The Year of Insanity

13 years ago I went insane. I did not like it so much. But I learned a lot from it. It occurs to me now that the experience I had during The Year of Insanity helped prepare me for the challenges our world is facing right now.

I believe mankind is experiencing a collective insanity today. And recognizing that is what is going on is giving me some compassion for my world and its inhabitants. I understand what this feels like. I understand that shaming someone who is mentally ill is not going to make things better. Laying guilt on someone going through a massive clinical depression – as I went through – is not going to heal that individual, or the world. Hating someone who is not herself or himself or their self, and is already contemplating suicide, is not going to fix the problem.

Having personally experienced mental illness I know the one and only thing that can reach through the fog of insanity and heal mental illness is love.

We need to recognize that those individuals who are experiencing and exhibiting mental illness right now are not themselves. This isn’t THEM. Their real identity – OUR real identity – is secure and safe – “hid with Christ” in Love – where goodness and purity and intelligence and wisdom and kindness and honesty are eternally, indestructibly qualities of who we ALL really are.

13 years ago I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to today – I contemplated suicide daily. But look at all I would have missed if I’d given up on life then! – All the beautiful new friends I wouldn’t have met! The sunsets and sunrises I wouldn’t have seen! The lessons I wouldn’t have learned! The changes I wouldn’t have been able to make! The love and laughter I would have denied myself! When I was deep in the depression I couldn’t imagine a happy ending to my story. I couldn’t imagine I’d ever get out of it. Couldn’t imagine it ever ending.

But then one day the fog lifted and I awakened from the nightmare. I looked out on the world and I was connected again – connected to the joy and the beauty and a sense of well-being. I had myself back again. Now I’m really grateful for that year of learning – that year of shedding the chrysalis (and that feels like what the whole world is doing right now). I learned a new appreciation for the power of love; gained a new appreciation for the power of a moment and a good, deep breath; I came to appreciate the power of choice; and gained renewed gratitude for all the beauty in Nature and mankind; I gained greater humility, empathy, and compassion for others; and a stronger commitment to my own spiritual journey.

I learned I can be happy even when I’m sad.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“There’s nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.”
– Richard Buckminster Fuller

“The very circumstance, which your suffering sense deems wrathful and afflictive, Love can make an angel entertained unawares.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

An alpine butterfly flits among the flowers on Table Mountain. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

Nothing Is Impossible to Love

So you know, I write my poems and say my spiels and yada yada. And what does any of that mean, really? It’s just words.

So here’s what I need tonight – I need to remind myself that we can’t always see how things will work themselves out – and sometimes salvation comes in completely unexpected ways. I need to remind myself of the amazing things that I’ve witnessed and experienced in the last several years during times when I saw no solution and things looked pretty bleak.

Back in February 2017 I found myself in a position that seemed impossible. Mom was in the hospital with congestive heart failure and Dad soon followed her there with a UTI. They were on two different floors, both struggling to stay alive. I’d visit one and then the other – and then go home, on high alert, waiting for the phone to ring and for someone to drop some new crisis onto me.

Just two days before Mom was going to be released from the hospital into hospice care, a hospital social worker told me that it looked like the assisted living care facility wasn’t going to accept Mom back into her and Dad’s home because of her medical issues. I told the social worker that the assisted living place hadn’t told me anything about this, and surely they would have let me know, right? But she seemed pretty sure about this. So I called the assisted living place on Saturday and was told that Mom was going to be evaluated on Monday morning to determine if she could be brought back to her home. Which. Hospice needed to set things up for her – and they needed to know right then where they should send the equipment. I needed answers immediately. Finally, the assisted living lady told me (under her breath) that if she was me she’d be looking for another place for my mother and father.

I had two days to find a new home for my parents.

In a panic, I started calling other assisted living places and soon realized that the cost of the care my parents were going to need in the facilities would clean out their savings in a couple months. I thought maybe I could use my retirement savings to help them – but that wouldn’t last too long, either. And – honestly, I didn’t want to send my parents to some strange, unfamiliar place that looked like an institution. The thought came to me, then, that I should bring Mom and Dad into my home when they were released from the hospital, and provide the care myself. Scotty agreed to this plan and agreed to help. (I married an incredible man.)

I was still teaching full-time then – so this was going to be tricky.

But I told the social workers at the hospital that I wanted Mom brought to my home when she was released on Monday. She asked me if I was sure – I think she was concerned about me – but I told her yes. It felt right. Hospice got in touch with me – bless them! – and, when Mom was brought by ambulance to our home, a hospice nurse came over and showed Scott and I how to care for her.

I’m so very glad Love guided me to make this decision for Moz. I’m so glad she was brought to our home, surrounded by our love. We spent the whole day telling each other how much we loved each other – and in the wee hours of the morning, while I dozed on the couch next to her hospital bed, she passed. I felt myself brushed by joy and peace and love and woke to find she was gone.

So now I had to find a home for Dad – I’d promised Moz that she didn’t need to worry about him – that we’d make sure he was alright. Originally the plan had been to bring him into our home where he could be with Mom, but now that she was gone our home wouldn’t be the right place for him. He needed the kind of care that someone with skills greater than my own could give him. The social worker asked us if we’d ever looked into adult family homes, and gave us a booklet with names and phone numbers.

When I got home from the hospital after my visit with Dad and the social worker, I went for a walk – at this point I was completely emotionally and mentally stretched – feeling out of my depth and scared about the future – and I needed to find some peace for myself. And suddenly a rainbow arched across the sky – and it felt like a promise! – like Moz was there with me, reassuring me, telling me everything was going to be alright.I began making phone calls to adult family homes – and on the second call I felt I’d found the right place. My brother and I went over to check it out – there were bird feeders in the front yard, and cats and dogs – and I knew the woman who answered the door would have been someone Moz would have felt an instant kinship with. AND the cost of care for Dad would fit his budget!

I felt like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. We had found Dad’s new home – a place I didn’t even know existed a day before!

We just never know.

NOTHING is impossible to Love. NOTHING. ❤
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Rainbow After the Storm. Bow, WA. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell

Unstoppable Truth

You can try to censor Truth –
but you can’t make It go away
you can try to destroy It –
try to stop what people say
try to stop teachers from
teaching and journalists
from revealing what they find,
but trying to stop Truth is like
trying to stop the sun’s shine –
It’ll light the darkest cave;
bounce off the moon onto
the night’s ocean wave;
cross political borders and lines;
fill our hearts and make us brave.
You can’t corrupt It, change It,
or take away Truth’s power.
It stands solid – a rock,
a beacon on a tower.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“The inaudible voice of Truth is, to the human mind, ‘as when a lion roareth.’ It is heard in the desert and in dark places of fear.”
– Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, p 559

A Poem-Prayer

“In atmosphere of Love divine,
We live and move and breathe…”
– Christian Science Hymnal  #144

A morning poem-prayer for the world:

There is no spot where Love is not.
There is no spot where Truth is not.
There is no spot where Life is not.

Love fills all space –
we can never be separated from Love –
there’s no place where we don’t feel
Love’s presence, enveloping us in peace
and pure tender kindnesses that heal
us – bringing sweet renewal like the gentle
rains and the morning dew upon the grass.
In dauntless joyful humility we kneel
to give thanks. To praise. To serve.

Love’s presence is all-powerful.
NOTHING has the power to usurp
Love’s governing of Her own creation.
We are the manifestations, expressions, reflections,
ideas, children of Love – made in Her likeness.
All we can feel is what Love feels.
All we can know is what Truth knows.
All we can be is what Love made us to be.
We exist by Love and for Love and with Love.
“For Love alone is Life” (Mary Baker Eddy)

Fear, hatred, greed, condemnation,
and self-righteous indignation
have no place in Love’s creation.
Give them no power. Pay them no heed.
Let Love be our guide; Let Love lead.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Joyful Without Reason

My joy is not dependent on matter –
not dependent on flattering chatter –
my clothes can be in tatters,
my ego-dreams all shattered,
and possessions scattered –
but I’m alive! I can love! I can learn!
Joy is not something I have to earn –
not something I need a reason
or a special season
to feel.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”
– Habbakuk 3:17,18

“Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it.”
– Mary Baker Eddy




Update on the Intrepid Little Sunflower

You may remember the story about the intrepid little sunflower who was sawed in half by a slug earlier in the summer and grew new roots in a bottle. I transplanted her to a pot and put her out on the side of the house by her sister – where she’d originally been when she was attacked in the infamous Slug Wars. She thrived and grew out there and now she’s blooming!

Because she’s in a pot I was able to move her away from the dark background of the house for a photo of her in the sunlight. Check it out…

The Intrepid Little Sunflower is blooming!

Here’s a photo history of her journey…

“The Karen Special”

Those of you who are familiar with my drives with my centenarian father might remember that our go-to place for Dad’s root beer floats was Sisters Espresso (in Bow, WA), and that my drink of choice was usually a lavender green iced tea.

Sisters Espresso is assuming new ownership in a week and my husband and I wanted to stop by and order some of our last drinks from our friends, the current owners. Brooke was behind the window and I felt a little tug of nostalgia when I saw her back there, working her magic at the espresso machine. She looked up and smiled when she saw me, and pointed to her special for the day: “The Karen” – a lavender green tea!

I have never had a drink named after me before! And to see the name “Karen” used in a happy way almost brought tears to my eyes.

Of course, I had to order one of those Karen specials for myself. 🙂 (It was on the house. ❤ )

You Are Making a Difference

My dear Humoristian hooligans –
I apologize that I haven’t sent you any messages lately. I’m afraid I haven’t been feeling very humoristic. It is a sad truth that sometimes the world needs more than Groucho glasses and whoopee cushions to make everything better.

But when I think of you – my Humoristian friends – out there on the planet, working your magic – it brings me hope. May your indefatigable good will touch the lost and frightened and alone. May your irrepressible joy bring hope to the discouraged and desolate. May your unflappable kindness transform the stingy, stodgy and stuffy. May the bigots and bullies be overcome by your steadfast, unshakable love for your fellow creatures. May you bring courage to the ascared.

You are making a difference.

Karen

Rainbow flower doodle by Karen Molenaar Terrell. Because I figured we could all use a rainbow flower doodle right now, right?

Sometimes All It Takes is the Kindness of a Friend

(August 29th)

I love this man. Charles Atkinson is one of the most courageous, honorable, wise human beings I know.

Today I found myself back in bed by 11:00 – just lying there – feeling the cool breeze blowing across my face, smelling the briny scent coming off the bay – and I realized that I could just lie there all day and be perfectly content.

But eventually I roused myself, got up – figured I’d ride my bike to the post office and pick up the mail. Once I got to the post office I thought I’d go a little further – maybe stop in and see if Charles was at Tweets – I haven’t seen him for a while and I was missing him. So I went on to Tweets – and Charles was there! Oh, it was so good to feel his smile coming through his Black Lives Matters mask! He said the exactly right words I needed – words that bolstered me up, inspired me, gave me hope. And then he told me my mocha was on him!

Sometimes all it takes is the kindness of a friend to make a day beautiful. ❤

Making a New Friend in the Time of COVID

So Scotty and I take a walk on the boardwalk. When we get down to Boulevard Park I’m thinking vegan pizza from Ovn, right? I make a call and order the pizzas – a couple to bring home to our vegan young people, too. Matt takes my order. I can tell right away – from our quick banter and the smile in his voice – that he has a sense of humor. I can have some fun here. We get to the part where I give him my credit card info and now he wants to know my name. 
Karen: Okay, so my name is… don’t laugh… my name is Karen.
Matt: (Laughing.)
Karen: (Laughing.) You’re laughing.
Matt: (Continues laughing.) I’m only laughing because you told me not to laugh. But you sound like a very nice Karen.
Karen: (Still laughing.) Thank you.

Matt tells me that the pizza should be ready in 20 minutes – which is just about right for our walk back up from Boulevard Park.

When we get up to Ovn I give a call to let them know we’ve arrived. When Matt picks up the phone I feel myself instantly smiling – I’m so glad it’s him! He knows how to laugh.
Karen: This is Karen. We’re here now. Hey – do you have any truffle salt?
Matt: No, unfortunately we don’t have any right now – we can’t import it because of COVID.
Karen: Bummer. Do you have any other cool stuff there?
Matt: (Laughing.) We have all kinds of cool stuff here. We’ve got smoked salt and habanero salt. We’ve got… (and he lists a whole bunch of other salts – but my mind has wrapped itself around habanero salt – that sounds pretty interesting.)
Karen: Habanero salt – does that have any animal products in it?
Matt: No animal products. It’s really spicey, though.
Karen: Spicey! Cool! We’ll take a habanero salt and a smoked salt, too.
Matt: You got it!
Karen: Thank you!

Pretty soon Matt comes out with the pizzas. I finally get to see my new friend! Of course, we’re both wearing masks – but I can still tell he’s smiling under there.
Matt: Are you Karen?
Karen: Yes – are you Matt?
Matt: (Smiling.) Yes. Here are your pizzas. (Hands me the stack of pizzas.) Thank you for giving Karens such a good name.
Karen: Thank you so much! It was nice meeting you!