I am but a shell, a container for my soul. We can not judge the outside for we are half of just one whole… I live amongst the containers carrying souls of their own, running here and there, together or alone… We are all on a journey that only a few have really grasped. For the world we live in now, is a world that will not last…. Our souls are what matter and the lessons they have learned… Things that are valued, but cannot be bought or earned… Being kind to others and learning how to love… is part of the lesson but still not enough. We are all searching for something to fill us to the brim… And it’s only in the simple act of giving our hearts to HIM!
I have decided to take your advice… those of you who told me just write everyday whether you feel inspired or blocked. Just do it! So I hope you guys don’t get tired of me but here I go….
Think back when you were a kid. You had the whole world to look forward to. Every day was new and ready to be filled with memories we didn’t even know we were making. I remember summers with my cousin. She told me that I turned everything into an adventure. I love that. I remember that feeling. I had a pretty great imagination and she was a willing member in my audience. Those summers were magical. Our grandma’s backyard was our world and as we grew older we were allowed to walk to the store and sometimes during those walks, we’d sneak to the lake that was just a few blocks away. We made up stories of what the abandoned buildings might have been. Or maybe I told her my versions and she hung on to every word. I think that is when I really began writing. I’d make an empty building into an old boarding school for girls and describe their lives there. Or an old boarded up house on the corner haunted. And of course our grandparent’s basement was a resting place for some old limb or other body part that would come alive as we screamed running up the stairs!
If only I could find that imagination again. That part of me that kept us entertained all summer long! like putting one foot in front of the other, it is really just writing one word after the other until it turns into an adventure to find that story teller in me again!
Thank you for inspiring me to remember the magic.
Just checking in. I have stayed true to my commitment and been pretty regular about reading Psalm 91. It’s funny in reading it, I feel it has given me a lot of hope I might not have had. And maybe a little better and more consistent attitude. Though centuries have gone by, it seems as if it was written yesterday. If you really read it and let the words resonate. In my lifetime I’ve read a lot of books more than once and feel, the second time is better. Though you aren’t getting the surprise factor of not knowing what is going to happen next. You are gathering the parts you may have missed. In reading the same scripture daily, I get something new out of it each day. The whole world is experiencing this pandemic. The whole world should read Psalm 91.
So Anywaaaay… After writing about depression, I was chatting with a blogger friend of mine about it. And he put things in a much better perspective for me. So much so, that it sidelined my post about it for today a bit. But I still want to share my thoughts on what I was thinking. Regardless of quarantine, I have been feeling for a while now that Monday comes around and all of a sudden it’s Friday. As well as seemingly being sucked into this time machine (see photos) where yesterday I was 19, getting pictures taken for my portfolio to become a model. (rolling my eyes) And then the next picture, is me, a mama of two, in my thirties, post divorce, pre second marriage. And the next one seems to be coming way too fast. Not of me… but the way I feel! Where did my size 5 body go? The one who could get up from the floor without using my hands? Just stand up like I watch my granddaughter do! What happened to all of those plans? The mystery of not knowing what comes next? Today, there are no surprises. It’s all a little like ground hog day. My dad came over for lunch yesterday, he said he was working on a Bible Study in Ecclesiastes so I thought I’d wander out of Psalms and take a look… And oh no! I landed right in the place that I was feeling in my life. Just reconfirming that we are not so different from the people in Jerusalem, centuries ago!
Ecclesiastes 1 5-9
5 The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. 6 The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. 7 All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. 8 All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing nor the ear its fill of hearing. 9 What has been will be again; there is nothing new under the sun
You see? All pretty overwhelming, right? But that is exactly how I’ve been feeling. Is it comforting to know somebody else felt that way all those years ago? Sigh. By skipping ahead, I know that this kind of depressing tone is not the message, it is just this (King) teacher looking for wisdom and sharing what he discovered. We all should take the time to read that book too.
We are all going to to grow old but instead of resonating in our regrets, we can start TODAY to start getting to know our Creator because in the end…. I’m betting that everyone goes there to consider the meaning of life. While we are still able. But I think in conclusion, finding the joy, is about living in the moment and taking the opportunity daily to keep seeking HIM. It is about opportunity and as long as we are breathing, everyday God gives us the opportunity to use the gifts He’s given us and the depression leaves only when we start living for today! May I never stop seeking the joy and may I recognize it every time I find it!
It’s been a while since I opened up my blog page. I’ve missed writing here and checking in with you guys. Though I have been writing. I kind of got a new spark and have slowly been re-editing my book. I’ve lost count which time this would be. But I feel good about it. And now I am grateful that I didn’t try to publish it with all of the things that I have since changed and continue to rewrite still in it! As for the rest of the time, I’ve been getting ready for shows and restocking a little cozy booth I have at a store in town, called Reminisce. And working 12 hours a day doing it! NOW that I am seriously attempting to make this what I want to do until I die!
Once upon a time, when someone asked me what I did, I would say that I was an Artist. And I was and always have been. In my heart. If you know my story, I worked as an Artist for over a dozen years and then moved to a small town in Paso Robles and opened up a little gift shop called Rose In The Woods which was supposed to mean “A thing of beauty in an unexpected place.” It was a favorite of the locals and tourists and was doing extremely well for a few years until an earthquake demolished it. (You can find the rest of the story in the ABOUT section of my blog. https://dianereedwiter.wordpress.com/2012/09/23/a-thing-of-beauty-in-an-unexpectd-place/) But that is not what I want to talk about now, I just wanted to explain why for a while my title was not “Artist” but Event Coordinator. And that was great. I learned a lot and had an amazing boss that has turned into a “forever friend.” But in my heart I always knew that there were more cards and dolls inside of me.
My husband built me a cozy little Art studio in our garage and created displays for me and has driven back and forth following me to Southern Californ to help me set up. And I do an amazing show that is still going strong called Sugarplum Festivals in Buena Park. I started doing that show almost 30 years ago and it is one of the largest family owned Arts & Crafts Show in California. With over 12 cash registers and a few hundred Artists, they have built an empire! The last show, A February show (mind you!) had customers wrapped around the building waiting to get in! They know how to Market their shows! They welcomed me back with open arms when I first approached them about trying a few shows again and each show I am learning new things. I think I could write a book on the dos and don’ts of doing shows.
But for now, I just kind of wanted to share a little of where I’ve been when not blogging!
My cozy little booth at Reminise in the heart of downtown in Paso Robles CcA. And when I’m not there, I am traveling to Sugarplum in Southern CA….
When you are traveling to do shows and have to be there by 9AM there are some perks to the challenge of getting up early to drive the four + hours to be there on time. That’s actually my sweet husband ahead of me, loaded up with half of my stuff.
This is what my booth looks like before I set up. I used to do this with no help at all. I’ve gotten so spoiled lately. Though I am trying to start doing it on my own again, just to see if I can since my sweet husband may be busier in the near future!
This was all set up
This was towards the end of the show! Blessed to take a lot less home! Gotta love me some of that Sugarplum!
My new line for 2019… My Antique Dolls and if you notice my Shower Doll… Funny story, I was stuffing her and the stuffing got stuck in the middle and so I just went with it! So my new pregnant Shower girls are part of my line for this year!
Some of my cards out of my line… with a brand new line being introduced this year!
Thank you for taking the jouney with me. I am excited to see what this year holds for me! I am definitely not ready to give up. I am praying that this year brings me enough success so that I can say that “I make a living” doing it!
Please visit my Etsy shop at dianeonawhim.etsy.com
(My mom creating when I was little)
I just lost my mom almost two years ago. She was a children’s artist during my whole childhood. I’d like to think that I am continuing her legacy!
Thanks for tagging along!
I can still get up from a chair without using my hands. But if I am sitting on the ground, forget it! I have to practically get on all fours to get up. And it’s not attractive! Okay, now a lot of you sitting in a chair, just tried to get up without using your hands didn’t you? I’m blessed to be able to. I don’t take it for granted. Especially as the years catch up with me.
The older we get, or at least the older I get, the aha moments seem to hit like darts. Little realizations that would have been handy to “know” a few decades ealier. Perhaps why they refer to the wise “old” owl rather than the wise young owl and so on. Unfortunately, with age and the beginning of loss, also comes losing loved ones, friends, family and mentors that have taught us all that wise stuff.
I am sitting here, early in the morning of the last day of a trip to Oregon. The visit that brought us here was for a Memorial for my husband’s sweet aunt. Recently, we’d bonded more with his aunt and uncle in the last couple of years and I’d gotten to know Carol in a different kind of way than just a part of my husband’s family in another state. They’d moved near us for a couple of years until health issues brought them back to Oregon. But during the time I’ve been part of this family that linked us, and all the stories my mother in law shared with me, the link that bonded us was writing. Carol was a talented writer and it connected us in a way that passions link people.
We talked a lot about attending writing seminars together. She in fact was the one who told me about the two writing magazines I still receive to this day. And the one that made me more serious about writing my book (still waiting to be tweaked and edited and tweaked some more but it’s finished because of Carol) and starting this blog. In fact, she was one of the ones who faithfully read it and usually commented. In all the other important places she has left a gaping hole for everyone else, I feel silly kind of silly saying I notice a great big hole here. But I do.
A large portion of Carol’s memorial was in the reading of excerpts from her writings. And it made me remember a time when my dad died and I scrambled, looking for anything my dad had written. I guess in a way to salvage a piece of his heart. Writing really is a little bit like a glimpse of being able to see inside someone’s soul. Whether just a note that someone wrote, or a blog or a book or a collection of poetry found in a tucked away journal. Though, I kind of cringe at the thought of anybody reading my journals. I’m not sure I’d want ANYBODY to read a few of those
I guess like in life, you can’t help but wonder, or at least it made me wonder as I sat there remembering Carol, what kind of memories and stories would I leave behind? Like me, Carol’s life wasn’t always without pain or good and bad choices that effected her children and their memories, but as I stood a little as an observer and on the outside of all the history that came before I knew Carol, and watched everyone come together in honor of this amazing woman, I had no doubt that her love rose above it all. There was no doubt that she loved and touched every life that was there that day.
I know that I made some pretty significant friendships and reconnected with some others and it made me realize that life is this amazing journey. And it really is all about love and making an effort to make a difference. So someday when we are gone our life will make our loved ones reflect and heal old wounds and reconnect in important ways.
I wonder, why does it take us so long to slow us down enough to realize how important some things are, and how unimportant others are? Perhaps, why He has alloted our bodies a certain amount of time to move fast and then slow us down to GET the things we missed along the way? The other day, I watched my granddaughter jump up from down on the ground when I called her, not using her hands to get up, and I thought… I remember when I could get up not using my hands, when life was still so unlived, and my body still almost brand new and how I probably didn’t even appreciate being able to do that when I could. And how the older we get, we learn to really recognize the little blessings we missed along the way. And sometimes we readjust our gratefulness and it sticks.
A fellow blogger posed a conversation starter, basically asking us to reflect on a question that had been on his mind for a while…. “IF our life was over, how would we view it, right NOW at this point in where we each land?” Would we have done everything, we wanted to? Accomplished everything we set out to?
Jewel has a song called Satisfied. It is probably my most favorite of all of her others. A few of the lyrics go like this…
The only real pain a heart can know is the sorrow of regret when you don’t let your feelings show…
Did you lay it on the line? Did you make it count? Did you look em in the eye? And did they feel it? Did you say it in time? Did you say it out loud?
I think I have, said most of the things that I’ve needed to say that is, and if not I will probaly end up writing it. That is one of the perks about being a writer… you break open your heart and spill it out for all the world to see, whether they want to or not. And I guess they have the option of… the “or not” part and that is fine. At least I did my part.
In my lifetime, I’ve had the opportunity to say pretty much everything to all of the important people in my life, at least once. So I am satisfied that the people that I love know I love them, regardless of whatever the situation is when I am dead and gone, and if you know me, one of my strong suits has not been in holding back. If I think it, I say it. Though recently I’ve come to reflect on that and just maybe… the smarter you get, the more you learn to speak less. I mean, if you always share every card you ever held, you would always lose. Right?
I have always been honest. And have come to the conclusion that, that is not necessarily a good thing. Since I expect no less from the people around me. I am just setting myself up for extreme disappointment. I don’t mean to sound like a cynic but expecting less of people is a lot easier th an being constantly disappointed. And when someone shows you otherwise, it can be a happy surprise. Right?
I guess that is why I don’t reach out as much anymore. My circle has grown smaller and smaller, admittedly of my own doing. My husband on the other hand, is a people person. He would be at a party everyday if he could be. He is an entertainer and loves to be entertained. I am an observer. I have to force myself to be “on” and sometimes it is painful. And therefore I may just very well have to buy into the fact that I may have a touch of depression. It is hard to admit because I’ve worked in a Psychiatric Ward and been on the other side. The one with the key and the one who does the charting. I’ve transcribed doctor’s plans for his patients and carried out his order for meds for other people.
I don’t close all the drapes and hide my head under the covers. I get up and cook and clean and work. My house is the one that normally hosts all the family holidays and even though I am currently unemployed, I am out there trying to survive. I chat with random people and look for whatever opportunity I can find. I strike up conversations and laugh and cry with my friends. But some days I am just so mad at the world and focus on the wrongs and the evil and hold on to resentments and just can’t seem to muster up the energy to try to let it go and other days I just move on and don’t think about it all day. I recently had a whole week of fun where I just made myself stay happy and realized it was because I was actually happy.
So… What is depression? Can’t it just be circumstantial? All I know is that some days I am so blue I just wrap myself in regret. And other days I am glad for all the times that have brought me here because what hasn’t broken me has made me stronger, what I thought I couldn’t get through, has made me a survivor. And when
sh*t “stuff” happens to us that we feel is unfair or we run into situations that seem to be driven by pure evil. It is only normal to feel kicked in the gut and a little more cautious to trust again. Right?
On the other hand, when someone special (that you really want to see) surprises you with a special visit or you plan a special trip and have things to look forward to, when things are resolved, and you can breathe for a while, or someone pays you a compliment, or you have had a success that validates your efforts, or you just stop and breathe and see things from the eyes of a child and listen quietly in the moment of a prayer while you are down on your knees, and here God whisper ever so slightly…”My Child, it’s all going to be okay.” You lean back on HIS promises and whisper back…. “I know, right?”
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!
The thing that I must remember, is the “concept” that not everyone is 100% good or 100% evil. Nor are they 100% right or 100% wrong. Navigating through this life, I sometimes feel as if I am being carried by this vessel called “me” who came with so many facets, all without instructions. I know that I’ve only used a tiny percent of my brain and my heart, well who knows where I lost the directions on that one! Though, over the years experience has been my guide. If you follow my blog at all, you know that I am big on where we come from, our history and how it has molded each one of us.
Some may say that I live in the past too much. I say that our pasts are our best teachers. And knowing about the past of others can give each of us a little more compassion for the other. I love to hear about everyone’s story. When I was little, I’d ask so many questions, people would jokingly ask if I was writing a book. Even back then, I knew it was a rhetorical question and was not always meant kindly. But finally I learned to answer, “You know, I probably will someday.”
It looks as if I may have the opportunity, to get serious about it sooner than later and just might have some more unexpected time on my hands. I’ve always been a believer in God’s Timing, not mine. And perhaps His subject, not mine. I’ve had this project in the works for several years now. But I’m not sure I am ready to bring it full circle. I feel that I have other things to write about for now. This last election was life changing for me. It opened my eyes to how I have always relied on everyone else to think for me. For the first time, I really researched and only now realize that I only tapped the surface. It has inspired me to be better, to know more, and be accountable for what I believe and basically who I want to become.
The one thing that I have discovered is the fact that no one is just good or bad, right or wrong. Sure there are some pretty bad behaviors and some opinions that to me might be wrong. But God created us with free will and no one can take that away from anyone. Whether they believe in Him or not. There has been so much hate and anger over the last year, friends un-friending friends, family and co-workers divided. And for some reason, social media seems to be the place where people feel entitled to behave badly. Kind of like when some people are behind the wheel in traffic. There is a mentality that certain people get on the Internet, like someone cutting you off on the road, there is this sense of false power.
I have been learning to look at both sides and research not via the propaganda, of either side but find the facts and the history of where that person came from or how an issue originated. Discovering that no party is 100% right or wrong. Every person has good and redeeming qualities. We need a template to help us move on. What better example than ground zero’s? I’ve been reading about the personal stories of 911 and it is hard to believe that we’d ever recover from something so horrific! But we have. I remember for a short time, we all worked together in a kind of recovery mode. Enemies and friends, all one. We need to find that place and again, to look at each other one at a time, without race or gender or parties and stop hating.
I have come to the conclusion that I will always need something to look forward to. I was born in Seattle and four years later, my dad was transferred to California, and then Colorado, Missouri and Illinois and then back to California where I grew up in a place called Palos Verdes. When we moved, my dad promised my mom to always send us “home”. He kept his promise, no matter where we were, every summer, without fail, we would pack our bags and fly to Seattle. So no matter what, I knew that every summer I had something pretty big to look forward to.
I think that I zeroed in on this particular discovery after my daughter’s wedding. I was so focused on the planning and whatever part I played in the tasks I was given, I didn’t have a lot of time to go to that corner of my mind that is clouded with those things that bring me down. When I was a young mom, I did art shows. I created all year-long and knew that almost half a dozen times a year, I had a place to go. I was a part of a creative group of people who added to my life in ways that I am only just now recognizing.
I have been back in the corporate workforce for over a decade now. (Working for someone else.) My husband has turned my art studio into his office and our indoor office into a guest room slash office that was supposed to be where I was going to write.
Not really the place I had in mind inside my head. But I am there now, writing this. The plan was that I would work part-time and start writing my book. I did write my book. But as I have read and learned, I see the flaws and mistakes in it, and well, at least I have the bones. I know the story. I just need to rewrite it. Easier said then done.
When I was first married, before kids, I had the sweetest landlord, Mr. Allen, that was working on the house in front of our apartment. It was an amazing craftsman’s style home and I think that he saw that I loved it as much as he did. Everyday, he would take me on a tour to show me all of the things he’d fixed or installed the day before. Good ole’ Mr. Allen, we were buddies.
We had a little agreement that someday, I would move in there. We even shook on it. But I remember talking to my friend who lived next-door and us agreeing that if he ever finished it, he would probably die. His daughter had a friend that wanted to move in there and so she stepped in and thought she was helping her dad by hiring a carpenter to finish it and sure enough shortly later, he died. I have no doubt that we all have the need to contribute and create and when that seizes, we all seem to falter.
I am not sure if I have a great or profound message here. I guess I just needed to write this out for me. To give myself a kick in the butt so to speak and understand that I am the only one who is in charge here. Regarding my health, both mentally and physically. I can’t wait for anyone to do it for me. I also know that I am a creative person and I need to create again and look forward to something.
I have not shared my; What I Know For Sure-isms…. for a while so here are a few for those sitting on the edge of your seats waiting for more! (JUST kidding!!!)
- I must always try to keep myself busy enough so that I don’t pause long enough to allow my mind to wander too far away.
- Only I can create the version of myself that I want others to see.
- Success starts when you believe in yourself.
- Your own opinion of yourself is what matters first.
- Telling people your plans does not work as well as showing them.
- I am my only limit…. people have achieved much more with less.
- The past is a place of reference, not a place that I need to reside ever again.
- Sometimes what consumes your mind, can control your life.
- I can live my life with people but no one can live my life for me.
- I want to live my life in such a way that someday someone says to me: “Because of you I didn’t give up.”
It has taken me almost a half a century to understand that one of the greatest measuring sticks we have in our life is death. As I have lost friends and family members, recently I have learned that our legacy is more important than the “things” we gather, here on this earth, because they are all left behind to be given away by someone else anyway. It is more about the things we give away while we are here that really matter most.
And it is not only about material things, even more so, it is about our self and our time. I am beginning to come to terms with the fact that I am selfish in giving away pieces of me. I give freely to the people I know love me. But even at times, I’d rather be alone. And if someone is difficult, even if I love them, I have learned to avoid rejection or dysfunction at all costs.
I spend time with a handful of people I choose to, that matter most to me, and don’t really go out of my way to make new friends. My husband is constantly wanting me to reach out to friends at church and I have always dug my heels in, except for a select few. I remember when we moved away from the place I literally grew up, away from all of my friends, to a brand new place and he’d said, “you’ll make new friends.” I told him, I have all the friends I need. Well, that would have been very sad if that was true, because some of those friends now, are the ones in that handful of friends I mentioned earlier, that I have grown to love and choose to hang out with most.
I do know that I tend to want to come home from work which is a “people” job, and retreat into my own little shell away from everyone, not answer too many questions, or have too many plans and just unwind. I know that I disappoint my very socially inclined husband, and I feel bad and then that makes me mad because I feel guilty and that is up there among the top four feelings I hate to feel… Frightened, Sad, Angry & Guilty!
Depression is something I have never bought into. I mean, I know it exists organically. I worked in a Psych Unit for almost six years. It is a very real condition. And there is treatment for that kind of Depression. I’ve witnessed the successes of those treatments. But what I am talking about is admitting that I have it or not. Which I was told that I do by our counselor. And have fought that diagnosis ever since. In fact I got mad and stopped going to counseling. Thinking of course you are going to have to label me. I’m not depressed! I’m mad and angry and exhausted!
I mean, crap happens and you are sad, or scared or angry because of it, right? It’s a circumstantial thing. Depression doesn’t happen to people like me. I go to work every day, I don’t sleep my life away. I laugh and joke and live! You work through the crap and it goes away. Right? Maybe not. Maybe you work through it, but the layers of fear from all the things that have happened in life pile up and you don’t know how to deal. For the first time since then, I have wondered. Maybe she was right?
Fighting a war inside your head is exhausting. Being expected to even know how to begin to talk about it, takes your breath away. Even people like me, who talk for a living. It is like caring too much about everything but being perceived as if you care about nothing. Always looking back, wanting to fix where you were, being afraid to believe in tomorrow. Sometimes faking a smile and saying you are fine, is so much easier than trying to describe your pain. I mean, don’t think that I can explain how I feel when I don’t even understand myself. Always wanting someone to just say “It’s going to all be okay” and for me to really believe it. And wondering if you will ever feel like it’s really okay.
A lot has happened to a lot of people, horrific things that I can’t even imagine and they have turned around and made their journey into lessons for others. I know that some of my experiences can be an opportunity for a better testimony, that if I can get through it, others can too.
I guess that I’m beginning to realize that finding the courage to understand is our reward. That it’s okay to cry for the ones that we miss, but so important to embrace the ones that are still here. That fighting for life is making us stronger and that stronger is a very good thing. And that I need to learn how to really and truly, genuinely love the person I have fought for all along… and that, that person is me.
To love God first, and then ourselves is one of the hardest lessons I’ve ever had to learn. For I can’t love anyone else until I understand who is loving you.
She builds people up because she knows what it’s like to be torn down.
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has known what God has prepared for those who love Him. 1 Corinthians 2:9
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.
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!
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…
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!
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!
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!
Happy NEW Year Everyone! Happy NEW story, happy new life! God bless you all!
I’ve realized that the paths we take, may not always be the ones we envisioned. They may be charted out for reasons we don’t understand right away. In my journey, I’ve discovered that it is not about the job, nor definitely the title, and it may not have anything to do with what you feel you bring to the table or what your talents are. You may just have to “be there” because God wants you right where He has you. It has taken me a long time to realize that. And to know the difference. Am I trusting HIM? Or am I just stuck? Even in writing, I catch myself thinking one or two words ahead and am constanly having to back space. It is not even just a mispelled word. I have actually observed that when I back space, it is because I have written words that I am thinking of, ahead of my current thought. And it has caused me to reflect on how I’ve lived my life.
I’ve gone through many doors in my lifetime, and have been PUSHED through a few! Recently that has really been the case for me.
It was as if some of the keys on my keyboard were stuck and I couldn’t really finish the story. I’d just typed around the broken keys. NOW, the keys have all been repaired and I have been freed! I see the path before me and though it wraps around many hills and valleys, I am writing this story! It is not finished! I must stay on the path and continue the journey to the end! Even if it’s not really the one, I would have written into my own story. Sometimes I just need to let God do the editing!
In my lifetime, I have realized it is not about the power of others, it is about the power that you define as yours. I’ve met some very brave people in my lifetime and I have met a few cowards. It has all been a measuring stick for me. WHO I have become and am becoming. Do we ever stop becoming who we were meant to be? I don’t think so. No, I really don’t. You only must believe.
“How can I get there?” Asked Dorothy. “You must walk. It is a long journey, through a country that is sometimes pleasant and sometimes dark and terrible. However, I will use all the magic I know of, to keep you from harm.” The Wizard of Oz
I knew at a very young age that I had words and stories locked inside of me. In Elementary school my teachers noticed that I could write. But not until High School did one particular teacher actually take me under her wing and offer me Independent Writing classes. I think that most writers can tell you when they knew they had that light bulb moment when they wrote something special or different that set them apart from the rest of the other kids in the class. Like an artist who paints their first masterpiece or the singer that sings a song that takes someone’s breath away. Or a comedian that makes you laugh until you cry, and the dancer that makes people stop and really watch till the end.
When I was in elementary school I loved to write for me but when I was in college, I put my amature talents to use and totally BS-ed my way through my Sociology class with my essays. I had no idea what I was talking about! But I received this comment on one of my most blatantly ramblings…. “100! If I could give you more, I would! Brilliant!” Okay, now I am coming clean. Like I said….I really, truly had NO idea what I was talking about! I just took the question and re-wrote it a bunch of different ways. But I knew then I could possibly fake it and so I did.
Today, I have a much more humbled outlook. I mean, in fifth grade there aren’t a lot of kids that love to really write. I was a different kind of fish in a small pond that stood out a bit because of just that. But in the bigger world, there are trillions of great writers in a much bigger pond. I am just one of many that likes the same bait.
The world has changed a bit also. When I was assigned to write those reports that we all remember. Remember those STATE reports? Didn’t we all have one assigned to us before we reached Junior High? I’d spend hours at our local library, pulling out drawers filled with information, clinking dimes into a copy machine copying pictures in books for those reports.
Now kids today can find it all on line. It makes me dizzy just how far we have advanced but in the same breath, I am kind of sad that our kids will never experience pulling out a library catalog drawer filled with index cards with information on them. But though their computer knowledge will always far suprass mine, there is still something to walking into a library and smelling the leather bound books with words pressed on pages, and being able to walk to a certain section of the library, finding the shelf, and pulling down an actual book and breathing in the scent of words.
It’s not about muscles that make people think we’re strong,
it’s not about the faults of other’s that makes you the one not wrong,
it’s not about the things we do so that others see them too,
It’s more in our transparency that gives us each a better view.
It’s when I’ve seen the strongest man bend down upon his knees
to wipe the tears from a child’s eyes as he listens to his pleas,
it’s when he stops to hold a stranger’s door even when he’s in a hurry
or calls his wife each time he’s late, knowing that she might be worried.
It’s when he brings her flowers home for really no reason at all,
it’s when he’s kneeling in prayer that makes him seem so tall.
All these things show more strength than any winner of a fight,
for strength is in the example of always trying to do what’s right.
Someday we’ll all look back and see things from a different point of view
we’ll see the things we did and the things we wished we didn’t do,
we’ll wonder why we were stubborn and just couldn’t let things go,
we’ll each learn different things about ourselves we wish that we had known.
We all will someday end up at the same place of awakening
where we each meet our Maker, at a time when our heart is breaking,
where we fall upon our knees, realizing where we did it wrong,
and in that moment of weakness it is then we’ll be most strong.
I follow a blog by a fellow blogger and follower of my blog named Dyan, that challenges us to find things to be grateful for in life. She is faithful in her commitment to write a daily word of encouragement and it has become an easy read. Today’s seemed to trigger a memory for me. It made me STOP and really see what I have been doing for over a decade… I realized that I am afraid to just let go and be grateful. To live in the moment to not worry about yesterday or tomorrow to just be grateful for something as simple as the ability to enjoy jam on my toast in the morning. I know it sounds funny… but some of you GET me so well… I know you’ll understand.
Here is an excerpt from her post today:
It may be small, like the peach jam on your toast in the morning, pretty flowers that you pass on a walk – or it can be big, like a job opportunity we are presented with. But if we are watching for things to be grateful for through our days, we will find them. Living gratefully, purposely taking time to be grateful every day will bring us more things to be grateful for. That is a great reason to keep a gratitude list every day.
To read the whole thing… here it is:
Well over ten years ago, I remember picking up an article in the waiting room of a medical office where I had my yearly exam. It was an excerpt from the book…”Don’t sweat the small stuff… And it’s all small stuff” We’ve all heard about it since. But it was new to me then. As a child, I always worried. I have since realized I’d become a co-dependent at an early age and always seemed to be waiting for something bad to happen.
I remember really reading every word and deciding that I was going to stop and smell the flowers just as I was called in for my turn… I remember light heartedly changing into the paper gown and waiting for the doctor. We made the usual small talk and then the expression on his face changed. It got more serious. He’d found a lump in my throat. It was strange… I never felt it………. I think at that moment the whole thing about not sweating the small stuff was extracted from my memory.
For the next few weeks, appointments for surgeons and ultra sounds all filled the parts of my brain that was going to not sweat anything. I’ve always tried to protect my kids from my problems but somehow my daughter found out and demanded to know what was going on and then promptly prayed for me. It was a sweet simple prayer but ever since she was little, when she prayed she believed that God really heard her and kind of just expected Him to take care of everything. (If only we all could have that childlike faith!) After an ultra sound and a surgeon not finding anything at his exam it all seemed to have been a mistake or had it? Perhaps there had been something there and God heard the prayers of a child…my sweet daughter.
I just know that as I read Dyan’s blog today… it triggered a memory. I think at that moment in the Doctor’s office… I’d decided to truly not sweat the small stuff and then in the next moment… I’d been hit by a Mack Truck… not small stuff by any sense of the imagination. I am not sure what happened… maybe it was a mistake… maybe even the devil… but I think I was afraid to not sweat the small stuff ever again…. I think that I have been sweating it ever since… trying to be grateful… but always with one eye cocked over my shoulder… All I know is that this little reminder pricked a memory about never trusting anyone or anything with the free abandonment of thinking it is all small stuff because it can change at any moment. I guess that since then… I’ve always waited for the other shoe to fall. Nor have I ever completely relaxed since.
I know that life isn’t necessarily without catastrophe. Since that day… I’ve experienced illness of loved ones, earthquakes, and even death. But I have also experienced answered prayer, good health and the miracle of birth. I know it’s not all small stuff. But this little daily reminder, this once a day dose of being grateful really made me take a look at where I stopped appreciating the moment and began trying to deny it’s existence. I’ve been seriously robbed by the joy of relaxing in my gratitude. Like a thief in the night it was snatched from me. Today is a new day and I am just grateful to be sitting here knowing it. And I am grateful for all of God’s Vessels who come into my life with messages as way of their blogs. Perhaps this one might remind you to not sweat the small stuff and though it might not all be small stuff… to recognize when it is and to trust God with the rest! Have a grateful day!
A baby smiles and I see a glimpse of heaven.
A flower grows from a crack in the cement.
A stranger holds the door open…
Are these messages possibly Heaven sent?
A garden’s fragrance, a butterflies wings
A sunrise inside the warmth of dawn
A child’s laughter, a friend’s simple note
when you thought you couldn’t go on…
A slice of toast with some special jam
warm socks on a cold morning
Ahhh such is the joy in feeling grateful
that appears in my heart without warning.
This is the time of year…
We are trying not to count the days. We know it is coming up. We are trying to be happy. And yet it is extremely hard.
I remember when my son left home. It was his Senior Year. It was a crazy time for us to move and yet it happened. I remember always shaking my head when I’d hear stories of parents uprooting their kids from their last years of High School and yet we found ourselves in that same position. I was not ready. He was not ready. And yet it is a choice I made and will always look back and wonder about. In the end, he moved in with his dad. I am glad because his dad is gone now and it was a great bonding time for them that my son will always cherish. And yet as a mom who was pretty over protective all of his young life, I had to let go, knowing for the most part, that the supervision would not be identical. In fact, it was pretty non existent. I am pretty sure all curfews flew out the window along with my baby bird!
I remember once my son calling me and telling me that one of his dad’s room mate’s had brought home Jack In The Box for everyone but him. I am sure there was food in the house and he was not going to starve and that there may have been a good reason for leaving him out… mainly his attitude which has always been a bit challenging… Smile… But I can’t imagine his father partaking in the food while our son sat watching. Though I “get” that I was not privy to the full picture. As a mother missing her baby you can imagine my heart. So I began sending care packages.
Sure I could have sent money and saved the shipping, but I found joy in choosing his favorite things and “knowing” he’d be fed. I don’t doubt that my ex was supplying the basic needs but not the hugs from his mom and so I sent those packages pretty regularly. Until I was asked not to.
One day I got a phone call asking me to “stop” (sending the packages) by my ex. He said, “Diane, you are not helping.” I will never forget how hard it was. I understood that my son was actually 18 by that time, had a job and was living rent free so just had to pay for his gas and food. My ex had moved out of his parent’s house his senior year, and I know that he just wanted our son to grow up and learn about life the way he had to. It was a love thing. He wasn’t trying to be mean. But it was hard for him to understand my “mother’s heart” and that the thought of my baby being cold or sad or going hungry for even just one minute was hard for me. Okay well maybe I wasn’t that bad but I did want to confront him about that Jack In The Box incident but I didn’t want to betray my son. And I wanted to tell my son that it was his dad who was making me stop sending the care packages but I could not betray his dad.
It seemed as if everytime I turned around that year, I’d see a little boy that reminded me of my son. I missed him so much. But I knew that he wasn’t that little boy anymore. He was all grown up and I needed to let go.
I guess I actually was glad that his dad taught him the hard lessons that I couldn’t.
I’ve shared this poem before here but it is one that I wrote right before my first baby bird tumbled out of my nest… This one is for all the moms having to let go this year as their baby birds fly off to school or where ever it might be. I understand and feel for you all. And I am here to tell you that you will survive! My son did! He has his own business and a beautiful family. Letting go isn’t always easy, nor is letting our baby birds fall out of the sky sometimes… but if we let them… experience the highs and the lows… someday they will learn to soar and that is enough hope for me. (This poem is also for the young moms who can’t wait for school to start and need a little reminder… of just how FAST it all flies by!)
Seems like only yesterday I held you in my arms
Oh how you swept me away with all your baby charms.
The days just flew by quickly, soon you began to talk
and then a little later, you began to walk….
“Mommy will you cross me? I want to go and play.”
Oh those words ring sweetly, now seem like yesterday.
The years have swiftly passed,
don’t know where they’ve all gone,
And when you cross the street now,
you don’t need to call your mom.
It has happened right in front of me, before my very eyes…
packed away, your faded jeans, one of every size…
Teddy bears and old match box cars,
all packed with loving care,
baseball cards and folded notes of secrets that you shared.
I sit amongst the boxes recalling our memories all alone
and realize that baby, once in my arms,
is now fully grown~
And silently I wonder through a mixture of joy and tears…
Did I truly show how much I loved you
through those tender years?
Sometimes it’s hard when you’re the mom
to make your child understand
just how VERY proud she is when he becomes a man!
Broken by the world, surprised by their angry words
I stand before you Lord, so tired in this world.
Weary and battered, by those I once called “my friends”
please take these broken pieces I now hold within my hands…
You find me on my knees as I begin to ask
Just how much longer you think that I can last…
And then I realize YOU’RE the one who truly knows
the sting in the world’s curses and it’s flailing blows,
and so I begin to let go, laying everything at your feet
Falling on my face, I know you see the real me.
As I realize it’s all just a speck in time
and it’s really about the piece of YOU that I leave behind!!!
Guide me as I talk, let your words be ones I choose
For YOU know today this mountain must be moved.
As I form the sentences let them come from YOU…
Filled with strength and grace and only what is true.
As I walk in faith, let me find YOU in every choice
And as I seek your will today, let them hear YOUR voice.
Take these broken pieces Lord, for they don’t belong to me!
Remind me that in their “brokeness” YOU have the victory!
Soooo remember that song that I was trying to write the lyrics to? A while back a musician friend of mine, Jim
wrote a melody, indicating that he was inspired by the chapters from my book (Pieces of the circle) that I am writing and shared some chapters here. He titled the piece Finding Diane and basically told me that it might be therapy for me to come up with the words. HOW long has it taken me?
I think we started in February. I must say that it has been quite a project. If you have followed me at all… you may have gone to my friend Jim’s archives (above) and listened to the melody. It is epic! I have come up with several lines via original poems that I have posted here separately. I wanted to see how it flowed if I put them all together. So that is what I have done here today. The cadence is off a bit in a few areas because they were written as separate poems, but it surprised me just how well 3 separate individual attempts seemed to all flow together. I have left out the pictures which have sort of become my trademark to enhance the words I write. (Though if you want to read them with pictures they are listed all separately in my archives.) Though the poems do sound better separately, it surprised me how they worked together.
Anyway, I don’t expect him to finish our song anytime soon since he is a teacher and has other projects going but he was right. It was therapy and so I title this Finding Diane. If nothing else… the title is coming true!
The song will not require as many lines as are here (way more than he needs) he will need to cut out words here and there and only take the lines that will work… but at least I have given him something to play with for now. I finally feel found!
Well maybe one picture…..
I hear a song and my heart flies away,
I want to snatch it back for it’s gone to yesterday.
The melody wraps around my heart,
though in my head I keep playing the part.
No one can know the pain that I feel,
over a fantasy now, that seems unreal.
And so I pretend that nothing is wrong,
as I try to block out the tune in our song.
But the melody lingers as I push replay,
and wander back into my heart still there, in yesterday.
I dance in the flames as I fall into step
trying to miss the places that made you upset.
The memories make me jump higher and higher,
I feel the sting as I dance past the fire.
The tears bring back the pain that I’d put away,
spinning back into the melody of yesterday.
Like a butterfly trapped, still inside its cocoon,
I dance through my mind running from each room.
As I close the door, where you live in my mind,
I find the part of me that I left behind.
Just like a jewelry box dancer trapped in a box
my heart is inside with the key and its lock.
I had to come back to this place, always heard whispering in my ear…
Oh little girl, somehow I knew I’d still find you here.
Among the memories waiting, wondering if I was coming back
to find the child I left long ago forgotten in my past.
I gather you up and hold you close as we walk through the rooms of our soul,
pieces of you and me once broken, healing and becoming whole.
Looking inside from the child within, I see all the pain you must feel.
Knowing that we must tend to each wound before we truly begin to heal.
We walk through the lonely places that once held our yesterdays
Oh how I wished I’d protected you in so many different ways.
And yet I know that through the hurting, we’ve gained strength in what we’ve learned.
In all the lessons remembered, in all the times once burned,
in every tear we ever cried, and every broken heart,
in every time we were in a crowd, and felt a million miles apart.
we built the walls around our heart and “they” never saw us cry.
We learned that fighting to survive was what we had to do
and so I lost the biggest part of me the day when I lost you.
It’s hard to face the ugly truth and really look inside,
to know I left you all alone, living with the hurts and lies.
You were the child inside of me and I failed you the most,
in the mistakes I made along the way, in the different paths I chose.
But I’ve come back to find you, to finally bring you home.
So that together we can learn to live and never be alone!
I want to find the kid inside, and heal the pain we knew.
I want to learn to love the me, that I forgot to love in you!
And so as I pack up all your things, I have hope in what will be…
As I learn to love you more…
Cuzzzz after all you’re ME!
(Hey and Jim try to look past the punctuation errors! LOL)
Perspective is such a great thing to consider! But it is all relative.
I am blessed. Though we lost a prospering store in 2003, we were given the “opportunity” to be able to open up a restaurant shortly after that. Well, That was a joke. Due to a very mismatched partnership (don’t get me started!!!) We lost the last of our nest egg and were like 20 year olds starting all over again from the beginning. We went about getting “REAL” jobs and until last year when my husband was laid off, we were sitting pretty fat and happy without missing much of a beat except that I had to work for someone else which is something I promised myself that I would never do again. Though… I have gone back on my word with myself on many occasions lately so what the heck~
Most recently, my husband has been working with his dad on a project that has been a lifelong one they began many years ago when they used to work together. Since being laid off last year, my husband has stepped on board again and it looks as if things are going to take off for them. It is an amazing environmental project which basically takes toxic waste or waste in general, ( it can be plastic, wood, tires, you name it) and turns it into bio char for farming or energy, etc. I BELIVE in what they are doing, and with so much interest in the environment recently, it has gotten a lot of positive recognition. I know that in God’s timing it will all come together. But in the meantime, we are living on my paycheck and his unemployment. It has defintely been an awakening. This month, we have come to the end of the line. I have managed to pay all of our bills on time, for all of this time. But next month is going to be tricky. We are going to have to start picking and choosing bills to pay.
For the first time in years, since the earthquake, I am living in a place of genuine faith. God has answered recent prayers about health and other personal things and so I know HE is a God of miracles! I have watched other fellow bloggers live their lives in faith and I know it can be done. But I can’t say that I have always been such a good sport about all of this. It is all relative, but if you don’t have it… money becomes more important. And yet I keep trying to tell myself it is character building. Though all you prayer warriors out there, I would appreciate prayer! And I thank you ahead of time because I know I will blogging about a miracle soon!
So anyway, as I was wallowing in my own problems, I read today’s post from my sweet friend whose blog name is : free penny press:
Talk about perspective! I thought it was a wonderful reminder that it is not all about me! Feeding ourselves on $1.50 a day…. it made me think! I get so caught up in “needing” always wanting a miracle… and usually getting many. God is good and so generous. He always come through in the end, even when I ask for more.
Oh Lord,I’ve found myself
on a pretty selfish path,
forgetting to be grateful
for everything I have~
Making my prayer time,
all about me and what I need~
Losing my perspective,
consumed by my own greed~
Today… I want to thank you
for the GRACE you’ve given me!
Not seeing my flaws
that I know you might have seen.
May I be reminded
just what I’m asking for
when I forget and come to You
asking for a little more.
Diane Reed 2013
“Insanity: doing the
same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
― Albert Einstein
How many times do we find ourselves
making the same mistakes?
trying to fill the holes in our lives
no matter what it takes?
We overlook the lessons
we know that we have learned
we ignore the raging fire
and contine to get burned
We feel the pain inside
and yet we really just don’t care…
We try to disguse the warnings
as the answer to our prayers
when we really knew that all along
there were no answers there
Just God, waving HIS red flags..
telling us to
And how I overlooked the heart you
once left broken.
My vision has been restored~
And the opportunity for a second chance
is my reward.
Being able to now open the windows once painted shut,
Somehow… it all seems just enough~
Though looking back,
I am surprised that I almost gave you
back so much of me.
And yet looking through the open pane
I see it now all so differently~
The war ” inside”
has me dancing in this bubble
as if walking along the ocean’s ebb
and floating over a sea of trouble
I find solace inside my head
wrapped inside your arms~
In a place so safe and warm
far from earthly harms~
And yet I know
I will have to go
to face my life
to make the choice~
to learn to listen
to the voice~
As you wrap your words around me
and I hear you say….
that that takes my breath away…
Oh my child,
it’s going to be okay”.
Diane Reed ’13
Living this life
under a million stars
forgetting the pain
but feeling the scars
holding my face
in the palm of your hands
making love to my words
only you understand
inside my soul
When you read my words
It is my heart
that you hold.
And when you
say them out loud
so that I know that you heard
It is in that moment
you make love to my words.
Diane Reed 2013
This is Chapter Nine… I think that I will share one more chapter and then that will be it until I find a publisher. Thank you for all who have taken the time to read this. I love your feedback. It has been like gold to me. For those of you just reading for the first time… this is part of a book… it won’t make much sense unless you follow my blog back to chapter one. Here is Chapter Nine for all those who asked for more….
I am off to work and wanted to get this posted this morning before I left so there may be a few extra type os than normal… I intend to go back and edit some more after work today!
Thank you for reading.
In the weeks that followed, Keri learned to handle Jack and her relationship on her own. It was a little like a balancing act. Though she thought that she was doing a fine job, people began asking her if she was okay. “Sure, why?” She would almost snap. Having no one to talk to about Jack’s mood swings, Keri weathered the weight of it all on her own shoulders. Until one day, Mrs. Walker came to her with tears in her eyes. She’d been worried about Keri and actually read her journal, “not all of it, but enough” she confessed. Keri was horrified. She’d always trusted the agreement they’d shared, without so much of a second thought and through the years, she never suspected otherwise and became quite unconcerned and free about what she’d write. And if truth be known, her teacher never breached that trust ever before, until she had she’d seen a change in Keri, who’d come to class obviously upset one day to drop off her assignments and hadn’t waited to talk to Mrs. Walker who’d called after her but Keri had not heard her or at least acted as if she hadn’t. Though, Mrs. Walker was pretty sure she had.
Keri scrambled inside her head as her teacher stood in front of her with a pitiful look of concern, she tried to recall what she might have recently written. There’d been some pretty bad times lately. Times when there’d been no other place to go but inside the pages of her journal. Mrs. Walker laid the leather-bound book in front of her. Tears of anger burned in Keri’s eyes. All this time, Keri had believed that Mrs. Walker was just initialing each new entry without reading a word. Now, she didn’t know what to believe. Keri snatched the book up and held it tightly against her chest. She wondered how far back that Mrs. Walker might have read. Her teacher saw the look of betrayal on Keri’s face and rushed to explain. She’d just been concerned, now, she couldn’t ignore what she’d read. Keri stiffened as Mrs. Walker tried to touch her arm. She pulled away as she picked up her books and ran out of the library without a word.
Keri agonized all night long. She couldn’t talk to Jack about this. He would be so angry with her. He did not know about the journals. She’d read poems to him from them, but her journals had been hers. They were not even for Jack to know about. She had not wanted him to ask to read them so she never mentioned them. Her head swam. All of a sudden the room started spinning. Keri grabbed her mouth and ran to the bathroom and got sick. Keri kneeled by the basin coughing and crying. She’d never felt so betrayed. And yet the hardest thing about her anger was that she knew that her teacher really did just care. And yet she was just so ashamed that anyone knew that she’d allowed Jack to treat her the way she’d described in those sacred pages. Now, she felt naked and as if she wanted to run away, far away where no one knew her. That night she decided that she was going to finish High School even earlier than she’d planned. She did not want to have to deal with Mrs. Walker or anyone. She was so confused. During their conversation, Mrs. Walker told Keri she’d always be there for her if she needed her and suggested that perhaps she’d really wanted her to read what she’d written. It just made no sense to Keri and more angry at her teacher.
The next day Keri went to her counselor to find out exactly what credits she still needed. She was happy to discover that she could complete them all by taking the required exams through a few independent study classes that she could do on her own through the counseling office at the local community college. She was surprised how everyone seemed to support her plan. Keri explained that she wanted to finish her Senior year early since her schedule was so minimal. She told everyone that she planned to start working at the Speech and Development School full-time, and have a little time in-between before she had to start her college classes. She decided that rather than going away to school, she would take some of her general education classes at the same community college where the counseling office was that she would be reporting to until she completed her High School credits. Surprisingly, her counselor and her parents didn’t question her new change of plans even though she’d be forfeiting the scholarships she’d applied for. In fact, her mom and dad didn’t seem to discourage or encourage her to go to college. Jack was the only one who really encouraged her to go and yet the idea of going away to school now, seemed less and less appealing to both of them as they fell more deeply in love.
The weeks passed quickly and her own graduation was uneventful. There just wasn’t one. A few months later, after completing all of the requirements. She’d gone to pick up her report card and diploma from the office, only to be told that her official diploma would not be available until after her graduating class had gone through the actual ceremony in June. Suddenly the realization of what she’d done and was missing out on, hit her. Her choices impacted many things she’d been looking forward to. She’d known that she would miss her prom and other school activities the following year, but she’d also reasoned that Jack would not have wanted to go to any of it and she did not want to go without him. And yet, Keri couldn’t help feel a tear slip down her cheek as she headed for the parking lot, with her report card in her hand.
The year before meeting Jack, she’d been invited to a boy’s Grad night who she’d met at church and been dating casually for a few months. He was valedictorian of his class and Keri was honored to be his date. They’d gone to Disneyland after she’d watched him speak to his graduating class and the entire night had been magical. She was glad that she had that memory, and decided it was going to have to be enough. She was just relieved that school was behind her and that Mrs. Walker had not said anything to anyone else about what she’d read in Keri’s journals. Keri was sure she would have called her parents but for some reason she hadn’t, and Keri was grateful.
When Keri ripped open her report card and saw the A+ in English, a melancholy feeling came over her. She walked toward her car as she scanned the paper. Memories flooded her thoughts as she remembered all the things she’d learned about writing from Mrs. Walker. She remembered the first time her teacher approached her with tears in her eyes after reading something that she’d written and telling Keri that she had a gift. Tears blurred Keri’s eyes, just as she was about to bump into Mrs. Walker herself, who looked equally surprised. She’d not seen Keri for several weeks though signed off on her class after learning of her plans to not pursue her current scholarship she’d been disappointed but decided not to interfere. In fact, she decided to do nothing.
Keri had seen the familiar signature and had felt uncomfortable. She hadn’t seen her teacher since that day in the library. Only she and Mrs. Walker knew the truth of why she was really graduating early. “Thanks for the A” Keri said uncomfortably. “You earned it as always, Keri”. Mrs. Walker smiled “Good luck to you honey, you are very talented, I hope you do something great with your writing.” Keri knew that graduating early had ruined her chances for several of the scholarships she was up for, ones that they worked on together. Suddenly they just hugged. Though it wasn’t clear who reached out first. The embrace was long and genuine. “Thanks for everything Mrs Walker” Keri whispered hoarsely and Mrs. Walker hugged her a little tighter and then slowly let go. At that moment, she knew Keri better than any adult in her life. The years of mentoring and long talks about her dreams to write, and then watching her progress and win awards, had been her teacher’s own reward. She wanted to say so many things to Keri at that moment and yet she knew that they were all things she would have to learn on her own.
It’s been thirty years
And it’s been twenty days
And the feelings are somehow the same
It’s as if you weren’t here
And as if you won’t leave
Makes me wonder if you ever came
My mind is still whirling
And my heart has gone blank
The memories have all been erased
Like the scent of the past
The fragrance can’t last
YOU are just my yesterday….
The pain is so deep,
I can’t hardly sleep
Though, I know, that I’ve finally learned….
I won’t do it again…
Look back where I’ve been…
for with fire, you always get burned.
Diane Reed 2012
This is Chapter one of my book… A few days ago, I posted a blog titled: Would You Read This?
It was the introduction to a book I have been writing for the last 3 years. This is the next chapter.
I would love feedback. I KNOW I need a lot of editing but would love people who like to read to give me there honest opinion… And from professionals who could tell me…if I have something that publishers are even looking for.
Chapter Two begins with the sixteen year old girl… I am stuck at the ending… the place where Keri is older and has been found again but for now here is chapter one…
It was a rainy Saturday afternoon; the kind that seems to still have one foot in winter and the other, in spring, the kind Keri knew made her fifteen year old daughter Brynne very lazy. But affected Keri in a totally different way…Keri’s husband Tim was away at work and so she decided that it was the perfect day to talk her daughter, into getting a head start on some spring cleaning. She had spoken to Tim about cleaning out the attic and making it into a study to write in. She had decided to revive her dream to write. An aspiration she had put on the back burner for a very long time. Tim had thought that it was a wonderful idea and told her that he could even build a little loft in their garage to store the boxes that were left after cleaning out the attic.
Inspired by the thought of moving closer to her dream, Keri put a roast in the oven and headed up to Brynne’s room, after a little coaxing, Brynne reluctantly crawled out from under her warm down comforter and followed her mom up the attic stairs. Soon they were laughing and chatting as the rain tapped against the roof above them as they got caught up in all the memories.
Brynne began pulling out old toys and clothes and books from trunks and boxes that had since been long forgotten. She had gotten caught up in looking at some old color forms and books when Keri had reached down into the bottom of one of the trunks and found the little diary. She recognized it at once. The lock still latched, she clicked the little button and felt for its release. It unlocked easily but for some reason she froze. She did not immediately open it. Keri stood up and frowned as she looked out the large picture window at the top of the trees swaying in the storm. The rain had started the night before and remained steady. She could see the little brook below and saw that it had filled. She felt warm and cozy and comfortable inside the warmth of the attic and imagined herself looking out the same window someday, as she sat at her desk and wrote.
The smell of the roast wafted up the stairs prompting Keri to go check on it. Promising a quick return, she left her daughter still sorting through boxes. She had fully intended to just check the roast and go right back up to encourage Brynne into getting rid of half the treasures she had stored up there over the years but Brynne had gotten caught up in her own little journey down memory lane and the whole project seemed to have turned into an all day event. Keri smiled; picturing Brynne in the pile she had left her in as she gently closed the oven door and wiped her hands on the kitchen towel. She turned to go back up and then remembered that she had brought down the diary she had found, and went over and picked it up from the counter feeling slightly unsettled.
She walked into the living room and poked at the fire in the fireplace, and then sitting down, she opened the book. Things that she had not thought about for a long time consumed her in an instant. Every word on every page snapped her back to another time in her life. She felt as if she had been given a time capsule, opening up such sweet but sometimes painful memories immobilized her as she turned each page. She remembered writing the words and the way she felt when she had written them. The memory of that young girl seemed to take on a life all of its own, as if she were reading about a fictional character and yet the memories those words triggered within her caused her to want to go and find that girl again, to somehow get her and bring her home.
Keri pulled a fuzzy throw over her legs as she read. Every page she turned seemed like opening up an old door and peeking inside. The love and pain and memories consumed her as the glow of the fire filled the room and the sound of the rain hitting the roof seemed to be lost in the background as she continued to read the words she had written a lifetime ago.
She hadn’t noticed how much time had gone by until she heard her daughter padding down the attic stairs. “What’s that?” Her daughter asked walking into the room, finding her mother deep into whatever it was that she was reading. Keri looked up and smiled. Brynne was puzzled. She had been lost herself in a magical mood of her own as she had pulled out old dolls and stuffed animals that had sent her back to another time. Brynne had fully expected to find her mom in the kitchen or watching T. Her mom always had the TV on for background company, even if she wasn’t watching it. But today, she sat by the fire in silence with a book. “Have you been crying?” Brynne frowned, sounding slightly concerned as she sat down next to her mom eyeing her with a look of uncertainty. She wondered what had caught her interest in such a way to have stopped her day like this. Looking amused at catching her daughter’s interest, Keri wiped a tear away and smiled. She was a little surprised with herself, crying over an old diary but the only way she knew how to explain it was to be honest.
Keri had not mentioned the diary when she found it at the bottom of one of her old trunks. She had set it aside with a slight feeling of unease. Not really hiding the little book from her daughter but not really knowing if she even wanted to go there herself. She thought that she had put all of those feelings away but over the years she had realized that they were not as easily packed away as old things in a trunk might be. Like this diary, they would show up when she least expected, like today. Keri tested the waters by reading a few of the pages aloud to Brynne. After a few minutes, she stopped and looked up to make sure that she had not completely lost her daughter’s interest but noticed that Brynne looked quite captivated.
Inspired by the attention she seemed to have captured, Keri, explained to her daughter…”I started writing this when I was about your age.” Brynne listened interested.
“I was so smitten with the idea of being in love and so boy crazy back then, even though I really was not allowed to officially date until I was sixteen. I hung out with a few boys and then the summer after my birthday I met someone.” Brynne’s interest peaked and she asked, “A boy that was not daddy?” Currently Keri and her husband Tim had been negotiating curfew and dating rules with their daughter and she found this all very interesting to say the least. Picturing her mother with boys when she was her age was a concept Brynne hadn’t broached. “Yes.” Keri answered, “I met a boy who was not daddy, a boy who changed my life forever.”
A look passed over her mother’s face that Brynne could not read. They had shared a mother and daughter bond that few can boast about, they finished each other’s sentences and usually knew what the other was thinking with very few words. Both Keri’s and Brynne’s friends envied their relationship. And without ever giving it a name, they had been best friends from as far back as either one of them could remember and Brynne felt as if she knew everything about her mom until today. Brynne listened with interest.
Keri wanted her daughter to admire her. She felt as if she had made so many mistakes in her life but had managed to rise above most of them. Brynne had always been so level headed and unaffected by the silliness of young love. When her friends would seem unusually boy crazy, Brynne had always been the one in control. She was a dancer and she would not let anything get in the way of her dream. Least of all, what she called silly romantic drama. Brynne felt she had plenty of time to find the right one and seemed in less of a hurry than her other friends. But even as level headed as her daughter was, she knew that it was only a matter of time, and it only took one boy to turn her heart upside down. And so she decided to share what she had written.
Keri scanned the pages, realizing that she had not shared any of it with anyone, ever. Her pain had been confined to the privacy of her journals, late at night in her room. The idea of sharing this part of her life panicked her. However Keri had always felt that everyone’s story, good or bad, was worth telling if it could help someone else not make the same mistakes. Especially her daughter. Keri thoughtfully considered her story and wondered if today might be the day she would share it . Maybe telling Brynne her story would help guide her.
Long before Brynne had even been interested in boys her mother had encouraged her to make a wish list that included the top ten things she would wish for in a husband. Keri had read the list and then added one more…she told her daughter that if any boy ever showed any sign of a temper that, that was her cue to run like the wind! Brynne never quite understood why her mom had always been so adamant about that rule but had added it to her list.
Sitting there with her book in her hands, her life’s story literally tucked inside the pages, and her daughter a willing audience she considered everything. She held the book tight against her chest and looked into her daughter’s eyes filled with questions, with the crackling and popping of the fire raging, she opened the book and said
“I never told you about this part of my life she said.” Maybe it’s time I tell it to you now.
Brynne, who was always in a hurry curled her feet up under her and grabbed another throw as she settled in to listen to her mom read. Keri began reading, she read a page and then the next one and paused thinking that Brynne would be bored but Brynne motioned her mom to continue. By the time she was done, the fire had died down to a flicker and more than two hours, maybe more had passed.
Keri closed the book and she looked up and noticed that Brynne was in tears. “Oh mama” she cried, “It is all just so sad.”
“Eating Honey is a very good thing to do,
but there is a moment just before you begin to eat it.
which is better than when you do.”
I remember a friend telling me that they had planned all year for a trip to Hawaii. They lived in California just blocks from the beach. But I mean Hawaii is Hawaii. As adults we see the differnce. The beaches in Hawaii really can’t compare to here. But to a child, maybe not so much. So they saved and scrimped, and finally when the day came, they packed up their two little boys and off they went on their much anticipated vacation. The next day when they had settled down on the beach and she was admiring the white sand and turquoise water, her younger son turned to her with an utter look of disappointment and in a totally dismayed tone, said, “So this is it mom?” It’s funny now but I have understood that same “So this is it?” kind of feeling more times than I would like to admit. The looking forward to it seems to trump the actual doing it.
I have gotten myself into some stupid predicaments trying to taste the proverbial honey. Feeling that there was something I was missing out on, something I was entitled to have and so I went for it. Abandonding all signs of intelligence I might have appeared to have, once upon a time.
It was wonderful while it lasted. But you can only eat so much honey and then it is too much. You realize you can’t live inside the honey pot forever even when you have lived without it for so long. Honey is honey and too much of it is not a good thing either. It is sticky and very hard to get off of you once you have dipped your whole body into the batch! And so I find myself stuck more than I would like to admit. I get so wedged in that I know that I am going to end up having to ask for help in getting unstuck . I hate to ask so many times but God always seems to send me answers to my pleas..
And somehow I can always depend on being rescued.
I’d like to say I learn each time, But not always…. Sometimes I have to keep learning the same lessons I need to learn, sometimes, over and over again…
And I know that I could have saved myself a whole ton of trouble if I had only figured out that giving me all the honey in the world may seem quite grand at the time and may even be what I think I really must have, what I need and want…
but I really do know….
That NOTHING compares to HIM!
There is just something about the scent of shopping that calms me. I walk in the doors at Target and instantly my bad mood vanishes. Why is that? And I am not trying to be metaphoric when I talk about the scent of shopping, it is the kind that hits you like a rubberband and sends you right to that time in your life that makes you remember. My memory of shopping has always beeen a good thing. It seems as if I can always count on seeing something new or something that I “want” or “need” and as I drop it in my cart, a feeling of satisfaction follows it.
Maybe it is the memory of my dad and I shopping together. We always had the best times and I was dubbed his little shopping buddy. As a young child, he didn’t have a lot, though, as an adult, he quickly worked his way up through the ranks and was pretty successful. I grew up in what you might call a privileged childhood. The window of my bedroom had an ocean view and I grew up not hearing the same discussions that my kids have had to, about money and the lack of it, about bills, due dates and the arguments that sometimes followed…
My childhood had it’s issues but one of them was not money though I was not spoiled. I had an allowance and was taught the value of the dollar. However, I do remember oddly enough, the one thing my dad was worried about was retirement. He was always planning some new retirement investment and even discussed his strategies with me. Unforunately, he died at 51 jogging around our beautiful neighborhood and never really got to relax and enjoy much of it , which made a big impact on me through the years.
I have never needed a lot. I always looked at price tags and would even tell my dad I didn’t like something if I thought it was too over priced. Even so… I have an inkling that I have had lessons that I have needed to learn about the value of several differnt things in my lifetime. I am not sure what God is preparing me for but I have learned a lot by my own mistakes and the mistakes of my friends. I’ve had friends who had nothing as kids and then made it big and lost everything and have had a difficult time dealing with their lack of. Having nothing and then almost too much and then nothing again. Jesus is a story teller, he taught many lessons with metaphors. Perhaps, why I love them so much. But I figure there has got to be a lesson in here somewhere for me.
I have been reading the Prodigal God http://eprodigals.com/the-prodigal-son/prodigal-god-tim-keller.html?gclid=CJWXqry_7LICFcV7QgodPxIAaQ And it is so timely for me! It is from such a different perspective. Not really about just forgiving the younger son. But Jesus was teaching a lesson about the older brother’s attitude more than anything. I have found myself in both places through out my life. I have been the Prodigal son, needing my Father’s forgivenss for squandering what I had foolishly and then also the Prodigal Brother, resenting what was given in what I determine as being unearned.
I have been there a few times. Financially devestated, but by the grace of God, always having “just enough” Always working towards more and sometimes even getting it. But maybe that is the lesson. God’s Word is like that scent, the familiarity of walking through the doors feeling the want and need rise up inside of me, always the chance to find something new. But how much do I drop in my cart? How much do I take with me out the door? I have finally realized I have been looking in all the wrong places to fill up my cart.
I don’t have to walk through the doors of a store with an empty shopping cart in anticipation of getting filled up, I can go back to that familiar place, the one that always seems to welcome me with open arms… and everyday, find something I “need” and “want.”
●The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” (Luke 15:21) But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. (Luke 15:22) Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. (Luke 15:23) For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:24)
The first time I got married, we bought our rings at Gemco. I still remember, they were just little bands of gold. Mine fit perfectly inside of his. Our Pastor made up a quick little off the cuff sermon about them when they were placed in his hand. Something about, how the circle was unbroken and how the man protects his wife. Well, that didn’t work out too well now did it? The circle was eventually broken and as for protecting… well my heart was shattered into a million pieces and so I think not.
I remember once after we had separated, I had taken mine off. It had been almost as painful as removing my actual finger. Over the years, after we were more financially stable, he added to that little band of gold and had given me a beautiful diamond engagement ring for Christmas one year. Several years later, the diamond fell out and I had been devastated and stopped wearing it until we could replace the diamond. We never did. But I always wore that little band of gold. Always, till I didn’t. I remember noticing that he still had his on long after we had separated and it kind of tugged at my heart in such a way, I still can feel it today. There is just something about a man wearing your ring after you have taken his off that gets to you.
I have since remarried and was given a new beautiful diamond ring that I’ve worn since. It has weathered many years. Last year, the band broke, it had just worn down and split right in the middle. It kept pinching my finger and so I finally took it off. My husband (the giver of that ring) and I were going through some rough times and so it was kind of apropos. I placed it in my jewelry box and I remember feeling sad but kind of free. Though when I saw my husband wearing his ring, I felt that same pain that touched the core of my heart again. And yet, I reasoned that my ring was broken and so it remained in my jewelry box.
A ring has a lot of symbolism for many of us. We all probably could share a story or two about a ring in each of our lives. I won’t go into exactly what was going on in my life, but I went ringless for almost an entire year. All I will say is that it was timely and pretty sympbolic. But every time I would see my husband’s ring on his hand, something struck me. Perhaps it was his loyalty and steadfastness, because no matter what happened, he kept that ring on.
Christmas was on a Sunday this last year. My husband had to work. We had done presents earlier because we knew we had to go to church and he would have to leave early from there to go to work. I was not expecting it when he squeezed my leg to say goodbye and pressed a little velvet box in my hand. I looked down as he walked out of the church. I opened the box and there was my shiny diamond ring with a brand new band. I sat there holding it. Feeling as if I did not deserve the ring nor the husband.
It wasn’t as romantic as it could have been. He hadn’t stayed to slip it on my finger or even to see if I would do it myself. I felt kind of empty sitting there looking at it as he walked out the door. There I sat in church with my sweet daughter who had come for Christmas, sitting beside me. She knowingly watched me. she had known, been in on the “surprise” she knew too much as it was. I put on the ring and smiled at her. She smiled back. The singing stopped and we sat down to listen to the sermon. So much was going on in my head, I don’t think I heard any of it that day.
Today I look at that ring. Several months have passed. Several emotions and conversations later and it still remains on that finger since I slipped it back on, in church that day. Yesterday, I was noticing that in all the rings I have ever worn, this one just seems to fit perfectly. Maybe it is the great job the jeweler did in fixing it, but just maybe it is the ONE that is supposed to be on my finger. The one that The best “REPAIRER” of all rings and hearts and all good things is still working on.
In my despair I questioned
I cried out to you in
My deepest of pain~
Your eye is on the sparrow
You count every hair,
But Oh Lord my wing is broken,
And my hair’s no longer there!
Seems like I only see the storm
And the rain in the clouds….
But then Lord you lift me up
Straight out of my doubt!
I don’t mean to hesitate,
Don’t want to complain…
I know in my suffering
I find Your Name!
I’m sorry I question YOU
and have much regret
You just hold me tight
And whisper… “I’m NOT done with you yet!”
“My eye is on the sparrow
Even with the broken wing
Because in his healing
He’s found a new song to sing!”
Just a pebble in my own life, scarred and scratched upon the sand
but then you found me worthy, it’s still hard to understand
You refined the roughened edges brought a glow for all to see and yet you used my broken life Jesus, all in spite of me
Chorus: I can hear you softly saying Little Jewel shine for Me Little Jewel shine for me
So unworthy in my own eyes still uncut within your hands like a jewel amidst the pebbles hidden in the rocky sand
So unworthy in my own life till you died and set me free so you died for just a pebble made a jewel on Calvary!
My friend Linda and I used to write songs… this is one of them. It usually started out with a melody that I would have taped and play and rewind until I got the words to work with the cadence… I miss those days….
I have been so focused on the past and wishing things for the future that I have not stopped to be in the present. I already know that this is a big problem with me. But lately, I have really gone to God with it. To prick my writer’s heart and fill it with things that I can turn into stories that might help others as I learn my own lessons. Today He gifted me with a pretty good one.
I have been writing about the past a lot. And I have really been dreaming about the future… focusing on the somedays when I will have my own writing room, with a wonderful window that I will write in front of and it will inspire me with it’s wonderful view…etc… you get the “picture.” So I got up today and turned on my computer and pretty much had no inspiration. Nothing at all. So I prayed an absent minded prayer asking God to give me something. You know the kind of prayer you pray half heartedly, half not expecting an answer?
So as my computer was booting up I decided to open my blinds. Only to be met with a dirty window ~
With the most amazing sunrise just filling it’s frame!!!!!
And there was my answer. God is amazing! Over the years God has reminded me that HE is there and that He also has a unique sense of humor if I really slow down to SEE it. So I sat there and was immediately inspired to grab a bottle of Windex and tackle the dirty windows head on. So I slipped on my shoes, still in my PJs, and proceeded to wash the outside of my dirty old window which is not an easy task, I had to walk around to the side of the house in full view of a somewhat busy street even at 6AM, remove the screen, and began cleaning the smudges and to try to figure out which ones were on the inside and which ones were on the outside outside, then when I came back inside, I realized that I still hadn’t gotten all the outside smudges.
Sooo, when I finally thought that I had gotten them all, I sat down to write and AHHHH would see smudges from a different angle and so then I’d go back outside to try again. As the sun kept rising, I was able to see the smudges from the outside in a totally different perspective and realized that they were on the inside. This went on for about three or four times until I finally realized that I may never get it perfect. That is when it hit me. I knew God had answered my prayer. And it made me realize He is listening!
I smiled as I realized my lesson for today wasn’t at all what I thought was so obvious. God is funny that way. There are always going to be smudges. And you know what? God doesn’t see any of them. He has the biggest bottle of Windex there is! We are crystal clear in HIS sight when it comes to HIM, inside and out! “We” waste so much time seeing all the streaks and spots on ourselves and others all throughout the day that we ruin the gift He gives us. God gave me a beautiful sunrise and I totally missed it by being so critical and only seeing the spots and streaks. That is when it hit me, What else am I missing?
I think it’s kind of amazing how many lessons He gives to us daily and how few we actually GET. I think He really had to work with me on this one. At first I thought that the lesson was that I finally realized that He had given me a sunrise even through my dirty window and that this window was just fine. I didn’t need to waste my time wishing for the future, waiting for my NEW writing room or my NEW writing window and realized that a clean one was good enough. And I also thought that He was showing me how much time I waste being so critical, looking at each defect or problem from all the different angles and worrying and fretting and that I needed to work on the inside and outside and all the different perspectives we need to see things from and that in the end, a lot of the stuff we take on really is unecesarry. Though all those are good to ponder…. The reality was that, THAT wasn’t the true lesson.
I had almost missed the whole thing once again! I am now sitting here writing in front of a pretty darn crystal clean window if I do say so myself, though I still can see a streak here or there… But I know that God sees through a bigger window and HE has a plan. I don’t need to worry about yesterday or tomorrow or what is to come or what isn’t. All I need to do is enjoy the view TODAY! And cleaning a window or two is a good thing, in fact it is okay, just not in the middle of a beautiful sunrise! Duhhhhh!!!
And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
(2 Peter 1:19-21 ESV
Life is so short, and the older you get, you realize that it really does fly by. Five years ago today the father of my children died on his birthday. It was the year my daughter left for school. It was the year of so many beginnings and endings all jumbled into one. It marks a reminder for me just how short life is and yet for me it is but a blink of an eye.
All the emotions are so raw right now. I can close my eyes and be back to the day we first met and then fast forward to today. Babies have been born, lives have been lived with so much joy and sorrow, laughter and tears, ceremonies and celebrations, mistakes and forgiveness all sandwiched inbetween then and now.
For one thing our divorce!
And more importantly my wedding to my husband now. Almost twenty years ago. I am married to a wonderful man I now call my husband. And yet the guilt of our divorce has always been that one door I always left just slightly opened, marring the present. Even though we became friends later in the years that followed, I never took those first vows lightly or forgave myself my own mistake. But in life, there really is no such things as do overs. Just grace to move on. And today, I think it is finally time. I need to finally let go and love the life and the ones still here.
Happy Birthday my love and old friend, Perhaps today I can finally say goodbye or maybe… just ….”until we meet again.”
Like pieces of a puzzle
mixed in with all the rest~
It’s finding all the ones that fit,
that is the biggest test.
The pieces that are missing
have left spaces we can’t fill~
working around the missing ones,
we keep playing, just until….
God comes in to change the game,
as we stop to step aside~
He shows us that our picture
was always on the other side!
I watched as the bus drove away. The year before, I’d insisted that I drive my daughter each way to school. I didn’t trust the bus drivers, or that there were no seatbelts on school busses! We’d moved to the country to give her a better childhood. We lived 12 miles out of town. That meant 12 miles each way, to and from school. What was I thinking?! After the first year, of driving almost 50 miles a day. I succumbed to my daughter’s wish to take the bus. But I enjoyed that first year driving her back and forth. We visited and bonded and talked about everything you could possibly imagine.
I remember commenting on how we couldn’t see cows on our way to school where we used to live and we laughed deciding that they might look out of place on Hawthorne Blvd. On the first day of school, all those years ago, I argued with myself as I watched her wave as the bus drove out of sight. I knew she would be okay. She was going into the fifth grade. So funny now when I hear stories of moms putting their kindergartners on the bus, and yet I still felt as if she was just a baby. Or maybe I wanted to keep her one for as long as possible because I knew the day would come when she would be driving away in her own car, far, far away from her old mama. Which kind of brings me to my ramblings on this subject. Time does pass us by so fast.
That was years ago. And yes, my baby has since moved four hours away and I am happy for her. In fact, I envy her life. She is right on the edge of new and exciting things just bursting to give birth. Her life is filled with new pages to fill in books yet to be written, new relationships to be made and dreams to come true.
I remember once when I was nine. The little neighbor boy and I were playing at the beach. Our parents were visiting nearby on the sand in a little area where they had set up camp for the day. Suddenly a huge wave pulled us out in an area where we could not reach the ground. I remember him grabbing my hand as we struggled to swim under the wave that had overcome us. Coughing and sputtering we looked at each other, amazed we had survived. Still holding hands, we suddenly let go~
I often wonder if he remembers that event. I always will. Our moms are still in touch. I barely think of him except for that time. Funny, what our minds store, isn’t it?
Back in those days, I didn’t have a lot of life to flash before my eyes but since then when I have had those life flashing before me moments, my mind always touches on those few seconds in my life when I knew I was in deep trouble, drowning with the boy across the street, my little friend who grabbed my hand and held on to me for dear life. I have felt that feeling lately. It reminds me of that bus driving away, my life flashing before my eyes, feeling the distance growing as I watched it drive away with my baby in it, on that day so many years ago. I remember that memory of the near drowning flash through my mind as I was rushing around pregnant, trying to find my son the day he went to the wrong gate. And I remember it when my dad died, when my first husband died. It is something that I can’t make happen, it just does. Like one of those little books you flip through and it animates the drawings. And today I feel the pain of letting go of the past, of trying to grasp the future and hanging on for dear life, as if watching my life flash before my eyes.
Last night we were driving home from a church event, when a car flipped over and down a hill right in front of us. It all happened in a split second. We live out in the country so it is pitch black except for the head lights. My husband swerved over to avoid the car that had been in front of us as we all pulled over and stood frozen. My husband called 911 and said “Someone has got to be dead down there” when in our amazement, we watched a young kid climb up the hill with only a cut on his hand.
I have felt like that in my life, all the way back as far as that drowning experience. God has been there through all the moments. And last night was just another example. The way it happened, we all could have been killed. Funny but it happened so fast.. I prayed a quick prayer and somehow I almost expected that kid to pop out of the dark and be okay. And if you follow my ramblings and read my blog… you know what I am talking about as I touch on a few more stories and blessings I have lived through as I think of them all in slow motion, unlike the flash before your eyes moments but blessings that I count daily.
I expected my family to not have been hurt by the earthquake. And I expected my best friend to survive her latest bout with stage four cancer. God is so good. But what about the times, when our prayers aren’t always answered the way we want them to be? Maybe in God’s infinite wisdom, He knows more than we do? Sometimes He answers our prayers the exact way we would like. And at other times, Well, I knew my dad was dead before we were officially told, I knew my first husband was going to die when he told me he was sick and somehow I knew he was going to go quick and it would be on his birthday. Strange and yet, comforting to know that there is so much more to God we can tap into if we really go there. Sometimes I get a quick glimpse of understanding God is controlling things more than I ever imagine. And I could actually be more involved in it all. And then I get in the way and forget to get involved. Kind of like my life. I have been so stuck lately. On my own little island in my own little life.
God is a mystery. Our life is short. Some of us are done sooner than others with what we are given. Some of have longer lessons, some have more to learn, and others have more to teach. I have felt that drowning feeling lately, the life flashing before my eyes, kind of kick me in the butt kind of reminder and I am not going to waste it. Life is flashing before our eyes every single day. I am going to slow down the pages and jump back in the story and stop being stuck somewhere in the middle. I need to reboot and keep moving on.
I am going to open up my own empty book and begin a new chapter. I will not waste the life that God spared in that wave so many years ago. I am going to begin to fill new pages and live this thing called life again!
My heart goes out to Mamas this time of year. It’s that notorious time of letting go… For some, it is an exciting time of new beginnings. For others, it is a time of dread. I know both too well. The one place I feel like a true expert. Once upon a time, I left both my babies their first day of school. My son was a little different because I worked when he was a baby so the sting of leaving him on his first day of school was a bit muted after leaving him with sitters and at Day Care but I do have a few stories that were memory makers.
Though I loved him dearly, my first husband was a little selfish and careless when it came to parenting. Funny, because when I first met him, I watched him with his little niece and he obviously loved her very much. As I watched him color with her and listened to their conversation and the sweet exchange, I KNEW that I wanted him to be the father of our future children. Don’t get me wrong, he ended up being a good dad in many other ways but in his youth, and theirs, at a pretty crucial time, when I needed him to be seriously responsible, he just wasn’t. One shining example is when my son was about two, I woke up the next morning to a big mess. I had waitressed the night before while my husband babysat and I guess he had a small party with some of his regular friends over or so I thought. Obviously some other friends of his I did not know came over that night as well.
As I was cleaning the mess up from the night before, I frowned when I noticed a treasured mirror my very best friend had given me was laying on the coffee table. Puzzled, I thought that was odd and wondered why it was there until I saw my son pick up a straw and stick it in his nose. Horrified, I realized exactly why he did that and what his innocent eyes had witnessed the previous night and my nightmare began.
I realized that my son’s own father was not going to be the one watching him ever again or at least for a very long time. I promptly went back to school to get a job so that I could work in the day, put him in Day Care where I knew he would be well watched without coke heads partying in front of him. And even though that may have been a one time incident and little did my husband know that his own barely two year old baby unknowingly toldl on him, I freaked out enough to realize that it was up to me to take care of my baby. So between my mom and a neighbor, I found safe child care. Sometimes a mama has to do what a mama has to do. And it is ALWAYS about putting the safety of your kids first. Period. I don’t think I even made a big deal about it. I just adjusted things and filed the information away realizing what I was dealing with.
Fast forward, a few months, I finished school, was working and had my son in what I thought was a good school when we ran into the Director of that school. I loved her. She was amazing, or so I thought until my son totally freaked out when she came up to him at a local Fair. I had no idea why, and it didn’t matter. I promptly removed him from that school and put him in a Christian School until we finally moved and I was able to stay home. By then I was pregnant with his sister and had enrolled him in the public school around the corner. He was in second grade and I walked him to school the first day.
He was already showing signs of not needing his mom by then. Though I could tell that he was a little happy that I was there. I had packed his lunch trying to imagine him eating it and thinking of me, lovingly putting in all his favorites, how funny. Now I know he wasn’t thinking of me at school while he was eating his lunch!!! As a young mom, it helped to imagine that anyway~
He had a new backpack and new clothes he could care less about but it made me feel better knowing his shoes were new. I prayed all the way to school that he would find a new friend and like his teacher. As soon as he saw the first glimpse of the school, he dropped my hand. Ouch. He puffed up and marched into the line of his new second grade class. Leaving me totally in the dust. Double Ouch. I smile as I think back at how I felt back then. I decided to not make it worse by trying to kiss him but I did remind him what gate to meet me at when school was out. “I KNOW mommm!” He stated as he followed his new class to their classroom.
When school got out that day, I was excited to hear about his day. I watched for him. I watched for his class. I thought I saw his teacher. But I never saw my kid. I panicked. I went to his class. It was empty. I went to the other gate. Everyone was since long gone. I finally went to the office. I was barely four months pregnant but I felt as if I was going to go into labor right there when they told me to call the police! I ran home crying, hysterical. My neighbors had their screendoor opened and I didn’t know what to do or who to call so I told my friend across the street the whole sorry story. She immediately got on the phone and cussed out the office saying “WHO tells a pregnant mother to call the police?” Then we hopped into my other neighbors car promptly drove back to the school.
So let me clarify, I had come from the arms of a private school where anyone picking up my child practically had to give their blood type before they would release him from their care, to a school that loses your children and then takes no responisbility after they have done it! I laugh now but you have no idea the feeling I had back then. I can still feel it even though it was almost 25 years ago. Well, obviously we found him. My friends and I split up and one of them came back with him in tow…. He had gone to the wrong gate! Oh my gosh. Really?!
I guess my point of sharing this story is: we all have those memory making moments… The first days of school, the first time you let go of the back of their bike without training wheels, the first time you watch them drive off with their fresh new license in hand. And then off to school or to whatever life they are heading to. The thing we have to adjust to is that no matter what the age, 7 or 17 or 32…. when they take that metaphoric hand out of ours it hurts a little. We let go in different ways throughout the years. And then we finally adjust to that empty nest. Or do we? Yes, we do. We start writing our own second chapter. We realize that we made all our dreams come true in our first chapter and become inspired to write the next and then the next, only imagining what we can do!
Like I always say, I will always see the little feathers stuck at the bottom of my nest and remember that my own little birds once filled that nest giving me a lot of joy. And know that even now, they sometimes will end up at the wrong gate. But my prayer is that there will be a lot more right gates than wrong… and that sometimes they will come home to let me hold their hand from time to time and I will understand when they need space, and pray that they will always know that I will be okay when they let go but will always be here with an outreached hand and a soft place to fall as needed. Because…. I’ll love you forever and forever your mommy I will always be.
The other day when I was driving out of a parking lot, I saw a homeless woman with a dog, set up for her shift, sign in hand, as I drove past her, I had my obligatory dollar to hand her. Not sure if it was the dog that got to me or the guilt of not knowing how to really help, but I was ready as I drove by. When she reached for the money, for a split second our eyes met and we connected in a way that words can’t explain. It was as if I realized in that fragile moment how blessed I was to be the one giving rather than the receiving. Because, even though my husband is out of work and working on a new business opportunity, it is not quite “there” yet, and we are praying as we get to that point of living on faith…we still have a roof over our heads and are blessed.
As I handed that dollar bill out the window as I drove past her in my newer than not car, I felt an invisible line seem to fade, a veil lift and wondered about her story. I prayed a silent prayer and hoped that she had water for the dog. It was so hot and I wished I had some water to give her.
Sure, I know, the skeptics may say she is better off than me. Giving money like that doesn’t help. But I selfishly couldn’t just drive by and she seemed to be doing pretty well because the car in front of me and behind seemed to hand her something as well. The skeptics may be right or they may just be telling themselves that to ease their own consciences. The fact is that we all aren’t too far away from being in her shoes, jobless, homeless, and overwhelmed. I know it is hard not to judge but we need to take our disdain and do something productive with it.
This morning, I saw that same woman near the off ramp of the freeway. I noticed right away because there was a squad car there with his lights on. It happened to be at a stop light, so I got more time to survey the scene and I watched the officer, a young, good looking, guy, smiling and animatedly talking to this woman with what seemed like respect and grace. They seemed to be in the midst of a friendly conversation. I am sure he was instructing her to move for safety purposes but witnessing the interaction gave me hope for her. I said a little prayer as I drove by for both of them, praying that perhaps he could help guide her to some resources and it made me think…
Sometimes we find ourselves in predicaments that feel out of control and try to take matters into our own hands. We forget to go to God for the answers or we do and don’t wait for HIM. Instead we stand at the off ramp of our life and beg. And sometimes God has to guide us in another direction because HIS way is a much better way for us in the end.
When I was nine, I wanted to write a novel. When I was twenty, I thought I was ready. I thought I knew it all. Now I am twice the age and I am sure I know even less than I thought I did, over three decades ago. I have always loved the concept of, what I know for sure…. Because the statement alone does not profess expertise of a certain subject, it only explores what I think I know about it as it relates to me.
Take love for instance. If I could go back and rewind my life and insert wisdom in different periods of it, how would I live it differently? What would I tell the younger version of me? Would I have listened? I wonder. How funny it would be if this older version of ourselves could pop in during different crisis in our life and tell us what to do. Would we even listen? I guess, maybe once we realized it was really ourselves, someone who had lived through the messes we got ourselves into and had the wisdom of hind sight, we might, I mean who argues with themselves? Well, cough, choke and sputter. I think I do, every day of my life. I reason with me every day. I berate myself for the insane choices I have made at times and want to ask myself; “Really?” in regard to half the dumb moves I have made over the years and very recently as well.
And yet, I wonder, what have I learned? I question myself all the time. Do I have good advice for myself, let alone anyone else? Do my mistakes and the lessons I have learned from them, hold any value in helping others not make the same mistakes? If I had to say what I really know for sure what would I say?
My advice right this minute is to be true to you. I am not sure that I can truly say that I have done that. But I know that I am working on it. I wish I knew then what I do now. My heart is full as I am filled with regrets. I wish that I would have been stronger and listened to my heart. I am angry now with the adults in my life that pushed their own agendas on me. I understand that they only wanted the best for me. I really do. And yet, it was their version of the best. I was not brave enough then to ask them….”And how is your version of the BEST working out for you?” Because from where I stood… my response would be “not great!” All I know now is listening to them was not being true to me, to what I wanted. It was not just me being young and not wanting to hear what they had to say, it was actually not always the right advice. Just that simple. Just like today, my kids have to learn for themselves what is right for them. I can’t push my own agenda on them. What might be perfectly right for me, may not be for them. I can share my lessons and hopefully they will have less hard ones by what I share but we all need to learn by our own choices. God gave us that right. It was His idea. We get free choices. Sometimes I wish that He would just tell me what to do but in His wisdom, He gives us all a template, it is our choice how close we stay inside the lines of it.
I guess it sounds kind of vague when I say that I wasn’t really allowed to love the people I loved, I was pushed and nudged and berated. And I stupidly listened to all the white noise, the voices that criticized me, as my heart was screaming to be heard. All of my life, I have let others tell me what to do. I never really ever relied on where my own heart led me or my gut instincts. I have felt things with my heart and then second guessed myself, asking others what they thought. Now I wonder why did I care so much what others thought, I mean really why? I can’t believe that I put so much weight on everyone else’s opinion but mine.
It started as far back as I can remember. I was told that I should forgive, I was told to look the other way. And then I was told to not forgive, to run as fast as I could, to shut doors, and move on. I fooled myself into thinking that shutting doors was empowering, and giving second chances was forgiving. I put up with things far too long in the name of forgiveness and not wanting to be called a quitter. I stayed in situations that I never should have and yet the time finally came when I was not just hurting me, I was hurting the ones I brought along in my crazy making and I had to save them.
My childhood was filled with uncertainty. I was always worried. I was in such a hurry to grow up so that I could control my own destiny. Mistake number one! Who in this world ever controls their own destiny? And if I was controlling mine, I was sure making a mess of it. And if my template was what I learned growing up, that was mistake #2.
The first time I fell in love, I fell hard. And I think that I have been trying to survive that love ever since. It was intense and new and exciting and terribly, terribly damaging. The abuse that I endured was not so much physical though there was some pushing and shoving and yeah a little more than that, but it was so much more than that. It was so emotionally challenging that I constantly felt as if I were at the bottom trying to reach the surface in order to come up for air.
Everyone had their opinions about that one and I finally succumbed. Between the abuse and people’s well meaning counsel I conceded. We were engaged by that time, so it didn’t mean just a break up, it meant relinquishing a dream we had built together. When it was over, I thought I had died. And I definitely thought that I wouldn’t survive the pain. But when I finally was able to let go, I felt what I thought was empowerment. As I look back, I realize that I was mistaken, what I thought was strength, when the pain seemed to subside, was more like just being numb to it. Now I think it was just part of my heart dying.
Next, there were a handful of guys who I dated, some I remember more than the other, but for the most part, the emotional pull was not there. Maybe I was just not going there again. Falling in love had once been all I ever wanted and now it was something my heart seemed to avoid. Love meant pain I conceded.
Until, I met the boy, a boy who rocked my world, different than all the others. He was quiet and yet, a leader among his friends. He commanded respect without demanding it. He was so different than anyone I had ever known and for some odd reason he loved me back. All his friends were blown away and told me so this boy could have any girl he wanted. Everyone thought he would be the last of the friends to marry. And yet he ended up becoming my husband. He was tan with broad shoulders and very distinct features. He looked a lot like Michael Landon with a little John Wayne mixed in and he took my breath away for years. But it wasn’t just about looks with him. He was special. He had this wonderful heart that I got to see. He had views and opinions and yet he didn’t push them down your throat. He only offered them if you asked. He was perfect in my eyes and I was thrilled that somehow he had chosen me. He would walk into a room years after we were married and I would feel giddy. I loved him so much.
But what do they say? If you grow up with an alcoholic parent, you are destined to marry an alcoholic. That made me so angry when I heard that because I heard that after I had married him. This wonderful boy had one flaw, his very own pain, not to mention the little gene in his genetic makeup that caused addiction. I couldn’t believe that I had found myself in the very place I had run from. I was worrying about him coming home okay and driving drunk. I was worried about his health and safety, not to mention his job that he had worked so hard to grow in. And I was the total textbook codependent. An enabler, trying to re-fix what had been wrong in my childhood. This time, I thought I was going to make it work. I think I tried with all my heart until I almost lost it, my heart that is. Finally I realized that I could not save him. But I could save me and I could save my kids and so I did.
Where my dad was not a raging alcoholic, my husband was. I had bitten the head off of the proverbial chocolate bunny and I was in really, really deep. There were a few times that I almost left and my mom talked me out of it. Some of my well meaning friends from church persuaded me to try, guilting me into it by reminding me about all the things I already knew about vows and loyalty and forgiveness. But this time I had my kids to think about. And it was only getting worse. I finally pulled the plug. We had tried before and he was stubborn. He was not budging and so I took my kids and walked away before it was too late. . But I always wondered if it was too late. The guilt I still carry because of my divorce is excruciating. I have read verse after verse in the Bible trying to get some relief at no avail. Intelectually, I realize that God would not have wanted me to stay in the situation that I was in and that all I need to do is put everything at the foot of the cross. I know that and have and do daily, I know, I know once is enough, but I will always second guess myself and wonder “if just perhaps,” I might have left but not been so quick to divorce, if things might have turned out differently. Like they say, hind sight is 20/20. We see things much more clearly after the fact. Yet, in a way, I don’t. I used to be so sure that leaving was always the right answer. Abandond ship, take no prisoners, sink or swim, every man for himself. And yet with all the tools we have now days, I am not sure that not exausting all the tools is not an option before sealing the deal? It has been a thought I have wondered about since finally relenting and recently going to therapy myself. If nothing else, it has brought up a lot of questions I have begun to ask myself.
I was so in love with my husband and yet year after year, the things I had to deal with helped chip away at that love until it almost went away. I had to wonder if I had ever really been in love or if I had just loved the fantasy. My first husband was a man’s man. His friends came first. I know he loved me but he loved himself more. Years later when he was dying, he asked for me to forgive him. And now, especially after experiencing a good therapist, I have wondered if things had been different, if we had found a Therapist like I have now, if we could have survived without divorce?
The thing is I was always so concerned about what others thought and yet was so stubborn. It was a crazy making dance I would do. Now I realize that I just wanted their support but not necesarrily their approval. But at the time, approval seemed so huge. Now I know that it’s not what your mom or your friends or anyone else thinks. It has got to be between you and God. Even though I know I prayed and took it to God or thought I did, I don’t really think I knew how back then. When my marriage fell apart, it was surreal, I felt as if I was in slow motion. I felt in labor again, the pain was inexplicable. The unfathomable had happened. Like the first break up, though now we owned a house and had kids together. It was so much more than a dream. It was a life, my life, dying. A nightmare except I could never go to sleep to escape.
No one ever taught me to fight. When I was growing up, I lived in this Polly Anna existence. I hardly ever saw my parents even argue and I don’t think they ever did. The handful of things I did manage to see, rocked my world and usually were related to my dad’s drinking but other than that. My mom seemed to just suck it up and take whatever my dad dished out. Don’t get me wrong. My dad was amazing but there was always this underlying piece that just didn’t fit.
I remember thinking as a young girl, I am never going to let anyone treat me like that. I am not sure why I thought that. I mean my dad really loved my mom and she adored him. There was just this perfect little world I lived in that almost teetered on the edge of abuse. Not physically, but in a much more ambiguous sense.
Now fast forward what seems like a thousand years and here I am, still struggling with another man, my wonderful husband who loves me. This time, I had learned, no alcoholics! So I did a one-eighty and found someone almost perfect. He loves the Lord, has never done drugs. He drinks a bit but I have never seen him drunk. In fact, he is always the designated driver for me! He came along when I was drowning. He was God sent, I am sure. He saved us. He loved us. Sure he has his faults but I have to wonder if they seem bigger to me because of all the ones who came first. When is it his turn? Is my heart so numb that I forgot how to love the right way?
When I realized this it made me think. I know a woman who I prejudged. Not in the worst ways but it is something I don’t like about myself. The ones I usually don’t connect with at first, end up being lifelong friends. I know that about me and so I also know that my first knee jerk reaction toward someone isn’t always right on. After several casual conversations, we finally had a chance to really talk and I learned that she is slowly going blind. I mean at this point in my life, and considering my own weary eyesight, I guess we all are to some degree but she really is. She told me that she has chosen her profession to set herself up to be able to support herself since touch and not sight is the necessary tools she needs in her career choice. But no pun intended; this little piece of information made me see her in quite a different light.
That little ephiphanie has led me to a whole new platform, something I never considered before. Something I am very passionate about now. I think that the key is that everyone has a story. I wonder now if I had stayed with my first love and if we had gotten the necessary help, if it would have been different. I know now that he was dealing with his own childhood nightmares, much different than my own. My heart breaks for him as I have learned his story. I wonder….what would have changed for us if someone had counseled us? An entirely differnt story might have played out for both of us. I do know that even though it seemed like hell back in those days, I also look back now, at a lot of those days as “the good old days” and challenge anyone going through their own version of hell to not make such hasty decisions. Because our first loves mold us in ways that never leave us. And if it is really true love, and really worth the work perhaps if you could get help, in the beginning, just perhaps you could not bring baggage to all the other places you end up that aren’t going to measure up to the good old days. And if nothing else, at least you will be satisfied that you tried. Because believe me, the baggage you bring from each relationship to the next becomes pretty heavy!
When I was struggling therapy used to be a dirty word. Oprah was not a household name and self help books told you to meet your love at the door naked, wrapped in cellophane. But when you were wondering where your husband was at 2 in the morning, that advice was about as helpful as telling me to jump off a bridge which was where I was headed when there was no one walking in the door for me to meet in celophane!
But today we have resources. We have counseling and mentors and churches that have much more to offer than they did when I was grasping at nothing but the white noise that bombarded me with the advice I didn’t ask for. In the end, hind sight is 20/20, you never know whether to really stay or go. I wish there was some life line that we could go to and really get God on the line and ask HIM what He would have us do. And in a way there is, He gives us prayer and the discernment to hear Him and yet it is a hard place to get to when you keep getting in the way of the answers. It takes patience and a listening spirit.
So what have I learned in the last three or so decades about love? I would say without a doubt that the Author of Love is God. Now that I am a parent, I understand the ultimate sacrifice of His love in giving His Son to us because He loved us so much and wanted us to SEE the Light. I mean if I know anything for sure, it is that God’s kind of love is the true template for all the others that come after;
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 – Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
What I know for sure is:
Love is patient, it puts up with a heck of a lot in it’s own name. It is kind, plain and simple, it is not mean. Love does not want to see the other one hurt and avoids it at all costs. It is not jealous. it is satisfied with just being loved back It is not all puffed up and boastful, it does not brag and cares more about their loved one than themselves. They are proud of , and gives all the credit to the one receiving our love. They care more about the comfort of their loved one than themselves. Love does not lash out or belittle, it does not want to hurt back when their feelings are hurt and it is not easily offended. Love keeps no record of fights and arguments and wrongs we feel were committed against us. It remembers nothing negative. Love does not rejoice in sin or immortality. It is not malicious or violent. Love is honest and celebrates the truth and everything about it. It protects and shelters the one they love, watching over and caring for without complaining. Love puts aside it’s own wants and desires and puts the one they love ahead of themself. Love is loyal and true and can be trusted till the end of time because it never will fail or fall short. True love never gives up, it is forever.
And even though I am constantly working on it, and know that I will never measure up to this beautiful template of love we have been given. I am just happy that Love does not keep any record of my wrongs and the very good news is…. I can keep trying and I will because I am finally getting to know the Holy Spirit Who gives me HOPE to be better and love greater.
So I guess my advice would be to never give up. Sometimes it is not how you are loved but how you love that changes everything.
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!
When I was in Junior High POW bracelets and happy face buttons were the rage. Funny, how I can connect two things that are polar opposites. War and happiness. But maybe that is today’s metaphor for my life.Recently, my husband told me that he loves my smile and yet it looks as if I am always fighting against it, smiling that is. After trying to decide if that was a compliment or a creatively disguised dig, I decided to give him a pass and to really contemplate his words.
From as far back as I can remember, I think I have fought happiness. Just looking back at the old black and white photos I have of myself as a kid, I do tend to find more with a silly, half grin than a full on smile. And it makes me sad. Because I don’t think I ever allowed myself to fully experience joy from a very early age.
Lately, I have been on a quest to go back and get that kid and bring her home to the place that she belongs. With all of her disappointments and insecurities, I am not sure if I really want to. And yet I don’t think I have a choice nor can I ever really live in “me” until I do. Inviting this younger version of myself back into my life to really dig deep and explore some of the things I never have about myself is about as comfortable as inviting that obstinate step child who doesn’t want to be anywhere, least of all anywhere near you, to live with you!
As I look inside of myself, back, back, back, into a time in my life where there was joy and harmony, I find a kid with a grape juice stained mouth and a pile of books. I loved my grape juice and my books! I flash on sitting on the counter baking with my mom and can even still smell the glue as I remember watching my dad retile the tile in our bathroom. I remember rides in the car and the Drive in and picking berries on a summer day out in the woods in Washington. I remember feeding the ducks and moving to California and meeting my bestfriend who I have remained best friends with over the decades. And I smile.
But somewhere along the way, that kid got disappointed and things happened in her life that caused her to have a hard time trusting anyone let alone her self, she felt hurt and misunderstood over and over and over again and re-visiting the parts of her pain is not the easiest task at hand. Getting to know the younger version of yourself is about as comfortable as inviting that obstinate step child on a wonderful vacation. But we all need to go there. To interrupt our lives and explore the parts of us that never integrated into our adult self. If we don’t that kid will continually pop back into our life when we are least expecting them. They always seem to appear in the form of anger, or fear or in the deepest part of our sorrow.
I have a feeling my childish self is not going to come or go quietly. She may even go kicking and screaming but I need to trust myself that it is going to be okay. It will be okay for her too. She is safe now, inside of the adult me. I have finally begun to trust myself and to quit relying on everyone else to make it better. To stop living in the past and finally take my own steps into the future. To trust myself and learn to love me and believe in me and KNOW that what I feel about me is enough. I am the boss of me. Well, of course God is the boss of me, but you know what I mean. I have been giving that power to everyone else in my life and I am taking it back from EVERYONE and only giving it to God and me! And I am empowered and the child in me calms and begins to relax in the knowledge that somebody else is in control now.
For so long, I have doubted everything about myself. My intelligence & abilities, my wisdom and even my morals and my own character and just when I fell into the darkest place of my life, that is when I began to see the light, as if lost in a cave, dark and damp, only to find the hope of a ray of light through the cracks. That is where I am now. I have found the light. I may not totally be out of the cave yet but I see the way out and I am going to beat the myth of being stuck in my child. Instead I am going to invite her to come into the light with me and find the joy. I am strong enough and smart enough and brave enough to guide her right to the light where she belongs.
I am going to stop fighting the smile. To believe in the dream that it really is okay to genuinely be happy and take new photographs and to smile really big. And…“Say cheeeeese.” To let everyone know I am happy and that I don’t have to fight it any longer.
Sometimes we have to wander far away from the storm, trying to find the rainbow, before we realize the lessons we have learned along the way. We encounter those looking for wisdom and courage and love and want to be a part of their journey. Perhaps we think that if they find it, so will we. And so… we get caught up in the seeking, we are fooled by our own desires.
If we are lucky enough to find out that the little man behind the curtain is only a little man behind the curtain, then we are ahead of the game. But more than not, we seek the answer in all the wrong places. We put hope in the world and we follow the beat of what the world deems popular rather than looking within and finding that in the end, all that we ever needed was always there for us… in our own backyard and that there really is; “no place like home.”