T’was ten days afore Christmas and all o’er the Earth human kinds were scrambling to find Christmassy mirth. We looked under our beds and up to the North Pole, looked in our attics and in our cookie dough bowls.
We looked to see if we could order the spirit online or find it at the supermarket or in a Christmassy pine. We looked in the fridge and under our car seats, looked for it in old movies and in peppermint treats.
And then we stopped and settled our searching thoughts, and it occurred to us that Christmas couldn’t be bought, and that it wasn’t hiding from us here or there – Christmas was in this moment, in our hearts, and everywhere!
And the Christmas joy spilled out of us, joining the joy of the Cosmos, reaching out with love to the darkest, farthest outpost. And hope filled our hearts, and love broke down the walls. And we heard the Cosmos proclaim: “On earth peace, good will to all!”
It says 3:33 on the clock beside the bed and when I look at the clock sideways I see birds flying on the canvas in my head. I think, “Somewhere in the world a new life has just been born!” I’m filled with hope – not “hoping-for-the-best” hope, but expectancy- of-good hope – hope bigger and vaster, reaching me faster than the speed of light. -Karen Molenaar Terrell
Love’s celebration feel the joy surrounding you never-ending Life -Karen Molenaar Terrell
I can’t sleep and go to my friends’ FB walls treasure-hunting for hope; for love that calls to all creation; for jewels of inspiration and wisdom that go beyond human rules and resonate with the rhythm beating in my own heart. And I bring back these gifts: A poem about father-love; A photo of a puppy nestled in her new human’s arms; A painting of a golden sunrise; Posts about epic bike rides and happy-together times; Pictures from mountain climbs; The blessing from a flute; Photos of home-grown fruits; and everywhere magic. -Karen Molenaar Terrell
There’s a large part of this story that’s not mine to share and I’ll leave to my friend to share if she wants. But I think I can share this part:
Looking back on Facebook at the history of our friendship, it looks like we met on November 8, 2018, and became immediate friends. I was taking my walk on the Bellingham boardwalk when I first met her. It was a cold day. She wore a hat, I remember. I recognized a kinship – I saw in her expression a shared experience. I opened my heart to hear her story and she poured her heart out to me. Heart-to-heart. I felt so privileged by that – by her trust in me.
I understood some of what she was going through – I’d gone through a similar experience about ten years before. I’m not sure what I said to her. I might have told her that I understood – that I’d been there, too – that I knew she was in a scary place – but that she was also in a really amazing place – that she was completely free to create a whole new life for herself and that I knew that was scary, but that I thought she’d find it was also really exhilarating. An adventure!
I went home and found her on FB and discovered we had a bunch of friends in common. That was cool. And I asked her to be my FB friend.
Through the last four years we’ve sometimes run into each other by magic – not purposefully, but always perfectly. We’ve come upon each other at rallies and in the supermarket and walking along a street. When it was my turn to get a COVID vaccine, I was a little freaked out, and I contacted my friend because I knew she was working at the vaccination site and I knew I could count on her to help walk me through what I had to do. She was a blessing to me during that time.
And today I ran into her at the supermarket. She shared with me that last weekend, through her new role at work, she was in a position to help someone who told her that she “most likely” had saved his life.
As she was sharing her story I started crying. And then she started crying. And we hugged and cried and laughed together. She asked me if I remembered where she was when we’d first met, and I nodded and said, “And now you’re saving lives!”
In the last few days, I’ve felt the Cosmos reaching out to me with hope and reassurance and love. I’m being constantly reminded of all the Good in the world. I’m so grateful for that.
I was feeling discouraged this morning. No, “discouraged” is an understatement for what I was feeling – what I was feeling was something beyond that. As I was posting on FB, my friend, Kathy, commented that she could use a hug and said she’d be working to register voters at the Mount Vernon YMCA. Coincidentally, I needed a hug, too. I also needed to get some groceries. So I got in Rosalita Ipswich O’Molenovich and drove, first, to the supermarket, and then to the YMCA.
When I got to the supermarket, I saw a man standing on a corner with a sign indicating he was in need. And the thought that came to me was, “I maybe don’t want to be on this planet right now, but maybe I can do some good while I AM here.” So I parked and walked over to the man and asked if I could get him something in the supermarket. He said he was really hungry, so I asked him if I could get him a sandwich, and he said yes. I bought my groceries – including TWO quarts of Paul Newman virgin lemonade – and then picked up a sandwich for the gentleman on the corner.
When I brought him his sandwich, I realized he was probably pretty thirsty, too – it’s hot here today – and I realized the second quart of lemonade was for him. He smiled and thanked me and took the sandwich and lemonade from me.
I was already feeling much better.
After the supermarket, I drove down to find Kathy at the YMCA to exchange a hug, and met a whole lot of other really cool people, too. There was young Roran with his rainbow drawings, a woman who helps victims of domestic violence, a couple people who work with Planned Parenthood, and folks from PFLAG of Skagit County. And meeting these people – brave and compassionate and caring people – has given me back my hope.
So let’s say we knew, for instance, that our world was heading towards its doom. Let’s say, for instance, that a superpower had invaded, unprovoked, a neighboring country and was pulling other nations into a world war. Let’s say that a tyrant had somehow managed to build a following and get himself into power in our own country, and, after losing a legitimate election, was doing everything he could – criminal, illegal, dishonest things – to get himself back into power. Let’s say that there were more guns than people in this country (120.5 for every100 people, let’s say) and that it didn’t look like our country’s leaders were going to try to get control of that any time soon. Let’s say that more than 311,000 students had experienced gun violence in schools since Columbine. Let’s say that plastics, fossil fuel consumption, overuse, misuse, and abuse was destroying our oceans, land and air. Let’s say that even the basic right to have control over our own bodies was being threatened. Let’s say there was talk of Civil War. Let’s say things looked like complete crap here.
What then? Would we give up? Would we just resign ourselves to our collective fate and spend our time here shivering in fear, waiting for death, holed up in our hidey holes? Or… would we use our time here to try to find solutions? Would we view every new day as another chance to love and be kind and to make a new friend and make something beautiful?
the instinct is to fold in on myself hide away in a dark corner somewhere away from the cacophony and the bells and whistles – in a quiet padded lair away from worry, stress, and care just close the door to my closet and pray a silent prayer hoping to feel hope again hoping to find stillness in the din to find a place where we can all win and find peace -Karen Molenaar Terrell
Mental Health Story #2 (for Mental Health Awareness Month):
So, a few years after I went through that massive life-changing depression, I had the opportunity to experience another bout of mental dis-ease. (My doctor diagnosed “severe anxiety.”) I think the first experience helped prepare me for the second experience, actually. I went into this one equipped with some tools.
This time the experience wasn’t from inside me – this one was caused by external stress that, I thought, I had no control over and that, I thought, I was powerless to change. I felt trapped and couldn’t see any way to make things better for myself.
Unlike my first experience with mental illnes, this time I did see a professional for help. When I called my health insurance hotline to get help, the woman on the other end of the line asked me a series of questions. One of the last questions she asked me was also one of the hardest questions I’ve ever had to answer in my life: “Have you contemplated suicide in the last week?” I was so ashamed and embarrassed. I told her I had. She asked me if I’d contemplated a method. I told her I had.
She asked me why I hadn’t gone through with it, and I told her I hadn’t gone through with it because “I am a chicken shit, and I thought it might hurt.” She started laughing then – which is the best thing she could have done for me – and told me I’d given her a really healthy answer.
The woman on the other end of the phone found a counselor for me, but when I called the counselor’s office I learned this woman was a psychologist – and I told her office that I didn’t really need a psychologist – my problem wasn’t that serious – I just needed a counselor. The receptionist said she’d have the psychologist call me back. When the psychologist called me back, she assured me that she was, basically, just a counselor with a doctor’s degree and encouraged me to come in and see her. So I did.
My first session with her I just sat there and blubbered. My second session with her I blubbered some more and told her all the things I was expected to change in my current teaching position – things I had no control over – and I didn’t see how I could change “and…and…”
The psychologist asked me, “Do you plan to go back to that positiion?” I told her I didn’t see how I could. And then she asked me a question that completely changed the course of my life: “Then why do you need to fix these things?”
Whoah. It was like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders in that moment. I saw that these things weren’t my problem anymore. I didn’t need to worry about them!
From that moment on our sessions together became all about creating a new life for myself. She helped me recognize the things in my life that were making me, literally, crazy, and that I needed to throw out; and she helped me recognize the things I needed to bring more into my life – creative things, artsy things, Soul-things. She helped me see there WERE options and I wasn’t trapped.
I ended up being led to apply for a new teaching position – working with students who were dealing with challenges and obstacles in their young lives that most of us have never had to experience. I found a healthy purpose in my professional life again, and a renewed love for teaching.
From this experience, I learned that we’re never trapped, and there’s always an answer – even if we can’t see it right away. As my wonderful friend, Laura Lavigne, says: “There are things we know we know. There are things we know we don’t know. And there are a whole lot of things we don’t know we don’t know – and THAT is where the magic is!”
This experience happened more than a decade ago. I’m retired now. I’m so glad I was able to retire from my career feeling good about teaching, and about myself. I got to give the keynote speech and sing a song at the graduation that year, and celebrate the beauty of education. And all of that happened because I found the courage to make that phone call, and find help for myself. Talking with a professional helped me unlock the mental bars and see the possibilities for my life.
“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