NaBloPoMo

You have value. You have something to offer.

When Life and the World tell you something about yourself enough times, it becomes very difficult not to believe it. You can capitulate to feelings of failure or inferiority, you can fold, or you can fight back in whatever way you can. This month, NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) was my weapon. I proved to myself that I still have the ability to set a goal and reach it.

If Life or the World are telling you that you are not worthy, that you have nothing to offer, fight that voice. You have value. You have something to offer. There are many wonderful days ahead. You just have to be here to meet them.

Light the Darkness,

Dana Nevels

 

Psych Ward – Day 5 – Bedtime

Sleep would not come. Back to pacing. Up and down. Up and down. Back to bed. I repeated this pattern for hours (at times wondering if I really was crazy)

Sleep eluded me. Up and down. Up and down. I walked the full length of the hamster cage again and again and again watching the hour hand on the clock edge toward midnight. From one set of locked double doors past the men’s rooms on one side, around the curved employee desk, down the women’s rooms past my room by the other set of locked double doors. Back to bed. The bed was surprisingly comfortable for a three-inch mattress on a plastic bed frame bolted to the floor. Sleep would not come. Back to pacing. Up and down. Up and down. Back to bed. I repeated this pattern for hours (at times wondering if I really was crazy) and then finally surrendered.

I walked to the nurse’s station. “Hi Dana, what can I do for you?” It was the kind nurse, the new one – the one who didn’t give me the false smile that faded as soon as she turned away and the cheery Kindergarten teacher voice. No, this nurse was an angel.  “I need something to help me sleep.”

This request was rare for me. I hate taking medication. But this time, the benefit outweighed the risk.

I hadn’t slept well since admission. Who knows why? The psych ward brought with it a state of constant alertness. It could have been a side effect of the new medication. It could have been that I was missing my children. It could have been the fact that I was locked in what was essentially a large room with people with known anger issues, and I was sleeping in a room that didn’t lock with a complete stranger who snored like a chainsaw felling a forest. It could have been the knowledge that I was being watched and assessed constantly as they tracked how much I ate and how much I slept. Who knows?

She smiled, scanned my armband, and handed me a pill. I winced and asked her if she had 80 more back there. I was only kind of joking. It’s the kind of thing you are not supposed to say in the psych ward. She frowned, shook her head, and said, “I have them, but I’m not going to give them to you.” She cared. I could see that she cared. She leaned over the half door, looked straight into my eyes and then through them into my soul, and implored, “Dana, hold on to what is real.”

This woman was the first person that I met who was invested. Don’t get me wrong, most of the people who worked there were kind and dedicated to their jobs. But this woman was different. This nurse made eye contact and talked not like she was trying to pass the time, but like she was trying to help. I at once had a glimpse of what mental health care should or could look like if the perception were different. If instead of treating disorders, we treated people.

My eyes were dry, but inside I wept the tears I could not shed. I swallowed the pill. Back in bed, sleep came quickly. It was the sleep of the dead: dreamless and empty.

Light The Darkness,

Dana Nevels

Christmas Cheer

You are welcome.

We have passed Thanksgiving. Thus, we have officially entered the Christmas music season. There is a radio station dedicated to these beautiful pieces of music and when the universe is feeling especially kind it bestows upon my ears the glorious 80’s synth classic below. You are welcome. Enjoy!

Light the Darkness,

Dana Nevels

Neighbors

I don’t care if you are religious or not. I don’t care if you love God or hate Him or think He’s made up. If you are a good person, then you want to take care of the people around you.

I feel powerless over so much in the world.

People kill each other. People kill themselves. People die of disease, of starvation. People get lost. People get taken. There is so much of the world that I am powerless to touch, or to help, or to heal. The interconnectedness of the world places many of the world’s ills in my view and there is nothing that I can do about most of it. And sometimes that powerlessness paralyzes me.

Do you ever feel powerless?

Good people take care of the people around them. I want to be a good person. But in the face of such overwhelming despair, how do I accomplish that? I can’t reach half-way across the globe and change the state of the Middle-East or solve world hunger.

But what if that is not really my responsibility. In my mind, I have a concept that would work spectacularly well if implemented properly and that would expand exponentially. What if I am only responsible for helping the people that I come in contact with? What if I just focused each day on helping the people I encounter? Just them. What if I stopped agonizing over the people on the other side of the world and only focused on the cashier at Walmart, or the guy walking his dog, or the person sitting next to me at the library?

I used to think of power as a single force that was binary in nature. Either you possess it or you don’t. Now I think that power is a snowflake in a blizzard or a droplet in the ocean or ants in a colony. It is thousands of small and simple things all pushing in the same direction toward the same goal.

Imagine if everyone did that. What if everyone focused every day on lifting the people around them? Imagine the love that would pour over the earth as that tidal wave of service moved from person to person across the globe.

That is the power that I want to have. That is the power that I want to be a part of even if I am only one snowflake or one droplet because that power will change the world.

I don’t care if you are religious or not. I don’t care if you love God or hate Him or think He’s made up or you just don’t know or care. If you are a good person, then you want to take care of the people around you. So during this season when some of us will be celebrating Christ, and some Christmas, and some other Holy Days, and some just enjoying family, make an extra effort to lift your neighbor. They are not hard to find, they are all around you.

Light the Darkness,

Dana Nevels

NOTE: If you need some ideas on ways to serve, go to Light the World (Mormon.org). Full disclosure this link will take you to a religious website, but it also has really good ideas for nice things that you can do to be good to others, so if you don’t like the religious stuff on there, ignore it and just steal the good ideas. 😉

Fearless

What would my life be like if I didn’t make any of my decisions out of fear?

Little children are the best teachers in the world. They don’t know rules. I’m not saying that they don’t know what the rules are, I’m saying they don’t know that rules are even a thing. So they just do stuff. They do what they want whenever they want. And it is this näive hedonism that I want to talk about today.

There are hard and fast rules in the world. There are. I didn’t make them up, but you have to live by them or face the consequences. Rules like never put something on the floor for a pregnant woman to pick up, and only wear double denim when you want to look amazing. Just kidding. But really there are rules. Learning them is really important. I’m not going to list them all here, that’s not really my point here. There are also a ton of rules that people just made up, and life seems to be the intersect of trying to abide by the real ones and ferret out and ignore the fake ones.

This is where children are the best teachers. They push other children down out of anger or greed and we tell them no. We teach them the rules that you don’t hurt others because they make you angry and that you don’t hurt others because they have something you want. We teach them to avoid what is wrong, but they teach us about embracing what is right.

They teach us about unconditional love, about forgiveness, about trying new things without fear or embarrassment or shame. What would my life be like if I didn’t make any of my decisions out of fear? What would your life be like?

Maybe we should find out.

Light The Darkness,

Dana Nevels

Expanding the Circle

There are some life experiences that come upon you without warning

I have my circle. I have always aimed to keep it’s circumference small. It doesn’t really extend that far and I am ashamed to say that for much of my life I have not been interested in expanding it. I have my family and my friends and that is it.

There are some life experiences that come upon you without warning and give you the opportunity to expand your circle out and enhance your ability to empathize with others, or shrink your circle down to the point where pretty much the only person inside of it is you.

The first choice makes your life more complicated but more fulfilling. The second simplifies things tremendously but it stunts your growth.

My family went to a close friend’s house this year for Thanksgiving with her family. She is amazing so she welcomed in several other people to celebrate the Holiday as well. She is always looking for ways to expand her circle and others circles by extension. She is wise. I was nervous, she was not, but we ended up having a great time, and a far better time than we would have had with fewer people.

Never acquiesce to the impulse to shrink, to restrict your circle, to carve out a place for yourself and put up walls to keep others out. If you do, you may end up keeping out the very people you need most.

Light the Darkness,

Dana Nevels

Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m thankful for good food and the ability to digest it.

I’m thankful for family and friends who haven’t given up on me.

I’m thankful that I’m alive.

And I’m thankful for Jesus.

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful if you are here in the USA. If not, I hope you still have many things to be thankful for. Spend a little time tomorrow thinking about what they are.

Light The Darkness,

Dana Nevels