Who Supports You?

Are you one of these persons that everyone calls in a crisis? Do you know just what to say and when? Have been there to take charge and calm the mob from burning the town?
Perhaps not the later, though if you’ve done that do email me the details – I’d love to know about it! But if you’re reading this the rest of previous paragraph probably describes you. I know it clearer speaks about many of my readers who I know personally. The question is, To whom do you turn to when times get tough?
It can be a difficult question to answer, particularly if you are a leader, a minister, a supervisor, or just that one particular person everyone thinks has it all together all the time. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I will. I’ve been seen that way since I was 17 years old. At the time I had a real problem that finally came to light. The people who helped me had no idea anything was wrong. “We thought you had the world by the tail,” I was told.
I didn’t. I couldn’t find my own tail let alone anyone else’s. I was fortunate and blessed to have people who cared enough about me to intervene in my life and stop what was fast becoming a downward spiral. The fact is, however, it doesn’t have to get that bad to be dangerous.
Is there something in your life that you keep putting on hold? Something that bothers you, that you know you ought to take care of, yet something you never seem to have the time or strength to address? If so, I encourage you to reach out today for some kind of support to get you through whatever the issue is. It may be contacting a counselor or minister for guidance. I might just be coffee with a friend. Whatever it is for you, please take the time to take care of yourself.
I can’t force you to do this, but would you be willing this week to do just one simple, loving thing that is just for you? In other words, take some time to bask in a completely selfish act of some kind that nurtures, revitalizes and pleases you. If it’s something you’d like to share, skip down to the bottom and leave a comment. Who knows, perhaps that one thing you do this week will be just what someone else is looking for to help themselves! Have a great week!
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Are you “too” independent?

Do you ever feel like getting someone to help you with a project, or seeking counsel when you’re stuck in some way, is a sign of weakness? To some people, if they can’t figure out a problem by themselves they think they have failed. This type of person seems to believe that they should be able to handle anything. If you feel this way from time-to-time you know the kind of emotionally and physically stress it can put on you. I know. I’ve been there. My name is Terry and I’m a “recovering independent-holic!”
I remember how I felt when I began caring for my aging father. Before I was able to get a county aide in several times a week, and prior to when I was able to arrange hospice care, I was his primary caregiver living nearly 200 miles away from him. I traveled over three hours in one direction to get from our house to his apartment across the state. I spent the day grocery shopping, cleaning, doing laundry … and listening to him complain about the way I did just about everything. In between visits I worried constantly about whether or not he was okay.
I quickly learned that although he needed my help he also needed to be in charge. By having him come out to the kitchen and tell me where to place the groceries I’d just purchased he became more involved with his own care. That helped him to better deal with his situation, but it did little for me. I still found myself feeling inadequate, as if I should be able to anticipate his needs and provide for him before he asked.
He wasn’t the first person needing hospice care that I’d assisted. One of my first ministerial assignments began in 1989 when I became director of visitation for our church, providing services for people with HIV/AIDS in various Los Angeles hospitals and hospices. When I began caring for my dad I was already an experienced minister, had just received my first licensed as a social worker, and had a master’s degree in that field. In my mind these facts only upped the ante for me to set higher standards for myself than I was capable of attaining. Surely I should know how to handle this!
Well, I didn’t. I had all that prior experience, training and expertise that was useful in caring for strangers and teaching others, but precious few of those tools made sense to me when I looked at my own father. After three months of eighteen-hour days once a week I sat at his feet in front of his recliner, looked up at him and said through my tears, “I don’t know now to do this. I just don’t know how to do this anymore.” He just stared at me. I told him I was doing my very best, but nothing I did seemed to be good enough. I told him I felt like I was completely failing him in providing for even his basic needs. I suggested he find someone who could help him the way he wanted, because I was tired of crying all the way back home every week and feeling helpless about it.
He started crying. My vulnerability and refusal to think I had all the answers opened the door for him to admit how useless he felt, how angry he was that he couldn’t do even the simplest of tasks for himself, and how much he resented having to rely on the son he felt he’d failed as a father. After 50-plus years of being at odds with one another I honestly think I felt our hearts crack open. It was a breakthrough moment for us both. Over the next three years we still had our differences and disagreements (many quite unpleasant for one or both of us, if you must know!), but most of the time we worked as an interdependent, symbiotic unit to direct his care until he passed quietly one morning.
Ultimately, all we have at the end of the day is whether or not we are happy with our life; no one else but us is responsible for our happiness. Still, in this amazing universe in which we live, move and have our being, we are surrounded by other independent, autonomous spirits having their own human experience. Why not help one another instead of competing, isolating and alienating?
Here’s a thought for you to ponder and play with this week if you desire. If you’re stumped with a situation, even after meditating or approaching the problem through affirmative prayer (like the spiritual mind treatment I’ve written about before), why not ask for help? Where would you find that? In the people around you, that’s where! They can be a trusted friend, a partner/spouse, a mentor, a minister, your spiritual guide or a therapist.
It’s not a sign of weakness or lack of independence to seek help. I find doing so takes the edge off of feeling like I have to do everything. Would you be willing to give that a try this week? Is there something you would like to move through or beyond? I’d be happy to be there for you. If so, reach out by contacting me at:  terry@terrydrewkaranen.com. It would be my honor to support you!
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Terry

Exposed

I’ve been feeling extremely vulnerable lately. It started last Thursday when I got sick with bronchitis and could not to go to work; I’m still recovering. I’m not used to feeling sick or at least so sick that I can hardly move, let alone trying to do all the things I normally do on a weekly basis. It’s left me in the position of relying on others, even to the point of having someone pick up medication for me.
Beyond feeling vulnerable I feel exposed as well. The experience has made me realize how much of my life I’ve had to discuss with my family this week, things that I normally keep to myself because I’m busy being busy. They want me to stay in bed to rest. I try to explain that I have a weekly blog to get out, a talk to write for Sunday, an article to prepare for a publisher due by the end of the month, and another chapter to write for my upcoming book, From the Trailer Park to the Pulpit:  How the wisdom of Grandma Esther helped shaped my life and ministry. The response I got was a blank stare with a slightly raised eyebrow and a stern finger pointed in the direction of the bedroom. For those of you who know my partner, Paul, I need say no more. We’ve gotten used to his British accent, but how he can look at me with a British accent is beyond my comprehension.
Another way I have exposed myself is by sending out a few sections of my new book to people who have agreed to read the sections and critique the direction I’m taking with the project. In doing that I’m exposing my work and leaving myself wide open to criticism, even ridicule. However, there is something else that relying on others during my convalescence and inviting critiques has done for me, and that has been the blessing this week.
Asking others for help allows them to serve us. Most people genuinely want to help and given the opportunity will jump at the chance. When we help others we find our own problems set aside for at least a moment. When we have completed our task and return to our own challenges those problems will often seem less monumental.
In allowing ourselves to be critiqued, be it our writing, a new hairstyle or the possibility of making a major life change, we open ourselves up to two benefits many of us forget might be possible:  agreement and support. Often when we are starting on a project, like writing another book in my case, there may be a bit of doubt in our minds, what I call “fear of success.” It is fear of success, not fear of failure, which stops most of us from being the people we want to be and doing the things we want to do. Yes, I’ve received some hard critiques, but even those have included great support for achieving my goal of having the book published by the end of the year.
Consider opening yourself up a little more this week to people you know you can trust. Can you allow others into your life to help you with a project or support you in a change you want to make? Would you be willing to ask for someone’s opinion, not to make a decision for you, but to garner another, less biased viewpoint? We’re all One in the universal consciousness, but on this earth plane we are here to love and support one another. I invite you to give it a try.
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Terry