Posts Tagged ‘depression’

If you’re feeling trapped

July 30, 2012

Maybe you are

We just got home  from a  family reunion..

Seeing most of these people only every 2 or 3 years gives me the  a sense I’m watching  time-lapsed photography…

I used to internally  cringe at these get togethers.

I would compare our families life choices with the other young families in the mix.

5 of the cousins are either Dr’s or have married Doctors.  I suspect several of the Aunts and Uncles are millionaires…

And then there was our family :-)

My wife chose to stay at home as  our  kids came along…

which meant shopping @ Goodwill and garage sales for the kid’s clothes

Renting instead of owning

Driving an older car

bread from the day old store….

you get the picture.

There are lots of people in the world who have it a 100 times tougher..that I know..

but still, it’s so easy to fall into the comparison trap.

Now, 30 years later, our kids are grown,

wife and I are still in love

I’m still working at a job that energizes and stimulates me most days.

money is still tight, but for the most part we are out of debt….

And those earlier choices don’t seem so stupid any more…

I came across the following description in a book a few weeks ago, that described our life to a T:

     “My grandparents lived a simple country life.  They were totally self-sufficient, tilling a small piece of land and raising their own food….there was a sense of unhurriedness  and simple pleasures.  All the money in the world couldn’t buy such luxury in today’s world.  It is not for sale.   You have to create it….

It is unlikely you can ever totally escape from this high-stress world.  We are all on the same train….but to preserve your sanity and achieve a healthy life, you have to make some choices and resolve to live a balanced life.  By a “balanced” life, I mean, that like a marathon runner, you must learn how to pace yourself.  You give it all you’ve got going uphill and rest as much as you can going downhill.  You try to balance the drain on your energy so you can “go the distance”

From the book The Anxiety Cure by Archibald Hart


As I listened to some of the stories this past weekend, I couldn’t help but think about an article I recently read  about rats,   overcrowding and stress.

Because some (not all)  of  my successful relatives are living under a lot of self-imposed stress, .and I thought to myself but are they happy?

They may be making big bucks, but at what cost?

Here’s a link  to that article  if you’d like to read it.      Rat Study


If you hear a still small voice calling you to get out of the rat race don’t just ignore it.

It may be the voice of God.

And He can make a way.

I know what you’re thinking…

There is nobody in your life who would understand…

But here’s the deal…30 years from now, you will not regret it….

“If you make it to the top of the company ladder, but loose your family in the process, you are a fool.”


Sorry if this comes across as a little intense.  I don’t mean to be.  DM

What’s under YOUR grow light? ;-)

June 5, 2012

Do you know what’s more fun than growing weed in your basement?

Heirloom tomatoes!

Why? Because

A.  they’re  legal

and B.

Instead of  only being able to choose from a dozen  varieties at your local garden center, you can choose from several hundred  different varieties of tomatoes.

In  March I started two trays of Brandy wine’s  in our basement:

Brandy wine tomatoes @ 8 weeks.

My Mom reminded me a couple of weeks ago  to set them out  a few hours  a day, a  couple of weeks before   sticking them in the ground.

(The process is called “hardening”)

Different gardeners use different technique but basically, the idea is to introduce  your young plants  to the forces of nature gradually.

if you don’t, the first good wind and they’ll all snap off.

I set them on the east side of our house, next to the compost pile.  It’s kind of sheltered there and out of direct sun light.

They were still  pretty beat up by the end of the first day.

I  put them back  under the grow light, and within a couple of days, they  started to recover.

It reminded me of a true story I’d read about  few years ago.  The mature trees in an arboretum  mysteriously began falling over.  What they eventually discovered was this….because the trees had grown up inside, in such a sheltered environment,  they had never experienced adversity.  As they matured, the cell structure in the trees was so weak they collapsed under their own weight.

I’ve been thinking about that all day today.

The  relationship between adversity and personal growth.

As much as I hate adversity, I know  that a certain amount of it can actually be good for me.

Right now, I’m roofing a 2 story farm-house.

At the end of the day I come home mentally exhausted.

I am  responsible  not only for my own  safety, but the safety of two other men.

We are installing a new type of metal roof.

So in addition to  safety concerns, I’m also dealing with a learning curve.

(At the end of the day, that roof better not leak, or you know who’s phone is going to be ringing the first time it rains….)

Did I mention, I hate heights :-)

Yep, a carpenter who hates heights…go figure….


Went to a walk-a-thon 3 weeks ago for our grandson Rigg.   One of the disabilities he has been identified with is Angelman’s Syndrome.

My daughter deals with adversity and stress    24/7

One of the songs playing  in the back ground at the walk-a-thon was a song by Kelly Clarkson…..

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…”

When I was watching that video tonight.  it reminded me of one of my blogging friends

If you’ve been a reader here for any length of time, you know one of my few pet peeves is  religious people who spew out “trite platitudes”

If you ever see me in a receiving line at a funeral home..I want to warn you in advance..don’t..and I repeat, don’t  mumble some trite platitude to comfort me.

It won’t be pretty.

I say that here because undoubtedly someone at some point, is going to read this post and think I’m spouting off simplistic trite platitudes in response to the  adversity and suffering life can sometimes dish out.

Not on your life.

Some of the tomatoes I started out with  didn’t make it.

Others are still alive..


Here are some pictures of the ones  still standing  tonight:

Brandy wine tomato thick and healthy stalk  starting to bloom

Notice how robust that stem is :-)

Down but not out

Broken and starting over

As always, thanks for taking the time to read my “stuff” :-)  DM

Some of last years crop

House meetings

May 31, 2012

I sat there….amazed.

It was my first house meeting.

I was 29 yrs old.

We  had moved to New Jersey to  enable me to pursue a dream.

Return to college….  take some courses in counseling.

A local church had offered to help us out with housing.

They had an ongoing outreach to various groups…

Vietnamese boat people.

Missionaries on furlough.

Single young people wanting to deepen their relationship with God.

(Yea, he really exists – I talked to him this morning. ;-)

Young men trying to reclaim their lives/ just coming off the violent streets of Paterson …

And now…our family.  Recent transplants from the Midwest.

We had two little girls in tow…

And now that we were here, I ( at least)  was expected to participate in the “house meeting”.

I had no idea what to expect.

15 to 20 of us were sitting around  the conference room.

The tone was informal , relaxed yet moved @ a steady clip.

All of us had busy lives and this was not a time to just socialize.

“Was there anything anyone needed to talk about?”

Parking…parking had become an issue.

When Debbie came home from the grocery store with a trunk full of groceries, she  was not able to get anywhere close to the apartment..Wondering if there could be a way to keep that front spot open for those sort of things?

Use of the kitchen…

There were 3 different families sharing 1 commercial kitchen.  We each had our own living quarters, but shared a common kitchen area.  Different meal times,  different menu’s.. all three of our young families had children…

We lived in that setting  for about a year before moving to our own home.

The house meetings were only once a month as I remember them, but made an impact on me that exists to this day.

I experienced first hand the freedom of addressing issues with the people in my life  instead of walking around on egg shells .

I did not see this sort of communication role modeled growing up.

I did begin to implement it in our home from that point on especially as the kids got older.

“Kathy took my good shirt and got it a stain on it….”

“Angie won’t share the remote on the  TV…”

“John  comes into my room all the time without out permission and starts bothering me when I’m trying to get a nap”….

“but she shouldn’t be taking a nap @ that time…”

You get the idea…

Once I tasted the freedom of genuine communication, it came to the job site with me.

Not to mention any names, but some of the  people in my work circle, suck when it comes to communication.

They will take things without permission,  promise to be somewhere @ a certain time but have no intention of actually following through…

Give me awkward messages to give to the customer..

Recently my cell phone rang while I was on the job….

“Doug, could you tell so and so we had to pull out but promise to be back in a week?”

my response…”Just a can tell him yourself, he’s standing right here :-)

   Yea, it doesn’t win me any brownie points by  refusing to play by the old rules of no communicating/ or being a door mat  but that’s OK ;-)

I would rather tell you the truth up front, I can’t make it when you’re asking me to rather than lie, get my foot in the door and have you upset with me for not showing up.

Mrs DM and I work at keeping this  level of straight forward  communication alive in our relationship….

It is not automatic.

And we don’t do it perfectly I’m sure.

She’s a little slower to bring stuff up…hates conflict even more than I ;-)

Over the years, I can’t think of any  volatile subject that hasn’t been  discussed/ some of them multiple times.

Sex, money, parenting.. you know..the stuff every couple has to sort through

We ‘ve probably had the “sex” conversation 50 times in the 30 plus years of marriage.

Sex is  like fire.  It is a gift, but it can also cause a lot damage and pain.

Money.  Money = control.

Really the issue isn’t money.

There are a half a dozen other issues under the surface that are the real issues if you’re having a conflict about money

personal space, trust, greed, fear, materialism, etc.  those are the real issues.

I told someone  yesterday,   we haven’t been able to do things financially for our kids as much as I wished…But from where I sit, all of them prefer to address issues in their personal lives rather than play “let’s pretend”, and to me that is priceless.

Thanks for reading along ! DM

Oatmeal days

May 4, 2012

Talking with a nice lady on the phone.  She had a case of the midwinter spiritual rot.  And a terminal cold she’s had since September 1.

“Well,”  rasps she, ‘you don’t ever get depressed, do you?”

“Listen,” says I, “I get lows it takes extension ladders to get out of.”

“So, what do you do?” asks she. “I mean, what DO YOU DO?”

Nobody ever pinned me down quite like that before.  They usually ask what I think they should do.

My solace is not religion or yoga or rum or even deep sleep.  It’s Beethoven.  As in Ludwig van.  He’s my ace in the hole.  I put his Ninth Symphony on the stereo, pull the earphones down tight, and lie down on the floor.  the music comes on like the first day of Creation.

And I think about old Mr B.  He knew a whole lot about depression and unhappiness.  He moved around from place to place, trying to find the right place.  His was a lousy love life, and he quarreled with his friends all the time.  A rotten nephew worried him deeply – a pianist.  He wanted to sing well, too.  But when still quite young, he began to lose his hearing.  Which is usually bad news for pianists and singers.  By 1818, when he was forty-eight, he was stone-cold deaf.  Which makes it all the more amazing that he finished his great Ninth Symphony five years later.  He never really heard it!  He just thought it!

So I lie there with my earphones on, wondering if it ever could have felt to Beethoven like it sounds in my head.  The crescendo rises, and my sternum starts to vibrate.  And by the time the final kettledrum drowns out all those big F’s, I’m on my feet, singing at the top of my lungs in gibberish German with the mighty choir, and jumping up and down as the legendary Fulghumowski directs the final awesome moments of the END OF THE WORLD AND THE COMING OF GOD AND ALL HIS ANGELS, HALLELUJAH! HALLELUJAH! WWHHOOOOOOOOOOM-KABOOMBAM-BAAAAAAAA!

Uplifted, exalted, excited, affirmed, and overwhelmed am I MANALIVE!  Out of all that sorrow and trouble, out of all that frustration and disappointment, out of all that deep and permanent silence, came all that majesty-that outpouring of JOY and exaltation!  He defied his fate with jubilation!

And I never can resist all that truth and beauty.  I just can’t manage to continue to sitting around in my winter ash heap, wringing my hands and feeling sorry for myself, in the face of THAT MUSIC!  Not only does it wipe out spiritual rot, it probably cures colds, too.

So what’s all this noise about winter and rain and bills and taxes? says I to me.  So who needs all this talk about failure and confusion and frustration?  What’s all this noise about life and people being no damned good?

In the midst of oatmeal days, I find within Beethoven’s music an irresistible affirmation.  In deep, spiritual winter, I find inside myself the sun of summer.  And some day, some incredible December night when I am very rich, I am going to rent me a grand hall and a great choir and a mighty symphony orchestra, and stand on the podium and conduct the Ninth.  And I will personally play the kettledrum part all the way through to the glorious end, while simultaneously singing along at the very top of my lungs.  And in the awesome silence that follows, I will bless all-the-gods-that-be for Ludwig van Beethoven, for his Ninth, and his light.



Mrs DM came home from a long day of working with disabled kids .  She looked tired.   , I suggested we retire to our old favorite stuffed chairs  and I would read,…

as in out loud,  while she sipped on a cup of blueberry tea.

I grabbed one of  Fulghum’s books off the shelf.

I periodically post excerpts of Fulghum’s books on my blog.  On the right hand side of the blog home page you’ll see  Robert Fulghum listed.

click it, it will take you to the archives.

Now if you want to know what I like to listen to on  my “oatmeal days,”  my sound of choice is U2.

Personal favorite Shake Rattle and Hu.

I’ll  watch the whole album.

Here’s a little teaser to wet your appetite:


Little Moe

April 30, 2012

Little Moe with the gimpy leg


Rebekah tagged him  little Moe with the gimpy leg within the first couple of days after we got him. (She loves to quote lines out of old movies and said it was  from  Home Alone 2)

We’re raising 60  baby chicks this summer to butcher  in conjunction with 5 other local families.   free range and organic grain to supplement  their caloric intake.  We’ve had them now for 18 days.

While the other 59  chicks will run at the first hint of danger,  Little Moe will just stand there… thousand one, one thousand two… before he hobbles away,dragging his right leg behind him. burying his little body into mass of other baby chicks in the corner of the  room.

You’ve no doubt heard of the term “pecking order”.  There really is such a thing in the animal kingdom.  It comes from the chicken house.

Chickens really do establish who is the top dog (or chicken) in the flock.

Guess who’s @ the bottom of the pecking order?


Little Moe.

I’ve always had a tender spot for the underdog  even back  in school.   While I was not low man on the pecking order,  I was certainly not at the top either.  Which in large measure why I do not  have many fond memories of my time in school.

I hated school.

It got worse once I hit 7th grade.

I can still remember  Ray, Randy, and Jeff pushing Greg out of the locker room with nothing on but his  jock strap.  Where the teacher was I have no idea.  Our locker rooms were right down the hall from the student center…

imagine  getting thrown out  into plain view of a  group of your peers with  little or nothing on…..

Another thing  the bullies  loved to do was come up behind you when you least expected it and pull your  gym shorts down.  they called it de-pants-ing…  Luckily, neither of those things ever happened to me, but I lived in constant fear of it happening from 7th grade right up until my senior year.

There was a girl in our class…Her name was Debbie Cooper. Kids called her “De-coop”    She was from a poor farm family.  She’d developed early, was somewhat over weight, wore thick horn rimmed glasses.  Gary  loved to harass Debbie…until she’d take a swing at him and then he’d laugh.

We had another girl  named Denise.  Pretty.  Transferred into our class  when we were in 6th grade.  Her mom had died and her dad was doing the best  to raise 2 girls and a boy.   I can still remember sitting in our 6th grade choir room, looking outside while another class of 6th graders were   outside for recess.  Gary  (yep, same one)  came up to Denise and pushed her down into the snow.   Where were the teachers????

Denise was shy .

All she wanted was to fit in. Somebody tagged her with the nickname “Scarecrow” ….


Imagine being a girl with a nick name like Scarecrow.

Want to close with  a short plug for an excellent book on this topic of bullying and emotional abuse.

Frank Peretti tells his true story  in the book he’s titled The Wounded Spirit

It is a must read for anyone who has been in the receiving end of this sort of thing.


Getting back to little Moe.  I’ve already decided we’re going to keep him long term…. :-)

Any thoughts or experiences on this whole issue of pecking orders and bullying?

As always thanks for taking the time to read my stuff.  DM


Update 4 hours later.…just brought my tomatoes in for the night.

I’m in the process of “hardening” them…In case you’re new to gardening,   these tomatoes were raised under a grow light in the basement and the cell structure in the plants is not strong enough to handle the wind and elements initially, so for a week or two before I finally plant them in the ground, I set them out during the day, give them a controlled exposure to the elements.

At night I bring them back inside and allow them to recover….unfortunately, a couple of the plants were really  tested today and two of them snapped in half.  My mind instantly went to this blog post about adversity and while some adversity is good for us (as Trish pointed out) making us stronger,  it is possible to  be broken long term…just like this:

Brandywine tomato plant snapped off by the wind  today

2 trays of tomatoes just in from a day of adversity.  Tray on the right doesn’t look to bad.  Tray on the left had a harder day.

Baby Chicks

April 20, 2012

I got a phone call 6:30 AM Thursday morning from the post office.  Our little peepers were in!  Come and get them :-)

Our new Chicken shed in transit.   Found a John Deere wagon running gear on Craigs list for $200.  Ended up spending another $184.00 on 4  good used tires.

I saw a set up like this on a local CSA.  The birds free range during the day and spend the night in the shed, so as not to be eating by coyote’s , racoons etc. @ night.

I had the new chicken shed all set up with two heat lamps, 2 feeders, and a new waterier.  The day the chicks arrived it was windy and cold…even with the heat lamps I was concerned it might be too cold for the chicks so I did what any farmer would do trying to keep the baby animals alive…brought them into the house.  In this case, our living room :-)

I was talking with  Janaan a farmer’s wife earlier this week.  She told us, her husband had brought, baby pigs, chicks, sheep and even a baby calf into their  basement to get them started.

60 baby chicks are in that box just waiting to get out

Here’s what they look like when you pop open the lid :-)

baby chicks spending the night in our living room under the heat lamp

Yes we really do have 60 baby chicks in our living room.

At the water cooler

eating some tasty organic chick starter

birds eye view

Whatch you look’n at???

Here’s some pictures I grabbed of the Internet to get an idea what the chicks will look like when they mature:

Silver- laced Wynadotte




What I would really like to look into now is growing our own non-genetically modified chicken feed for next season…any of you reading this ever come up with your own chicken feed  recipe?  Talk to me.  We have an acre and 1/4 of ground behind the barn just sitting there doing nothing.  DM


Update 4/20/2012  This post originally appeared on my other blog last week/ (it has more to do with things around our acreage)  Let me know if you’d like a link to that blog and I will get it for you.  Thought some of you might get a kick out of the little baby chick pictures. DM

The Sinkhole Syndrome

April 16, 2012

If my private world is in order, it will be because I am convinced that the inner world of the spiritual must govern the outer world of activity


The Sinkhole syndrome

The residents of a Florida apartment building awoke to a terrifying sight outside their windows.  The ground beneath the street in front of their building had literally collapsed, creating a massive depression that Floridian’s call a sinkhole.  Tumbling into the ever-deepening pit were automobiles, pavement, sidewalks, and lawn furniture.  The building itself would obviously be the next to go.

Sinkholes occur, scientists say, when underground streams drain away during seasons of drought, causing the ground at the surface to lose its underlying support.  Suddenly everything simply caves in, leaving people with a frightening suspicious that nothing – not even the earth beneath their feet – is trustworthy.

There are many people whose lives are like one of Florida’s sinkholes.  It is likely that at one time or another many of us have perceived ourselves to be on the verge of a sinkhole – like cave-in.  In the feelings of numbing fatigue, a taste of apparent failure, or the bitter experiences of disillusionment about goals or purposes, we have have sensed something within us about to give way.  We feel we are just a moment from a collapse that will threaten to sweep our entire world into a bottomless pit.  Sometimes there seems to be little that cane be done to prevent such a collapse.  What is wrong?

If we think about it for very long, we may discover the existence of an inner space 0f our private world- about which we were formerly ignorant.  I hope it will become apparent that, if neglected, this private world will not sustain the weight of events and stresses that press upon us.

Some people are surprised and disturbed when they make such a self discovery.  They suddenly realize that they have spent the majority of their time and energy establishing life on the visible level, at the surface.  They have accumulated a host of good and perhaps even excellent assets such as academic degrees, work experience, key relationships and physical strength or beauty.

There is nothing wrong with all of that . But often it is discovered almost too late that the private world of the person is in a state of disorderliness or weakness.  And when that is true, there is  always potential for the sinkhole syndrome.

We must come to see ourselves as living in two very different worlds.  Our outer, or public world is easier to deal with,.  It is much more measurable, visible, and expandable,.  Our outer world consists of work, play possessions, and a host of acquaintances that make up a social network,  It is the part of our existence easiest to evaluate in terms of success, popularity, wealth, and beauty.  But our inner world is more spiritual in nature.  Here is a center in which choices and values can be determined, where solitude and reflection might be pursued….

….Our public worlds are filled with a seeming infinity of demands upon our time, our loyalties, our money, and our energies.  And because these public worlds of ours are so visible, so real, we have to struggle to ignore all there seductions and demands.  They scream for our attention and action.

But there is a private world in every one of us.

A world that may be as infinite in size as we perceive our public worlds, to be.

From the book Ordering Your Private World by Gordon McDonald


I  DM read those words in 1987 as my personal world was on the verge of a   sinkhole collapse.

I was 29 years old.

to be continued…

Adrenal Exhaustion and stress

April 11, 2012

“A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are health and life to the body, but envy, Jealousy and wrath (anger) are rottenness in the bones.”

Eastern proverb


I hit the wall emotionally back in 1987.

I felt like I was in a vice,  crushed between several ” self-induced” pressures.

It was a watershed time in my life.

Of late, I’ve read a couple of blog posts  that took me back to that time in my life…I wished I could sit down with each of those writers over a cup of coffee and visit…Since that’s not probably  going to happen, I thought I would do the next best a portion of a chapter on stress  that one of my daughters is currently reading’s from the book  The Anxiety Cure by Archibald Hart

Chapter 10  Dealing with Overstress

Stress!  Some hate it; others love it.  If you love it, it is more than certain that you will die from it.  Stress is both exciting and painful.  It exhilarates us and gives us energy to achieve, but at the same time, it causes an accelerated wear and tear on our bodies….

Our culture does not train us to manage stress.  If anything, it capitalizes on our stress.  Do you want a promotion in your job?  Then you have to work harder and longer than your nearest rival.  Competition is the name of the game and, if you don’t play the game, you lose….

So what is stress?  Let me suggest a few examples:

Stress is being stretched beyond your limits.  Whenever you are confronted with challenges that you don’t seem to be able to cope with or demands that you don’t have the skills to deal with, your system goes into emergency mode…..

Stress is overextending yourself without adequate time for recovery.  If you have a series of crises in your life where one thing upon another is thrust upon you, your stress level will increase very dramatically.

Stress is believing you can do more than your human frame can take.  Remember my earlier engineering analogy using the term “duty cycle”?  It applies here.  Electric motors have a duty cycle, if you recall, that indicates what percentage of time the motor is designed to run.  If you use it for longer than its duty cycle, it will burn out.  That’s a fact of engineering.  No engine or motor is designed to run all the time without a break – without some sort of rest.  Remember that the human body is no different.  In fact the human body has a much lower duty cycle than most machines.

Adrenal Exhaustion

…it does not happen overnight but progresses through a series of stages.  In the first stage of fighting stress, the adrenal glands tend to overproduce.  They produce high amounts of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol.  As the stress keeps going, the glands begin to expand their production and can begin to feel overtaxed.

The second stage now beings as the glands  begin to temporarily under-function.  You will find that the adrenal glands “crash” because they are depleted.  This leaves you feeling fatigued a lot of the time, especially when you let down at weekends or in the evenings.

If you are healthy, the third stage now sets in.  Your glands compensate for coming up short and begin to rebuild themselves, adapting to the higher demand by actually enlarging so as to compensate for the higher demand for their service.

If the high level of stress continues, a fourth stage sets in.  The glands again eventually exhaust themselves and remain in a chronic state of under-functioning.  At this stage, they can oscillate between over producing  adrenaline, causing panic or mood swings like depression, then crashing and under-producing adrenaline the rest of the time.  With insufficient stress fighting hormones, you will tend to have  difficulty handling any stressful situation.  You will feel as if you are falling apart.  At this point, your stress tolerance is exhausted…..

How can you know if adrenal exhaustion has set in?  Here are some telltale signs:

A sense of chronic low stress tolerance

Frequent feelings of fatigue

Repeated bouts of depression, especially when you stop work or try to relax

Worsening allergies or asthma

Cravings for substances that provide stimulation

Addiction to caffeine.

How do you recover from a chronic state of adrenal exhaustion?  By consistently working at lowering adrenal arousal to allow your system to “reset” itself.  Your body needs time to heal and to adpat to a lower level of functioning.  Here are the general guidelines:

Simplify your lifestyle and reduce stress to the absolute minimum./  Take up a hobby.  Get lots of fresh air and sunshine.

Increase your sleep to a minimum of between 8 and 1/2 to 9 hours a night.  (I’ll have more to say about this in chapter 14)

Eliminate all stimulants, especially, caffeine, as well as nicotine, alcohol, and recreational drugs.  These play havoc with your body’s chemistry.

Eliminate all  foods that may disturb your digestion or cause allergies

Supplement your diet with vitamins such as B-Complex C and E

Take yourself less seriously and treat life more respectfully…


End of quote.

Back in 1987  I  (DM) made radical lifestyle choices to bring my life back under control.  I hope I never find myself under that much self induced pressure and stress.  As a former people please-er, I ruthlessly guard my free time….my evenings and weekends.

There is more I could tell you,  but since you didn’t ask, I’ll stop here.

ps  there is a great self evaluation stress  test in the chapter I may post if anyone is interested…

pss.  More than once, I’ve heard some zealous fool brag about burning the candle on both ends as if somehow God was pleased with their fervor.

He doesn’t need our “burning out”   Why do you think he created us with the built-in  need to sleep a 1/3 of our lives away?  I think it’s so we’ll have less time to screw things up. :-)

So to all you driven workaholics.  (I can say this because I was one)


Build some margin into your life.  (make sure you click that link if you’ve read this far) ;-)

You’ll last  longer.

As always, thanks for reading along. DM


Update 4/14/2012 

Here’s that stress test Wa Makeri:

Telltale signs of too much stress

 How can you tell if you have too much stress in your life?  Here is a baker’s dozen of important symptoms.  Look at these telltale signs and give yourself the following scores:

( 0)  if you never experience this symptom

(1) if you experience it say once a month

(2) if you experience it between once a month and once a week

(3) if you experience it often (more than once a week)

1.  Do you experience headaches of any sort?

2.  Does your heart pound, feel irregular, or skip beats?

3. Do you feel a lot of muscle tension or stiffness in your joints?

4. D you ever feel dizzy or lightheaded?

5. Do you get sick often (colds, flue, or throat problems)?

6. Does indigestion, nausea, or other stomach discomfort bother you, or do you suffer from stomach ulcers?

7. Do you have difficulty sleeping, falling asleep, or waking up too early?

8. Do you typically have to wake up to an alarm still feeling tired?

9. Does your mind become very active and race a lot?

10. Do you grind your teeth or does your jaw ache?

11. Do you become very excited when you engage in challenging activities?

12. Do you get angry quickly or feel a deep sense of injustice whenever things go wrong?

13. Do you suffer from high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol?


     If you scored between 0 and 8 you probably have little or no stress.  Seek help only if one or two points of discomfort bother you and especially if you answered yes to question 13

A score of 9 to 15 indicates a fair amount of stress.  If any of the symptoms has been around for a long time you may need help in getting rid of it.

A score of 16 to 30 indicates a high level of stress.  You could benefit from professional help

If your score is more than 30, your stress level is extremely high.  You should seek professional help right away.

Arne Saknussemm

February 24, 2012

In 1864 Jules Verne wrote  Journey to the Center of the Earth, a fictional story of 3 men, following in the footsteps of a Mr Arne Saknussemm, to the very center of the earth.  They encountered trials and situations beyond their wildest dreams.  At certain critical points, they would discover the name:

(Arne Saknussemm) carved into rock. That meant that in spite of what they were going through, that yes, they were on the right course.  Arne had been through this very same area and had returned to the surface to tell about his adventure, so they could keep pressing on.

I became a Christian May 4th 7:48 PM 1980.    Since that time, I have on occasion found myself in various  trying situations , some relatively short-term, others that caused me to stumble for weeks and months. For the most part, I have felt alone as I would attempt to gain (or keep) my spiritual bearings. Most of the mentoring that God has used to keep me on track has come in the form of good books and biographies.

While I am thankful for all of those timely books, I believe there is a better way….somebody who could have looked me in the eye and said, “Yes, I hear you,” or “Yes, I too can relate to what you are struggling with,” or “What you are going through happens more often than you might suspect.”

I am not talking about quoting verses about this or that, or telling you to “claim the victory” or other cheap trite platitudes.  Rather, as one battle hardened, battle- weary soldier to another.

All of us, sooner or later, to one degree or another, will taste many of the same pains:  Addictions, depression, grief, loss, betrayal, rejection, slander, loved ones who wrong us in a significant way, other Christians who turn on us, etc. etc.  Really, the list is endless.  Not one of them will come into our lives without first having to pass through the hands of God.

Even as Satan (yep, I do believe he’s real) could not touch so much as one of the hairs on Job’s camels without God’s permission, so too, nothing comes into our lives without the same permission.  There is not one harsh word, one look, one bit of slander, not one wrong doing that comes into our lives without first passing through the nail- pierced hands of Jesus.

Let me close by sharing a few things  I learned when I passed through an extended season of depression and discouragement, at a time where I lost all but one my closest friends,  and my life goal suddenly disappeared right before my very eyes. (I’m not talking about some short term, project, but something I had invested years of my life.)

#1  My focus was to remain “connected” and “soft” to God and  other people.  when I was tempted to get angry ( I was and you will be)  I could not afford to harbor bitterness.  Instead  I needed to pray God’s best over their lives.  I did it, and so can you.

#2  I wrote out my inner turmoil on paper.  Gradually it helped to clarify the many feelings and thoughts swirling around in my head.

#3  If you are depressed, you are in great company.  Elijah, David, Spurgeon, Luther, Winston Churchill and a host of modern day Christians have walked where you are walking.   Sometimes, it’s not due to any wrong doing on your part whatsoever.  Sometimes it is as simple as “burning the candle on both ends.”  Vince Lombardi put it like this; ” Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”

#4  Schedule some R and R into your life. (Remember Elijah?  God sent him to a B and B (well sort of);-) to recharge)

#5  Seek Godly counsel, someone removed from your situation with whom you can “unpack” the whole tangled mess.  My experience has been that some of these things are rather complicated.

#6 Don’t beat yourself up, cut yourself some slack, be patient with yourself.


I originally wrote this back in 2000.  Since that time, I’ve dealt with the sexual assault of a daughter,  some heavy duty marriage stress,  one child landing in jail for drunk driving, just to name 3 significant life events.  I’m still on track and plodding .  DM

Top 5 Regrets of the dying and why I don’t have them

February 7, 2012

Granddaughter and friend dancing @  one of our music festivals

I  (DM) celebrated another birthday yesterday.  I still feel  like I’m 28…   I love getting older. (so far at least)  I’m still  physically fit (just ask my 30 yr old daughter Angie about that) :-)  One of the reasons I love life as much as I do can be traced to the following article by Bronnie Ware.  

I don’t have any regrets. Honest.  

Have I messed up on occasion?  Oh yes, very much so. 

Am I perfect?  Not on your life.  Just ask my wife, she’s got lots of dirt on me. 

Have I been the perfect parent? Nope, done some very stupid things on occasion...very

But  I have learned the secret of not wallowing  when I do screw up. 

Nothing gained by self flagellation.

Dust yourself off, and get back in the game.

 Here’s that article.  Let me know what you think.


“For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last 3 to 12 weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

(That is where having your own bucket list comes into play.  I have actively used one for years, even though I didn’t call it that in the beginning.  If you need any help w/ yours, let me know I’ve taught a workshop on how  to write your own bucket list several times/ gotten some great feedback on it. DM)  You can also read  a portion of my bucket list here.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

(Here’s a blog post I wrote back in 07 that pertains to this regret/ working too much. DM)

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.


4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.”

This post was originally published on Inspiration and Chai.

Bronnie Ware is a writer and songwriter from Australia who spent several years caring for dying people in their homes. She has recently released a full-length book titled ‘The Top Five Regrets of the Dying – A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing’. It is a memoir of her own life and how it was transformed through the regrets of the dying people she cared for. For more information, please visit Bronnie’s official website at or her blog at



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