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Lessons from the quiet chair

The ritual of spending time here every morning continues to help me

I hear the geese flying overhead on their way back to the wildlife sanctuary, just four miles west of our yard. I see birds perched on a stray self-planted sunflower near the bird feeder. I ponder the words on my lap in my journal as I sit in silence in my morning ritual of the “quiet chair” tucked in the northwest corner of my kitchen.

It was a quiet morning before eight, that I noticed the ad for a book Just One More Day, by Beverlee Buller Keck. This wonderful book is a 40-day journey of meditations for those who struggle with anxiety and depression.

Know anyone in your circle who battles with negative thoughts, worry, and a deep sense of hopelessness? I bet you do.

I lost most of 1984 to psych wards in Winnipeg and later at Eden in Winkler, where I experienced a very gracious, patient staff, and concern for my complete healing journey as I struggled with a severe case of postpartum depression.

Women typically are the chief emotional officers (CEOs) of their families, wanting to nurture, encourage, and balance the family’s emotional bank account harmoniously. Many farm women I coach are concerned that their husbands are depressed, and highly frustrated that their spouses will not get help.

The ritual of spending time every morning in my quiet chair continues to help me find a place to reflect, read Scripture, pray, and ponder the people’s names who pop into my head, along with the grocery list and other distractions that are duly noted on Post-it notes before going back to the main thing I’m thinking about.

I keep a prayer journal, and am surprised that sometimes 10 days have passed since the last entry. Was I in the chair? Yes, but the phone may have rung, I might have been called to jockey someone to a field, or I may have been on the road. I don’t beat myself up for not making entries. I pay attention to what the entries are telling me about the journey of life. The real learning is reading entries from the previous year, same season. Did I learn to trust more? Am I seeing answers to healing prayers for friends and family? What has my friend’s death taught me to value?

Some of you don’t find solace or comfort in reading the Word of God, yet you are searching for some answers to having a peace of mind. Perhaps your reading pile is different than mine, but our common yearning is to find wisdom in handling the bumps of life. You might use a meditation class and play music to create calm in the home.

The quiet chair routine brings people to mind whom you may need to connect with. Keck’s book has many examples of how we, as women who care, can be bearers of the “covered dish” to bring meals to those folks who are depressed and need practical help and encouragement. Who needs to taste your homemade casserole and relish in the visit that follows?

After this tough season of crop losses, families will feel the ripple effects of financial strain causing “circumstantial” depression. When bad things happen to good people, they sometimes cannot take the chronic stress and strain. Perhaps you’ll book an appointment to get confirmation from a doctor that depression is a real threat to your well-being, or you may take a leap of faith to see a counsellor for some issues that have surfaced. Do you think you need some professional counselling to help you find relief from your anxious thinking?

I’ve been in group therapy, and reflected on tough questions in private counselling.

Some women just need a good cup of tea with a confidante to feel like “they’ve been heard” and their emotional well is renewed and refreshed. After you’ve spent time in your quiet chair, pick up the phone and invite a friend for a chat, either long distance, on Skype, or across your kitchen table.

News came again this week that another woman is dealing with cancer. We talk openly about supporting her, yet sometimes the women who have a family member struggling with the bleak days of depression don’t think they can share “their secret.”

It’s time to stop hiding behind the stigma of depression. Please do not call it a “nervous breakdown.” Call it depression. It may be one of seven types, but it is an illness that needs to be listened to, and journeyed with. Who in your circle of influence needs you to go for long walks? Who needs a letter or email from you in their mailbox?

Give yourself the gift of time in your quiet chair. Have a journal, pen, Bible, devotional book, Post-it notes, and cards handy. Words are powerful when they soothe the soul and bring hope. I kept the stack of 1984 cards for over 20 years, and I can still recall the faces of the faithful women who sent words of life and encouragement.

I suspect that we are going to hear many stories of woe on the Prairies this winter. Will you hunt out opportunities to be intentional about listening to the tales of possible depression around you at the hall, the store, or your kitchen?

I choose to speak life into those who feel that all hope is gone. Depression is a treatable illness with various ways to find healing. Every family knows somebody who is dealing with sadness and anxiety. Please don’t ignore the pleas for help. Offer a non-judgmental ear or a practical help like a home-cooked meal.

Are you ready to draw strength from your time reflecting? Find the women around you who need to know there is hope for them and their partners.

Live intentionally. Embrace the lessons of the quiet chair.

About the author

Contributor

Elaine Froese is a certified farm family coach and farm partner. Seek her out at www. elainefroese.com or call 1-866-848-8311. Buy her books for your mom. Share your stories of how these phrases have impacted you. Elaine wants to hear from you on Facebook at “farm family coach” or Twitter @elainefroese.

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