Why do I feel writer’s blocked?

I started writing in January because I had something to say. I wanted to record what I was feeling honestly and accurately with the hope it might help someone else. 

Entries would flow. Words would come. Emotions drove my writing and I think most of it made sense. I never drafted and edited what I wrote because I wrote on the edge of emotional breakdown and I felt editing it would do one of two things. Either it would be dishonest, because I would lose authenticity, or I would be emotionally affected by my own words and potentially spiral again. 

I’ve been improving and returning to some sense of normality for a few months now. And the words don’t flow any more. The stark, raw emotions do not drive what I write. I still feel those things, but reason rules the surface. It’s control is stretching downward and that is comfortable–for me it’s necessary and normal. 

But I can no longer write with the passion I had before. I feel as though I have less to say. I don’t have things that are as helpful. 
Can I pivot to provide insight to another aspect of my life? Will that be as helpful to me or to someone else?

These questions should be on my mind more than they have been if I am to answer them. 

But perhaps all I need is to take the time to write. I’ve been busy lately. 

The future is as bright as your hope

Someone during general conference said this. I think he was quoting President Monson, and I think the actual quote is “The future is as bright as your faith.”

The actual quote–in my limited experience–is 100% wrong. It adds to the confusion of hope and faith (which are separate and individual) without really helping the hearer understand what is meant.

Faith is necessary, of course. But if the future is to be bright, faith does not provide the light. It provides the why, not the means.

Hope provides the light. When languishing in darkness, faith can exist (for me it always did), but I was completely without hope. I had no light because I had no hope. Faith provided cognitive understanding of what God could do, but it provided no expectation that He would.

Whose praise do I seek?

I’ve started writing this post about five times.

Often I will come up with titles, schedule the post, and let thoughts sit a while before writing.

So when I say I’ve started this post several times, I mean it’s been on the docket for a while and I haven’t found the words to say to make it right.

Whose praise do I seek? What is the ultimate motivation for my actions? Do I focus on my need for social approval? Am I motivated by the expectations a friend has of me? Do I rely (still) on parental approval? Do all of my actions go through the filter of “what does the girl I like want me to do?”

Or are my motivations something else? Are my motivations intrinsic? Are they extrinsic? Do I look to another source for praise and approval?

Where should I look? Most people believe the ideal is to look within and only seek your own approval. I take issue with that. 

I recognize my vision is extremely limited. By assuming my intrinsic approval is all I need, I assume the that myopic vision I have of my capabilities is perfect sight. 

It is not. I strongly agree my actions and choices must align with my core values. However, i must look for approval and praise from a source who has greater vision and wider perspective than I have. 

I must look to God for praise. I must continually seek His approval. Through many years of effort and learning, I have aligned my core values with Father’s will. 

So as I tread the path I am on, forks in my road will come. Occasionally my desires and wants (for career stability, a caring woman, few struggles, etc.) are not met. My initial reaction is to mentally rebel and complain. However, although I need a modicum of my own praise and approval–it’s required for mental stability–the praise I seek is that of Father. 

Father knows my skills, He knows my capabilities, He knows my intentions. Because He knows what I am able to do, He is the best guide for my life. I may not immediately need or be prepared for the things I don’t yet have. 

He knows the ideal path for me. He will let me choose where I go, but He also judges me along that ideal path. He is Good. And in being Good, all things He gives are good and are best for my growth. Many are hard. (Most?) But they force me to grow beyond what I believed I could. 

In my heart, all I want is to please Him. Because in pleasing Him, I will gain everything i desire that truly matters: To be like Him in every way. 

Benefits of depression: Greater appreciation for sacrament

In the weekly LDS service, the emblems of Christ’s body are blessed as He blessed them and passed to the congregation. As I’ve experienced this period where depression outwieghed everything else, the sacrament has gained greater importance in my week. 

I don’t think I took it for granted before, but it means more now. The sacrament was tens minutes each week when hope and God’s love took the forefront of my focus. 

It didn’t often stay for long, but those few minutes were of critical importance in my journey through the darkness. Without the complete absence of hope, I would not have seen the few minutes of peace each week.

Each week I renewed the promises I had made with God and was reassured the blessings connected to those covenants would eventually come to me. 

Back seeking help

I moved under emotional duress. That’s the best way to state it. I needed an immediate change and that seemed one of the best ways to get it.

I’ve done pretty well since the move and that makes me feel pretty good. 

When I met with my bishop on my first Sunday back and explained my reasons for moving back, he suggested I meet with a counselor again to gain a little more help and a step up. 

It was something I’d considered for a bit, but knew I wasn’t in a position to afford something like that. He indicated the ward would cover costs from fast offerings, and I promised I’d make the best use of the sessions I could. 

I didn’t expect to be sitting back in a counselor’s office again. When I stopped in November, I didn’t expect to need more structured help. But here I sit. 

Feelings rush through my mind, beating the walls of my thought-paths. Am I a failure because I’m asking for help again? Is this a sign of weakness? Should I be overcome with anxiety because I can’t handle my life without more structured guidance?

I talked with a very dear and trusted friend late into Monday morning a few days ago. She said something that has helped me understand my struggles a bit better. 

Therapy isn’t for people who need it the most. Therapy is for people who want it, who want to change and improve but don’t know how.

That gave me hope. I don’t know how to help myself right now, but I want help. 

Asking for it is a sign of strength, a sign I want to improve. 

A glimmer of light

A few weeks ago I wrote about hating volleyball. I’m not sure I conveyed the depth of feeling I experienced in the post. 

Very little about being in the gym is exciting or desireable. I enjoy interacting with the girls and it’s fun to see them make progress, but little else. 

Two nights ago I ran a practice where only six girls came. We focused on some very specific things, and they made some progress. 

There was a glimmer of light in my mind. I left slightly happier than I’d entered the gym. Maybe it’s possible to regain that love. Maybe the passion for it will return. 

That’s possibly dependent on me choosing to enjoy the time while I’m there and not expecting it to be entertained by volleyball, but actively engage in it and try to improve my attitude. 

Benefits of depression: Isolation of hope

Lots of scriptures reference faith, hope, and charity. Many talks from smart people also reference these three things. Charity is obvious, and Paul indicates in his epistle the the Corinthians, that charity is the greatest of these. 

However, I’ve rarely heard a good explanation of the difference between faith and charity. Often they come hand in hand or are referenced together. Nearly as often faith is referenced alone with no connection to hope. 

This inability to separate these two things–which was seriously bugging me around the end of 2012–caused me to make hope a subject of study for the first month of 2013. 

I’ve consistently been taught about hope since that time. For many months it was hope for certain things, for the last year or so, it’s been focused on maintaining any type of hope. 

As depression took over and darkness descended over me, I began to recognize the distinct separation between faith and hope. I had faith, I knew God could remove the horrible, smothering around me. He is omnipotent, He could do it. He is omniscient, He knew what I was going through. 

But I had no belief that He would. That lack of belief was the stark absence of hope. I knew release was possible, but I didn’t think it would come. I really knew it wouldn’t come. There was going to be no release from what I was in. 

At some point, that belief in the possibility of release grew. It was a slight point of light in the darkness of my future. Hope began to exist in my mind. I had a slight hope for some type of release, for salvation from the dark, musicless hell I was in. 

Hope didn’t grow quickly. Hope didn’t come except as I desired it. 

My faith never waivered. It wasn’t affected in the depth of what I experienced. 

Hope was nonexistent. Then I had a grain. Seeing that difference helped me realize how faith and hope are difference. 

My depression isolated hope from everything else. It helped me see how hope is expressly unique. 

Learning to enjoy the journey

Which is more important: the journey or the outcome?

Although the blog is subtitled, “Learning to enjoy the journey,” I have always argued the outcome is the most important. The end of the journey is the focus. Anything along the way is simply there. It is fluff and helps endure the difficulties of the journey. 

I should have known better. I’d experienced the lesson several years ago. 

It’s amazing how small bits of inspiration years ago affect me today. When I was pondering titles for posts, I looked at the blog subtitle and realized I wasn’t trying to enjoy my journey, so I titled the post, saved it, knew I didn’t have anything to write yet, and set it aside. 

Today the inspiration struck. So here goes. 

The journey is at least as important as end. I think there are some strong arguments that it is more important. 

Life is more comparable to training rides than to a bike race. Training rides have purpose only to prepare you for the race. The race is obviously about the end. A race is to win and to finish first. 

But life is a preparation. Thus it’s similar to a training ride. 

And the end of a training ride brings only more preparation. Regardless of how far you ride, when you finish, there is work to do. When you get home, the recovery process starts. It’s time to stretch, eat, and get calories. 

The end of the journey is simply more work. 

It’s not really en end. So I began to love the rides. I began to look around. I began to enjoy the struggle of the hills, the wind of the descents, and the beauty of the scenery. 

Four summers ago, I learned to enjoy the journey and not get stuck on the end. 

Today that lesson made far more sense. 

It’s time to enjoy the struggles. It’s time to look up, even when I’m pushing hard. It’s not about getting to the end of the day. It’s not about fighting until there is a small reprieve. It’s about enjoying every moment. It’s about finding individual points of joy and glorying in those. 

Those points make up the journey. 

Moving is a sweet, painful pain

They say parting is such sweet sorrow. Might be true.

Moving is a sweet, painful pain. As I’ve been packing to move (happened last week, my posts are scheduled one per week, but I write them as inspiration strikes (this is the second one I’ve written today)), I’ve had time to contemplate all the things that went through my head the last time I moved (July).

I was so ready to move. I was grieving for things lost, excited for new chances, a new job, a new job, and the chance to make impacts in kids’ lives.

Nine months later, I’m packing up and heading back to where I was. Back to some comforts. Back to friends. Away from what feels like failure and wasted opportunity.

And then there’s the dust. That stuff collects everywhere. On shelves, on printers, on books. I can’t get away from it.

But I have a different view on my life now than I did nine months ago. I’ve been through a lot.

One big move.
One kind bishop.
One job from hell.
One job lacking reliable colleagues.
Two minor relationships.
Two incredible angels.
One mind-twin.
One chance to be someone else’s angel.
Two hundred amazing kids.
One major depression.
No end in sight.
Infinitely valuable experience.

So now I return to where I was a different person. Will I return to my old self? Will I take the few things about me that are better with me?

Will I continue to grow? I better. Will I need the support of those around me? Most probably.

Am I hopeful for my future? Yes. Though I may see little more than darkness, I choose to focus on the pinpoint of hope in my vision.

Pinpoint of hope