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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The Write Feast

Recently, I started reading a book on creative writing.  The first few pages offered some solid advice.  I found it all rather intimidating.  The author says that a writer writes and that when a writer starts writing for themselves they find their voice and the real creative work begins.

Writing for myself has seemed unusually difficult lately.  My voice must live in an unexplored land.  It’s foreign territory.  The ground feels soft and squishy under my feet.  It’s just like Alaskan tundra.  It spends most of the year under layers of snow and ice.  When all the snow and ice thaws it becomes a carpet.  Stepping on it feels like walking on a mattress or one of those insane rope net bridges strung across some remote South American gorge.   I can’t look down.  I just have to hang on and keep going.

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The air is damp and heavy.  It feels thick and moist with each breath.  Walking the trail is a challenge today.  I want to turn around and go back home.  Something doesn’t feel right.  Maybe its the wet warmth that presses down on my shoulders.  Maybe its the battleship gray of the sky.  Maybe. it’s the invisible suitcase I drag behind me.  This morning it is full of rocks.  I pretend it isn’t there and keep walking.

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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.



photo taken by Ruben Holthuijsen found on Flickr Creative Commons

Certainty.  It’s what I’ve been chasing.  I’ve been surrounding myself with people of strong conviction.

Six months ago, at a church-sponsored rummage sale, I filled in a little card that said I was interested in Bible study.  My actions did not make sense to me at the time.  Soon, I was paired with a woman that I instantly liked.  I enjoy her visits but the Bible study not so much.  Try as I might I can not accept a literal view of scripture.  I believe in evolution, that God is non-denominational and that collectively we’re all just guessing when it comes to “defining” God.  As for the end times,  I’m not concerned with the number of years between comings or whether or not God ends the suffering of the wicked with oblivion or eternal torment.  These issues are angels dancing on pin heads.  They aren’t relevant to me.  I really don’t care.  I have a really difficult time believing that a God would be all that interested in the punishment of the wicked.  I want to believe that Love will trump all in the end.  I don’t know what that means and I live with uncertainty.    These are beliefs that I usually keep to myself.  I’m a fish who desperately wants to be a bird.  Wishing just can’t make it so.  Certainty floats beyond my grasp.

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“You can’t always get what you want.” 

— from a song by The Rolling Stones released on their 1969 album Let It Bleed. Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards,

I’m learning about what I want.

I’m learning that I have expectations and that it’s ok to want something.

I’m learning it’s okay to ask for what you need.

I’m learning that crying doesn’t mean I’m weak or broken any more than the next person.

I’m learning that failure hurts but it doesn’t define me.

I’m learning that anger hides many things no matter who carries it.

I’m learning that blame is easier than working on a solution.

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The Wall

“All in all, it’s just another brick in the wall.”  –Pink Floyd

In my life, I have come to believe that being open and honest about our lives is essential for developing the ability to emotionally connect with each other.  My words are not meant as an indictment.  My family is what it is.   We’re all limited, imperfect.   This is simply my experience, the way I feel.  I validate those feelings here in writing about them.  I have a right to them.  I hold them within the walls of myself but by this admission, I hope to open a door.  I want my heart to remain open.  I need to give it voice especially when pieces of it are breaking.  In this brokenness, I hope that others can find parts of themselves. 

This last week a wise woman suggested that I focus on what is directly in front of me.  She referenced Nehemiah, a book in the Old Testament.    Their city, Jerusalem, was in ruins.  The Israelites were discouraged and hopelessly flawed and yet somehow despite all their complaining, all the set backs, all the attacks by enemies and all the fighting among themselves eventually, they build the wall and reclaim something central to themselves.  They needed a prophet to redirect them back to what was most important, to focus on the wall directly in front of them.

Walls are necessary.  The provide a layer of protection.  They keep things out and other things in…  I know a lot about walls.

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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

Waiting for Easter

It’s the time of year when we celebrate all things new.  Sadly, my soul feels mired in the old.  I want to give it wings.

Easter and the 40 days leading up to it, meant much more to me as a child.  Lent was about deprivation and denial.  It was usually about the giving up and not the giving for.   I still hear the occasion person state what they gave up while the next person tries to top that with the particular thing, person or activity they choose to do without as if it were some masochistic contest.  I’d rather not play.  I hated the giving up, the guilt when I failed, the idea that doing without could somehow contribute to creating something more.  It defied logic.  A neat and orderly world is a predictable one.

And, so when Easter finally arrived after 40 days of want and three days of intense liturgical observation in which the Catholic Church reenacts the drama of the Last Supper and the Crucifixion, Easter was release.  It was healing.  It was rebirth.  It was love, the reward for faith and hope.  It was divine justice, a reconciliation for all the suffering, all the want, all the waiting.  If only life were that simple.

The Easter story means so much to so many because it promises a reward for suffering.  It promises redemption.  It makes God, a suffering, persecuted human, one to which we can all relate.  Divine justice prevails.  Suffering becomes part of the process and makes the subsequent resurrection more meaningful.   We want that for ourselves.  We want our suffering to have meaning.  We want to rise again.

Often, that isn’t how it ends, at least not in the earthly realm.  So much of human suffering is meaningless.  The happy ending, the just ending, may never come and still, we wait.

In the end, the story we tell ourselves to make sense out of the stuff of our lives is all that matters.  If we align our lives, our dreams our hopes with a Christian story that is where meaning will lie for us.  If we believe that the Koran defines our reality, then it will.  If we chose to attach our dreams, hopes and ambitions to the wisdom of the Buddha, then those things will become real for us.

These are all stories or tales with beginning, middles and endings.  The ending is a product of all that came before.  We mortals, victims of time, are still stories in progress.  We can only guess what our ending will be.  We are trapped in the daily living of our unfinished stories.  There is so much that doesn’t make sense.  We attach ourselves to stories, stories that have endings.  It is there we pin our hopes and dreams and often our sanity.    Stories comfort us and few stories comfort us more than that of a Christ, rising again, overcoming death, suffering and evil.

How I want the comfort of this story to fill me.  I want to feel born again.  I want to rise again, above all the loss and pain that haunts the edges of my life.  I close my eyes and wait for the feeling of resurrection to flow through me.  I need an Easter in my life.  It doesn’t come.

But then again, my story isn’t over.


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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