Jabberwocky – A Creative Reading

Yes, I’m a fan of Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland books, which includes the poem about the Jabberwock, a fearsome creature. However, a young fighter goes out and kills this creature with a sword, and brings back the head to his father.

This was one of the more enjoyable, goofy, nonsensical projects I did. The creativity used here was good medicine for me!

Create Something (aka the Power of Creativity Therapy!)

A couple of blog posts of mine thus far have been videos of spoken word, of poetry. Now, mind you, I’m not a poetically minded guy. I can’t write poetry to save my life, and I really wouldn’t want to if I could. But while pursuing my English degree I was exposed to enough variety of poetry that I learned to appreciate the scope and depth of emotion that poetry can tap into.

When I first went through my divorce, I experienced such a depth of despair and depression, that I hardly enjoyed anything. There was nothing that could reach inside and help me navigate and make sense of these overwhelming feelings. Until a friend of mine suggested I get creative.

I came to understand from several sources that there is a significant healing quality found in the act of creating something. When depressed, when divorced, creativity must be seen as a life preserver. It was for me, anyway.

I had purchased a MacBook Pro, primarily to help with my editing, writing, and voiceover business. Also, though, as I began to explore the various applications available to me for movie-making and music-creating, I discovered an amazing avenue of healing!

I began experimenting with dramatic poetry reading, making commercials for various groups, and sending goofy video postcards to friends. As a seminary student, I even experimented with putting some of my teaching on video.

I would spend hours on this stuff, tweaking, revamping, laughing, crying, and sharing with friends. Although I eventually began taking antidepressants, one significant alternative drug that impacted my life for good was the drug called “creativity.”  I found myself coming out of my shell a bit. I was able to produce things that were cathartic and beneficial, and other things that were just plain dorky. No matter.

Something inside my brain, no matter how temporary, would stop focusing on my despair and instead would focus on producing something that was fun, funny, meaningful, or just plain random. The pain that I was feeling was much like a HUGE bruise on my soul. And, like bruises we get on our skin, bruises hurt like crazy if you keep touching them. When we are hurting so deeply while going through trauma (like divorce, death, etc), we frequently focus on our hurts, our wounds, our pain. We keep pushing the bruise because we think about it all the time.  However, when we divert our attention to something creative, we stop, even if it’s just for a moment, pushing on the bruise. Instead, we focus on something beautiful, something meaningful.

Some ideas –

*Write a book

*Write a blog

*Keep a journal

*Take an art class

*Take up swing dancing

*Try something artistic and physical, like Poi

*Buy a camera and try photography

*Learn an instrument

*Get out in nature – learn astronomy or bird-watching

*Try ice sculpting

*Learn to cook, especially the manly art of grilling

*Learn how to do woodworking

*Take a geocaching course

*etc etc etc

So, your turn.

******What kind of creative things are you even remotely interested in? And, what’s your plan to implement at least ONE of those creative outlets? Let me know!******

If You Must… (Make a Change)

You’ve probably heard of or maybe even experienced the “Divorce car,” where one or both of the divorcees feel the need to make some major vehicle purchase to prove to themselves and/or the world that they are independent. Or, what about the Divorce/breakup haircut? Or, maybe even the Divorce house? Whatever it is, I’m sure you’ve at least felt first-hand the urge to break free from your past and plow ahead to create your own personal future.

When I got divorced, I made two major decisions which impacted me significantly. Yes, I caved in and bought a Divorce Car (an awesome red and black Jeep Wrangler, to be exact). While I LOVED that vehicle, the monthly payment was much higher than I was previously paying. Yeah, I felt like this four-wheeling, outdoors, cruising machine fit my personality like a glove, it was not a wise or prudent choice to make. Over the course of the following year, I struggled to make my payment and eventually found a way to get out from underneath my fat loan.

Another major choice I made post-divorce (PD), was to move from Illinois to Colorado. I had lost a great job and got divorced within the same week, and I had nobody I could really lean on in the small town I was living in. Although I was in quite a fog, I jotted down in my journal a chart of possible places for me to move. I brainstormed all the pros and cons of each location, but in the end, I made a move to Colorado Springs. Why? What attracted me to the Springs?

Relationships. I had family there, as well as some super close friends who were like an extra set of parents to me. I knew in my mind that I needed a safety net. I was one broken guy who could have gone down some exceptionally destructive paths had I remained alone in Illinois.  I rented a moving van, loaded up my ton o’ crap and my Divorce Car, and moved me and all my broken pieces to the mountain west.

In my three and a half years in Colorado Springs, not only was I blessed to have frequent time with my family and friends, I quickly built the most life-giving relationships I had ever experienced with new friends. Life-giving and life-changing.

Here’s my suggestion. If you are on the back end of a divorce and are feeling the urge to make some sort of major change to your life, weigh your choices as carefully as possible. If you must, IF YOU REALLY, REALLY HAVE TO make some sort of change, I urge you to forget about buying that shiny new vehicle. Don’t dump your money in a mortgage at this time. If you must do something, move. Change locations. Get a fresh start. BUT move to where you will have people you can surround yourself with. Friends. Family. People you can trust.

If you end up NOT moving, still avoid the major cash-sucking choices like getting a car or house. If you do stay put, though, still find a way to connect with some old friends OR make some new ones. Connect with people in your community (the “activities” tab on Craigslist is a great place to start). Join a health club and connect with people there. Walk through the door of that church down the street from you. Find some human beings you can connect with. Don’t give up on these relationships, though, if you don’t find someone or several people to connect with at first. Not everyone will be accepted or understanding of your newly established divorced life. That’s okay. Just find someone who will be willing to listen, willing to accept you, willing to help you move forward. Bottom line – don’t go through your divorce alone, NO MATTER HOW TEMPTING IT MAY BE.

You are a loose cannon, a bomb waiting to go off when you are at such a heightened state of depression post-divorce (PD). Make it a priority of emotional survival to forge meaningful relationships.

YOUR TURN

*****So, have you experienced the Divorce Car? The Divorce House? etc. etc. What was that experience like for you? Did you regret making that decision?

*****How have relationships (aka, a “safety net”) helped you get through your divorce?

Carrion Comfort – Gerrard Manley Hopkins

Here’s another dramatic reading of a poem I put together a couple of years ago. The speaker in the poem discloses how he came so close to despair, but fought back and resisted depression’s strong pull. The speaker also wrestles with the role God may have played in the difficulties he encountered. While the speaker is far from making a solid conclusion about God’s harsh treatment, it seems as though he begins to see that the difficulties he faced were, somehow, for his own good.

I can certainly relate to this. I was on the brink when I was going through my separation and divorce. Despair was the meal du’jour. However, as I have grown through the experience, I have taken note that I have certainly become a stronger, better, smarter, and more compassionate man because of it.

Enjoy!

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

This is my favorite Robert Frost poem. Not only did its message of “keep pushing on, in spite of the darkness you’re in” keep my chin up during the darkest days post-divorce, it was an opportunity for me to find a creative outlet.

This dramatic reading was my first video production ever, and I was glad to find an avenue of enjoyment.

I hope that the words of this poem can inspire you, AND I hope that you can find some sort of creative outlet for yourself as you find yourself in some dark times.

The BEST Advice I Ever Received (My ONE-YEAR CHALLENGE to you!)

There is no cookie-cutter formula for a guy to get through the difficulty and pain of divorce. I’m not pretending to say that “if you follow these three easy steps, you’ll have no problems getting past your divorce.” No, instead, I’m sharing from experience what was exceptionally helpful for me.

On the heels of my divorce a handful of years ago, someone told me to not put myself into any kind of serious dating relationship for at least one full year. Instead, I was told to take that time to figure out what a single ME likes and dislikes, enjoys and despises. Instead of grasping at something I felt I desperately needed (another relationship), I was free to investigate for the first time in my adult life who I had become. Not only that, I was able to avoid making some relationship decisions I know I would have regretted because I was a needy, broken man without a clue. So, I found out a few things about myself.

Just a few of my personal discoveries:

**Although I knew that I had enjoyed playing the trombone in school and a little bit in college, I never realized that I absolutely LOVED listening to big band swing. I also discovered for the first time that I got a big kick out of 60s rock (yes, I became a fan of Credence Clearwater Revival. Don’t judge me…).

**Regarding food, I quickly ascertained that I like key lime pie, and I don’t normally care for popcorn or cake.

**I learned that I enjoyed trying different beers and I occasionally enjoy smoking a Sherlock-Holmes style pipe.

**Regarding my viewing experiences, I discovered that I was not so much of a movie guy as I am a historical, nature, and crime documentary person.

**About books, I had the freedom to determine that I am thoroughly swept up in reading biographies and Charles Dickens and Old Testament prophets.

**When it comes to transportation, I found that I am a Jeep-a-holic and have been bitten by the motorcycle bug.

**Spiritually speaking, I finally was able to articulate my own set of theological fingerprints. Who knew that I was a cautious continuationist with shards and shreds of Calvinism embedded in my beliefs?

**Concerning mental health, I had no idea that I had been dealing with severe clinical depression since I was a little kid. What a major difference it made to find treatment!

**Interpersonally speaking, I discovered that I greatly value deep communication, I learned that usefulness of expressing anger, and I determined many of my defense mechanisms.

If you are on the fresh end of a painful divorce, I urge you to take my ONE-YEAR CHALLENGE.  Despite the urge, don’t date for a year. Read lots, talk lots, and introspect lots. Experiment with food, music, hobbies, and other tastes. Surround yourself with a small crew of trusted people. If you can’t find a crew, settle for one person you mildly trust. If that’s a stretch, then at the very least, keep a journal of what you discover. You will pleasantly surprise yourself during those twelve months!

If you are willing to take this ONE-YEAR CHALLENGE, let me know. I’d love to keep tabs on how your progress moves forward. Let me know your thoughts!

 

 

Once Upon a Time…

This is a story about a guy…