CHope

©  Ferna Lary Mills
We all have different ways of coping in life. Some knit, some paint, some play the piano,
some just enjoy taking time out to watch the butterflies or the birds.  It's a task that we can
do without thinking.  Something that takes our minds off of our immediate problems. A
means of escape. Whatever your talents, whatever your hobbies, take some time to relax.

Personally, I write. Poetry and journaling take me out of my turmoil and place me
temporarily in another time and place where I can mend. Suddenly I'm not surrounded by
grief, or family crisis, or financial burdens, or stress. I've taken a mini-vacation to another
world, even if only for a brief moment or two.  But this mini-vacation is worth all the gold
and silver in the world, for it helps maintain my personal sanity!

When I can't write, and the words just won't come, then I read. It is another form of escape.
Reading puts me into a world I might never actually visit personally, or a totally different
time. I can be a part of someone else's life for awhile when mine seems to painful to bear.

Find something you can do without thinking. A secret place where you can escape from
your grief or crisis, even if only for a few minutes a day. It's a time and place where you can
begin to mend.  If you don't have a special hobby, or a place you can go for a few minutes,
then use a towel. Laugh if you want.  Laughter is good for the soul, but the towel works
every time!

Many years ago, I heard a story of a woman who had six children and couldn't find any time
for herself. (I can imagine why!)  Every day, she took 10-minutes out of her day and sat at
the kitchen table and covered her head with a cup towel.  She told her children it was her
"prayer towel", and that when the towel covered her head, she was praying and they
weren't to disturb her. It was only for 10 minutes, but it was her mini-vacation escape. She
admitted she felt quite foolish at first, but the peace she felt after her 10-minutes of escape
was worth all the giggling she heard in the background at the beginning.

I'm not saying you should bury your head in the sand or that any of this will make  all of
your problems disappear. It isn't that magical. But a 10-minute respite each day, even if it's
only sitting at the kitchen table with a towel over your head, is 10-minutes of peace you
didn't have before.  Find some way to escape, just for a few moments each day. It will help
to mend your aching heart.

Here are a few other ideas to help you escape. If none of these seems appropriate to your
situation, be creative and come up with some of your own. But whatever you choose to do,
you must do this for yourself, for your own peace of mind.

Take a 10-minute drive outside of the city, and view the countryside. Be sure to
concentrate on traffic to be safe, but also enjoy the scenery.

Set your alarm and rise early enough to enjoy watching the sunrise. Sit outside. Use that
quiet time to take in the smells of the early morning and the sounds of the birds singing.

Spend some time playing with your cat. Pets are a wonderful way to learn how to enjoy life
again. To them everything is so simple and basic. Don't like cats?  How about an aquarium,
or a parakeet?

Check your local newspaper for upcoming events and visit an art exhibition or attend a
quilting exhibit. Go to a garage sale. Check out local galleries and museums for upcoming
events. Call your local library and see what special events they have planned.

It's your escape. Your mini-vacation. Be creative. Do something you've never done before.
Or do something you've done a lot, but something that brings you peace of mind while you
are doing it. No, your problems won't go away. But you will be better equipped to handle
them if you are giving yourself time to heal.  And a little healing goes a long way in helping
you to cope.  And after all, COPE is only HOPE spelled with a "C".

May God bless you and walk with you in the days ahead as you journey through this place
we call grief.
/

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Faith -
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