Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Rabbit Hole

  As I sit here, I find myself constantly asking "can you believe I am in this place? and "can you BELIEVE I am in THIS place?" My life is filled with so much goodness and blessings that sometimes it is hard for me to just relax into them. At other times, the details of my life, that same one I pinch myself for starring in, makes me weepy. In a sad "isn't this enough, haven't I been through enough?" kind of way. To the first part, I am blessed. I know this. I have far fewer worries than most and my hardest days now, are the things that made up the fantasies of the woman I once was. I try to store those moments up. The lucky ones. To not allow myself to float right through them. It is hard to stay grounded sometimes. I have become so good at leaving myself. Skimming the surface of a thing and to never go wading in further. To keep on the shallow end of the good things. 

  Other times, the hard ones. When my heart gets broken by life and the very act of living it, I allow myself a lapse. I take it in fully. I dive into the deepest cavern and explore all the slimy dark spaces. I give myself over to the "what if's" and "worse case scenarios." I remain in the depths of that dark coldness until I fear my lungs will burst. Until I have taken the full measure of a thing. I must know it all. And then, after I have faced the worst that could happen, I let it go. I either accept it or I do not. If it is changeable I set about changing it. If, for some reason the odds are impossible, I still try. I try, until I cannot ignore whatever the thing is and I give it a nod. I learn to live with it. 

  Now, why I rush over the good and store up the bad, I cannot say. Maybe I am still that lost little girl who knows more of sorrow than sunshine. I do not know. This is a new thought to me. I must explore the reasoning. I received a message recently. Kind words and descriptive sentences. Which proclaimed that I am very self aware. Part of me tried not to read that as self absorbed, but really this all started as me letting ME free. So, there must be an element of that involved as well. We all wish to be known. It is the essences of our beings. We catalog and dictate the facts of our lives. We explain and explore, reaching out to others. Hoping to like the reflection of ourselves that they mirror back to us. 

 It is in that vein that I started writing. I am so glad I did. It has changed me. And I am of the firm belief that there is always room for improvement. A higher self to aspire to. I had a counselor tell me once that I had an over developed sense of justice. That my right and wrongs were black and white. This was certainly true. I was ridged in my expectations of myself and others. It is a hang over from those early years in which my character was formed. I have learned to soften those lines. It is fine to bend in the wind. I am learning. 

  So, back to the beginning. Why do  I not allow myself to fully experience the wonderful things in my life? I remember the first time I saw a flash of it. The life I could have. I was sitting with my feet in a giant pool of warm water. On a private beach. Watching as the sun appeared and made the deep sky blue. It was a calmness. I took in the view of the ocean, beyond that pool and I was mesmerized. To realize that it existed. That place of sun and sea and white sand and calm. It was real. And I was there. I remember the awe of it all. The warmth on my skin and the deep peace that came with it. I was alone in that moment. Completely owning myself. Not hiding or running, simply being. Of course the moment passed I had things to do. We won't talk of those here. But it was a crazy wonderful and dangerous time that changed my life's direction once more.

  Today, sitting in a quiet hotel suite, perched above the Gulf of Mexico, I am there again. Fully in myself. Taking ownership of the entire real estate that makes up me. I am struck by the fact that I have been here so few times in my life. Not geographically. I have been here a dozen times. No, here within myself. Both mind and body, fully engaged with life around me. I am not making lists of things to be done at home, or going over half remembered conversations looking for loose threads to pull. It is a wonderful thing and bittersweet. Acknowledging the present reminds me of all the times in the past. And there I would go if I let myself. Down the rabbit hole of other times. I will not be coaxed. It is a fools journey. No I cannot go back. Time only moves forward and if we do not take the wheel, well we will surely run aground. It will get away from us, this life.

  I am far from the first to say it, but I will repeat it none the less. Own yourself completely. Live up to the edges of who you can be. Take up all the room that makes up you and move into the possible. Life is changing. Ever changing. Move forward.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

You Broke it, You Bought It

 The beloved Dear Abby died recently. I remember reading her column as I was growing up and well into my adulthood. She always seemed to have all the answers and I wondered how she did it. How could she take the small facts given and find just the right words for those looking to her for guidance?
I know now, that part of it was simply life experiences. All those things that pile up as she went forward in her existence. I liked that she cut to the chase and she did not mince words.  In the current climate, it is words that I want to talk about today. There have been so many thrown out lately. Tossed out in anger or fear. To anyone whom dares to disagree with our point of view. It seems as if we all feel attacked. We are quick to battle and we have been hoarding ammunition. Laying in wait for that perfect time to cut someone who probably started out with our esteem or even our love.  We reach into our arsenal for that perfect weapon. We examine what we know about our advisory. Have they a failed marriage? Misbehaving children? Are they late with their bills? What is there to rub their nose in? What are their own real or perceived flaws?

  And oh how we glory in seeing that we have hit the mark, brought them low. We smile at our success. But I ask you all, what kind of victory have we won? There will never be a plaque for your wall or a trophy for your mantel to commemorate your great accomplishment of hurting someone else with your invasive comments on someone else's life. I have been so guilty of this myself. I get no free pass on this one. It was my signature talent. The ability to cut someone else to the quick. I reveled in it. I was proud of my ability to find that sweet spot. I say this in a small voice, with deep shame. I was unkind. I was mean and cruel and indifferent. I was wrong. My clever little quips that made me feel oh so smart, so witty were false emotion. They brought nothing good to my life and damaged someone else's. And that I must take responsibility for. I have harmed others. I have inflicted pain and embarrassment.

  And it changed me. I cannot tell you the exact moment when I saw the error. The transgression of my actions. I think it came to me gradually. When celebrating the mental carnage that I was responsible for took it's toll on my own life and spirit. I realized at last, the power of my words. I had to ask myself a life changing question. One that I now put to you now. What would you look like, if your words and inner thoughts made up your outer appearance. you see, our words define who we are. We will be remembered not for the house we lived, the balance in our accounts or our outer shell. We will be remembered by our words and our deed. That is the truest reflection of who we are. When we wish to get a inkling of those who came before us, we scour their quotes. What did they say, write, think, do? Were they kind? What did they add to their world? I would put to you, as I have myself, that more quotes of Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela are used to inspire, than those of many current pundits that I shall not name. we all know who they are. Those who feel that tearing down others somehow makes them special. At the end of their days what have they created? What great monument of words will there be to build their legacy upon? And what of the rest of us?

 I still fall short at times. I will find that small space between one's armor and with lightening speed slip in a slim, double edged dagger. And then I realize what I have done. The thing that I am responsible for damaging. What would we have left in our pocket or purse, if the policy of "you broke it, you bought  it" were enacted for such things? Would we be paupers or princes? I am working on fixing what I have broken. I have a lot of hurt to blot out. And I love doing it. I love looking at another's struggle and trying to be the should to lean on. I know I cannot save the world.....alone. We can do it together. Hard things will happen. Challenges will present themselves and that is as it should be. It is far easier to complain and point fingers, to signal out and condemn. Which is a major sign that it is the wrong thing to do. Do not take the easy way out when confronted with someone else's anger or rude stance. Step back and realize, their words are a reflection of who they are and where they are in life. Then, walk away. Leave your arrow in it's quiver. Though your aim may be true, your target is not worthy of what your words will cost you. In the end, we create the world we live in and we will be responsible for paying the debt our words create.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Facts and Futures

 I had the chance to talk to someone I both respect, and look to when I need cheering up recently. As much as I love talking to her, I couldn't help but wish we were not having the conversation we were having. Not because we were not on the same page, but because we were. Sometimes when I write, someone will answer back. They will echo my feelings and wonder how I knew. Was I reading their journals? Their minds? No, it is simply that we are not alone. You are not alone. And today it was my turn to echo back. To say I knew how she felt. I understood and to tried to lift that lovely woman up. Circumstances beyond her control were overwhelming her. Not just her but her family. She is a strong woman. A brave, kick ass and take names kind of girl. The one you want at your back when it all goes south. So, to hear her voice, usually so strong and vibrant reduced to a whisper, hurt my heart. She had tried a much traveled road, because it was the direct route to get out of her present reality. She needed so badly to be out of it. She had been waiting on a call, those few that change your life. And when the phone rang it was brought disappointment. It was only one word. Far from the most powerful word, unless you let it be. It was of course, no.

 She had reached out for help and hope and had her hand slapped. Her great plan for a quick escape had been thwarted. We spent time on the phone, I did most of the talking, I usually do. I reminded her that she was a warrior. She was so much more than she knew. She was a pint sized power house and would succeed. How did I know this? Because I had. Because as long as she was breathing, moving, trying, "no" had no meaning. Someone else's no is not yours, unless you let it be. If the question is will you marry me?" or "Do these pants make me look fat?" Then let it be, take that no. But, if it is something that will tear your world apart, if it will keep you down, do not except it. No one else defines you. No one else can limit you. Never let anyone have the power to crush your dreams. Sometimes no is just, "not this way". So, try another. Take it as a challenge. Take that no and show it who it is dealing with.

  This is your life, your world and no one can take that from you. You have the choice to give it away. I have, so many times, it shames me to admit it. But in truth comes growth. I threw out ideas and encouragement. I sent up prayers and sent her down another path. I do not know if it is the right one. I cannot do this for her, but I know she can. And because she can, she will. It is okay to be overwhelmed. It is perfectly reasonable to cry. When life is not fair and you have no idea of up from down, take a moment, take a few, no more than two days worth, we are not looking to make it a lifestyle choice, and then look around. What do you have that can help you? Who do you know? Be creative. Make it a team effort. Someone has your answer. People love to help. It is addicting to do some little thing that cost nearly nothing for someone else.  Use search engines and take advice. Never give up. If you stop swimming, you drown. Unless of course, you float.

  My husband is always saying  "sometimes the best thing to do is nothing." That is a hard one for me. It is not an answer I am interested in. And yet sometimes, it is the best thing. If someone has hurt me, been rude or cruel, I have learned to take that addvice. To not jump into the fire. It gets easier the more you do it. The more you can identify that someone else's thoughts and feelings have nothing to do with you. There is freedom in that realization. I am working on it. It is new to me. All of life is about learning to deal with ourselves and each other. When I first started this blog in the middle of Summer, I did not know that. I found people troublesome. Everyone had opinions and feelings. It was messy and I was caught between the need to express when I thought that they were wrong and the always present desire to blot them out. To just let them go. I had nothing in between. It was all or nothing with me and that saddened me. More and more people did not make the cut and I was usually alone. When something bad happened, I had very few numbers to call. For all the things my smart phone could do, it could not find solace. And so, I changed. I stopped looking at others and went about fixing the only person I could, me. I am where I am and I am still not nearly as far as I want to go. I still fall short. I still will hit the horn sometimes when someone cuts in front of me while driving. Every once in a while I almost fall for someone else's words, not as often. Because, the one thing I have learned in this time, when Summer gave way to Autumn and now to Winter, is this; to never let someone else's facts effect your future. That is yours and you have to go find it. You will design it. You are doing it right now. As you read these words, your future is coming. Go meet it with your heart open and live it. I wish you health and peace and one thing more, hope. Never go anywhere without HOPE.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Lost and Found

  I had a conversation with a gentleman today. He spoke of pain. The worst kind of hurt. That no pill could relieve. He had losses too great, but he numbered them. He had lost his father. Someone whom he looked up to and loved greatly, as only a child can. He was in his teen years, those hard days that are all about trying to fit in and stand out. Just when a son most needs the example of his father, his left him. It was not a willful abandonment. No, he developed a terrible wasting disease which slowly stole him away from those he cared most for. His family was sentenced to the truly cruel fate of watching him slowly fade away. Each day the edges of his character draining out of him until he was left empty. A husk where a beloved father had once been.

 Well, this young man so filled with sorrow at his loss, mourned and did all those things that are so easily started and so much more difficult to be stopped. There was drinking and smoking and ditching classes, all in an attempt to express his sadness and the rage that it creates. The emptiness that is left where a great soul once stood could not be filled up with any of those things and so eventually, he set them down. He went back to living. And in doing so he found a new love. a different kind of love. He fell head over heels and he embraced the good that comes with this life we all live. He still thought of his father, how could he not? but he was able to find a peace that comes with acceptance.

  They had six years. Six lovely years of happiness. That wonderful heady time of planning and dreaming. Of waking everyday to the one he adored beside him. His love lived at once outside of his heart and yet filling it until it brimmed over. It was a gift, those years. A time to lay away memories still warm from their making and seal them up tight. Winter was coming. Winter is always coming. It was a sudden loss. At once so different from that first and yet so familiar. His love was gone. In a moment carried away to that place that we all go alone when the time comes. And again he mourned. His grieving redoubled. One loss stacked upon the other until they blocked out the sun.

  And thus he reached out, looking for some form of light to help him find his way. And so I shared with him that which I believe to be true. Our loved ones do not leave us, they simply change form. You can close your eyes and see them. We have the gift of their memories. They are with us always. I told him this, not to give him false platitudes, but because it is so. I only have to hear a song, read a book and there is that one I had thought had left me. They had appeared in my mind. I could hear their voice, their laughter and it soothed me. I told him that by sharing the story of those he loved, he could change other lives. Those whom had never met his lost ones would hear of them. Know of their kind hearts and giving spirits. I asked him not to stuff them away as if they were an old torn sweater. Worn out and ragged, with no further use. Death is not the end of one's story. It may be an intermission. Hopefully nothing more. If you doubt me, think of those people who came before you. The ones you never met. From William Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, Martin Luther King, Jesus Christ, Buddha, Albert Einstein and so many more. They have changed us all. Their greatness still echos forward in time. Reaching out to move us with their ideals and their bravery.

  We all grieve and that is as it should be. Because they mattered. They will always matter. So, speak often of those who have left us behind. They live through us, past us, into a future as yet unknown. And how wonderful is that? Someone you never knew, could never have known changed your life. It is simply amazing. I tried to impart this idea to this man who still holds on to his losses without realizing he is the catalyst, the vehicle to push those who have left him physically into the future. We all suffer loses. We all mourn deeply. It is as it should be. But please, do not stop there. Do not linger in that place where the air is too heavy and the way too far from the light. I ask you to remember them. Tell others of their lives. Just as my own children knew the stories of my husband's father without ever meeting him. Breathe for them. Do not forget. Honor them with your words and if you can, write their stories down. So others can know of those who came before and the magical chain of life and yes, death continues. Those that we lose can always be found. They wait for us still just close your eyes and remember. Life is filled with both sweet and salt, but we decide what we leave behind and what we take with us.