Happy Birthday, My Sweet Constellation

Today, my daughter is 17.  People told me that the time would fly by.  It has.

She was a beautiful, yet colicky baby.  The first 3 months were the hardest.  On my refrigerator I taped a big calendar.  Each morning I would cross off the previous day with a giant ‘X’.   As an exhausted new mom, surviving each day was one of my chief objectives but even then I felt a tinge of regret that I wasn’t totally embracing the joy that was now part of my life.

As I remember those days, I can smell that fresh new baby smell.  I can feel the soft, gentle, warmth of her tiny little body all swaddled in the perfect bundle that I held in my arms.

This tiny person changed everything.  She challenged.  She pushed.  She made me cry with frustration and worry.  She broke me time and time again in those first few months.  She taught me about love.  She made me a mom and she opened the door for her brother who followed 25 months later.  If I could, I’d give birth to them all over again.

I remember watching my toddler daughter at mom’s group.  As the other children competed for toys, or food, or a companion, my daughter was an observer.  Her face a zen-like mask of concentration, she would wait until just the right moment and move in to gain whatever had been the hotly contested prize just moments before.  She still approaches life that way.  I am so grateful.

Then, there was the first day of kindergarten.  As the other children cried or ran around the classroom, our daughter looked around the room, read the names on all the desks until she found her own.  (She learned to read at 4 without any assistance from us.)  She sat down, her back straight, her hands clasped on top of the desk.  Her face was eager for instructions.    My husband ushered me out of the room so I could indulge in a few tears.  She was ready.  There, in that morass of chaos and tears, my constellation, the center of my universe, sat calm, cool and collected.  I was so proud of her.  I am so proud of her.

At 17, she is the person I hope to be when I grow up.  She is one of the nicest people I have ever known.  She is patient and kind.  She is naturally positive and accepting.  She is a delight, my shopping buddy, my sweet honey bunny.

Guess, how much I love her!

I love her to the moon and back.

Happy Birthday, my sweet constellation.  You were and you are the best daughter I could ever have.  You bless me with your life and your love.  I am forever grateful for the wonderful gift you gave me on your birthday,  YOU!

 

Light

Not writing publicly, I have been writing privately.  I spill words on pages.  They blink back at me filled with sorrow, rage and jealousy.  I have a hard time seeing these words as mine.  It is wise to keep them private.  Finally, they start to sputter and lose their sting.  I turn to embrace them.

This morning, I walk.  An old back injury causes me to walk on the outside of my feet.  In time, the muscles along the inside of my foot atrophy.  They begin to telegraph pain along the nerves like little flashes of lightening.  They trick me by going numb when ever they please.  When the kids were small, I was told that surgery could help but that I’d be off my feet for 6 to 8 weeks. That was not an option.  Instead, I developed my own treatment.  I force myself to walk with all my foot touching the ground.

At first, I have to concentrate.  I can think only of walking and forcing my entire foot to carry my weight as it touches the ground.  The soles of my feet burn.    My feet, my walk, my soul remind me that some times pain is necessary.  Some times we just have to push through it.  Pain, sorrow, anger and jealousy are not bad in themselves.  They have valuable lessons to teach.

Lessons come from unlikely places.

On Tuesday, a book in the library catches my eye:  Assertiveness for Earth Angels.  The central premise seems odd to me.  The author maintains that once upon a time many people were angels in heaven.  At some point, these earth angels are sent to earth by God to help other people.  A picture of Joan of Arc surrounded by two cherubs graces the cover.  Was I once an angel?  I really, really doubt that.  I can think of no theological precedent.

And yet, inside this book, she reminds me that I am a being of Light.  My body telegraphs the truth of these words.  A warm feeling begins in the pit of my stomach and energy surges from the top of my head and the ends of my fingers and toes.  With a physical reaction this strong, I know that the words have hit home and something about being a creature of Light connects with my own reality in a profound way.

This Creature of Light begins her walk feeling like a broken marionette.  The nerves in my legs crackle and sting.  Moving feels awkward.  I hope that the passing traffic doesn’t notice how out of sync my body seems with this beautiful day.  I feel more like a creature of the shadows.

And then, a woman at the intersection pulls forward to make a left turn while I have the walk signal.  Suddenly, realizing I have the right of way, she backs up a bit to make way for me.  I smile at her brightly and mouth a thanks.  Her face awakens in the most wonderful smile.  Walking in the light can be such a satisfying thing.

As I walk, pushing those lazy muscles down toward the earth, I become more grounded.  The creature of the shadows needs a rest.  It’s done its job.   I stop, close my eyes and turn my face toward the sun.  Light feels right.

 

An Accounting

So much of my life has been based in want, lack of abundance, need.

This last week in an overwhelming moment of need and anxiety, I knelt along side my bed and prayed the simplest of prayers,

“God help me.  God help us.”

It felt a little dramatic.  My knees ached.  I got up slowly.  My body hasn’t been a temple.  Its been more of a dump.   Immediate feedback from the Almighty was a deafening silence.  I crawled into bed and fell into an exhausted sleep.

A few days forward and I awake before all others.  There are a hundred different tasks that await me but the call to sit and open myself up to listen to the Divine are too great.  I’ll feel guilty if I don’t comply.  This feeling opens into an abyss of obligation and responsibility.  Its weight presses on the top of my head.  My head throbs in reply.  My body isn’t a temple.  I am guilty.  Mea culpa.  Mea maxima culpa.

The memory of my recent knee-position plea to God for help surfaces with an unusual strength.  I felt a little silly then and I feel more silly now.  My noisy mind resists these moments of quiet.  It raises up an annoying static of negative self talk and recriminations.  Some times, my mind is a real drag.

Suddenly, one thought becomes crystal clear.  All this mind noise has been a huge distraction.  It creates a poverty within.  It fills me with unfulfilled desire, inadequacy and pain.  They are illusions.  The shift in my life that I’ve been praying and longing for isn’t something external.  It is a change in being.  The circumstances and events that have felt like burdens, like punishments, are vehicles of growth and change.  My life isn’t flawed.  I am not tragically flawed.   My perceptions have created limits, walls of misery.  My perception has been limited.  My life is filled with opportunity.

Desperately, I want to avoid the reality of this last sentence.  I squirm under the responsibility until I suddenly realize that this too is the product of faulty perception.  The ledger of my life won’t be filled with monetary entries outlining my lack and how I overspent.  No, my ledger will detail the economy of being.  What did I become when life provided me the opportunity for growth and development.  How did I deal with the challenges I encountered?  Did I expand or contract?

The barrier between me and who I want to be is largely illusion.  I keep showing up for this party in a tattered costume with a mask covering who I am.  No wonder I’m not having any fun.

On a sunny Sunday morning, in a sleepy peaceful silence, I receive a pure gift, a splinter of enlightenment.   I am enough.  Life awaits.

Choices

“Humility is recognition of truth. Your worldly accomplishments are a gift bestowed upon you by the Uni-verse, nothing is possible without the support of the invisible realm of the Infinite Mystery. When you know that you actually do nothing and are simply a channel for the Good, Abundance, Joy and Peace that already existed before your birth to be rearranged to your preference you will be in harmony with Life. The minute you buy into being the doer of anything you have taken yourself out of the flow and stepped back into Ego thinking.

 

All things have been created by the Joyful will of the Infinite Mystery, Life is an experience of making choices about how you want to arrange things in your life. You can choose to arrange things in a Fearful, Egoic way, or you can choose to arrange things in a Loving and Joyful way. When you choose Love and Joy you align with the greatest and highest Good and begin to express your unique creative perspective while at the same time feeling a oneness with everyone else. This will leave you with a feeling of wholeness, joy, peace and gratitude.” 

– Jackson Kiddard

Lack of money limits choices.  It’s so easy to focus on what I can’t do or afford that I often forget that I still have a choice as to how I chose to act.

Lately, I’ve been a grump.  I felt sorry for myself, frustrated, limited, lacking.

When reality would come knocking and life was showing me that compassion with myself and others would be the better choice, I tried my best to ignore it.  Wearing misery like an ugly old sweater pulled up against a hostile world got to be a real drag.  So when I found an ugly sweater that I loved, I “decided to rock the ugly!”

Now, I lost track of “rocking the ugly” between then and now about half a dozen times but “rockin’ the ugly” is a choice and it sure beats letting life weigh too heavily.  I’m old enough now to know “that this too shall pass.”  No one can take their money or possessions with them when they die and as much as I’d like to leave a physical legacy for my children, they aren’t going to be taking it with them when they go either.  In the end, all the money and stuff in the world won’t matter.  What matters is how I chose to live my life and how I made the best with what I was given.

I’m going with the flow.  Here’s to “rockin’ the ugly!

 

 

racooncoat

Facing the Nation on Sunday Morning

By 7 a.m.  I am awake.  By 7:20, I’m up.  I turn on the TV to watch CBS’ Sunday Morning.  The last segments are mostly happy ones.  I feel happy!

Then, I watched “Face the Nation.”  This is one face that would have been happier not to face the nation on a beautiful Sunday morning.

Maybe, Mr. Schieffer had two of the biggest nincompoops to represent the opposing sides.  It is clear that they were politicians in the worst sense of the word.  Mr. Schieffer would ask an intelligent question, one that I would have loved to hear a clear answer too, and both guys wouldn’t answer them.  It was enough for me to question my sanity but only for a moment.

What bothers me more is that these two “elite” Americans aren’t “the smartest eggs in the carton.”

At one point, Schieffer presented an analogy and asked for comment.

The following is my paraphrasing and in no way claims to capture the actual words of the interview.  For that, I am grateful.  I’ve got enough nonsense rattling around my head without adding to it.

Shieffer [It would be like my saying that I would like Congress to support funding for a cure for cancer and if they don’t approve my pet funding, I refuse to vote to pass the budget.  Isn’t that what is happening now?]

Nincompoop:  [Well, Bob, I actually do support cancer research and have actively sought funding through Congress, blah, blah, blah.]

Shieffer:  [That’s not my point, Senator.]

Nincompoop: [You bring up a very good point, Bob.  If only Mr. Obama would be willing to talk, we could resolve this. Blah, blah, blah]

I didn’t know that you could be that off topic on a nationally televised interview (1/2 of which is rescheduled for 2:05 a.m. Monday morning because of the football game.  Wait! This isn’t a bad idea since Schieffer was the only one making any sense.)

Apparently, you can be that bad of an impromptu speaker and still get elected.  My awakening was not yet complete, I hadn’t completely accepted that you can be that “slow on the uptake” and actually hold a position in Congress but then again, I hadn’t really thought about it.  I just hoped there were smart people in charge some where.  What was I thinking?

I deliberately close my ears to most political blabber.  It worries me.  It upsets me.   I don’t want to know how a few nincompoops in a city/district clear across the country can screw things up for so many people so easily without a bloomin’ clue.  Thanks for shattering another illusion, Face the Nation.

Wait!  Face the Nation!  There is a silver lining.

You made me feel like a genius compared to those two.  Maybe, I should run for political office.  Think of what a world it could be if every Senator and Congress person, were smart enough?  Think of what a strong nation we could create if normal, every day people put to use the knowledge they have about what it means to be the common American and applied it to the larger problems that plague this country.  Think of the amazing country that might develop if honesty, integrity and fairness drove politics and not the hunger for reelection.

Maybe, this was all a bad dream.  I can hope, can’t I?

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.

 

 

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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Working for Peace

This morning as I caught up on some of my internet reading, I came across the following quote by Thomas Merton.

All the good that you will do will come not from you but from the fact that you have allowed yourself, in the obedience of faith, to be used by God’s love. Think of this more and gradually you will be free from the need to prove yourself, and you can be open to the power that will work through you without your knowing it.

Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/beyondblue/2013/01/thomas-merton-make-me-an-instrument-of-your-peace.html#ixzz2JlGYhbA3

Saturday dawns with me thinking about work especially my last week at my day job.  Stress seemed to be contagious.  There was a whole lot of grumpy panic running wild.  There was also a lot of “the-farmer-kicks-the-cow, the cow-kicks-the-cat, the cat-kicks-the-mouse, the mouse-jumps-off-the-barn-roof” going on.  A lot of the people filling my week were not filled with happy.  It was robbing me of a lot.  My work felt futile, meaningless, painful.  If ever a week needed love; last week was it.

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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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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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