Repaint the Ceiling

“Repaint the Ceiling”
Written by: Maranda Russell

Waking up,
I lay there and wonder
how long it would take
to repaint the ceiling?
Maybe a subtle, powder blue,
or a rolling green sea?
A buttery yellow,
or a soft and gentle lilac?
Something to take the edge off
on the nights I’m cut open
and bleeding on the carpet.

Video: My Experiences with Emotional Pain or Abuse from a Church or Religion

Hi everyone! I wanted to share this video I made recently for my Spiritual Agnostic YouTube vlog channel, in the hopes that perhaps others who have experienced similar things or even much worse, might find some comfort and strength in knowing they aren’t alone and that it is possible to heal and move on from things like this. In no way did I make this video to be mean or vengeful, but just to express my own process of growth and learning through these experiences.

New YouTube Video – “Plantar Fasciitis Sucks! My Experiences with Foot Pain”

Since I have openly talked about some of my health problems and how they affect my life, I have had a few people ask me how I developed the foot condition plantar fasciitis and why it limits the kind of jobs I can do. So, I decided to make a vlog video about the pain and problems related to plantar fasciitis and why the condition has greatly affected my personal and professional life. I didn’t make this video to whine or try to get sympathy, I just wanted to share my story in hopes that I can educate people about the condition and let anyone else going through similar problems know that they are not alone.

International art, new books and killer warts

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New literary anthology featuring some of my poetry and art.

This is just a short blog post about some exciting things going on in my life recently, mostly good, but some rough spots too.

First off, I am happy to say that I am definitely an international artist now! My artwork has been bought by art lovers and collectors in the US, Canada, Australia, France, England, Wales and Switzerland. My art has been exhibited in at least a couple countries outside of the US as well! In the future, I would love to add some Asian, African or South American countries to that list! I want to thank all those who have been purchasing my art lately. The extra income has been great, but even more importantly, it makes me happy to know that my art has touched the lives of others.

Next, I am pleased to announce that two of my drawings and three of my poems were featured in the recently released literary anthology, “Not Dead Yet: An Anthology of Survivor Poetry“. As you can probably tell from the title, this collection features artists and authors who have dealt with great suffering in one form or another and have lived to tell about it. I was proud to be a part of this project, since it celebrates strength, resilience and hope.

I have finished writing my new book, “Searching for the Truth: Poems & Prose Inspired by Our Inner Worlds” and plan on releasing it soon! This book features prose and poetry about subjects like spirituality, philosophy and psychology. It is a personal book, but the wide-ranging subject matter also makes it universal.

On the health front (which is usually the downfall in life for me), I have had an extremely painful battle with plantar warts recently. The last time I had these issues I was 12 and had surgery to remove them, so I was hopeful it would never come back, and yet, here it is. It has gotten to the point this week that I had to bust out my grandfather’s old walker to help me move around the house. It is a little bit funny to be a woman in her 30’s using a walker to get around, but it is kind of sad and foreboding as well. I can’t help but think of the future and wonder how many times I will have to use it again. Last night I fell in the bathroom just trying to get out of the bath tub. Laying there on the ground with a nasty bruise growing on my hip, I thought about how lucky I am to still have strong bones that don’t shatter or break easily. It makes me thankful, but sad for those who aren’t as fortunate.

An open letter to churches and church people about chronic illness and pain

Lonely Leaf

To churches and church folks everywhere:

Unfortunately, I have heard too many stories from fellow chronic pain/chronic illness sufferers about mistreatment at the hands of the church or church people. Some of these people even end up losing their faith or abandoning church altogether because they are hurt so badly by the apathy or mistreatment they feel from their spiritual family. I myself have experienced some similar things in the past and I would like to make a few requests for all churchgoers to consider, especially those in leadership positions:

  • Please don’t ignore or mistreat those in your church with chronic illness or chronic pain conditions. Don’t think that just because they can’t always make it to church or participate in activities that they don’t want to. Don’t accuse them of just being lazy, selfish or antisocial.
  • Please do reach out to them by making a quick call, a short visit, connecting on social media or dropping a card in the mail once in awhile. If you have never had a long-term chronic illness or injury, you may not know how lonely, depressing and rough it can be.
  • Don’t think or comment that since they don’t look sick on the outside, they must not be sick or hurting. Many illnesses and injuries are invisible and even if a person doesn’t look like they are in pain, it doesn’t mean they aren’t. Many of us get so used to the pain that we don’t normally talk about it or even show it on our face anymore, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t felt.
  • Remember that mental illnesses like depression and anxiety can be just as devastating and debilitating as a physical illness. Also remember that depression and anxiety often accompany a chronic physical illness or injury, which can compound the problem and make it even harder for a person to function normally.
  • Don’t play doctor and tell us what you think is “really” wrong with us or tell us what we need to do to “fix” ourselves. Your intentions may be good, but most likely we have already visited various health professionals and tried anything and everything to try to fix the problem and find relief. If you constantly tell us what we “should” be doing, it can make us feel like it is our fault we are sick or in pain because we aren’t doing enough to try to solve the problem, which is normally entirely untrue. And NEVER insinuate that our illness/injury is caused by a lack of faith or that God is “punishing” us for one reason or another. First of all, that isn’t your judgement to make. Would you want to hear that when you are suffering? Treat others the way you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes.
  • Lastly, try to find a way to “include” us even when we can’t be there. Share photos on FB or by email with us of events we had to miss. If we can’t make it to a special dinner, bring us by a doggy bag of the yummy food we missed. Let us know we are missed, but don’t try to make us feel guilty for what we can’t help.

Finding the blessings in our pain

Recently there has been quite a bit of pain introduced into my life.  Not necessarily my own, but that of my grandfather, who is dying from stage 4 lung and bone cancer, and from my new foster son who is dealing with emotional issues no one at his age should have to encounter.  Of course, I do have my own enduring pains, including the depression my entire family struggles with and the health problems that have plagued me for years, mostly due to my faulty immune system.

With all of this on my mind in recent days, I found myself in need of comfort.  While shopping the aisles of my local library, I picked up a book entitled “Why Me, Why This, Why Now”, written by Robin Norwood, a well-known therapist and author.  I could tell that Robin was approaching life from a spiritual point of view rather than a scientific one, so I was hoping I would find more than just medical jargon within the pages.  Luckily, I found more than I even expected, including the following thoughtful affirmation:

“I didn’t yet understand that God is always unknowable and that as we move closer to Him, God moves farther away, drawing us higher and higher as we seek and search and try to follow.”

I must admit the above quotation threw me a bit at first.  After all, I had always been told that when me move closer to God, he moves closer to us.  As the Bible verse says, “Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you”.  However, I can see the truth in the author’s opinion.  If God always met us where we are, we would fail to advance upon our path of spiritual growth.  By being slightly elusive, God keeps us following him, thirsting for more.  In no way do I want to give the impression that God is cold and uncaring by turning his back on us and walking away.  He is more like the parent who encourages their child’s first steps by standing out of reach and then calling for their child to follow.

The other thoughts the author shared that really hit home were actually part of a list explaining the purpose and reality of human suffering.  Here is the list as Robin Norwood gave it:

1. Deep healing always involves a change of heart and therefore an expansion of consciousness.

2. The cure of a physical condition or illness does not necessarily imply that meaningful healing has taken place.

3. The continuation of a physical condition or illness, even if death eventuates, does not necessarily imply that meaningful healing has not taken place.

4. In the emotional realm, the greater the trauma, the greater the potential for meaningful healing.

5. At the level of thought, the greater the distortion in the belief system, the greater the healing, should that distortion be corrected.

6. The healing of the individual affects the healing of the entire body of humanity; the healing of the body of humanity affects the healing of the entire planet.

Although the above list is fairly self-explanatory, I can’t even begin to tell you how it freed me from untold pain and anguish.  Instead of fighting against the inevitable, making myself and everyone around me miserable in the process, I could allow life to happen, help where I can and leave the rest of it in the hands of someone who knows better than I.  I have always believed that everything, all the good, as well as the bad, happens for a reason, but when you are in the midst of turmoil, it is easy to forget what you have always known to be true.  This helpful book reaffirmed my belief in life and the purpose we are all here to fulfill.  Life is a classroom, and we are all here to learn.  So let us never forget that pain is one of our greatest teachers, and like a diamond, we will only be more beautiful and pure once we are refined.