Thursday, March 23, 2017

How To Help Someone Who is Mourning Part II

After I wrote my last post I came to realize that there’s a need for tips on responding and being there for loved ones when they are facing the challenges of loss.  I received many reactions both publicly and privately from people who want to be better friends and appreciated my suggestions so I wanted to expand on that post because I think there’s a few more things that are essential.  Many young people don’t have the personal experience of loss or death– I was shy of twenty-four when my brother passed and I did experience the immaturity due to ignorance from my peers in offering comfort.  I have long thought that we only come to understand how to better respond to death (and be present) only after first-hand experience; but, after my last post I think that maybe my premature experience with loss can help others. 
Our last picture together.

If possible go to the services.  I have heard friends tell me, “I wasn’t invited so I don’t think I should go.”  It’s not a party, no invitations are ever sent by the affected party.   Usually friends and extended family spread the news so that it reaches people and whoever can and wants to come does.  It depends on the family, culture and religion as to how they want to say good bye to their loved one.  Sometimes, there’s a viewing the night before, mass the next day followed by the burial and often times a memorial luncheon.  You don’t have to feel obliged to go to everything, but your presence is more powerful than any words you can possibly come up with or most meaningful than any beautiful flower arrangement you can send.  Don’t leave without giving your friend (and his family) your condolences and even a warm embrace. *If you are unable to go send a card or give them a call, the important thing is to show that you care.

After the services many people feel like they have done their part and most have; but, if you’re a close friend you have a duty to continue checking in on them.  Most people forget about the mourner after the services and usually after the services is when the real mourning begins.  From the moment my brother was in the hospital our house was full of people until the day we laid him to rest.  Having people around during those first days was wonderful, but once the services were over and I was left alone with my thoughts and pain the real challenges began.  I was alone to face the reality of my loss, while alone time is important for healing it was wonderful when people called or continued to show up because I was still in so much need.  It’s weird because I tend to be a little prideful when it comes to asking for help and even more in accepting it.  While many people who came to the services said the very polite clich√©, “if you need anything just call me.” I would like to advice that people that are mourning are pretty consumed in their grief and they will not reach out, even more so us introverts.  Again don’t wait for them to ask for help because they won’t.  When my loved ones would stop and visit mom during their lunch break, or visit us during the weekend or came to spend our first Christmas without him- those are debts that I will never be able to repay.  Checking in after the funeral and beyond doesn’t have to be such a big gesture a quick message, a card, a call just something to let the griever know you are still thinking about them is enough.

 A few days ago I read a discourse that Pope Francis gave on how it’s better to not say anything than to say the wrong thing when you are in the presence of someone who is suffering.  When my brother died my Christian coworker told me, “You know he died because you didn’t pray enough for him, prayer…”  She wanted to relay that prayer is important, but the way she said it was so hurtful that instead of helping - it added to my hurt.  I was to blame because I didn’t pray for him.  The worst was when a cousin called and told my mom that my brother was in a bad place and needed a lot of prayer.  My mom was so traumatized and hurt by this that I seriously wanted to hurt my cousin.  We had the fanatic Christian relatives who thought they had secret knowledge of the afterworld and felt the need to advise us on how to rid our family from the satanic vibes.  I know these are extremes, but watch what you say and if it comes out wrong don’t be afraid to acknowledge your foolishness.  Also, never ever say “I know how it feels” or “it will be OK-” don’t use common phrases to fill in the silence.  It’s better to validate your grieving friend that it’s OK to hurt and express his grief.  I know many times I felt like I needed to entertain the people who "wanted to be there for me" so when my BFF let me cry and release the torment inside I took up that rare opportunity.

Pray for them and let them know you are praying- this is not to brag, but to express that you are thinking about them.  I know that when people tell me they are praying for me and my loved ones it gives me great comfort.  Also, pray that God will guide and show you how to be present and give you the qualities needed to be a good friend.  Make sure that you are getting your needs met from God so that you won’t be a burden to your grieving friend.  As stated last post, people who are grieving are hyper-sensitive and require patience and understanding.  Thus, prayer is essential.

I am no grief counselor these suggestions are just things I learned from my own personal experience with loss, hope they help.  

Monday, March 20, 2017

How To Help Someone Who is Mourning

One of my best friends is an extrovert and she has the ability to get anyone talking and if people won’t talk she will fill in the silence.  In many ways she’s the friend every introvert needs because sometimes we have such a hard time talking that when we find a person who will do the talking for us we have found an ally.  She also has the ability to ask questions, a quality I admire, because I myself have a difficult time prying into someone’s life.  When my brother passed away she would call me two or three times a week and ask me questions that no one else had the courage to do.  What was he like? I think that question is crucial for people have lost a loved one.  There’s this need to share and remember our loved one and when someone asks, it opens a door towards healing.  My BFF is also naturally persistent she will ask the same question in various forms and not get discouraged if she doesn’t get a reply.  I am not a sharer by nature (unless it’s on paper or I know you very well) so those calls where someone asked the questions that needed to be asked and took the time to listen got me through the most difficult times of my life. 
Grieving is messy and a lot of people are not comfortable with such debilitating pain so they keep their distance.  This notion of giving the griever space is the worst thing a person can do because people in mourning need to experience the constant support of others.  Silence is the worst thing to do because it translates to I don’t care about what you are going through.  When my brother died we had hundreds of people come to the services or reach out and even so I still recall those who never showed up.  It’s weird because as an introvert when I have a problem I retreat to deal with it alone, but when my brother died the pain was so strong that I couldn’t deal with it on my own.  When someone reached out I was so grateful to be able share a little of my grief or even for the distraction.  I remember, I joined a prayer group after he died and was encouraged to go to the meetings because the leader would always give me the warmest hug.  Those hugs motivated me to leave my house because I needed the physical contact.  A warm hug says everything that words cannot.

Mourning is also a time of hyper-sensitivity because we are so vulnerable that our walls are down.  When we discover that death is the worst thing that could happen to anyone and we hear other people complaining about trivial everyday things we just want to scream.  The opposite is also true, it hurts that time goes on and good things happen because sometimes when we feel joy it can bring feelings of guilt.  I remember that when I lost my brother, I felt like the pain I carried was the last thing of his that I had and I didn’t want to let go of it because I was afraid that would mean letting go of him.  Then trying to deal with my pain while trying to help my family with theirs was too much.  So, when people reached out and gave me a chance to talk, to be sorrowful, broken me it helped share my pain.  Sometimes I questioned if my grief was too intense or too long in finding relief – so when I found people that accepted me with my heavy emotions I knew they were friends for life.

The supportive skills society offers is very lacking for those dealing with death.  Even Christians are not much better.  I guess unless you have experienced death first hand, it’s difficult to know how to be a good friend.  From someone who has survived a loved one’s passing I would say be there, ask questions, listen, be persistent, loving and understanding.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Lent Update

How’s your Lent going?  I am suffering not having my cup of coffee every morning- especially the couple mornings I spoiled myself with Starbucks.  The first few days I had a terrible headache, but now my body is taking it better (smile).  Abstaining from things that I choose during Lent always gives me such hope that my will power can be taught to withhold- that it can be tamed.  Yet, I think Lent gets overshadowed by the things people give up, but it’s also a time of prayer.  Before Lent began I had been thinking of Saint Joseph, I felt a great desire to pray with him.  The Sunday before Lent, a parishioner was handing out prayer leaflets after Mass and as she handed me one I realized that it was a guide to a thirty day prayer with Saint Joseph!  The message couldn’t be clearer and so my Lent has also been a time of joining Saint Joseph in prayer and petition. Praying with him has allowed me to get to know him better, I never realized how difficult his life became by becoming the foster parent to Jesus.  From the moment that Mary told him she was carrying the Son of God his life changed dramatically and when things seemed they wouldn’t get worse they did.  He had to flee his homeland and be on the run to protect his family.  I can only imagine how awful he felt when he couldn’t find shelter for his pregnant wife or an honorable place for her to give birth.  Then knowing that his son’s life was in great danger because the Child Jesus was sought by his enemies. His suffering was great, yet, what impresses me is that nowhere in Scripture do we get a direct quotation from Joseph.  It seems like he bears all in silence with complete trust that God would provide.  His obedience to God is also a point of reflection.  When God spoke, even though the things God asked of him were so difficult, Joseph obeyed.  I have been learning a little more about Ignatian Spirituality which encourages us to use our imagination and place ourselves inside the scenes of the Lord’s earthly life.  It’s such a great way to dig deeper into scripture and walk beside the lives of the men and women who followed Jesus with such surrender.
I’ve also been working on my Forty Days of Thank You Notes to religious persons.  A few days ago I watched “Call Me Francis” a four part miniseries on Netflix, there’s a scene in it that shows a stressed Francis having lunch with his mother and she says, “You must have a great life praying and reflecting all day.”  I think sometimes when we think of priests and religious we have this vision that all they do is pray and attend Mass, but they have a really compact schedule of service.  They are some of the most hardworking people, people who often get asked for help; but, like the healed leapers we forget to thank them for their assistance.    
This year I didn’t host a Bible study group at home and I am really enjoying the fact that I didn’t pick up more activities, I am trying to train my Martha spirit to be more like Mary (smile).  Going into week three I am optimistic that I will continue to find treasures in my Lenten Journey, hope you do too.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Fiftieth Marriage Anniversary

On Saturday I had the honor of attending my best friend’s parent’s fiftieth marriage anniversary, it was such a beautiful ceremony that I had to devote a post to it.  It was full of sentimental touches and signs of God’s providence.  The bride wore a wedding dress because when the couple got married fifty years ago she was unable to do so.  So, her very thoughtful daughters suggested she wear a beautiful custom gown this time around.  As the couple walked hand-in-hand down the aisle she looked radiant in her very deserving white dress and tiara.  The husband looked dashing in his hazel suit.  The renewal of vows was extremely beautiful, Father gave a great homily and the grandchildren served as altar helpers.
 Their whole family walked down the aisle before the couple.
Big Smiles.

 Loved that daughters wore bridesmaid dresses.
Renewal of Vows.
The reception was no less special.  After dinner, there was a short slide show of the couple’s life together these past fifty years with short videos where the bride and the groom shared their love story.  It was so neat to hear how they fell in love, started a five-year courtship, got married and were blessed with four children.  
During the toast all their children got to say a few words, one of the daughter’s shared a reflection that made me cry.  She shared how she and her sister were so focused on planning the event that throughout the months of planning they would call each other and check to see how they were getting along with the arrangements.  Usually, one would say to the other, “We still need this, don’t forget to do that, etc.”  Then the Tuesday leading to the big day my bestie called her sister to tell her that their father was in the hospital after suffering from a fall and they were keeping him for observation since he had hit his head pretty hard.  The whole family was shaken and forgot about the anniversary party focusing on prayer.  My best friend’s sister hung up the phone and headed to her local parish, where she knelt beside the Blessed Sacrament to ask God to forgive her because in all their planning she had forgotten to invite him to the celebration.  She remained there praying until she was ready to turn it over to God, “God heal my dad, but your will not mine.”  God, of course, offered a quick recovery for their dad and the party took a new meaning one of a family with God as their head.  We all toasted to God for the multiple blessings.   
From there things moved on to the traditional first dance which was too sweet for words.
Then another beautiful moment the throwing of the bouquet and garter.  The twist only married women and married men could participate and who ever caught the bounty received well wishes for a long, happy marriage.
 A lot of good laughs!
It closed with a lot of dancing and merriment.  I left the party feeling so blessed to have shared in such a sweet moment and full of hope in God’s providence.   

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Saint Therese: A Saint for International Woman's Day

Yesterday, was International Woman’s Day and I figured I would do a post on one woman that I hold a special devotion to, Saint Therese of Lisiuex.  A few years ago I went on my first cruise and I met a friend who later sent me A Shirt of Flame: A Year with Saint Therese of Lisieux.  The book left me with the curiosity to learn more about Saint Therese and soon I read her autobiography.  After reading The Story of a Soul, I began a very special relationship with her because I felt like in many ways I mirror the tantrum-throwing, emotional child she once was and it gave me hope that someday God would too help me overcome my weaknesses.  I love the simple, sentimental language she uses throughout her book.  As a lover of words I tend to favor the simple use of language best because there’s a strong level of raw honesty and clear understanding.  Nonetheless, this simplicity went beyond her poetic language, reaching her soul from where her “little way” sprung - the path she found towards holiness.  In doing ordinary things with great love and disciplining herself to daily sacrifices she slowly shed that emotional, selfish child within and became a woman who embodied Jesus’ “become little” message.

“We live in an age of inventions. We need no longer climb laboriously up flights of stairs; in well-to-do houses there are lifts. And I was determined to find a lift to carry me to Jesus, for I was too small to climb these stairs of perfection.  So I sought in Holy Scripture some idea of what this life I wanted would be, and reach these words: “Whosoever is a little one come to me.” It is your arms, Jesus, that are the lift to carry me to heaven. And so there is no need for me to grow up: I must stay little and become less and less.” 

When she became little her quiet soul learned that her true vocation surpassed being a Carmelite into a much more important mission- the one of love: “My origin is love, my vocation is love, my destiny is love.”
In addition to her romantic piety she still had a strong, courageous spirit.  I love the story of how when she discern that she wanted to become a nun, but was refused by the Carmelite superior and her Bishop because she was too young she went to the Pope.  Some stories say that she had to be carried out by two guards from the Pope’s audience because she had been previously forbidden to speak to him.  Can you imagine little Therese being carried out because she got too passionate in her discourse about being allowed to enter into the Carmelites (smile)!  Her persistence worked because soon her wish was granted and she was admitted to join the Carmelites.
She died when she was just twenty-four-years-old; however, she knew great suffering during her short life.  At the age of four she lost her mother to cancer and four years later her oldest sister (who became like a second mother) had to leave Therese to join the convent.  These losses carved deep into the soul of the Little Flower and pushed her with great force towards God, finding refuge in her Catholic faith.  In a lesser form she also experience the death of her dreams for she wanted to do great things in the name of God, but was sickly and died young of Tuberculosis.  As she spent her last days in bed knowing her end was near, she had to make peace with the dreams of someday performing great deeds.  She also had to endure the pain of her illness, which she said that if it weren’t for her faith she would have been tempted to end her life.          
I want to be so much like her, the woman she became.  So, I often return to her story, converse with her and ask for her intercession.  Every now and then she sends me flowers which come as bits of hope, as signs that God has heard my prayer. She said, “After my death I will let fall a shower of roses.  I will spend my heaven doing good upon earth.  I will raise up a mighty host of little saints.”  Which I think at least with me she is trying (smile).  

Monday, March 6, 2017

Life is Messy

When I was a little girl living like sardines in an overcrowded apartment I used to dream about living in a house with a white picket fence.  I thought that a house translated into a home where people lived in perfect harmony (like in “The Cosby Show”) where grownups were perfect and children had no worries other than to be children.  This childhood ideal followed me as I grew up becoming my dream and also the cause of my greatest disillusionment.  Life is messy and no castle will keep imperfections, addictions, illness, character flaws - problems out.  Perfect sitcom families do not make it outside television screens.  In the “real” world people hurt, get angry, fight have moments when they are so upset with one another that bad thoughts infiltrate their minds.  No white picket fence will keep out human weakness.  I got angry this past weekend because I was hurt and after walking my dog and praying the Stations of the Cross during our trek I realized that I allowed my weaknesses to get the best of me.  At the tenth station this reflection from Blessed John XXIII totally spoke to my heart because I had allowed anger to disrupt my peace and took offense over misunderstandings.
Life is messy.  Shows like “The Cosby Show” might lead us to believe that things should come easily because in less than thirty minutes any problem gets tackled and positively resolved.  Life takes a little longer.  Last post I wrote about living inside out because that’s how I try to live my life - it was simply a reflection about how I see my life not a proposition for you to live yours the same.  Sometimes I do things that take a bit of courage and after I do them I feel vulnerable.  When I heard “Inside Out” it was as if God was saying, “you’re ok my cheesy daughter.  You’re ok for sharing your music and you’re ok for reaching out.”  My overthinking made me feel like in my desire to be there for someone my actions were more taken as fishing for a thank you.  That led to even more negative thoughts and I was feeling pretty crummy.  Yet, that song validated my way of being and I realized that I was just being me and sometimes we are so afraid of being ourselves because rejections hurt more when we are being one hundred percent ourselves. 

I share here mostly happy truths about my little life, but life behind my white picket fence is not ideal.  Life is messy.  I am messy, my loved ones are messy- but it’s our mess and we work through and with it.   

Friday, March 3, 2017

Living Inside Out

We had another round of layoffs at work on Wednesday and yesterday I had such a massive headache that I really couldn’t write- please forgive me.  I went to bed early and today I awoke restored and happy because today is a BIG day.  After being away for over a month my parents return home tonight! Hip-Hip Hooray!  I miss their laughter – they are so silly that when at home the house is filled with cheer.  I miss arriving home to their happy hellos, the house is too quiet even Dollar’s welcome is a depressive sigh of relief.  Yet, we survived.  I managed to keep myself and our pets’ alive (smile) which was the big joke that upon their return we would look like starving children from an underdeveloped country.  We still have our curves though inwardly we are starved for their company.  Today, God willing, we reunite the house will once again be full and cheerful. 
Wednesday was a tough day, it was so full of activity because two months ago when a friend invited me to see “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” I didn’t realize that it would be on Ash Wednesday.  Thus, my day was so compacted with activity that I didn’t have a moment alone to process things.  Yet, while I watched the most grisly musical a song was sung that really inspired me.  The song, “Inside Out,” has such a beautiful message.  The title pretty much states its subject, if we all lived inside out: “The world would be in awfully good condition.”  In a world where we have learned to put on mask after mask – to think of living honestly - unafraid to reveal ourselves without a need to hide is such a positive message.  When I was first diagnosed with bipolar and started one-on-one sessions with a therapist I never wore make-up to see her because I wanted those sessions to be as honest as possible.  I remembered she asked me once about it and I told her that I was tired of wearing masks and living a double life between who I am and who I thought people needed me to be.  That double life made me feel like the biggest phony.  That at least in that therapy room, for that hour I wanted to be completely me.  “Inside Out” reminded me of how much I love realness and how difficult it can be to find it this world.  It also validated my desire to live without walls and showed me how “if we all could live outside in, there would be fewer who could hurt you.”  Walls might keep people out, but they also keep people from coming in.

When I started following Jesus I was afraid that I would lose myself becoming a stereotypical clone, but He showed me to a greater degree that we all need to live inside out.  He constantly exhorts us to live honestly and pay more attention to our inner being.  His advice to be more like children brings this message of humility, vulnerability and a forgetful mind (that easily forgives) home.  I think that’s why I can’t wait for my parents to return home because they constantly show me inside out living.  With them around it’s easier for me to have a happier more optimistic disposition because they are the most infectious (in a good way) people I know.  God just comes to life through them.    

Monday, February 27, 2017

My Lent 2017 Plan

I love coffee.  Every morning I need it to fuel.  I think this dependency began when I started working in an office setting.  As I walked my dog early Sunday morning, I was thinking that before RCIA class I would make my usual stop at Starbucks before heading to the parish.  I was also thinking that Lent begins this week and the popular Catholic thought this time of year, "what will I be giving up," was begging me for an answer.  I arrived to class a bit early and while setting up my friend reminded me that it’s time for the CRS Rice Bowl Lenten collection, which we annually encourage our students to do as an attempt to give them an example opportunity for a charitable practice. That's when I had a eureka moment and decided that this year I would lead by example and give up coffee using the money I save to donate to my CRS Rice Bowl.  Such a small financial change for me will enable four families to three months of clean water, supply a farmer with two years of seeds, and provide a family with a one month supply of food.  What it will do to me physically won't be as positive, but this is the time to teach my soul that it’s  more powerful than my body (smile). 
For more information click link: Catholic Rice Bowl A Catholic Program for Lent

In the Catholic faith we have prayers that are popular during specific times of the year, during Lent one of my favorite forms is extremely favored: the Stations of the Cross.  Thus, I decided that for my Lenten practice I will spend some time daily praying the Via Crucis and on Friday join my local parish to pray them in community.  In RCIA we have this tradition of taking our students to the beach and setting up the way of the cross to pray interactively while the sun sets. We usually do this activity on Good Friday and do not pray the last station, but give them the night to meditate letting them know that the next day when they celebrate their sacraments we will be living the station of the resurrection. It's quite a moving experience, one of my favorites each year. 
This year I would also like to attend a reenactment of the passion, which is very much part of our Mexican culture. Here I must share that when I was a child in my pueblo we had very realistic portrayals every year that drew the entire town to the plaza.  I couldn’t handle the gruesomeness of the Via Crucis; thus, as an adult I have never attended one.  This year I am hoping that after praying with him daily, I will be able to join my RCIA team in attending our annual Way of the Cross Reenactment for my first time since I left Michoac√°n. Am not sure if you ever feel your Spirit inclined to a certain form or type of prayer recently I have been craving very intimately to accompany Christ on his was to the cross.
Also, this Lent I want to continue my forty days of Thank You notes for priests, deacons and religious.  Last year it was such a great experience that I am thinking this will become a Lenten tradition.  All those times that I told myself I would send a note to thank my priest (but I later forgot), well this is the time I bring to mind all those wonderful blessings and show my appreciation.  Now I did share how many thank you back replies I received from the many I sent; but, I assure you that my thank you's are not driven by selfish motives (smile). I am really looking forward to this new season and the new practices combined with some of my old ones in opening my life more to God and His will.
My Home Altar: Paschal Candle, anointing oil, rosary, prayer guides, journal, images of Jesus, 
cross of nails, flowers and my rice bowl.  

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Three Things That Always Make Me Feel Better with Others

In continuing with yesterday’s post about things that refresh my soul, but this time in community with others. Girlfriends, all women need a good set of girls for comfort, support and relation.  I have been blessed with many great women who challenge, encourage and accept me.  When I am feeling down (though I usually would rather be alone) making the effort to interact with my besties always nourishes my soul.  This past weekend I got to enjoy some time with my girls (who are my family) and though they are not Christian spending time with them always lifts my spirit.  I mentioned that they are not Christian because for a while I thought my Catholic conversion would affect my non-Christian relationships.  Many told me that after they became Christian they just didn’t have anything in common with their previous relationships and terminated those bonds.  I am not going to lie some of our views are very different, but our love for one another is greater.  This past weekend I got to unload with them all the stresses I have been experiencing and they listened and lifted my spirits making great jokes about my silly worries.  They stuffed me with good homemade food and sent me away full both in body and spirit.
Novenas.  I love praying novenas with my friends.  Now getting together for nine days to pray is not possible – coordinating schedules and the distance we live from one another makes it quite difficult.  However, thanks to social media I am able to pray with them virtually.  The first Ave Maria cruise I went on I met two girls that have been referred to on this blog as my cruise angels.  Since, that first cruise we have been praying novenas together even though I live in California, one lives in Houston and the other in Guadalajara.  I think I was going through some crisis and I asked them if they would pray for me and Guadalajara suggested we pray a novena together and thus our prayer group was born.  Just last week we finished a Novena to Saint Faustina!
Mom, she always pokes her head in my room and smiles because she happens to be my biggest cheerleader.  She’s a woman that you will rarely see without a happy resolution, just being in her presence brings me joy.  Together the two of us are quite silly, when I am really sad she turns the radio and invites me to dance, if I refuse she dances in front of me alone until I break into a smile. Many times we annoy my sister with our shenanigans.  And every day at the same time she retreats into her room to pray the rosary.  She’s a woman of strong faith and great sacrificial love - am so blessed that God chose her for me.  She only went to school to the second grade and taught me that, “I must always be intolerant of ignorance, but understanding of illiteracy that some people unable to go to school are more intelligent than college professors.”  She’s a gem, my mother and time with her even in silence fuels my spirit with hope and peace.

What are somethings that you do alone and with others that make you feel better?  I think it’s important to have a list handy for those times when we need to be reminded how to deal with negative feelings in positive ways (smile).

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Three Things That Always Make Me Feel Better

Sometimes little things can pile up and as much as I try to be positive, if I am not careful the stresses can begin to blind me of hope.  These past couple of weeks have been a bit intense in my life with issues at work rising due to mass layoffs, dealing with the aftermath of a car accident among other things.  I got caught up in the stresses and was beginning to feel the tension building.  Then we had a massive storm and during it I got drenched several times and when I got home I was about to have a pity party when a thought came to my mind and the idea for this post, “what can I do to make myself feel better?”  Below are three things that never fail in picking up my spirits.
Sitting across from Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament gives me instant relief.  Many times I have turned to him when life feels overwhelming and instantly my mood changes.  Sitting in silence having him there physically present changes my perspective from self to Jesus.  Most of the time he brings scripture to my mind, usually a verse perfect for my situation. Other times when my soul is too tumultuous to listen I pray the rosary and slowly decade after decade my soul quiets.  In really difficult times I cry and I always picture myself with my head on his lap he caressing my head letting me release my torment.  However strong my woes, I always leave the chapel with more hope in my heart.
Walking with Dollar.  You don’t know how many times I've taken my dog on walks so that I could talk with God.  There’s a park near my home, where I love to let my dog run free and while he runs wild in ecstasy, I usually have the deepest conversations with God.  I am a big believer in tears and their power to cleanse and I often apply this therapy.  Before my brother died I rarely cried (I had a hard heart), afterward I was given the gift of tears – at least that’s the explanation that most makes sense to me (smile).
Writing, when my thoughts get troubled I need to give them space to sort out; a blank piece of paper gives me that space. I think because growing up I didn't have my own physical area (in our overcrowded apartment) a journal functioned as my safe haven.  My own private room a place to scream, experience and express those unpleasant thoughts.  To this day when I am really troubled I grab a pen and paper and share everything.  They are powerful written prayers that always give my Martha Spirit a sense that I have done something about the problem.  You'd be surprise how writing down everything that is going through my mind without censorship, just getting everything out no matter how dark usually leads me to the root of trouble and once I have identified the problem I can then work on a solution.
The three techniques I have described above can really be summed in one word, prayer.  Prayer always lifts my spirit. The type of prayer that I do usually has to do with what I need most at that moment.  Sometimes I just need to be in the presence of God through the Blessed Sacrament, at other times I need to be out in nature with my best animal friend, still others I need to release a storm of words that are begging to be sorted.  These three types of pick-me-uppers are things that I can do on my own freely at any given moment.  Next time I will share three things that refresh my spirit that involve others because as much as I love my alone time God created us to be in community with other people. After all we are here to help and encourage one another always imitating Christ.