Monday, September 24, 2018

Let's Talk About Depression: A Conversation Overdue

Depression is a common disorder that affects so many of us. It is a disease that hides beneath misunderstanding, stigma and our need to keep the status quo. What can anyone do for some one that is depressed? It's a difficult subject to approach, especially if you are not familiar it.

I Get Sad Sometimes Too: That's usually the first thing people say and it comes from concern and lack of understanding of the problem. Sadness is a biproduct of depression but it is not depression from my experience.

The way I would describe depression is an absence of the self. What if you could do something that would normally bring you joy and instead of feeling joy you feel nothing. The worst place to be depressed is your favorite place, doing something you love and all you feel is absent.

The initial thought is you will never feel anything or enjoy anything again. If you are without joy and you have everything you want, it doesn't seem like there is any hope.

What do you say to someone who is depressed? So instead of focusing on what not to say, what should the conversation sound like? First, you are not going to fix this for the person, one or two words or even a conversation is not going to solve the problem. All you can hope for is offering some relief for the symptoms.

Be patient: The person who is suffering with depression is looking for relief and is definitely feeling anxious for it to stop. Assure them the feeling will pass, it will get better and assure them the repetition of the same words and thoughts are not an aggravation.

When you are in this state you will try to touch all different thoughts and aspects of how you feel in order to explain the feeling. I have found myself repeating the same question, the same thought. The person listening needs to listen, not judge, not interrupt or decide it's time to get over it.

Ask questions instead of giving answers: Realize the person on the outside of the depressive state usually can not give a defining answer, it is a chemical imbalance or the brains state of trying to recover, often there is no one answer or fix.

Expand on thoughts, memories, hurts and joy-where ever the conversation goes, you are simply the wall that the depressive person can bounce ideas and feelings off in an effort to unravel the mass of feelings. I have noticed it's not just one thing, it tends to be a long and complicated tangle of all kinds of feelings, hurts and fears.

Get Active: Take your friend or family member for a walk while discussing the problem or feeling. Enjoy something outside in nature and realize they are not going to necessarily feel better, again you are only seeking small bits of relief.

A person suffering from depression will usually want to withdraw and sleep, inactivity is often a symptom of the soul licking its wounds. Activity and sunlight can definitely change that, go outside, get lunch, try to exercise against the initial thought.

When I was in college my room mate would insist we go swimming and my initial thought was always not today. I would go and I would thank him for insisting as afterwards I would enjoy a bit of relief. Exercise is actually the one definitive, temporary relief.

A friend in Need: This is not about you but really it could and should be. What a strange thought but if you can shift the focus to your own experiences without preaching and attempt to show the person in the state of depression that you might relate to their state it can often be comforting. The depressed person will usually ask questions, they will seek your experience.

I've noticed when I talk about someone and their problems it not only takes me out of my own darkness but it gives me a bit of insight. As you explain to someone else that there is hope and it's not the end of the world, your own mind and soul can often benefit from standing outside of the initial feeling.

Some companion pieces by Artbygordon

https://imashleymi.com/2018/09/18/can-we-talk-about-depression/

http://www.rheamader.com/steven-linebaugh-writing-artwork-depression-nature/

To join my email newsletter and get news about upcoming book on depression as well as tips for relief please go to www.artbygordon.com




Sunday, September 23, 2018

Let's Talk Religion, Yes, Really: Our Divine Selves

Faith is not of words but of actions: Why does the phrase "let go and let God", or "it's God's will" infuriate so many people? It sounds harmless and full of concern but the words are empty when you call across a chasm to someone who is drowning while you are safe on solid ground.

No, that doesn't mean you need to share the same misfortune but the saying talk is cheap is definitely an issue at times. Actions always speak louder than words; witness a very faithful person go through trauma and how they keep themselves joyful, not necessarily happy but joyful. This is the testament to God and his works in believer's lives.

Faith is not contingent on what happens, it is as constant and unyielding as the strength of our individual human wills. To see someone with such faith and joy is something that separates that voice from the chasm, it makes one want to walk the waters and follow someone, to be a leader of men.

A Fallen World: Bad things happen on earth, life is unfair, there are brutal acts and evil occurrences that occur everyday. The problem is the people that insist if you pray everything will work out, what does that even mean?

Prayers for a child dying of an illness and they still die, the question broached how could God let this happen if I was so faithful and prayed. There is a will that is working through our lives and that will is not what the physical human kind can fathom, than again the human mind can rationalize things and accept things that we should all question.

We are not supernatural entities, we are a species, a fallen broken species that usually choose virtue and civility over cruelty and evil. Still, the evil gene lives in all of us, the selfish, the resentful, the angry and prideful. We are all sinners and none of us, no matter how righteous, have any right to judge anyone else for just about anything.

Now the concept of right and wrong, if you follow what I just said than anything is acceptable which is what man has come to gratefully adopted. Right and wrong are subjective, we rationalize, we celebrate evil as long as it suits the human condition.

God's laws and what is right and wrong don't budge because of the day, much like the constitution which in my mind is of God. What is right is always right, what is wrong is always wrong. Man has a concience and this is an innate product of the species-we know what is wrong and right whether we follow our own compass or not.

I had a short debate with someone, online, about how man should be more like animals as they don't kill for sport and they aren't filled with greed and malice. I thought the idea was very much incorrect, we are just a moral conscience away from being animals.

Animals take what they need, the strong survive and the weak die, there is nothing personal and everything has a purpose, survival trumps morality in every instance. I believe humanity is basically good but the evil tendency and the lowest of our virtues doesn't go away.

I think we assume so many things of God's word. He needs to be worshipped, he is a jealous God-the devil would have us question what's so great about a God that needs to be worshipped. We are to worship and be part of a church not for God's glory but because he knows our souls fundamentally need other people and need to speak to a higher order than our earthly beings.

So many things we see from an earthly standpoint until the feeling of being connected to God becomes a memory, an idea and than a far removed concept. It is so easy to discount his present being in a world that celebrates everything that separates us from him.

My next post is about the journey: A large part of living a life with God as a constant presence takes focus, awareness and most of all trust. Trust the process, even while we are drowning, trust that the picture is larger and more complex than our earthly eyes can fathom...Next post.


Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Tightrope Looms Above: A Precarious Point


It's frightening
The image keeps forming and evaporating at the same time
words reach to heights creating intricate facets
on an unknown page
constantly perfecting, dissecting
desperate for sustenance 
but starving
I'm not doing well
but ask
and I'll never tell
I'm fine
stringing hours to hours and days to decades
a form becoming
a hopeful endeavor
I'm failing
as bits of beautiful lines fall apart
and function growing futile
Those that wish you well
will sit in the wings
in the shadow of the crowd
hoping you succeed but knowing you'll fail
friends and lovers wil wish you the best
sitting in uncomfortable seats, fidgeting with doubt
while you on the tightrope question this precarious point

in the darkness there is no one
only God
and your voice in a whisper

You better believe, you better trust the only artist
that knows your final form
his way is the only way
but the soul questions this uncomfortable path

in the darkness on the tight rope
there is only you and God
and neither speak
pray for patience, confidence
strive long and proud
as you learn the steps
you were meant to walk
let them shout, doubt and talk
of your demise
on that space in the point of rapture
where the light is so brilliant
you're almost blind
its only you and God
and he's the only constant
on your side....

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Dreaded Rant: Cancer of Violence

I am furious about gun violence…disgusted and disturbed
But what is this action
That you cry for
Who’s going to lift a hand?
Is it the government that will take the lead if you let it
There are institutions rotting from a pendulum that swung too far
There are ostracized children, those that didn’t fit
Now they walk among us
In a sanctimonious landscape
Watch the facebook posts
The jeers, the stabs, the violence,
While we shout out against the same
Against hatred, against biggots and bullies
Pointing the fingers of blame
But everything’s fine
As long as TMZ chooses the right one
To demean and discard
As long as the news picks on the hateful right
Or those that don’t believe the same
Give hatred and anger a better name
Call it satire
Something the masses can swallow
Than preach to us about kindness and compassion
Empty and hollow
Is it the city leaders that will enact laws
That will keep us from hating each other
While the press creates enemies out of each other
And the government separates us by race
And class
Keep us separate, keep us all divided
Hate the left, the snowflake
Discard the despicable right
Let them stand and throw platitudes about guns
And violence, race and religion
While they stir the pot
And the news carries this hateful voice
Now march to Washington with a cause
They will use your sad faces
And broken lives
They will prop you up like cardboard cutouts
If your message is right
And they will beg for your vote
Insist they’ll fix this
Insist it’s in their hands
While the marginalized
Falls off the page
Young children unfit,
Unable to fathom rage
And the blood is pooling on this social experiment
Where every child gets a reward
And bullies are met with a pitiful dance
And we are taught love
In a hateful landscape
We are taught acceptance
In a society of discord
We are all pawns looking to the Queen
They send knights and bishops
To keep the field level
Keep their dirty fingers clean
We are losing this game
We are useful idiots
Expendable pawns
Showing up with flowers and memorials
On strangers’ lawns
And no one speaks in Starbucks
Everyone has a screen
A cat video
An email, a phone call
No one speaks
Except for chats on line
With strangers 
Where so many are violent
And cruel
Send these children with love
And weakness
To a nasty, violent, unsocial school
Where most will find their way
Down the funnel
Where many will turn to drugs
Or alcohol
Or suicide
In this violent, angry landscape
We teach love, but they’ve learned hate
Our words are not our actions
We are fake
While they march to Washington
Looking for the leaders to help us change
While the broken pawns in this failed experiment
Remain
Outside the glass from where we watch them
In this hateful landscape
Where we shout love and hope
And governments take what’s not their own
And call it humanity
There’s a missing artifact
Something they discarded from our schools
But the government is always welcome
Keep God in some foreign state
Where he resides
And let’s teach love from a secular
Textbook
Let’s change history
Bleach young lives
The march of cowards
Hiding behind hypocritical voice
A bible of sorts
Full of grays and rotten fruit
Full of justification and rationalization
Sell hope to a falling society
Where we cannot fathom
Love or compassion
And wonder why
The violent tantrim
Of a deeply broken child
Fills the news and the voices
Of strangers
With fear, disgust and gun rights….
It is a deep and profound cancer
But we ignore the sickness
And we ignore the hate and disgust
Though the blood of the innocent
Stains the government buildings
it ends and starts with us….

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A Week of a Puppy, a Cat, Birds, Gardening and Feeling Present


It's been a hectic week and each day I discovered more about myself with the help of a little puppy. Just like having an infant around, having a puppy changes your routine or makes you realize you lack a real routine.

I've had a problem with not feeling present and having this puppy who depends on me for walks and snuggles up to me with every waking moment, it's hard not to be present. This morning I listened to a mockingbird sharing its songs and sat on the ground with the smell of some early spring flowers.



I am on a great cross road, I have worked for the last 28 years with little interruption and now I am in between jobs or careers or just in between. My son who has been such a major center of all my activity is starting to find his own way.



I feel like I'm in a forest, waiting for light or a sign and the anxiety I feel is God's way of asking, do you trust me? This little dog comes to remind me that it's the little things that matter; a walk,  a bathroom break, the spectacle of a leaf on the lawn.




I've smelled beautiful fragrant flowers I might not have noticed, I've listened to birds and watched them hop around the lawn and I feel aware and alive. There are still goals to work through, still hills to climb but for the moment I am content watching this puppy explore his world.

The garden is growing in, last years' zinnias and assorted milkweed plants are crowding each other seeking dominance. I am the equalizer, I tame the weeds, thin out the herd and stake the vines and the lillis that are popping up everywhere.




This year is the first year I plan on keeping an ordered garden. I want people to see it and be impressed as much as the wildlife likes the chaos, people tend to see a forest.

In the midst of all of this in-between, I am find myself and starting to forge a routine I probably never had before. Tomorrow I plan on walking the puppy early in the morning and letting him use up all his stores of energy, still going to the gym, still keeping closer to God, so much to think of and it's  a lot easier if you are present.


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

God Works in Strange Ways: Feeling Absent? Get a Puppy


A year ago, I put my son's dog down after 16 years of unconditional love. He was a beautiful chocolate lab who has been missed dearly in the house but the idea of another dog screams more expenses, responsibilities and demands on time.

I am protecting myself from something, this is why I don't get involved at a church or go out with friends or invest in new ones. What am I saving my time for? I find myself wasting more time than I invest in anything.

After ten months of working a job that was quite time consuming, now I have time, lots of time. I am working freelance and there is constant ebb and flow.

Time slips so easily through my fingers, I find myself amazed to see the sun going down again or the weekend approaching. My paintings wait for me to get back to them, my garden grows and so does the expenses, all I am doing well right now is working out, photography and gardening.

What great idea do I have that overwhelms my every day but never quite comes to clarity? Enter my younger son, after a year of threatening to bring home a puppy, he brings home a beautiful puppy.

He says he realizes how the house has been missing something, the fact is we've all been missing something. Suddenly I have a mirror to my laziness and distraction. I suddenly am present in the moment with this little bundle of energy.

When did I get so distracted from moments. I take the puppy out every few hours and we both sit and listen to the birds and the cars. We both notice all the smells and colors and suddenly I'm present in the moment.

This little spectacle of energy, expenses and responsibilities is demanding my time and attention. He's teaching me to be here in the moment even while I'm wrestling with time, dragging myself around lazy, fighting to get back to whatever I need to get back to.

God teaches us in the most abstract ways.  I drag myself around following this little puppy and I realize I have avoided my life, I've been saving moments for the idea of something but never quite put my finger on what.

This little distraction has succeeded in making me present, I see myself as selfish of time, I'm a miser of this free time that mostly gets swept under the bed for another day. Sometime lessons come in the strangest places, thanks God, thanks to my son and this little puppy named Ranger.




Monday, April 23, 2018

Welcome to Trashr Inc. We Will be Hiring Soon!

Attention: All would be drones

Green Sky Plastics is finally hiring!!!

Putting trash in it’s place in a green way

The successful candidate will have a Bachelors of art, science, math, photography,   statistics A masters would be even better, perhaps a doctorate-we like higher learning!!!

Must have a green thumb-we have a corporate garden and that will be part of your daily tasks

Must have a high school education….unless you have a BA or BS than that supercedes the high school education

Must be able to speak spanish, not sure why but we just like multiple languages and besides we like to tell jokes in spanish. Also to be inclusive we have a weekly Mexican heritage lunch-we eat at a local Mexican establishment-Ok it’s taco bell but still….

Must be creative in solving problems but can follow specific directions so as not to be ridiculously creative-we have a brand by the way.

Must think outside the box-you won’t have an office-it’s all cubicles. We also like for all your belongings to be in a box but still be able to navigate outside of said box

We do not discriminate on sex or race but we encourage our employees to use black and Mexican vendors and if they are woman-that’s a plus, must honestly appear inclusive and nondiscriminatory-you will be tested on this one

Must love the color Green and use it in multiple sentences

Must be able to discard trash in a timely manor

Must be a self-starter-a firestarter is even better-we will need someone to start the campfire at our monthly team building campouts-we’ve lost a few employees due to using gas, propane and lighter fluid-all fire starting instruments have been banned from the premises

Must be motivated to ask questions-all answers will be in writing but will be mailed in triplicate as to answer a multitude of questions that need to be answered

Must have a car and be able to buy coffee with all the buzz terms

Must be savy in corporate speak-we will train

Must bring your own pen or pencil-due to budget cuts but we will provide a pen or pencil because we have specific pens and pencils you will be expected to use

We look forward to having you on our team, as long as you fit the criteria and can use

Management and manager in a cohesive sentence that is manageable.