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.

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.