Feeling mighty. I am woman. Hear me roar. Took the car in for an oil change – the nice cashier brought up a list of things to pour into my auto. I listened and then asked, “But my car is a standard. Why would it need automatic transmission fluid?” And he nodded his head – Yes, a standard. “A stickshift,” I said, wanting to be clear. And he stopped short then. Peeked in my window – Ohhhhh. A manual. And I got it – who could have guessed that a gray-haired Karen drove one of those?! A standard doesn’t fit the demographic and isn’t it fantastic that my father taught me to drive on that old VW van? The nice young cashier clicked a button and my bill magically became forty dollars less than it had been. I am woman. Hear me roar. – Karen Molenaar Terrell
Such a short time we are here! The gravestones remind me of this. Four lie near each other – all younger than I am now when they died: 42, 56, 59, 25. And I am still alive. But it’s such a short time we are here! And when we’re gone – have moved on – what will anyone remember of you – of me? What memories will remain? The accolades, awards, one star or five? How much we owned? How our jewelry shone? Or will we be remembered for our smiles, our kindnesses, our generosity – the way we stood up to bullies, helped lift others up, shared laughter, shared life’s lessons, shared good fully? Such a short time we are here. – Karen Molenaar Terrell
Today the cosmos danced for me at the cemetery. Sitting on a bench, feeling the peace I always feel there, the sun came out and a breeze moved across the grass and autumn flowers at the edge of the grounds. I love you, always and forever, a voice said. Fear not. All is well. Do you feel me with you? Celebrate with me. And how could I not? -Karen Molenaar Terrell
No, it is not his decision to make. It is up to the voters. He can’t just ignore what the voters decide. That is what happens in a dictatorship – not in a democracy. For him to suggest we ‘get rid of the ballots’ is traitorous to our nation and an attack on our Constitution. America isn’t his private corporation. It doesn’t belong to him. It belongs to us.
And if any of my friends tries to justify this, excuse this, explain this away – or tries to say that this is not a big deal – you are wasting your time here. I was a history major, remember. Cum laude and all that. I’ve TAUGHT American history. Trust me – THIS IS A BIG DEAL.
A couple of days ago I wrote a post that began thusly: “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…”
The Year of Insanity was life-changing for me. After it was over I found I had to start over and build from scratch big parts of my life – my career, my approach to life, my relationships with friends – because my old way of doing things wasn’t going to work for me anymore. I think this is going to be true for our world, too, once it makes it through its own Year of Insanity.
A few years after The Year of Insanity I found myself in a transition between one job and the next – The Year of Insanity had helped me realize that my mental health was more important than any amount of money and that I could no longer continue in a position that didn’t feel “right” to me. The transition into a new career was a scary, exhilarating, audacious, crazy wonderful time for me – rich with possibilities. I was unfettered and open to whatever new opportunities came my way – ready to create a whole ‘nother career for myself. For the first time I went to a counselor – and she helped me discover for myself what it was I needed to do to bring sanity to my life – what I needed to discard, and what I needed to nurture. Creativity moved up to the front of my life – photography and writing and music. The insane stuff – nonsensical edicts (stuff like that scene from “Office Space” involving “the memo” – you know the one), schedules and bureaucracy, fear and anxiety – got tossed.
And, once I opened my thought to all the infinite possibilities, cool things started happening: I was offered a small salary to work as my church’s Reading Room librarian; I got a contract to proofread and write for an educational publishing company; I made note cards of my photos and started selling them at a little coffee shop; my book, *Blessings: Adventures of a Madcap Christian Scientist*, was bringing in a small amount in royalties every month. I wasn’t making a LOT of income at first – it was more a symbolic income, really – but it was enough to give me hope that there was something waiting for me beyond the career I’d left behind. And soon I was offered another job, teaching at an alternative high school, that brought my life purpose and great joy for the next seven years – until I retired a year ago last June.
Love, God, has always been with me – through the good stuff and the “bad” – leading and guiding me, and opening up new doors ahead of me, as other doors have closed behind me. I’ve come to recognize that Love will always provide for me and mine, and that I never need to fear what the future holds; It holds nothing but good – because even the “bad” is transformed into something good when we put Love at the helm.
You know that old adage – “Quitters never win and winners never quit”? Well, I have found that sometimes the bravest and best thing we can do for ourselves – and the world – is to quit the course we’re on when it’s not the right one for us, and start something entirely new.
“No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.” – Matthew 9
“Willingness to become as a little child and to leave the old for the new, renders thought receptive of the advanced idea. Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy to see them disappear, – this disposition helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony.” – Mary Baker Eddy
Dear star – I saw your light tonight – thank you for sending it our way. It arrived at the just right moment on the just right day. I know you sent your light out thousands of years ago – traveling through fear, doubt, and darkness to reach us here below. I know the light you sent goes on, though you may not exist anymore. Your light will travel beyond us, too, to reach other distant shores. -Karen Molenaar Terrell
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
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
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
“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