Trees of Transition

Comfort for people going through life transitions by sharing thoughts, photos, cards, and recipes.

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Smoking: I Hate What It Does to People

You’ve seen it: A cigarette dangling from a lady’s slender fingers, as the smoke spirals up above her head; these images have a seductive pull to them, but they are deadly. I love a lot of people who smoke, but I hate what that nicotine-filled smoke does to them. Smoking killed my brother-in-law.

My brother-in-law, Don, created intricate, graceful pieces of furniture for people who desired custom-built furniture. His creativity came out through creating his fine furniture, drawing, and what he talked about. 

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How to Pass a Drug Test with Flying Colors

I have to pee in a cup before I start this job!? Well, yes. Some jobs require you take a drug test before you start work. Want to pass that drug test? Following are the things that helped me.

Don’t do drugs. Period. If you need support with dealing with life, get help from people, not substances.

Don’t eat poppy seeds in anything the days before the test (I had to turn down some lemon poppy-seed bread a friend had made. Bummer. But we laughed, “It would be sort of funny if I didn’t pass the drug test because of some bread!” My friend chimed in, “You’re the last person you would think of taking drugs.”)

Schedule the drug test as early in the morning as possible and then hold it until the test.
Excuse the bathroom talk, but it’s part of the test. You really have to go to be able to pee in a cup (or at least that’s my experience), so hold it and then drink a lot of water an hour before the test.

A few years ago I had to give a urine sample as part of a physical exam. That morning when I woke up, I went to the bathroom as usual, and then thought: “Oh, No!! I should have held it.” So I started drinking glass after glass of water in order to be ready for the test. When I got to the clinic, I tried to pee in the cup, but it wouldn’t come…I drank more water…nothing…ran the bathroom tap to get the water sound to help…then after thirty minutes, I succeeded. And for the next few hours I had to go to the bathroom every hour since I had drank so much water.
Holding it helps, and by the time you have to take the test, it will be easy.

Be thankful your work cares to have its employees be drug-free, and choose to be one of them.

By M. H. Campbell Copyright 2014


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Push Into The Throb

I know the pain slices through your hope, it casts your eyes toward the darkness, thinking it is bigger than the light,
But it’s NOT!
Feel the pain,
Push into the throb,
Hold onto it until you navigate its rapids because if you numb out, medicate, and avoid it, it will stay there, buried, still aching.
Numbing seems safe, but it just delays healing.
Healing comes through feeling, weeping, cleansing, and releasing.
Be free
to heal,
to live.


Copyright 2014 by M. H. Campbell

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Learning to Not be Clueless: Developing Self-Awareness

Last year a friend made a comment about how I seemed to her: “It’s like you crawled out from under a rock! You’re so wide-eyed at the world and open to learning new things.” Thinking about this makes me laugh and then ponder.

Part of what the friend meant was that growing up I was isolated and chose not to learn average popular culture for a while, and now I’m getting to experience it. (Maybe it surprised her, but she was very encouraging and helped me develop in some new ways.)

Now that I’m learning more communication skills I understand more of what she meant and am seeing the gaps in how I related to her and others.

My selfishness was hidden under a “nice” front, so I got away with it for years. In the last few years I have had situations where I’ve been forced to see my selfish patterns, and I’m learning to change.

I was childish in this area of self-awareness. Children arrive: completely dependent and inward focused.
A parent’s and a teacher’s job is to break kids out of that inward focus and learn how to relate to others.

Self-awareness must be taught (and sometimes taught repeatedly to get through to some humans.) Some humans tend to be more empathetic or feeling, while others have focused on getting their own needs met.

How do you develop self-awareness?

You learn how to love and care for people by just doing it! Sometimes I lament the years I didn’t try as much, but NOW I can be tuned it, feel others’ feelings, and love people where they are at.

Self-awareness comes through having truth-tellers in your life: people who will lovingly tell you “You hurt me when you did that, and please say it maybe this way next time and it would seem more caring.”

Start picking up people’s signals/vibes/ the emotional feelings they are sending out if you care to stop and listen. Pay attention to peoples’ faces and pick up the signals there.

Let love in enough so that you can relax, forget yourself, and tune into how others are feeling.

So I’m learning to not be clueless by being willing to tune into other people’s signals, and responding in an appropriate ways. And I still am wide-eyed toward life because this is a much more life-giving way to live!

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Resigning From Trying to be the Savior: Reflections from a Suicide-Survivor’s Daughter


I didn’t think I had a “hero-complex,” but now I know that I did. I wanted to be in charge. If change was happening that I didn’t like, I wanted to be in control and stop it or do it my way.

Three years ago when my principal was getting let go and a new one coming in at the school where I was teaching, after I had vented to a counselor about it all and how hard it was, she just looked at me and said, “You want to be the one making the decisions.” I didn’t want to admit it, but reality was, yes, I was uncomfortable with the changes, and didn’t want things to change.

Two years ago, from Halloween morning on when my Mom first told me, “I want to kill myself,” I wasn’t sure exactly WHAT to do, but I started trying to do something. I called and listened to her. I encouraged her. I told her I would help her get more help if that is what she thought she needed.

So a few weeks later, I helped my Mom sign herself into a psychiatric hospital. She got help for a few days, but then our family banded together to get her out before Thanksgiving. My sister and I took her into our house, and Mom stayed in my room for three weeks. She started taking medicine to help her thyroid, sleep medicine, and anti-depressants.
She got a little help from therapy, but we still didn’t know exactly what to do or how to help her.

Mom started feeling a little better, Thanksgiving was okay. We ate turkey together and Mom started being more honest about what she was feeling.

Then my Dad got in a car-accident, and she started nose-diving again. We couldn’t say, 
“There IS hope” enough to her, and it didn’t stick.

One Sunday morning, mid-December, my Dad was on his way to take my Mom to church, and my housemate and I were leaving a bit earlier. Mom was deeply depressed, and she tried to block my way as I left the house. I needed to get out of that house, and I knew Dad was coming soon, so I reassured her, “Dad’s coming soon,” and just left.

An hour later, after Sunday School, my sister called me and let me know my Mom had over-dosed on her medicine and was rushed to the hospital.

After I had left, Mom had tried to call a few people for help, but no one answered. Then she gave into the messages of death in her head, and took lots of pills. Dad got there in time to call 911 and get help, so Mom’s stomach could be pumped. They sedated her for a day, and she was in ICU for a bit. Then they moved her back to the psychiatric hospital. This time she did not want to be there. She did not cooperate. She was there for over a week.

When we had the family meeting about where she should go next, I was protesting having her go back to my parents’ farm out in the lonely country where this depression had started. I was saying, “She can’t go back there!”

The case worker looked at me and said, “You can’t save her. If she wants to kill herself, you won’t be able to stop her.” It felt like someone had kicked me in the gut. I stopped talking, and let my family do what they thought was best. Hearing that truth was hard, but it was what I needed right then. It helped me step back and stop trying as hard to save the situation.


A few days later my siblings moved Mom back to the farm. Several of them stayed with her and Dad for a few days right before Christmas. On Christmas morning we ate together, had a few presents, and then everyone left except me. We went to church, but it was a sad Christmas. I knew I couldn’t save my Mom or pull her out of this depression. I couldn’t fix my parents’ marriage and communication issues.

As the sun set, I waved good-bye to my parents on Christmas night and resigned my job as Savior to my Mom. I let her make her choices: a few days later, she made another suicide threat, but a friend was with-it enough to call 911 to get help. Mom was taken to the country psychiatric hospital, where there, she received excellent attention from a psychiatrist and started to forgive herself and the eventually the depression lifted. The psychiatrist let my Dad know he could either have his farm or his wife. My Dad chose his wife, and they moved into town.

It took me several months to get out of survival “don’t feel” mode, and then feel the sadness of the situation. I had to forgive myself for leaving that Sunday morning; but God protected my Mom without me. Jesus is the Savior, not me.

To hear more of what helped during this time–please read the piece I wrote called, “There IS Hope….”

To hear my Mom’s story through this time, please see her message that I shared on my blog:

Now, two Christmases past this hard time, I am so thankful my Mom is doing well. Medicine helps, facing issues and getting counsel helps, moving to a new home helps…
These experiences helped me know that people will make their choices, and we can’t fix them. There’s a healthy balance I’m learning to walk about when to help and when not to. People in depression do need support, but just know that you can’t save them.

Stepping back, letting go of control was what I needed to do then, to let the consequences happen to the people’s choices, and resigning from being the Savior was my role in the story right then.



There IS Hope. Walking Alongside Someone Suffering Depression During the Holidays

The time between Thanksgiving and New Years Day is supposed to be the happiest time of the year, right? Well, sometimes it ISN’T. Two years ago my Mom was in deep depression, suicidal, and struggling for hope. Today she is full of hope, dreams, and love. With her permission, I’m sharing parts of her story in order to inspire others to continue on. I’ll also be sharing parts of my story of coming alongside my Mom while in depression and ideas of how to push through to recovery. Here’s a few thoughts, with more to come in the future.

Two years ago my Mom lived with me and some housemates for several weeks while she was trying to get more emotionally stable. My happiest memory from that time was when my roommate and I stuffed an 8 foot pine tree into my Ford Escort and brought it home to our living room. Mom was feeling okay that day, so we got a little smile out of her as we put it up and covered it with lights.

We had an advent wreath on the kitchen table, and we lit some of the candles together.

Another fun memory was when I had the youth leaders from my church over to my house to play games after we all had gotten pizza. One couple had baby twin girls, so I took one into my Mom, and she held her on her lap for a while. It felt peaceful in that room right then.

Living with someone in depression is hard. You don’t know how they will be when you walk in after work. It’s unpredictable and draining. You have to take time for yourself or else you’ll get too drained you won’t be able to help anymore.

Many of those days, Mom would look at me with desperate eyes and ask, “Is there hope?” I always would answer, “Yes, Mom!” and give her reasons, but it didn’t reach her heart right then. She had some thyroid issues that she was finally getting help with, but she was deeply down. Looking back, getting her more help faster might have helped. I didn’t know what I was doing; I hadn’t done this before. I know that there’s hope in Jesus, and He used many people to help my Mom get back on track during those days.

What helped me as care-giver and helped my Mom recover?


Reaching out for help from others.

Getting counseling and looking into support groups helped.

Listening to peaceful music, such as Handel’s Messiah.

Eating lots of good food.

Finding out about the resources that are out there:

Counseling clinics such as this:

If you or someone you love is struggling with depression, put a suicide hotline number in their phone.
Suicide Hotline:
“By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.”

Receiving prayer, counsel and advice from loving people at churches such as:

Continue living and loving, even if someone you love is very depressed. Jesus was born into a dirty stable to poor parents who were away from home. Remember that he is with you in this hard time.

So whatever you feel right now, there IS hope. You will make it through this. Let the hope of Christmas dawn in your heart.


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You Have a Choice About Feeling Valuable

Isn’t it interesting how we feel valuable around some people while around others we feel so cheap, invisible, small, and unworthy? Why is that? Some of us let our value be determined by those around us, when the truth is, we just are valuable!

I’ve been thinking about that and noticing my reactions to different people I interact with in my life. For example, this morning I was running along a forest path, and a guy passed me. He must have been running intervals because a ways up he stopped and started walking. As I kept on steadily running, I gained on him quickly and was thinking about if I would have to pass him.

I’ve had this weird worry (that I’m learning to not give into), but it is that I can’t pass someone twice without feeling strange, so my first impulse was to turn around before I would have to pass that guy. What happened next is a breakthrough in my thinking: I realized how sometimes I put my value on how another person responds to me and I don’t have to do that anymore!

Letting my value be determined by other’s reactions is a shaky and nerve-wracking way to live life. I now understand why sometimes I would feel more peaceful when I was by myself. But what happened this morning was I became aware of what I have been doing. Especially if I would get around guys, I would let them determine my value: It was like I was holding out the baton of my value to him, and if he took it, I would feel valuable for a while, but then the value would fade. Today I received the picture of pulling that baton of value into myself, and it just resting there. I’m just valuable, and I can be confident and rest in that! I can let people react to me in whatever way they choose, but it doesn’t influence my value.

People value something that is important to them. Our culture emphasizes that value comes from education, accomplishments, family… Advertising twists around our desire to be valuable in order to make money off of it. Where do humans get their value? I believe that God gives us value when He created us and that means we are valuable whether other humans think we are or not. Knowing our value frees us from having to do things in order to receive value; it frees us so we can love unconditionally.

What happened with that guy running in front of me? First of all, I relaxed, and then he turned around and passed me. Then I had the wide, woodsy path stretching ahead of me where I ran along and even leapt once or twice.