What saved my life during a hospital stay

First published in the BC Catholic on October 6, 2022. https://bccatholic.ca/voices/lisa-rumpel/what-saved-my-life-during-a-hospital-stay

“I’m so grateful to not be in a hospital as I was last autumn. The connections with family and friends are what saved my life during that time.”

Leaves crackled underfoot. Dappled trees surrounded the park where we sat. Jane and I ate ice cream before dinner on the first Sunday in fall. A dog came by to sniff our dessert. We pulled it away and petted him as he meandered by.

I ate whisky hazelnut and peanut butter ripple sitting in the golden sun beside Jane. We laughed and chatted, both of us procrastinating on going home to do the things we needed to do.

I soaked up the time with Jane knowing she’s leaving in a couple weeks for East Africa. A dad and his daughter threw a baseball back and forth. And I sat on the grass, relaxed with my back towards a community garden. Eating ice cream always makes me happy. Though this type of happiness doesn’t last. But sometimes I need quick wins when my mood is low. Happiness is something you can choose.

When I’m depressed, my memory helps me know that this state won’t last forever. I recall how much God loves me and rejoices in me. This makes me feel better deep inside. It doesn’t always bring a smile to my face in that moment. But it is a comfort felt in my heart.

I’m so grateful to not be in a hospital as I was last autumn. The connections with family and friends are what saved my life during that time.

In the height of mania, I wrote my monthly column while watching a football game with other patients. I was grateful for a sense of normalcy and the knowledge that I still had the skills to write when sick. It was a time of lockdown because of COVID restrictions, which made it harder on me.

I longed for hugs from family members. When I moved to a residential care facility, I was able to have visitors. I also danced in the parking lot for exercise and self expression.

Danced in the parking lot for exercise and self-expression.

My friend, Father Guy Zidago, asked me if there was anything I would like. He brought me Powerade and chocolate like I hoped he would. A couple of other priests I know prayed for me over the phone and it made such a difference to my recovery.

I have so much gratitude for the phone calls with my friends Anna and Jazz during my stay, as well as for the visits with my older brothers and my Aunt Guin, and the countless messages from colleagues and close friends.

Beautiful cards and messages brought me joy.

There are not enough words to express my thanks to all the people who cheered me on in my recovery.

It was a tumultuous time in the hospital trying new medications and hoping to get it right.

This Thanksgiving, I was blessed to be home with my family instead of eating alone in a hospital room. God redeems all time that passes. “I will restore the years that the locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25)

The experience in the hospital taught me many lessons and was a sanctuary for healing my mind and body, even if it was an uncomfortable and unwanted passage.

A lesson I learned is that I am braver than I thought I was. I went through many difficult circumstances and came out stronger. I learned to have patience with myself. Because I have no control over my neurotransmitters or the chemical reactions in my brain. I had to see the illness take its course. The mania I was experiencing calmed enough that I could go home and continue to heal there.

The doctors and mental health professionals were supportive in the two different facilities I stayed in.

I remember one night when, alone in the basement of the residential hospital, I couldn’t sleep, and the staff decided to move me to a different room upstairs to be near the nurse’s station.

I was the only one in the residential hospital for a while because everyone else left. They couldn’t take anyone new until a few days had passed because there was a patient who had COVID. Everyone else was well enough to leave except for me.

It was a dark and cold night. The nurses gave me a bathrobe and gathered my bags and belongings to swap rooms. A mental health worker sat with me as I was shivering in fear and fatigue. His presence was soothing.

I remember that he worked the night shifts. I saw him when I woke up in the middle of the night. He looked out for me, sharing music or offering a prayer.

These beautiful gestures of care and protection are gifts from God. Praises bubble up because of the goodness God bestowed on me. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Forever will I praise your name.

Lisa Rumpel’s podcast, The Will to Thrive: Stories of Resilience, is available on popular streaming services.


Accepting the truth that I am good

First published in the BC Catholic Newspaper on September 12, 2022 https://bccatholic.ca/authors/lisa-rumpel

As plants need certain things to thrive, there are ways of thriving in the spiritual life.

My interior life felt dried up like the dirt in my planter pots. I needed a good watering of prayer and the sacraments to feel refreshed again. I was worried and my body was physically sore.

I overworked my muscles from dancing. I needed to take a break and then I fell out of a workout and prayer routine. I was in acute pain so it stopped me from feeling like I could exercise. 

In my tiredness, I neglected my prayer life.

Lord have mercy on me.

Every indoor plant I own was a gift. And my task is to keep them alive. I love admiring gardens but never took to gardening before. My limiting belief is that I don’t know how to tend to the fragile plant life. 

“To plant a garden, you believe in tomorrow.” (Audrey Hepburn) I want to become more of a gardener. Becoming a gardener is a lot like becoming a saint. 

I try to do the best thing for the plants by giving them sunlight and water.  And I seek God’s will for my daily life.  

I will search for God in all the wounded places of my heart. And in the beauty of the beach and delicate flowers. This summer I spent many days at beaches swimming in the salty water and soaking up the sunshine. I also walked through Van Dusen gardens and neighbourhood gardens enjoying lush golden chain trees and roses.

I love the poem by Emily Dickinson To My Quick Ear the Leaves Conferred because it shows how much nature fills our lives. 

“To my quick ear the leaves – conferred – 

The bushes – they were bells – 

I could not find a privacy 

From Nature’s sentinels” (excerpt, by Emily Dickinson)

My three plants: Tradescantia nanouk (purple and green), spider plant and Zamioculcas zamiifolia (with waxy leaves) are all growing to my surprise. I started to talk to them as I give them water or dust their leaves. I think I’m becoming a plant mom. 

I look forward to having more plants to tend. Jazz has many plants around our apartment which make our place feel both wild and cozy. She has a natural skill at keeping them healthy and happy. She is inspiring.

As plants need certain things to thrive, there are ways of thriving in the interior life.

I think I’m becoming a plant mom.

My first step towards a more flowing faith was to make my way to confession. If my heart is achy and my desire to pray is low, I know it’s time to spend quality time with Jesus. Confession and Mass are in order.

“The root choice is to trust at all times that God is with you and will give you what you most need.” Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love

I traveled to the Cathedral in the morning. I arrived early and the doors were locked. I grabbed an orange juice to go and sat in the park across from the church. The sun beat down on me as I silently prepared my heart for confession. 

Pigeons walked past me and one flew a little too close to my head for comfort. 

Having a diagnosis of a mental illness can be uncomfortable too. Sometimes, I worry if people will accept me for who I am in health and in sickness. I am blessed with such a supportive and understanding family. They have actively learned about mental illness and mental health to better help me. 

We all rally around each other in the good times and the bad. I have friends who will send a hot meal when our family is experiencing a trial. Knowing that people are praying for your healing makes such a difference as well. These are no small things. It’s the small things that are the big things. 

When I finished my confession and was praying my penance a sense of deep gratitude washed over my body. A few tears welled in my eyes, and I knelt in awe and wonder at God who is so loving and merciful. 

I sat in front of the tabernacle to adore Jesus. My heart felt lighter, and it filled with hope. 

And I repeated, “In the name of Jesus Christ I accept the truth that I am good. I am beautiful. I am forgiven. I am worthy of heaven.” (Fr. Crow, from Episode 97. Spiritual warfare Tell-all with Fr. Crow. on the What in the Dang Heck Podcast) https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/spiritual-warfare-tell-all-with-fr-crow-part-1

In this episode, he explains that speaking these words can renounce lies about ourselves. Especially if we say, “In the name of Jesus.” Fr. Crow says we don’t want to give demons the foothold by believing we are destined for lives of loneliness or thinking that we are fat and ugly. 

A lot of healing can come from speaking in the name of Jesus Christ and renouncing these lies.

As I sat in the pew in the beautiful gothic Cathedral, I felt loved by Jesus and renewed in spirit. Jesus says in scripture not to worry and to be not afraid. 

I will learn to garden and to trust in the unwavering mercy of God. He loves me with or without a mental illness. I will lean into his love like my ZZ plant does.


It’s OK to be a beginner

First published in the BC Catholic Newspaper on July 28 2022 https://bccatholic.ca/voices/lisa-rumpel/it-s-ok-to-be-a-beginner

Me left, with the Roots Peruvian Folk Dance group. “I took a risk signing up for the group and I choose to reframe my nerves to be enthusiastic.” (photo from Fran)

Sweat drips down my face as I dance in a church basement in New Westminster. My back and hips start to ache.

Wow, do I need to stretch out after this! 

I dance for the joy of it and for my mental health.

I show up for myself in dance practice with the traditional dances of Peru. In May, I joined Roots Peruvian Folk Dance, a group that my friend Jazz invited me to.

When I am good at one thing it makes me feel confident. These dances are new and unfamiliar. But I’m learning them with excitement. I’ve heard that the feelings of nervousness and excitement are the same. I choose to reframe my nerves to be enthusiastic.

My mindset matters. I notice when I’m anxious and try to change my thoughts about being a beginner. It’s okay to start from less training. 

It’s okay to be a beginner. 

“Anxiety is the heat of the forge. Forging our character,” says Dr. Kevin Majeres in The Golden Hour, Episode 106, Challenging Anxiety.

My background of dancing in many genres empowers me to perform with confidence.

Jesus calls me to come and use my voice. “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the covert of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet and your face is comely. (Song of Songs, 2:14)

In the way I move – I do it for the glory of God. He is the only one who sees me inside and out.

I took a risk signing up for the group. 

Would it be too much for me or just the thing I need?

It does tire me out and it’s very good exercise. It’s a big commitment and it’s exhilarating to perform. Practices are twice a week and we have festivals almost every weekend in the summer.

Learning a dance from a beautiful culture is a lot of fun. And it’s hard work.

My friends performing a Peruvian folk dance called the Festejo

After work one day I almost left the building without making a visit to the chapel. I felt a nudge to pray. When I got to the chapel with my worries and fears, I knelt down.

Lord speak to me.

I heard in my heart, “Draw on my strength.” I left the chapel with the desire to go to confession and Mass at the cathedral.

Practising my faith also helps to forge my character. And dancing helps me grow in virtues like commitment, self-discipline, reliability, and confidence.

I believe the Lord delights in my dancing – even if it’s not as perfect as I would like. I choose confidence for I know it pleases him.

During the Latin festival Carnaval del Sol, I felt jitters that there was such a large turnout. But as soon as I got on the stage and saw my family and friends in the front row, I relaxed. I wanted to do my best for them. I put in all my effort to perform with excellence. As well as focusing on remembering the choreography. It was easier to dance around the stage with their familiar faces looking on. 

It was nerve-wracking having a camera crew filming up close. But I ignored the fact that they were there and had fun. 

I am so grateful for my life and for the body God gave me. When I was a baby, I had a sickness that could have crippled my left arm. My parents took me to the hospital and the doctors were able to give me the right medicine to heal me. I will never forget that miracle. I am able to type out this article and do so many other things with my healthy arm. 

St. Josemaría Escrivá wrote, “Do you really want to be a saint? Carry out the little duty of each moment: do what you ought and concentrate on what you are doing. Do everything for Love. Thus there will be no little things: everything will be big. Perseverance in little things for Love is heroism.”

Whether I am working in the office or dancing on a stage I remember that I am doing it for “the love of God and the love of others,” as Deacon Bruce Fraser recently said in a homily. I am reminded “to remain centered in God.”

When I dance at the upcoming festivals, I will remain steadfast in doing it in joy and love. 

The Will to Thrive: Stories of Resilience podcast, is available on popular streaming services.


When art and meditation combine for spirit-filled therapy

First published in the BC Catholic Newspaper on June 27, 2022 https://bccatholic.ca/voices/lisa-rumpel/when-art-and-meditation-combine-for-spirit-filled-therapy

This summer I want to have meditation on the top of my activity list. Because in meditating I come closer to Christ and get to know his love and mercy more. It strengthens my trust in his faithfulness to his promises for my life.

I enjoy many hobbies. Finding an activity is never hard.   

One evening after work, I opened my closet and reached for my art journal. I wanted a fun activity to do before I knocked off all my chores. Cleaning and laundry aren’t my favourite things to do. And after a day of work in the office, it’s nice to break up the duties.

It took me a while to find my glue stick and once I did, I started to rip paper and put it on the open page. Art journaling is relaxing for me. Ripped paper, magazine clippings, glue on fingers. Photographs and dried flowers are all part of the process. Finding a quote that speaks to my experience or is inspiring is a great addition to the collage.

“I started making an art journal when I was on sick leave this past fall. Coming home from the hospital I searched for art as self-care.”

I started making an art journal when I was on sick leave this past fall. Coming home from the hospital I searched for art as self-care. At Alongside You, a mental health clinic in Delta, I found one-on-one therapeutic art classes. Each class I learned how to do something different. I started with water colour painting, painting on tiles, and then wood burning. 

It was a creative space to play and learn new techniques. I recommend it to kids and adults alike. 

In my art journal the pages have acrylic paint with abstract designs. I have paper cut-outs and hand drawn wildflowers. Pieces of newspaper and postcards also make it in. 

I draw with pastels. This time I drew balloons with a little person holding on and hanging in the air. I penned a speech bubble that said, “Here I am, what do I do next?”

Trust in the Lord. That is what I always come back to. Whenever I am uncertain of my next steps or if I am worried about anything, I remember to look to Jesus. Attending Mass on Sunday and weekdays offers special graces.

“Mass is Meditation,” said Father Francis Galvan in a homily on Corpus Christi Sunday. A sacred place with moments of silence, listening to the word of God, and receiving Jesus’ body and blood. Attending Mass is an act of “caring for the self” (Father Galvan). Receiving Jesus in the Eucharist nurtures our body and soul.

Throughout the summer, I am conscious about self-care. The time spent meditating in church benefits me in mind, body, and spirit. I enjoy finding a pew to sit in and rest. It is more enjoyable when I am with family or friends at Mass. The togetherness in church strengthens my heart.  

I like hearing the bells toll as I walk toward Holy Rosary Cathedral for Mass. Deacon Richard says hearing them ring is “like God is calling you.”

A few nights ago, I heard negative voices as I was falling asleep. I didn’t let it startle me too much. And asked the Lord to take care of me. My breathing was shallow, so I focused on my breath to return to normal. I started to pray a Hail Mary and my breathing started to regulate.

The Rosary is great meditation too. Perfect for calm breathing. I pray a Rosary with the Hallow app on my commute into work. It is a peaceful beginning to my morning. 

When I meditate either at Mass or with the Rosary, it helps me believe in miracles. I see the goodness of God when I am striving to grow in virtue through prayer and works of mercy.

“It takes just a single touch from the Lord to change a condition. To reverse a health diagnosis. To set free from an addiction. To restore a lost dream. To bring a loved one home. To re-route a life trajectory. No matter how complex the issue, or how long it’s been going on … Whether you were responsible for it, or have been the victim of it … He can do it in a moment, in a single touch. Take courage, friend – Jesus can do this” (Catholic Revival Ministries).

I am praying for the Lord to dispel my unbelief. I often forget his goodness when I see sickness, tragedy, and ongoing war around me. I want to believe that the miracles he can perform didn’t stop after his resurrection. 

What art is he creating with my life? I want to be docile so that he can have freedom to make a beautiful art piece.

My podcast, The Will to Thrive: Stories of Resilience, is available on popular streaming services.

How to find contentment when you are running on empty

First published in the BC Catholic Newspaper on May 4, 2022 https://bccatholic.ca/voices/lisa-rumpel/how-to-find-contentment-when-you-are-running-on-empty

“If you, like me, have been thirsting for the Lord’s presence in your life, seek times of adoration and quiet moments of prayer.” – photo from unsplash.

I sat at a corner table in the dining area of Granville Island’s public market. The view was spectacular. Floor-to-ceiling windows offered me an unobstructed view of the ocean, city, and mountains. Cormorants bobbed in the water. Seagulls flew by. Neon-jacketed runners traversed the sea wall across from me.

Ferries and pleasure boats moved slowly. Rowers practised their strokes cutting through the water.

I ate delicious Greek food from The Sprig. It filled me up as I was waiting to meet up with friends to watch a play. I wrote notes for my next column on my phone and enjoyed people-watching.

Many passersby took photos on the boardwalk right in front of me. I watched them smile. They were enjoying the spring sunshine as much as me. My weekend was turning out to be full of activity. And I was searching for that feeling of happiness.

Lately, I have felt discontent. On a walk during the week, my roommate reminded me about having a spirit of gratitude.

I can be thankful for so much. How easy it is to forget the goodness in my life. Taking everything for granted. Reflecting on my blessings from my time in the hospital helps me to see God’s hand upon me.

He was with me when I was the only one left in the residential hospital for almost a week. I felt his presence in the encouragement and quality time from the staff members helping me feel less alone.

I had a place to dance even if it was in the parking lot to de-stress.

There was a hot meal for me every day.

My family and friends called or came to visit me when they could.

New medications were adjusted to benefit my mental health.

My doctor listened to my concerns and questions.

I found ways to calm myself when train noises kept waking me up in the middle of the night.

Even in that dark period of my life last year, I felt the Lord’s presence. It is when I get cozy and everything is going well that I tend to forget to lean on him.

I want to offer some words for the young professional woman (like me) who is discontented and running on empty. It’s time to let go of the idea that busy is better. If you, like me, have been thirsting for the Lord’s presence in your life, seek times of adoration and quiet moments of prayer. Attend a weekday Mass if you can.

Jesus waits for you to give him all your worries and goals. Celebrating the Easter season is a way to remember that he calls us, “arise, my beloved one, and come.”

Cultivate trust that God has it all in hand. And practise gratitude. When I think I have control, I can become self-reliant and forget that God provides. I try to do things all with my own strength. Jesus suffers with me and provides for every need I have, so I can breathe deeply knowing I am cared for.

Don’t give up! The Lord has a marvellous life planned for you. One of greatness. It will involve suffering because we can’t reach heaven without being tested and moulded like gold in fire. We can be so afraid of suffering. Yet some of the greatest things in life come with it. If we want to obtain any success in relationships or personal prestige, it takes work. Search out new interests and hobbies. I feel so alive when I am learning a new language or a dance.

In a homily on Divine Mercy Sunday, Father Nick said, “God’s heart is always for the suffering.” How wonderful! “How blessed are we to have a God who is determined to chase after us until we finally know and experience the wonders of His goodness and mercy!” (The Practice of the Presence of God: A 40-Day Devotion Based on Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God).

As I finish writing this piece, I am sitting on the balcony of my apartment with a blanket and tea. One of my greatest treasures is to write for the newspaper and share what’s on my heart. Not everyone wants to be so open with their struggles, nor do they need to be. I feel a special call to share that it’s okay to have a mental illness and there is healing and hope. And for this I am truly grateful. It banishes the feeling of discontent.

“I am the good shepherd, says the Lord: I know my sheep, and mine know me.” When you are running on empty and don’t know what to do, turn to Jesus, who can fill you up with love.

You can check out my podcast The Will to Thrive: Stories of Resilience available on popular streaming services.


God delights in you through all your troubles

First published in the BC Catholic Newspaper on March 24, 2022 https://bccatholic.ca/voices/lisa-rumpel/god-delights-in-you-through-all-your-troubles

Seagulls dotted the field by the highway as we drove by. On a sunny Saturday I went walking in a park by the river. I chatted with my friend about her work as a teacher. The trees were still bare, so we could see the river unobstructed. The air was cool but not too cold. I held a hot drink in hand and sipped it as we talked.

Andrea mentioned what she said to her student who felt the need to fit in.

“It’s okay to be different. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. It’s okay, everyone learns in different ways, and that’s okay. The important thing is that you understand how you learn and what works for you and embrace it.”

What I felt from her sharing was that you do not need to fit in to be worthy. She also said, “We often tend to conform and be like everyone else. We forget to acknowledge our own beauty, strengths, and talents.”

Sometimes I feel unworthy because I have a bipolar disorder. I wonder what it would be like without a diagnosis of an invisible illness. Would I have compassion for others struggling with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, schizophrenia?

Or would I have missed the opportunity to meet them in hospital wards and support groups? Their presence helping me to realize I’m not alone. I’m not strange. And that it’s okay to have differences.

“What I thought was my end was only Your beginning,” declares Sean Feucht in his song “You delight in me.”

I learned so much from the kindness of the other patients in the hospital this past September. Some brought me extra orange juice, gave me the best colouring pages, and kept me company while we coloured and talked.

It was not always a comfortable place to be locked in a ward for a time with strangers. Yet they were some of the kindest people.

Some cracked jokes to make me smile, and one taught me how to play a magic trick with cards.

A few raced along beside me on the stationary bikes getting in lots of exercise. Some picked out their favourite movies to share with me.

One held my hand and twirled me around the room as I danced ballet. Some played ping-pong with me and gave me great competition.

One made custom drawings for me to take home. One taught me about football as I watched along with him.

All of this made me feel delighted in. These patients were going through all kinds of trauma and trouble. And were being thoughtful, supportive, and loving.

The nurses and doctor were also very caring. Anything I needed I could ask them for. If they were busy, they didn’t seem frustrated when asked for a phone charger or a movie. They even made popcorn for us and tea.

Sometimes I was scared of the behaviours of some of the patients who were upset. Their tempers made me want to hide away and feel homesick. My parents were so good at coming to drop off items I needed.

Because of COVID, I couldn’t have any visitors, so I waved to them through the bars of the window on the fifth floor. I blew kisses to them as they did to me. My family is such a support to me. I am so blessed and feel their delight in me. Even when things get difficult.

I also had the privilege of speaking to three priests during my stay. A friend, a spiritual director, and a professional in psychology. My phone was a way to connect with the outside world. And, oh, how I needed to!

Thinking it over, I wouldn’t change my life with an illness. Though receiving healing and a cure would be amazing. And I do notice transformations in my life through prayer and the sacraments.

God delights in me. And God delights in you.

You are a beloved child of God. And it’s okay to be different. It’s a beautiful thing to be unique.

Whatever ails you can bring you closer to the heart of the Father. I continue to bring all my afflictions to God, and he showers me with affection. His love is there for me every day. No matter what I do, how I am feeling. It never changes.

His love is indescribable. I am especially reminded when I go to Mass and receive the Eucharist.

“I know I captured all your affection. That’s the end of the story. You’ve always been for me,” Feucht sings.

Lisa Rumpel’s podcast, The Will to Thrive: Stories of Resilience, is available on popular streaming services.


How an Italian pianist and composer inspired me

First published in the BC Catholic Newspaper on February 28, 2022 https://bccatholic.ca/voices/lisa-rumpel/how-an-italian-pianist-and-composer-inspired-me

I don’t know if it’s the cold, fog, and rain that have permeated my interior landscape. Or if it’s feeling stuck in a pandemic or having a lack of peace. Whenever I get into a funk, I look for inspiration. It could be from music, a quote from a saint, or a new colourful shirt. Where I need to look for inspiration is from Jesus.

Listening to stories of other people who have come through some sort of trial when I’m stuck in a rut gives me hope.

Alberto Giurioli, an Italian pianist and composer, and I connected on Instagram. He shared his neoclassical piano music, which is available on many platforms. I liked the first few songs I listened to, Following Yourself and Tutto è bellissimo.

I said to him in a direct message, “I’m already editing my column to your piano music.” And he replied, “Cool, glad you like what I do.”

What I found to be heartening is that he is a mental health warrior too. He’s fought to stay here when it got tough. When he was a little boy, he started playing piano. At one point he wanted to give up on learning when bored, and his hands hurt from playing a grand piano. His parents encouraged him to continue, and that is when he began to like it.

Alberto was away from family in London for a while. He was struggling to stay there and fight for his dream. When a journalist’s video of him playing a street piano went viral, that kicked off his career. He has played in many theatres that have sold out and has millions of downloads on Spotify, etc.

It is a struggle to always feel the gift of life when depressed or despairing. Though I am not depressed, I am tired of this winter and so many restraints with COVID. I pray for the end of COVID and the return to more social interactions.

In reading Scripture, the words from Matthew 8:7 jumped off the page for me. “I will come and cure him.” Oh, how I would love to receive a cure from my mental illness. And Jesus doesn’t want us to suffer. He wants us to be free of disease, addiction, and sin. I am learning to hope with greater spirit in his power to heal. I imagine what it would be like for him to heal me too. Especially when reading about the miracles he performed in the Scripture passages.

It is not impossible. It’s something that I never entertained to ask for. Until a few friends asked if I would like to receive prayers for physical healing.

My mind needs restoration. Healing for healthy neurotransmitters and rewiring of fear-based pathways .

My first response is to doubt that Jesus would ever do something this grand for me. I know someone who lives without the problems of bipolar disorder. Even though she has a diagnosis. What faith I would need to have to ask the Lord for what he desires for me!

God is good and won’t let me down. Healing can take time. And it’s amazing how I have everything I need in the moment from him. I am never left without his love.

The gift of being alive is an act of his love. He loves us, and we exist in that love.

It was a pleasure to find Alberto’s music. He offers his talent to add beauty to the lives of others. It is inspiring how he is using his gift for the world.

And when I’m bored, uninspired, or lacking peace, I ask myself if Jesus is in the centre. Have I been putting him first? Or am I disappointed with the distractions of my own making?

“He will come in His own time, and when you least expect it. Hope in Him more than ever” (The Practice of the Presence of God: A 40-Day Devotion Based on Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God).

Trusting God through the long haul even when your path forward isn’t clear is hard to do. I don’t know if I will be cured of my mental illness or if it will be a lifelong challenge. I don’t know how long the pandemic will go on. I do know that winter ends and spring will come.

I look forward to spending more time with Jesus during Lent to believe in his healing love. And to listening to beautiful music from talented artists.

Lisa Rumpel’s podcast, The Will to Thrive: Stories of Resilience, is available on popular streaming services.

How a chef’s cooking helped to heal

Bison and biscuit dinner in the residential short term emergency stay

As I walked along rain-soaked farm fields, getting my daily exercise, I asked myself, “What truly feeds us?”

Doughnuts from a local boutique donut shop delight but don’t nourish. The Eucharist both delights and nourishes me. I get excited when it is time for communion. I don’t feel the same intensity at every Mass. Preparing my heart to welcome my saviour is silent prayer before the Mass. And reading the scriptures beforehand.

The Eucharist has become even more precious to me to receive because of the obstacles of Covid-19.

Attending Mass in person is my highlight on Sunday. If I can get to daily Mass during the week, I am so happy.

The Eucharist is how I find my way through the darkness. I’ve experienced many uncomfortable and difficult things in the hospital and while changing to new medications. There are side effects, and it takes getting used to.

The sacred body of Christ, my beloved, has become the ultimate comfort food. I mean this with the utmost respect. It’s better than any family dinner, though those are good too. Jesus’ presence in the holy host nourishes me in a way that no other food can.

When my family has breakfast with bacon, eggs, and pancakes, it gives us time to bond. Our family already has strong bonds. My brothers and sisters make each other laugh.  And we talk about troubling circumstances and stressful situations in the world. We have each other’s back when needed and support one another with a myriad of gifts. We are all so unique—makers, writers, singers, musicians, innovators, and peacekeepers.

There was a kind and talented chef at the residence I stayed at during my recovery. Anthony not only served up plates of tasty food but smiles and encouragement.  At one time, I was the only patient in the residence after all the others were discharged.  He made the most flavourful thanksgiving dinner for me and the people next door.  I had never eaten turkey that tender. 

It was a time for being fed, a time to restore the senses.  My soul is touched through the senses.

There was pasta, spicy nachos, and homemade hamburgers.  There was chow mein, perogies, and roasts.  There were so many comfort foods, like macaroni and cheese, pizza, and soups. 

When I was in self-isolation due to a COVID outbreak in the residence, I couldn’t swallow food because of my anxiety.  Shakes and sandwiches cut up into small bite size pieces were sent to me. Anthony always spoke to me with kindness and empathy like a good friend.

I wrote a poem, called My Prayer is Food, inspired by his cooking.  

My Prayer is Food

Garlic green beans with scallions

Creamy mashed potatoes

Peppercorn and rosemary pork roast

Brought dinner time healing

From my head to my toes

Fuel for my body

Reminds me of the Lord’s supper

Food is for the body

As prayer is for the soul

This is my duty and delight

To plant, to grow

To prepare, to cook

And to eat
Each day and night.

I am grateful to Anthony who was part of the team in improving my health and wellbeing.  The cooking was as important as the care of the nurses, mental health workers, and psychiatrist for me.  I still can remember the smell of spicy chicken wafting towards me from the barbeque on a cloudy day.  Everyone has a gift to serve others.  He found his.

There may be hard times that seem like it is the end of the world.  The wonderful thing is that Christ never changes.  Through it all Jesus, remains available to us in the Eucharist anywhere in the world every day. 

St. John Paul II said, “The Eucharistic Sacrifice is the ‘source and summit of all Christian Life.’ It is a single Sacrifice that embraces everything.  It is the greatest treasure of the Church.  It is her life.”  

Now that feeds me. And thanks be to God for every blessing he sends, opportunity for Mass, family bonds, and Chef Anthony.


Finding holiness is a lifelong journey

First published in the BC Catholic Newspaper on January 13, 2022 https://bccatholic.ca/voices/lisa-rumpel/finding-holiness-is-a-lifelong-journey

Holiness – is it possible for someone with a mental illness? It’s a possibility and a work of grace for all of us. We can’t make ourselves holy on our own. Allowing the Holy Spirit to move in our minds and hearts to act in good will helps us get to heaven.

I’ve been reflecting on holiness and how my personal sin affects the community. After a recent confession, I realized I could fall more in love with Jesus. I would then want to sin less when I had my eyes on him.

We need perseverance because we are weak and fall many times. Jesus loves us so wildly. I can’t even imagine how much he loves me!

His love is immense and as hard to fathom as the size of the stars in the universe, which contains countless stars larger than the sun!

Chatting on the phone with a friend about the struggles and silver linings of mental illness, I shared my own experiences and we discussed those in our families. We then switched topics and affirmed each other on how we fight a battle for holiness in our lives. I paced my room in excited passion for the conversation we were having. We swapped back and forth different quotes, from Scripture to recent homilies we had heard.

The conversation with my friend warmed my heart to know that I’m not alone in this adventurous journey of faith. 

My favourite stories about long journeys are C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia and J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. When the Pevensie children meet Aslan for the first time in Narnia, it’s thrilling. And when Frodo the Hobbit agrees to go on a treacherous journey to save Middle Earth, it inspires me.

A video series that has been offering me enjoyment lately is Letters to Myself from the End of the World on WILDGOOSE.TV. It is a series of conversations with Father Dave Pivonka and Emily Stimpson Chapman based on the chapters of her book with the same title. I love the authentic and casual conversation they have filmed in her home.

Before watching the videos I felt in a dry, desert-like state, whereas during them I wanted to draw closer to Jesus in prayer. Prompted by the Holy Spirit after watching one video, I called up my friend and we prayed a Rosary together. I’m so glad we did; we had many intentions to pray for and the company was like a spiritual boost for the soul.

With my phone tucked in the folds of my blankets I sat in bed with my blue-beaded rosary in my hands. My friend led a Scriptural reflection on each mystery of the Rosary as we prayed. Her smooth voice softly floated from my cell phone speaker and brought me peace. My anxiety still catches up with me at night, so that evening Rosary over the phone helped me to stay calm.

It’s a blessing to have friends who I can call any time for a chat or a prayer. With chronic illness, prayer is a soothing balm. When I don’t feel like praying, I can find inspiration in someone else who does – whether it’s with friends or family, or with a popular app that contains an amazing amount of Catholic content, Hallow.

I used Hallow in the hospital last fall when I couldn’t sleep. From my hospital room I could hear trains blasting their horns at all hours of the night and early in the morning. Nurses would open the door and flash a light on me to see if I was sleeping. It wasn’t restful, so I would pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Rosary on Hallow. I listened to the soothing voices of Jonathan Roumie (Jesus from The Chosen series) and Bishop Barron as they prayed. 

I’m so happy that Jesus provides me with the people, places, and tools I need to nurture my interior life. They all help me on the lifelong journey of holiness – a path to sanctity.

We are all invited to become saints, and in the hospital I could feel all the prayers of my family and friends. They held me up and encouraged me to keep hoping for a swift recovery.

I pray I can craft a life of holiness – by picking up the cross of bipolar disorder, living a life of faith, and depending on God.

Lisa Rumpel’s podcast, The Will to Thrive: Stories of Resilience, is available on popular streaming services.


Embracing God when it feels like he’s not there

First published in the BC Catholic Newspaper on January 11, 2022 https://bccatholic.ca/voices/lisa-rumpel/embracing-god-when-it-feels-like-he-s-not-there

Looking back I know he was with me.

You are loved. You matter. Don’t give up. Do not be afraid. These words heal and have brought me comfort many times. I need to hear these words now as much as I did a few months ago.

I believed a lie that I could do it all on my own effort.

I was doing everything in my power to juggle projects and relationships. God said, “Let me help.”

“No, I got this.”

I burned out and got sick. I was overcome with psychosis and mania. Though it’s not all my fault. Things just break down. Especially when I have a chronic mental illness. My mind is a marvellous and complex organ. The medicine wasn’t working enough for me to have balance.

In the emergency waiting room my body trembled, and I fell to the floor shouting, “I can’t do this alone anymore!”

Later my prayer to Jesus was “I can’t do this anymore. I am giving you all my projects, plans and problems. I’m stepping back. Jesus, you have the relief I need. I don’t have the answers. I can’t do life on my own. I need you, Jesus!”

Two nurses and my mom helped me off the floor into a wheelchair to take me to a more calming room. They looked me into the eyes and said, “Lisa, you’re going to be okay.”

They held onto my hands and shoulders as my whole body was shaking hard. I changed into a hospital gown and lay on a mattress on the floor of a small dark room. I was scared, shaking, and hoping for peace.

One of the nurses who took my pulse was very kind. I asked her if she had seen the Chosen series, because I felt a bit like Mary Magdalene from the first episode. Though my experience was very different. When the emergency doctor came in, he checked my vital signs. I asked him if this feeling was what jumping out of an airplane feels like.

“I’ve never jumped out of an airplane.”

Even though I didn’t feel Jesus’ presence at that moment, looking back I know he was with me in the hospital. He was with my mom and me as we checked in. He was at my side when they brought me upstairs to give me a room. And he has never left. As Father Fernando Ocariz, prelate of Opus Dei, said in his Christmas message, “God is looking at us lovingly at every moment. We are constantly accompanied by God’s love.”

Yet I still can feel abandoned. This is when I need to hear those healing words. You are loved. You matter. Don’t give up. Do not be afraid. This is where confidence in his love for me is tested.

When things are going well, I believe – without a doubt – in his love and kindness. It’s in times of darkness and trial that I am tested and find it hard to hold on to hope.

This new year will unfold in unknown ways, and I want to trust God through it. He cares for me and you with his very own life. He came to us as a baby at Christmas and promises to give us lives of joy. That is why I hold onto belief that good things are coming. That the best is not behind but ahead.

Hope doesn’t have to look like you have a smile on your face all day. It is the quiet certitude that the God who created the heavens and earth sent his son and will take care of our needs.

My experience in the hospital is proof of healing. I have come out of that place with more self-compassion, tenderness, and love.

I am working on changing negative thoughts into positive thinking. I am taking the medicine prescribed. I am doing therapy. I am attending Mass and confession. Everything that can help my body, mind, and soul heal, I am doing.

I am letting God help me with my plans and goals this year. I can. I can. With you. With you. I won’t give up. I believe.

“For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken” (Ps 62:5-6).

Lisa Rumpel’s podcast, The Will to Thrive: Stories of Resilience, is available on popular streaming services.