Over the last two weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about healing. This, following reading news of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington’s suicide on Chris Cornell’s birthday.

Specifically, I’ve been contemplative about the difference between those of us who overcome depression and those who do not, and if the key is our ability to access healing.

So, my first post on this topic is a simple but thoughtful and honest list of the ways I’ve been able to overcome adversity, depression, anxiety and worry… and access the power of healing. As I put this list together though, I also realized that using any one of these in excess has also led me to further addiction, pain and suffering, depending on where in life I was at… As such, not only should one use in moderation, it’s important to recognize that there’s a fine line between healthy practice and addiction: know the difference, choose to be kind to yourself, and stop when you’ve crossed that line. So without further ado*:

  1. exercise (this is obvious, but do so in moderation)
  2. eating healthy (as my friend Derek warned: this is not the same as dieting)*
  3. sharing sadness with friends and family
  4. vacation (beach ones are my favorite)
  5. making new friends (usually comes easiest when you’re pursuing a new social hobby)
  6. dessert
  7. reading (one of my favorites: Tara Brach’s Radical Acceptance)
  8. listening to music (Frank Sinatra tops the list)
  9. yoga, meditation, and reiki
  10. restyle, your hair and/or wardrobe
  11. tattoo (go for a small one)
  12. hobbies, new and old
  13. write, from the heart (I’m not one for journaling, but prefer poetry writing)
  14. talk therapy (in my personal experience, this is an entry point to healing, but in and of itself talk therapy hasn’t healed me)
  15. working with a life coach (where talk therapy has gotten me to the entry point, a life coach has guided me the rest of the way)
  16. alternative medicine (acupuncture has helped me, though there are others)

Do you have a favorite you want to share that’s not on my list? Please feel free to leave a comment!

*Disclaimer: all opinions expressed here are my own and are a result of the way in which my somewhat dysfunctional mind interprets a particular situation and or concept. Should you decide to act upon or reuse any information provided by me, you are doing so at your own responsibility.

 

Antigua –
It is the place where the poet, the lover,
returns.

Love lost forever
and not
but not.

Seekers come and go
to find… the poet?
her lover?

Release (!) – the grief – the
holding on…
or me.

Antigua is – my dreams.
My gratitude. My loss.
my healing.

The days & the rain washes away
the pain, the sorrow.

New beginnings just over
the Border.

– A.Ling, 2016

Most people who know me, know I spend a bit of time on the road. I’ve worked and traveled around the world, often to places that most people never heard of or never thought to visit.

I can identify precisely when I caught the travel bug: I was 20 and, while getting my bachelors degree at Drexel University in international area studies, worked abroad for a semester teaching English at a private elementary school in China. I instantly connected with people with whom I had little in common, but whose stories I thought were interesting and amazing. Deeply influenced by one of my professors, a sociologist with leftist leanings, I connected with people and their stories of hardships through work and their lived experiences under a communist regime.

From there, I didn’t stop traveling. I worked in the non-profit sector, and worked in East, West, and Southern Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and Central America. I traveled to other parts of Latin America and Tibet in my late 20’s and early 30’s for non-work excursions. I wanted to know all there was to know about the world and what stories and meaning held “out there.”

Through all this, my parents often frowned upon my wandering. Though they know my work and living abroad has deeply impacted me and made me a better person, I make them worry, as they like to point out.

And then… I had a revelation the other day. 

My family and I immigrated to the United States in 1985 when I was 8 years old. This past November, my mother became eligible for Medicare – which makes her 65 years old. In 1985 then, at the age of 34, my mother, along with my father who was 32, immigrated to the US with their 3 young children of 9, 8, and 7 years.

It dawned on me then, that in their early 30’s my parents encountered their “what if” moment – their Jesus Year, if you will (see post, “Jesus Year, deconstructed.”) It was the “what if” that propelled my parents to leave their jobs and home, and head to the West for opportunities.

And yes, I can share with you our immigrant story… But today, I just wanted to remind myself, and hope you will too, to always allow our sense of wonder to fill us. As my dear friend Ken once told me, “sometimes, dreams do come true.”

So perhaps, my travel bug was caught not when I was 20, but when I was just a child, daydreaming about the “what if” in life and the things to see “out there,” just as my mother and father did. If we are truly more like our parents then we ever care to admit: then for this one thing they’ve given me – this sense of wonder – I thank them.

– Angel, writing from Niamey, Niger, March 2017