Recovery · Spiritual

Recovery – The Knot at the End of Your Rope (that Becomes a Ladder)

By: JANA GREENE

I am watching “Intervention,” which is a great series, but very heavy subject matter. I watch a lot of TV when I’m having a high-pain day. I used to feel guilty about watching TV in the middle of the day, because AYYYYYY! If I can feel guilty about something, I’m going to glom on to that shit. It’s familiar to me. But I’m learning to go easier on myself.

I watch Intervention because I admire interventionists, recovery is an incredible journey, and I’m a huge fan of observing “what makes people tick.” Psychology fascinates me.
And mostly, I love the show because some folks rise from the ashes like a phoenix, and that stuff is inspiring.

Intervention hits especially hard because I’m an alcoholic. It’s been 22 years since my last drink.

When I got sober, I didn’t think it would “stick” but I just kept NOT having a drink that day. And then the next day, always eternally promising myself I would not drink today.

I now have 8,066 days alcohol-free. That’s a miracle.

I wish everyone got their miracle. I truly believe it’s possible for everyone. Not on the other side of this life, but IN this one. And I don’t know why I made it out of active alcoholism while many do not. It’s easy to feel survivor’s guilt about it. But that’s a blog post for another day.

On January 2, 2001, I took my last drink. I was turning yellow. My body was demanding alcohol by every day’s end. But when I would drink, my body would also reject the alcohol, in a most unpleasant and projectile manner.

And nobody knew how much I was drinking. I mean, NO one. So the shame factor was tremendous.

I was trying to drown Trauma that knew how to swim like Michael Phelps, without even knowing that’s what I was doing.

When I first got sober, it was on this brand new technology – the INTERNET! The support group was “Alcoholism in Women” AOL. Yep. America Online, people.

I’d like to write about that experience (maybe later this week?) Recovery puts you in a vulnerable place. One of those ladies is still a dear friend to this day. But some of them didn’t make it out.

Some of those precious, strong, beautiful souls lost their lives to alcohol. It’s heartbreaking.

As far as I can tell, the purpose for making it through something hard is to help someone else get through something hard. That’s why I’m open about why I don’t drink.

At the end of each episode of Intervention, there is a segment that shows whether or not the addict chooses to get help, and usually includes a short follow up. Some refuse help outright. Some go but don’t take advantage fully of the help.

But some of them – many – get their new start. They grab onto it with both hands, with the same passion they had for their drug (which is what it takes,) and it’s the most beautiful thing in the world. Makes my heart soar!

That’s what I wish for every addict and alcoholic. It’s possible for all of us, but we have to be willing to do anything to keep healthy.

If you are drinking more than anyone knows,
If you feel hopeless and full of shame,
If you cannot imagine your life improving vastly,
If you think you’ve really blown it this time,
If your heart is raw from a lifetime of trauma,
If you wonder if you’re worth it…

You’re in the PERFECT place to claim a new life.

If you’re at the end of your rope, grab on to the knot – help and support – and it will become a ladder that leads you into a new life.

Recovery is so flippin’ Beautiful and REAL. And it’s perfect for YOU. It’s not for other people, it’s for you. So that you can have the life you deserve.

I think of my AOL sisters from time to time; the ones who didn’t make it out. I wonder where they would be now, if they just didn’t pick up a drink that day. I suspect at the heart of it, they didn’t believe they were worthy of a better, sober life.

So I’m just writing this today to tell you that you’re worth it.

Please out resources and help. There is no shame in asking for help. And do whatever it takes to live the recovery life. Glom onto it, obsess about recovery just as you have the drink.

We already know how to be obsessed; find out what switching obsessions can do for you (and the people who love you.)

Find out what truly makes YOU tick, because I guarantee you’re fascinating in ways you don’t even know yet. I’ll bet you’ve forgotten who you truly are, while in your addiction. Life is hard, but also so good. I promise. You can do this.

God bless us, every one.

Spiritual

I Don’t Know (and it’s okay)

Photo by Leeloo Thefirst on Pexels.com

By: Jana Greene

I don’t watch the news. At all.

I used to think that it made me a horribly unpatriotic American if I didn’t know EVERYTHING going on nationally and globally. I now know that it only makes me a person protecting her fragile mental health. PERIOD. If it’s earth-shattering, it will crawl across my Facebook feed, and I will deal with the anxiety as it presents.

“I don’t know” is one of my favorite phrases these days.

As a former fundamentalist, I also used to think I had all the answers…. the important ones anyway. It was my security blanket; all I’ve ever known. But having shed that blanket, I can see how threadbare it was. I took it to bed with me every night because surely to know what’s going on is certainty, right?

“Fundamentalist” means that a belief it rooted in something so obviously true, it’s fundamental.

“I don’t know” was the antithesis of faith and the admission of weakness, back in the day. Thinking you know the purpose of your life and everyone else’s makes you cocky like that – demanding that no questions are asked, and no boat is rocked.

Knowing facts about people, places, things, and the state of the world has nothing to do with our primary purpose…

Which is to love.

Knowing is collecting “facts” with which to make judgments. Making judgements is central to our survival as a species but is useless when determining whether or not to invest in other humans. Above all else, we need connection; to be understood beyond “head knowledge.”

Knowing is not loving, you see.

“But what if they are all so WRONG?” I mean LOOK AT THIS MESS!

Yup. That’s a mess right there. Everywhere. Messy, messy, messy.

These days, I have no earthly idea what the hell is happening. If I peek onto a news site, I regret it almost immediately. I can’t handle what is going on in the Ukraine, although I pray for the people regularly. I can’t handle the imagery, the crushing sadness of it. I can barely handle what’s up in my own body some days.

Here’s the truth: It’s not that I don’t care. Empaths care entirely too much about what’s happening. I’ll say it: My fragile mental health simply cannot hande a constant stream of doom and despair. I absorb like a sponge and it’s really hard to wring myself back out when I “go there.”

“I don’t know” comes in handy in a myriad of ways.

I don’t know anymore where the world is going. I used to believe in prophesies of old, but they are awfully dark, and my mind is already prone to going dark places already. I have a tendency to wallow in my dark places, so I don’t need extra help gathering fuel for the fire. I’d rather be light and salt to this crazy place, and I’ve learned that if I’m a sniveling Chicken Little screaming “the sky is falling!” whilst running in circles, it behooves no one. Sniveling Chicken Little used to be my spirit animal.

I don’t know why I’m chronically sick and in pain all the time. It certainly doesn’t seem fair. I’ve read everything about my conditions. I know ALLTHETHINGS about it. It doesn’t help me put one foot in front of the other on hard days. That’s LOVE, baby. Not knowledge. Not fear.

I’ve shaken my fist at the Almighty. I’ve had cross words with God. All because “I DON’T UNDERSTAND!” But in my unknowing, I don’t blame God, bargain with God, turn my back on God anymore. Because even though I don’t know and understand the why’s of it, I don’t believe it hinders his great love for me at all.

I’ll go so far as to say, I wasn’t ready to surrender to LOVE until I was ready to say, “I don’t know.” And it’s a learning curve every day.

It doesn’t bother me that I don’t know things. But I hope Love never stops revealing itself to me, in its purest, unknowable glory.

You shall know the truth, and it shall set you free. And the truth is Love only. Pure and simple.

And if you are an extreme feeler too, this is your sign to step away from the media madness.

Blessed be friends.

health · Spiritual

Would you Want a Diagnosis if there were no Cure? (The answer is “yes”)

By: JANA GREENE

What good is getting an accurate diagnosis, if there’s no cure? A woman I follow on Social media posed this question and it got me thinking. She also has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.

Knowledge is power, and it explained a whole lifetime of things.

Every day of second grade, I had to spend afternoons with a tutor after school because I held my pencil “wrong.” I physically cannot hold it that way. My fingers wouldn’t work, still don’t.

I’ve had bad migraines all my life.

I cut myself constantly with knives in the kitchen, even as a kid. I’ve managed to cut myself with safety scissors.

Buttons are the devil.

Physical Education class was a nightmare. I kept getting injured doing the simplest things, and “sat out” many times, resulting “F’s” in cthat class. Turned ankles. Sprains. PE teachers are MERCILESS. I was fussed at for “not trying.” Or worse – “faking.” Id love to look them up and let them know what’s up.

I thought everyone got dizzy tying their shoes, every time.

Having a super shitty immune function, was sick constantly. Wouldn’t find out until adulthood I have immune deficiency.

I was in some degree of pain at all times – every joint. As far back as I can remember. Of course as the laxity in my joints increases with age, the pain gets worse.

My ankles are so weak, I broke my right one in two places from standing getting up to pee in thre middle of the night. Just torqued it wrong. I was so accustomed to pain, I walked on it for 11 days anyway before going to the doctor.

I always required more anesthesia, which is a redhead thing and an EDS thing.

There was a reason my body cannot do autonomic functions adequately – tempature regulation, blood pressure – just can’t handle it. The fluctuations that were such a mystery all my life make sense.

The hyper-mobility made for some good “party tricks” – contortionist stuff with knees and elbows, etc., but I had no idea it was a medical issue ad a young adult.

Knowing what was wrong – even though there is no cure and no really effective treatment – was momentous.

It means the difference between managing symptoms with some chance of alleviating some of the severity. It means the enlightenment of your own body, after feeling like you were made defectively.

I’m not defective. Just sick. And that’s okay.

It’s gonna have to be.

Poetry

How to Spend Time with God (spoiler alert: Just BE) – a little poetry jam

Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels.com

By: JANA GREENE

“What’s the best way to spend time with God?”

Was the question asked of me.

Which seemed odd

Because my God

Is never an absentee.

I thought the right devotional,

Holy coffee at first morning light,

Following all the rules and laws,

Was a formula for winning the fight.

But now God and I,

Thick as thieves,

Do life together every day.

Every breath is spending time,

Plain speak is how I pray.

I hear his voice in the laughter

Of my beloved friends and kin,

I hear him in the cries,

Of suffering women and men.

He cooks with me in the kitchen,

He follows me to the shop,

We have constant conversations,

Impossible to stop.

A reverie of souls,

Because we’re ONE, you see.

I cannot be away from him,

And he won’t stay away from me.

I need no formal reason

To label time with my Source.

He’s in every place,

Runs every race,

By my side, of course.

Here’s how to spend time with God

If you’re asking me:

Take a deep and healing breath

And just manage to BE.

Spiritual

10 Insomnia Thoughts so Deep, You’ll Forget how to Fall Back Asleep

By: JANA GREENE

Good night / day, friends. What do you think about when you can’t sleep?

It is 4:30 in the morning, and I got up to pee about 2 long hours ago.

I am still awake because THOUGHTS. Here is a short list of things my mind decides to entertain in the stone-fold middle of the night:

1. I worry about my kids, especially in the wee hours of the morn. I worry for them individually and as a whole. I worry that I worry too much. I worry that I don’t worry enough.

2. A dear friend just lost another beloved pet yesterday, and my heart breaks for her, my own heart still grieving my special Catsby. Oh the loss, loss, loss of the past three years, across the board. The loss of people, animals, ways of life.

3. Why did I ever think God moved Heaven and Earth for me to get a good parking space, while children in the world are starving. SMH.

4. The intelligence of every living thing. This subject weaves itself in my waking and sleeping life. I dream of vast galaxies and our place in them. I ponder much on the minutiae too. Life-creating mitochondria. Every cell in every tree, leaf, and flower is bursting with evidence of divinity. Every single one of us is life made of a zillion pieces of life, the whole cosmos a part of us too.

5. We have no idea what lives in the ocean, really. And that’s part of the allure. Damn, I miss swimming in the ocean.

6. I miss my mother-in-law. Really miss her. She was really something special. I miss having a “mom.”

7. How much pain will I be able to stand before I can’t stand it any more with this stupid disease? Everyone has a limit; not knowing where mine lies can be scary.

8. Estrangement is the weirdest thing ever, but boundaries are the best thing ever. And that makes for industrial-grade emotional f*ckery.

9. Religion is the opiate of the masses, they say, and I’ve officially OD’d. Just LOVE for me going forward, thanks. I’m over labels. Check please!

10. Feeling long-expired pangs of social angst anew about that one time I was unintentionally rude to someone (but I was just socially overwhelmed.) Oh, and the approximately 7 million additional times I was socially awkward. OOF.

That’s just a sampling. I wonder what it’s like to have insomnia thoughts like: “I need to get the oil changed,” or “I think we are out of detergent.” What’s that even LIKE?

And so I’m finally tired now again, feeling the heavy cream of sleepiness pour over me. My mind eases, I feel God’s comfort. I open my palms in a physical relinquishing of worries before closing my eyes…

Great. I have to pee again. 😂

Poetry · Spiritual

Reverence Remix (a poetry jam)

Photo by Luis del Ru00edo on Pexels.com

By: JANA GREENE

Whisper in church, they say.

Be REVERENT in this place,

Shake the hands,

Bow your head,

Pull the mask over your face.

But to revere

Is not to fear,

And no walls contain it’s form.

We are never called to a stillness

To which we can’t conform.

I find that nature

Brings out the reverence in me.

The ocean a temple,

Living water in the seas.

Ebbing and flowing,

Aching with glory,

Nature is where

I write my life’s story.

Give me the forest,

Life pulsing with force,

Growth and blossoming

Running a perfect course.

Reverence is a deer

Pausing by a creek.

Reverence is found in every tear

Falling down a mourner’s cheek.

It’s a whole-body hug,

Hearts so close together,

Synching up a holy,

Hallowed and sacred tether.

Reverence is presence

Living in the now,

With no particular regard

For life’s when’s, why’s, and hows.

The Earth is sacrosanct,

Every inch sacred ground,

And there in that sweet majesty,

I find God all around.

ehlers danlos syndrome · Spiritual

Order UP! (At the Ehlers Danlos Cafe)

Photo by La Miko on Pexels.com

By: JANA GREENE

SERVER: “Welcome to the Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Cafe. My name is Susan and I’ll be taking care of you today. Have you been here before?”

ME: “Hi, Susan. Yes. I come here every single day. I’ll have the Low-Pain Day, with and some type of actual Energy as my side. Please leave off the Crushing Exhaustion and add a side of Gratitude.”

SERVER: “Well, that’s great you want to try the Gratitude! It’s my personal favorite. Hold up;.let me check with the kitchen. * Checks with kitchen. * “Sorry, we sold out of that a while back.”

ME: “Fine. Let’s see…I’ll take some Good Rest as an appetizer…”

SERVER: “We’re out…supply chain demands and whatnot.”

ME: “Right. Supply chain issues.”

SERVER: Let me tell you about our specials! We have plenty of Fresh Pain – just got it in! It comes topped with some Sauce of Fustration, over a bed of WTF NOT THIS AGAIN.”

ME: “Um, no thank you?”

SERVER: “Our Shoulder Sh*t Show entree is really a main event. It includes an ingredient so spicy, you’ll want to pull your arms completely out of the sockets and jump into an active volcano. Holy rotator cuff, Batman!”

ME: “Um, I kind of already do want to jump into an active volcano,…”

SERVER: “Or if you’d like the milder dish, order the T-Rex Special will make you function all day long with tiny little T-Rex arms because your elbows and wrists are hyperextending. Oh, and it’s served with a nice Thumb Dislocation Reduction.”

ME: “This restaurant sucks.”

SERVER: “We also have nice Gravel Knee Supreme as well, a slightly piquant exquisite pain with every step you take, and a knee joint that bends so far backward, you’ll look like the Rubber Band Man, and sounds like 1000 Hummers driving down a gravel road.”

ME: “Hard pass.”

SERVER: “Our last special is a SAMPLER! Shoulder, Knee, AND Hip Subluxations, so that whether you’re standing or sitting (or walking or laying down,) there is 100% guarantee, it ‘gon HURT like a MoFo.”.

ME: “Lick Rust.”

SERVER: “WHOA! No need to get snappy.”

ME: “Listen… all I really want to do is have a good day. I guess I’ll just take an order of Wasting the Whole Day in Bed Like the Granddad in Willie Wonka.”

SERVER: “Do you want guilt sprinkles?”

ME: “What??”

SERVER: “Do you want to feel guilty for not getting out of bed all day?”

ME: “No, not particularly.”

SERVER: “Guilt sprinkles it is! You also get two sides.”

ME: “Okay well then, for my first side, NO Barfing today. And don’t bring out the Slipped Ribs from throwing up. I don’t even want them on a separate plate. I’ve had it every day this week.”

SERVER: “We are outta ‘Not Barfing. Maybe tomorrow.”

ME: “Can I just order a Decent ATTITUDE, then?”

SERVER: “We don’t serve that here. You have to bring your own.…the attitude.”

ME: “Eat glass.”

SERVER: “just for being so sassy, how ‘bout a Blinding Migraine? It’s a 2-fer on sale this week.”

ME: “Kindly bugger off.”

SERVER: “We have a nice Vintage Dizzy Spell? You usually have at least one every day, and you can get it to go.”

ME: “Get bent. Can I cancel my order altogether?”

SERVER: “Oof I’m sorry, it’s already been put in at the kitchen.”

ME: “When did that happen? I just got here!”

SERVER: “Looks like … let me see….January 24, 1969.”

ME: “Doesn’t sound like you use very fresh ingredients…”

SERVER: “Yeah, we only use the stalest ingredients for maximum creakiness, immune function overreaction, and gourmet pain. We have the largest variety of pain sensations in all the world!”

ME: “How proud you must be.”

SERVER: “Will we be chasing our sorrows, er…um, I mean MEAL with a beverage today? Perhaps a margarita?”

ME: * blinks incredulously * “I’m an alcoholic in recovery, so no thanks.”

SERVER: “Wow, that’s unfortunate. A nice Chardonnay would probably ease the pain,”

ME: “Get thee behind me Satan”

SERVER: “It’s SUSAN.”

Me: “Whatever. Just bring me some medical cannabis and a Topo Chico, please.”

SERVER: “How about a nice anxiety spiral for dessert?’

ME: &%$#@! off. &%$#@! ALL the way off, ENTIRELY.

Spiritual

Reflecting on the Value of Friendship (on Christmas and Every Day)

By: JANA GREENE

This Christmas, I’m a lot of things: Wrung out, excited, frustrated, joyous, worried, sick, melancholy, and content – all at once. But one thing stands out more than any other this year – humbled and thankful for FRIENDSHIP.
So Merry Christmas, friends – old and new.
You enrich my life.
It may be true for some of us that we met in cyberspace, but every meeting of souls is a divine appointment. I’m so grateful for you.
If we know one another in person, thank you too for being a part of my life.
If I don’t see you very often or we have drifted apart, know if I loved you once, I love you always
For those struggling this holiday, I wish you peace that passes understanding.
For those of you mired in worry, I see you, and I feel your pain.
For those who are lonely, I’m love-bombing you in the Spiritual realm. And I’ll sit with you in the physical realm until you feel better.
To those who are so patient with my limitations, you make me feel unconditionally loved. Thank you for that.
To those grieving a loss this year, I’m grieving alongside you.
All this to say, I’m the MOST blessed lady to have EVERY one of you in my life and as sappy as it is, that’s the TRUTH.
Thank you for being a friend.

Spiritual

Time (a poem)

Let them make messes, Mama

By: JANA GREENE

When the world was younger
And so was I…
I was always so certain
I understood time.
My children had problems
That I could mend,..
Things I could fix,
Advice I could lend,
And now that they’re grown
(And somehow am I,)
The less I grasp
the reason why
The days were so long,
But the years flew on by.

Indeed, they did fly by.


❤️

humor · Spiritual

By: JANA GREENE

Today I’m writing a little lighter fare. This hilarious meme inspired me, because all my life I’ve longed to be a tan person.

I love the sun. I love being outdoors.

I think darker skin tones are the most beautiful.

I guess you could say (and please don’t take offense…) I’m “trans-tan,” in that I kind of “identify” as a tan person trapped in the body of a PASTY-ASS, LILLY WHITE, POTATO FAMINE-SURVIVING, PERSON FROM THE ISLAND OF CAUCUSES.

Not a drop of any nationality which might have rendered my melatonin anything but RICE got into my DNA.

When I got the 23 and Me results and saw that yep, I am officially 50 shades of mayonnaise, tbh it was was a little depressing. I am fascinated and enraptured by other cultures and places. Would have loved a little spice in my plain oatmeal.

But buying makeup is easy…give me the foundation shades “Walk towards the Light,” or “Antarctic Albino,” and I’ll be on my merry way.

Spiritual

Speak Up, Child

By: JANA GREENE

I speak up for myself now.
Well, sometimes.
As long as it doesn’t rock the boat TOO much.
As long as the person I have conflict with won’t stop loving me because I’m mad.
Only when I’ve rolled the issue OVER and OVER I’m my brain ad nauseam and have decided I’m with a safe person.
Only after I’ve played out the worst case scenario in my head, mini-grieved all possible outcomes.
At times, after I speak my peace, (because I’ve learned my peace has value, too,) I will fret and worry that I’ve upset someone.
Doesn’t matter if it concerns life events or little frustrations, I speak.
Even if it’s a whisper, I speak.
Even though I know assertion-guilt will try to make me feel like a bad human.
I’m starting – with fits and stops – to say when I’ve been hurt or bothered, even though I’ve been a people pleaser all my life.
So…
No,
You cannot talk to me like that. You may not treat me like that.
Little Me had no say, but I’m re-parenting her, you see. I’m protecting her. I care what she has to say. Her feelings, views, and passions have value.
I’m teaching her things that I (somehow managed) to teach my own daughters.
They speak up for themselves, without fear of abandonment, because they know they’re safe.
And Little Me is safe now too, finding her voice and using it. Progress, not perfection.

God bless us, every one.

Spiritual

When you feel like a “Lovey,” Remember you are Loved

By: JANA GREENE

When my second daughter was born, I wore a very lightweight sea foam green bathrobe at the hospital. I think I had bought it from Walmart. It had a soft lace around the edges, which were soothing for her to feel when she was nervous. It was inherently nothing special, but she glommed onto it, and it quickly became her security blanket. We called it “Lovey.”

She still has Lovey. She is 30 years old now, and throughout the years, Lovey is about the only thing that conveyed in all of her moves. I believe she still might sleep with it.

Much like the Velveteen Rabbit, Lovey became a shred of a thing. It had been snuggled, cried on, donned as a costume, barfed on, and worn as a turban, her whole life. It has shrunk from tumbles in the dryer. Like the Velveteen Rabbit of lore, Lovey became puny with wear, shredded by love.

As a chronic illness and pain patient, I feel a little like Lovey these days. I don’t feel identifiable as who I issued to be.

When I leave this world, I will leave it with my body in shreds. My hope is to be softer than when I came, ego shrunk from tumbles. My purpose only to love and be loved.

I feel shredded lately. My pain levels have been monumental. It’s almost more than I can bear, to be honest.

The trick is, I think, to realize that sickness is not the only thing shredding me. My joints – all 360 of them in the human body – are essentially being held together with silly putty instead of Gorilla Glue. My Earth Suit makes faulty collagen. Everything hurts, almost all the time.

When I feel leveled by the pain, I need to be mindful that illness isn’t my only leveler. I’m also being loved, and I know that. I’m very grateful.

All of us Loveys – tattered, worn, and threadbare – have to remember that we don’t lose our value as we experience the transition from being something the world recognizes and can easily determine the function of, to something whose purpose might not look as obvious.

See, my daughter’s lovey had only become more valuable to her. The fact that an old robe can find new life as something completely different is oddly comforting. It meant the difference between being an article of mom’s clothing, and becoming a beloved “friend.” It meant the difference between the Goodwill basket, and an honored place on her pillow.

So maybe I’m not breaking. Maybe I’m becoming. And in this season of great difficulty, I choose to believe the latter. I have to hold on to hope.

Puny from wear, shredded with love.

God bless us, every one.

chronic illness · Spiritual

EDS – When Pain is the Order of the Day

By: JANA GREENE

Hello, dear readers.

The past week has been a pain-fest. There have been times I’ve just laughed hysterically at the notion that I’m supposed to live day in and day out in this level of pain. Ha!! I mean REALLY??
So I write about it, because it’s the ONLY way I can deal with any of it. Thank God journaling is an outlet.
The truth is that I am slowly losing my mobility, and in awful pain while doing it.
This is life with Ehlers Danlos.
This morning, I subluxed my thumb out of joint, picking up a stack of papers. I bent down to clean litter boxes and the pain in my “good” knee brought me to tears. I waved at someone the other day and had to ice my freaking shoulder that night. It’s not just big movements that cause injury anymore. I can dislocate fingers opening a jar. I can’t hang laundry in the closet anymore because I have to reach too high to hang Bob’s shirts. Stairs are murder on my hips and knees. I AM ONLY 53 YEARS OLD.
I am really starting to feel by body slipping. I no longer have “a good knee” or “a good shoulder.” The mutated collagen holds my joints together is getting more lax. My skin is getting stretchier by the day because it doesn’t have proper collagen to hold it together. Falling asleep is excruciating because no matter how I lay, there’s pressure. Pain wakes me up from my sleep.
When my husband hugs me, I frequently ask him to hold me tighter so that it feels like my shoulders aren’t coming out of the sockets. I wake up and decide what I need to brace for the day – I have a “wall of braces” in my closet. I hadn’t had to use my cane since I lost the 40 lbs, but I’m having to use it again. One day I’ll need a wheelchair. Normally, I bitch about these things and move on, but it hasn’t subsided long enough for me to take a breather between flares lately. This of course this takes a toll on the whole family. Then guilt kicks in. Lather, rinse, repeat.
My Instagram and TikTok handles are “unbreakableJBG,” because I may be fragile, but this won’t break me. Oh hell no. I’m too damn stubborn. (But please pray for me, if you think of it.) ❤️

Spiritual

That “Chris Robinson” Spiritual Freedom

By: JANA GREENE

God, I love music.

And not just “love” it like I love chocolate, or cats, or 70-degree days.

No. I mean it “ministers” to my soul, man. And not in the holy-roller way; but in a way that satisfies me to the core. Maybe you feel the same?

A few months ago, my husband took me to see a concert by the Black Crowes. Watching the lead singer, Chris Robinson, create and enjoy his music on stage was mesmerizing. He didn’t exactly dance like no one was watching; his dance was more like an inviation to join him.

He flailed his arms; he stomped his feet. Shades of Woodstock, I tell you. He danced about because his body had to follow the direction of his heart. Can you imagine the Black Crowes performing while sitting in stillness? Of course not.

His fancy footwork was unchoreographed, but in the freest, most uninhibited way. That man couldn’t care less if thousands of people were watching, he just let go and let the music take over 100%. And you cannot convince me that God himself was present, chillin’, and appreciating the fine artform his kid Chris was sharing. (We are all his kids, you know.)

“I want to get to that level of unbotherdness,” I told my husband. “That’s true spirituality right there.”

And it was.

What seems like both yesterday and an eternity ago, I read Eric Clapton’s autobiography (aptly named “Clapton”) on a sunny beach in Aruba. I was on my honeymoon. It was 2007.

“I have always been resistant to doctrine, and any spirituality I had experienced thus far in my life had been much more abstract and not aligned with any recognized religion. For me, the most trustworthy vehicle for spirituality had always proven to be music.” Eric Clapton said.

Ah yes….MUSIC.

I’ve always felt this way about music, but it scared me. Getting heavy into a vibe felt like giving in to secularism, unless the song was churchy. “Churchy” music was fine to dance too. Heck, you could sprawl yourself out on the floor whilst fellow congregants got their groove on. Because it was FOR GOD. “The bigger the spectacle, the closer to God” was kind of the thinking.

I’ve fought it my whole life, good music trying to settle into the marrow of my bones. In my teen years, our youth pastor hosted a “Devil’s Music” night, and I wish I were kidding. We listened to Led Zepplin – whose music I was already having a torrid affair with – and then we listened to it BACKWARDS.

OH MY GOD HAVE I BEEN WORSHIPPING DARK FORCES, just by listening? This scared me into an exclusively Amy Grant and Petra phase, which I really tried to adhere to, but have you HEARD Al Green? Have you felt the pulse and lull of David Bowie’s voice?

The bottom line of the theology I lived by for years was: If it’s not worshiping God, it’s worshiping the devil. Which – in my current de/reconstructed faith, sounds absolutely ridiculous, but it’s what millions of people think is true.

Maybe all music is of God, because it was his big idea. Feel that bass in your heart? Chris Robinson does, and he isn’t afraid to BE the music.

But what if the music has a dark message? I promise you it’s not too dark for God to hear. We are ALL in a dark place many times throughout life. We record it and remember it because it too is part of the human experience. I personally have a Spotify list of “Crying Songs,” because sometimes my antidepressants make it difficult to cry and these songs really get me going.

Emotion is not the enemy. Things that evoke emotion are not innately bad.

For the majority of my life, I’ve tried to temper what I assumed was “worldly,” lest I offend God with my listening choices. “You are what you listen to,” I was taught.

And what I’ve been taught has run my whole life up until this point. Obsessed with what the church sanctioned, all while doubting the church’s reasoning but being afraid to give it voice.

But the subjectivity of music is like appreciation for any other art. Only God could take doh, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, doh, and give us the liberty to arrange those simple sounds into millions of possibilities. And I have to believe that’s a holy process. Lots of things are part of a holy process. MOST things, I’d venture.

For God so loved the world, that he gave it music. And to make sure it properly,was executed properly, he gave us Chris Robinson, Van Morrison, Creed, Snoop Dogg, and Al Green.

And I’m grateful. I want to give myself over to music…become a spectacle not to impress others, but because the music is reaching a place in my soul that is so full, I have to get my body involved in what my heart is already enjoying.

God bless us, everyone. Crank up your tunes, and enjoy all the good gifts God has given!

Spiritual

Saying Goodbye to Jerry

By: JANA GREENE

I’m writing this through tears today.

Tomorrow I have to say goodbye to a man I called “Dad” for 20 years. His name was Jerry, and he was one of the best humans I’ve ever known. The world will be darker without him in it. I wasn’t expecting to lose him. I thought I had more time.

We always think we have more time.

We met when I’d first moved to the island in 1999. Everyone knew Jerry and I can’t quite remember exactly how we met. There are a few possibilities, but all I know for sure is that we knew eachother right away. Instant friends.

I cannot imagine never having met him.

Jerry looked like a wizened fisherman, a little rough around the edges but thoroughly handsome. He had piercing blue eyes and a white beard, and often played Santa to the kids on the island. He was a jovial Southern Gentleman, born and bred.

When I became a single mother under sudden and traumatic circumstances, Jerry stepped in.

My daughters were 9 and 12 when I went through my divorce. I wasn’t close to anyone on the island, save for one or two friends. But when I needed help, Jerry (and an incredible woman named Lynne) showed up.

They both taught me that the important thing in life is showing up.

I was so broken at the time. But I got to learn how to receive, and I stepped out in trust.

That’s how it was there, that community. I’d read about such geographical camaraderie but I’d never known it. It’s a real thing, it turns out.

When I had to work four jobs to support my children by myself. Jerry was there to give me an “Atta’ girl!”

When I was depressed, he would break out in a silly song.

Christmas was his favorite time of year. And it has become my favorite, too.

When I had no one to help me move into a tiny house I rented for me and the children, Jerry moved me. He and I moved every single thing ourselves. He stayed to help that day until I felt steady on my feet.

And then he took me to get a Christmas tree and set it up for us in our new place. My girls were so happy.

When I had a broken heart, he fathered me.

And when I met my husband, I couldn’t wait to introduce him to Jerry.

“Hi, Man,” he said to the man I would soon be engaged to. And then with a sly smile, “You know, if you hurt her, I”m gonna kick your ass!”

Oh Jerry.

And the truth is that I had never been parented like that. I’d never had someone have my back, no matter what. I’d never had anyone threaten mock-violence on my behalf. And it tickled me to no end. He and my husband would become fast friends.

“Jerry,” I said one day in the summer of 2007. “Will you give me away to Bob at my wedding?”

With a tear in his eye, he said he’d be honored. And he did.

And I was honored too. I told him after the wedding that he and his “bride” (he forever referred to her as such, even though they’d been together forever) that his marriage was EXACTLY the kind of marriage I wanted. They were best friends. They laughed together. They knew each other so well, they were one. I wanted that.

And after the wedding, life went on. My husband and I blended a family of three tween/ teen girls at the time. To say things got crazy is the biggest understatement. It was a brutally difficult season for us, but Jerry and I would send eachother funny memes, short messages, and always, always, “I love you.”

If Jerry knew you, he loved you.

And if Jerry loved you, you were blessed beyond measure.

Like my beloved friend Lynne, he put feet to his faith. He didn’t knock you over the head with a Bible, but you knew he loved God.

He said naughty words on occasion and told the occasional off-color joke, and we ALL loved him for it.

He himself had been though some stuff. So he understood going through stuff. And when you’re going through stuff, you need a Jerry.

The past few years, he and his bride did some traveling, and my husband and I welcomed a granddaughter. My little girls grew up and moved out (and back in. And back out….) My husband and I celebrated one anniversary after another, and I always got a little teary thinking about Jerry walking me down the aisle, so happy and proud.

Since his unexpected passing, the whole community is grieving.

Losing a Jerry is a tremendously big deal. They don’t make they like him anymore. He called himself an “old fart,” and we all laughed with him.

He gave the BEST hugs. He wasn’t in a hurry to let go, like he knew his hugs were like being plugged into a charger. And they were. I could be in the depths of despair, and he would lift me out somehow.

For many years, when we would see Jerry, he would part ways with a hug and an “I love you,” for me. And a hearty, “LOVE YOU, MAN!” to my husband

So Jerry,

You were a father when I needed one and a cherished friend always.

You didn’t preach what you wouldn’t practice.

You set the bar for loving people.

You set the example of a happy marriage.

You saw things in people they couldn’t see in themselves, and I thank you.

Rest in peace. On second thought, I’ll see you later, Dad.

Make new friends in your Heavenly community. Rejoice with them. Dance in the streets of gold. Crack them jokes to Jesus. Feast with the Father.

And please look after us, your friends and family who love you too the moon and back, and will miss you so much.

Love you, Man.

Love · Spiritual

16 Truths (and one Lie) About Marriage

By: Jana Greene

Now, listen.

I’ve been in a bad marriage, and I’ve been in a great marriage. My husband and I just celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary.

Here are some little things I’ve found to be true about my happy marriage, and things I have noticed about other happily-married couples:

(And note: It takes two to tango! You can’t float a healthy relationship all on your own.)

Having a kid won’t save a relationship.

Having ANOTHER kid also won’t save a relationship.

Spending a ton of money on a wedding doesn’t guarantee a happy marriage.

It’s oft-said, but don’t go to bed angry, if you can help it.

Just because the internet said it’s healthy, doesn’t mean it’s healthy for YOU two.

The ”silent treatment” makes things worse.

But giving someone asked-for space is respecting their boundaries.

This is important (and mondo challenging…) Sincerely WANT better for your partner than yourself. And vise versa. Consistently.

Hold hands even when you’re angry. Especially when you’re angry.

Conflict is natural and normal. Expect it.

Collect experiences as a couple, not stuff.

Keep NO secrets from each other.

You can’t tell a person “too often” that you love them. Slather that phrase on your partner generously. Go ahead and be sappy if it makes your little betrothed heart happy.

Doing fun stuff for the sake of doing fun stuff together is always a worthy endeavor.

LAUGH. Laugh together at the absolute absurdity of the world we live in. Laugh like your marriage depends on it, because at some points, it might. Humor – even gallows humor – is pretty bonding.

Let a power higher than yourselves guide you both. Listen to your gut and heart, which God uses to communicate with you. And trust it.

Oh, and the picture-perfect couples on social media whose relationships seem flawless? Yeah – that’s a lie. It’s PICTURE-perfect be cause it’s only perfect in the pictures. Lies, I tell you.

Blessed be!

Spiritual

A Disturbance in the Force

By: JANA GREENE

Don’t mind me. I’m just over here catastrophizing at 3 a.m.
What is even going ON?
Y’all feel it?
A major disturbance in the force.
It feels so icky, but I’m framing it this way, with intention. Even in my panic, I’m choosing to redirect my thinking – sometimes 1,000 times a day.
All these “labor pains” – those vestiges of chaos and seeming a doom – are getting stronger and closer together because they are drawing us nearer to the day we share the consciousness of God. One fine day, all that will be left as evidence of life on Earth will be LOVE.
So maybe we aren’t hurtling towards absolute destruction after all, but being led and taught how to love each other in preparation for the day on which love is all that’s left.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Poetry · Spiritual

Ode to Jeggings

By: JANA GREENE

And now to lighten things up a bit, a silly poem to cheer you. Blessed be!

Leggings, I’m so grateful
That someone saw fit to create you –
Love child of jeans and sweatpants
Oh how I appreciate you!
Thanks for your stretchy waistband
So I don’t have to suck It in,
Thank you for the mad skills you have
Of making me look thin.
You’re available at Walmart
For just eleven dollars,
And with you in every color,
I can feel like quite the baller.
I can wear you as pajamas,
I can wear you as yoga pants,
And if I were so inclined,
I could wear you to break dance.
You don’t smush my muffin top
Like jeans are apt to do,
But rather gently hug it,
(so damn merciful of you.)
Thanks for being comfy,
And having pockets in the rear,
And for being so soft and warm,
You’re my favorite pants to wear.

  • Jana Greene
Spiritual

High Anxiety and the Dance of Surrender

Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels.com

By: JANA GREENE

How do you define “anxiety,” and how does your anxiety define you?

In the tradition of writing transparently, I have to tell you that I am more anxious than I have been in years. Matter of fact, my heart is racing out of my heart this moment. Enough with the “flight response” already. I’m trying to live here.

The whole world feels like it’s a flaming dumpster fire, and I’ve been sick and in pain recently, which helps NOTHING. And then you’ve got the whole mental illness angle, which is LIT fam! (Gotta make a little joke to deal with life on life’s terms.)

Anxiety would have me believe that life is just a series of events to kill time while I wait for certain tragedy to strike. As morose as that sounds, it’s how FEEL. It robs today of its joy and tomorrow of it’s potential. I would do well to remember that feelings are not facts. Waiting for the “other shoe to drop” is not a strategy for a happy life. But dayum, that other shoe is awfully loose!

Our emotions are a valid barometer to measure the state of your mind and soul. And as extreme feelers, we have to keep them from running the whole-ass show.

It’s a work in progress. I hand my anxiety off to God every day, and say, “Here, take this please. It’s heavy and awkward to carry and WAY outdated.” Fear served me as a child; it doesn’t get handed the reins anymore because I choose to rebuke it, a thousand times a day.

But it seems to have visitation rights.

The Universe is unbothered by it. It’s not heavy for him, awkward in size and shape. Handing off the heft of it has to be an INTENTIONAL act on my part. The trash ain’t gonna take itself out.

Anxiety feels like it will protect your heart to believe the worst, because anything less than horrible will be a nice surprise. The truth is closer to this: “Life is full of nice surprises, but we will never notice them by expecting the worst.” And expecting the worst is my default already.

Feeding the doom is an old skill I homed in childhood trauma that no longer serves me. It hasn’t served me in years. Yet in my lizard brain (the amygdala) launches a flight-or-fight response to beat all… a profound throat-punch to the Spirit. So then I have anxiety AND a soul bruise to complete the insult. And who needs that?

To be honest, some days Anxiety is the ringmaster of the circus which is my mind, but I’m in therapy and working on it. *Cue the clowns and dancing ponies.* Clowns are terrifying, by the way, just like extreme worry. As it turns out, this IS my circus, and these ARE my monkeys.

So…

Wake, surrender, make coffee, surrender, clean the house, surrender, make dinner, surrender … endless opportunities to surrender. Surrender is not a one-stop-shop. It’s a constant dance, at least for me.

God bless us, every one.

God, you are the Source of all that is good and all that is love. I can’t peek around the corners to see what’s coming next in this crazy world, in this disabled body. I trust that you have a bird’s eye view and my best interest at heart. I have to trust you are LOVE.

Spiritual

I’m not a Proverbs 31 Woman (and I’m okay with that)

By: JANA GREENE

I once had a friend many years ago who embodied what I thought at the time was spiritual perfection.

She was, you see, a “Proverbs 31 woman” to the bone.

In my zeal to be like her (and thus, presumably like Jesus?) I kind of lost myself. Which is what many churchy folk will tell you is the whole point of being one. You’re supposed to lose your identity, or at the very least tweak it.

If you’re not familiar with the reference, it comes from the verse by the same name in the Bible and has become the litmus test of judging a woman’s “true” worth:

“….good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it. She is never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long. She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing….”

You get the gist of it.

I tried to emulate my angelic friend, which was problematic because it kept me feeling in a state of less than.

She was soft-spoken, where my nature is boisterous.

She was serene where I am neurotic.

She never cussed and I hold fast to my peppery language.

She was crafty and talented, but super meek and humble about it. She never raised her voice. She always had devotional time with the Lord every morning before all else. It would not surprise me in the least if Jesus sent actual sunbeams to fall in the pages as she read and kept her coffee miraculously piping hot until she is done. (That’s how valuable the studies and prayers are of a Proverbs 31 woman, according to lore.)

But here’s the thing: She hasn’t had my experiences in life either. To be fair, humans are complicated and wonky (I believe that’s the scientific term.) We are all unique and as such, God doesn’t expect us to be all the same.

My friend had never battled addiction, and was certainly never a slave to the bottle.

Or been rejected by her own family.

She hadn’t experienced abuse as a child.

Her kids never got into any trouble growing up, and are pillars of the community.

She represented everything the church expected of me that I was unable to be, and everything they expected me to give that I couldn’t muster.

I’m more than the sum of what’s happened to me, and so are you. But what’s happened to us inspires our outlook on life – even our outlook on God.

You see, I am not “less than” a Proverbs 31 woman.

I am much more than more than who I used to be. And that’s the only comparing we should be doing as women – contrast ourselves with our past behaviors so that we can better ourselves.

I am simply a person who has collected trauma after trauma and made the conscious effort to overcome on a daily basis. True, I am not my saintly friend, but growth trumps the illusion of perfection any day.

My Creator is not dissatisfied with me for not being her, or the legions of “hers” all through Christendom.

Authenticity over antiquated expectations.

Relationship with God over rules and regulations.

Raw-dogging life with an open mind and heart.

Because I’m not sure a good woman is hard to find, but I am sure she probably has some sass. And I’m sure that setting unrealistic expectations behooves neither male or female; husband or wife.

Spicy girls, don’t despair. God loves you exactly the way he made you – giving you the same leeway to be imperfect that he apparently has afforded men all along.

Have a beautiful day, loves.

Spiritual

Finessing Dreams (and other mid-life things)

Another little poetry jam about finding yoursel again in midlife. ❤️

By: Jana Greene

Did you forget your dreams, dear one
Flummoxed by what you’ve become?
Do all your lifetime goals still fit?
Or have you forgotten
What makes you tick?
The last few years….
Such chaos! Such dread!
It’s enough to make you
Lose your head.
But it’s okay to reframe your dreams,
(In fact, it’s mandatory, it seems!)
To change and grow,
Evolve and flower,
Accept yourself
And own your power.
Midlife dreams
Are never the same
Because they’re effected
By all that you have seen,
By everything you’ve ever learned,
All the advice you’ve ever heard,
So take the time to find new dreams
The chaos isn’t what it seems,
It’s just a catalyst you see
For finessing the woman
You’re meant to be.

Poetry

Wrinkles and Strength – a poem for midlife ladies

Photo by Edu Carvalho on Pexels.com

By: JANA GREENE

Girl, you leave that neck alone,

Did somebody tell you

before you were grown,

That our necks get crepey when we’re older,

That we lose our shine,

That we lose our smolder?

Did they warn you about the cellulite?

Did they tell you it would be a fight

To keep your value as you age?

Psh, girl..

You turn that page.

Girl, you hold your head up high,

You’ve worked a lifetime

Getting by,

“We’re getting old!”

We bitch and moan,

We gotta leave

Those negative words alone.

Be kind to yourself

About the lines on your face.

That body spawned humanity,

Show it of a little grace!

They don’t get to dictate

How our lives are spent,

Asking if the best has passed,

And where our beauty went.

We “get” to grow old

And the deeper we delve,

The more we learn

To love ourselves.

Embrace the white hair

Don’t run from it far,

It crowns you like

The queen you are,

And know your value

Show yourself love.

Your newfound confidence

It fits like a glove!

Wear bright colors,

Grow your hair,

Dance to music,

If you dare,

And rest in knowledge

That all along,

The things that gave you wrinkles

Have also made you strong.

Spiritual

God Favors us ALL (and Kindness is how we Let People Know it)

By: JANA GREENE

My concept of God as love means there’s no need to “smite my enemies.” Because our Source Is not on anyone’s “team;” he’s the owner and manager, working things to your benefit – but to theirs, also.
We think people who have wronged us deserve wrath, and plead God to avenge us, only to demand forgiveness when we have wronged others. And it’s taken me years to accept that “if God is for me, who can be against me?” applies to every human, everywhere, who is lugging a body around on this plane of existence.
More and more, I think this place is a University of sorts. We are here to learn how to love each other and how to love God, because obviously we still haven’t gotten the lesson. That’s okay. Everything in good time. Our Earth Suits (janky as mine may be) are vehicles and vehicles only. I forget that sometimes when they pain gets unbearable.
And our assignment, I think, is to retain our kindness through the shitstorm, er, um…journey. Kindness does beautiful things to otherwise very negative people. If we do this leg of our journey and stay kind, that kindness chemically and spiritually changes a person. And if it doesn’t? You’ve ventured everything for love, and will have many more opportunities. We are all trying to figure out hard stuff here.
That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.
Love to all today!

Spiritual

The Evolution of a Prayer

By: JANA GREENE

Sometimes when I pray, I’m not even sure what to pray for anymore. But when God brings someone to my mind, that’s the impetus to pray for them.

I don’t mean giving God “instructions” on how to help someone, which I used to call “praying with specificity.” I replaced elaborate prayers with simple trust in God, because the most eloquent prayers are “help help help” and “thank you thank you thank you” (as my favorite author Anne Lamott opines.)

Reconstructing my faith has evolved how I speak with God.

I ask and then I try to listen. Because there is no wrong way to pray, and prayer is designed to be communication from one sentient being to a supreme being, no holds barred.

Once I saw a movie that recommended having a “War Room” – a physical place to go to pray where the reception is clearest to God and where mighty battles are fought in the heavenlies, waiting for our next words to change the outcome in supernatural realms.

So of course I decorated my closet with scripture and crosses aplenty. But all I managed to do was feel guilty that I wasn’t praying more (or right?) every damn time I had to grab a pair of shoes out of the closet.

Was I praying enough? What if I don’t and when I get to Heaven, God informs me that he really wanted to do this magnificent thing, but I was two beggings short of getting the outcome I desired.

See, that puts the onus on me. And the onus is not on me – it is on Love.

I don’t make a big show for myself now, prostrate in my literal prayer “closet,” striving, striving, striving to be the person “God created me to be.” Building a tower of Babylon with my puny, pleading words (which are beautiful to him, by the way, but his love is not dependent upon them.)

No. I mean that if you come to my mind during the course of my day, I am simply asking God to love on you in a way that’s tangible. God loves n us through one another, nature, laughter, and hugs from friends.

If you have a need or a heartbreak, I focus my intention on your hurt as best I can, and believe in advance that he is walking alongside you, no matter what event is anguishing you. Being a very visual person, I picture you in a cloud of love, total acceptance, resolution, and peace. I can’t describe it any better than that, but trust me, it’s better than that.

Just like us, the Holy Spirit craves connection. That’s all prayer really is.

And I ask him to increase your awareness of him in and around us. Because he is always at work in and around us, even when we aren’t begging for his favor. I pray he uses me in any capacity he sees fit to convey his great love.

Even when words fail us.

His love never does.

Spiritual

Everything’s Broken (but hope is not lost)

By: Jana Greene

“Broken lines, broken strings,
Broken threads, broken springs,
Broken idols, broken heads,
People sleeping in broken beds
Ain’t no use jiving
Ain’t no use joking
Everything is broken” –

-The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band

Our microwave finally pooped out. After 18+ years, it’s dead. Our stove isn’t heating up like it should. I have to be SO careful about what I eat and this makes food preparation that much more difficult.

We have had to replace our fridge / washer / dryer in just the past couple of years because they all died at once. We have three cars, only one with working A/C, and she had 200,000+ miles on it. We love that car. She’s a real trooper.

And I get the feeling like that’s ALL of us right now: Look at us all – an army of badasses. Damn if we aren’t all freaking troopers for making it through whatever shitshow the word is currently.

And all of that wouldn’t be so bad if I wasn’t broken too. Because today I am feeling very, very broken. Like literally all of my joints feel especially loose and painful. If my Earth Suit did it’s JOB to keep things stable and in place, that would be amazing.

I dislocated my thumb again today opening a Topo Chico, for example. What a stupid injury. My injuries are never, “She jumped out of a plane and survived!,” or “she went water skiing and now she is a human pretzel.”
No.
More like… the time I stepped out of the bed to go pee in the middle of the night and just torqued my right ankle, which snapped the bone. Then I walked around on that broken ankle for 11 days, too stubborn to get it checked out. By the time I got an X-ray, it was broken in TWO places, and surgical pins, plates, and rods were out in. But I digress.

The POINT is I can injure myself in the most asinine ways. Most things in life are made up of broken parts, and I’m eternally trying to learn how to process that reality.

We are all just walking eachother home,” is my new favorite observation.

Now whether we get “home” in a rust bucket (aka my actual body), or a well-appointed, nice and reliable sedan – a nice, tidy life that turned out great because you did “all the right things,” well, that’s for serendipity to hash out.

And that’s the cosmic irony, isn’t it? If our lives were neat and tidy, we’d have no real need for each other. We are only really here to learn how to love and accept love in return.

We need doctors who will help us manage our pain. We need microwave manufacturers. And we need friends, because there are 7 billion people on this planet and not one of us knows what we are doing. Not ONE. But maybe a few can show you the route home, and you can – in kind – do the same.

So, lean on to eachother like your life depends on it, because it does. Let’s spiritually exit the machinery that cranks out unrealistic expectations, and walk arm-in-arm, until we’re “home.”

May THAT that circle be unbroken.

God bless us, every one.

Spirituality

Thimble Theology vs. Cosmic Conviction

Hey ya’ll? I’ve been here in my dreams…

By: JANA GREENE

Hi, my wonderful Reader.

Who else is straight trippin’ over the images from the James Webb telescope released this week? Because I’m in AWE, with a capital “A.” I have to tell you that that my Spirit is even more impressed with them than my brain, which is amazed. And it has renewed by faith on a cosmic scale.

For a couple of decades, I have occasionally had a recurring dream that I am flying through outer space, and as I’m soaring, I am awash in an incredible feeling of warmth and belonging. Floating and gliding at peace in a place of unimaginably bright-colored celestial bodies against a black sky that was somehow NOT dark… endless planetary bodies around me, and they are both a million miles away and a part of my own body, simultaneously. It’s my favorite dream. I wish I had it more often.

Ever have those “this is so realistic; I must be dead and in Heaven” dreams? Even in my dream-state, I’m cognizant of fact that the sheer vastness and twinkling stars and planets should (by measurement of my earthly anxiety) make me afraid. But I’ve left the earthly plane and don’t give two hoots about the utter INFINITENESS. It isn’t scary. I am home.

Can I better describe this dream venue for you? I can. By showing you the pictures of our Universe that were captured by the telescope. As I told my therapist whilst recounting seeing the images for the first time, “I’ve BEEN to there!”

I used to be able to hold my theology in a thimble. It was laid out to me by my ancestors, and their ancestors – a set of beliefs that were true because I was told they were, and I’m a people pleaser above all else. I didn’t know it was in a thimble – I thought it was quite encompassing. There were rules and doctrines and to question them was a sin, so I didn’t question. But the evangelical world and its gospel of exclusion started to gnaw on my soul. It didn’t sit well, but OH WELL. WHAT CAN YOU DO? God was loving but stern, bound by his own doctrine and narrow in his thinking. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t exit the spacecraft.

But love doesn’t operate that way. God doesn’t operate that way.

You cannot define his love within the bounds of a dogma, or a book, or a patriarchal gospel. I know this to be true because when my thimble spilled the contents of its conviction, the enormity of his love pummeled me. I started basking in nature – Creation – and really SEEING it. I’ve even hugged a tree or two. I stopped taking everyone else’s inventory. I stopped inquiring if people who were not like me were “worthy.”

What is the point is a Creator who keeps expanding the Universe, but not our minds and hearts?

So today I soar.

The deconstructing of my birthright faith was brutal, I’m not going to lie. I took apart everything I’d learned piece by piece, in order to learn for myself what was true. I had to get to the root of what MY heart truly believed, which – if I’m honest – was fear-based. Imagine my delight when Jesus met me right where I was, gathered me under his divine wings, and comforted me with truth.

My God isn’t bound by 2,000 years of human dogma. He isn’t bound by cannon and law. His law is the law of the whole Universe – the one I’ve soared through in my dreams. The one who keeps expanding holy territory around us and IN us. There is nothing narrow about his vast love for you. The same hand that keeps spinning the cosmos is living in YOU.

I think that’s pretty far-out.

Acceptance · Addiction · alcoholism · blogging · Brokenness · Serenity · Spiritual · writing

From Beggar to Mystic – a Blog Reimagined

For all who have followed me on this 10-year writing journey, thank you.

By: JANA GREENE

I was supposed to be a Super Christian.

In my mind, I mean. I tried.

I taught Bible studies, and taught Vacation Bible School. I helped launch a couple of Christian-based recovery groups in the city. I was on the Prayer Team, the Greeting Team, the Hospitality team.

Ten years ago, I started this blog – TheBeggarsBakery.com – with stars in my eyes and a mission on my heart. I was truly so serious about it; so sure that it was my “ministry.” It was BEFORE.

Before pain was the order of the day, every day.

Before the novelty of thinking I was a recovery expert wore off like Novocain after a root canal.

Before I realized I am not in control (at ALL.)

Before I knew there were so many shades of gray.

Before my grown children gave me gray hair.

And before churches tried to cast demons out of me, for being SICK.

I haven’t been comfortable with the blog’s name for a few years now. I don’t want people to think they have to be broken and begging for Divine Love. Although I wanted to tell others that my soul found “bread” in God, it sounded more and more dualistic and exclusive. As I learned I’m not a fundamentally flawed person desperate for approval – divine or otherwise – I didn’t want my writing to impress upon anyone else that THEY must be broken too.

My intentions were altruistic, I promise. There was a fire in my belly. And there is still. It was a controlled burn for many years, now it’s a brushfire – raging with the expectation that new growth, all green and fresh, will come up underneath. I’m counting on living to witness a full forest come up from underneath this burnt ground.

The Beggars Bakery fit me ten years ago. I felt like a beggar, frankly. My life was feeling like I was a mistake that just squeaked by. I was striving, striving, striving for approval – God’s, my husband’s, my family’s, my friends’. If I could JUST be a successful “ministry,” and maybe make a living at writing?

Alas, neither really panned out as I’d hoped. Especially not the “make a living” part. But with renewed strength, I can see my focus was wrong. I zigged when I should have zagged. I proselytized when I should have just loved.

I am already enough. So are you.

And I retained a love of Jesus but developed a disdain for the evangelical church. And once you see the Universal Christ, you cannot “unsee” him; it really screwed with my oh-so-sure faith walk but opened up something in me I denied for decades.

Don’t get me wrong: I will not start all over here. Because it’s like a spiritual time capsule, and each stage had merit. I don’t want to forget where I came from – there was much JOY! But I want to get to where I’m going, and that requires a little reinvention.

As a follower of Christ, as an empowered female in a new world, and as a mystic.

My very favorite song is Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic.” Every single word and note hits me RIGHT in the feels. The MYSTIC. When did we decide – as followers of Christ – to give our Mysticism away? When I was striving to earn God’s approval, I’d skip the word “mystic” when singing it aloud. WHAT? Was my faith so fragile as to offend God with a lyric? Oh my GOD, the LEGALITY.

It was the mere connotation that something mystical could be afoot in my staid, steady, the-Bible-is-literal manner that made the song scandalous. I sing “Into the Mystic” out loud now, and I know God is okay with it.

Just like yoga,

And some Eastern beliefs I was taught to fear.

Just like accepting other humans – fallible and seeking – for their truest selves.

Just like being okay with people just the way they are,

And giving up my staunch nationalistic views for one that assumes ALL are loved and valued by our Creator…

And being authentic, even when it means making a fool of myself.

It’s okay to do so. It’s imperative to growth, especially when the world is on fire.

I’m not sure what direction this blog will go.

I plan on writing about my faith reconstruction journey – all of it. The Fall. The burn. The sweet, fragrant undergrowth of new life shooting forth.

I will still write about recovery from alcoholism – it’s part and parcel of who I am.

I will probably vent frustrations about my worries and keep a safe place to express my anxiety.

So, if you’ve stuck by me all these years and faithfully read all of my work – I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Please consider staying with me. I’ve come to appreciate each of you so much.

I want to rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old,

With stars in my eyes and love in my heart,

Without a superhero cape, but with arms wide open,

And together we will fold
Into the mystic.

MusingsOfaGypsySoul

Poetry · Spiritual

Ballad of a Mid-Life Mama

By: JANA GREENE

What does the REAL me want in life?

I’d never thought to ask.

I forgot all about myself

While busy with the tasks

Of raising daughters

And leading daughters

As they were growing strong.

Did I stop to ask myself

For what my own heart longed?

No, I did the right thing

At the time…

I fixated on their wellness.

I hovered and fussed,

I tried to hand them over

To God in trust,

And somewhere in those precious years

I had a little inner-strife,

Because I couldn’t tell you

What I want for my own life.

But ladies?

Ah, now is the time,

To meet this a super Amazing Queen.

The one who looks you in the mirror,

The holder of your dreams,

And take the time to

Ask her plenty

What makes HER heart soar?

Hover and fuss over her some,

Then fuss over her some more.

My mid-life mamas everywhere,

Step into your new dreams,

And be who you were born to be –

A super, amazing Queen.

Spiritual

People are “Problematic” (love them anyway)

Photo by THIS IS ZUN on Pexels.com

By: Jana Greene

I realize that times like these are where the rubber hits the road, faith-wise. I just wish I wasn’t working with bald tires and jacked up pattern of traffic cones to navigate life.

Metaphorically, of course.
We all are burning rubber, and not getting very far. We are all weary and wrung-out, exhausted, divided, and furious.

Think of all the ways we have been divided over the past few years coinciding with Covid.

Think of your friends individually, and all the ways you differ in opinion to the detriment of your relationship… ways you had no idea were so different to yours. Maybe on things that are so close to your heart, you cannot BELIEVE a friend you formerly thought you had a lot in common with feels one way or another. How COULD they?? Ya think you know a person, right?

My daughter and I were having a conversation not long after the Super Bowl half-time show last winter. She was saying that she respected Eminem taking a knee at the performance. “But,” she said. “I have mixed feelings about Eminem. He’s problematic.”

“Everyone is problematic,” I said, because it’s true.

Now, my daughter and I do not agree on many, many issues. BIG ones. But we try to respect the other’s feelings, which is the most any of us can do, I think.

She was referring to the rapper’s controversial lyrics. But it occurred to me –

We really are ALL problematic.

Like… I KNOW I’m problematic. There is probably that one time I said something I didn’t think through before saying it; actually, probably hundreds of times. Or the view I held ten years ago that today makes me cringe. Or the way I handled those situations in the past that are not me, anymore.

What too often happens is that we throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water. We end up discounting the whole person for their flaws or differences, but only the ones we ourselves have never struggled with. Because our own problematic ways may not be problematic to US, and therefore, we consider them unproblematic in sum.

The human brain just loves to categorize and label, and the human ego loves to judge others. It just jacks up our righteous-o-meters. It’s how we make sense of the world. It’s how we make sense of each other.

It tells us not to appreciate one aspect of a person, because they are “problematic.”

Nobody is asking “What would Jesus do?” anymore because we know good and damn well what he would do. We just don’t want to do it.

People over policy.

Relationship vs. religion.
Friends over ideology.
Love one another, for that is the greatest commandment.

Not one of us was designed to live in this environment – 24-hour news cycles, being bombarded with hostility, being micro-managed by the government. Not one of us was born to intake what we intake all day every day. Fodder for turning us against each other. It didn’t start at the beginning of Covid. It’s been brewing for years. Dualism has been around since the dawn of time.

My old beliefs aren’t ME, anymore. I’m a different person than I was three years ago. Or yesterday, for that matter.

Every day I’m learning, and I think that’s all we can expect from mere mortals – that we keep growing. Even when it contradicts what you’ve said and done most of your life. Growth is not linear. Keep reaching and forgive your mistakes, but also forgive the mistakes others have made _or are CURRENTLY making – on this road. We are all on the same route.

Differences we may have that divide us:

Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Life.

Supporting the LGBTQ+ community vs. Discriminating against them.

Vaxxed vs. Un-vaxxed.

Dems vs. Pubs.

Blue States vs. Red States.

Depp vs. Heard (just making sure your’e paying attention, haha.)

Things we have in common:

We have an unbelievable capacity to love.

We are all experiencing the human condition in many ways that truly sucks.

We are all human.

I won’t finish this off with platitudes and a rousing round of kumbaya, but I will say we can do better. We MUST do better. We must share the road.

We must not pass the stranded in our race to be #1. This is a call for kindness, which I will try to heed myself, even in the midst of Problemville.

Growing is loving beyond differences, I guess.

Love to each of you today, and God bless.

Spiritual

Sorrow and Other Heavy Things

By: JANA GREENE

Hello. It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted, but I’m emotionally exhausted.
Between late March and mid-May, we have been through the wringer.
My beloved boy Catsby passed away unexpectedly on April 16th. My daughter Lexi Wehunt came by to do cat care and found his little body. He was just as special to her as to me, and it was totally unexpected for both of us. Bob and I were in Virginia for several days to help care for his mama, who was on hospice. I was shell shocked by losing Catsby.
The following DAY – Easter – my wonderful Mother-in-law passed into glory. We knew it was coming, but you’re never “ready.” I came across this picture in my FB memories today. I miss her something terrible. Although we didn’t always see eye-to-eye, we had THE best talks about deep subject matter. Nobody loves Jesus like Janet Greene. When she’s stay with us, I‘d join her for morning coffee and we’d sit at the breakfast table until our legs went numb. We talked about EVERYTHING, and nothing was cuter than her giggle. I like to think we taught each-other a lot. Lessons neither of us knew we needed. I feel her spirit sometimes. I know in my heart of hearts that Catsby went a day ahead to be there for Nana and greet her.
A mere two days later, I got word that my father had been bitten by a copperhead while walking his dog, Billy. We were literally on the drive back from VA when I found out. I told Bob “oh no,” and “this can’t be happening,” but those are things you say when loss threatens to swallow you up. I was a ball of dried tears and snot and exhaustion. My dad and I have not always had a relationship, and I treasure him in my life so much now. Please God let him be okay.
And he WAS okay, eventually.
But on the scale of Life Okay-ness, I’m struggling.
Add in some chronic migraine action, struggles with renal failure, and unrelenting physical pain, stick a fork in me, I’m DONE. The past week I’ve been unable to eat well – My health is so shitty and it frustrates me to NO end.
Except that I cannot be “done,” because it keeps going – everything keeps going, despite the fact that the whole damn world is on fire. I will snarkily tell God, “stop the world, I want to get off…” but it just keeps spinning anyhow (the NERVE of God!)
Being human is HARD.
But there are beautiful things happening too.
I have to focus on my awareness of them consciously – otherwise I’ll go under.
Things like kittens and good friends and laughter and soft blankets and inside jokes and nature – ALL of nature.
I’m especially grateful for our Texas trip, which was amazing. It’s like life knew the bottom was fixing to drop out for us and granted us a beautiful experience.
So I’m just sharing this in case you are doggy-paddling in life right now too. It behooves none of us to hide our struggles and I’m having a time of it. If you are too?
I see you.
I get you.
I feel it too.
God is saying, “Keep going, Kiddo!” But there’s a long trail behind me of my dragging ankles and exasperation. You know how a toddler throwing a tantrum will make himself “dead weight?” That’s me right now, heavy and heavy hearted.
But I’m encouraging you from one of the worst months of my life. I’m not looking pretty while doing it either – random crying jags and depression naps have been the order of the day.
Keep going, Kiddo.
Go ahead and feel all the feelings without stuffing them, and I will too – probably in a most oversharing way. Sorry about that. But if ever there was a time to lean into one another, it’s now.
Thanks for listening, and God bless you if you read this whole dang thing.

Poetry · Spiritual

You’re Already Whole

BY: Jana Greene

I used to tell people,
“God can fix you.”
But now I say,
You’re not broken.
You are not bad.
You don’t need fixing.
You need loving.
Love put you back together,

On the day You breathed your first.
You already have it on-board.
God already inhabits you.
In every loving gesture you express
To humankind (or animal-kind.)
In every breath, holiness.
In every feeling of fresh hope,
In every laugh, sacred joy.
You are whole.
You are not broken,
No matter the evidence
Stacked against you. Keep your head up!
God is FOR you.
You are loved.

Blessed be.

Spiritual

Beyond Hallmark Cards and Flowers (or, the very loaded occasion that is Mother’s Day)

By: JANA GREENE

This one’s for all the women who are orphans, grieving the loss of a mother – by death or estrangement.

This is for those for whom Mother’s Day is a real mixed-bag – a loaded occasion.

Hons, I get it.

It’s the weirdest of occasions for me.

I have no relationship with my own mother. It’s better that way for both of us, but I’ve yet to have a Mother’s Day that doesn’t feel like a scab is being pulled off – slowly. I will always love her. Always.

On Easter – just a few weeks ago – I lost the woman who has mothered me for the last 15 years. And there is a hole in my heart for her, still fresh. On Sunday morning, Bob and I will probably offhandedly say “we should call Mom,” because we have as long as I’ve known my husband, and then we will remember. She is never more that two thoughts away from us at all times anyway. We will just wish her Happy Mother’s Day, trans-dimensionally.

My own daughters of course celebrate with me in their ways – we go to lunch and I get a card, or the like. It’s all very traditional and, truth be told, routine. I am very close to my daughters, so marking an occasion with obligatory time spent on a certain day seems trite. I like to spend time with them any chance I get, not because Hallmark says there’s a special day they have to do it. It’s Mother’s Day, you know? They hired me for the most important job I’ll ever have – Mama – and I love them so hard it hurts. They are loving, beautiful beings, but they had the audacity to grow up, as it should be.

So maybe you aren’t a mom, and not by choice. Maybe you’ve lost them in utero, and you wonder how life could have been different. If that is the case, I can only imagine your heartache. I am hugging you with my soul.

Or perhaps your womb has ached for them to no avail. Life really likes to present us with alternate plans, without asking for our consent. And on the most important issues to our spirits. It indeed is unfair.

Perhaps you have mothered someone without reciprocated love in kind. And it hurts. We don’t always get the same type of love we invest in others returned. We must accept our roles and love just as hard anyway.

Maybe you dedicated your whole life to the tiny humans you created, and now can’t even figure out who you really are, because you were too busy meeting the needs of others to consider what you want. *Raises hand.*

Maybe there is a separation between you and your mother for boundary reasons, or mental health reasons, or recovery reasons; and people judge you for it. Nothing like a little salt in the wound.

Maybe your child is in active addiction and Mother’s Day is just a reminder that there is a chasm between the two of you, and your only prayer is that your kid survive another day. Flowers and cards be damned.

Maybe your mama has passed over and you miss her so terribly.

Here’s the truth. I wish I could mother the whole damn world….and if you’re motherless, that includes you.

I wish I could take every hurting person under my wings and mom them so hard, they’d never doubt they were wanted or loved.

But I’ve learned who needs that mothering most of all is myself. I’m learning to open those wings wide enough to wrap around myself too.

God bless each of you.

This mama is sending you so much love this sticky-wicket of a weekend.

And when the “official” day has passed and we can all breathe again, this Mama wishes you peace, acceptance, and the empowerment to re-parent yourself.

Namaste.

Spiritual

Easter in the Raw

By: JANA GREENE

Happy Easter. I don’t want to be that person who bums everybody out with their posts of grief, but I have to tell you this Easter feels more like death than resurrection.

It’s raw.

I’m raw.

Death is present and lurking, but the joke’s on Death, because it’s defeated. It is finished. But Death – and about 8 billion other voices, if you give them credence – will tell you otherwise.

It is finished, even if we have to live in a broken world.

It’s is finished, meaning our suffering here is not part and parcel of who we are. We don’t take it with us. Only love travels that well.

It is finished, even when our hearts lurch with missing someone so badly it physically hurts.

It is finished, even though the sticky residue of suffering gums up the works, and the whole damn planet seems to have lost its collective mind.

I won’t ask, “Death, where is your sting?” because I call BS on that. It stings like Hell. It hurts like a mother-*. I’m not going to deny the pain of being human just to sell you on Pollyanna positivity. I’m certainly not going to sell you religion, which professes to have all the answers but I assure you, does not.

But Death, after the sting, is never the victor.
Our spirits outlive Death. Nothing can keep us from the love of God. Not even ourselves.

He is risen, friends.

And I’m telling you that with a puffy frog-face from crying, unbrushed hair, balled fists, a heart full of questioning incredulousness, and deep pain. I’m writing this because maybe you’re hurting too.

Maybe you’re pissed off, and for good reason. Maybe you’re sick and feel hopeless. I just want to remind you that you are also risen.

Risen is by far more your identity than broken, or even dead.

Sometimes resurrection doesn’t look like glorious renderings of an ancient, empty tomb – beams of light streaming from within, all CBN Network-style.

Sometimes it looks just like you- in all your holy, grieving glory. Slogging through the messy inconveniences and crippling agonies of life, interspersed with great bursts of love and laughter. All of us redeemed ragamuffin kids of God, all of us made of stardust, mud, and love.

God bless us, every one.

Cats · Spiritual

Saying Goodbye to The Great Catsby (and nursing a broken heart)

Rest easy, my baby. We love you so much.

By: Jana Greene

Yesterday, I lost my beloved furbaby, Catsby. It was sudden and unexpected, and we are in another state taking care of some emergency family business four hours away. My daughter found him and called us hysterical.

Yesterday was pure processing, or trying to. And last night…

I fell asleep crying.
Woke up today crying.
Feel like I’ll never be done crying.
Feel like my whole heart is going to simply stop for trying to make sense of things.

Last night I had to fight the urge to drive to the vet four hours away that has his perfect little fuzzy body for cremation, all the way back to Wilmington.

I just wanted to hold him one last time and tell him how much I love him. To thank him for spending his life giving so much love and hilarity. I’d like to tell him what he means to me, but I tried to make that clear every day of his life.

I know he knew how loved he was. I know we gave him such a good life. We were nowhere NEAR ready to say goodbye.

So in saying goodbye to him, I wanted to share these things all about Catsby:

We got him because I fostered his litter of five kittens when he was a baby. It was delirious chaos and mayhem, and out of the five there was one shy little guy who I just connected with. I chose him because he chose me.

Catsby wasn’t like other cats. I know all cat people say this about their cats, and I used to roll my eyes whenever someone would insist that about their own, but ask anyone who knew him.

He was the Mac Daddy of pure, unadulterated love, and I never knew I could love a cat like this.

He was carried around, a LOT, his preferred mode of transport.

He was told he was a good boy approximately 150 times a day.

He had to be in somebody’s lap most of the time.

He was held and squeezed and the top of his little noggin was kissed no less than a million times in his lifetime. And he loved it.

He had a middle name – Zazzles – a nod to the cat in Big Bang Theory that Sheldon named “Zazzles” because “he’s SO zazzy.”

Catsby was SO zazzy. Big personality. Big love energy.

He loved to “spoon” – he’d come in every morning in bed and I’d sing him a dumb little song about what a good boy he is while he’d scrootch up next to me – couldn’t get close enough.

He got little bites of turkey and cheese when we made sandwiches, and I saved him the straws from some of my drinks because he LOVED to play “fetch.”

He loved water, so we got him a little kitty fountain. He loved it, as it befitted his taste for the finer things in life.

He loved to lay upside down and sun his fat, pink belly. No shame in his game. LOOK AT IT, he seemed to say. I wish I had that confidence about my own fat, pink belly. He knew he was majestic.

He greeted me at the door almost always – my own itty bitty kitty greeting committee. It’s going to be brutal walking through the door and not having him waiting for me.

He was a great outdoorsman (on the screened-in porch only, which he has no idea wasn’t the whole big, bad world (and nobody told him it wasn’t.)

He liked to sit on the barstool while I cooked and watch me, and sometimes I’d jokingly ask him if he wanted a sarsaparilla, because his little peanut head was all you could see of him over the bar and he looked somehow like an old-timey wild-west patron.

When I was having pain flares, he really pulled out all the stops – sitting with me in the pain all day so consistently and kindly. We watched many a true-crime series together, but I think he preferred watching 90-Day Fiancé episodes.

He could MacGyver his way into cabinets and figure out how to get to noms in the cleverest ways. He also liked to knock every single item off of ever single surface in every single room in the house, all while being told “no” whilst not breaking eye contact. My little fartknocker.

He didn’t mind his feet being touched, which is weird for a cat. I do so love some pink toe beans.

He followed me from room to room all day every day at the house; I didn’t even get to pee alone. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

He was the perfect boy for me….nice and codependent. Very go-with-the-flow, which I need, because I have absolutely no chill.

And I love him. So so much.

It is a sad time in many “life event” ways for us right now. Catsby’s passing is not even the most difficult thing we are going through right now. I cannot share more at this time, but please keep praying for us.

And hey, snuggle those furbabies a little extra today, for me. Time is so precious.

Spiritual

The Language of Heaven is Loudest Through our Humanity

Photo by Darya Sannikova on Pexels.com

By: JANA GREENE

Sometimes, the “language of Hell” isn’t complaining, sometimes it’s denial.

Sometimes humans have issues and worries that overwhelm them, but they are afraid to give those worries voice because your average American Super Christian expects them to hold it together.

This evangelical version of the stuff-upper-lip isn’t helpful.

The relationship model in which you and God play mind games until every vestige if your humanity is stripped bare is a bad relationship model.

Denial isn’t just a river, but it might be an ocean. We are just floating, not willing to admit our feet can’t touch the bottom. All while wondering how long we can hold our breath before we drown.

It isn’t even Biblical (maybe, depending on the millions of ways you could spin it. Like most other things, interpretation is pretty pliable.)

Under our sanctified breath, we say…

All is well!

This doesn’t hurt!

What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger!

No, really! Doesn’t hurt a bit!

Hooboy, I’m getting really strong!

Complaining is the language of Hell, but so is Denial, in which I am fluent because it’s my mother tongue.

Let’s talk about the language of Heaven, which you instinctively already know. You don’t even need a translator.

The Kingdom of God is within you – even with all of the repairs and remodels.

You carry Heaven in your aimless floating.

You carry Heaven in your breath when you encourage others.

You carry Heaven when you love risky people.

No American Super Christian-ese necessary.

Jesus was not afraid to show his humanity. He didn’t deny either his Holiness or his human-ness, so why do we think we can’t let our true selves be known?

Blessed be, friends.

Depression · Spiritual

Taking a mental Health Day (to sleep, to meditate, to wallow in my feelings, and cry until I’m 10% snot and tears)

By: JANA GREENE

Taking a mental health day today.

Slept shitty last night.

The whole world is on fire.

My gastroperesis is flaring so hard I’m barely able to keep any food down. This throws other medical issues into a hellish spiral.

My chronic pain has been ridiculous.

We have very difficult things to deal with in the family right now. Really hard things.

I’ve cried several times today, which is no small feat when you’re on antidepressants. It felt awful to cry, and then really good…cleansing.

And it seems a counter-intuitive measure to wallow around in pain and sadness, but every once in a while, you need a good wallow.

Today I will cry, and rest, and bitch about my woes to my ever-patient husband.

I will likely beat myself up for having to cancel plans with friends, and hate myself for feeling melancholy.

I will feel like I am not handling life well AT ALL. (While reminding myself that despite it all, knowing I’m doing my very best.)

At some point, to be transparent, I will feel guilty for even having this little nervy-B, guilty for unloading on my husband, and guilty for having the audacity to complain about this life, when I am truly blessed in so many ways.

I’m pretty sure I’m not done crying today. God, I hope not. There’s a long line of tears queued up in my spirit that need to be purged.

I hope that tomorrow, by some measured miracle, the world on fire won’t seem quite so much like utter doom.

Today I will wallow. I’ll sleep and watch Schitt’s Creek (it’s a balm to my soul), and talk with God about WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH MY LIFE RIGHT NOW. And I’ll look forward to better days.

Because they are always on the way, you know – better ones.

I’ll keep hanging on if you will, Dear Reader. ❤️

Spiritual

Okay, but Zoom Out

The legendary Hubble Space Telescope, operated by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), captured a dazzling snapshot of a large galaxy (NGC 169) pulling cosmic material away from a smaller galaxy (IC 1559)

!y: JANA GREENE

The legendary Hubble Space Telescope, operated by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) captured a dazzling snapshot of a large galaxy pulling cosmic material away from a smaller galaxy, and my mental health is HERE for it.

It is helping my mental health because I am fascinated with all things galactic, and every time a new image is captured by Hubble, my worries seem to shrink. It’s impossible to be in wonder and see while nursing a grudge or fussing over a human problem.

Not that our problems aren’t real. Or important. They ARE important, even to the Being who came up with the crazy idea of eternity.

Infinite ness is not a concept we default to. We cannot wrap our minds around the concept of endlessness. But in a world where our troubles seem the most infinite thing we know, Hubble reminds me to zoom out.

Yes, I am hurting. My body aches. My heart grieves. The pandemic looms. The world’s a hot mess express.

Would you look at this economy?

This sociological crap-shoot we are calling “life.”

We become Chicken Littles, running in circles exclaiming, “the sky is falling! The sky is falling!” and then we like to proclaim anyone who doesn’t join our panic is Pollyanna about reality.

Okay…but ZOOM OUT. Pan the picture wider, then wider still.

Imagine yourself and all your pain, a tiny speck on a giant blue marble – just one of billions. Imagine this as an image on your iPhone, in hi-def, as most problems seem.

Now imagine that the same Creator who spins planets in orbit cares intimately about what you do. He cares about you not only as a marble-dweller, but a miracle of cells and thoughts and feelings.

Imagine that this Being of Love is intimate with your every heartache and just as concerned about the state of you as He is the state of the Multiverse.

Just zoom out of the picture, wider and wider. See how perfect the orbits are? Check out those stars. Wow! Each and every one a sun. Each and every molecule of the cosmos is worshipping just by existing.

Existence is worship.

We cannot reach the end of it, just like we cannot reach yet end of Love itself.

Just zoom out. It’s going to be okay.

God is zooming in on us. Let your heart marinate in the magnificence of this concept – a Love so endless, Hubble will never reach it.

You’re made of stardust, baby.

Poetry

A Few of My Favorite Things (a little poem about finding joy ANYWAY)

Photo by Bekka Mongeau on Pexels.com

By: JANA GREENE

The scent of a newborn,

The smile on a dog,

A book well written,

The lifting of fog.

The smiles of my daughters,

The warmth of a cat,

A beautiful flower,

A welcome mat.

Being held

In my husband’s arms,

Crisp fall days,

A snoozed alarm.

The taste of chocolate,

A warm, soft bed,

Good, loud music,

A charcuterie spread.

Friends that “get me,”

A starry night,

Making up

After a fight.

Iced tea with lemon,

Having family around,

The laughter and union

Of new friends found.

These are a few

Of my favorite things,

That (even in a pandemic,)

Happiness brings.

We may have to look harder

For joy these days,

But it’s still around

In so many ways.

Spiritual

Reconstruction (Or: “That Soul-Lurching, Discombobulating, Radical Spiritual Overhaul’)

This is one of those pieces that originated as pure pent-up anxiety that would only be assuaged by writing. It’s a little rambly!

By: JANA GREENE

On the way to the dentist, I passed a gentleman whose entire existence was contained in a shopping cart. My heart lurched heavy in my chest. I gave him what cash I had, which wasn’t much. “God bless you,” I said. But it rang hollow in my throat.

The rest of the drive, I thought about how many thousands of times I’ve told people that.

If God could bless him, he wouldn’t be living out of a shopping cart, would seem evidential, so I told God so, as if maybe he forgot this one straggler, and PLEASE COULD YOU GET ON THIS?

Like I can tell God about mercy.

See…this is where the deconstructing of religion has given me a great gift. A really wonky, welcome, serendipitous gift.

If for no other reason than it gave me permission to give voice to the GIANT chasm of inequity, I increasingly became aware of. I cared; I really did. But the sheer inequality didn’t shred my spirit.

My God is only ever Good, I believed on the surface. But I couldn’t reckon that with all the pain – personally and globally.

God will rescue you from suffering, is easy to say. But I kept getting sicker.

God has a PLAN. (Which is totally true, but not always helpful.)

His ways are not our ways. (No SHIT!)

You know those HGTV shows where they find a property and deem it worthy of saving even though it looks like a straight-up dumpster fire? My Spirit was a real fixer-upper. The rebuilding of my faith stripped away the pretty stucco facade of a neat and tidy belief system and turned it into a real shitshow. Wrecking balls. Bulldozers. Hard hats required. Flattened it into the ground. I was sure that was a wrap on my relationship with a Higher Power.

But SPOILER ALERT: I can’t do that. I’ve seen things. I’ve felt things. My heart of hearts knows things. I suspect yours does too.

It’s a gift to be able to question existence without feeling damned to Hell for it (eternal conscious torment is a topic for another day.) It stands to reason that the innate ability to question God is a gift he alone gives. If we don’t feel comfortable enough to approach the throne without fear, where’s the relationship?

Unfortunately, my “healthy fear” of God kept me from God, because deferring to somebody you’re terrified of is not a good model. Fear was the theme of my entire childhood, and a “healthy fear” of God kept me from some degree of meaningful spiritual growth. That’s just me.

So, it’s a work in progress. But as we say in the Program: “Progress, not Perfection.”

My soul is on a state-of-the-art foundation now…though there is still scaffolding all the way around (which I’m hoping is permanent, to hold my structure in ongoing work.) But the house is solid. Good bones, as they say. There’s still a bit of debris, which makes excellent confetti with which to celebrate LIFE and all the chaos that is part and parcel. The interior is shaping up, too; although it feels like it’s taking forever, it’s right on the Designer’s schedule. Open floor concept – very spacious.

I have no answer as to why some of us are born into one station or another. Why some of us are healthy and some will always be sick. Sickness is my sticky wicket. I don’t know why I’m having this whole, soul-lurching, discombobulating, radical spirit reckoning the past few years.

But I know it’s got me thinking things like: That gentleman living out of the shopping cart? He could BE God, for all I know…can you imagine if we ALL treated one another with the reverence we allow only God? What if we really saw God in every person. Oy vey, so much to think about.

I can only explain it as: God is only Love. When our souls’ sense that benevolent drenching in experience nature, that is God.

God + Love…there ya go. That’s my whole entire theology:

Shit happens, but God is Love.

(Now the rest of the blog will be me hashing out what that looks like; pull up a chair.)

When we are bothered for people less fortunate (whether we deem them at “fault” for it or not)…

When we declare grace over people (who we have decided are pushing their luck in the grace department.)

When we are enjoying the purely divine gift of music and the chords hit so hard that you hit repeat for a solid half-hour…

When babies smile at us in the grocery store checkout lines…

When a friend sends a heart emoji for no reason…

When your husband kisses you on the top of your head…

When are we allowed to get angry with God and ask him the hard questions without fear?

WHEN WE ARE HUMAN….

God is there. God is love.

WE ARE the mercy.

You are not a wayward straggler, but a sturdy and essential journeyman, who is going to get through this pandemic – and a million other very hard things – and come out laughing.

We don’t have to hustle for our worthiness. There is genuine GOD in you.

Rest in that, Loves, and I will too.

humor · Spiritual

Daily Doubles, Anxiety Troubles: 2022 (so far)

By: JANA GREENE

How jacked up has your anxiety been lately?

I’m at the point where I literally DREAD any contestant getting the Daily Double on “Jeopardy,” because I can never know from whence it will come dammit and WHY IS IT SO JARRING AND LOUD?

My GOD, sensory overload. From pensive, rhythmic choosing a catagory to PEW PEW PEW PEW LOUD, ALARMING SOUNDS FLASHING LIGHTS*

I don’t DO “sudden.” Knowing it “could” happen at ANY time but usually does NOT (but HAHA you’ll never know!) makes me anxious.

So, yeah. Where is my anxiety level in this – the year of our Lord 2022, well into the trilogy that is .. whatever THIS is? *Gestures wildly*

DOUBLE JEOPARDY GIVES ME A MINI PANIC ATTACK. That’s where.

God bless us, every single one.

Gratitude · Spiritual

For Every Kindness Shown, Show a Kindness

These are my daughters. They turned out phenomenally, in spite of my struggles. ❤️

By: Jana Greene

This time of year makes me reflect on the mind-blowing kindness and generosity that me and my little family were shown back in the day.

You see, this picture brings back SO many memories…some of them heart-wrenching.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but for me, this one is worth a million. I hadn’t seen it in forever, but I remember taking it like it was yesterday!

I had just left the girls’ father and we were legally separated. The girls and I had nowhere to go, so a dear friend gave me a reduced rate to stay temporarily in Atlantic Towers (such a blessing.)

This photo was taken there. I loved that it had bright pink walls. I told the girls it was because we were so full of GIRL POWER, they painted them pink special for us.

At the time, I had a restraining order out on my ex (so you KNOW that added stress) and no money. I was receiving NO help. And I mean, NO help. Not even from my own family members. That was a brutal learning curve.

I went from one part time job to four jobs to feed my kids. I wrote freelance, worked for a realtor, became the receptionist at another company, and cleaned motel rooms on the weekends. When I was with my babies I worried how I would take care of them myself. When I was at work, I missed them terribly. Mommy guilt was only eclipsed by pure fear.

I had a new sobriety that was only three or four years old, and I was DESPERATELY trying to keep it and not start drinking again. (I did keep my date of sobriety which is Jan. 3, 2001.)

I’d left everything behind but a few sticks of furniture, the clothes on our backs, and the kids’ Barbie toys. Not much else.

I was truly starting over after 14 years in a bad marriage and struggling not to drink, after nearly killing myself with alcohol only a few short years prior.

My girls look happy in this picture, but it was a rough time for them too. My goal was to shield them from my own grown-up problems, and make it an adventure of sorts. They were the lights of my life then. (And they still are.)

At the time, I could not imagine how I would get through that difficult season. I lost 80 pounds from stress. I had been a stay at home mom all my daughters lives, and had ZERO IDEA what would happen to all of us.

But then a miracle happened…and the venue for said miracle was the Carolina and Kure Beach communities, whose members rallied around us that year in the early 2000’s.

And I mean they rallied!

It was Christmas time, which made everything harder, but the local fire station gifted my girls with toys from Santa. A dear friend bought them bicycles!. One friend kept my girls in donated clothes for a year. One amazing friend invited us over for Thanksgiving and Christmas and welcomed us as if we were all true family. Another helped us out with food for a while. One watched my girls for me when I worked. And another helped me keep the heat on one particularly cold month.) One practically adopted me and treated me like a daughter, and does still.

I did nothing to deserve any of that, but the magnitude of blessing still floors me.

I wasn’t FROM there, you see. I wasn’t a “local;” But they MADE me a local through kindness. Dozens of (then) strangers came out of the woodwork. I could do nothing for any of them, nothing. They just poured forth things we needed, acts of friendship, and so much support, and love. I’m happy to report I cherish them still today.

Meanwhile, I learned how to work my ass off and provide for my kids.
I worked on my own issues.
I put up strong, necessary boundaries.
I learned how to forgive myself.
And I managed to stay sober, all glory to God!)

So from one old snapshot for TBT came a tidal wave of gratitude today,, and with that, this very wordy, rambling post.

Now when I look at these 9 and 12 year old faces in the photo, I can rest easy knowing that these two grew up to be beautiful, funny, kind-hearted people. They grew up awesome, and the dark times only grew us closer.

They are 26 and 29 now. My world.

Boy, I wish I had truly trusted God when I was going through it! But my points are twofold:

  1. When at your absolute darkest, keep going kiddo. You CAN do hard things, I promise. You can, and you will. And if you lean into Source, you’ll FLOURISH.
  2. Community is so important. We are all made designed to need each other. Every single member of every community is precious.

And all you single mamas going through the midst of a nightmare like this, I promise it’s true for YOU and your babies, too!

These days I have new struggles, but I try to pay forward any and every kindness shown to me. I try to diversify my kindness portfolio, as it were. Love on everyone, I’m every circumstance. I fall short a LOT, but oh the joy in paying kindness forward!

But it seems important to remind you, if you’re hurting:

The kids really WILL be ok.
You ARE stronger than you think.
It’s OKAY to ask for help.
It’s EVEN OKAY to accept help!
God has not abandoned you
There are wonderful, amazing things awaiting you in the other side of the mess you’re going through.

Blessed be, friends.

covid · Spiritual

Vaxxed or Unvaxxed, Kindness Counts More

By: JANA GREENE

The bottom portion of this post is copied from a friend. The rest is my opining about it…I would love to see it be a conversation starter!

You see, whether you’re vaxxed or not, I don’t think less of you. Matter of fact, I suspect you’re doing the best you can and made decisions that are best for you and your family.

I think we are ALL just trying to make the best decisions about our health in an unprecedented age; NONE of us have ever been through a pandemic before.

So can we please stop calling people “sheep,” it’s condescending and unhelpful. Please stop insinuating that those who won’t get vaxxed don’t care about the rest of humanity. Please stop considering those who get vaxxed “idiots,”and those who refuse to get the jab “idiots.”

My God, the division is worse than anything a vaccination could do.

Sometimes it’s not about the government pulling one over on us (though admittedly, I don’t have the greatest respect for the government.) It’s about doing what we can safely do, with the incomplete and often unsubstantiated information we get from said government.

We have all become like bullies in a school yard purporting “my way or the highway,” haughtily sure than our way is the only “right” way.

I’ve had enough. If you are vaxxed, thank you. And if you are in vaxxed, I’m sure you had GOOD reasons for choosing that path. Yes, we are all responsible for each other in life, but calling one another names and puffing up with righteous indignity (on either side,) is a misuse of that responsibility and a damn, crying shame.

If you got the jab, I love you. We consider our options with seriousness too.

If you felt it wasn’t right for you, hey…I love you.

Can we please try to do better?

I feel like if this thing wipes out part of humanity, who would want to inherit the earth, given the gaslighting, blaming, and disdain we are showing one another?

Keep it a world worth continuing.

Keep it kind. (Or MAKE it kinder!)

Peace out.

“Yes I’m FULLY vaccinated and, no, I don’t know what’s in it – neither this vaccine, the ones I had as a child, nor in the 11 secret herbs and spices at KFC, or hot dogs, or other treatments, whether it’s for cancer, AIDS, pneumonia, or vaccines for infants or children.
I also don’t know what’s in Ibuprofen, Tylenol, or other meds, it just cures my headaches & my pains.
I don’t know what’s in the ink for tattoos, vaping, Botox and fillers, or every ingredient in my soap or shampoo or even deodorants.
I don’t know the long term effect of mobile phone use or whether or not that restaurant I just ate at REALLY used clean foods and washed their hands.
In short …
There are a lot of things I don’t know and never will. I just know one thing: life is short, very short, and I still want to do something other than just staying locked in my home. I still want to travel and hug people without fear and find a little feeling of life “before.”
As a child and as an adult I’ve been vaccinated for mumps, measles, polio, chickenpox, and quite a few others; my parents and I trusted the science and never had to suffer through or transmit any of the said diseases.
I’m vaccinated, not to please the government but:

  • To not die from Covid-19.
  • To not clutter a hospital bed if I get sick.
  • To hug my loved ones
  • To try and spread the virus as little as possible.
  • To live my life.
  • To see and hug my family and friends
  • For Covid-19 to be an old memory.
  • To protect my family and others.
    Text copied, feel free to do the same!
Spiritual · writing

The Beggar’s Bakery is About to turn 10 Years Old (and I’m a Different Writer Now)

BY: JANA GREENE

Hello, friends.

I was noting to my husband last week that my readership has shrunk. It’s not a numbers game, don’t get me wrong. I would much rather have a small readership that is touched, entertained, enjoyed by several people than have a large readership but crank out mediocre content.

Here’s the thing, though. Life is chock full of mediocre content. Life sometimes IS mediocre content.

I was considering this when my husband replied with, “Well you don’t blog very often anymore.” Which is the gospel truth.

The past few years, I don’t post at all unless I’ve had some kind of epiphany to share, or I’m low on hormones and need to vent, or I have something inspiring to say. Why have I gotten into that habit? What about when I’m not feeling encouraging and just want a safe place where I can share my heart, even when my heart is boring and uninspired?

WRITE ANYWAY. That’s when I’m happiest.

I can’t always wait until I in crisis mode to write. It creates a jamb where there should be flow.

This blog is nothing like the one I started in 2012. I was of the “super Christian” persuasion then, full of quoting scripture and doling out pat advice about “trusting the Lord,” If I had a particularly awful day, I would write sweeping tales of how it’s all going to work out because God is in it. What would people THINK of me, if I was 100% authentic and open about doubting faith? It might throw a kink into my Pollyanna-esque style of writing. There’s nothing “super Christian” about that!

It’s true, in that I believe ultimately God IS working in our best interest.

But truth is also looking around you and admitting the world is whack.

I’m a much different writer than I was when I started this crazy thing. I’ll never forget gaining 45 followers the first day and being incredulous that anybody would want to hear what I have to say.

And then there was that one time I went legit viral and got a quarter million hits to ONE blog post. I thought I may actually get to make a living at writing, but the truth is, I make zero money from writing. It is its own reward and I’m okay with that now.

Ten years ago, when I started this blog, I was chronically sick but we couldn’t figure out why. It took many years, many doctors, and many bouts with depression to find out that I have genetic conditions that will affect me the rest of my life. It explained SO MUCH about me since I was born – the injuries, the illnesses. But there’s no cure, and I think it’s about the time I found out my diagnosis that the Pollyanna fell away, little by little.

My faith took a beating too, but came out victorious anyway, if not in an altogether different way.

I told myself in the beginning, I would write honest, or not write at all.

It’s writing honestly about the fact that I’m losing mobility and I’m in horrible health.

It’s being truthful about mental illness struggles, without wondering what everyone “thinks.”

It’s about grieving losses that I told myself I should be “over” by now, and making no apologies for it.

It’s about celebrating little victories and sharing kooky, dopey little stories.

My dream when I write is that somewhere out there, someone I love (or even a perfect stranger) will not feel so damn alone. Because life is HARD, peeps.

If writing is therapy, as I’ve always espoused, then I should probably practice it more often. It’s my way of un-smooshing all my feelings down. So I think I’m going to try to write a little each day. (The “general public” is made up of one sweet, unique soul at a time, anyway.)

I hope you glean a little somethin-somethin’ by reading The Beggar’s Bakery. I am so very glad you’re here, and honored you’d take the time to read my work.

On this – the eve of my blog’s 10th birthday – I am making a resolution to write more. Even if it’s sub-par prose. Even if it’s about vapid, inconsequential things. Especially if I’m struggling and hurting. Especially then.

Thank you SO much for being a part of my journey. God bless us, every one.

Christmas · Depression · Spiritual

A Case of the “Christmas Sads”

By: JANA GREENE

I am an emotional wreck lately.
Just really rather unhinged.
Thinking about the fragmentation of my family of origin, and how necessary estrangements still suck, even if for the sake of boundaries.
On the one hand, it’s Christmas, the Holly-jolliest season of all. I flippin’ love everything about it.
On the other hand, losses that are usually manageable seem like big, emotional gaping canyons.
My mind keeps “going there,” but I’m trying to go ahead and feel my feelings, rather than eating them, spending them, or smooshing them down and down. Smooshed feelings manifest in nasty ways and I’ve been in therapy too damn long to smoosh emotions down.
I have cried more in the past few days than the entire year prior combined. Fat waves of sadness knock me on my keister several times a day.
But I don’t want to be sad at all. I want to bliss out over all the sparkling, warm Christmasness, and enjoy all that I have NOT lost. And there is a whole lot to be grateful for.
It’s just a tough season. Writing about it (and consequently, I guess, “oversharing” it) helps me cope.
With pain, physical and otherwise.
With feeling alone.
With purging it with words.
Whether you’re missing someone, grieving a loss, hurting, or alone … I’m sending you huge hugs.
God bless us all.

Poetry

Come Sit by Me, Anger

Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

BY: JANA GREENE

I made a new friend today,

Well,

I’ve known her a long time.

Her name is Anger and

we’ve been frienemies as far back

as I can remember.

She introduced herself

when I was just a little girl,

but she scared me with her

suffocating presence in my home

and in my heart.

Don’t be angry…it’s unbecoming!

That’s the message driven

into us little girls

like railroad spikes.

And we accept it

because we are told

it’s for a good cause…

our “betterment,”

but mostly for the betterment

Of others,

as it turns out.

So I substituted Anger with Sadness

For most of my life,

hoping no one would notice,

least of all myself.

As it turns out,

anger and Sadness are

thick as thieves.

Two sides of the same coin, really.

Sadness is safer

because it’s familiar.

“Be a good girl,” I said to Me,

my whole life,

especially when I was only little.

“Who are you to be angry?

Anger is reserved for people

Who can afford to

Lose other people.

Angry people are accustomed

To being generally safe.

No one is going to abandon them,

It’s a luxury –

being comfortable with Anger.

And the tax on that luxury

is cold, steel fear.

Because when I’m angry,

I wonder…

what if this person sees

that pissed off side of me,

and leaves…

just closes up shop.

What if I’m too much.

or not enough?

Don’t be angry….You’re too sensitive!…

And the insult of invalidation stings.

I’m old hat

at recognizing a good gaslighting.

I cut my teeth on the manipulation

Of others.

Don’t be angry…it’s not the Christian way…

Aside from one lousy

and very profound table-turning,

Jesus seemed never to act in anger again.

But I believe

Jesus was TICKED on occasion.

Oy vey! How could he NOT be?

Don’t be angry…it’s unfeminine.

Not ladylike at all.

Be meek.

Be mild.

You have a feminine mystique

image to foster.

To which I say…

Welcome, Anger.

I was taught not to associate with

the likes of you.

I was told you would disappoint people

If we hung out.

If I entertained you at all.

Come sit by me, Anger.

It’s okay to use your outdoor voice.

It’s okay to get mad.

This, I tell myself,

as I grab hold of Anger’s hand,

And be okay

With me.

Poetry · Spiritual

Wrinkles and Strength – a poem about womanhood and getting older

Photo by Edu Carvalho on Pexels.com

By: JANA GREENE

Girl, you leave that neck alone,

Did somebody tell you

before you were grown,

That our necks get crepey when we’re older,

That we lose our shine,

That we lose our smolder?

Did they warn you about the cellulite?

Did they tell you it would be a fight

To keep your value as you age?

Psh, girl..

You turn that page.

Girl, you hold your head up high,

You’ve worked a lifetime

Getting by,

“We’re getting old!”

We bitch and moan,

We gotta leave that

negative self-talk alone.

Be kind to yourself

About the lines on your face.

That body spawned humanity,

Show it of a little grace!

They don’t get to dictate

How our lives are spent,

Asking if the best has passed,

And where our beauty went.

Embrace the white hair

Don’t run from it far,

It crowns you like

The queen you are,

And know your value

Show yourself love.

Your newfound confidence

It fits like a glove!

Wear bright colors,

Grow your hair,

Dance to music,

If you dare,

And rest in knowledge

That all along,

The things that gave you wrinkles

Have also made you strong.

Anxiety · Spiritual

Handing off Anxiety to Surrender (a thousand times a day)

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

By: JANA GREENE

How do you define “anxiety,” and how does your anxiety define you?

In the tradition of writing transparently, I have to tell you that I am more anxious than I have been in years. Matter of fact, my heart is racing out of my heart this moment. Enough with the “flight response” already. I’m trying to live here.

The whole world feels like it’s a flaming dumpster fire, and I’ve been sick and in pain recently, which helps NOTHING. And then you’ve got the whole mental illness angle, which is LIT fam! (Gotta make a little joke to deal with life on life’s terms.)

Anxiety would have me believe that life is just a series of events to kill time while I wait for certain tragedy to strike. As morose as that sounds, it’s how FEEL. It robs today of its joy and tomorrow of it’s potential. I would do well to remember that feelings are not facts. Waiting for the “other shoe to drop” is not a strategy for a happy life. But dayum, that other shoe is awfully loose!

Our emotions are a valid barometer to measure what your mind and soul. And as extreme feelers, we have to keep them from running the whole-ass show.

It’s a work in progress. I hand my anxiety off to God every day, and say, “Here, take this please. It’s heavy and awkward to carry and WAY outdated. Fear served me as a child; it doesn’t get handed the reins anymore because I choose to rebuke it, a thousand times a day. Plus, it seems to have visitation rights.

The Universe is unbothered by it. It’s not heavy for him, awkward in size and shape. Handing off the heft of it has to be an INTENTIONAL act on my part. The trash ain’t gonna take itself out.

Anxiety feels like it will protect your heart to believe the worst, because anything less than horrible will be a nice surprise. The truth is closer to this: “Life is full of nice surprises, but we will never notice them by expecting the worst.” And expecting the worst is my default already.

Feeding the doom is an old skill I homed in childhood trauma that no longer serves me. It hasn’t served me in years. Yet in my lizard brain (the amygdala) launches a flight-or-fight response to beat all… a profound throat-punch to the Spirit. So then I have anxiety AND a soul bruise to complete the insult. And who needs that?

To be honest, some days Anxiety is the ringmaster of the circus which is my mind, but I’m in therapy and working on it. *Cue the clowns and dancing ponies. Clowns are terrifying, by the way, just like extreme worry. As it turns out, this IS my circus, and these ARE my monkeys.

So…

Wake, surrender, make coffee, surrender, clean the house, surrender, make dinner, surrender … endless opportunities to surrender. Surrender is not a one-stop-shop. It’s a constant dance, at least for me.

God bless us, every one.

God, you are the Source of all that is good and all that is love. I can’t peek around the corners to see what’s coming next in this crazy world, in this disabled body. I trust that you have a bird’s eye view and my best interest at heart. I have to trust you are LOVE.

Spiritual

Messy, Frantic, Kind – a little poetry jam

Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels.com

Just a silly little poem to brighten your day. Awkward Sisterhood – UNITE!

By: JANA GREENE

I am the woman with toilet paper

Trailing from her shoe,

The one with only

one earring on,

Having NO idea

where the other has gone.

The woman to whom other ladies espouse:

“Hey, your tag is still on your blouse!”

I’m the woman who can’t get it together

To dress appropriately for winter weather,

(Or I forget my jacket altogether!)

I’m the woman who cusses too much,

But loves Jesus with a passion,

Who dresses as comfy as you please,

With no regard for fashion.

I’m the woman with her blinker on

Riding for three miles.

And when a waiter tells me,

“Enjoy your meal!”

I say “You too!” with a smile.

I’m the woman making jokes

At her own expense,

Because in order to survive myself,

It just makes freaking sense.

I am that woman, you see,

A messy, frantic, kind

kind of woman –

That’s me.

Does that sound like you as well?

We should be friends,

Come sit a spell!

Spiritual

The Holiness of Old Dogs

I’m running this piece for dear friends who have recently left their holy furbaby. ❤️

God comfort you until you see him again.

By: Jana Greene

Five years ago, we lost our Golden Retriever mix, Emmie.

I know Emmie was holy, as old dogs tend to be. I see her holiness. I know God sees it in her too, that He placed it there.

I’m finding that God often places the holy and pure things where we least expect them, and that He uses my dog to make me a better person, to teach me things.

Emmie has been a good and faithful friend to me for over thirteen years now.  A Golden Retriever (with a bit of Chow-Chow) she never knew the first thing about retrieving. But being kind and loving, joyful and true?  She knows everything about that.

When I call to her, she comes to me – even though she is old and creaky probably has a million good doggie reasons why she would rather not.  She might be on her soft bed, having the dream in which she is jumping the chain-link fence like she used to get scolded for in her younger years. (I can always tell when she has that dream, because of her front feet jerking, and then her rear ones.   And because she is smiling smugly as if to say, “it was totally worth it!”) She always comes to me when I call, whether she has been naughty or good, counting it all joy.  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” – James 1:2

She enjoys her life, with little concern for the future.   Although it’s not easy for her to get into the back seat these days, she loves car rides.  Groaning a little as I help her hoist her achy haunches up, she seems to say, Mom, roll down the window already!  We might be going to the park, or to the vet’s office; she knows either one is a possibility.  No matter!  On the way, she forgets that she has trouble moving around, that she is elderly.  She is just a smiling doggie in my rearview mirror, her coat an explosion of golden fur in the wind, her slobber forming a snail-like trail down the side of my car, anxious for nothing.   “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” –   Matthew 6:25 -27 (NIV)

Emmie is an expert on affection, both the giving and receiving of.  She hasn’t yet learned that she doesn’t need to sit on top of me to be with me.  She simply cannot get close enough, even when I am trying to get things done.  Her tail wagging furiously, she is conveying that she loves me too much to contain it in a lady-like, reserved manner.  It reminds me of times that I raise my hands at church during worship, unfettered by rules, overcome with gratitude…when I just cannot get close enough, love/grace/gratitude bubbling over.   “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.” – 2 Corinthians 9:12 (NIV)

But holiest attribute that Emmie displays may be the most subtle.  It is the way she humbly seeks my face.  When offered a treat, her gaze is on my hand (nor the delicious bone I’m holding).  No, she is starting at the acceptance in my expression, her big, chocolate drop eyes searching to read my face.     Interestingly, the Bible reminds us to seek the face of God, not his hand and what he can offer us in the way of treats. “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” – 1 Chron. 16:11

My sweet Emmie may not know about retrieving.  But she knows all about love.

Over the years….

In times of sorrow, I have buried my face in her uber-floofy coat and cried buckets of tears and she didn’t seem to mind.  She lay perfectly still, only moving to lick my face.  Always compassionate.

In times of great joy, she has skipped circles around me, pouncing up and down as if she had a single clue as to what the celebration was all about.  Obliviously joyful.

In times of sickness or pain, she is my shadow, following me to the kitchen, the mailbox, even to the bathroom.  Endlessly loyal.

Yesterday, I bent down to kiss the top of her cone-y head like I have hundreds of times before.   I held her face up in my hands and looked into her eyes.  Heart melting, a feeling came over me of sweet reverence.  Where have I felt this feeling before?

And then I remembered:  standing in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, a tourist awed and humbled.  The same sensation of being close to what His hand had fashioned flooded me in this realization: .  Where God’s glory is manifest in the great majesty of  architecture and art, it is also manifest in the eyes of an old dog.

Holy and sacred, where God placed it.