Obstacle or Opportunity?

These last two weeks have been full of obstacles.  Huge, grey boulders of pain and frustration cropped up everywhere.  I want the problem to be outside of me.  I want some one or something to blame.  I want to shake my fist at all the small minded and callously indifferent.  A cause celebre, that’s what I thought I wanted.  Tossing dramatic phases and bits of bad poetry at the ugly grey wall wasn’t getting me anywhere.  In fact, it was making things worse.  Something was wrong but I didn’t know what.

Some times,it takes a while before I catch on.   My attitude, my limited perspective was the source of the problem.  Problems do exist outside of me and some of them are really big ones.  The frustration I was feeling was my problem.  I wanted it to stop.  Expecting that to magically happen from the outside would trap me inside my frustration forever.  I had to own it.  Accept it as mine and determine what I could do about it.

First, I had to tackle the problem of other people’s perceptions when they didn’t match my own.  Which perception would I choose?  Don’t laugh.  Choosing my perception over another isn’t something that comes easily or naturally to me.  A large part of my frustration came from trying to buy what they were saying when I knew that wasn’t true for me.  I had to remind myself that I live inside me.  What I think or feel doesn’t have to be right or wrong.  It just has to be mine.

Second, I had to acknowledge that some of the boulders I was running into weren’t worth the struggle.  It was time to find another way to move past them and beyond.  I started looking at the people in my life.  Were they supportive, consistent, trustworthy?   Did they demonstrate their friendship through actions?  Were they there when I needed them?   Did we share something vital and important in common?

Wanting them to be different, wanting the relationship to be different didn’t make it so.  They make choices and I make mine.  Listening to my heart, I finally heard what it has been trying to tell me.    It is ok to let some things go.

Finally, I had to look inside myself and determine which struggles are worth the effort.  My life is littered with obstacles.  I don’t need to accept other peoples limits as my own.  I simply need to deal with what is limiting me in this moment.  Nothing limits like the restrictions of one’s own thinking.  Seeing things as obstacles makes them obstacles.  It is time to see them as opportunities.

I listened to the weariness I feel when people talk about their problems.  Such talk focuses on lack or what stands in the way or whose to blame.  It focuses on a weird sort of one-up-man-ship.

“My problems are bigger than yours.”

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Forgetting

Sometimes, it’s good to forget.  I’ve forgotten more than I have ever known.  It’s been said that “knowledge is power.” I’m not so sure. Forgetting might be where the true power lies.    The ability to let go of the parts of my life that cause me too much pain, that hold me back, that hinder  me from becoming all that I might be seems like a skill that I could practice.  Ah, but that’s just my wishful thinking taking me prisoner.  What I describe is denial.  Denial is putting a wonderful, tasty frosting on a dirt clod and passing it off as a cupcake. I’ve eaten a lot of dirt clod cupcakes over the years.

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What I Want


(This clip shows my favorite song from my favorite episode of Spongebob Squarepants.  It’s the perfect contrast in opposing perspectives.)

Defining what I want has been a big challenge.  My life has felt like a puzzle with lots of missing pieces.  I’ve crawled around the nooks and cranks in my mind filled with angst determined to find a way to define myself and what I want from life.    The search became a “have to”, a job, that nasty four-letter word: “work.”  Isn’t it supposed to be easier than this?

Time for my walk.  I head out the door, taking my concerns with me.

Inside my head, I see an image.  It’s me in a race car.  I’m a passenger without a seat belt.  Racing through life, I lurch and tumble over every bump every swerve in the road.  I’m not having a good time.  I want to feel like the driver.  I want to see where I’m going and be the one to steer toward it.  I’m supposed to be the driver, aren’t I?  I walk with this image in my mind.  I feel the road under my wheels.  I tumble, I bounce.

Then I remember the lesson from last weekend.  Visiting a senior community garage sale, I finally discovered what I want to be when I grow up:  Retired.  These seniors were having a great time.  They were relaxed, enjoying each other’s company, chatting with strangers, having fun.    Simple, good, clean fun.  That’s what I want, what I’ve always wanted: fun.

It’s not deep or altruistic.   It won’t earn me fame or fortune.  I won’t go down in any history book.  It doesn’t matter.  I just want to have fun.

At first the bits and pieces of internalized voices, challenge this dream.  “You can’t always have fun.”

“How childish!” says another.

“Life isn’t supposed to be fun.  It’s work, hard work, and then you die,” whines another.

I smile at my joy killers.  I do not argue.  I can see that having fun isn’t their objective.  They cling to their own special brand of misery.  It’s a misery that I understand well.  I’ve  just decided I don’t want it.  I give myself permission to have a dream of my own.  I give myself permission to be a passenger in the race car called life.  It’s OK to enjoy the ride.  It’s OK to have FUN!

I say, “Whee!”

Now that I understand what I want from life, I know that I won’t always feel it.  Fun, often requires some preliminary ground work that doesn’t look or feel like fun.  Fun is often hard work.  Most of that hard work takes place between the ears.  It requires a constant commitment and renewal of perspective.  Misery is easy.  Fun, on the other hand, often requires effort.  It needs a stage built, a set designed, a cast of eager characters and the courage not to tamper with the result.  It’s sort of like, “If you build it, they will come.”   Building something requires effort and an effort I won’t always feel like making.  When the bleachers are full and the game is on, the effort it took to get there will be so worth it.

FUN!  IT’S WHAT I WANT AND I CAN FIND IT ALMOST ANYWHERE.

Insert: Giddy laugh, lively dancing and general celebratory spirit.  I’ve left the building.  I’m having fun.

 

Where Am I?

Last week went by so quickly, I can’t believe it’s Saturday already.  What happened?  Where am I?  I feel like a leaf that is dropped in a raging river.  Time carries me.  I struggle to comprehend where I am in relation to myself.  The tree that I fell from is home.  This river is not.  I feel like I don’t belong here.  Where am I?

While struggling atop the crazy, rapid waters, I realize that my life is missing its center.  I need to schedule time for solitude, prayer, time to think.  To do so feels like I’d have to swim against the current.  I often stop before I begin.  It’s an idea that kills itself because I allow it out of confinement.  This is too much responsibility.  Easier to feel adrift that to grab a twig and start rowing.

Chaos feels familiar.  It is what I see but what I see is limited by my clinging to a perspective that is not serving me.  Fatigue and confusion wash over me like water.  I sink.  There under the water I look up at the chaos above.  The edges of chaos are soft.  The water in my ears muffs the sounds.  I could get used to this.

Tears spring to my eyes when I realize that my reaction, my perspective is what is causing me pain.  My life is full and busy.  My days often productive but I take little satisfaction.  I’m too busy seeing all that is not, all that I am not.  It tries to choke the joy out of my life.  I’m not a squirrel in a cage racing around a wheel but I’ve felt like one.  I’m a flamboyant dancer whose heart and soul is lost in the dance if only I shift my perspective.

Why is this so hard?  Why do I cling to all the things that aren’t working?  Why am I so stubborn?  Why is a life of joy so suspect?

In a moment of clarity, I see that so many people and structures in life work against joy.  Happiness, satisfaction is a choice.  Every day, countless times a day, I stand at a crossroads.  I can choose which path I take:  abundance or scarcity, joy or sorrow, anger or empathy, fear or courage.  I know where I am.  I hear the music and I begin to dance.

 

The Dreams, the Day and the Dog

Sleep clings to me when I awake.  Life is soft and fuzzy around the edges.  I am really hungry.  My husband makes breakfast.  It tastes better than usual.  Will the rest of my day taste this good?

The end of yesterday found me tired and discouraged.  Fatigue was influencing my thoughts.  It tampered with my dreams.

The memory of the dreams is a confusing jumble.  I take them with me as I walk.  Pieces of dreams float in my head as I mark the miles on the trail.  I walk as if I’m in a hurry.  I have a goal, a destination.  I am determined to arrive.

After my walk, I shower.  The dreams return and flow around me like water.  What do they mean?

Two answers suddenly pop into my head.

1.) Things are not what they seem.

2.) You are putting unnatural roadblocks in your path.

Straight forward, clear, these two sentences match what I know in my deepest self.  They are precisely what I needed to hear as I begin a day, a beautiful sunny day.  The day stretches before me with promise.  I commit to living it, enjoying it, celebrating it.  I will remember that “things are not always what they seem” and “I am putting unnatural roadblocks in my path.”

On the floor next to me, our dog naps in the sun.  She soaks up the warmth and light naturally, peacefully.  She shows me how it’s done, this listening to the day, the light and the sun.

The day, the dreams, and the dog speak to me.  I listen.

Get Up and Walk

(Listening to Spotify as I write, this song by Lady Antebellum “Run to you”  was given to me with perfect timing!  I insert “walk” when they sing, “run”.  It’s more my style.)

Hearing the call, I ignored it.  My day was too busy, too full.  I was too tired.  My back ached.  My knees or hip hurt.  It was raining.  It was too hot.   A body at rest stays at rest. . and I did.

“Get up and walk”

I felt crippled by circumstance.  I wasn’t in charge of my own life.  I gave my power away.  I had nothing left but none of that was really true.  I wanted excuses.

“Get up and walk.”

Summer lies before me, pure gift.  No more excuses.  I have the time.  I am in charge.  It’s up to me to rise to the occasion.  I set the alarm.  I wake before it goes off.  I tell myself, “Today is a good day.”

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Perfectly Less Than Perfect

 

I have always envied those who wake up eager to meet the new day.  There have been days when I awake with a feeling of dread at having to rise to the challenges of another day.  I’m not proud of that but it is the truth.

This morning was different.  It is not a perfect morning.  I have many miles to go before I sleep.  I have a lot of responsibilities and commitments.  I have promises to keep.  I have chores to do and things that I would rather not do but this is my new day, a gift.

The clock next to me stares at me with large red numbers.  It’s not even 7 a.m. and it’s a Saturday.  My back tells me that going back to sleep isn’t possible.  My feet touch the floor and I head for the bathroom.  My feet are steady and sure.  This is new.  Normally, I shuffle like a zombie.  My arms half extended to brace myself again something should I happen to fall.  This morning, I know I will not fall.

As I shower, I remember the heavy hearts of those around me.  Yesterday was hard for them.  Each was challenged in their own way.  I remember my own challenges.  I sort through my thoughts and feelings and see something new, something that I had not acknowledged before.  My thoughts are not light but my spirit is.  I see the difference between the two and am grateful.  This is a good day and it feels good.

Breakfast and coffee tastes wonderful.  Quickly, I delete old e-mails and move on to the next task.  I decide to write and grab my camera to take this picture of my perfectly-less-than-perfect morning that still feels great.  I aim at the sun wondering if it will show up in the photo.  It’s there surrounded by a hazy, light gray sky.  The light and moisture work together and form a faint halo around the sun.  Light is sacred.  It deserves a halo.

This is a perfectly-less-than-perfect day.  It is all gift.

My Dream Job

License Some rights reserved by DubRoss

If blank stares from expressionless faces could kill, I’d have been dead Thursday morning.  The “I-Hate-Math”  group was doing some great work perfecting their death-ray stare.  After trying unsuccessfully to pitch the math-can-be-fun idea, I gave up and just tried to connect with them on a human level.  In order to do so I asked one of my famous questions:

“If you could have any job in the world, possible or impossible what would it be?”

This was a question even the I-Hate-Math group couldn’t resist.  They seem to forget how annoying I had been and got busy thinking up an answer.  When it was my turn to share and you know I had to share on a question as wonderful as this one, I said that my dream job would be that of fairy godmother.

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May I?

window

Photo courtesy of Flickr: Creative Commons. Aunt Owwee’s Photos:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/aunto/

May, I?

It’s May first.  How can I resist this title served up to me on the platter of time and circumstance?  May 1st is a gift.

My empty feeling has passed.  Instead, I feel filled up to my eyeballs with stuff and clutter that I don’t want to claim anymore.  I’d rather open the windows of my mind and start tossing things out to the street below.  Children, looking like the cast from Oliver, fight over the stuff I’m tossing down.  (Do commas really go there?  I toss the question down with all the other things.)  When I was a child, I thought like the children below do.  I fought to hold on to everything that came my way.  That was only yesterday.  The boundary between adult and child is constantly shifting and changing moment to moment, day to day.  In this moment, there are poor, ragged children fighting over my poor hand-me-downs.

This has been one of the hardest things: the holding on of these poor hand-me-downs that mark where and who I’ve been.  So many of these things don’t do a very good job.  They weren’t me at all but rather someone I thought I was or who someone else thought I was.  It’s easy to get lost and confused.  No wonder I want to clear out some space.  I’m too full of all that I am not.  It’s just too crowded in here.  Some things have got to go.

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Anniversary

Marriage.  I had given up on the idea when I met the man that is now my husband.  The few men I had dated before were not marriage material.    Men who lived with their mothers in a complicated love/hate relationship were attracted to me like iron to a magnet.  I dated them for a little while because it seemed the “normal” thing to do.  It wasn’t long and I ended up really disliking them and myself for perpetuating the illusion that we were or could ever be a couple.

The first time I talked with my husband, I had just gotten home from a date with a clown.  Not a jokester but a genuine clown.   Clowns have always frightened me.  This clown was no exception.  He made me balloon animals and talked about his two clown persona’s: Buffy and Biff.  He preferred Buffy and spoke of her at length.  He lost himself completely when he talked about the clothes Buffy wears and the makeup and high heels.   Continue reading

I am the person behind the words printed here. I write because my heart will not allow me the option of NOT writing. It has taken me half a life time to discover this basic truth, but now that I have, writing is as natural as breathing. This is where my breath takes the form of words.

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The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)
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