Tuesday, February 9, 2016

THE UNPREDICTABILITY OF DAYS

I had a blog entry written days ago with the intention of posting it today, but as I’m finally dragging myself to the computer, that one just doesn’t feel right for this moment. Perhaps I’ll put it up next week. Today I just feel inclined to write from the part of my heart that just wants to curl up in bed and cry like a small, emotionally disturbed child. If this blogging journey I’ve embarked upon—and committed to—is about being honest with myself while being honest with my readers, then I simply have to admit that I’m not in the mood to proofread the analytical and hopefully uplifting entry I wrote days ago. Today I just feel sad, frustrated, overwhelmed, maybe even angry. But I also have to admit that I’ve been contemplating the question: How do I write openly about depression and life’s difficulties without making what I write so depressing that no one will want to read it? How do I achieve the balance of being able to see the silver linings in these struggles and still be completely honest about having days that are so difficult that seeing silver linings feels utterly impossible? 

Okay, I’ll get to the point of my griping and get it over with as briefly as possible. Over the course of years I have tried very hard to come to terms with the limitations and unpredictability of my health. I strive each day to consider all I have to be grateful for, and to offer my gratitude to God for those blessings. I strive to be kind to my family members and anyone else I encounter, knowing that no amount of my own misery gives me the right to pass it on to others. But I have days—sometimes that stretch into many weeks—where there is no glimmer of light in spite of all my efforts to manage the difficulties appropriately. And I just have to accept that I am subject to the will of my physical body, over which I have no control. I have run the medical gamut, and I know more than the average fifty people about how you need to think positive in order to feel better, etc. etc. I could go on and on. The reality is that there are just times when pain dominates me and I have no choice but to submit. 

Today was the third time in a week I had to cancel something due to “not feeling up to it.” A friend was going to come visit last week on her day off. I was feeling so awful I had to cancel because I couldn’t even sit on my own couch for a visit and manage to be tolerable company. I didn’t go to my granddaughter’s birthday dinner at my son’s home. I knew that if I went I would just end up hiding in one of the bedrooms with the door closed, and I’d miss everything anyway, so what would be the point? And today a friend who shares my disease and diet issues was going to pick me up and take me to get a simple lunch out. But no! I woke up at 1:45 with a migraine. Took meds, managed to go back to sleep for a while eventually, woke up at 4:00 with a super migraine which required a double dose of meds and a different med added. Eventually went back to sleep for a little while until my daughter and husband were off to school and work and I said my good-byes. Dozed off for a while longer and woke up feeling an all-too-familiar sense of barely being able to move from the flu-like ache of my body, and the extreme fatigue. Ironically, the symptoms of my extremely low cortisol levels, and my post-migraine symptoms are much the same, so it’s just adding on more of the same. Basically, I feel like I have the flu but without a fever. And it’s a feeling that comes and goes in varying degrees, with ridiculous unpredictability, and it’s been happening for years. I just can’t seem to get past it, no matter how hard I try and what direction I take. (I must note here that I would love to get comments, but I ask you not to send advice. I promise that I’ve tried whatever you might think I haven’t tried. Sometimes we just need to speak and be heard, and that’s all.) 

So, here I sit while I could be doing something wildly exotic like eating French fries with a friend at In-n-Out Burger. How extravagant of me! I could be writing a novel, but my brain is foggy and tired. I could be balancing my checkbook, but . . . my brain is foggy and tired. Therefore, hence, I am once again just sitting around doing nothing, but too restless to actually rest, which is also a symptom of my cortisol issues. 

Okay, whining and griping complete. I absolutely believe that we should always counter a negative with a positive, so . . . now that I’ve shared the “how I really feel” with all of you in cyberspace, I am stating for the record that I absolutely believe that counting blessings truly is a grand remedy. And I have too many to count. I absolutely believe that giving myself credit for what I DO instead of looking at what I DIDN’T DO is important. So . . . world . . . I brushed my teeth and ordered some gluten-free baked goods online. Oh, and, I just wrote a blog entry. That’ll have to do for today. I also believe in the power of hope, so even against the odds, I’m going to hope for better sleep tonight, and less pain tomorrow. God bless us, every one! 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

SNOW

When Amanda gave me the pep talk recently about blogging more regularly, she told me that many things I’ve written to her in emails could make a blog entry. Way back when our friendship was first blossoming, we wrote many emails back and forth, because our schedules were too conflicting to talk on the phone, and we live just far enough away from each other to see each other very often. These emails helped forge our friendship and gave us great insights into each other’s real life and struggles. And then we both just got out of the habit, or perhaps we moved out of that season of our relationship. Now, when one or the other of us gets the urge to write a lengthy letter and send it electronically, it feels like a soothing balm. It feels good to be able to write openly and without fear of judgment, and it feels good to be heard and validated. And it feels good to just hear from a friend. So, with Amanda’s permission, I will occasionally be posting edited pieces from past letters I sent to her. I wrote this one not many weeks ago, with the subject heading SNOW . . . 

I would like to be sleeping but all the caffeine I took to calm down my headache has made me wide awake. So I'm thinking about you and hoping you're okay. I'm also thinking about my own pathetic-ness and what to do about it. 

I've had yet another week that feels mostly wasted. Beyond attending to my personal hygiene, doing a very little bit of cooking, and being there for my kids, I have done practically nothing, when I was determined to be writing and productive. I'm amazed and alarmed at how the depression controls me. The thing is that it's this chronic fatigue and pain at the root of it. I've literally spent years trying to solve the problems through combining emotional, physical, and spiritual healing methods. And I feel the same if not worse. No matter how motivated I might feel, my body quickly reminds me I can do very little. And my history of many years has contradicted all of my efforts and convictions about working hard to solve problems while striving to heal emotions and follow the guidance of God in my life. On one hand I feel very blessed. I can see the Lord's hand in my life. On the other hand I feel stuck and stagnant and baffled. The point I'm getting to is that I know I need to discipline myself to accomplish some things while at the same time recognizing my limitations. I'm hoping and praying for creative inspiration and motivation that will help me get lost in historical fiction where I can be productive and not think about the things that depress me. 

I am finding that the older I get the more I love snow. I love its beauty, and the way it kind of muffles noise and the way it covers up the ugliness of my yard that seems to represent the state of my life and my inability to do anything about it. I dread spring. The last few springs have really depressed me with the sense that life is starting over....again....but my life is still stuck. Last year I tried really hard to let go of that and be positive. But it was still a rough spring, summer, fall, and now winter again. And life goes forward with pain and illness and depression. I'm praying to feel some positive change inside of me with the coming of spring that can help me feel hope and joy. And I'm going to enjoy the beauty of winter while it lasts. I love it when the huge pine trees I can see from my bed are covered with snow, or when I can see snow falling. 

So, those are my thoughts for now. I'm hoping for a pleasant and restful day, and a better week ahead. 

Post Script: Back to the current blog entry . . . This was written prior to what I’ve written about in my last two blog entries. Since then I’ve been able to write a significant number of words in my current novel, and I’ve found that my blog posts and the feedback from those of you reading has already helped me feel some degree of emotional improvement, for which I am very grateful. I’ve also found that since I started using instagram (find me there under horstbergwriter) I’ve really enjoyed the social interaction there. So, I’m pressing forward, and I already have more blog posts in the making that will be showing up here soon. Feels good to be writing. Loves and God bless!

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Anita Stansfield aka Elizabeth D. Michaels (All of Anita Stansfield's books, and The Horstberg Saga by Elizabeth D. Michaels, are available at amazon.com)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

GOALS . . . OH, HOW I HATE THEM!

Actually, I really believe in goal-setting. I’ve read studies and surveys on the power of goal-setting. I’ve heard many respectable and amazing people talk about it. But I truly have a love-hate relationship with goals. Since I often think in visuals, right now in my mind I can see Heath Ledger in the movie “A Knight’s Tale.” After he has allowed himself to lose round after round of jousting in order to prove his heart to Jocelyn, the woman he loves—which means he’s beaten up, bruised, bleeding, and in pain—she sends a message that she now wants him to win. The Paul Bettany sidekick character points out that Jocelyn is watching him, and our hero says, “Oh, how I hate her!” It’s a great laugh line, because we all have just witnessed what he was willing to sacrifice to prove his love, but it connects into our own human experiences in so many ways. And so, I respectfully state that I love and respect the need and power of goal-setting. But oh, how I hate it!

Just to give you one example, at the beginning of 2010 I set the goal (and prayed for specific help in this) to be on the path to better health. In that year I had my gall bladder removed, my neck fused with titanium, and a complete double mastectomy. Seriously? Of course, my prayer was answered. God knew my gall bladder was diseased, my neck was about to break, and cancer was brewing, but it was a rough year, and since my health was already teetering at the edge of a cliff, having six surgeries in a year pushed me over the edge and I still haven’t recovered. (Complicated; I would need a power-point demonstration to explain. We’ll just leave it at that for now.)

I know that sometimes, if not often, things have to get worse in order to get better. But after many years of diligent goal-setting and only having life become more difficult, I hardly dare breathe a goal out loud, or heaven forbid, write it down. And so . . . this January of 2016, I have a mental list of things I want to work toward doing better at, and things I want to accomplish. I’m keeping it to myself, which might perhaps keep me from thinking that I might jinx my aspirations somehow. 

I have an accountability agreement with Holly and Amanda that I will post on this blog at least once a week, for reasons previously explained. Beyond that, I’m keeping my goals to myself. Still, I want to challenge each of you to consider these questions:
Am I striving to improve my life in the ways that I CAN control?
Am I honestly looking at my situation to assess what needs improvement?
Am I doing all I can, or just waiting around for things to change that won’t change on their own?
What can I work on that is REALISTIC and will really help my circumstances, or help me feel better, even if it’s in tiny increments? 
How can I work on improvement without further discouraging myself, especially if I’m prone to depression? 
Does it work better for me if I write it down, tell someone I trust who will help keep me accountable, or keep it to myself? If keeping it to yourself will only help you bury something so you don’t have to be accountable, then that’s not the best path. 

So, here’s to goal-setting. Cheers! And may we all keep moving forward, even if it takes getting beat up here and there along the way. 

Feel free to share your goals in the comment feed below, or just tell us your feelings about goals in general, or . . . whatever. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Depression Confession



I love the movie Apollo 13 for many reasons. It’s one of those I have to watch once or twice a year, for reasons that I could analyze deeply but I won’t right now. But I was thinking of the part when the spacecraft is on the dark side of the moon and unable to connect to their support team back on earth, and they spend this long, dark period of time in radio silence. As the sun comes back into view, radio static can be heard, and then communication begins again. That pretty much describes how I feel right now as I put words down with the hope of connecting to the world. Maybe I see just a tiny glimmer of light, and maybe I’m hearing the faint sound of static that gives me hope of communication beginning again. 

I’ve been fairly candid over the years about my health issues, even if I haven’t gotten into the tedious details of its complexities. What I may not have been quite so open about is the fact that I struggle a great deal with depression. It runs in my family, and it’s common with the disease I have, and I’ve battled it for much of my adult life, but until my physical health really began to deteriorate, I could usually find a way to manage it and get on top of it. I still manage to manage it, but only to a degree. For those of you who have been aware of this blog—and my other writing—you know that there have been huge gaps in time between my having anything to say. Explanation: depression. It’s true that it can be difficult to write when I physically don’t feel well. But the hard, bare truth is that I have done an enormous amount of writing while experiencing physical pain. It’s the debilitating effect of depression, with all of its distorted thinking and accompanying anxiety, that keep me away from the computer. As for my fiction writing, I did hit a point of complete burnout, hence my years of absence in storytelling. As for my being able to show up on this blog and write at a more personal level, it’s all about depression. I often think that I should write something on my blog, and reach out to my friends and readers through this amazing marvel of twenty-first century communication, but I just feel stuck and held back for reasons that I can’t define. But since when are the behaviors related to depression and anxiety supposed to reasonable?

But a couple of days ago, I had a remarkable series of interactions with three different friends who all shared inspired words of wisdom with me. I can sometimes go weeks without a serious conversation with another woman, so to have three in one day was a red-letter occurrence. In the morning I talked nearly an hour on the phone with a friend who lives far away who reminded me of some important things, things I know but they’re easy to forget. To bottom line it, she reminded me that everything has a purpose, that I am connected to God’s power through the light of Christ, and through that power I can win this battle—even if the battle is long and difficult. 

In the evening I had a visit from my friend Holly. She was very encouraging about some ideas I had spinning around, but she said one thing that really went to my heart: “Maybe you will heal as you write.” Or words to that effect. The thing is, I’ve felt for a few years now that I need to write a nonfiction inspirational book about my experiences, and I have lots of notes and ideas, but I haven’t been able to work on it. I think I was believing that I had to heal before I could write, but now I’m thinking that as I open myself up here—with the hope that someone will actually read it—that I will be able to work through these imposter beliefs and find my footing in life again. I’ve always believed that writing is cathartic, and I highly encourage it for anyone and everyone. But apparently I haven’t been able to see the forest for the trees in regard to myself. 

In the afternoon—between these other two visits—Amanda came to see me. Amanda and I have known each other professionally for many years, but have developed a true and powerful friendship in the last year or two. Amanda has a way of seeing and connecting to the most vulnerable and hurting parts of me and making them feel loved and validated and not crazy. When she came to visit she knew my struggle had been especially difficult of late, and she was determined to get me to talk about it and brainstorm for solutions. It was a long and complicated conversation, but from a different direction she told me—in essence—the same thing Holly had said. While writing novels is my day job and I need to do that to pay the bills, writing on my blog could be very therapeutic, and it could also give my readers a chance to look at their own challenges and not feel alone. 

Amanda also pointed out something that had never occurred to me before. In so many words she said that I probably believe a blog post has to be something really great, (because I am, after all, a professional writer) and that I shouldn’t be held back from posting just because I don’t have anything profound to say, or I don’t feel like writing. She said to just write a crappy blog post and get it out of my system. She presented the idea that I don’t have to write much of anything at all, but the discipline of writing on the blog, and the very fact of reaching out, would likely help me in many ways. And since I have a strong sense of my calling in this life being to use my writing gift as a means to help lift and strengthen other women, doing so might help me lose this overwhelming sense of uselessness and stagnancy and isolation. 

So, here I am: confessing my depressing state of mind, and my goal and my hope to just show up here and share my thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Some of you might be thinking that it’s not the first time I’ve said I would write more on my blog, but I want to believe my heart is in a different place now, and I’m needing very much to move forward in this way. Wish me luck!

And if you’re reading this, and/or you have any thoughts to share about what your own challenges are right now, feel free to comment. We’re all in this life battle together, one way or another.

God bless us, every one!

P.S. I ask that comments posted on the blog not contain any criticism or judgment or even well-intended advice toward me or anyone else who comments. We all have an instinct to want to help, and I appreciate that, but offering advice while only knowing a tiny part of the journey and experience can often make things more difficult. I’m opening myself up in a vulnerable state and with a trusting heart, and I ask for respect on that count. Thanks for just being there and hearing me!

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Anita Stansfield aka Elizabeth D. Michaels (All of Anita Stansfield's books, and The Horstberg Saga by Elizabeth D. Michaels, are available at amazon.com)

Monday, July 20, 2015

July 20, 2015 - ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY . . .

Forty-six years ago today, an American walked on the moon. I remember watching it unfold on the black-and-white TV in the little front room of the home where I grew up, and I remember standing on the back porch after it was dark and looking up at the moon, pondering how amazing it all was. And somewhere in the middle of all that, there was birthday cake and presents, because it was my eighth birthday. Yes, now you know that today is my birthday, and you know how old I am. I’ve never been one to try and hide my age or lie about it. I’ve earned every year, and however those years might show in my lumpy middle-aged self are just a part of who I am. I’m no longer thin and energetic, but my grandkids don’t care, so why should I?

I must confess that celebrating the day I came into this world is not holding any excitement for me at the moment. It’s not even six a.m. and I’ve already been awake for more than two hours with a migraine that is just beginning to calm down slightly with the help of three different medications. I’ve been fighting this health battle for years, and the migraines are the worst of my myriad of strange symptoms. I know what’s going on with my health because I have a great doctor, but the battle to undo the damage of years of disease is long and slow and painful. Pain has become a part of my everyday life for years now, so perhaps it’s needless to say that finding enthusiasm over life can also be an everyday challenge.

I’m well aware that I’m not the only person who is suffering in one way or another. It is, after all, a part of life—dang it. But here in my own little bubble of existence, it’s getting really old. I try every day to find joyful moments and to focus on gratitude. Prayer keeps me grounded, and knowing I have children who need me keeps me moving forward. However, the very idea of celebrating another year down and not feeling any better just feels like high treason. As I was reminded earlier this month on the Fourth of July, I am one of those traitorous colonists, but since I wasn’t actually present during the Revolutionary War, and I’m grateful to be an American, I feel rather pleased with myself for being labeled a treasonous colonist. I am rather fond of British television. And now you see how a brain on headache drugs can wander and regress. Bottom line: I don’t want to celebrate my birthday. What I want is to believe that by the time I celebrate the next one, I will be able to wake up without a headache. 

As for now, I am trying to accept that this pain is a present part of my life, and I have no choice but to make the most of the parts of my life that are good—and they are many. So, I will publicly declare here and now that in spite of the challenges, life is worth celebrating. I count blessings every day, and if I get serious about it, I find it doesn’t take long to realize the list is too long to comprehend. But my greatest blessing is undoubtedly my family. 

Yesterday my sons conspired to arrange a birthday dinner for both me and my husband, since he had been out of state working when his birthday happened a few weeks ago. The event was at the home of my oldest son, which was nice because I didn’t have to prepare for company or clean anything up. The kids took care of everything, and I can’t deny that it’s one of the gratifying experiences of having your children become adults—they actually are capable of taking care of me once in a while. The meal was great, and so was the gluten-free cake my son had made. But the truly great thing was just sitting around the table, and then in the backyard, with my children and grandchildren all gathered together. Three of my five children are married, so that’s eight children—because I certainly consider my daughters-in-law to be my babies too, even though I didn’t have to raise them. And I have four grandchildren and number five coming very soon. 

My children who used to fight and sometimes hate each other now sit around a table together and talk and laugh and tease. And those grand kids are a hoot. I swear something biologically changes in a grandparent’s brain. All the things that stressed me out with my own kids are now like some kind of magical circus that my husband and I just sit back and laugh at. “Oh, look at that hysterical tantrum!” “Aren’t they just adorable when they’re fighting over who got who wet first?” “Isn’t it just precious the way that toddler is throwing grass and dirt in the wading pool?” “And look at that toddler who is so prone to stripping all her clothes off that her diaper is held on with duct tape!” “The very pregnant daughter-in-law looks so cute with that huge belly and swollen feet. I know she feels like crap and can’t wait to get that baby out, but doesn’t she look cute!” And on and on it goes. That was the best birthday gift. To have my children go to the trouble of getting us all together, of preparing a meal that was safe for all my food issues, and for just letting me sit back and take in the deep, unspeakable joy of seeing the evidence that the more than three decades I’ve invested in raising children has turned out relatively well. 

So, today I can look at the pictures I took last night with my cell phone. Nothing worth framing, but enough of the memories captured that I can scan through them and smile—and I will probably do so a dozen times or so before the day is over. In conclusion, joy and gratitude are the ingredients that keep me going; sometimes I think they might literally keep me alive. Therefore I will add up as much of both as I possibly can and remind myself that I have much to celebrate. 

Post Script: And I feel a strong need to watch some British television, which I’m certain will emotionally connect me to the gratifying reality of being a treasonous colonist.
--


Anita Stansfield aka Elizabeth D. Michaels (All of Anita Stansfield's books, and The Horstberg Saga by Elizabeth D. Michaels, are available at amazon.com)

Friday, June 12, 2015

GREAT PLACE TO FIND GREAT BOOKS!



I just have to recommend this wonderful new opportunity for people who love to read . . .

I want to let you know about a meeting place for authors and readers where you will be able to enjoy the best reads. A young community in continuous growth, it provides a service different from that of the rest, and some of its proposals deserve highlight.
To begin with, you can obtain your reader membership absolutely for free, in a single step and only using your email. This will allow you to access our special newsletter with free Kindle books and quality ebooks that are a deal. You will even be able to read an excerpt of the titles you like, to get a feel for the book and see if it aligns with your preferences. But that’s not all! This site will permit you to access hundreds of good books to read, which must normally be paid for, as a gift! You will be able to read the book and give your honest opinion, providing you access to the best reading at the same time you help spread the author’s work.
Finally, you will have access to hundreds of articles and news, ensuring that you always have good books to read. And, if you wish, you will be able to participate in the Facebook page of The Books Machine, sharing the community’s benefits and updates with friends.

We hope you enjoy. Click this link now to assure your free membership, giving you access to the best reading right now: http://www.thebooksmachine.com
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Anita Stansfield aka Elizabeth D. Michaels (All of Anita Stansfield's books, and The Horstberg Saga by Elizabeth D. Michaels, are available at amazon.com)


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Life's Temper Tantrums


A while back one of my sons sent me a short video of his one-year-old 
son throwing a temper tantrum. Accompanying the video he wrote, “Here’s 
just a taste of what happens when we don’t let baby play in the toilet.” 
In the video my adorable grandson is rolling back and forth on the 
carpet, crying as if he’s been mortally wounded. He pauses as if to see 
if anyone is paying attention, then he pounds his feet against the floor 
over and over and continues to howl. Of course, I’m the grandmother, so 
I laughed and laughed. I don’t recall feeling that amused when my own 
children threw tantrums, but I was fairly naive when I first began my 
adventure of parenthood and I don’t think I handled their tantrums very 
well. I’d like to think I’ve helped my children be better parents than I 
was.

The first time I watched the video, which was very small on my cell 
phone screen, I could see my son’s foot in the frame at what appeared to 
be somewhat of an awkward angle, but I didn’t give it much thought. When 
I viewed the video on a bigger screen, I realized that he had his foot 
over the corner of an end table to keep his child from bumping into it 
and hurting himself while he got the tantrum out of his system. I 
actually felt moved to tears. As I considered why it made me emotional, 
a mixture of insights came to mind. I could clearly see now that while 
my son was patiently waiting for his own son to calm down and accept the 
situation, he was making certain he didn’t get hurt in the midst of his 
absolutely ridiculous infantile behavior. At least infantile behavior is 
expected when you’re barely one. When you’re one, playing in the toilet 
is fun. There’s no comprehension of the germs or the possibility of 
falling and bumping your head on hard porcelain. Knowing my son and his 
wife, it was likely one of the cleanest toilets in the world. Still, 
playing in the toilet is one of the first experiences this child will 
have of being kept away from harmful behavior by his parents. He’ll have 
to learn about hot stoves and sharp scissors and crossing streets. In 
his one-year-old brain, he only sees the chance for discovery and 
pleasure. It’s up to his parents to keep him safe. And they do.

Some days later the tenderness I’d seen in the tantrum video (which I 
have dubbed it) settled into me more personally. I consider myself to be 
fairly mature emotionally and spiritually, and I only say that because 
I’ve worked very hard to become that way and I try to be mindful of my 
behavior and attitudes. However, there are facets of my life that I am 
not very happy about, and I’m struggling to understand. Metaphorically, 
am I kicking and screaming because I want to play in the toilet because 
it’s fun and it’s what I want? Am I simply not trusting that God can see 
the bigger picture of my life, that He has a perspective I can’t 
understand? Maybe he’s protecting me, refining me, teaching me. Or all 
of the above. Is He figuratively keeping his foot over the corner of the 
table to keep me from bumping my head until I get my current state of 
emotional unrest out of my system? Is he just waiting for me to be still 
and accept that things are not the way I want them to be, but the way 
they need to be? I don’t know the answers to all those questions, but I 
do know God is in charge and my gratitude for that knowledge is deep.

Considering what I know of human behavior, I think tantrums come in many 
forms. Is it emotional eating? Getting angry with someone over something 
stupid? Refusing to let go of a misunderstanding in a relationship? You 
get the idea. The possibilities of adult tantrums are limitless. I’ve 
now paused to consider what ridiculous behavior I might be preoccupied 
with while my Father in Heaven is just watching and waiting patiently 
for me to get over it while He tries to keep me safe.

While this very thought was strong on my mind (because it was for 
several days) I went with one of my other sons to see his sons play 
soccer. Two boys of different ages were competing in different sections 
of the same field, so I was able to watch them both a little bit and let 
them see my face with the hope that they would know I love them and care 
about what they’re doing. While my son’s wife was coaching the game of 
their younger son, I walked over to that field to observe. For the 
record, trying to coach four-year-olds playing soccer is like trying to 
herd cats. It’s very entertaining for the onlookers, but nothing much is 
getting accomplished. My daughter-in-law deserves a medal for getting 
out there and trying to create some order in the chaos just so her son 
can be part of a team

Back at the other field, where my nine-year-old grandson was playing, 
the game was actually a game. I sat with my son and the two-year-old 
little sister of the athletes while the game progressed. With the 
exception of keeping an eye on his daughter (who is the reason the term 
“terrible twos” was created) my son kept his eyes tuned perfectly to his 
own son playing soccer. He cheered him on and shouted encouragement and 
never stopped watching. He wasn’t pretending to be interested; he really 
was. For me, little in life has felt as fulfilling as seeing my own 
children being good parents. So, my heart was warmed and I was so glad 
to be there—even though it was cold and a little rainy.

When the game was over, my son put the chairs and the big lawn umbrella 
in their carrying cases and we headed toward the parking lot. This was 
when his little daughter started crying to see Mom. He explained to her 
that they were going to put the stuff in the car and then find Mom, but 
she wasn’t listening. Finally she just sat down on the grass and refused 
to move. We were quite a ways ahead of her before it became evident she 
wouldn’t be talked out of moving. Then I watched my son patiently walk 
back, and with cases already hanging from one shoulder, he gently picked 
his daughter up by her shoulder, and with masculine strength and the 
evidence of much practice, he efficiently swung her over his free 
shoulder like a little bag of grain and held tightly to her to keep her 
safely there, and on we went.

Again I saw metaphors of life in this simple act. She was being stubborn 
and difficult because she wanted what she wanted and she didn’t have the 
patience to do things in the right order. But her father just lifted her 
up and carried her with patience and tenderness. He didn’t get angry or 
frustrated. He just did what he had to do to watch over his child. And I 
watched and wondered how often my Heavenly Father has lifted me up from 
my stubborn declarations of “I’m not going any farther” and just carried 
me over his shoulder until I’m ready to walk on my own again

I wrote last time about the wisdom of waiting, and of being still. I 
feel a sense that part of my need for stillness is to learn to recognize 
whether or not I’m being stubborn or ignorant or naive, and to trust 
that God is watching over me even if I don’t feel it in the moment. The 
youngest of my three sons is expecting his first child this summer. I 
see the precious waiting and anticipation in him and his wife as they 
make preparations and try to imagine how dramatically their lives will 
change. I love this baby already and can’t wait to meet her. And I 
wonder what she might teach me about waiting and being still and not 
throwing my adult version of tantrums. Perhaps waiting can be compared 
to being in a womb. It’s dark and crowded and we’re squirming and 
kicking and just waiting to be ready to come out, which is not unlike 
the butterfly in the chrysalis. Funny how life is full of lessons, 
everywhere we look. We are born and we learn and grow and we are reborn, 
sometimes again and again as we move toward the person we came here to 
be. For now, I’m going to try a little more to act like an adult and 
stop kicking and screaming. But I’m going to continue to be amused as I 
observe my grandchildren try to figure out this world, and eventually 
realize just how loved they are.




--


Anita Stansfield aka Elizabeth D. Michaels (All of Anita Stansfield's books, and The Horstberg Saga by Elizabeth D. Michaels, are available at amazon.com)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Anita's Book Notes

I want to draw your attention to the new tab at the top of the blog 
which will take you to my book notes. Some of these were posted on the 
blog years ago, but this is a complete list except for the new Horstberg 
Saga. I simply wrote a little about my experiences, feelings, thoughts, 
inspiration, etc from the writing of each book and short story. I hope 
you'll enjoy them! But . . . as it says at the top of the list, it comes 
with a big spoiler alert. Please don't read the notes for any particular 
story until after you've read it. I want you to enjoy the experience.


I'm working on another blog post of my somewhat crazy perspective of 
life. Watch for that to be posted here soon.



God bless, Anita

Anita Stansfield aka Elizabeth D. Michaels (All of Anita Stansfield's books, and The Horstberg Saga by Elizabeth D. Michaels, are available at amazon.com)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Horstberg Volume Five


For those of you who did not have the date on the calendar, counting the hours, and watching your favorite e-book vendor closely . . . (Come on, admit it. Some of you have been doing that. "My name is Anita and I am a bookaholic.") Volume Five of The Horstberg Saga---Through Castle Windows---is now up and running and available for purchase. 



This is a pretty big milestone for me and I have many thoughts and feelings, which I will probably write about in my next blog entry, so watch for that. 

As for now . . . drumroll . . . here are the links to purchase the books in all formats.

Special note in regard to the PRINT version: The publisher worked hard and often in the middle of the night to get this book out as promised, but there were some glitches at the other end in regard to the print version that were out of her control. She is working hard to get it straightened out and it should be available for purchase very soon if it's not already. If you have difficulty being able to purchase the print version, just be patient. She's doing everything she can as fast as she can. Promise!

Through Castle Windows Kindle

Through Castle Windows iTunes

Through Castle Windows Nook

Through Castle Windows Kobo

Through Castle Windows Google

Through Castle Windows Print

So, this concludes the five-book saga. This book has some difficult moments in the challenges the characters face, but the story is very close to my heart. I hope you will love the journey---and the outcome---as much as I do!

Keep reading and God bless, Anita



Anita Stansfield aka Elizabeth D. Michaels (All of Anita Stansfield's books, and The Horstberg Saga by Elizabeth D. Michaels, are available at amazon.com)

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Wisdom of Waiting

The Wisdom of Waiting 


 This world we live in is full of the need to work hard, to take action, 
to solve problems, to keep moving forward, going, going, going. Of 
course there is great wisdom in all of these things. Work doesn’t get 
accomplished when we are idle, and problems don’t get solved if we don’t 
do everything we can to figure them out. I absolutely know the truth of 
this from vast experience. I have written over sixty books, raised five 
children, served in many church callings, and faced many challenges in 
my life, both personally and professionally. And the more that problems 
came, the more I believed that I just had to keep working to solve them. 
I had to work hard to create income and conquer the ongoing flow of 
stories that kept coming into my head. I had to work hard to take care 
of my home and family. I had to work hard to find solutions to my 
failing health when every avenue I tried made no difference. I had to 
work hard to solve every spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical 
challenge that came up. I just believed instinctively that if I worked 
hard enough, eventually I would across some kind of metaphorical finish 
line and things would be easier, problems solved, life better. Well, 
guess what. I was wrong! Now, let me hurry and clarify before you even 
jump to assuming that I’m speaking out against the value of hard work 
and striving to be active in solving our life’s problems. I’m all for 
it! But through this intensely difficult season of my life, I have 
learned the very hard lesson that it’s only part of the answer, and 
missing the other part can be devastating.



Long ago I heard the little fable about a person in a rowboat with two 
oars; one represented faith and the other work. If the person only rowed 
with one oar—meaning all faith and no work—the rowboat would go in a 
circle and get nowhere. If the person only used work and no faith, the 
same thing would happen except the boat would spin in the other 
direction. It takes using both oars together to move the boat forward. 
The message and imagery has stuck with me, and I’ve always considered 
myself to be both hardworking and faithful. That is certainly true. I am 
hardworking and faithful. But the real meaning in life isn’t necessarily 
found in simple adages; they are just the tip of the iceberg. We are 
here to figure out who we truly are, and to become the person God wants 
us to become. And that doesn’t happen when you’re stuck in a pattern of 
thinking and behavior that isn’t getting you to those goals. I may have 
been frantically rowing with both oars, but I had completely missed the 
point that sometimes you just have to let go of the oars and lay back in 
the boat and allow God to guide its direction. Let go and let God. 
There’s an adage I thought I understood. Now, I’m beginning to see that 
I’ve not yet begun to truly let go and let God.



I’ve struggled with health issues that have taken me out of different 
aspects of my life for many years now. And I thought I understood what 
that meant. But now I have spent three years in a place where almost 
every facet of my life that’s important to me has been pulled away. My 
health got so bad that I couldn’t even go to church or the temple, the 
places where I seek spiritual strength and guidance. My inability to do 
things for and with my family intensified greatly. I can’t even go to a 
movie theater. My inability to be the kind of homemaker I would like to 
be also intensified. Without active help from my children, the household 
would not function at all. Relationships with friends and loved ones 
became strained or completely dissipated for various reasons and I’ve 
felt enormously isolated. My doctor summarized my complicated health 
situation and declared me to be “disabled” and he stated kindly “it’s a 
miracle you can do anything at all.” And then—to seal the deal—my 
creativity just flat-lined. I had felt it struggling for a long time, 
but I’d never imagined it would just shut off.



And that’s when the waiting began. I kept waiting, waiting, waiting. I 
couldn’t DO anything except pray and wait. My already flailing 
self-esteem began to beat myself up badly for not being capable of DOING 
something to solve all of these problems. I just kept waiting for a 
miracle to release me from this terrible bondage, for I indeed felt 
bound in so many ways.



About a year or so into my “waiting” I had the impression come to my 
mind of a caterpillar inside of a cocoon. The idea gave me hope and 
understanding. I was being changed into something better. One day the 
waiting would end and I would be able to fly. But months passing made 
the idea difficult to hold onto. More waiting; dark, painful, lonely 
waiting. My husband and children never stopped being a part of my life, 
but they went in and out with their own busyness and I just kept 
waiting. Months have grown into years of waiting.



I’ve been led to many different puzzle pieces that are helping me become 
the new me that I suspect and hope is being created in this cocoon. But 
the tightness and the darkness continue. However, one of the most 
powerful pieces for me was being led to a book called, “When The Heart 
Waits,” (sounds like an Anita Stansfield novel) by Sue Monk Kidd. The 
steps that led me to having that book in my hands are a series of 
seemingly insignificant events that miraculously put it right in front 
of my face at the exact moment I needed it. The book is about her own 
midlife darkness and struggle and waiting, and she uses the metaphor of 
the cocoon, the chrysalis, and the butterfly to illustrate her poignant 
and powerful message, all of which is presented with a strong Christian 
theme. I’m not quite finished with the book yet; I’ve had to read it in 
small increments and take it into my spirit. But I am learning the 
purpose and the art of waiting, not to be ashamed of my waiting, but to 
recognize that God put me on bedrest to get my attention, and he’s 
carefully and quietly teaching me the greatest lessons of my life. But I 
cannot hear His lessons if I’m so focused on the frustration of waiting 
and being idle that I’m not paying attention to the wisdom of divine 
guidance and instruction. I have been shown the many dysfunctions that 
had been a part of my life before waiting. And I am being guided on how 
to change them. I have far to go, but I’m relaxing more in my little 
boat, looking for the beauty all around me that I had been missing, and 
counting my blessings while I take in moments of joy amidst the ongoing 
pain and struggle.



I have learned and am continuing to learn much, but the most powerful 
thing I’ve found is the immensely deep message in one of my favorite 
scriptures. “Be still and know that I am God.”



My little boat is in His hands.

Anita Stansfield aka Elizabeth D. Michaels
(All of Anita Stansfield's books, and The Horstberg Saga by Elizabeth D. Michaels,
are available at amazon.com)


P.S. A note from Anna here! 
Anita (or you know, my mom) has most of the book notes ready to post. There are a LOT of them though. This is essentially a warning that the blog will soon be flooded with posts while we're getting all of those up. 
They'll be organized via a list and links in a tab. 
Carry on!