Surrender

I’m a better lover than a fighter.  Lately, I’ve been doing too much resisting.  Focusing on the lack and not the abundance.

So, this morning, I stumble toward the shower, shuffling like a stiff old man on Thorazine.  There, with sleep threatening to pull me under, I pray with words of desperation,

“God help me.  God help us.”

A groan may have provided punctuation.  I’m not sure.  I couldn’t remember washing my hair so I washed it twice and let the water wash over me as I struggled to figure out what do I do next.  The answer, clear and strong was simply this, “Give up.”

Wooooh.

“Are you kidding me?  This runs counter to everything I’ve been reading and what I’ve been told.  I can’t just give up.”   Inside my head the words came quickly.

“I must be losing my mind.”  I think to myself.

“That would be a cop-out,” I hear in response.  “Oh, and giving up doesn’t mean you stop trying,” the voice adds.

I’m starting to feel annoyed.  “Alright, I’m a little confused.  You’re going to have to clarify this for me. I don’t have a clue where this is headed.”

Silence.

Maybe clues are reserved for those who are more awake.  I go back to trying to figure out where I’m at in my shower routine .  Oh, time to shave my legs.  The razor hits the shower floor not once, not twice but three times.  I sigh.

“Stop focusing on the outcome.  It’s all about the process.  Not everything depends on you.  You certainly can’t figure everything out.  You’ve got to let go of all the mental energy you pour into things.  The end result doesn’t define your worth.  Most things in life have too many variables.  You’re not enjoying the process and you’re making yourself miserable.  You’ve got to give up!”

As I put the end back on the razor, I understand.  I respond in absolute silence.  The warm shower feels good.  I stop worrying about the routine and what needs to be done and tell myself that no matter the outcome, I’m going to do everything I can to enjoy the day ahead.

So far:

I’ve prayed in the shower while I shaved my legs (Yeah! multi-tasking!)

I’ve had a wonderful visit with an old friend.  (R.  I love you!)

Got some valuable information from a dear newer friend.  (Love you too, L.)

Had a nice conversation with a neighbor.  (Miss you when you move, N. )

Made cupcakes and lunch.

Wrote a blog entry.

I’ve spent too much of my last few weeks making myself miserable because of all the things I wasn’t doing and how things just aren’t working out.  I focused on what was wrong.  I whined.  I complained.  Playing worse case scenario made me miserable.  Being angry at other people just eats me up inside.  These are the things I need to give up.  I surrender.

What’s Your Purpose?

Yesterday was hard.  I poured out my heart writing but couldn’t hit the publish button.  Some struggles are best kept private.  Overwhelmed, lost, I struggled to get my bearings.  I prayed that God would show me the way but I didn’t expect an answer.  One was provided for me any way.  In my faithlessness, I was shown faith.  My closed heart shown an opportunity to love.  Lost, I was given the way.  No one else was given the job to be me.  It’s time to step into the life I’ve been given as a gift.  It’s time to be me, the better me, the best me.

 

My Calling

fromheaven

The idea that I have a unique calling isn’t new to me.  A calling is what got me to enter a convent.  I was truly convinced that God was calling me to the religious life and for a time, I believe he was.  My calling changed but I didn’t want to let go of what I believed my calling was.  I was angry with God that things hadn’t turned out the way I’d planned.  And, yes, I know how silly that sounds.  Humans are funny that way, especially this one.

It has taken years for me to begin to understand that my calling is my life.  My life only becomes my calling when I open myself up to it, when I accept the path that shows up in front of me and I follow it.  A calling isn’t something exotic or special and while it’s unique to each one of us, it is as simple as opening oneself to the life we were given.

This simplicity doesn’t make it any less powerful or important and it certainly doesn’t make it easy.  For years, I’ve resisted what was before me all the time.  I just didn’t see it.  I stumbled through life with my eyes closed.

Now the pieces are starting to fit.  I look back over the years and I clearly see how some things were meant to be.

I was called to a relationship with my husband in marriage.  Much of my character has been refined because of this relationship.  I have not always liked the lessons but I have no doubts that marrying him was answering my calling.  I love him.  He is blessed to have me and I him.

Nothing has ever felt as natural or as right as being a mother.  Motherhood was a calling, a very important and very special one.  I have been given the privilege of being a mother to both my amazing children.  This too, is often difficult and challenging but it has been my calling and nothing has improved my character more than being a mother.   Every day I struggle to rise to the occasion and every evening I am grateful for the opportunity no matter how trying the day.

I am called to write.  Maybe, not best sellers or even non-selling e-books but this blog.  The reasons don’t matter.  What matters is that I am drawn to do this despite the fact that sharing so much of myself feels uncomfortable and often embarrasses me.   I am my own harshest critic.  Yet, when other critics appear and I question the sanity in continuing, the call remains.  Questioning stops and I continue to write.  If this isn’t a calling than I don’t know what  is.

I am called to be an Independent Mary Kay Beauty consultant.  This isn’t a job or even a career, it is a calling.  I am very aware of the irony here which is precisely why I take this so seriously and continue despite the occasion challenges.  What I learn about this business is helping me in ways I never expected.  It constantly challenges me to push past my reluctance and resistance and show up and meet the women I am called to  meet and to work with the women I am called to work beside.

People are placed in our lives for a reason.  Once I understood this I open myself up to the chance to really learn from all of them.    This is a calling to empowerment, which begins with me and has a ripple effect on everyone in my life.  Great skin care and makeup products are a tool to change lives, to help women feel better about themselves.  I am constantly touched and humbled by the women I meet who need reassurance and affirming acceptance of their looks and who they are.  So many women have yet to be introduced to the beauty that is inside them.  My calling is to open the door to that beauty in a small and gentle way.  I am humbled by this opportunity.

All these things are my calling, yet some times I still resist.  I am often guilty of failing to grasp the importance of my calling.  I try to get out  of it.  I try to find excuses, other things to do, distractions that take me away but none of these things satisfy or feel good.  My heart knows what its work is.   When I avoid it, I do not know peace nor feel a sense of alignment with the God/Universe that has created each of us for a special and beautiful reason.

Every day I am called to wake up and engage in the gift I was given, this particular life with these particular people, challenges, tears and joys.  This is my calling.

 

 

Gifts of Desperation

dichotomy

This morning I read that GOD is an acronym for “gifts of desperation” (Anne Lamott).  Yes,  I do believe that makes perfect sense, at least on this morning as I struggle to ignore a head cold and the natural frustrations of dealing with teenage children.  I choose to have a fabulous day.  I put my troubles in a box and put them on a shelf in the deepest corner of my mind so I can move forward.

In the first class of the day, we read the latest news about North Korea.  Fear licks at my heels.  Talk of war is crazy talk no matter how sane any one sounds.

“I’m a pacifist,” I tell myself and then I remember the argument I had with my daughter as I dropped her off at school.  Am I really a pacifist if I am so easily drawn into conflict and defense of my position?   Give peace a chance, let it begin with me?  St. Francis and Gandhi and a few crazy hippies start fighting for real estate in my soul.  No body is winning.  I am at war with myself, the person I want to be and the person I really am.  The cold in my head and the conflict in my soul make my head ache.  I lean on my hands. Continue reading

No Complaining

It’s Wednesday.  Woe day and Carol finds time to write.  Some how I don’t think it’s a coincidence.  Wednesday and woe are such a natural pairing in my brain.  How I want to change that channel.  It isn’t easy.

To this end, I picked up yet another book at the library.  This one is called,  A Complaint Free World: Take the 21-Day Challenge by Will Bowen.  The book came home with me on Saturday.  I’ve read up to page 12.  Despite how little I’ve read, I’ve been captivated by the main action idea that the book proposes.  It is this:  Wear a bracelet, watch, or rubber band on your wrist or put a coin or doodad in a pocket.  Every time you catch yourself complaining, gossiping or criticizing out loud, you switch the item to the other wrist or pocket.

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Saturday’s Child

Saturday’s Children is a 1940 American drama film directed by Vincent Sherman and starring John GarfieldAnne Shirley, and Claude Rains. It is a third-time remake of the original Maxwell Anderson play with a previous version released in 1935 under the title Maybe It’s Love.[1]  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturday’s_Children)

“Saturday’s child works hard for a living.”  Since I was born on a Saturday, I’ve always been drawn to the rhyme for this day.  It evokes some mixed feelings.  Most of us would like to be born into a life of ease until we realize that a life of ease may not be all that we think it could be.  Hard work, challenges and difficulties are the things that define and develop character.  In life and in old Hollywood movies, the easy life doesn’t make an interesting story.  We don’t become all we can be without some hard work.

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Ignorance

This last week, I found out that I’m a parasite.  I’m failing to contribute to society by not paying my fair share of the bills.  Of course the word, parasite wasn’t used but it didn’t take much to read between the lines.

I sat in class while a teacher discussed the recent presidential candidate debate.  I heard how easy it is for people to declare bankruptcy and never pay their bills, thus increasing the bills of those working.  I’ve had to declare bankruptcy.  It’s a shame I carry but there were no other sane alternatives.  I work but can’t earn enough to get out of the incredible hole circumstances have thrown me in.  I heard how no hospital will turn someone away if they can’t pay and how he and others like him have to pay the bills for us.

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Beside the River

On  a Sunday, not long ago, we went fishing.  My son is not yet a fisherman.  He did spend a lot of time and energy digging a hole in the sand.   Easier to focus on the hole in front of you than try to make out the shapes in the fog.

He is no longer a little boy.  His world keeps getting larger, bigger, more intimidating.  He used to cry about the idea of growing up.  He said he wanted to be a little kid forever.  He embraces this desire like a favorite stuffed animal.  He is not like most boys of 12.   He clings to childhood with a fierce dependence.  Childhood is more predictable.  Less is expected of you.  It’s easier to get by on good looks, quirkiness and a certain measure of charm.

Nothing stops the march of time.  All are carried by the years.   Wishing to remain a child forever is a wish that is only fulfilled in fairy tales.    My private fairy tales give me back a truth wrapped in fiction that I can carry around inside me like a seed.  It sprouts, takes root and fills me with branches and leaves.  I climb inside.  Some times, I dig holes in the sand.  I want to plant my fairy tale tree alongside a river.  I my fairy tale wishes to come true.   I want to remain innocent and young forever.

Maturity takes this pretty tree from me.  It presents a new life, a new way of being, a landscape with no room for trees.  Maturity demands personal responsibility.  It gives me power over my own life.   Sometimes, I’m afraid of this.    I’m sure this power frightens my son.

At times, I travel back in time through the portal of memory.  Grasping for an innocence and simplicity that I can not have again but don’t want to let go.   It is no wonder that my son mimics some of my sentimental desires.   These little trees are ours.  We fear letting them go.  We wonder what will take their place that can be better than our little fairy tales.

Maybe one of the most important lessons life is trying to teach me is that “I have to let go of what I have in order to “get” anything.”

Every day is a new chance for me to learn how to let go.   Life prepares me for the final surrender.   I can not control time, or aging.  I can not control the process of change.  I have no power over physical death, natural disasters, the price of bread or what fairy tales other people believe.

I can only control how I rise to the occasion, how I react, how I respond.   Each day, I’m given the opportunity to look into the mirror and acknowledge the person who looks back.  Each day, countless times a day, I make the choice whether I escape by wishing away the realities of life or if I embrace them and see them as special opportunities meant only for me.  It sounds better than it feels.  Special opportunities can feel like nasty burdens or handicaps.  Seeing an opportunity within can be painfully difficult.

My son’s desire to be a kid forever. . . well I can really relate.   Fortunately, I know that it really isn’t in his best interests or in mine.  I know how valuable maturity is and how I still struggle to achieve it.  My words to him will always be less powerful than my actions.    I must see my fairy tale for what it is.  I must stop digging holes in the sand by the river.   Through the fog, I hear a call from a distant shore.  I continue the journey, hoping my son will follow.

Along the Trail

As I leave for my walk this morning, I notice how sore my hips feel.  I want to turn back but forge ahead.  Thoughts slosh around my head like patches of oil atop vinegar. The pieces aren’t fitting.  I am a tangle of opposites.   I push the varied thoughts aside and keep going, saying to myself “I can do this, I can do this.”  I am the “engine that could.”

And then, I notice a huge mess on the trail.  A dog responded to the call of nature and left the evidence in a wide swath directly in front of me.  I didn’t know there was a dog this large.  This mess is of epic proportion.  This dog must have been as large as a Trojan horse and full of enemies just as undesirable to the troublesome Trojans.  My first thoughts are not positive.  In my head, I scold the dogs owner for his lack of respect and irresponsible behavior.  But those patches of oil atop vinegar have me question myself.  Do I really know the circumstances?  Did I step in it?

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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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