretty much all the time. Sometimes the windows and tabs are revisited and closed and many times they are not.

This diagnosis explains so many things about my life and I will blog about that next.

I also want to blog about what I observe regarding my PMDD, Depression, and Anxiety diagnoses with a new ADHD diagnosis in the mix.

Additionally I want to discuss what has been difficult now that I am armed with this information about myself – because it isn’t all fun and 100% life improvement now that I know.

So there you go. My ADHD revealed to the world right here on my blog. If you need someone to share your story post it here or connect with me through About.me

Here goes nothing as I hit the submit button!








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