The Proverbial Bottom – “Just believe”


There comes a time in everyone’s life where we each have a day of reckoning. Much more than an “AHA” moment, more like a series of lessons that all come together at once. Similar to those mountain top highs that we experience at a High School youth camp when we are touched by a certain speaker’s message or just the praise songs sung around a campfire. Promising to God and ourselves the magnificent change we are about to make, really believing that we can make those changes…. That is, until we come down off of that mountain to face the real world. And are hit by “life.” When we are younger, it may be peer pressure, school, home life, whatever pushes our buttons that help us fail at being that person we really want to be. And yet as adults with decades behind us, we have a clearer picture and are more aware of our daily mistakes. Though we try to live right, have faith, be patient and kind, love our neighbors, our family, even our enemies until something happens that tests that faith and we  hit that bend in the road or the proverbial bottom of where we end up in a crisis, when we feel as if we have failed.

The older we get, more “stuff” gets in the way. And we feel more of an urgency to take account of our lives. But in a more surface matters of the heart kind of way. Believing that it is genuine but still becoming easily discouraged or offended. And not remembering that down on your knees kind of faith. Until that is, we start losing loved ones, or dealing with health issues, or financial crisis, relationship issues,  or whatever will send you to that proverbial “bottom” of where we hit when we feel helpless…. It is only then when we stop and take a good look at everything in a way that we haven’t for a while, maybe even not since that High School Camp experience.

I’ve had several crisis in my life. And have tried to renew my faith each time. But looking back, in a very primary kind of way. Though I genuinely meant it each time and was going through a kind of information gathering process. I don’t really believe that I understood this thing we call faith as much as I feel I do now. (And am still learning about it.) Through deaths and divorce, illnesses, financial stuff and getting on my knees kind of catostrophes. Everytime, making promises and praying for answers and receiving those answers but not continuing that walk of faith in the good times as well. NOW, realizing that even as I failed to follow through, I needed to go through those times of not following through, to land where I am now and to know that I need to keep getting down on my knees,  going in my prayer closet and giving it all to HIM daily. Not just when I need something but also to thank Him for His answers.

Recently a friend of my husband’s died and at the Memorial they gave away a book called Proof of Heaven, written by Eben Alexander M.D.  a Scientist and Brain Surgeon who got sick, and had a near death experience that he didn’t believe in as a Scientist and Surgeon beforehand. I highly recommend the book!  The one thing that really poked my heart was where he shared the (3) feelings of heaven that impacted him most… He said that he felt this overwhelming feeling of… (1) Love, (2) no fear, and (3) that he could do no wrong. The last one hit me the most and I was overcome by something inside of me that is so hard to explain. The realization that everything the Bible teaches us is about forgiveness and non judgement hit me with such a powerful impact it made me cry. I never really truly understood just how much I have felt like a failure in my life. To feel as if I could do no wrong would simply be heaven for me.

I believe that when we hit bottom, we are supposed to learn from those times. To rise up stronger than before. God has put people in my life with examples of strength that humble me. And make me count my blessings. To think that I don’t have it “so bad” and yet I wonder, why are they so strong as they continue to be a servant without complaining? And somehow I think that as I go through each trial, I am just beginning to learn how to fall on my knees, on my face and just believe. Isn’t that what we are called to do? Why haven’t I gotten that yet? Though mountain top highs are great memories of times when we felt as if we could almost touch the hem of our Lord, there is something about reaching a point in our life where we have to stop snatching back those prayers we  lay at HIS feet, and truly get down on our face where we are closer to the hem and just humbly believe that He is in charge and let Him be. Only then will we feel what it truly feels to be free.

 

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, “for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor fasake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight Proverbs 3:5-6

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Like A Flip Book


lonely-ghost-girl

I feel as if my life is so out of control right now. I’m kind of having a little panic attack as I do the bills.  I have no job. I mean it simply hit me that I am unemployed! My parents are aging and I am worried about that, as roles reverse and I feel the pressure. It almost feels as if my life is like a little “flip book” as all the years just flash before my eyes.

From riding in the back seat of my daddy’s car and watching the moon follow me, I remember falling asleep only to wake up as he carries me in the house, feeling safe and so content. And then all of a sudden, first dates and the ups and downs of falling in love for the first time and a couple more times after that. Of weddings and having babies, of miscarriages and parties and funerals and then more baby showers, a painful divorce and another chance and another wedding, in-between the pain of failure and the whirlwind of just living life and trying to survive with all the joys and heart aches that come with it. Never feeling that the good times lasted too long but looking back “now” and feeling that even the bad times were kind of the good old days.

I remember shopping with my daughter her freshman year of high school. We had a budget every year. My kids always got the first day of school outfit and some other new outfits, new shoes and a new backpack with school supplies. I guess it was so special for me because my dad always took me school shopping and it was this amazing tradition that I treasure more than I ever did when it was happening.

The year I remember most, my daughter and I were on a vacation with my childhood best friend. She was blessed with never needing a budget and her kids usually came out with a bag of something from each shop we went in. The girls had run ahead of us and when we walked in the store they were all already shopping. My friend’s daughters started handing their mom clothes they’d chosen, when  my daughter ran up to me with a jacket that made her eyes sparkle. I looked at the price tag and with a raised eyebrow said, “you know this one jacket is a third of your school clothes budget!” Without missing a beat she just put it back on the rack as my friend purchased more items for her daughters as they ran ahead to the next shop and my daughter happily followed.

Something kicked me deep in my heart, the way she didn’t argue or even mope. At that moment I felt richer than all the money I could ever need. It only took a second for me to grab that jacket and take out my credit card and decide that I’d just have to figure out how to stretch the budget  for that year. When I reached my daughter I handed her the bag and said, “this won’t count as part of your budget.” She burst into tears hugging me and said “Oh mama, thank you but it’s too much!” It was probably one of my best purchases I ever made. Later my stunned friend asked me, “How do you make a kid be so appreciative?” I knew that it was kind of a rhetorical question so I didn’t say what I wanted to, but the answer is  you don’t buy your kid everything they want so they appreciate the things they do get.”

Today my daughter buys her own clothes and lives her own life. Both my kids have little parts of me in them but they are mostly themselves. And I am happy they are strong and have their own personalities and are creating their own way. But at the same time I wonder where it all went? The time of buying clothes and setting curfews and driving them to this place or that place, well it sends me to a place where I feel the pages flipping by. In a way, I wonder where it all went. So fast? in my flip book of a life!

I remember my grandma telling me how in her seventies she still felt seventeen. Me too! Now as I look to my future I feel that flip book, remembering the box boy who called me Ma’am in my thirties! Or the woman at Ross asking me if I wanted the Senior Discount in my forties! I remember being size five! Where did it all go?! That little girl I once was, is just a ghost of me, but still deep down inside somewhere.

Like a flip book, I want to slow it all down, I want a do over! But then I realize that someday, these will be the good old days and that today is the oldest I have ever been and the youngest I will ever be again!

A Lion Never Loses Sleep Over The Opinions Of Sheep


pointing

There are people in our lives that lift us up and others that are constantly Debbie Downers, no matter what their gender. People who gossip about everyone and those that listen. And those that won’t. There are people who light up a room when they walk into it and others that are hard to be around. Just like the people on the road that live their lives in a kind of constant road rage, with their hand always on the horn while they tail and cut everyone off in the process, never seeing their own flaws. And then, there are those other set of people who manage to get to one place to another without seeing the flaw in every driver.

traffic3

I’ve used driving as kind of a metaphor to help get my point across. Do you know someone who always has to be mad at somebody? One friend last week and a new one this week? A coworker, a boss, a landlord, a family member, or just some poor stupid stranger on the road? They obsess and talk about their issue of the week with them and then move on to the next victim. Sometimes the people they hate on have no clue, sometimes unfortunately they do. It is just sad that, that person just can’t relax and live their own life and stop worrying about everyone elses. At least until they get their own lives right.

sad man silloette

Some people can’t stand that you are moving on and constantly want to drag your past into today. Don’t let them. It is your life and your choice what today will bring for you. One of the wisest things I’ve ever heard is…. Just don’t react. When you remain silent, you have the power, because when someone does not know what you are thinking they have nothing to respond to.

breaking up

Recently I’ve been surrounded by the death of some very important people in my life and it has really made me slow down and not react so quickly. In a way in reflecting alone, I’ve been in this place of restoration. Choosing what is important and what is not and who I want to be around and who I don’t. Over the years I have systematically chosen to not be around toxic people, but I’ve always kind of felt guilty about it. Just recently, I have given myself permission to let go because eventually everything connects.

lost love on the beach

I may not be where I want to be this minute. But I am not where I used to be yesterday. Every step is mine to take and the direction I choose to go. I can choose to be miserable when I wake up or I can choose to be strong, the energy used in that choice is the same though the end results can be monumental. Anger destroys, it consumes all your energy and is toxic. People around you will begin to avoid you. The secret is to not focus all your energy on fighting the old but building up the new. Change is like a gift we can give ourselves. Do it now. Because sometimes later becomes never.

cemetery foggy

A Lion never loses sleep over the opinions of sheep. Don’t you love it? I just ran into this quote this morning and it rang so true for me today. We need to stop allowing the opinions of others to rule our day. Especially when we know that it’s coming from twisted anger.

sheep in our backyard

We must remember that the strongest people are not the ones who show their strength in front of us, but who have won battles that we will never know anything about. I am stronger because I’ve been weak, I am fearless because I’ve been afraid and I am wise because I’ve been foolish. I am working on the day when I won’t need validation from anyone but God. That is the day, when the world will fear me. For the same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg. Throw me to the wolves and I will return leading the pack!

lion-05.jpg (1366×768)

We are the Authors of our stories!


diary writing

A blank page has always inspired me. I remember as a young girl, receiving a new diary with a key and a lock. I remember the feeling of anticipation and hope. It was as if someone gave me the power of my own destiny. And metaphorically speaking, we each are given that. I feel a little sad that we have gone so electronic and our world has become so “techie” because I still feel that there is something special about opening up an empty book filled with blank pages and writing about our aspirations there. I guess you could do that with the blank page on a Word Document on a computer and even make a file and title it “My Diary” or “My Journal” but there is still just something about seeing your own handwriting and how it changes as your life does.

diary gram's

I have found journals from my past and it has been a gift to go back and read where I once was. And hopefully to see how far I have come. When my grandma died, the only thing that I wanted was her diary. It was this green little leather bound five year kind, that she kept when she was 16 through meeting my grandpa and ending with having my mom!

journals

One of my standard gifts has always been empty books. Especially to young people. I’ve told my kids that their lives are like empty books and every day they write a new page. It is up to them how their stories turn out. We are the authors of our stories. And I’ve encouraged those in their twenties that seem to be stuck, to go out and WRITE their stories. I can name three off of the top of my head that had their cosmetology licenses or a degree and stayed stuck making minimum wage because they were comfortable where they were. I nagged them to take that last exam that would give them wings to fly from the nest. And watching them soar, made me think…

choice quot3e

I finally had to admit that I’ve kind of been stuck myself, thinking that it was too late for me. Feeling very comfortable in how well I knew my job, I didn’t want to have to go out and re-learn something. Heck, I don’t even like to read instructions or have to learn a new game. Talk about being stuck. I felt that my pages had all been written on. And that I was too old to begin again. And I was feeling very beaten down as I battled the storm. Finally realizing that I was NOT alone! God and me had this one!

lighthouse

Though the wind hadn’t just gone out of my sail, it had been SUCKED out! I began to realize that I could make my own wind! I was the author of my story and it was NOT over! And so with a lot of prayer, I forged the storm and moved on!

suitcasess

I kind of feel as if I have begun writing in a new empty book as I begin my new job. I am the author. The job has been created just for me! It is a new venture for my company and I am pretty sure that everyone is rooting for me. I love my team and the people I work with. And I intend to write a BEST SELLER! How about you? I’d love to hear about your “COME BACK” stories!

strength quote

Happy NEW Year Everyone! Happy NEW story, happy new life! God bless you all!

Behind The Door Of Yesterday


girl at a new door out in field

Behind the doors of yesterday

girl carrying huge key

we all hold that perfect key

ballerina

unlocking places in our past

ballerina sitting on floor

where shadows used to be

dancing in the wind

Dancing upon moonbeams  until all  the music dies

SONY DSC

letting go of all the pain as the broken winged one flies…

floor crying girl

Falling hard from our dreams, when we finally land

 baby in a bubble

searching for our innocence all where we first began.

finding Diane3

Diane Reed

2013

As I continue to work on my book, I feel stuck. I am in a place of pain. Of total confusion. I guess ambivalence would be the best word to describe where I have landed. I keep going backwards. I need to start moving forward. I have a story to tell. A lot has to do with my past. I have the framework sitting there for me to build upon and yet I am not sure why I need to write these silly poems that have nothing to do with me today….

Or do they?

Times Like These


I wake up with a prayer

in my heart everyday now

since we heard the news

tests and more tests

and the tension

in the corner of our little world is thick.

As life goes on as usual

I remember…

When  my dad died….

I saw the men

laughing and joking

My heart lifted… perhaps he was okay

surely those EMTs would not be so lighthearted

if they had just lost someone!

And yet maybe they have learned to be that way

because he was gone.

My heart went cold that day

My walls went up

to protect me from love and hurt and pain

Until my little tiny son asked me…

“Mommy, when are you going to stop crying all day?”

I knew right then, I needed to snap out of it.

And so I did

And yet, today I need someone

to make me snap out of it

so that I can live again

I pray constantly that it will all be okay

I don’t believe that God

has anything to do with illness and death

HE is a God of life and miracles

And yet maybe HE uses times like these

The down on your knees pleading times

to remind us that we need HIM

more than just  times like now

to fall on our knees daily

even when times are good

so that when He finds us

In times like these….

It won’t be any different for Him

to find us on our knees.

The Well


I was trying to explain something to my husband this morning and it turned into a huge discussion that kind of spoiled my good mood. He is the kind that can just brush his shoes off and move on while I am left wallowing in the mud where I feel my heart was dropped, feeling misunderstood and judged. I think that It might be a guy thing. Maybe I am just expecting too much from them~ or… of anyone for that matter, maybe it is a lot to ask to be understood.  Who knows, All I know is that it feels good when it doesn’t seem to take so much work to just feel “GOTTEN”. And at certain important times of my life, I have felt more understood than others and have appreciated the ones doing the understanding.

I tried to remember another time when I felt that way and it was with a different husband a couple of decades earlier. I was almost 8 months pregnant and something happened on a particular day that impacted me in such a way that I even remember her name. If you know me at all, I know a lot of people and it takes a while for names to register so it is especially impressive that I remember one that I spent just a few days with almost 25 years ago.

It was the day that Jessica McClure fell down the well. I began following the story as soon as it aired. It was about a little eighteen month old baby girl who had fallen down a well in her aunt’s backyard in Texas.  I was just one of many, who tuned in to pray and watch the story unfold. Hour after hour, even day after day, we listened to her mom call down as they sung “Winnie The Pooh” together through that small hole she was wedged into and it did me in. I think I cried and prayed more in those two days than I ever had in my life except for maybe the day that my dad died. I am not sure if it was because I was pregnant and emotional or my little niece was about the same age but I  bonded to that mom and her baby, praying and watching along with the rest of the world as the crews of heroes went about rescuing her and strangers began donating equipment to help with her excavation , after two days , even my husband was watching and praying with me.

But just as they were about ready to pull her out, he went across the street. I asked him to wait and watch with me but he just had to go get high at the party house. Even though we did not divorce until several years later, I remember knowing at that moment that our marriage was doomed.

And like I said earlier… I am not sure why that exact second impacted me so much but it has stayed with me like “A Kennedy Moment” for all these years. I watched as they pulled that baby out of the well and praised the Lord and loved the heroes involved. All by myself, as tears streamed down my cheeks watching it all finally come to cohesion  alone in my living room. I remember going across the street later and finding the coverage on there too. I let it all register for a few minutes without saying anything and then I burst into tears as I kind of surveyed the whole scenario, as if my future was being played out right in front of me (and little did I know right then, but it was) as my husband kind of looked at me cluelessly, as I said, “I can’t believe that you couldn’t have waited two minutes to share that experience with me.”

I am so sure that, my neighbor’s houseful of friends all in their haze of being high and all childless, had not a clue in the world what was the matter with me, but the fact that my husband didn’t “GET” it resonated clearly in that instance. Even though our divorce was due to something completely different years later, I think that, THAT day I knew it was just a matter of time before the other shoe would fall.

Today I have a wonderful husband who tries to understand my Jessica McClure moments and even though he may not get them all. And even though today it still takes a lot of work to really feel that he understands the things important to me, I pretty much know that he would not have gone across the street that day and he would have stayed to watch the rescue with me. At the very least,  I know that he makes the effort to stick around everytime  I wander back to the well. I can still feel the tears when I remember that little voice faintly singing up the tune; “Winnie the pooh, winnie the pooh, silly old bear.” And to this day, I thank God for the heroes that never gave up. The elation we all felt as a nation as we watched those beautiful men pull her up alive. It makes me realize that I have heroes in my own life that I thank God for. Especially, the ones who never give up on me.

A Thing of Beauty in an Unexpected Place


Our little historical clocktower building before the earthquake

Every once in a while I will run into an old customer that asks me if we are ever going to re-open our little gift shop, Rose In The Woods (the name was supposed to mean A thing of beauty in an unexpected place) that was destroyed in the San Simeon earthquake in 2003. The other day, someone asked me that again, they even told me that they saved an old receipt from my store that day and that she still carried it around with her all these years later, as a reminder of just how short life is.  That is when I  realized that I hadn’t talked about it for a long time.  But it is good for me to be reminded where we have been and where we are now and to remind myself that even  today… I am a survivor. Maybe you could even refer to my whole journey as a thing of beauty in an unexpected place.

But for those of you who don’t know my story…. I will tell it here…to share with you and to remind myself once again… to be grateful. And hopefully soon I will get this lesson I am supposed to be getting or quite possibly should have already gotten!!!!

It was a few days before Christmas, my daughter Brooke and I planned to drive about an hour away to a neighboring town with a mall, to go Christmas shopping. As I wrapped up each customer’s purchases in our special bags with ribbons and tissues, they would announce that “this was their last gift that they had to buy.” And I’d think to myself, how I hadn’t even started shopping yet and panic just a little!

 We’d planned to leave our little store in the hands of our employee and sneak away to take a stab at our own Christmas shopping that day and were looking forward to spending the day together shopping at other people’s stores!


As I drove up in front of our store, my daughter Brooke who was 15 at the time, asked if she could wait in the car. It was before ipods and maybe even texting but I knew that she could entertain herself with the FM radio and CDs for the time it took me to open. I used to put cookies and hot apple cider out during the holidays and for some reason, I was able  coax her into coming in that morning, explaining that if she helped me open, the sooner we could get out of there. Our employee happened to be late getting there that day and so she surprised me by jumping out of the car agreeing to help, and followed me in.

As we were opening,  a customer walked in and the Federal Express guy pulled up with a back order of quilts for me as my daughter pleaded, “Pleeease mom, DON’T open that package NOW!”  I used to hang all my quilts on a fat dowel with ribbons in order to be displayed better, and I told her that I had to open them because it was so close to Christmas and they were already late but that we could just price them in their plasic zippered bags and asked her to just put them in a basket up front to at least have them out.

About that time, our employee showed up as another customer walked in and my husband who was in his office across the street, above the chamber, called and asked Brooke to run an errand for him. We both rolled our eyes as if to say “We are NEVER going to get out of here” but she ran out the door to do as he asked. As  I finished pricing the quilts and my employee started dusting,  we heard a loud bang that exploded outside, shaking our building.  For some reason, I yelled for everyone to get in the back and they did. At first we thought it might be a bomb because we were in the midst of talks about terroists during those days back then, but as soon as the ground began to rumble and our painted little wooden floor seemed to roll like a wave was beneath it, I knew it was an earthquake. The women screamed. It was all just a little too surreal. Suddenly everything stopped after what seemed like minutes and once it was over, a wall of bricks fell through our roof right where my daughter would have been placing the basket of quilts.

Outside was mayhem. As we stumbled out, unhurt, I found my daughter crying as my husband held her and I ran to them and hugged them both tight. Brooke was in the middle of the street when my husband  found her still clutching the coffee cup that was an order for a customer, she’d been bringing back over for pick up . She watched the whole thing. She said after she walked down the stairs and started crossing the street, she heard the building crack and then saw our awning in the front of the store snap around to the side of the building and then felt the rumble and watched as the clock tower fell from our historical building

and then saw the roof slide down onto all of the cars below.

Someone told me later that my husband barely touched the stairs as he flew down them, knowing that our daughter had just walked out the door and went to find her. He immediately asked “Where’s your mom?” And she sobbed, pointing  across the street where the wall of bricks had just fallen into our store. They just stood there for what seemed like hours but was maybe just a few minutes until I opened the door and we all ran out.

My husband’s  brand new truck, was parked a few spaces from mine. The dust was similar to what happened during 911, it was hard to see. People immediately started pulling bricks from cars and my heart stopped as I saw my car and pulled the sleeve of a good samaratin explaining through my tears that no one was in that car. It was flattened to about the height of my waist. No one would have ever survived. (It is the blue Explorer above)

And that is when I realized how God had spared my baby, our whole family. Sadly they found two women who were working at the store next to ours. They had run out the front door and were found in-between our car and another. For several weeks I kept hearing how people had thought that they had been Brookie and I.

Cars Parked on Park St. after the earthquake

I am not sure why I knew to tell everyone to get in the back but I know it was not me. My daughter told me that she had cried to me later asking “Why did God make this have to happen to us?” And I replied. “He didn’t make this happen. He SAVED us.” A conversation I don’t remember ever having but one that impacted her in a special way, ever since.

I have no doubt that God sent HIS Angels that day

For a while I thought that the experience would have changed me. It has in a way. I realize that those two women could have been us. I realize that my baby could have been waiting in the car that day or putting the quilts in the front of the store where the wall of bricks fell. I realize how everything was finely orchestrated that day. Every step, every phone call, right down to our employee being late to the spot in the road where my daughter safely stood as if Angels surrounded her there as she watched the world as she knew it, come crashing down around her with not so much as a scratch on her.

I don’t know why not us when the two other ladies were found dead, but I know that I learned that day that stuff is just stuff and even though we lost everything materially (though our vehicles were covered by our insurance)  this story would be totally different if it had ended another way. I know that dents in cars, spots on carpets and material things are not as important as they used to be to me. I also know that we were pretty spoiled back then and I didn’t appreciate then, what I do have half as much as I do now. And that if nothing great happens ever again. THIS is ENOUGH.

 I don’t know why bad stuff happens to good people, but I do know that God did save us and He can take anything and make it beautiful again. Even a little rose in the rubble. Even me. As I am…..still and always will be…

a work in progress!

Connecting


fighting couple back to back

I try to connect with you and you ask what that means, I tell you,” that if you have to ask, you will never understand.” It is not something that a string of words can ever convey. No sentence can reveal how hearts connect, they just do.

hugging in the rain

I have learned just recently, that I haven’t forgotten how to connect. How easy it would be to not work on us and just settle back and allow this new connection to take me away…

For I have learned that…

 

Connecting is lying on the beach with my eyes closed listening as you read my words back to me just the way I heard them in my head, all with the same tones and inflections that I felt when I wrote them. Connecting is looking up and finding tears in your eyes when I am done reading something that I wrote. Connecting is “just” kissing until our lips are chapped, or washing the tar off of my feet. It is buying me a warm jacket when I am cold or a flashlight when I tell you it is dark at work at night. It is making me call when I get home to tell you I am safe. It is knowing what is important to each other and just doing it without asking. It is saying I love you a million times a day because you need to hear it. And it is finding the place where my glasses waited for me and paying the balance so that I could pick them up. Even though I didn’t want to succumb to finally admitting I needed them, glasses that is… It feels good …to feel important again. Not just in words but in actual actions…  Even though it took a lifetime to appreciate each other, it still is nice. And yet it is scary because our connection is so wrong in ways I can ‘t explain here. You know it is.

And so I remember and try to hold on for dear life and try to remember when “we” connected. And I remember, And I even still feel it sometimes when I remember ….

Jim & Brooke

Connecting is telling you that story about the woman whose husband surprised her and went grocery shopping for all the stuff she needed for a dinner she was having that night and crying silly tears because I was so touched by her husband’s connection with her and having you understand and not laughing at me for crying.

Connecting is when you called me up to wish me a Happy Birthday when I was going through my divorce. Or when you asked to take my son on a Father and Son boating thing and then turned it into a family thing so I could go too, and pretend for one day that we were a family. Or when you followed us home during the LA Riots to make sure we got home okay. Connecting is when that warm feeling came over me when I watched your car lights as you drove away. Connecting was talking for hours about our lives, our broken hearts, our dreams and never wanting the night to end. Connecting is when you took my kids with you when you asked me to marry you and made them a part of the celebration. Connecting was when you made us a family.

 

Connecting might be things that other people do. Or it might be things that I have found in my friends or my passions, it might find me far away from the place I thought connecting was yesterday and it is scary for me to wander off too far trying to find it. But I crave it and yes, I have wandered and it felt so good and so horrible all in one fragile breath, gasping just trying to breathe.

holding hands at sunset

It is not asking me to take a walk and  then joking about the different word counts our counselor told us were allotted to  men and women  by telling me that you were pretty sure that you had already used up your 5000 words for the day and you were darn sure that I must not have too many of my 25,000 left!  Not connecting is not about the crumbs you leave on the counter or the bread you don’t put away, those are just silly things that wouldn’t ever be noticed if only we had never disconnected. But somehow life happened and the link that seemed to connect us broke


.love never fails

So many years have passed. So much water has gone under the bridge. So many mistakes have been made, mostly by me but maybe because we forgot what “connecting” really means.

 

 

Exchanging Points Of View


They call it depression.  I call it life.  I mean it happens, life that is. Really bad stuff and kind of medium bad stuff have happened in our life and somehow we survive but it makes us sad, it makes us wary and weary and so darn tired. But somehow we each in our own way, figure out a way to move past it. Or tolerate it, at best. We build defenses, like a shield guarding against the elements, retreating from the pain.

Death and illness, broken hearts and divorce, unemployment, setbacks and just plain old disappointments seem to be a constant. Sometimes I find myself shaking my head at it all. Like a heavy sigh that fills my life. I can still find the joy but it takes more effort. Is that depression or just victimized by circumstances? I mean if life’s hammer comes crashing down on your thumb, the pain is real. I always thought depression was feeling pain that wasn’t really there, or feeling pain that was real, but somehow not being able to move past it.

But just maybe, it is recognizing that crap happens and not being able to shake off the chains or the feeling that the other shoe is going to eventually drop and just waiting for more bad stuff to happen, rather than enjoying the joy in the happy parts of life.

I am protective of my time and getting too close to anyone and so the handful of friends I choose to “let in,” are carefully chosen. I have a hard time really letting go and loving. My theory is if you don’t love too deeply and too many, there is less chance of getting hurt when they leave you or disappoint you. But wow. What a waste. How much do I really miss out on, by not allowing myself to be vulnerable? I mean what do they say? Having loved and lost is better than having never loved at all? Perhaps. But I can tell you right now that when you are fresh in the middle of the rawness of a broken heart, you may not buy that bunch of bunk… smile… But really, I “get” it. We miss out on the joy by not being willing to feel the pain. We gotta feel it all.

When you actually put it into words, my theory of protecting myself verses admitting that I might possibly be a little bit depressed….  sounds worse than I imagined. I have found myself reverting into a place that is not really dark, just very reflective. I mean could my passion for just wanting to be left alone to write a symptom of being depressed? Maybe, maybe not, depends on what day you ask. I do know that I have finally recognized that I need to be more aware and so I have begun arguing and bargaining with me… talking myself into just making the effort… And so slowly, I have stepped outside of my box and aside from working sometimes forty hours a week, have signed up for a committee here, and volunteered to help out with a program there and suddenly I feel that there is more to me than just my little world. I have realized that it is not all about me not getting hurt. it is about just looking at things a little differently that somehow changes me…

and suddenly I realize that slowly I am not the one that I used to be. And I am set free.  It is all in exchanging points of views inside of me. I wasn’t going to make this one about God. But how can I not? He is the one carrying me home… someday… in the mean time….. I am redeemed!

The Red Knob


Fear is something that we can’t run from. It is something that we must face head on. Some of us try to pretend that it doesn’t exist and some of us, run like hell from it all of our lives. Others tend to run into it head on. There are all kinds of new shows out about it. Fear Factor and extreme “believe it or not” shows that try to up the last outrageous stunt or depending on it’s success, crash! I am not sure where these people come from, but they all have one thing in common, they all need that rush that comes with being afraid. That is why we jump out of airplanes and walk on hot coals and swim with the sharks. They believe that fear is something that they must embrace in order to get that “high” that comes with feeling alive.

In my lifetime, I have taken a few challenges of my own. I have flown a glider without an engine, more than once! I actually have a log book of not only flights I took with an instructor but solo flights where it was just little old me, being pulled up by a power plane and then expected to pull a red knob.

For those of you who have never flown a sail plane, let me explain, on the dashboard, there is a red knob that connects you to the line connected to the power plane. You start out being pulled up by the plane in front of you. Up, up, up. It is a strange feeling. You see the power plane hit turbulence and then you hit it a few seconds later, all as you are rising to the correct altitude. There is a moment and a signal that indicates the exact time when you are supposed to pull that red knob to release the power plane. It is an excruciatingly empowering moment. And yet, it is probably the most afraid I have ever been. How funny, to realize, that even after I experienced that fear, I did it over and over and over again, logging several more solo flights.

I remember the first time that I sat inside that cockpit, only enclosed by a dome of pexi-glass, ready to be pulled up by the plane that would take me to heights I never dreamed I would go, especially without an engine, I wondered what in the world was I thinking! And I remember also thinking “my dad would kill me if he could see me!” And he almost did~ but then he ended up doing it with me! He even went on to take lessons and solo too! And that is a memory I will cherish forever.

I think that flying above the clouds without an engine and having to rely on only myself to get me on the ground is a lot less frightening than what I have been going through the last few years. Sometimes falling in love is scary, and falling out of it is like holding onto that red knob for dear life, in a quick downward spiral. It really doesn’t matter if you hold on to it or not because you have already let go..

But wait, you can recover. They do teach you that. The emergency runway is somewhere down there, you look and see it and then the adrenalin pushes you to new heights. Courage clicks in and all the lessons you learned about recovery and landing take over and you find that being afraid and being brave have nothing  to do with the red knob after all. And relying on just myself? Well I have since realized that I never have to feel afraid again. I never have to pull the red knob or worry about  where I am going to land because, with God as the pilot of that power plane pulling me up, I truly never have to let go..

The Difference Makers


A child is supposed to feel safe. And yet if that is the case, why are so many adults in therapy?

Some people had wonderful childhoods and were raised with caring and loving parents who taught them right from wrong, others had good parents and comfortable childhoods and their parents made mistakes but did the best they could. And still, others had horrific childhoods and terrible parents and seem perfectly fine. And yet all of these people have one thing in common. An inner child who is still there.

Recently, I have gone through a process of recognizing my inner child. She is the one who doesn’t trust because those who she trusted hurt her. She is the one who was never allowed to talk about her anger and so she learned how to lash out. She is the one who always wanted a voice, and now speaks too loudly sometimes. She is the one who felt so out of control most of her life, so that now she needs to control EVERTYTHING!. She is the one who was disappointed and so only sees the negative in things so she will never be disappointed again.

Ahhh, that feels so negative. It really isn’t. My inner child remembers the great things too. She loves to learn and organize and create and run and laugh and play. She has a special handful of friends that she trusts with her life and would do anything for. She always looks forward to a good time. She is in there too, all of her. Experiences and memories, Lessons and moments, all moving her along like editing a motion picture.

Stop and close your eyes and find your inner child. Who is he or she, really? If we all got a chance to go back and meet each other’s inner children, and really understand where the guy who cut you off on the freeway or the back stabbing, coworker at work first began, perhaps maybe we would have more compassion for all of them.

The little girl who was always worried that her Daddy wouldn’t get home safely because of his drinking, the little boy who felt brushed aside because his mother was too busy getting ready to go out. The kid who always heard fighting and never knew when the next explosion would take place. The little step son who never could do anything right, the kid who always waited for his dad to show up when each time he never did.

Always lonely, always worried, always brushed aside, feeling unimportant, abandoned,  the one who started out not fitting into his own family, always seeking the perfect place where he could feel as if he belonged. The little girl who had to grow up fast because she wasn’t allowed to be the child. Always fixing, always nurturing.  Always performing, and yet she was just a little girl, but today not quite a grown up.

And yet the parents that did come through, the other family members who stepped up to the plate when they were needed most, the friends and mentors, the teachers, the ones who gave them a voice, the protectors and rescuers, of those who were lucky enough to have them, all MADE A DIFFERENCE.

Today, if we look inside of ourselves, we all can find a piece of that child still lingering inside of each of us. Perhaps if we all reached out to just one child we recognized as hurting, and began mentoring instead of criticizing, hugging instead of scolding, teaching instead of berating, sharing with instead of rushing away, we might just break the cycle and begin to lead the way, to find the children and to become the protector, the mentor and the difference maker, in a way helps lead the child inside of them to a place where we all can grow up and be someone else’s hero. Because…. all of those children eventually grow up to remember the difference makers in their own lives and hopefully, someday will grow up to  become somebody else’s hero.

Hole Fillers


We all have “containers” in life and we all find different ways to fill them. The idea is to fill them with purpose. Things that make our life better. As we fill our containers, the level rises. Just educating ourselves about ourselves begins to plug up those holes that we have made over the years. Some people use people, others use drugs or alcohol or food to fill the holes and what hurts us usually only helps to make our holes bigger.

Spiritual and emotional growth and a whole host of other goals  are all the things that help  fill the holes and raise the level in our containers. It has taken me years to recognize the good and the bad things I use in my own life to raise the level and the task at hand is becoming more aware of the difference which is a work in progress. I know that for me, writing is a huge hole filler.

My book is sitting in a file just a “click” away and I am totally procrastinating by coming here to share my thoughts. I look at it as priming the pump, or perhaps stretching before  a  workout! But I know I need to get back to it. Why am I stuck? Could it be because, I am afraid to finish? If I finished, I would have to submit it. If I submit it, I am vulnerable. I can’t be rejected if I don’t present the question for someone to say yes or no.

Recently, I have been taking more chances in my life. The kind of chances that come with the possibility of rejection attached. Sometimes it has paid off and at other times I have had to face that vulnerability and it has sucked. Rejection is not the most comfortable place to be. But hey “no” is just a tiny word from a little person in my BIG world. I can make that rejection fill my world and make it bigger than it needs to be or I can brush my shoes off and move on to the next possibility and even bigger opportunity.  Sometimes I have forgotten that God is the captain of my ship. And I am the one He has put in charge of His vessel and have to remember NO ONE else is in charge here. No one! I can get opinions from other people until I am drowning in them but ultimately, in the end, I know that I am the one who steers this ship.

I have waited long enough for others to make things happen for me. In turn, I have found myself “stuck.” Only I can make things happen for me. The opportunities aren’t going to come and find me. I am going to believe in me enough to finish that book, to submit it and get a thousand rejections if it will get me to that one finish line where I actually finish the race.

It is always hard to take that first step… Go back to school, apply for a new job, start a new health regimen, or just a new attitude! And perhaps finish a book you have been writing for years! We have power in our own choices. We fill our own containers. We even fill the holes as we figure out what they are, until someday…. Our containers are spilling over!

Beginning In The Middle


I think that admitting you are middle aged is like turning the light on. Though, recognizing what a full blown mid life crisis is and that we are having one is a little less easy. Sometimes when we are in the dark for so long, we don’t realize that just turning on a light would help us see things a little better. I think that I have been in the dark for a few years now. I would never have suspected that I would be in the throws of the classic symptoms of a mid life crisis and have missed them all together but now as I turn around and look at where I have been recently and what I have done, I am sure or maybe even positive that I have been experiencing just that.

A young girl with a lot of wisdom and research under her belt spoke to me about hormones and the mixture of menopaus and my experience with my now empty nest mixed in with a bit of being stuck in a marriage that seemed to be on a merry go round of excuses and wah lah you have what we define as a mid life crisis. The problem was just how far I took mine.

Stuck in a job that didn’t leave room for a lot of creativity which is what I crave, lost in regret of many areas of my past, guilt about a divorce, anger about a past relationship even  before my marriage that defined much of who I am now, and pieces of my childhood that seemed fragmented into much pain, my current marriage barely had a chance.

Go forward a thousand years and I found myself right in the middle of a profound place of being stuck…. My dad died when I was twenty six. I thought I would never stop grieving over that. I was not ready to lose a parent yet and was devestated. Even today, I can find uncried tears easily when I think of it too hard. Death is difficult at any age, but when it is cut short so early there is something that just never seems right about it. And even though we were divorced, when my first husband died it was all surreal. It didn’t rock my world as I might have thought. It all happened so fast. And I truly think that I am just afraid to go there. To really feel the pain about losing the father of my children, to wonder what if… and the guilt of the divorce. When he told me he was dying, he said something that made me feel that he thought that maybe if we had stayed together, I may have magically been able to stop this from happening… his dying I mean.  I can’t seem to get it out of my head… what he said when he told me he was dying… I said… “I should have stayed with you to nag you about your smoking.” And he said, “I knew you were going to think that.” I didn’t really think that. I just said it, to have something to say in a moment of having nothing. Maybe he thought that. I never knew.

I don’t think that I have dealt with a lot of pain in my life. I think that I have pushed it all away and at times it comes out in anger and in other times bad judgement, as I look for things to numb it. Alcohol and drugs is a temporary fix. I don’t like the way they make me feel after it has all worn off… and so I must go on the journey to find something opposite to numbing the pain. I need to finally deal with the pain and in turn heal the wounds. I have started on this journey and made mistakes along the way… this blog is my way of sharing that journey, my mistakes and in turn, hoping to find some answers for us all.